Maolin Village is the first and largest village you come across in the mountainous Maolin District of Kaohsiung. It features an aboriginal cultural sights, waterfalls, swimming holes, delicious food, and much more to be explored by you.
This blog is the first of a 5 part blog series that I will share about my favorite place in Taiwan, Maolin.
During the Japanese occupation, some of the original inhabitants of Maolin Village live in the mountains behind Wanshan Village. However later these aboriginals were forcibly moved to the current village. Many of the inhabitants were originally located elsewhere, but had to relocate their home or village due to typhoons or unsafe terrain. There are a few abandoned villages above the current village that you can still hike to.
The village covers the area from Dajin Bridge 大津橋 to Maolin Valley 茂林谷, and has about 850 inhabitants, mostly aboriginals from the Rukai (魯凱族) Wulu Bunun (布農) and Paiwan (排灣) tribes, as well as some Han Chinese people. The village also has Maolin Middle school, the only middle school, and highest education institution in Maolin District.
When to go:
I recommend going in the summer time when the waterfalls have plenty of water and warm temperatures make it a great time to go swimming. In winter it will be cold and the waterfalls can dry up.
On the other hand if you want to go just for hiking, winter would be a better time to go.
If there is a Typhoon, the inhabitants of Maolin will be evacuated, and you should not try to go in for your own safety.
If you are coming to see butterflies, the butterfly migration is in the fall and ends roughly in November.
How to get there:
By Car: Maolin can be reached via provincial highway 27 from Pingtung or Liugui. Once you come to Dajin Bridge, go straight up the mountain.
By Bus: You can take a bus there but I don't recommend it. It's a 3 hour bus ride from Pingtung Bus Station. If you can rent a car or scooter it is about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Kaohsiung.
Map: Please see below:
When you first come into Maolin, you will notice a gate type structure over the road. Never have I ever seen anyone in there collecting fees, and I doubt that there are actual plans to do so.
Near the fee station you can get your first look at Maolin, one of the most beautiful places in Taiwan. The area features steep tropical mountains and large stony flat river basins that overflow during heavy rains and Typhoons; this landscape can be seen through the tropical section of the central mountain range. There is a suspension bridge (Bulubusha Suspension Bridge 布魯布沙吊橋 pictured above) that goes across the river, except this bridge actually goes out of Maolin to Sandimen Township of Pingtung County.
Also next to the river are some butterfly statues. Maolin and the surrounding area is home to one of the the biggest butterfly migrations in the world every autumn (the other notable one being Mexico's monarch butterfly), where you can see scores of purple crow butterflies fly through the valleys of southern Taiwan. However, I have never seen that many butterflies in Maolin (I have seen more in the nearby township of Meinong in Qishan District). Maolin has much more to offer than just butterflies!
Deleriga Great Bridge 得樂日嘎大橋
In the photo above is Deleriga Great Bridge (得樂日嘎大橋) which was built after the previous road on the side of the canyon was destroyed in a Typhoon. You can still see some of the remnants of that destroyed road.
"Deleriga is the old Rukai name for their Maolin settlements. This bridge, built at a cost of NT 700 million, was opened April 2013. It is 880 meters long and 10 meters wide and has maximum clear height of 52 meters, making it the third highest pre-stressed concrete box bridge in Taiwan. Its pier footings sink as much as 30 meters deep. The bridge is embellished with purple crow butterflies and with the background of the surrounding mountains, has become a new landmark for the Maolin Area."
Map of the entrance to Maolin. There is only one entrance into Maolin just in front of Dajin Bridge coming from Gaoshu or Liugui.
Hero that Shot the Sun 射日英雄
Further up the mountain right past Maolin Village, you will find the "Hero that Shot the Sun" statue.
The legend of "Hero that shot the sun" (射日英雄) goes like this: long ago there were two suns, one much brighter than our sun now. 5 children from the village set out to shoot down the brighter sun that was drying up the crops and the earth. They planted an orange tree so that they could find the way back home. After shooting the sun, only two children made it back by finding the orange tree. The other three died of old age in the wilderness. The moral of the story is always go back to the village.
View of the statue base before it was completed.
Right next to this statue are the best restaurants in Maolin. There is a breakfast shop there that sells some the the cheapest and best breakfast I have ever had in Taiwan, with buns, soy milk, danbing, and more. During the day the place also sells local aboriginal food.
The drive through Maolin is scenic and beautiful. It takes you mostly on the left (north) side of the valley, from Maolin Village to Wanshan Village and finally to Duona Village. In the background here you can see the only fire station in the district as well as Wanshan Village. Also, the orange bridge at the bottom goes to Maolin Valley.
Maolin village is the largest village in Maolin, and features a post office, library, elementary school, and middle school. You can also check out the many hiking trails above the village.
This blog will not cover any hikes in Maolin, but you can check out Out Recodring's many blog posts about hiking in Maolin here.
Wubake Creative Workshop 烏巴克創藝工作坊
Just below Maolin Village is Wubake Creative Workshop (烏巴克創藝工作坊), which features aboriginal artwork from the area's residents. You can also make your own necklace and glass beads, try on traditional aboriginal clothes, enjoy some traditional food, and enjoy the scenery.
Just below Maolin Village you can cross the river into Lover's Valley (情人谷） which is famous for Lover's Waterfall（情人瀑布). From here you can still see Deleriga Bridge.
Lover's Suspension Bridge 情人吊橋
Ride next to the bridge which you can drive across is a pedestrian suspension bridge called "Lover's Suspension Bridge" (情人吊橋).
Lover's Waterfall 情人瀑布
Qingren Waterfall is a huge waterfall and main attraction in Qingren Valley. You can drive right up to the lower falls, no hiking required (unless you want to go to the upper falls, but the trail was closed the last time I went). There is a cement retention pond at the bottom of it which makes it great for swimming. The best time to see this waterfall is in the summer when there is lots of water and the weather is warm. In winter the waterfall can dry up and it can get super cold.
Above is a rough video time-lapse of me swimming in the waterfall.
Maolin Valley 茂林谷
Another great place to swim is Maolin Valley (茂林谷). If you drive up the road a little bit you will come across a concrete dam and swimming hole. If no one else is there, the water is perfectly clear.
Rainbow spotted as we were leaving.
If you go further up the valley, you can make it to Maolin Valley Falls (茂林谷瀑布) as well as find some river tracing spots.
For more on hiking in Maolin, check out Out Recording's blog here.
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