Kenting National ParkEarth : Asia : East Asia : Taiwan : Southern Taiwan : Pingtung County : Kenting National Park
Kenting National Park (墾丁國家公園; kěndīng gúojiā gōngyuán) is in at the extreme southern tip of Taiwan. It is famous for its beautiful beaches and lush vegetation, and plenty of differents corals.
Although Kenting National Park is located in Kenting, these two places should not be confused as the same destination. Kenting is the wider area that includes small townships as well as the national park. The main town is called Hengchun (恆春古城) which is a bit North of Kenting. Many hotels and hostels are located in this town. You will find an old Qing-era city gate and some remains of the old city wall here. The KenTing National Forest Recreation Area can be reached by bike or scooter from Hengchun.
KenTing National Forest Recreation Area is between 150 and 300 meters above sea level and the total area is 466.8 hectares. 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 both 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 1cm 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-years-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. 
Flora and faunaEdit
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. Currently, 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.
During typhoon season, the waves can get quite rough causing all beaches to be closed.
From Kaohsiung There is both a regular (9188) and express (9189) bus that travels between Kaohsiung (THSR Zuoying Station) and Kenting Street. The express bus runs 08:30 ~ 19:00, every 30 minutes. The ride takes about 2 hours and costs 407NT. 600NT roundtrip, the ticket kiosk is on the second floor of the station, both Easycard and iPass can also be used as payment.
Buses travel frequently from Kaohsiung to Kenting. Take the line 88 from the Kaohsiung bus terminal (don't get confused with city buses). The price for a ticket is roughly 350NT$ (as of June 28, 2011, the price is 230NT$). The transit time from Kaohsiung to Kenting is approximately 2.5 hours, depending upon the general traffic situation.
A shared taxi from Kaohsiung is usually cheaper than the bus. You can arrange a shared cab in one of the many hostels in Kaohsiung. It's a door-to-door service so it's more convenient as well.
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 mins. 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 travelling on the weekend. Weekend trains are often sold out. 
Renting a car is not optimal, but nice if you wish to travel around/within 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 tour vehicleEdit
Transportation to / from Kaohsiung and throughout the broader Kenting area can be optimized by the use of a tour vehicle. Sun Go Travels offers a range of services and a tour vehicle can beat the price and schedule of regional private buses. Contact +886-(0)982-669783 for details.
A motorbike can be rented for 400-600 TWD/day in Kenting from many different storefronts. Users must show a Taiwan motorbike drivers license and sign a rental contract before being given keys. Apparently it used to be easy to rent a motorbike without showing a license, but this is no longer the case since the police cracked down on the shops. 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. Note: Even a full EU Motorcycle licence will not permit you to rent any motorcycle other than one that is battery powered. You can also rent a battery powered (electric bike) without an international driver's license with 2 batteries for NT$600-1000. You can use 1 battery to go east to Eluanbi or further, come back, switch batteries, then head west to Houbihu port for seafood. One or two of the dealers in the area will provide a heavy duty battery if you ask for one. Unsurprisingly, these can last a little longer, but you will still need a spare which should be stowed under the seat.
You can also pre-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. 
There is a shuttle bus that connects several places, there will be bus stops for it and most of them do NOT have a timetable. You will only be able to pick up a pocket-sized timetable at the office in Hengchun. Hengchut is the major tourist hub in the Kenting area, the bus lines are connected here. The bus will take you to places like the marine museum, sail rock, nanwan, baisha bay, the bottom of the hill where the forest recreation ares is, and so on... It is easy enough to take the bus and you can get a day pass at a reasonable price, a day pass costs NT150. Two-day pass costs NT$250 - but you will need to pick up the timetable and plan in advance. There are around 1-2 buses per hour, they are usually on time. You can find the lines, bus stops and timetable online in chinese only, the english version will be available at the office. http://www.ptbus.com.tw/03/0302a.htm
There is only one or two places in Kenting city where you can rent a bicycle for 300TWD a day. Unlike eletrical scooter, you can ride a bike to do a loop around Kenting by going east, then road 200 from Manzhou to Hengchun and finally go back to Kenting. It is a 50 km ride, very windy on the east side, but very beautiful. You can also ride to the National Museum of Marine Biology. Back and forth is around 45 km and can be done in one day.
- KenTing National Forest Recreation Area. 
- National Marine Biology Museum
As in any tourist area, it is advisable to double-check prices. Kenting closes surprisingly early for Taiwan - most shops and stalls seem to shut down at 10pm.
- Surfing is quickly becoming a popular sport at all beaches.
- FuDog Surfing provides lessons at a reasonable price and in English. 
- Jet-Skis can be rented at the more popular beaches, but will generally cost NT$1000/30 minutes during peak times. Inquire with shops that rent motorbikes for more reasonable rates.
- Scooter rides. Take a motorbike ride around the main roads in Kenting, which give you access to several tourist sites. Your motorbike rental operator should provide you with a map of the area; if not ask for one at your place of accommodation. Travellers from EU countries will probably have to make do with low-speed battery powered scooters as EU licences are not accepted as fully valid for motorized bikes and scooters. The vehicles look very similar to the motorized scooters, but rarely reach speeds beyond 40 kilometers per hour. The batteries are only good for a few hours but there's usually a spare kept under the seat. A good tip if you feel brave enough to travel further out of Kenting (some of the narrow roads can be slightly perilous with bus loads of Chinese and Japanese tourists), is to ask for a heavy duty battery. You're unlikely to get one of these unless you specifically request one.
- Go-Karts. There are several fun and exciting Go-Kart tracks in Kenting that offer 18 cycles around the track for NT$100, but not that close to Kenting town.
- Swimming. The ocean is open and safe for swimming at 2 public beaches and numerous (pay) private beaches. Sometimes, the beaches are closed due to high waves in typhoon season.
- Kenting Main Strip. Every evening the main Kenting strip turns into a night market with merchandise, games, restaurants, and street food.
- Oluanpi Lighthouse. The surrounding park area is well worth the trip past Kenting. The lighthouse itself is pretty bland, but the easy hiking trails are pleasant and near the ocean.
- Scuba-diving. Kenting's coast has one of the most variety of corals in the world, with plenty of differents fish. It's a pleasure for beginners to be entertained in this new world, and a pure moment of discovery for the confirmed diver. Best diving areas are around Houbihou. English speaking instructors are limited but there are a few good ones available.
- Sheding. There is a free trail (about 1.5-2 hours of walking) but you have to pay a small parking fee. The gorges are fairly interesting to look at and there are views of the southern tip of the coast. Located near the Kenting Recreational Area.
Thai food is currently in Vogue in Kenting, and virtually every restaurant now offers it. At night the main road in Kenting becomes a night market, with all kinds of food sold from stalls. There are plenty of restaurants too - lots of Chinese (of course), Thai, and a little western. There is also a lot of fresh fruit available and plenty of seafood.
- Chef Papa, No. 142 Kenting Rd. (On the Kenting Strip, across from Family Mart). A great little restaurant/pub with really friendly french owners. Very relaxed atmosphere, open breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night. Has other fun stuff like hookah, and doubles as a bed and breakfast during peak season. edit
- Gelato (?), Nanwan (5-10 minutes North from the Kenting Strip). Delicious gelato and a great place to have an afternoon snack. There is seating in front of the storefront. The place is near the Santosa restaurant. 40-110NT. edit
- Chinese Seafood, Kenting (Across Cafe 85). The seafood is delicious and worth ordering the fish of the day. It is very reasonably priced unlike some of the other seafood eateries offering live fish. 200NT per person. edit
- Fu Dog Surfing, Kenting strip, . At FuDog Surfing, Jonathon cooks up a variety of Western-style food, including delicious pizzas. edit
- Santosa Restaurant, Nanwan (5-10 minutes North from the Kenting Strip). Cheap Thai food that is delicious and filling. Try the seafood fried rice and the basil chicken. The restaurant owner is very friendly. It is close to the 7-11 on the Nanwan strip. About 150NT per person. edit
- Warung DiDi, No. 26 Wenhua Lane, Kenting Rd, Kenting (Hidden down a narrow alley off the main road - follow the signs). Seems to be the most popular restaurant in Kenting, serving a variety of pan-Asian food. A little hard to find, and fills up quickly, but worth a visit. edit
- The Rock Garden, (when going from Kenting, the place is 300 mt off the main road before the bridge; at Jialeshui Beach), ☎ 0925751032. Lovely place in a garden setting, great for a lunch outdoors. edit
- Bossa Nova beach cafe, 100 Nan-Wan road-Nan-Wan beach-Hengchuen-946-TW, ☎ 08-8897137. all day open. cool beach cafe with one of the rare ocean view in the area.solid menu with a large asian selection and a western section as well.wine/coffee/desserts. look for Claire the owner,she is a local and a longtime body boarder,always ready to help you with any infos you might need. edit
- Beach Bistro (Asia-Euro Nouvelle Cuisine ),, No.230, Changfun Rd.Eluan village.Hengchun Township, Pingtung County, ☎ 0919237280 08-8851281, . 10:00am~22:00pm. Beach Bistro is a Greek-style seaside restaurant which offers a mixture of Asian and European recipes. The owner Chang Chung-Ho was born in Kenting and travels to France every year The restaurant offers not only delicious food but also a particularly relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Location NEXT to (Chuanfanshih“Boat Sail Rock) the village name is "Shiangjianwan" NT200$~NT400$. edit
CHEZ PAPA unique foreigner restaurent/pub in street have good drink with selection of wines , belgium beers and cooktails.you can seat in small"terrase" or inside with morocco atmosphere.Place to eat very late .
- Bethlehem B&B & Villa Kenting, No. 674, Chuanfan Road Hengchun Township Pingtung County 946 Taiwan, ☎ +886 88851236, . checkin: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM; checkout: Until 12:00 PM. Bethlehem Kenting is located in Sail Rock, a famous tourist spot and the center point between Kenting Main Street and Eluanbi Park. With a convenient location, it only takes 10-minutes-walk to Sail Rock Beach. NTD1600. edit
- Canaan B&B Kenting, No. 598, Chuanfan Road Hengchun Township Pingtung County 946 Taiwan, ☎ +886 88851601, . checkin: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM; checkout: Until 12:00 PM. Kenting is known as the resort, resort in the deep blue sky blue sea, presumably to make you relaxed and forget this world. As the second South Expressway opened, which makes the traffic more convenient, tourists can enjoy sightseeing tour, explore local Kenting, experience Kenting's warm. Canaan B&B Kenting will be your best choice. NTD. (2400,2800) edit
- Kenting Youth Hostel, No.243-1, Kending Rd., . checkout: 11. Cosy and clean with very friendly staff. Free wifi. 300TWD. edit
- BlueHi Hostel has bikes for rent. Breakfast included. Address: No.32, Ln. 125, Hengnan Rd., Hengchun Township, Kenting
- Travel Apartment, Hengchun town centre (Just turn back when the bus drops you off opposite Hengchun bus station, it's by the square on the same side as 7-11). Very laid-back atmosphere, mostly young local crowd (not a party place though). Both privates and dorms available. Good rate on weekdays. Some stuff speak good English. edit
Resorts and HotelsEdit
Since Kenting's popularity as a destination is rising, it seems like every plot of land that isn't already a hotel or restaurant is being turned into one, and many shops and restaurants have rooms upstairs too, so it shouldn't be too hard to find a place to sleep. The newer hotels are generally nicer but pricier, and you'll want to check there's no ongoing construction that might interfere with your sleep.
The main resort hotel in Kenting is "Château Beach Resort", made famous by the movie "Cape No.7" - it is also the only hotel in the area with direct beach access from terraced rooms.
- The Surf Shack Hostel, #224 Heng Nan Rd., Heng Chun Town, Pingtung County, ☎ +886-8-888-1881 or [email protected], . The Surf Shack Bar, Grill and Hostel is located in Hengchun Town in southern Taiwan. It's a 15min drive north from the tourist town of Kenting. The hostel can arrange scooter and offers a western style restaurant on the first floor with 5 rooms on the second and third floors. There is a large balcony with mountain view on the 3rd floor. Also offers surf lessons, surf tours, surfboard rentals and scuba diving tours in the local tropical waters. Rooms start at 400NT. edit
- Ipanema Surf House, In a small village. Nice and cosy place for an escape from busy beach, ☎ +886 (08) 8866807 or [email protected], . edit
- Meei Shye Hotel has two locations across from each other. On non-weekends, rates are generally low if you go early enough and bargain.
Camping is allowed in the National Park. It is advisable to contact the park directly to setup permits. Several bed and breakfast or small proprietor operations will rent tents and space for camping on their property. []
Like all of Taiwan, the Kenting area is very safe from violent crime. Use common sense when protecting your valuables, and don't leave anything valuable in your car.
Stray dogs, while not violent or aggressive, are everywhere and likely harbor disease and/or parasites. Don't pet them!
During weekends, tourists park all over the sidewalks and entryways, making it very difficult for pedestrians to walk safely and out of street traffic.
- There is a bus to Fangshan (枋山) where you can catch the train to either Kaohsiung or Taitung. At the bus station in Hengchun near the city gate. There is a tourist bus available bringing you directly to Taitung. Tickets are a bit more pricy.
- Bus Line 88 runs 24 hours a day and will take you to Kaohsiung city. The bus will drop you off opposite the operator's storefront. There are usually many taxis waiting at that area, which can take you to the ZuoYing HSR station for no more than NT$120.
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