Taiwan's International Hot Air Balloon Festival, held every year in Taitung County during the summer, is one of the premiere tourism events in the country. Prepare to be amazed by an array of balloons, or enjoy the amazing natural scenery in Taitung by taking a tethered or non-tethered hot air balloon ride.
Taiwan's hot air balloon festival started in 2011 in Luye Township of Taitung County, as a way for Taitung County to promote hot air balloon tourism.
In 2013 the event changed its name to the Taiwan International Hot Air Balloon Festival and began to invite hot air balloons from other countries.
Tethered balloon ride (熱氣球繫留體驗): 550 NT to 650 NT
Non-tethered balloon ride （熱氣球空中自由飛行): about 10,000 NT
Paragliding (滑翔傘): 1800-2500 NT
Hours/When to go:
Tethered Balloon Ride (熱氣球繫留體驗): 4PM- 6:30PM or 4:30AM to 6:30AM (July to August). The ride lasts about 5 minutes.
Ticketing website: https://ttpass.tw/category/143
Untethered balloon ride （熱氣球空中自由飛行): Usually between 4AM and 6AM
Ticketing website: http://www.skyrainbow.com.tw/booking.php \ (there are others)
Warning: Hot Air Balloons can be cancelled with short notice due to bad weather such as too much wind, rain, or influence of a Typhoon.
Check out a live feed of the Luye highland here:
How to get there:
By Train/Bus: From Taitung TRA station, there is a shuttle bus that leaves to Luye Highland at 4:10AM, 4:30AM, and 4:50AM, as well as 3PM, 3:30PM, and 4PM (75-120 NT per ride).
Or, take the TRA to Luye station, and then walk, take a taxi, or take a bus to Luye Highlands (the train station is roughly 2 kilometers away from the highlands).
By Car: From Taipei, take National Highway 5 to Yilan, then drive south on provincial road 9 until you get to Luye. See the map below for the location of the Highlands. It will be hard to miss.
By Plane: Fly into Taitung Airport from Taipei, then take a taxi/bus to the highlands.
Please see below:
Floral Seas in Taiwan (aka sea of flowers; flower sea; flower/floral ocean) are a popular attraction for locals all around the island. Many farmers actually harvest these flowers during winter months and allow tourists to come take photos with a backdrop of and ocean of flowers, usually for free. If you'd like to take a few photos of these places, there are quite a few options.
You can find fields of flowers all over rural Taiwan during winter. For the more touristy places, you can to search 花海 into Google Maps and a bunch of places should pop up.
Floral Seas that I have visited include Guanshan Floral Sea, Liugui Floral Sea, and Xinshe Sea of Flowers. Another one is 60 Stone Mountain (see our full blog on 60 Stone Mountain here).
When are floral seas open?
Liugui Flower Sea: December-February
60 Stone Mountain: July-September
Others: go find them! Floral seas can be found literally all over Taiwan.
Maps: please see below:
Guanshan Floral Sea:
Sixty Stone mountain (aka Liushidan Mountain) is a beautiful flower and mountain landscape on the eastern flank of the eastern rift valley in Hualien County. The annual Daylily flower blooms and amazing views of the Eastern Rift Valley attract thousands of tourists each summer. Some of the picturesque and beautiful views anywhere in Taiwan can be seen from this mountain.
The main crop on Sixty Stone Mountain is the Orange Daylily (aka tawny dayliliy, hemerocallis, golden needle flower, etc.). Orange Daylily is a nutrient and iron-rich plant, and is traditionally used as a garnish, spice, and preservative. In addition it is also added as raw materiel for rice paper and Chines medicine. You can buy dried bags of the stuff all over the mountain and surrounding areas.
According to some of the locals, Sixty Stone Mountain gets its name from the fact that instead of producing 50 stones (or dan, measure of flowers) per field, the fields on this mountain can produce 60 stones. Other people say that it is because during the Japanese Era, all the trees were cut down and there were 60 large boulders left on the mountain.
Nowadays the Mountain is a major tourist attraction, and has been highly marketed by the Taiwan tourism bureau. You can find pictures from this mountain on almost any Taiwan tourism brochure.
How to get there:
BY Car/Scooter: Take highway 9 south from Hualien. When you reach Dongzhu, there will be a sign to Sixty Stone Mountain just after the police station. The road up the mountain is small and closes after 6:00 PM. Only cars, small vans, and scooters are allowed up the road.
There are many tour groups that offer van rides up the mountain.
Hours: Technically open 24/7.
When to go: We suggest going during the Orange Daylily flowering season, which is from about July to September. If you go from 3-5 PM you should see an awesome view of the sunset if the weather is good.
Map: Please see below:
Sanxiantai is one of the most beautiful spots on the East Coast, an area full of beautiful geology and natural scenery. It is known for its iconic arching footbridge that leads to the island of the three immortals (Sanxiantai, literally three immortals platform). The ocean views and unique rock formations make it an ideal place to take a stroll and enjoy nature's beauty.
Sanxiantai island is mostly made of coral and volcanic rocks. The wind and waves over time have turned the rocks into unique shapes, including tunnels, holes, and crevasses. According to Amis tribal legend, a sea dragon once lived here. According to Han Chinese legend, three of the eight immortals (Toaist Deities having power over life and evil) rested on the island, leaving three pairs of footprints.
How to get there: From Taipei, take national highway 5 down to Yilan, then travel from Highway 9 to Hualien, then take highway 11 south along the coast. It will be on the left.
Also available by bus from Hualien or Taitung, though this may take a few hours.
Price: Free, but parking is 50-60 NT for cars and around 15-20 NT for scooters.
Hours: 24 hours a day.
Map: Please see below:
Water Running Up is a gravity defying stream that appears to run uphill in Donghe Township near Dulan, Taitung County. As one of the stranger sights in Taiwan that seems to defy nature and the laws of physics, it attracts people year round. Does the water really run uphill? Let's find out.
Water Running up was originally built as an irrigation ditch by the Amis Aboriginal Tribe in 1870. The area around the trench was an important ritual training ground, but also a storage hub for food and water. Later on (I'm guessing in the past decade or two) people noticed that the water in the irrigation ditch appeared to run uphill when seen against a sloping background, and the Taitung County government quickly pounced on it, making it into a full fledged tourist trap. I mean tourist site.
How to get There:
By Car: From Taitung, take provincial highway 11 north to Dulan. Just before you enter Dulan it will be on the left.
By Train: Take the TRA to Taitung station, then take scooter or taxi via provincial highway 11 to Dulan.
By Bus: Take bus 8101 from Taitung Station to Yu Bridge. From there you will have to walk about 300 meters north, and up hill to the left. The bus ride takes just under 2 hours according to Google Maps.
âMap: Please see below:
Little Yehliu (aka Xiaoyeliu) Geopark is a unique geological area on the coast of Taitung City. It bears the same name as Yeliu Geopark (famous for the Queen's Head Rock), because the rocks look similar to its more famous namesake. However Little Yehliu is much smaller as the name suggests, and its rock formations less spectacular. Despite this, it is still a beautiful and unique stretch of coastline.
Similar to Yehliu, the geology of Little Yehliu is made up of volcanic rock placed over sandstone. This makes for a unique structures and shapes, with large sturdy volcanic rock sitting upon easily weathered sandstone below, worn away by wind and water. Taitung County has become masterful at creating major tourist destinations out of what would normally go unnoticed, and this is no exception (for instance there are tons of this kind of coastline in northern Taiwan).
How to get there: Take highway 11 from Taitung City about 6km north and it will be on your left. If you do not have a scooter or car, buses also stop along this route.
Price: Parking is 50-60 NT for cars, and 15-20 NT for scooters. Otherwise entrance to the park is free.
Hours: 24 hours a day
Map: Please see below:
Liji Moon World (aka Liji Badlands) is a rare geological formation right next to Taitung City in eastern Taiwan (not to be confused with the larger and better Tianliao Moon World). It is composed of easily eroding clay deposits, that erode faster than plants can grow on them, creating a unique moon-like landscape. If you are in Taitung, you should take the short trip across the Beinan River and enjoy these beautiful eroding masses of clay and dirt.
Typical badlands are found in dryer climates, are composed of sedimentary rocks, typically have very little vegetation, and have deep valleys or ravines. The badlands in Taiwan are unique in that they are in a tropical rain forest. How is this possible?
The soil at Liji Badlands formed under the ocean millions of years ago, forming a layer of sediment called a melagne. Over millions of years, the land was lifted up due to plate tectonics until it became dry land. The rocks are composed of mudstone, sandstone, shale, and chalk. Because of high alkaline levels due to chalk in the soil, trees and grass cannot grow, and basically the only plant that can grow in the soil is spiny bamboo. The lack of vegetation as well as high rainfall gives way to quick eroding hills, or badlands. The Beinan River (卑南溪) also helped to carve out the landscape and bare hills.
Because of the white greyish color, the hills seem to glow when in moonlight, hence the name "Moon World." However to the casual observer, the landscape looks like the surface of the moon as well. The name "Liji" comes from the name of the village where the formations are located.
How to get there:
By car: From Taitung City, take the East 45 highway out of the city, across Beinan River and the badlands will be on your right.
By train: Get off at Taitung Station, and from there you can literally walk to the badlands; its only 2KM away. Alternatively you can rent a scooter or take a taxi.
By plane: From Taitung Airport, hire a scooter or taxi and then take highway 11 then the East 45 Highway to the badlands.
Hours: 24 hours a day!
Map: Please see below:
Are you a fan of rice fields, biandang, and rice in general? Chishang is the place for you! As the unofficial rice capital of Taiwan, its unspoiled views of rice fields with a backdrop of the eastern rift valley is one of the most unique and unspoiled scenic areas in Taiwan.
The name Chishang comes from the town being located near Dapo Pond (or Daopochi 大坡池). The area was first settled by aboriginal tribes relocated from Pingtung. Qing dynasty Chinese farmers started settling there in 1875, as a reaction to Mudan Incident of 1871 (in which a crew of shipwrecked Japanese were beheaded by Taiwan aborigines) and the Japanese punitive expedition to Taiwan in 1874. After the Japanese took control of Taiwan, Chishang's main industries were growing sugar cane and rice. A train station was completed in Chishang in 1926 as part of the eastern railway line.
Because of its flat land and and abundant water, Chishang naturally became a great place for growing rice. It's rice fields and biandang (lunchbox) have generally been accepted as the best quality in Taiwan. Many of the rice varieties grown here can trace their roots to Japanese rule. Besides its unadulterated rice fields, the area also became famous due to a Mr. Brown coffee commercial shot here (at what is now know as Brown boulevard) as well an ad for EVA Air featuring Takeshi Kaneshiro (金城武）a Taiwan born Japanese actor (famous for many movies, the one which I remember him best in is the male protagonist in House of Flying Daggers), in which he drinks tea next to a tree. The tree is still there and is growing strong, although it was damaged in 2014 by typhoon Matmo.
I'm not sure if this is the original Mr. Brown Coffee commercial, but its at least pretty close:
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.