Kenting National Park

Travel Guide Asia Taiwan Kenting National Park

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Introduction

Taiwan is not all about large cities and development. Much of the island is covered with mountains and dense forests. One of the highlights is Kenting National Park, located in the southern tip of the island. The main features in this fantastic park include beautiful beaches and lush vegetation and there are some great walks or multiple day hikes in the park. Of course, swimming and other aquatic sports can be arranged as well.

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Geography

Kenting National Forest Recreation Area is between 150 and 300 m above sea level and the total area is 466.8 ha. Since the landform of Hengchun Peninsula is complicated and the weather is highly changeable, it breeds abundant and special rare plant resources. The forest landscape is roughly divided into three layers. The first layer is arbores. Moraceae and lauraceae are dominant. The second layer is bushes, primarily small palmae. The third layer is chamaephyte. Low grasses and liana are dominant. It is a rich and adequate forest with more than 1,200 kinds of ornamental and conserved plants.

Rising high coral limestone is everywhere in Kenting National Forest Recreation Area. The limestone is primarily composed of sedimentation of corals, foraminifers and nullipores. According to research, this area is supposed to be under sea level ten millions years ago. After weathering and sea water erosion, the coral limestone has gradually become stalagmites, stalactite caves, columns, notches and stalactites. Especially stalagmites and stalactites, they are formed by deposition of calcium carbonate which is precipitated from mineralized water solutions. An average growth rate is 1 cm every 30 years. They are rare and precious stone resources.

Entering from the memorial archway in Kenting National Forest Recreation Area, along the forest trail, there are old trees on both sides of the road. Among them, there is a 300-year-old giant Chinese pistache. Heading inside the recreation area, everywhere, there are spots worth a visit. Aquatic plants area, stalagmites cave, Silver Leaves and Roots, Fairy Cave, Labyrinth Forest, Sky in a Line, Falling Banyan Valley, Silver Dragon Cave, No.1 Gorge, Umbrella Pavilion and Ape Cliff are geographic landscape that you can’t miss.

Kenting National Forest Recreation Area is the only one tropical botanical garden in Taiwan and also one of the top 10 tropical botanical gardens in the world. There are thousands of tropical plants and adequate resources of butterflies, birds, insects and reptiles. Sometimes, you can see groups of Formosan macaques playing. Every autumn and winter, plenty of migratory birds including Chinese goshawks, oriental honey-buzzards, cattle egrets, falco subbuteos, brown shrikes and gray-faced buzzards roost at this place. It brings the original forest a more vivid ambience.

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Sights and Activities

  • Southernmost point of Taiwan (The entrance to the carpark is about 200 m further down the main road from the Eulanbi Lighthouse.). A sculpture representing the southernmost tip of Taiwan. Famous with the locals for pictures and a great sunset spot. No admission, but parking fee NT$50.
  • Eulanbi Lighthouse (鵝鑾鼻燈塔). The surrounding park area is well worth the trip past Kenting. The lighthouse is pretty bland, but the easy hiking trails are pleasant and near the ocean. NT$40.
  • Longpan Park (龍磐公園). A scenic geological formation formed by levels of the coast separately lowering and getting washed away by the sea. Now, a very green and picturesque coast line and cliff.
  • Fongchueisha (Dune) (風吹沙). A large and picturesque dune. You can walk down it on its right flank.
  • Chuhuo Eternal Fire (出火特別景觀區). An interesting sight where natural gas escapes from under the earth through porous rock. It is alighted and constantly burns. You can even alight smaller spots by yourself with a lighter – there are about 6-7 of them where gas emerges. Best time to come here is during sunset when the place dives into the night and allows for great pictures, given you have the right photo equipment. edit
  • Maobitou (貓鼻頭 / 南海洞). A beautiful black cliff and coastal area, which is great for sunsets. The rock formation is supposed to look like a lying cat, with a lot of imagination. Nevertheless, the price is probably not worth the tiny walkway, seems more like a tourist trap. You should rather go for Longpan Park instead – equally or more beautiful. Parking NT$10-50, Entrance NT$30/15 full/concession.
  • Houbihu (Marina) (後壁湖), Daguang Road, Hengchun Township. A mildly picturesque and small harbour. Just nearby, also a coral and power exhibition can be found – quite obvious with the nuclear plant right to the east.
  • Chuanfan Rock (Sail Rock), Chuanfan. A huge rock at this stony beach, which allows for pretty pictures.
  • Hengchun Town Wall. Nice for a stroll around the centre.
  • Hengshun South Gate. This palace-like gate is worth a visit when you are in Hengshun. Located in the middle of a roundabout.
  • Rocks Park (Hengchun) (Hou Dong Shan Gong Yuan), Hengchun. This is either coral or volcanic rock.
  • Gangkou Suspension Bridge (屏東滿州港口吊橋).

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Getting There

By Train

Kenting is accessible via the HSR, or High Speed Rail which connects Taipei with Zuoying, Kaohsiung. The total travel time from Taipei to Zuoying (Kaohsiung) via HSR is approximately 90 min. After arrival in Zuoying, exit the station and head outside where there is a bus stop. Line 88 bus to Kenting operates 24 hours/day, so getting back to the HSR on time is no problem. Ask your place of accommodation about shuttle buses, or you can take a taxi, which usually picks up passengers until it's full and then quotes a price per person for the trip.

It is advisable to reserve your HSR tickets by telephone or online if traveling on the weekend. Weekend trains are often sold out.

By Car

Renting a car is not optimal, but nice if you wish to travel around the Kenting area. Having an automobile or renting a scooter in Kenting enables you to travel up and down the entire southern seaboard and visit both public beaches easily.

By Bus

Buses travel every hour on the hour from Taipei Bus Station (get there via Taipei Main Station MRT) to Kaohsiung. UBus (United Bus), is a popular company that offers such a service for NT$430. There is no Wi-Fi, but the seats recline and there is a roughly 20" screen mounted on the ceiling of the bus every 4 rows. The trip can range from 5 to 6 hours.

From Kaohsiung to Hengchun and Kenting buses travel frequently – take the line 9188 from the Kaohsiung bus terminal (don't get confused with city buses). The price for a ticket is roughly NT$350. The transit time from Kaohsiung to Kenting is approximately 2½ hours. There is both a regular and express bus. The express bus arrives on the hour. It can be difficult to discern which bus is the express bus and it is also unlikely the driver will speak English.

Along the coast and passing by Fangliao and Fangshan (for transfer from Eastern Taiwan) at least four different buses can be taken to get down to Hengchun and Kenting: 101, 9117, 9127, 9188, 9189. The price from Fangliao or Fangshan to Hengchun or Kenting is NT$112-150.

Note that GoogleMaps states travel times for the bus of 3-5 hours to Hengshun and Kenting from Fangliao – this is wrong. The buses take barely an hour to go down the coast, and about 20-30 minutes from Fangshan to Hengshun, since it does barely stop at any of the 60-80 official bus stops along the road.

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Getting Around

You should really rent a scooter to explore this region. Otherwise, it is much more hassle to see all the beautiful places, which are quite distant from each other. It is probably best to get 24-hr deal in Hengchun, which has better prices and also fuel scooter not just electric ones for people without international driving licence. From here exploring the Kenting National Park area and surroundings for a day is easy. As Taiwan has a motorbike helmet law, be aware that wearing a helmet is a requirement when operating or riding as a passenger on a motorbike.

In Hengchun, motorbikes can be rented from NT$300 per 24 hours, with international driving licence. Without, they will charge higher. Stand your ground if you got promised a cheap price and then are driven down the road to the real renting station where you will be demanded more money. Most rental stores are near the central bus stops in Hengchun.

In Kenting, motorbikes can be rented from NT$500-800 per 24 hours from many different store fronts. Most places here rent electric scooter, and the fuel powered ones are more expensive. The range of the electric ones is 80-100 kilometres and they are relatively slow, but they can be recharged for free at the pickup station. Drivers must show a Taiwan or International motorbike drivers license and sign a rental contract before being given keys. Some places might be reluctant to rent to foreigners, therefore it can be useful to go with a Taiwanese to help in the process.

You can also arrange a rental car for pick up at the HSR Kaohsiung Zuoying station. Please check the HSR website for more information and a link to the service providers websites.

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Eat/Drink

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Sleep

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Accommodation in Kenting National Park

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This is version 5. Last edited at 15:29 on Mar 5, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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