islands of Matsu offer a tranquil cultural
Cheryl Robbins Translated by Wendy Tzeng
your daydreams consist of escape to a remote
island, you only have to go as far as Taiwan's
offshore islands of Matsu to make them
come true. In addition to traditional stone
and wood houses, military historical sites,
beaches and temples devoted to the Buddhist
goddess of sailors and fishermen, the four
sparsely populated islands of Matsu offer
the ultimate in tranquility.
is the hub and largest of the four islands.
Its attractions include Fuhsing Village,
made up of traditional stone and wood dwellings.
This village is home to the Matsu Winery,
which produces Matsu Old Wine, a strong
clear liquor. The process for making this
liquor was brought over from China over
200 years ago. This liquor is aged in Tunnel
88, a tunnel that was once used for military
purposes. One of the things you will notice
in Nangan is the abundance of soldiers.
In recent years the military presence has
been reduced from its former numbers, but
it is still a common site to see soldiers
in combat fatigues. Nangan maintains many
traces of its military history, such as
the Beihai Tunnel. This tunnel was built
in the 1960s to hide small boats, and measures
700 meters in length. It is now open to
is the second largest island. Its most
popular attractions are its uncrowded beaches
and Chinbe Village—a traditional
fishing village. Chinbe is the perfect
place to relax and take in the ocean scenery.
is Taiwan's northernmost territory and
is rich in natural beauty, such as spectacular
coastal rock formations and cliffs. Dongyin
also has a Beihai Tunnel that was built
for the same purpose as the one on Nangan.
The bright white Dongyung Lighthouse is
one of Dongyin's major landmarks and is
a Class 3 historical monument, with a history
of nearly 100 years. Guguang
also features spectacular rock formations
caused by wave and water erosion. There
are two historical monuments—Dongchuan
Lighthouse and Dapu Stone Carving. The
Dongchuan Lighthouse is a Class 2 historical
monument, built during the Ching Dynasty,
using blocks of granite. The interesting
thing about this lighthouse is that it
is still operating, although it is no
longer needed for navigational purposes.
Dapu Stone Carving is a Class 3 historical
monument, consisting of Chinese characters
carved into rock most likely by pirates
three hundred years ago. Fucheng and
Dapu Villages are good places to see
traditional homes—some of which
are undergoing government-sponsored restoration.
main form of travel between the islands
is by boat. Boats between Nangan and
Beigan run every hour from 6:50 a.m.
to 5:30 p.m. Fare is NT$140 one way.
Schedule and other information: (0836)
25151, 23999, 22193
Nangan and Dongyin, the fare is NT$285
one way. The schedule often changes,
so it is best to check the latest information.
Tel: (0836) 25312, 22448
are two boats per day between Nangan
and Guguang. Fare is NT$140 one way and
the trip takes about 50 minutes. For
schedule and other information call (0836)25312,
on land, the main forms of transportation
are buses and taxis. Buses do not run very
frequently, so if you want to get anywhere
fast it will have to be by taxi. Taxi fare
is easy to calculate. It's always NT$100,
no matter the length of the trip or number
of passengers (up to maximum capacity of
the car). If you plan to do a lot of traveling
it might be more cost effective to rent
a scooter for the day (about NT$500).
Air operates several daily flights from
Taipei's Songshan Airport to Beigan and
you are on Matsu, your schedule has to
be very flexible. It is very likely that
your flight will be cancelled due to fog,
especially between the months of March
Keelung boats for Matsu depart at 9:30
p.m. and arrive in Matsu early the next
morning. Prices range from NT$600 to NT$2,000.
Information: (02) 24228267 or 24292117