Donghe 東河, in Taitung County, is one of my top 3 beach destinations in Taiwan. I almost want to claim that it’s my favorite place on the whole island, but I won’t say that, because it may give you expectations that could be too high.
Why is Donghe so hot these days?
Donghe is quickly becoming the next coolest spot in Taiwan for nature-lovers, artists, hippies, vagabonds, people who hate the city, and of course, surfers! I can say that it has officially replaced Dulan as the nicest off-the-beaten-track destination on Taiwan’s laidback Southeast Coast.
Most Taiwanese know Donghe for its super-famous “baozi” 包子 a type of bun or bread-like dumpling that can be filled with vegetables or meat. But this page is not about the Donghe’s famous baozi… I’m here to tell you about the beaches, surf, cafes, restaurants, nightlife, and other cool stuff to do around here.
It’s worth mentioning that the main reason why Donghe still has a laid-back vibe and is not madly over-crowded with hordes of tourists is due to it’s location. For most Taiwanese people from Taipei, Taichung, and even Kaohsiung, it’s faster and more convenient to go to Kenting than drive all the way to this “remote” part of Taitung County.
Where exactly is Donghe?
Donghe (which by the way means East River) is situated on the east coast of Taiwan, just north of Taitung City. From Hualien, it takes about 2 hours to get here by car or scooter, and from Taitung City, more or less 20 minutes. Dulan is about 7 minutes away to the south. By car, Donghe is 7 hours away from Taipei. It’s pretty much the farthest place you can travel to on the island from the capital.
Surfing in Donghe
Over the past 5 years, Donghe has become extremely popular for it’s world-class surfing. Waves at Jinzun Beach, Duli, river mouth, and the mega “Taiwan’s Uluwatu” are attracting surfers from all over the world these days. In 2018, the Taiwan Open of Surfing even held the World Longboard Championship at Jingzun Beach just outside Donghe.
Most surfers agree: Donghe (and Chenggong) have the best surfing waves in Taiwan. Beach break, reef break, point break, massive barrels, the area has got something for every level, from very beginner to pro.
Surfing Lessons in Donghe
For surfing lessons or just a day-trip out on the waves with a local, I can only recommend one place: Yolo Surf House! It’s located on Donghe’s quiet street (aka. Old Street).
Yolo Surf House is also a B&B / Hostel where you can spend the night in a very clean and comfortable dorm for as little as 600NT$ per night. Surf lessons are given by Leslie, a very kind and funny Taiwanese guy who knows the area very well.
If you are a beginner, he will most like take you to Douli (Duli) Beach, about 10 minutes north or Donghe. The waves there are very suitable for learners who might be intimidated at Jinzun. A 2-hour surf lesson with Leslie costs 1500NT$. That price includes a surfboard and transportation to the beach.
It’s possible to surf in Donghe year-round. From October to March, the North East winds (dong bei ji feng 東北季風) bring consistent swells to the entire south-east coast of Taiwan, from Hualien all the way to Taitung and beyond.
The summer months bring typhoons, where conditions can become challenging for even the most seasoned surfers. Before, during and after those storms, waves can be head-high and sometimes even double-overhead.
Restaurants in Donghe
You would expect a small place like Donghe to have very little options for eating. Nope! The area is packed with very good restaurants and great little cafes. Here are my favorite places to eat and drink:
Low Pressure Surfer’s Kitchen
Low Pressure is such a nice place to sit down and chill for an hour or two. Or an entire afternoon, or evening. Both the outside and inside sitting areas are well decorated with aboriginal furniture and art.
The food is slightly more expensive than other restaurants in the area, but you definitely can feel that the quality is there for ingredients, cooking skills, and service – which is very professional. I really like their salad, I wish I could show you a picture, but I ate it as soon as it was put in front of me.
The staff is very nice and you can tell they really care about their customers. It’s very obvious that Low Pressure Surfer’s Kitchen is here to stay and its reputation will only keep on getting better and attract visitors from all parts of Taiwan. Their reviews on Google, Trip Advisor, and Facebook are near perfect, and I guess that’s why you pay a little more here.
On the menu, you’ll see burgers, sandwiches, curry with rice, aboriginal set meals, french fries, soup, breakfast items such as bacon and eggs, beer, wine, REAL coffee… The menu is quite big.
I would say that Low Pressure is my favorite restaurant / cafe in Donghe, if not in all of Taitung County. It’s that good!
Mayhow Cafe is also located on the Old Street and it offers a comfortable and simple space to sit down and enjoy seriously good coffee, and super-tasty sandwiches. My favorite one is the tuna sandwich! Staff and owner are friendly and will make you feel at home right away!
Donghe Accommodation / Hostel / Guesthouse
The area is now packed with B&Bs, guesthouses of all types, and cute hostels that cater to the ever-growing number of international and local tourists. Here are my favorite two places:
Yolo Surf House & Hostel
Yolo Surf House and Hostel is a nice little place that backpackers will love for the following reasons: it’s cheap (600NT$ per night for a bunk bed), it’s run by two lovely, friendly people, it’s on the quiet side of Donghe, and they sell beer!
As I already mentioned earlier, Yolo Surf House also offers surf lessons and day-trips at the various beaches in the area, all the way to Dulan and Chenggong.
Check out more pictures of Yolo Surf House on their Instagram page.
Contact Yolo Hostel
Address: No.242, Nandonghe, Donghe Township, Taitung County
Phone Number: 0981 369 550
What’s app : +886 981 369 550 or +886 913 690 110
Getting to Donghe
Getting to Donghe is quite straightforward. You can take the train all the way to Taitung City, then hop on a tourist bus. At Taitung Train station, the signs are clearly labeled in English and it’s a breeze to find the platform to take the bus to Donghe.
Taipei to Donghe
From Taipei Main Station, take a train to Taitung City. You want to take a fast train. The fastest trains are called Puyuma and Taroko. The Taroko train can get you from Taipei to Taitung in as fast as 3 hours and 30 minutes and costs 783NT$. The Puyuma train is only a little bit slower and the cost is the same. The Tze-Chiang Limited Express train takes about 4 hours, 45 minutes and also costs 783NT$.
Check out the following train timetable and fare to travel from Taipei to Taitung City:
Kaohsiung to Donghe
From Kaohsiung, take a train to Taitung City then take a tourist bus to Donghe.
You can get on a train at both Kaohsiung Main Station, or Xinzuoying Station. The cost for Tze-chiang Limited Express train from Kaohsiung to Taitung City is 362NT$ and travel time is 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Taitung City to Donghe
From Taitung Train Station, I would recommend you check the next bus to Donghe through Google Maps. There are many buses and it would be too long to list them all here. You basically want to board a bus that goes all the way to Chenggong or Hualien.
Alternatively, you could get on the free shuttle bus to Dulan, then hitchhike to Donghe, which is only 10 minutes away by car.
Hsinchu and Taoyuan to Donghe
From Hsinchu, Zhubei, Taoyuan, Miaoli, take a HSR or normal train to Taipei, then take train to Taitung, then bus to Donghe.
Taichung, Tainan, Chiayi to Donghe
From Taichung, Changhua, Tainan, Chiayi, take a HSR or normal train to Kaohsiung or Taitung, then take a bus to Donghe.