Skip Taiwan’s congested cities and head to Orchid Island, also known as Lanyu, off the southeastern coast of Taiwan.
So named because of the eponymous flower that once blanketed the island, it’s a little harder to find today, but Lanyu is still a nature paradise.
With pristine green hills, crystal blue waters and preservation of the unique indigenous Yami culture, visiting Lanyu is like a step back to a much simpler time.
Here’s why you should visit!
1. Rent a scooter (or a car for a more family-friendly option) and marvel at the island’s weird rock formations like Helmet Rock and the Twin Lions (pictured). Can you make out the lions?
2. Scooter rental here is extremely affordable, with rates as low as NT$300 (~S$13.50) per day. Renting policies are usually fairly loose, but make sure you bring along a driver’s license!
3. The drive itself is a must-do in Lanyu. Admire the breath-taking views of land and water while the sea breeze kisses your skin. (P.S. Look out for wild goats!)
5. Or, join a night tour on scooters to spot the rare Scops owl, the second smallest type of owl in the world.
6. If the weather is good, hike to Heaven Lake for excellent vistas. Tell us, is this not the most perfect picnic spot ever?
7. The island is also possibly one of the best, but also the most underrated snorkeling and scuba-diving destinations in Asia.
8. The island’s isolation means it’s home to one of Taiwan’s purest aboriginal tribes: the Tao. They hold some of the most colorful and exotic festivals in Taiwan, from boat-launching festivals (pictured) to the Millet Harvest Festival, with ancient dances and merry celebrations of their enduring Tao identity.
9. Hungry? Definitely sink your teeth into some crispy deep-fried flying fish (pictured) at any of the local shops during summer when in season (Don’t be intimidated by how they look!), or try anything yam or taro for authentic Lanyu fare.
To get there, fly to Taipei Songshan airport (under 5 hours), hop to Taitung (another hour), then connect to one of seven daily flights to Lanyu (30 minutes). Note: The small planes to Lanyu book up months in advance.
Bring cash, as there is just one ATM machine on Lanyu!
By Jaclynn Seah and Pinky Chng, The Finder, December 2016
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