The laid-back side of Kenting National Park
Manzhou is a place for people who enjoy solitude, quietness, the fauna, and beautiful landscapes. Welcome to one of the most beautiful places in Taiwan!
Manzhou is a beautiful countryside township in the north-eastern part of Kenting National Park. I know this area very well because that’s where Ruby and I live part-time. In the summer of 2017, I decided I’d had enough of living in the nasty and heavy pollution of Taichung, and got a house here, in a tiny community called Binlang, mid-way between Manzhou village and Jiupeng, along the East Coast.
Moving to the southern part of Taiwan has been one of the best decisions of my life! I really, really love the slow-paced, relaxed lifestyle down here. And there is SO MUCH stuff to do in this area. It’s a true paradise for nature lovers!
Who goes to Manzhou?
Not many people visit Manzhou and that’s a great thing if you ask me. This is the quiet (remote) part of Kenting. No traffic jams, no problem parking your car, no lineups at restaurants, and best of all, no noise pollution! Prices are also much cheaper than in busy Kenting Village, Nanwan, and Baisha.
Some people get confused, because Manzhou is both a township and a village. The township is a large area of Pingtung County which contains many small villages. One of those villages is called Manzhou. This village is the second biggest in the area after Hengchun.
In central Manzhou, the main “downtown” part is at the big tree, next to 7-11. This is where you can find some of the best (and cheapest) food in all of Kenting National Park. Don’t expect anything fancy though… “Local” and unpretentious are the keyword here!
Manzhou town is 15 minutes away from Jialeshui, 15 minutes to Hengchun, and 25 minutes to Nanwan. It’s a great spot to establish your basecamp, as it’s somewhat central and makes it convenient to visit different parts of the national park. But please let me repeat: there is nothing to do around here in terms of entertainment / nightlife / shopping.
Things to do in Manzhou / Attractions
- hike to waterfalls
- surf or chill on the beach at Jialeshui
- walk around (or ride a jeep) on the Jiupeng sand dunes
- visit Zhongshan Harbor with beautiful sea & mountain views
- cycle or ride a scooter along country road 200
- take pictures of very old houses / ancient Taiwanese architecture in Manzhou Village
- visit aboriginal Paiwan villages
- swim in the ocean!
- eat cheap, local food in the village
Kentington Resort Swimming Pool
If you’re in the mood for a swim, but don’t fancy the ocean, there’s always the beautiful clovers-shaped swimming pool at Kentington Resort 小墾丁, at the northern end of Manzhou village. Access fee for the pool and lounge chairs is 100NT$ per person. You’re supposed to wear a swimming cap to enter the pool. This is one of the most popular spots in Kenting for kids, so it can sometimes be loud on weekends, especially during summer. (Unfortunately closed as of March 2023. Hopefully it will re-open one day.)
Qikong Waterfall 七孔瀑布
Qikong means 7 holes, so the best translation would be “7 Pools Waterfall”. As the name implies, you’ll pass 7 “pools” as you follow the stream. Depending on the season and the amount of rain that fell in the area in the previous days, the depth of the pools and the size of the waterfalls will vary.
The best pool is by far the first one, reached after about 20 minutes of light hiking from the parking lot – which cost 20NT$ per vehicle. You can jump in the pool from 4-5 feet high above in the jungle, like Tarzan, and there’s a nice spot by the lip of the fall where you can rest and contemplate the thick forest and listen to the birds. Watch out for snakes along this trail.
Jialeshui needs no introduction, but I’ll still tell you about it. Jialeshui is mostly popular with surfers, as its vast beach has some of the best waves on the island. For people who don’t surf, there’s other stuff to see and do as well, such as a nice suspended bridge, a waterfall, kayaking, as well as restaurants, cafes, and B&Bs.
Restaurants / Food / Drinks
At the big tree, in downtown Manzhou, there’s a bunch of little local restaurants that offer traditional Chinese and Taiwanese dishes at very affordable prices. You can get anything from dumplings, beef noodle soup, seafood, big plates of veggies, and beer. Just walk around and see what’s on display. Unfortunately, few places have English menus, but that’s part of the charm.
There is a Vietnamese place around the corner, which has quite a few good dishes. My personal favorites are the Wonton soup, fried rice, and deep fried spring rolls.
If you feel adventurous, you should try stinky tofu at #14 Wenhua Road, 2 minutes away from the big tree by scooter. The stinky tofu here is one of the best on the island – crispy and not too stinky. The individual hot pots are also super delicious and hard to beat value-wise. Whatever you eat here, make sure to wash it down with a can of Taiwan Beer!
Fruit Juice Bar
Simply the best juice bar in the whole Kenting area! The fruit are not certified organic, but the owner lady told my wife (actually tells her every time) that her fruit are grown locally, some even on her own land, and they have absolutely no pesticide, zero chemical / GMO stuff done to them.
The juices are as fresh as it gets. You can make your own mix or you can order what’s on the menu (again, Chinese only). She’ll ask you if you want to add ginger to your juice… I say go for it. It’s good for the liver! Enjoy!
This juice bar is just to the right (across the street) from the big tree when you come from 7-11. Address: #2-1 Zhongzheng Road, Manzhou Township
Nice Cafe in Manzhou?
Over the years, one topic that’s been coming back in conversations with local friends about Manzhou, was the lack of a proper cafe. Up until 2021, the only two places to get coffee around here were 7-11 and Family Mart. But then 2021 brought us a nice little surprise…
This cafe has no English name, but if you want to search it, just copy and paste this: 收假症候群. The Americano is not the strongest, but you can tell that beans have been roasted, stored, and brewed properly. The latte is sublime, and the iced latte is even better, especially on a steamy summer day.
The space at 收假症候群 cafe is modern, clean, and conductive to long stretches of reading, studying, or working on your laptop. By far the #1 spot in Manzhou to sit and relax indoor. Food is supposed to be good, from what I’ve heard, but I’ve never had it as I usually cook home when I’m in the hood. Burgers and dessert is what’s on the menu here, apart from coffee, obviously. Awesome addition to the village. Great spot. Definitely recommended. Check it out. Find it here.
Accommodation in Manzhou
Hotels, guesthouses / B&B in Manzhou tend to not be as busy as their counterparts in Kenting Village and Hengchun, because they are further away from the nightlife that so many tourists expect to enjoy here. There are some very good options in both Manzhou village and Jialeshui.
My top pick in Manzhou is Wild East Guesthouse, an amazing rustic country house villa located in a quiet part of the national park. Ruby and I have stayed there multiple times, and it’s always been a great, comfortable experience. We had the whole place to ourselves and could use the living room, kitchen, front yard and hot tub without being disturbed. It’s the only guesthouse in the area where you can get the entire place, such a massive and comfortable space, for yourself, at such low price. Check it out and book it in advance if it’s still available.
Pictures of Manzhou
- Travel from Taipei to Kenting
- Surfing in Taiwan
- Hengchun Travel Guide
- Paiwan Aborigines of Taiwan
- Sail Rock
- Houwan (Back Bay)
- Xiaowan (Little Bay)
- Fengchuisha Viewpoint
- Mudan River