Welcome to one of Taiwan’s best kept secrets!
Fact checkers beware: I make tons of big claims about Douli on this page! It’s the most this, the most that… Provable? I think so. Just look at those pics…
Very few people have heard of, or traveled to Douli 都歷, a tiny, sleepy coastal village in Taitung County, along Taiwan’s wild East Coast. Here, the mountains are steep, the jungle is thick, beaches are secluded, and the starry sky is simply mesmerizing. It’s the kind of place you’d see on a postcard from Hawaii.
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Douli – Taiwan’s last best kept secret?
Douli is really, REALLY one of the last “secret” coastal towns on the main island of Taiwan. I’ve been wondering if I should even mention it here. A part of me is afraid that by talking too much about it, by revealing its beauty on this website, it’s gonna have the same fate as neighboring Dulan and Donghe. Both those amazing places use to be way off the beaten path. Within few short years, they were sadly overtaken by selfie-loving tourists, entrepreneurs, convenient stores, B&Bs…
An angry email from a local expat
Few years ago, I received an email from a pissed-off expat (from Dulan) who told me I should not mention “their” secret spots (like the main beach!) on Taiwanese Secrets. I remember he accused me of killing (yes, as in removing life) the spirit of the place by bringing in too many tourists. I understand his position. But I also happen to believe that beauty should be shared, and no places belong to a select few.
Where the heck is Douli anyway?
Douli is along Taiwan’s east coast, 10 minutes south of Chenggong, and 10 minutes north of Donghe. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, and that’s why we love it so much. Oh, and it’s along our beloved Highway 11!
Things to Do in Douli
There actually isn’t much to do here, apart from enjoying the elements. Nature feels untouched, there are very few buildings away from the main road, so you can feel like you’re really “out there” as soon as you fork out of Highway 11, along farmers paths and forest roads.
The four main things Ruby and I do when we are in Douli are:
- Sit on the beach (Secret Cove), gaze at the ocean, and watch crabs dig holes in the sand.
- Sit under the stars with a bottle of wine (2?) and hope to see shooting stars.
- Sit on our balcony or the front lawn and just CHILL and appreciate the amazing scenery.
So as you can see, we do a lot of sitting and relaxing while here. It’s a perfect place to unwind, disconnect, leave the iphone in the room, and maybe catch up on some real reading from a real book made of paper. It’s the kind of place where you’d want to have a book that inspires and moves the soul… Something like The Alchemist, maybe.
Douli might not be for you if…
Put simply, there isn’t much around here apart from mountains, sea, and palm trees. So… if you’re in the mood for night markets, shopping, nightlife, Go-Kart racing, Douli most likely won’t be your cup of tea. If you want more action, Kenting might suit you better.
Also, who says nature says bugs, frogs, and critters. During the day, you can hear hundreds of birds chirping all around. At night, the frog orchestra proudly comes alive and creates a deafening symphony. Magic stuff, really. But it’s not for everyone. I personally love it!
Wandering Planet B&B
Over the years, I’ve realized that the place you stay at, can in fact be the main “attraction” or “thing to do” at a destination. Especially if that destination does not have much to do in the first place. Douli is a prime example of that analogy.
When I travel alone around Taiwan, I’m usually more than happy to stay at cheap, shitty motels with hard mattresses and carpets that smell like ashtrays. It somehow reminds me of when I was younger. But when I’m with the wife, I tend to be a little more selective. (I do not need a hair-dryer when I travel solo.)
The one place in Taiwan where we can meet in the middle is Douli’s Wandering Planet – 流浪星球, by far one of my favorite homestays (minsu) in the country. Top 5 for sure!
The cool thing about Wandering Planet homestay is that you get a lot of privacy. There are no buildings around and it’s set on a small plateau between Highway 11 and the sea. At the front, there’s a nice lawn and a pineapple field.
At the back, awesome views of the coastal mountain range with really steep cliffs covered with thick jungle vegetation. To be honest, the location deserves a solid 10 out of 10 in terms of privacy, beauty, and quietness.
On the first floor, at the back there’s an outdoor communal area with picnic tables where you can cook. There’s a sink and a little stove, but there does not seem to be BBQ gear available. If you need pots and pans, you can ask the owner, and he will happily provide that for you.
If you want to have your own BBQ, you could buy a cheap set in Chenggong, 10 minutes away by car or scooter. As you enter the town look for the big “everything store” called 正一 (big red sign).
Of course, there are tons of other B&Bs, guesthouses, hostels, and homestays in the Douli area. Most of them are right on Highway 11, though, which guarantees constant noise pollution from cars, trucks, and big bikes. My advice is try to find a place to stay away from the main road, either toward the sea, or higher up in the mountains. Location first!
Phone Number: +886972097821
Restaurants in Douli
There’s surprisingly quite a few good local restaurants in the area, but nothing big and crazy like in Kenting. No nightlife either. Some of our favorite spots are:
A-mei Sashimi 阿美生魚片
Simple hole in the wall local eatery which provides super fresh seafood, sashimi, sausage on a stick, fried noodles, and aboriginal specialties such as stir fried salty pork with wild mountain veggies. Big portions, quite cheap, unbeatable value!
Address: No. 6, Douli Road, Chenggong Township, Taitung County
Other options worth checking out are Moonlit Cafe 月光海咖啡屋 at the visitor center, Pahanhan 把夯汗 near the 7-11, and A Tree in Douli. (Check map at the bottom of this page for locations.)
Obviously, Donghe, Dulan, and Chenggong have way more dining options. Chenggong has dozens of traditional seafood restaurants and a shop that sells the most badass duck on the island. It’s called 鵝媽媽-胡椒鵝, just copy/paste this in Google Maps and you’ll find it.
Dulan is famous for its legion of foreign-owned eateries, and Donghe has the best tuna-melt sandwich you’ve ever eaten in your entire life (at May How Cafe 美好東河咖啡民宿).
Nightlife / Drinking in Douli
Not much around here, sorry. The nearest bar is in Donghe and it’s called台東衝浪店 Taitung Surf Shop & Hostel. You will find this place at the following address: #182 Highway 11, Donghe Township. In Chinese it’s 959台東縣東河鄉182號
If you want to get a bottle or a case of red wine, you can get some at Pix Mart 全聯 in Chenggong. It’s the big bright blue store on your left as you enter the town.
This part of the east coast offers some of the best surfing in Taiwan. Some beaches around Douli are good for beginners. I promised a local I would not reveal the secret local surfing spot, so I won’t put it on the map. BUT, you could visit Buoyancy Board Store to rent a board (or buy wax) and try to get the lowdown on that (or those) secret surfing spots.
Getting There and Away
There are many ways to get to Douli, but you should know that it is not reacheable by train. The HSR (High-Speed Rail) only makes it as far as Zuoying (Kaohsiung) along Taiwan’s west coast. The normal train (TRA) runs inside the East Rift Valley.
Train + Bus
One popular option is to take the normal TRA train to Taitung City, then take a local bus to Douli. From Taitung Train Station, you want to take buses 8101, 8102, 8118, or 8119.
Another option is to take the High-Speed Rail to Zuoying, then take the express bus for Kenting, and get off at Fangliao, then take a train to Taitung City.
Train + Scooter
Quite a few people rent a scooter in front of Taitung Train Station and ride along the East Coast all the way to Douli. Riding a scooter is in my opinion the best way to discover the region. On two wheels, you are now free to visit more places in a short amount of time.
Check out the Islands!
Orchid Island: Lanyu is THE ultimate wildest place in Taiwan. Aboriginal culture, mountains, hiking, snorkeling, road trips, gorgeous viewpoints
Green Island: Lyudao offers world-class scuba diving and one of the only three seawater hot springs in the world. Just an hour away by boat from Taitung City.