Duona Village in Maolin (Aka Duona Tribe, Tona, or Kungadavane 多納部落) is one of the oldest inhabited tribal villages in Taiwan, home to people of the Rukai Tribe. The village features a street full of traditional foods and restaurants, intact aboriginal culture, traditional stone houses, as well as nearby rivers, waterfalls, and hiking trails for tourists to explore.
Duona is the most remote village in Maolin District of Kaohsiung City, and is said to harbor the most complete version of the Rukai Aborigine culture.
The Rukai People first began to move into the area now known as Duona about 300 years ago (1700s), making it one of the oldest aborigine villages in Taiwan.
Most of the people live in traditional stone houses made from nearby plentiful shale rock, which are characteristic of the Rukai Tribe. The stone houses are warm in the winter and stay cool during the summer.
Near the village is a small plain which is said to be the home of Taiwan's indigenous species of black rice.
The village was almost completely cut off from the outside world until the Japanese built the Duona Suspension Bridge, which helped to link it to the rest of Taiwan as well as better control the native population.
The village sits at about 450 meters above sea level and has around 600 inhabitants. There is one elementary school in the village (its only educational institution) and one police station.
The actual village boundaries extend to Pingtung County and Taitung County, and include largely untouched and "virgin" forests and mountain wilderness areas such as Shuang-guei Lake, providing precious wildlife habitat for many of Taiwan's indigenous animals and plants.
How to get there:
Take Maolin Forest Road (Kaohsiung City Road 132) past Wanshan Village and continue on to Duona Village, the last town on the road. There will be a left turn onto Duona Alley, the main road in the village.
24/7. However most of the restaurants on Duona Alley are only open from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Map: Please see below:
Duona is the last stop on the road through Maolin District: past Maolin Village, WanshanVillage, and past theDuona Bridges pictured above. The road doesn't extend across the island, and there is no outlet from Duona except on foot.
On the road to Duona you will find many statues celebrating the rich Rukai aborigine culture, that you can of course pose with for your Instagram posts.
Once you finally make it to Duona Village, the first thing you will see is the giant sports track on the right which also acts as a parking lot. Parking is free and plentiful. There are also public bathrooms here.
Duona Alley 多納巷
The main attraction in Duona is Duona Alley (多納巷) which is full of restaurants, cafe's, convenience stores, and drink shops.
If you come by, be sure to try the traditional aborigine food there. One specialty is the rock fried barbecue, which is cooked on a large slate of rock similar to what the Rukai make their homes with. It can be one the pricey side, but that just lets you know what kind of a tourist trap it has become for the elderly population of Taiwan, who come to the village in large tour buses.
Some traditional salad and fried rice, on a rock table.
A lady roasting up some wild boar meat at Mazi Restaraunt (瑪姿餐飲店).
Across the street is a drink stand that sold some pretty good grass jelly passion fruit drink.
A local mother rides her scooter in front of a shop selling tea and aborigine hats.
A convenience store selling drinks and hats as well as other things.
Back in 2013 there was an archery course which has now been converted into a house. It was 100 NT for 10 shots. My friend missed 5 shots, and then I shot 5 bulls eyes, thanks to my archery merit badge in boy scouts. My friend was mad for making him lose face.
Duona Elementary School 多納國小
Another place you can go visit is Duona Elementary School, which is full of aborigine artwork.
A stage made of traditional stone architecture.
Behind the school are some public bathrooms with some interesting artwork from the students there.
Local children playing next to the track.
View south of the school looking toward the mountains.
Moldy books sitting out in the hallway unprotected from the elements.
Traditional Stone Slab Houses 傳統石版屋
People in the middle of constructing a traditional house.
A row of animal skull bones ornamented in front of one of the stone houses.
Destroyed Duona Hot Springs 被毀滅的多納溫泉
My friend Ahbei also drove us to the river near Duona to look for Dragon Bone Stones.
If you drive down the road from Duona, you will come across the remnants of the Duona Hot Springs, which were destroyed in a rock slide, and once a major tourist attraction.
Now about the only thing left of the hot springs is a telephone pole sticking out of the gravel in the riverbed (which is now so short you can climb it), as well as a few abandoned buildings.
Near Duona, there are almost endless mountains, rivers, and waterfalls to explore. Once such place is Ghost Axe Canyon, which is a deep slot canyon similar to what you would find in the American Southwest, and a popular river tracing spot. For more about this place, check out Out Recording's blog here.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to stay tuned for more blog posts about Maolin to come.
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.