Penghu, Taiwan: The Hawaii of Asia
Penghu is an archipelago of 90 beautiful islands off the west coast of Taiwan. The island chain enjoys great weather and has a wide assortment of beautiful scenery such as white sand beaches, coral reefs, and stunning blue water.
How to Get to Penghu
The majority of flights to Penghu originate from Songshan Airport in Taipei. This is a small airport that is geared towards regional flights.
We flew from Los Angeles (LAX) to Taipei Taoyuan International airport, had some lunch at the food court on the lower level, and took a taxi to Songshan Airport. The cab ride took about 30 minutes, and we were immediately stunned by how green and lush Taiwan is.
The flight from Songshan in Taipei lands in Magong (Penghu), and the entire trip takes about an hour. Magong is the largest city in the Penghu island chain and is the place you will likely be based out of if you visit. It has a great selection of hotels, restaurants, and tourism services.
Magong used to be a somewhat small town, but the tourism boom has caused it to grow exponentially. There are now some truly amazing hotels in the city. We found one of our hotels through Expedia and the other through the Marriott Bonvoy (previously Marriott Rewards) program. There is a wide selection of hotels for all price ranges, so you should have no problems finding something that suits you.
MF Hotel Penghu
The MF Hotel is a middle-of-the-line “3-star” hotel. However, a 3-star in Penghu is much better than a 3-star in California. This hotel was modern, tastefully decorated, and extremely clean. The location was amazing, and we could walk to most places we wanted to visit on the main island. We spent 4 nights here, and we would highly recommend it!
Four Points Penghu
All we have to say is WOW. In North America, the Four Points brand is geared towards business travellers and has some basic amenities, but nothing to write home about. In Penghu, the Four Points is a 5-star hotel that is as nice as any Ritz-Carlton or Fairmont we have ever stayed at.
The staff here all spoke great English and did everything possible to make our stay comfortable. Every time we exited the elevator on the main lobby, a staff member greeted us and assisted with anything we needed—such as booking a snorkeling trip, making a restaurant reservation, and getting a taxi.
Since we are Marriott Gold members, they upgraded our standard room to a corner room on the highest floor. The most impressive feature in the room was the smart glass walls. With the flick of the switch, you can turn the smart glass either transparent or opaque.
The Four Points Penghu also has a fantastic gym, a surprisingly reasonably priced spa, and a wide assortment of restaurants that ALL served fantastic food.
We used our Marriott points to book the 3-night stay, but this hotel would have otherwise cost us about $300 a night since this was the high season.
The Penghu Ocean Fireworks Festival Is a Must-See
We have been to a lot of fireworks festivals in California, New York, Vancouver, Toronto, and multiple countries in Europe, but nothing we have previously seen comes close to the amazingness that is the Penghu Ocean Fireworks Festival.
They launch fireworks from a boat as well as a bridge. The result is that spectacular fireworks cover your entire field of vision. Believe us when we say that they truly spared no expense for this fireworks display since this is one of the biggest summer attractions in Taiwan. Check out the videos we took for a small sample of the fireworks show.
Three More Things to Do in Penghu
1. Visit Aimen Beach
The beach is a 15-minute cab ride from downtown Magong. This amazing location features white sand, beautiful water, and activities such as beach volleyball and jet skiing. If you get sunburnt, most of the taxi drivers in town can show you where the wild aloe vera are. We took a quick detour after the beach to get some all natural aloe vera, and it healed up our burns in no time!
2. Check Out the Street Performers
Taiwan is known for great street performances, and some of the best ones come to Penghu during fireworks season. Go for a walk downtown on the weekend, and you’re likely to come across some awesome performances. Check out the video of the fire dancer we saw just outside of our hotel.
3. Go Snorkeling
We have been snorkeling in a lot of different places, and Penghu offers one of the best experiences around. There are lots of corals in the water, and an abundance of tropical fish. You can book a snorkeling trip through your hotel, or just buy some gear and hit the waters. The best spots usually require getting in a car or scooter, though, and the best locations are not well advertised online.
Our hotel set us up with a local snorkeling operation, and they took us to a secluded cove that we would not have found ourselves. We highly recommend snorkeling in Penghu!
One Thing to Avoid in Penghu
There are lots of tours that will take you to different islands for their local attractions. We took one of these tours that showed us around three different islands. Unfortunately, we found them very underwhelming and the boat ride was extremely rough—every single one of the 40 people on the boat threw up.
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© 2019 Edwin