Houwan means “back bay” in Chinese. It’s quite an appropriate name, because it really feels like you are behind the scene and out of sight, away from the crowds, traffic, and hectic action that is found in Kenting Village, Baisha Beach, and Hengchun.
Houwan is an old and quiet fisherman village that has until recently escaped development, which means that you can still witness some “ancient” architecture from the main road.
This is changing fast, though. Last time I was there, I saw two of the oldest houses built in the traditional Taiwanese way (brick walls with tiled roof) about to be demolished. There is no 7-11 yet, so you’ll be getting your snacks and water from older shops where the cash register is probably just a wooden box sitting on an even older table.
Things to do in Houwan
Most people visit this area as a side trip from Baisha Beach or the Marine Museum, which is just 1 kilometer (2 minutes) north from here. The majority of tourists make a brief stop of no more than 10 minutes – park the car, walk to the beach, snap a picture of the bay, share if on Facebook, and off they go again to the next parking lot.
Swimming & Snorkeling in Houwan
You can swim here, although there is a sign near the jetty which threatens you to not go in the water. As most Taiwanese believe, the sea is murderous and will grab you by your feet and pull you to the bottomless bottom of the ocean. Especially during the Taiwanese Ghost Month at the end of summer!
Snorkeling at Back Bay is not as nice as Banana Bay and Wanlitong, but when both these two popular places are crowded with Go-Pro carrying swimmers, Houwan is usually still quiet.
Accommodation in Houwan
Houwan is a very cool place to spend the night and I always recommend it to people who wish to escape the crowds and sleep in a more quiet setting. Some Bed and Breakfasts and guesthouses (minsu 民宿) are located right along the bay fro where you can have stunning views over the sea.
By far the best thing you could do to make your stay here a memorable one, would be to get a room with sea view, and a balcony overlooking the bay!
Hooope Inn is a real treat! It’s got pretty much everything you’d want to have if you were ever to buy your own dream house by the ocean!
You get your own private pool, a kickass view, real privacy, a nice balcony, and a really comfortable bed. Comfort, facilities, cleanliness, and staff all have a score higher than 9.6 on Booking dot com! Quite impressive!
Getting to Houwan / Transportation
Bus #101, the ORANGE line, leaves Hengchun Bus Station every 30 minute from 8:30am until 16:15 during the week, and 8:30am to 18:30 on weekends. The bus stop nearest Houwan is actually at the Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, so you’ll have to do a bit of walking to get there (+/-10mins).
Attractions Around Houwan
- Turtle Mountain (short hike north of the bay, which gives you unparalleled views over the area)
- National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium
- Baisha Bay
- Houbihu Harbor – delicious, fresh seafood
- Hongchaikeng Harbor – more fresh seafood!
- Hengchun Village – lots of restaurants, hotels, main bus station
- Manzhou – the quiet and wild side of Kenting National Park, scooter rides, waterfalls, Nanren Lake, jungles, rivers, monkeys
- Fengchuisha – wind-swept viewpoint with jaw-dropping scenery