A Guide to Penghu 澎湖

May 22, 2018

Penghu 澎湖 is a collection of small islands in the Taiwan Strait, located just off the west coast of Taiwan, and offers beautiful white sand beaches, fresh air, friendly people, delicious seafood, and plenty of history and culture to explore. It's the perfect place to escape to if you need a weekend break from the bustling cities of Taiwan, or if you have more time and really just want to relax on the beach and explore another unique part of Taiwan.

 

After spending 5 days on Magong, the biggest island of Penghu, I can safely say that it exceeded my expectations. I can highly recommend it to everyone who wants to explore and experience another unique slice of Taiwan. Below, I share with you the best way to get to Penghu, where to stay, what to eat and what to do. I've also included a helpful map of all the places mentioned, which you can access through Google Maps.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

 

Airplane

 

Flights to Penghu depart out of all the big city airports in Taiwan, including Taipei, Taichung, Kaoshiung, Chiayi and Tainan. From Taipei, you can fly out of Songshan Airport (Taipei's city airport), making it super easy and convenient to get to Penghu in under an hour. Book your tickets online, at the airport desk, or at any 7/Eleven in Taiwan. Return tickets typically go for under 5000TWD and the flight time is 45 minutes from Taipei. We recommend Mandarin Airlines when booking your tickets online, as the website is in both English and Chinese and very user-friendly.

 

Ferry

 

Ferries to Penghu depart from Kaohsiung and Chiayi, and the journey can take up to 4 hours. Return tickets typically go for under 2000TWD. You can find more information on the schedules and ticketing here.

 

 

WHERE TO STAY

 

If you're staying on the main island of Penghu, Magong, and you want to relax at the beach, we recommend staying nearby the big swimming beach, Shanshui. There are a few B&Bs lined up next to the beach, and the area is very peaceful and laid back. We stayed at the Tile Dome Hotel, which I recommend for their spacious rooms, Instagram-worthy exterior and easy access to the beach.

 

You can also stay in, or close to, Magong City. There are a few B&Bs in the city where you'll be able to explore the city from on foot, and also a few that's not in walking distance from the city, but easily accessible by car, scooter or taxi. These places offer more privacy and space. We stayed at the Oasis Hotel, which I recommend for their amazing rooftop pool and comfortable rooms.

 

More places to stay: Mahalo B&BLaguna Villas & Resorts, Four Points by Sheraton Penghu, Bel Panorama

 Tile Dome Hotel (Shanshui beach)

Tile Dome Hotel (Shanshui beach)

 Oasis Hotel (Magong City)

 Oasis Hotel (Magong City)

 

HOW TO GET AROUND

 

It is absolutely essential to rent a car or a scooter while you are there. Even if you are planning on staying in one area, you will probably need to travel a little to get to a convenience store or a place to eat. For this, you will need a valid Taiwanese driver's license or an international driver's license.

 

Scooter

It's easy to rent a scooter, just ask the staff where you are staying to organize it for you. To rent a scooter costs about 350TWD a day, and it's less than 100TWD to fill up the tank. If you rent one, make sure you get good helmets (they should give you two), and be very careful when driving. If you're not used to driving a scooter, just practice a little before taking on the bigger roads. Find a place to rent a scooter here.

 

Taxi

Taxis are available, but they don't just appear from around every corner like in Taipei. Whenever we needed a taxi, the staff from where we stayed called one and they showed up in under 10 minutes. Find more info about getting a taxi in Penghu here.

 

Car 

There are plenty of car rental companies in Penghu and it typically costs around 1200TWD per day. Get more info about where to rent a car in Penghu here.

 

 

WHAT TO EAT

 

Penghu is famous for its seafood and there are restaurants serving fresh dishes aplenty. Other than that, you should also try their scallop pancake (蔥抓餅), brown sugar cake (黑糖糕), peanut candies (花生酥), salty pastries (鹹餅), and the popular cactus ice cream (仙人掌冰). If all else fails, we did spot a McDonalds and MOS Burger in Magong City, and of course a bunch of 7/Elevens where you can buy meals. My friend, who's a Penghu local, highly recommends 傻愛莊, where you should try their seafood, pastries, noodles and fried tofu.

 Cactus Ice Cream (仙人掌冰)

 

WHAT TO DO

 

Relax by the beach. Shanshui beach (山水沙灘) is my personal favorite, because even though we were there in July, the beach was deserted. Aimen beach (隘門沙灘) is also very popular, especially for water sport activities

Shanshui beach (山水沙灘)

Shanshui beach (山水沙灘)

Shanshui beach (山水沙灘)

Aimen beach (隘門沙灘)

 

Scooter trip around the island. I HIGHLY recommend you to do this. Start early in the morning and stop at all the famous sites along the way, where you can take photos and enjoy the scenery. It takes about 4 hours to do the entire journey from Shanshui beach (山水沙灘) all around Magong Island to the Yuwengdao Lighthouse (漁翁島燈塔) and back. It can be done faster, for sure, but take your time and stop often to stretch your legs. Starting from Shashui area, first stop at the the Fenggui Cave (風櫃). You can drive all along the coast and will pass by pastures with cows, picturesque harbors, and lots of temples. 

Fenggui Cave (風櫃)

As you head North, stop by the Zhongtun Windmill Power Park (中屯風車) and the old Banyan Tree (通樑古榕). After that, cross over the Penghu Great Bridge (澎湖跨海大橋). Many people stop there to take pics of the bridge, which seems to go all the way to the end of the Earth. After that, stop at a place called Whale Cave (鯨魚洞). Sorry, no whales here, but there are some cool geology sites to admire, and this is also a good place to make a pit stop if you're feeling peckish. 

Zhongtun Windmill Power Park (中屯風車)

Penghu Great Bridge (澎湖跨海大橋)

 Whale Cave (鯨魚洞)

 

As you head onward, stop at the Erkan Ancient Residences (二崁村聚落協進會). You can spend some time walking around the houses, taking photos and even enjoy some fresh pineapple juice. Your next stop should be the Daguoye Columnar Basalt (池東大菓葉玄武岩) cliffs. 

Erkan Ancient Residences (二崁村聚落協進會)

Erkan Ancient Residences (二崁村聚落協進會)

 

Afterwards you can drive to the Yuwengdao Lighthouse (漁翁島燈塔), the earliest lighthouse recorded in Taiwan's history. As you turn to head back, you can stop at Wai-An Harbor (外垵漁港), which is a quaint fishermen's village. (If you're an avid photographer, you'll love this picturesque harbor.) From there it takes about an hour of non stop driving to get back to the Shanshui beach area. 

Yuwengdao Lighthouse (漁翁島燈塔)

Wai-An Harbor (外垵漁港)

Explore Magong City. Go walk around and explore the historical areas where you can see Mazu Temple (澎湖天后宮), Zhongyang Old Street (中央老街), the Four-Eyed Well (四眼井) and the Military Housing Culture Area (外婆澎湖灣銅像)

Mazu Temple (澎湖天后宮)

Mazu Temple (澎湖天后宮)

Zhongyang Old Street (中央老街)

Four-Eyed Well (四眼井)

Military Housing Culture Area (外婆澎湖灣銅像)

Military Housing Culture Area (外婆澎湖灣銅像)

Military Housing Culture Area (外婆澎湖灣銅像)

Military Housing Culture Area (外婆澎湖灣銅像)

Go island hopping. If you have time, take a boat to some of the other islands of Penghu, like Qimei (七美鄉) where you can see the famous Twin Heart Stone Weir (七美雙心石滬) and basalt cliffs, or Jibei (吉貝嶼), where you can frolic on the most beautiful white, sandy beach.

 

 

OTHER INFO

 

Limited English. I have to point out that very few people speak English in Penghu. That said, most street signs are in English and Chinese, so it's not too hard to navigate. I wouldn't say it's impossible to communicate in English, but you might have to download some kind of translator app for the occasion. 

 

Laid back locals. Most locals are laid back and extremely friendly and helpful. You will feel very welcome!

 

Hot summers, windy winters. It gets extremely hot during the summer months, especially July and August, so cover up and lather on those SPFs when you're out. The locals mentioned that it can get very windy and unpleasant over the cooler months, and that's why there are almost no tourists during the Winter. Even though we went during Summer, the high tourist season, the beaches were almost deserted during the day and the streets were never crowded.

 

More information. Penghu National Scenic Area Administration Tourism Bureau's website is available in English and Chinese, and is filled with plenty of information that will help you plan your trip to Penghu. Check it out here.

Ask for a helpful Penghu Tourist Map when you arrive at the airport, or at your accommodation's front desk (It's available in English and Chinese.) Below, you can also find a Google Map of all the places mentioned in this post.

 

A Guide to Penghu MAP 澎湖

 

If you have any further questions about visiting Penghu, please feel free to shoot us a message or email.

 

Happy travels!

 

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