This is not a full travel guide to Taitung, but rather a food guide as I find many people ask and wonder what exactly is there to eat here? This is a high level summary of mostly places I have been, taken by local folks or folks who have since lived here for years. Finally, this is by no means exhaustive. These are just some of my favorites that I would personally recommend and even the ones I havent been to, I can say they have been vouched by locals and visitors alike.
Taitung County is a long narrow county on Taiwan’s Southeast Coast. It has become increasingly popular over the last decade. Folks come here for a variety of reasons. It is an internationally ranked and renowned Surfer’s paradise with some world-class surf tides. It has amazing ocean views and activities as well as beautiful mountains/hiking/hot springs and natural wonders to explore. It also has one of the most dense populations of Indigenous people in Taiwan with multiple tribes calling Taitung area their home. It is also unspoiled. It attracts backpackers, surfers, outdoor enthusiasts as well as the rich and famous who flock here to build their vacation/retirement homes in the pristine and calm landscapes of the region. In some ways it is Taiwan’s Bali before Bali became overrun by tourists.
Getting To Taitung
Flight from Taipei Songshan Airport to Taitung is around NTD$3000 (USD$104) roundtrip. Flight time is around 1 hour. Both Mandarin Air and Uni Air operate the route. This full fare price is most often valid for a year for the exact same route, refund fee is around $NTD150. Domestic flights in Taiwan are very efficient, safe and comfortable.
Train from Taipei Main Station: Depends on which train to take but for comfort and speed of travel down the East Coast (there is no high speed rail on this side) I recommend taking the Puyuma or Taroko Express, travel time is just under 4 hours, although these tickets are extremely hard to get. Tickets for express trains open for sale around 2-3 weeks prior to date of travel at midnight Taipei time, and usually get sold out in seconds, but because people have 24 hours to pay, many tickets open up the next day, there are also always tickets blocked by travel agencies that can become available too. Just note you and family/ friends may not be seated next to each other. These tickets cost around NTD$783 (USD$28) one-way, you can even opt to pre-order a Taiwan railway bento box for the journey, delivered to you at your seat after Hualien station. Tickets are easily changeable/ refunded, except for no-show scenario. There is also the local train that takes anywhere from 5-7 hours.
NOTE: if you want to start your journey in any of the towns along the Rift Valley 縱谷, you can purchase your train ticket to end at any of those stations. Popular ones include ChiShang 池上, GuanShan 關山, LuYe 鹿野 (Where the annual Taitung Hot Air Balloon festival is held every summer). Other stops past Taitung are TaiMaLi 太麻里 and the ZhiBen 知本 hot springs.
Getting Around Taitung
The foremost way is to rent a car and drive around the county. Whether you start or end in Taitung City or any of the cities along the rail line. If you want to go along the coast where there is no train access, you really have to rent a car or hire a driver/ transport. Taitung is a long and narrow county, it is not recommended to rent scooter/motorbikes. Taxis are available at train stations and airports but they are really only economically feasible to get your around Taitung City or to and from your accommodation. Taxi fare beyond Taitung City is quite expensive, just from Taitung Airport to your Taitung City Hotel can cost almost NTD$250-$300, and that is only a 15-20 minute ride. While you still need to follow general traffic rules, when it comes to parking in Taitung almost anything goes so long as you are not blocking a clear path for other cars to go and not blocking any entryways/exits to buildings/ clearly marked parking lots.
There are buses, but beyond Taitung City, the buses dont run frequently. That is about the only public transit available. Taiwan Rail connects Taimali/Zhiben Hot Springs to Taitung and Northwards towards the Rift Valley before heading into Hualien. As mentioned, no trains along the Taitung coastline.
NOTE: many of the listed places below are cash only and quite a few unfortunately do not speak English nor are there English menus. As the old travel tip goes, point and smile and use your hand gestures if needed! Or perhaps this guide is somewhat of use?
黃記蔥油餅_仁和店 HuangJi Scallion Pancake
No. 37, Renhe Street, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950
劉媽媽古早味 LiuMama Noodles
No. 115號, Lane 339, Zhengqi North Road, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950
太麻里文創咖啡館 Taimali Coffee House
No. 307號, Fujian Road, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950
10AM-6PM ,closed Tuesdays
No. 114號, Zhengqi Rd, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950
4-11PM, Closed Thursday
幸福綠豆湯 XinFu Mung Bean soup
No. 164號, Zhongzheng Road, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950
10:30AM-9:30PM, (6:30PM sundays)
木可蘿蔔糕、柯家早點、寶桑蘿蔔糕MuKe Turnip cake breakfast
No. 125號, Baosang Road, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950
6AM-2PM, Closed Mondays
寶桑小吃（寶桑蚵嗲）Fried Oyster Puffs
No. 135號, Baosang Road, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950
仙草屋 Grass Jelly House
No. 148號, Baosang Road, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950
阿咪米台目 Ah-Mi Thick Rice Noodles
No. 78, Fujian Road, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950
中華早點（台東市）Zhong Hua breakfast
No. 283號, Section 1, Zhonghua Road, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950
Chu Chu Studio 出出實驗坊
No. 671, Section 1, Siwei Road, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950
11am-7ppm weekends, close Mon/Tues
夏安居草食堂 XiaAnJu Vegetarian
Delicious Vegetarian food, including amazing vegetarian pot-stickers and braised mushroom noodles/rice.
No. 147號, Section 1, Zhongxing Road, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950
關山臭豆腐 Guanshan Stinky Tofu
956, Taiwan, Taitung County, Guanshan Township, Heping Road, 87-5號關山公有零售市場
9AM-4PM, Closed Thursdays
Guanshan Night Market, 關山夜市
台東關山和平1村 Peace village Shipping Container food court
No. 1-25號, Heping Road, Guanshan Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 956
11AM-10PM, Closed Mondays
ChiShang is famous island-wide for its 1) Rice 池上米飯 and 2) Bento 池上便當, must have both when you come here. The bento obviously comes with the local rice.
大池豆包豆皮豆漿店 DaChi Tofu Skin/Soy Milk
Tofu Skin/ Soy Milk, must arrive early or they sell out
958, Taiwan, Taitung County, Chishang Township, 大埔鄉39之2號
7AM-12PM or until sold out, closed Wednesdays
吉本肉圓 JiBen Taiwanese Steamed Meatball
No. 118-1號, Zhongshan Road, Chishang Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 958
10AM-8PM, Closed Thursdays
BnB with Restaurant
No. 3-3 號, Wentian Road, Chishang Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 958
Up and coming tasting menu restaurant along the ocean.
962, Taiwan, Taitung County, Changbin Township, 齒草埔16號
Reservation must, must arrive on time.
Juda Shaonian Cafe巨大少年咖啡館
ONE MAN coffee house, be patient he got attitude but is nice
962, Taiwan, Taitung County, Changbin Township, 1號
10:30M-5:30PM, check facebook for update openings
French-Taiwanese nouveau cuisine, refer to my review.
962, Taiwan, Taitung County, Changbin Township, 號
Reservation must, stay at the upstairs BnB
旗遇海味 QiYu Seafood Restaurant
No. 19之8號, Gangbian Road, Chenggong Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 961
Burger joint opened by Akame chef’s brother
No. 136, Zhongshan Road, Chenggong Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 961
Chenggong Douhua 成功豆花
No. 63號, Zhongshan Road, Chenggong Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 961
王記 鬼頭刀專賣店 WangJi Fried Mahi Mahi
Super tasty fried sticky rice cakes/ fried fish/ fried fish balls
No. 53號, Xinsheng Road, Chenggong Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 96143
舊街東河包子 Old Street DongHe Pork Buns
Do not go to the one directly across from 7-11 on the main road, this is the one guides and books will say to go, but its not the best nor is it original. To have original and local favorite’s DongHe pork bun must go to this store.
959, Taiwan, Taitung County, Donghe Township, 東河村395號
幸福時光 Happy Times Breakfast
Breakfast, for their 蛋餅egg crepe they hand make the skin using millet instead of the usual flour, giving it an extra Q texture
959, Taiwan, Taitung County, Donghe Township, 12鄰331號
台東很熱 Taitung So Hot
Shaved ice, with seasonal flavors. Must try the signature Black Sesame with Swordfish floss (sounds weird but I guarantee you its amazing). The environment is insta-worth with swing chairs and a small tub to soak your feet or let your kids play in. It even has cool moisture sprayers to cool you down in the Taitung heat.
959, Taiwan, Taitung County, Donghe Township, 266號
Yasu’s Japanese YaSu 屋
Laidback Japanese izakaya run by Japanese surfer turned local Yasu
959, Taiwan, Taitung County, Donghe Township, 南東河123號
Concluding Thoughts/ Other Mentions
If you are lucky and meet some amazing local folks, they may invite you to a pig roast, which is a fantastic experience.
I hope this little guide helps you find some tasty foods around Taitung. Now, if all else fails remember there is always 7-11. If you are staying in Taitung City, there is also uber-eats and FoodPanda. Further, if you are staying in a AirBnB or Taiwanese BnB you can always count on either having breakfast as part of the deal or simply going to 7-11 or a wellcome or local market to grab some groceries. Why not visit a harbor like ChengGong harbor and grab some fresh catches of the day to BBQ yourself and have a beer and enjoy the moonrise on Taitung’s ocean? There are also a ton of famous bakeries, mostly in DuLan 都蘭, run by expats who have settled in Taitung. Such as 馬利諾廚房 Marino’s Kitchen. For Marino’s I highly recommend you either arrive early or call ahead and order a loaf for the next day or to pick up later in the day as they run out, one of my favorites is their Cinnamon raisin toast, its so good. Dulan is also dotted with lots of charismatic cafes that are all worth checking out as each has its own vibes and you will definitely find one that suits your’s.
At the end of the day, just enjoy Taitung’s laidback nature and the friendly locals. Maybe have a beer with them and sing and dance late into the night.