Penghu, also known as the Pescadores, is a group of 90 islands and islets located just off the western coast of Taiwan. This small collection of islands offers the perfect mix of both natural beauty and local island life, making it the ideal destination for a short break away from the bustle of the major cities on the mainland.
Penghu isn’t too far off the western coast of Chiayi, so there are a number of ferries that make the trip when the ocean is calm and the weather permits. The journey to Magong Island (where Penghu’s main city Magong is located) takes about four hours. Fares can cost somewhere in the region of NT$800 to NT$1950 (USD$27.50-USD$67) depending on the fare you choose and the port you sail from. If you opt for the ferry, you have two choices: sail out of Chiayi or Kaohsiung. While Kaohsiung is a little further, it’s the only ferry that runs in winter.
Kaohsiung Ferry – Taihwa
Chiayi Ferries – All Star, Today First, Triumph III, Baili
Flying to Penghu is by far the most convenient and popular option. Domestic flights fly out of Taipei, Tainan, Taichung, Chiayi, and Kaohsiung. Flights usually take between 35-50 minutes and are frequent enough and cheap. Expect to pay around NT$4000 ((USD$137) for a round trip, and as these are domestic flights, you also don’t need a passport.
Flight tickets are available from local airlines websites but if you prefer dealing with a real person, you can pop into any local travel agent such as EZ Travel, and they’ll help you book your flight.
Getting around Penghu
Most tourists arrive and stay on the main island of Magong. Here there are plenty of hotels to stay in, and you can find pretty much everything that you could possibly need in the city including ferries to the other islands.
Visiting the other islands
The 203 County Road connects the islands of Magong, Baisha, and Xiwu, but the bridges between the islands are for cars and scooters only. Due to the presence of the road, there are no ferries between these three islands, and so if you want to visit them, you’ll have to hire a car or scooter or jump in a taxi.
There are many private tour companies that run day trips to outlying islands, and once you’ve decided on a destination then finding a ferry to take you there is quite simple. Information on ferry schedules between the islands can be found here on the local government website.
All ferries to other islands leave from Magong Harbor with Wangan, Qibei, and Qimei, the most popular ferry routes.
Seeing the sights
If you want to travel around any of the islands, you can hire a car, a scooter or take a taxi.
Scooters and cars require a licence, so don’t assume that you can arrive and ride off into the sunset without one.
Taxis on the islands may have meters, but they are never turned on. This is actually a good thing as you can settle on what you feel is a reasonable price before getting in the car. You can also ask about day rates and hire the taxi to take you around all the sights in a single day.
According to the local government website, booking a taxi for six hours should cost around NT$1500 (USD$51.50). Here’s a list of local registered taxi companies.