The culture, landscape, and food of Penghu attract visitors during the spring, summer, and early fall months. It is a perfect 3 day getaway and should be a must do of anyone who lives in Taiwan.
The best time to visit Penghu is in May and September. The weather is dry and the winds are tame. The summer is also not a windy season, however, the sun is very strong during the daytime. April and October are 50/50 for the weather. These are the months when the seasons begin to change, so you may or may not have the heavy winds. Winter is exremely windy and a cold time to be on Penghu.
Penghu is easily accessible by plane or ferry. Domestic flights leave from Taipei, Tainan, Taizhong, Jiayi, and Kaohsiung and take 35-50 minutes. Ferries leave from Jiayi's Budai Harbor (1.5 hours) and Kaohsiung Harbor (4 hours for day boat & 6 hours for overnight boat.)
Flying is the best way to go if you are short on time as it will allow you to maximize your time on Penghu. Flights are considered domestic flights, so there is no need for a visa or passport. On the average, a round trip flight will cost around 4,000NT dollars.
Ferry prices range from 1,300-1,800 NT dollars depending on early bird rates, and weekday/holiday tickets and which port you leave from. You can also pay extra to bring your scooter or car on the ferry.
The ferry from Kaohsiung leaves at 8:30-9:00am daily. The night ferry leaves Wednesdays and Fridays at 11:00pm.
The ferry from Jiayi leaves 10:00-10:30am daily.
HOW TO BUY A TICKET
The online ticket sites for the ferries are all in Chinese. Here is a link.
But don't despair if you can't speak or read Chinese. All travel agents sell tickets including EZ Travel and Lion Travel which have several offices in every city. Airline tickets are also best bought through a travel agent.
When you get to Penghu, it is best to get your hands on one of these maps. They not only give you a perfect look at the main areas of the islands, but they also list the main sites to visit in English and Chinese. The best way to see Penghu is by a scooter which is easily rent-able at the ferry port or quite possible from your hotel or BNB. In one long day you can cover a lot of ground. Head north from Magong City on the 203 and up and over and around to the west side islands.
Roads are clearly marked on your map and on the road. Route 203 from Magong City wraps up and over to the west side like a horseshoe and is well marked with little traffic.
Penghu's sites are mostly natural. There are many rock formations, a huge banyan tree, nice beaches, and pretty ocean views. In additon, there are some intersting temples to visit as well as a lighthouse, fort, and a very long bridge. Here is a short list of some of the sites. As I mentioned above, English maps will have these sites listed and marked.
Some quick tips:
The Tongliang Great Banyan Tree is one of the famous natural sites on Penghu. Located in front of a temple, this several hundred year old tree has spread and re-rooted to create a very cool tunnel up to the temple entrance. It is a nice shady retreat from the sun as well.
Built in 1970, the Penghu Great Bridge links the islands of Baisha and Xiyu. You will need to scooter across this on your journey.
Whale Rock resembles a sperm whale and is a nice place to enjoy the views. There is also a small street here selling drinks and food. This is another example of the rare columnar basalt which occurred when the lava rock cooled to make column shapes in the rock.
This old village has been preserved and gives visitors a look at the architecture and design of a traditional village on Penghu. Er Kan is worth a stop. You can enter some of the houses and see what the old lifestyle was like. There are also a few vendors selling drinks and snacks.
The Da Yi Temple is an interesting stop. Before they were protected, 4 large sea turtles were raised here and still swim in the basement area of the temple. The government has allowed the temple to keep these turtles as they would not be able to survive in the wild. It's a funky and one of kind thing to see.
The East and West Xiyu Forts once housed munitions and soldiers guarding Penghu.
Columnar basalt formations are hard to find around the world. Penghu has a few popular sites and are nice photo ops.
Built in 1788, this lighthouse overlooks the famous Xiyu rapid stream of water.
Erosion in the columnar basalt created holes in the rocks. When the tide rises and fills in the holes, and the wind blows from the south, the air inside the holes is pushed out creating sound like the waves. This is a popular place for both visitors and locals.
Penghu has a lot of white, untouched, and pretty much empty beaches. Many are located on the southeast part of Huxi Island off Route 201. Aimen Beach is quite popular (and noisy) due to its jet skis and banana boats.
With heavy winds and exposure to a strong sun, it's no wonder that cacti grow all over the Penghu Islands. Don't forget that cactus fruit ice cream is a favorite here.
Penghu still has a large fishing industry. Driving around, you will come across little harbors with docked fishing boats that add to the ambiance of this area.
Penghu has wonderful sunrises and sunsets with big skies and beautiful ocean.
There is a lot more to see and explore on Penghu. Enjoy!