The diary of our trip to Orchid island in the south of Taiwan, also known as Lanyu (蘭嶼 Lányǔ).
Unfortunately Chiling phone got broken and so I cannot show any of her pictures.
Train to Taitung, Harry Potter themed hostel in Taitung.
Going to Orchid island from Taipei is a bit tricky: the fastest way is to take the plane first to Taitung (台東 Táidōng), and then again the plane to the small airport in Orchid island. However, all the flights were full when we tried to get the tickets the day before we left, so we took the train to Taitung and then the boat to Orchid island, which is also cheaper, but of course take more time. Because we would arrive late in Taitung, we also reserved a night in a hostel there (and when I say "we", I mean of course Chiling).
The hostel was very nice and not too expensive. It's called 19th-platform B&B. They have a Harry Potter themed decoration in the living room. The owner was nice enough to pick us up at the train station, and also let us use her bicycles.
Bicycle in Taitung, Boat trip to Orchid island, meet Mathieu & friends, cold spring, blue café
We spent the morning in Taitung, I did some bicycle while Chiling -that is not too much into biking- stayed at the hostel.
Around 12pm the hostel owner drove us to the pier, on the way we bought some 7/11 food to eat on the boat. And we finally reached Orchid island in the afternoon. The plan was to meet up with my friend Mathieu and some of his friends that were already on the island. Because we had no way to contact them (no 3G coverage for Taiwan DaGeDa in Orchid island), we first rented a scooter and drove to our minsu (thanks again to Chiling for taking care of all the booking!), and when we arrived there, Mathieu was waiting for us. The minsu we went to was called "Ayoy guest house". Pretty cheap, but good enough for us.
We had some time before the dinner, so Chiling and I went to the nearby cold spring, that is actually just a small pond of water near the sea. I have to say, even though this was recommended by everybody, it is probably not the best place to bath in Orchid island.
Later, we went back to the minsu, bought some barbecue and beer at the small market around there, and then join Mathieu and the other guys for dinner at a restaurant called "Blue Café"
"Secret cave", tour of the island, Green Field, stars watching
Near the place where we had breakfast, some locals told us about a "secret place" where we can swim, one guy lead us there with his scooter. The place is almost impossible to find if you don't know about it. It's a very nice natural pool with fresh water. I think this is what the map refers as the "Lovers Cave", and it is indeed a good place to be for a couple if you are (like us) lucky enough to be alone there.
After the "secret cave", we just drove all the way around the island and stopped anytime we saw something interesting, which is probably the best thing to do there (by the way, if you go to Orchid island make sure you have a driving license of some sort because I really don't know how you can do anything there without a scooter).
Around 5pm we joined Mathieu and the other guys for a walk in the "Green Field". The plan was to watch the sunset from there, but it was too cloudy and so we just went to have dinner around Hongtou village.
At night Chiling and me went away from the minsu to watch the stars, turned out some group of people were doing the same thing. There is an amazing sky with almost no light pollution, it was a good opportunity to test stellarium mobile on my iPad.
Snorkeling, Owl watching
This day was almost entirely dedicated to Snorkeling. We got the equipment from our minsu. There are a few recommended Snorkeling spots in Orchid island. The best is definitively the few small ponds near the airport. It is a bit small, but there are plenty of fish to be seen there. One of the other spots we tried in the north had so much current that is was a bit dangerous.
The evening we tried one of the local activity, which is to go at night to watch the wild owls living on the island.
Epicurean restaurant, an other cold spring, back to Taipei
We woke up very early to catch the sun rise from the roof of the minsu next to ours (by the way this minsu owner was really nice, he let us in even though we don't stay there, and he also allow us to us his gloves for snorkeling).
Since we were leaving that day we didn't have that much time, but I would say we did pretty much all there is to do in Orchid island. We used the few hours we had to visit the weather station in the middle of the island, and then we had lunch at the "epicurean restaurant", where they serve flying fish. Just before we took the boat back to Taitung, we went to an other cold spring spot recommended by the restaurant waitress (sorry no picture). We were a bit worried because our scooter was getting low on gas, and there is only one station in the island, but in the end we made it OK.
Once back in Taitung, we had a few hours to spare before the train to Taipei, so we rented a scooter and visited the city a bit. After that, an uncomfortable trip back to Taipei, with the air condition so strong that I was freezing the whole night (a common problem in Taiwan).
All in all I think Orchid island is a nice place to visit, with very beautiful landscapes, but not as fun as the nearby Green island in my opinion.
All the prices are for two persons, I probably missed a few things.
|Day 1||Train to Taitung (round trip)||2,780 TWD|
|Hostel in Taitung||1,680 TWD|
|Total day 1||4,460 TWD|
|Day 2||Drive to pier||250 TWD|
|7/11 food for the boat||163 TWD|
|Boat tickets (round trip)||4,600 TWD|
|Total day 2||9,913 TWD|
|Day 3||Breakfast||155 TWD|
|New flip-flops, water||180 TWD|
|Beer + Jidan||140 TWD|
|Total day 3||1,100 TWD|
|Day 4||Breakfast||195 TWD|
|Snorkeling equipment||400 TWD|
|Night owl tour||400 TWD|
|Total day 4||2,235 TWD|
|Day 5||Drink||180 TWD|
|Lunch Epicurean restaurant||700 TWD|
|Taxi to Taitung||200 TWD|
|Dinner hot pot||400 TWD|
|Total day 5||1,750 TWD|