Baishawan Beach in Kenting in southern Taiwan

Kenting in Taiwan: The Asia Beach Destination You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

While Kenting National Park in southern Taiwan’s Pingtung County is very well known by Taiwanese people as a top beach vacation destination, it is not exactly on the international radar. Those in the know will tell you to add Kenting to your Taiwan itinerary – here is my Kenting travel guide to help you plan your trip.

Taiwanese beer at Nanwan Beach in Kenting Taiwan

Kenting National Park stretches almost along the entire beach-filled southern peninsula of Taiwan. It received national park status in the mid-1980s, and is best known for its tropical climate, string of beaches and stunning coastline stretching from Baishawan Beach in the west and Cape Eluanbi in the east.

Colourful deck chairs on Xiaowan Beach in Kenting National Park in Taiwan with text overlay Baishawan Beach in Kenting Taiwan with text overlay Woman walking in front of Sail Rock in Kenting Taiwan with text overlay
Viewing platform in Eluanbi Park in southern Taiwan

Though it is a crowd-favorite beach destination among Taiwanese people and expats, Kenting (pronounced “Ken-ding” or 墾丁 in Chinese) could still very much be considered a hidden gem in Asia.

Thanks to the practically year-round warmth and sunshine it receives, Kenting is a fantastic holiday destination looking for accessibility, plenty of hotel options, range of activities and landscapes on offer and fewer crowds.

Read on for important Kenting travel tips, where to stay and the best things to do in Kenting for first-time visitors.

Quick logistics tips for visiting Kenting National Park

Phone company at Kaohsiung Airport in Taiwan

✈️ The main international airport serving Kenting National Park is in Kaohsiung (airport code KHH). If you are kicking off your Taiwan itinerary and flying into Taipei instead, the high speed rail will take you to Kaohsiung Zuoying HSR station in approximately 2 hours.

🛂 Most visitors to Taiwan do not require a visa for entry. See here for more details. Save yourself some time and fill out the Taiwan arrival form ahead of time here, so you aren’t left scrambling filling in a paper version at the airport or on the plane.

💱 The local currency in Taiwan is the New Taiwan Dollar, or NTD. The exchange rate hovers at around US$1 to NTD28, or 1 Euro to NTD34. Cash is king, especially in Kenting, so you should withdraw some when you arrive in Kaohsiung. You may be hard-pressed to find ATMs that accept international debit cards, and many smaller restaurants and transportation providers in Kenting may not accept credit cards.

📱 Buy a local SIM card to stay connected and to use Google Maps. The easiest way to buy a Taiwan SIM card is via Klook – you can get a Taiwan tourist SIM card and pick it up from the airport on arrival.

Nanwan Beach in Kenting National Park in Taiwan

🌤️ The best time to visit Kenting is typically considered to be during the summer months between May to October. However, we found it to be very, very hot already in April. To avoid the crowds and blistering heat you may want to consider visiting Kenting in the shoulder season from March to May and September to November. The temperature rarely drops below 20 degrees Celsius throughout the year in Kenting.

A word of warning: Kenting can get extremely busy over public holidays and also major festivals like the Taiwan Music Festival (usually held in April). You will find that hotel prices tend to go up drastically over these dates and popular hotels in Kenting book up quickly, so make sure you book ahead!

🏄 Kenting is a popular surf destination in Taiwan. It does occasionally receive typhoon swells during the summer months between June to August/September, but the most consistent surf is typically between the monsoon season from October to March. Popular surf beaches include Nanwan Beach and Gangkou/Jialeshui on the eastern coastline of Kenting.

🌐 The main language spoken in Taipei is Mandarin. If you do not speak Mandarin you may run into a language barrier when communicating with shopkeepers, taxi drivers, waiters in restaurants and people on the street. However, the language barrier should be minimal with anyone working in the hotel and hospitality industry.

🗓️ Wondering how many days to spend in Kenting? For a first time visitor I would recommend spending no fewer than 3-4 days in Kenting National Park.

Where to stay in Kenting in Taiwan

Swimming pool at Gloria Manor in Kenting National Park in Taiwan

If you are looking for a stunning luxury stay in Kenting then check out Gloria Manor, located in the National Forest Recreation Area in the mountains of the national park. While it doesn’t have beach access it has a gorgeous pool and offers a sweeping view of the iconic Mount Dajian peak and Kenting coastline. It’s easy enough to pop down to the beaches – Xiaowan beach is but a 5-minute drive away, or you can take the hotel’s free shuttle.

Ocean view room at Gloria Manor in Kenting in South Taiwan

We stayed in the stunning 33-square meter Ocean View Room and were delighted by the light-filled space and private balcony. Families with young children will appreciate the indoor air-conditioned playroom filled with toys and books – perfect for those sweltering Kenting days. Click here to check rates and availability at Gloria Manor in Kenting, or read my full hotel review here.

Haku Days Inn in Kenting Taiwan
Chuanfanrock Haku Beach Days Inn

Interested in checking out other options for accommodation in Kenting? Here are some other highly-rated hotels in the area – we also personally considered staying at these hotels:

Caesar Park Hotel Kenting: If it’s a resort you’re after, this Kenting luxury hotel has all the facilities you could ever want. It is especially popular with families traveling to Kenting, offering an indoor children’s playground and games for older kids as well. Most of the rooms have been updated and renovated, and the hotel is just across the street from the manicured Xiaowan Beach – if easy beach access is important to you then this is a no-brainer. Click here to check rates and availability at Caesar Park Kenting.

The Wandering Walls: A destination in and of itself, The Wandering Walls is a must-see for architecture lovers on the western end of Kenting National Park. There is nothing cookie-cutter about The Wandering Walls – there is an on-site restaurant and rooftop pool, and you are a 20-25 minute drive from Baishawan Beach or 40 minute drive from Kenting town. Ultimately we decided to stay further into the national park area to be closer to the main beaches and towns. It is family-friendly, however as a boutique hotel it does not have any facilities beyond the pool. Click here to check rates and availability at The Wandering Walls.

Chuanfanrock Haku Beach Days Inn: This small Kenting boutique hotel is conveniently located in front of the iconic Chuanfan Rock or Sail Rock. The modern beach-inspired rooms sit above their own cafe which serves up delicious coffee and pastries. There is no dedicated parking so if you are self-driving you will need to rely on street parking or park in a paid lot nearby. I would recommend this for independent solo travelers or couples visiting Kenting. Click here to check rates and availability at Haku Beach Days Inn.

How to get to Kenting National Park

Road sign for Kenting National Park in Taiwan

The best way to get to Kenting National Park is by rental car, express bus or private hotel shuttle from Kaohsiung – the drive from Kaohsiung to Kenting will take at least 2 hours depending on traffic.

We rented a car via Klook from IWS, a local car rental company. Their representative met us at Kaohsiung airport and then we returned the car in Kaohsiung city on the way back. The car was practically brand new and we were able to rent a child car seat as well.

Rental car in Kaohsiung in Taiwan

I usually use Rentalcars.com for international car rentals but in Taiwan we actually found Klook to be much better with far more car rental companies and vehicle options available. You drive on the right in Taiwan (the steering wheel is on the left) – same as in North America, opposite to the U.K. and Australia.

There is also the Kenting Express bus which departs from Kaohsiung’s Zuoying HSR station every 30 minutes and takes you to Kenting (stopping in Hengchun town, Nanwan beach, Kenting Arch, Kenting police station and Xiaowan – schedule here). Purchase your Kenting Express return bus ticket here.

Alternatively, you can also book a 1-way private transfer if you don’t want to self-drive. Click here to try this highly-rated private intercity transfer between downtown Kaohsiung and Kenting.

Scooter rentals in Kenting Taiwan

Bear in mind that you will still need some form of transportation to get around in Kenting – a popular option is by rental scooter however you will need an international driving permit and most places will require that you are properly licensed to drive a motorcycle.

Ready to book your stay in Kenting? For a luxury stay click here to check out rates and availability at Gloria Manor. You might also consider Caesar Park Hotel Kenting (a 5-star resort across the street from Xiaowan Beach), The Wandering Walls (a design hotel perfect for architecture lovers with a rooftop pool) or Chuanfanrock Haku Beach Days Inn (a small boutique hotel above a cafe with views of Sail Rock). Want to explore more options? You can also check out some alternative Kenting hotel options here.

The best things to do in Kenting National Park

Kenting coastline in southern Taiwan

Kenting National Park is as picturesque as they come – and while it may be most famous for its beaches there is more to Kenting than its sandy shores…but let’s start with the obvious, shall we?

1. Hit the best beaches in Kenting

Taiwanese beer at Nanwan Beach in Kenting Taiwan

Kenting National Park is home to some of the best beaches in Taiwan, so naturally you’ll want to spend your afternoons lazing on the sand. We found the beaches to be very clean, and several even have restaurants as well as paid shower and toilet facilities – it was also very easy to rent umbrellas and chairs for a few hundred New Taiwan Dollars.

Beach bar at Nanwan Beach in Taiwan

We really liked Nanwan Beach (South Bay Beach) which offers plenty of parking and beachfront restaurants for drinks and (mostly deep fried) snacks. This is one of the longest beaches in Kenting and popular with surfers when the swell hits right – there is a surf shop across the road if you want to rent a board.

Xiaowan Beach in Kenting National Park Taiwan

Xiaowan Beach (Little Bay Beach) opposite Caesar Park Resort was also a favorite – there is a lovely beach bar serving up ice cold drinks, or do as the locals do and pick up a takeaway pizza from one of the pizza trucks parked roadside, and take it to the beach! There are plenty of day beds as well as paid shower facilities – one of the best beaches in Kenting to spend the whole day at. Parking is a little trickier here but there is a nearby paid parking lot just a short 5-minute walk away.

Baishawan Beach in Kenting National Park in south Taiwan

The most beautiful beach in Kenting has to be Baishawan Beach (aptly named “White Sand Bay Beach”) on the far west corner – a pristine white-sand beach with several entrances and free parking facilities. Its claim to fame is that Ang Lee filmed scenes from “Life of Pi” here.

Woman standing in front of Sail Rock in Kenting National Park in Taiwan

Finally, head to Chuanfan Rock Beach (Sail Rock Beach) for a laidback beach with plenty of water sports like banana boating on offer. The sand isn’t as fine here and the zooming jet skis can be a bit intense, but we enjoyed our time here nonetheless. If you venture towards Sail Rock itself you can snorkel around the reef – my brother-in-law spotted no less than four sea turtles!

Ready to plan your Kenting itinerary? We stayed at and happily recommend Gloria Manor for couples, families and multi-generational travel. You might also consider Caesar Park Hotel Kenting (a 5-star resort across the street from Xiaowan Beach), The Wandering Walls (a design hotel perfect for architecture lovers) or Chuanfanrock Haku Beach Days Inn (a small boutique hotel above a cafe with views of Sail Rock). Want to explore more options? You can also check out some alternative Kenting hotel options here.

2. Explore Eluanbi Park and Eluanbi Cape

Eluanbi Lighthouse in Kenting Taiwan

We hadn’t planned on exploring the grounds of Eluanbi Park, but unexpectedly spent 2 hours walking down the trails that take you between the famous Eluanbi Lighthouse, the rugged coastline and the forest. Hiking shoes are not necessary, but I would recommend walking comfortable walking shoes.

Cape Eluanbi lookout point in Kenting Taiwan

The park is well mapped out with a number of viewing platforms that overlook the southernmost point, small caves and not to mention the “Southernmost Toilet in Taiwan” if that’s something you’re keen on seeing!

Cave at Eluanbi Park in Kenting Taiwan

Visiting Eluanbi Park is one of the best things do to in Kenting, the views were breathtaking and we were able to explore the quiet cape almost all to ourselves – we only passed a handful of other tourists along the trail. There is ample parking available near the ticket office – as of April 2024 the entry tickets cost 60 NTD per adult.

3. Get immersed in nature

Coral forest in Kenting Forest Recreation Area in Taiwan

The Kenting Forest Recreation Area and Sheding Nature Park are neighboring parks with plenty of walking trails, caves, canyons and rock cliffs. There are wild monkeys in the area as well as the occasional deer.

Cave in Kenting Forest Recreationg Area in Taiwan

Kenting Forest Recreation Area is located 300 meters above sea level and spans 150 hectares. Once submerged under the sea hundreds of years ago, the area now features towering coral reef formations and some of the best preserved caves in Taiwan – don’t miss the Silver Dragon Cave (銀龍洞) and the larger Fairy Cave (仙洞).

GADAUGADU restaurant in Kenting Forest in Taiwan

If you are staying at Gloria Manor make sure you pick up a park entry discount coupon from the reception area before you go. Gloria Manor also operates GADUGADU, a beautiful restaurant offering 360-degree views within Kenting National Forest. There is also a rooftop upstairs where you can take in the sweeping views.

Cars are not allowed to drive into the park, so you will need to park outside and get around on foot through the park – it is not particularly stroller or wheelchair friendly.

Sheding Natural Park is home to more than 300 varieties of plants and butterflies, also featuring coral land. Entry is free. I would recommend choosing one of the two parks if you only have a few days in Kenting and are short on time.

Looking for the best hotels in Kenting? We loved our time at Gloria Manor – one of the best luxury hotels in all of Taiwan. You may also check out Caesar Park Hotel Kenting (a 5-star resort with an array of facilities, just across the street from Xiaowan Beach), The Wandering Walls (a design hotel perfect for architecture lovers) or Chuanfanrock Haku Beach Days Inn (a small boutique hotel with modern rooms across from Sail Rock). Want to explore more options? Here are even more Kenting hotel options – remember, the national park is sprawling and covers the entire Hengchun Peninsula, so consider location carefully!

4. Visit the Kenting Night Market

Night market in Kenting Taiwan

In the evenings, check out the night market that runs along Kenting Main Street. Unlike many night markets in Taiwan which are sectioned off without motor traffic, the stalls and shops at Kenting Night Market simply line either side of the main thoroughfare that runs through town.

Night market in Kenting Taiwan

Kenting is also famous for the area’s fresh seafood and in particular, reasonably priced sashimi platters. We enjoyed our dinner at Chen.Seafood which is located right in the heart of the night market area. After dinner, head out for some dessert and street food at the market – they even have special cocktail bar stalls that serve up classic concoctions!

Pinball machines at Kenting Night Market in Taiwan

Kids will love the classic pinball-esque, balloon shooting and hoop throwing games at the night market – you’re almost always guaranteed to win some sort of small prize.

If you don’t have your own form of transportation Gloria Manor offers shuttle services to a number of these locations – you just have to book ahead.

5. Do a day trip to Xiaoliuqiu

Vase Rock at Xiaoliuqiu in Taiwan

Xiaoliuqiu (小琉球) or Lambai Island, is a small island off the west coast of Taiwan. Most people go on a day trip to Xiaoliuqiu from Kaohsiung, but it is also doable to head out there from Kenting instead.

The ferry terminal serving Xiaoliuqiu is located in Donggang, around 45 minutes by car from Kaohsiung or 1.5 hours from Kenting, and the ferry ride itself takes no more than 25-30 minutes. You can book your Xiaoliuqiu ferry tickets here, we went with Taifu Express. If your child is under 3 years old just purchase the insurance ticket at the counter directly instead of online.

Electric bicycle on Xiaoliuqiu in Taiwan

We absolutely loved our action-packed day at Xiaoliuqiu – I highly recommend renting an electric bicycle (or scooter, if you have the correct driving license) and then zooming around the island – they even have child seats that you can add on. We rented from Jgogo which is just a 3-minute walk from the main pier – rates were incredible reasonable and all their bikes were in great condition.

Sea turtles in Xiaoliuqiu in Taiwan

Some must-see spots include the iconic Vase Rock, Lobster Rock, Secret Beach, Venice Beach and my personal favorite – Beauty Beach. Xiaoliuqiu is a snorkeling paradise and home to hundreds of sea turtles. You don’t even have to venture far or join a tour to spot them in the wild!

Beauty Beach on Xiaoliuqiu in Taiwan

When we visited we rented a pair of snorkels and took turns swimming out – although at Beauty Beach we spotted no less than half a dozen, all while just standing on the beach.

6. Visit all the play areas

Childrens playzone in Kenting Taiwan

This one is for families traveling to Kenting – the main expressway (屏鵝公路 or Ping-E Highway) leading into Kenting from Kaohsiung is lined with all sorts of facilities including go-karting tracks, ziplining, paintballing, alpaca farms and even a haunted house.

Excavators at childrens playground in Kenting Taiwan

My toddler loved this particular play area in Kenting which had a huge array of remote control ride on vehicles, car track, claw machines and even these awesome kiddy diggers that children could sit on and operate.

Looking for the best luxury and boutique hotels in Kenting? We loved our time at Gloria Manor – the outdoor pool is a delight, as is the on-site restaurant. We also seriously considered staying at Caesar Park Hotel Kenting (a 5-star resort with an array of facilities, just across the street from Xiaowan Beach), The Wandering Walls (a design hotel with a rooftop pool on the western end of the national park) and Chuanfanrock Haku Beach Days Inn (a small boutique hotel with modern rooms across from Sail Rock). Still searching? Here are even more Kenting accommodation options.

For more ideas on places to visit in Kenting check out the official website here. It includes some additional Kenting attractions such as Chuhuo (the “eternal flame” site where natural gases leak to the surface and ignite), the Fengchuisha coastal dunes on the east coast and Longpan Park grasslands.

Is it worth visiting Kenting National Park?

Sail Rock in Kenting National Park Taiwan

Yes! It is such an underrated part of Taiwan that is very accessible from Kaohsiung. There are direct flights to Kaohsiung from major cities in Asia like Bangkok, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur, or you can fly into Taipei before taking the high speed train down to Kaohsiung Zuoying HSR station.

Kenting Music Festival in Taiwan

Compared to other popular Asia beach destinations we found it to be fairly uncrowded (unless you are there during the music festival weekend), it was easy to get around with plenty of excellent hotels on offer, and there was a range of things to do and places to visit beyond just the beaches.

For the most part, it has catered to domestic tourism over the past few years. But with everything it has to offer, there is an opportunity for Kenting to become a holiday hotspot for people who are looking for something beyond the obvious beach getaway destinations in Asia.

Nanwan Beach in Kenting National Park in Taiwan

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