Penghu

Travel Guide Asia Taiwan Penghu

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Introduction

Penghu (also called the Pescadores) is an outlying island archipelago located in the Taiwan Straits between Taiwan and China and is under the jurisdiction of Taiwan. The Penghu (pronounced "pung hoo") is an archipelago, not a single island. The sea around Penghu is a saturated turquoise and the sand coral so pack beach footwear. Very few people, hoteliers included, speak any English, so be prepared to exercise your Mandarin and do your research before you get there!

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Sights and Activities

In the main city of Magong major sights include the Tianhou Temple where sailors and fishermen have prayed to the sea goddess Matsu for safe seafaring for centuries. Nearby is the 400-year-old Four Eyes Well a single fresh water well with four holes so it can be used by many people at once. It is on a picturesque old street that has been tastefully restored to its former glory.

Hou Hsiao-Hsien's film The Boys from Fengkuei (風櫃來的人, 1983) was shot in Fengkuei, on the main island.

Ride a bicycle from Magong's Rainbow Bridge along the bicycle path beside the seashore is highly recommended. From here you get excellent views across the water to Xiyu Island.

Tourists can take a walk along Shan-shiu or Ai-men Beach, (each just a $200 taxi ride away) Most tourist also like to take a boat ride to see some of the many other islands.

Take a boat trip to Seven Beauty Island (in Chinese it is called Qi-mei although it is more often Romanised as Ci-mei or Chi-mei) an island to the south, is also highly recommended. The boat trip from the Magong harbourside South Sea Tourist Centre takes about 90 minutes and you get to see several other islands along the way. Qi-mei Island is a great place to stay in a B & B for one night. The island is small but hilly with cliffs falling into the sea on the southern side. Goats may be seen grazing across the island and another interesting feature is the dry stone and/or coral fences. The best way to travel around is on bikes and this should come as part of the B & B package. However, you will need a Taiwanese licence. Perhaps best to travel with some Taiwanese friends as almost no one speaks English here.

Ji-bei Island, is a short boat trip to the north and has some of the best beaches.

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Events and Festivals

Buddha Bathing Festival

The Buddha bathing festival takes place on April 8 and is a Buddhist religious ceremony celebrating the birth of the Lord Buddha. The faithful bow three times to the Lord Buddha and then pour water and flowers of a statue of the baby Buddha.

Tomb Sweeping Day

Tomb Sweeping Day usually falls in early April and is a public holiday in Taiwan. Taiwanese people pray and tend to the graves of their departed relatives. Willow branches are used to decorate graves and doors in some areas and the flying of kites, carrying of flowers, and burning of incense, paper and joss sticks is common.

Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is a June public holiday originating from China that is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The day is celebrated in Taiwan with dragon boat races, eating glutinous rice dumplings, drinking wine and writing spells.

Autumn Moon Festival

The Moon Festival talks place in late September or early October, on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The festival celebrates harvest time and is characterized by giving and eating moon cakes. Dragon dances, floating lanterns, fireworks and burning incense are also common.

Ghost Festival

September is Ghost Month in Taiwan with the gates of the underworld opening on the first day and closing on the last. Throughout the month, both Buddhist and Taoist religious rituals take place that include to offerings of food, drink and burnt paper money appease the dead. Many Taiwanese avoid moving house or getting married during this month.

Double Ten Day

Double Ten Day falls on the tenth of October and is the Republic of China National Day, celebrating the start of the Wuching uprising in 1911 that resulted in the defeat of the Qing Dynasty. Proceedings begin with the raising of the Republic of China flag and singing of the Republic of China national anthem. There is a Taiwanese presidential speech and celebrations include lion dances, drumming, and fireworks.

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Weather

As a rule of thumb, the summer months (April to September) are very hot and humid, and consist in the high season. The winter months (October to April) are much more comfortable and are the low season, when the island is much more quiet... at the price of a very, very heavy wind. In that case, boats are often cancelled to other islands such as Qi-Mei.

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Getting There

Penghu's main islands are accessible by boat or plane from Taiwan main island, and also by plane from the Kinmen island (located just off the coast from Xiamen, China).

By Plane

The main entry point of Penghu is the domestic Magong airport which is located in the middle of the main island, which is not walking distance to Magong city as it is a 20-minute drive from the city of Magong.

It is possible to fly to Magong Airport, Penghu from at least 6 domestic Taiwanese airports including Taipei (Songshan), Taichung, Jiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung and Jinmen Island. Uni Air, Mandarin Airlines and Far Eastern Air Transport each provide frequent and convenient flights to Penghu. However, only Mandarin has an English booking website. A few regional international flights are expected to commence in the next few years.

Magong Airport is clean and modern, with cafés and free Wi-Fi. However, very few electric or USB appliances are available in the terminal.

A taxi ride from the airport to the city of Magong should not cost more than NT$300. However, if you are able to telephone and book a taxi ahead of your arrival in Mandarin Chinese the cost drops down to $200). Some taxi numbers: 0937713723; 0931873045. Taxi drivers do not speak English. Also, taxis do not use meters in Penghu, so make sure to ask the cost to your destination before you set off.

Many Penghu B & Bs and Hotels offer (often free) pick-up and drop-off to and from Magong Airport and the Harbour Ferry Terminal.

By Boat

There is ferry all year round from Kaohsiung which takes 5 hours and 5 minutes, and arrives at a downtown Magong pier from where you can easily walk along the main street and around the downtown area. However, it is much more frequent in summer than in winter; also expect cancellations due to typhoons (summer) or strong wind (winter). From Kaohsiung to Magong costs NT$860-1,700 one way. Magong to Kaohsiung is slightly cheaper costing from $819-1619. This service may not be available every day and sailing times are subject to change according to the season.

A smaller ferry sails between Magong Harbour and Putai, only in summer (until mid-October). This journey takes about 90 minutes.

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Getting Around

Only those who hold either a current Taiwanese driving license or a current IDP (International Driving Permit - Taiwan is listed inside the front cover of this document as accepting the International Driving Permit) may rent vehicles. However, make sure your IDP includes a Chinese translation inside it. The airport is about 10 km from Magong city's main street, Jhongjheng Rd.

There are plenty of gas stations in Magong, but much fewer elsewhere. In addition, many of these close at 5pm (not in Magong though), so make sure you have enough gas when you leave for a trip throughout the main islands.

If you turn right as you walk outside the airport building you will find the public bus stop located on the corner of the airport building. The bus stop is clearly marked and also has a timetable and price list. This is by far the cheapest option.

There are public buses that travel all around the main bridge linked islands as far as Waian Village (Wai-an) which is located nearby the far end of Xiyu Island. The main bus terminal building is a large building about two streets over from Jhongjheng Rd walking away from and across the road from McDonalds.

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Eat

The best place for western style bread, cake, coffee and tea is Donutes which is located on a main road corner down the hill from McDonald's.

Penghu is known for many local delicacies. It offers top-notch fresh seafood although this tends to be quite expensive, in addition to other dishes, desserts, and snacks some of which are only available in Penghu.

Brown Sugar Sponge Cake (黑糖糕) can be ordered from several shops along the alley way down from the old well where you can also find Grass Jelly (仙草凍刨冰) and Pink Cactus Fruit Sorbet Ice Cream (仙人掌冰) which is widely available in Magong or on Wangan Island.

Spicy Red Oil Wontons (四川紅油抄手) can be found at 四川席炒手馬公市仁愛路25號 in Magong City Tel +886-6-9272899 Western food in Penghu is not only limited to McDonald's. The five star Pescadores Hotel offers western style food as does the "He-tian" M Hotel which is located at No. 2, MínQuán Rd, Magong, Tel +886 6 926 3936 which is an easy walk from the main street.

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Drink

There are a few bars scattered around Magong mostly near the centre of the city.

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Sleep

Book ahead because hotels in Penghu can fill up fast in Summer. Hotels offer discounts in the off-season (Winter and early Spring).

One of the most beautiful bed & breakfasts, and situated right on the water, is the Villa Romana B&B 西衛海岸民宿 (www.villar.com.tw). Very friendly, great service, and they have fully bilingual staff. 5 minutes from the city, 15 from the airport, and with fantastic 300 degree views of the ocean (it's located at the end of a mini-peninsula).

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This is version 2. Last edited at 15:10 on Mar 11, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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