Pingtung County covers a large portion of the Southern tip of beautiful Taiwan and is primarily known for being home to tourist hotspot Kenting National Park. While Kenting is a beautiful place to visit, Pingtung County holds so many more culturally-rich must-sees and stunning landscapes. Pingtung County is best explored with your own transport in a road-trip style adventure with friends or family. We’ve listed a few unique things to do in Pingtung that will let you experience Pingtung culture without just driving through.
See daily indigenous life in Wutai Township
If you’re looking for a gorgeous and remarkable town to visit, this is the place for you. Wutai is an indigenous community that is home to people from the Rukai tribe. The mountain township is characterized by beautiful stone plate houses, cool mountain air, and beautiful views. Start your adventure at the Rukai Museum where you will learn about the indigenous Rukai peoples (with plenty to read in English and friendly, welcoming staff).
Once you have finished here, take a walk up the terraces to explore the town and stop for some ai-yu jelly (lemon syrup flavored herbal jelly), tea or meal from friendly restaurant owners with an incredible view over the valley. Along the peaceful paths through town, you can see coffee beans drying, fields of vegetables growing and elders going about daily life.
Wutai township is accessible by public transport on weekends only, and by car at any time. The museum hours are between 9 am – 4 pm, Tuesday – Sunday. We recommend visiting on the weekend when shops are most likely to be open.
Understand indigenous history at Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Cultural Park
The Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Cultural Park is a huge park located in Majia Township exhibiting information and heritage of the nine main indigenous tribes in Taiwan. Make sure to check out the museum-style exhibits, artifacts, handicrafts and visit the audiovisual room to watch videos about Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. You can also explore the recreated traditional buildings and houses on-site and watch a great traditional song and dance performance (Tuesday – Sunday, at 10.30 and 14:30).
You can explore on foot or use the shuttle bus, but we recommend doing at least some walking to admire the natural scenery in and around the park including crossing the amazing suspension bridge near the entrance of the park and patting some of the cute ginger cats wandering around. Note that the food here is not recommended as a good example of indigenous food, there are better eateries in the nearby towns. The park is open between 8.30 am – 5 pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Check out information on how to get there, here.
Visit Hengchun Old Town
Hengchun is the southernmost township in Taiwan. As the gateway to popular and touristy Kenting National Park, you’ll find lots of other travelers in this area and find it is less geared for locals. Hengchun Old Town is beautiful with a half-intact city wall and four gates built in the late 1800s. Drop by the visitor center for a map, then take some time out to wander the streets seeking out each gate while dropping by interesting shops and eateries that catch your eye.
On the topic of food, Hengchun is famous for many foods including red bean shaved ice dessert (sweet beans with tapioca noodles in a sweet sauce), ling jiao (water chestnuts with shells shaped like a bat) and baozi steamed buns so keep an eye out for these snacks. If you’re driving, you should also stop by Chuhou Special Scenic area on a clear, dry night where gas seeps from the earth forming blue flames on the ground that are known as “the Chuhou eternal flame”.
Buy some local roadside fruits
The South of Taiwan, Pingtung included, is famous for delicious tropical fruits. Farmers here grow amazing quality pineapples, wax apples, mango, banana, papaya, lychee, star fruit and more. In Taiwan, it is not unusual to see giant roadside stalls selling fruits of the area geared towards tourists buying in bulk. These are especially good since they are very freshly picked from nearby farms. Often you will be allowed to try before you buy but keep in mind it can be a little awkward to pull over at the often not-so-busy stalls, try some fruit and walk away!
Not all fruits are created equal – the prices on these stalls are often clear, but only inform you about the lowest grade of fruit prices and buying a large and perfect version of the fruit will cost more. Fruit and vegetable stores in town might be a better option if you’d like to buy one of each fruit to try. Seasons vary by fruit type, so our best advice is to see what’s being sold on the roadsides and ask locals or visitor centers.