We were fast running out of time in Taiwan. There were loads of places we wanted to visit but with just 2 days left after extended stays in Taipei and Hualien, we had to pick somewhere fairly close and still on the east coast. So we went for Taitung.
Taitung is quite a compact city, far more than Hualien. Most of the central area can be easily covered on foot or by bicycle. It also has a more traditional feel than anywhere else we went in Taiwan – while there are modern buildings, there are also plenty of traditional style shacks and market stalls.
The first area we visited was the Railway Art Village. It’s located on the site of the old station (the new station is annoyingly far from the city) and has maintained some aspects of the station (the platforms and rails are still there) but also built new purpose built gallery buildings for local artists.
I especially liked these lanterns which were strung up along the old train platforms, painted by local schoolchildren. They looked even better at night.
Sadly most of the buildings were either still being built or being renovated when we visited, so we saw very little art. But it’s still a cool area to wander around. Behind the station there is a music village area with some cool cafe’s, restaurants and bars. Taitung may be a traditional city in some senses but in others it’s very modern.
Behind this whole area is Liyushan Park, a hill park with a few temples and some nice trails to walk. Getting to the top, you can see out over the city.
Taitung is also a great place for cycling. Not only is there paths down the whole of the seafront, there is also a very cycle friendly forest park with various lakes and gardens. We spent most of the day cruising around the park.
Back on the seafront there is this unusual building. Still not sure what it’s supposed to be, but inside has coordinates and distances to places all over Asia and beyond.
As for the beach in Taitung, it really isn’t great. The good beach is 20km up the coast in Dulan, a laid back surf town which we sadly didn’t get to visit. There was a surfing competition starting just after we left as well.
We enjoyed all these things, but do you want to know what our favourite part of Taitung was? Dogs. The building where we stayed had a lovely dog sadly chained up. She was fed and watered but she was so bored. In the 2 days we were there, we became surrogate owners to it, playing with it at every opportunity, and Katy even took it for walks around the complex.
Then we found another cute dog outside who followed us upstairs and became best friends with the chained dog (I’m not kidding, they spent like 6 hours solid play fighting). It was really sad to leave them!
The ride from Hualien on the east coast train takes around 1.5 hours and from Taipei about 3.5 hours. As mentioned, the train station is really far from town but luckily there is a bus company who goes downtown for $23 (£0.47) each.
We stayed at the excellent Spring House Hostel, run by a lovely and enthusiastic local girl, Summer. It’s a comfortable, homely place and great value. 9/10