Taiwan? Don’t you mean Thailand?
Most people who are not familiar with Taiwan assume it’s similar to Thailand or other tropical countries in South East Asia. Sorry to burst your bubble, but Taiwan and Thailand are very different, almost polar opposites, actually.
One of the main differences between the two countries is Thailand has a wide variety of white sand beaches, and a strong beach culture.
Beach Culture in Taiwan:
Taiwan, on the other hand, doesn’t have much of a beach culture.
In fact, most Taiwanese people actively avoid swimming or going outdoors, due to the heat and fear of getting dark skin. It doesn’t help that swimming is prohibited at most beaches in Taiwan.
It’s always fun to watch lifeguards blow their whistles at any foreigner who dares step foot into the water.
People here mainly go to the beach to take pictures.
So if you’re looking forward to hitting a beach in Taiwan, don’t shoot the messenger.
Actually, beaches here can be quite dangerous, a lot of people drown.
You might think it’s because most people don’t know how to swim, and that could be factor, but there’s more to it.
Random currents can suck you under, and even experienced swimmers fall victim.
Generally, it’s best to stick to shallow areas.
One more thing you should know:
I hate to say it, but the condition of most beaches in Taiwan is poor at best.
Not much effort is put into their upkeep, and you’ll find trash scattered here and there; plastic bottles, straws, bags, etc.
There’s a lot of drift wood left from typhoons too. Be careful where you step!
Not to mention the dead fish and other animals. Actually, it seems like the only time the beaches are cleaned are when random people volunteer to do so.
It only seems to be getting worse too, which is a shame.
Most of the beaches in Taiwan can be turned into really nice tourist spots, if a little bit of effort was put into their upkeep.
But unfortunately, it is what it is.
Though there is not much of a beach culture, you can still find some beaches that can scratch the itch.
Most of them are in the South of Taiwan, around a town called Ken Ting (and there’s also a party there every April, read about it here).
Of course, if you land in Taipei, it doesn’t make much sense to spend 2000 TWD + and 6 hours (or more) of traveling to find a suitable beach.
Traveling to Ken Tin and staying there a night is actually more expensive than hopping on an airplane to a tropical island in Philippines!
Luckily for you, there are a couple beaches in Northern Taiwan you can check out.
1. Bai Sha Wan.
The most popular by far is Bai Sha Wan, located in the North of Taipei, a 40 minute bus ride from Danshui MRT.
Bai Sha Wan is the most well-known, and it can be quite crowded on the weekends.
Just keep in mind, swimming is allowed here, but only in the designated swimming area, marked by roped buoys. Unfortunately, the swimming area is only in one corner of the beach, and it’s quite small.
If you dare stick a limb outside of the roped area, an army of whistle-wielding life guards will harass you.
Ever seen that clip of a water park swimming pool in China?
It’s kind of like that, except with slightly saltier water.
But if you sneak down to the other corner, you’ll be free to swim on your own, and life guards will generally leave you alone.
I guess if you drown over there, it’s not their problem. Most foreigners who have the itch to swim and chill on a beach, will go to Bai Sha Wan.
2. Fulong Beach
A close contender is Fulong Beach. Fulong beach is a 40 minute train ride away from Taipei Main Station.
Keep in mind, this is the old train, or TRA, not the MRT.
Head north until you arrive at Fulong Station. From there, it’s a short walk to the beach. Unlike Bai Sha Wan, there is an entry fee for this beach, at least the main area.
The regular entry is 100 NT for each person. You would think if there’s an entry fee at least some of the money would go to cleaning the beach. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Actually, the only difference from the paid entry area and the free area, is the paid area has some sand sculptures. That’s it.
On the weekends, it can be packed as well. One thing about living in Taipei is you have to get used to the crowds. It tends to happen when you live in a city with the population of a small country.
Every tourist spot or nice area has tons of people visiting on any given day. To avoid the crowds, you’ll have to leave Taipei, and head down South, where the population is much more sparse.
Anyways, Fulong beach is average, last time I was there I found a dead pig which was pretty cool. It has more restaurants and stores than Bai Sha Wan, and a small night market, so that’s a plus.
But the water is usually quite dirty.
3. Sha Lun
Sha Lun is the closest beach to Taipei but it doesn’t really serve much purpose.
It’s quite dangerous too, a lot of people drowned here, mostly students.
And swimming is strictly prohibited too. But if you want to see some water and feel some sand on your feet, this could be the place to do it.
Sha Lun is a 15 minute bus ride from Danshui MRT, any bus going to fisherman’s wharf will take you there.
It’s a nice place to tan and take some pictures of the ocean, but there’s not much you can do here. The beach is mainly used as a background for wedding pictures.
The Best Beaches are in Ken Ting
Unfortunately, the best beaches are in Ken Ting and even those are average compared to beaches on an international scale.
As I mentioned before, most Taiwanese people prefer to avoid beaches.
In my opinion, if you’re really craving a beach atmosphere, consider flying over to Philippines or a neighboring country. It costs the same as going to Ken Ting and the beaches are much nicer.
There are a lot of positive things about Taiwan, but unfortunately the beaches are not one of them.
Have you been to any beaches in Taiwan? Leave a comment below.