Orchid Island: The Emerald of Southern Taiwan
The Orchid Island, also known as Lanyu, is the jewel of Taiwan. Unlike Green Island (another island in the Pacific and much closer to Taiwan) which is known for its hotels and well-furnished tourist attractions, Orchid Island is the place to go if you are a nature-lover and prefer things the “natural” way.
Getting to the island is a serious challenge for many people. There are two ways to get there – by sea or by air. Getting your hands on the small plane that flies to the local airport is tough, to say the least (each flight carries less than 20 passengers). Therefore, most tourists reach the island by ferry which leaves from either Taitung or Kenting twice a day. How travelers take the 2.5 hour ride depends on the whims of Mother Nature (don’t worry, there’s sick bags readily available on board).
Accommodation on the island is not really a problem, thanks to the presence of large numbers of B&B. However, it might be a hassle for international travelers because a lot of the websites for reservation is in Chinese. Prearrangement is a must, especially for trips during the summer seasons. There are six villages on the island, each with their B&B.
Transportation on the island can be any of the following: scooters, bicycles, or walking. It takes about 2 hours to ride around the island on scooter. Visitors can contact the owners of the B&B to help with scooter rental. However, be reminded the road conditions are less than ideal (especially after typhoons or storms). There are also public buses, but services are few and far between.
There are two supermarkets on the island – both located on the west side (though small stores do exist here and there). The only gas station is next to the port, so most likely you’ll see lines of scooters waiting to fuel up any time of the day. In case someone gets sick, there’s a small hospital (again, on the west side of the island – next to a post office with the island’s only ATM).
Dining is not a problem, as there are restaurants and shops offering things from beef noodles to local delicacies. However, prices of goods can be a bit high because most supplies come from Taiwan. Two Orchid Island delicacies that visitors can try are flying fish and local-grown taro (example: taro ice cream).
Some of the more popular activities on the island include diving and night tours. Again, most B&B on the island either have their own contacts or offer these services themselves.
One thing to keep in mind is to bring sun screens or other gears to reduce the blazing effects of the tropical sun. It is possible to get sunburned at the end of the day if you don’t have any protection.
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