Gateway to beautiful Kenting National Park, and a tropical paradise!
Hengchun use to only be an ugly, uninspiring transit point between Kenting National Park and the rest of Taiwan. Driving through this township was once seen as an annoyance and a waste of time. Not so anymore. The city has now a vibrant tourism industry thanks to hordes of Taiwanese and international visitors, and a local population who’s openly welcoming the change.
Important note: Make sure to visit Manzhou Township if you are in the area!
Over the past few years, Hengchun has gone through a transformation where traditional noodle shops are turned into Italian cafes, worn out hotels morph into boutique B&Bs, and young Taiwanese from all over the island are eagerly replacing the older generation of shopkeepers and waiters in the hope of a more relaxed lifestyle away from the big cities.
Hengchun has plenty of cool attractions – traditional and new – to keep you busy, such as the night market (see video below).
That trend can also be felt all over the southern tip of the island, around Kenting, Nanwan, and Jialeshui where hordes of kids in their early-twenties move here to “practice work” before going abroad on working holidays.
That being said, I would not recommend that you plan your whole vacation in Hengchun, or to spend most of your time there, but you shouldn’t avoid it completely either. Hengchun is a great place to find accommodation when everything else is fully booked in Kenting or Jialeshui, and its the closest town where you can find supply such as grocery, camping / BBQ stuff, as well as services like hospitals, clinics, hair dressers, post office, and mechanics.
Facts about Hengchun Township
- Hengchun is located in Pingtung County
- Chinese: 恆春鎮
- Written in Pinyin: Héngchūn Zhèn
- Population: +/- 30,000 people
- Entryway to Kenting National Park
Hengchun’s Main Attraction: The South Gate
Hengchun South Gate (also called Ancient City Gate) is the main attraction in town. It’s really easy to find because it’s quite big and it’s in the middle of a big traffic roundabout Hengnan Road, the township’s main drag where most shops are located.
This historical building is one of Taiwan’s most photographed structures, and it has become a symbolic image for tourism in Southern Taiwan and Kenting. There’s no doubt that it’s a really beautiful subject for photographers who want to shoot pictures of anything different than beaches and palm trees.
Other Attractions in Hengchun
I filmed the following video of a Taiwanese man singing Karaoke in front of Guang Ning Temple. After he finished singing his song, the lady who owned the karaoke truck yelled: “Ok, OK, that’s enough now… I have to leave, no more songs!” I wish I had filmed that part too.
West Gate and the Old Wall
Old Town / Old Street
If you happen to be in Hengchun and have some free time, you could take a walk around the little streets between South Gate and West Gate. This old part of town has ancient buildings that have been turned into cafes, gift / art shops, restaurants and some of them are still selling traditional stuff like Chinese medicine, Taiwanese tea, and temple offerings like ghost money and incense.
The Bustling Night Market
The night market is the place to go to try Taiwanese classics such as stinky tofu, barbecued squid on a stick, and muaji. Sunday night is when you want to visit.
Map of Hengchun and Kenting
The following map shows you my favorite attractions, sights, restaurants, cafes, and hotels in Hengchun and Kenting.
Places to Eat & Restaurants in Hengchun
Super-high store front rental prices in Kenting town mean that more and more people decide to open their business in Hengchun. That’s partly why there are more and more good options to eat and drink in Hengchun.
You can still find lots of traditional Taiwanese / Chinese food, tea, snacks, sweets everywhere around Hengchun, and there’s also quite a few good European / American restaurants and cafes in town.
Western Food at Kitchen Swell
Good food, good coffee, bad service.
One of the only decent options for western food is Kitchen Swell. This restaurant is located on a quiet street off the South Gate. On Kitchen Swell’s menu, you’ll find pizza, pasta, seafood, salads, real bread, desserts, pastries, beer, wine, and great coffee. They even have gelato! Unfortunately, service is not very good, staff is not trained to smile or be friendly. Parking (if you have a car) is a breeze.
Address: 88, Guangming Road, Hengchun Township
Phone: 08 889 6575
Chinese Food at 山下人家 (Shanxia Renjia)
This Chinese / Taiwanese restaurant is the absolute BOMB! One of my favorite Chinese restaurants in Taiwan! The dining area is in a half-covered outdoor space. Rustic in some ways, but very warm ambiance when it gets packed with locals and tourists who eat, drink, and exchange stories. Food is SUBLIME, fresh, and consistent. Service is basic, but that’s part of the beauty of the experience.
Address: 68, Shanjiao Road, Hengchun Township
Phone: 0981 944 133
Heng Hao 恆好 Vegetarian Restaurant
Heng Hao vegetarian restaurant doesn’t look like a restaurant at all from outisde – it looks just like a residential house. Located on a quiet alley on the East side of the city, Heng Hao has excellent vegetarian dishes such as pasta, rice set meals, curry dishes, tea, and proper coffee.
Address: No. 11弄2號, Lane 2, Dongmen Road
Phone: 08 889 5626
Spoon in Pocket Cafe has one of the most comfortable interior to spend a whole afternoon on your laptop or reading a book while sipping a latte or Americano.
Transportation – Getting to Hengchun
The reality is that the main reason why people end up in Hengchun is not to eat, sleep, or visit the sights. Most people only pass here very briefly on their way to Kenting, because the main bus station is here. Tourist and regular buses from Kaohsiung HSR, Airport, and Train Station, as well as buses from Pingtung and other cities around Taiwan stop here. Check schedules and fares at the bottom of this page.
Travel to Hengchun from other cities around Taiwan
The fastest way to get to Hengchun from Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Changhua, Tainan is to take the high-speed rail train (HSR) all the way to Kaohsiung Zuoying Station. From there, you can catch a bus, taxi, or private car to Hengchun or all the way down south to Kenting.
Kaohsiung International Airport to Kenting
Bus #918: Kaohsiung Airport – Chaozhou – Fangliao – Haikou – Checheng – Hengchun – Nanwan – Xiaowan
Buses to Manzhou, Jialeshui, Aquarium, Houbihu, Baisha, Maobitou
Bus to Chuhuo and Jialeshui Beach
Bus to Kenting National Park from Hengchun Station
Kaohsiung (Zuoying) HSR Station to Hengchun