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Penghu

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Coastal view Wang-an, Penghu

Penghu 澎湖 (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.


Penghu's Main Islands (澎湖本島)[edit]

Penghu's main islands are accessible by boat or plane from Taiwan and also by plane from an island just off the coast from Xiamen called Jinmen. Penghu’s main islands included the administrative divisions of Magong City (馬公市), Huxi (湖西), Baisha (白沙), and Xiyu (西嶼).


Penghu's Only City Magong(馬公市)[edit]

(Magong is sometimes Romanised as Makung)


Qimei Island (七美)[edit]

To get to Qimei from the main island you take a boat from the South Sea Tourist Centre (南海遊客中心) which is located on reclaimed land down by Magong harbour on Xinying Road. From Qimei Island you can see the famous double heart stone weir (雙心石滬) which is a large stone traditional fishing trap made in the shape of two hearts. You can also see what is believed to be the site of an old fresh water well which is now a sacred shrine dedicated to the Seven Beauties (七美) from which this island takes its name.

The area around Yueli Bay offers some very good snorkeling, with (so far) virtually untouched corals. (Explore a bit for the best spot, or just follow the tour groups. One good area is the sheltered bay down the road a few hundred meters from the designated tourist site.) If you are adventurous, you can taste the "sea grapes" (a species of edible seaweed). Showers and changing facilities are also available. Nearby are some hexagonal rock columns, similar to Giant's Causeway in Ireland, or Jusangjeolli on Jeju Island, except that these are diagonal rather than vertical.

Ji-bei Island (吉貝嶼)[edit]

To get to Jibei from the main island you take a short boat ride from the North Sea Tourist Centre (北海遊客中心) which is located on Baisha Island (白沙). The boat operators offer package deals that include boat fare, unlimited use of water sports facilities such as wave runners - though someone else does the actual riding - banana boats, snorkeling, water slides, and other forms of water activities and a scooter to use around the island.


Wangan Island (望安嶼)[edit]

To get to this island you take a boat from nearby the South Sea Tourist Centre. The main point of interest on Wangan Island is the old courtyard house village ruins that are clustered around several traditional fresh water wells and of course a few temples by the sea. These courtyard houses are believed to be some of the oldest (possibly even the oldest) such ruins in Taiwan. These houses are now overgrown with trees. Hopefully someone will soon recognise their local, national and international architectual, cultural and historical significance and begin restoring them as they would then be an even better tourist attraction particularly as Tea Houses and B & Bs. It is best to rent a motorbike from nearby the Wangan Island ferry terminal which in high Summer should cost between $350NT and $400NT but of course this price is very likely to be cheaper at other times of the year when discounts are likely to be offered.


Other Destinations[edit]

Aimen Village (Ai-men) is located walking distance from Magong airport. Just turn left on the road outside the airport and walk down the road for 5 minutes. Aimen Village is walking distance to beautiful Aimen Beach. Just turn right and walk down the little lane as you enter Aimen Village. This lane is easy to locate as it is signposted and is also lined with coral fences. There are a few B & Bs in Aimen Village which are an easy walk to the beach.

Xiyu Island also has several villages such as Erkan Village that are not only worth visiting but also a good place to stay if you are looking for an island get-a-way holiday.

There are hundreds of B & Bs scattered across Penghu both in the Magong city area and dotted across all the inhabited islands of the archipelago.

Understand[edit]

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 Chinese phrasebook Mandarin and do your research before you get there!

Talk[edit]

The locals speak a Penghu dialect and Mandarin. English is rarely spoken but all National Penghu University of Technology (NPU) students have studied at least one and up to four years of English as part of their university degree studies and many of these students work part-time at Penghu B & Bs and Hotels. Vietnamese is spoken by many local fishermen's wives who originally came from Vietnam (particularly on Qimei, where there is a so-called "Vietnamese Village").

Getting In[edit]

By air[edit]

It is now possible to fly to Magong Airport, Penghu from at least 6 domestic Taiwanese airports including Songshan (Taipei), Taichung, Jiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung and Jinmen Island. Uni Air, TransAsia Airways, and Mandarin Airlines each provide frequent and convenient flights to Penghu. A few regional international flights are expected to commence in the next few years.

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

By ferry[edit]

During the summer months you can also take the ferry from Kaohsiung which takes 5 hours and 5 minutes. From Kaohsiung to Magong costs from $860 NT to $1700 NT one way in Summer 2011 (See full details online [1] Magong to Kaohsiung is slightly cheaper costing from $819 NT to $1619 NT. The ferry departs Kaohsiung harbour at 9am and arrives in Magong harbour about 2:05pm and departs Magong Harbour about 4pm and arrives in Kaohsiuing harbour at about 9:05pm. This service may not be available every day and sailing times are subject to change according to the season. The smaller ferry sails between Magong Harbour and Putai. This journey takes about 90 minutes.

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

Getting Around[edit]

Cars and gas-powered scooters are widely available; however, only those who hold a current Taiwanese driving license can rent vehicles without issue. Due to the introduction of red light cameras, holders of an International Driving Permit are typically discouraged from renting unless they make a deposit for a few months (to ensure payment of potential tickets) or else provide a permanent address in Taiwan.

The airport is about 10 km from Magong City's main street, Jhongjheng Rd.

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 McDonald's.

Sight Seeing[edit]

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.

Itineraries[edit]

One night in Magong, then catch a boat to Qi-mei Island and stay in one of several B & Bs for the night. On returning to Magong spend another night in one of the many B & Bs in one of the villages that are scattered about the islands where you can view the ruins of and some restored traditional courtyard houses, particularly in Erkan Village, Xiyu, that are made from coral and local stones.

Do[edit][add listing]

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 $200NT (Taiwanese Dollar) 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.

Eating[edit]

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 McDonalds.

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.

The neighboring island of Qimei is known for two things: meat rice dumplings, and Vietnamese pork noodle soup (courtesy of the many Vietnamese mail-order brides living on the island). The meat rice dumplings are tasty; the Vietnamese pork noodle soup is better experienced in Vietnam.

Extremely fresh sea urchin can be easily found in various restaurants.

Drinking[edit]

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


Sleeping[edit]

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

Bayhouse Hostel Penghu (Chinese name: 澎湖北吉光背包客民宿) #1 ranking for Penghu hostels on TripAdvisor. The location is great, 1 minute to Shanshuei beach, 15mins to Chong-Cheng Rd. area (中正路商圈) for shopping, and 8 minutes to airport. Rooms are neat and clean, beds are comfy. Excellent English, very helpful and friendly staffs providing great services. Free airport pick up. They can help with booking all activities and tours, such as Squid fishing, Snorkeling, Watersports activities, or boat to see Twin-Heart Stone Weir at Cimei islands on south sea, and you get all travel information from them. You can contact them by Email at hello@bayhouse.tw or you can visit their website at http://www.bayhouse.tw

Erkan B & B (Erkan Minsu) Erkan Village, Xiyu Island Tel. +886-6-998 4496 [www.phnet.com.tw/erkan] $2400NT You should be able to get a heavy discount during the off peak season which is any time outside of Summer. This B & B is in traditional Erkan courtyard houses.

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). It is ranked #1 (out of 170) for Penghu B&Bs and Inns on TripAdvisor. 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-penisula). Free airport pickup and drop-off. Great help with booking activities and tours. Email: penghu.villa@gmail.com

Staying safe[edit]

Typhoons are common in this part of the world during the summer months so remember to keep an eye on weather forecasts as flights may be delayed or cancelled when there is a typhoon.

In winter, Penghu is also well known for very strong winds.

Getting out[edit]

In Summer there is a regular ferry service from Kaohsiung which arrives at a downtown Magong pier from where you can easily walk along the main street and around the downtown area.

However, the main entry point 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. There are regular flights to Magong from Kaohsiung, Tainan, Taichung, Taipei and Jinmen Island. Uni Air sells tickets online so long as you have a credit card but their website is only in Chinese.


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