• Rick

Trip Planning: Kinmen, Penghu & Matsu Islands — The Objectives

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

Instead of sharing travel blogs after a trip like most travel-bloggers do, I intend to share the planning process for my next trip — yup, before going on the trip. I believe doing so will be much more useful for those of you who are planning to make a similar trip as mine instead of reading what I did on my journey after it happened.


My target destinations this time will be the three main groups of islands in the Taiwan Strait — between China and Taiwan main island — known as Kinmen (金门), Penghu (澎湖) and Matsu (马祖) under the administration of Taiwan. As this will be an island-hopping adventure to the islands in the said areas, I will want to focus on them and spend lesser time travelling in China mainland and on Taiwan island.



The very first step in planning a trip will always be to set the travel objectives. Knowing what I want to do and see on this trip will allow me to allocate adequate time for each destination, the most suitable — if not the best — period to be there, the most accessible place to stay to reduce long travelling time, etc. Well, I will have my answers by the time I complete the planning process.


I will briefly jot down what I want to do on this trip in this post.


By the way, I had been to Kinmen once in January 2013. It may be a revisit to Kinmen again but is necessary as it completes the island-hopping journey in a forward manner instead of doubling-back a couple of times. It will be clearer to see it on the map below.



The green line shows a forward route from Xiamen to Kinmen to Penghu to Matsu (or vice versa) whereas the orange line shows two doubling-back in the route when starting and ending at Taoyuan Airport, Taiwan. The location of the international airports (Xiamen, Kaohsiung and Taipei) will determine my start and end points 🤔.


Anyway, I will decide the route to take after I complete researching the transports. I will have limited number of days for this trip, so I need to plan thoroughly to ensure I don't miss my flight home.



1. KINMEN COUNTY (金门县)


Kinmen County comprises of 3 townships, namely Great Kinmen (大金门), Little Kinmen or Lieyu Township (小金门 / 列屿乡) and Wuqiu island (乌丘). Little Kinmen also include some islands to the west, including Dadan Isle (大胆岛), Erdan Isle (二胆岛), and several smaller islets. Wuqiu is some 110 Km away from the main group of Kinmen islands and is primarily a restricted military area.


See map.


What to see & do:

  • ✅ Try Kinmen's 3 weird food: 海鋼盔, 沙虫 & 千佛手 (translated as "sea helmet", "sand worm" and "thousand buddha hands"). One known location is at "Ah Fen Seafood" in Jinhu Town (金湖镇—阿芬海产店). Read...

  • ✅ Visit Liang Jin Farm in Jinhu Town (金湖镇—良金牧场). Tour the farm, eat their specialty beef noodle and buy sorghum-flavour beef jerky (高粱牛肉干). Read...

  • ✅ Check out some of the Wind Lion Gods (风狮爷) — the Guardians of Kinmen — that are scattered across the islands. There are about 68 of them and no two are the same. Read...

  • ✅ Visit Kinmen Distillery (金门酒厂). Buy a bottle of Kinmen's well-known 38° sorghum wine (金门高粱酒).

  • Visit some interesting places. But I have been to quite a number of places mentioned in most travel guides for Kinmen. I hope to see more natural scenery this time. Read...

  • ✅ Try the local food. Read...

  • ✅ Visit a sorghum field during harvest. When will that be 🤔?

  • ✅ Visit Little Kinmen (小金门). Cycle round the island and check out the sights along the tracks. See the Wind Roosters (风鸡). Eat too.

  • ✅ Buy peanut crisps wrapped in bamboo leaves (竹叶贡糖) on Little Kinmen. Read...

  • If the number of military "show sites" on Great Kinmen and Little Kinmen are not enough, take a boat from Little Kinmen to Dadan and Erdan isles (permit required). Read...


I may be buying liquor/wine to bring home, so I need to find out more on customs regulations of China (if transiting via Xiamen) and Singapore. See The Knowledge.



2. PENGHU COUNTY (澎湖县)


Penghu County comprises of a total of 90 islands divided into 6 main groups. The largest being Makung City (or Magong City, 马公市), followed by 5 rural townships of Huxi (湖西乡), Baisha (白沙乡), Xiyu (西屿乡), Wang'an (望安乡) and Qimei (七美乡).


See tourist map.


What to see & do:

  • Firework on the Sea Festival (火花节) from April to June. Well, it will be crowded in Penghu during this peak period. That's when I will avoid going 😄. Read...

  • ✅ Makung City: Penghu Old Town (马公市—澎湖老街). Try herbal egg (药膳蛋), cactus crepes (仙人掌千層派) and more. Read...

  • ✅ Try more cactus-made food. Yes, 🌵. Makung City: Volcano-eruption fried rice (馬公—日香美食坊—火山爆发炒饭) and cactus ice-cream (易家仙人掌冰). Read...

  • And these two seems popular too: rice cake (二信飯糰) and taro dessert (玉冠嫩仙草). Read...

  • ✅ Huxi Township: Kuibi Hill splits the Sea (湖西乡—奎壁山摩西分海). Need to check tide information. Read...

  • Xiyu Township: Daguoye Columnar Basalt (西屿乡—大菓葉柱狀玄武岩). Read...

  • ✅ Wang'an Township: Wang'an Old Village (望安乡—望安花宅), Eight-Coloured Sea (八色海|長瀨仔沙灘)

  • Close to Wang'an / Qimei Township: Blue Hole on Jixi Isle (西吉嶼—澎湖蓝洞). Need a boat. Read...

  • ✅ Qimei Township: Cycle round the island to see Seven Beauties Tomb (七美人塚), Little Taiwan (小台湾), Yueli Bay (月鲤湾), Twin-Hearts Stone Weir (雙心石滬), etc.

  • ✅ Qimei Township: Try the Vietnamese big bones noodle soup (越南大骨汤面), Qimei Teochew noodle (七美潮州面), Fangzi dumpling (七美芳子肉粽), etc.

  • More eats. Read...



3. MATSU ISLANDS (马祖列岛)


Matsu Islands, or officially LienChiang County (连江县), consists of 36 islands divided into 6 townships. They are Nangan Township (or Nankan, 北竿乡), Beigan Township (or Peikan, 南竿乡), Dongju Township (东莒乡), Xiju Township (西莒乡), Dongyin Township (or Tungyin, 东引乡) and Xiying Township (西引乡). Both Dongyin and Xiying islands are now connected to one another by reclaimed land and a bridge.


See map.


What to see & do:

  • ✅ Matsu's magical "Blue Tears" along the coasts of Matsu islands, mostly on Beigan (北竿—橋仔村、芹壁、坂里沙灘) and Nangan islands (南竿—大漢據點、津沙沙灘). Read... The best period to catch the beautiful blue phenomenon is from April through August but also subjected to favourable environmental conditions for the organism to glow. See photos... Should I delay my trip till next year 🤔?

  • ✅ Beigan Township: Qinbi Village (北竿乡—芹壁村). Probably stay in the village too since it is quite a popular option and near the coast if trying to catch the "Blue Tears". Read...

  • Beigan Township: Daqiu Island (北竿乡—大丘岛) to get close to the deers that roamed freely on the island.

  • Nangan Township: Matsu Temple with largest Matsu Goddess statue (南竿乡—馬港天后宮). Matsu (马祖) was named after the goddess (妈祖), so a visit to one of the most significant temple should be a must. Read...

  • ✅ Nangan Township: Oh, there is a wine distillery on Matsu too (南竿乡—马祖酒厂). I can either get sorghum wine from Kinmen or Matsu, whichever I choose to be the last stop before flying home. Read...

  • ✅ Nangan Township: Eighty-Eight Tunnel (八八坑道) is right next to Matsu Distillery where thousands of urns of liquor are stored at natural temperature of 15-20°C in the tunnel through-out the year. Read...

  • ✅ Dongyin Township: Dongyong Lighthouse (东引岛—东湧灯塔) — the northern-most lighthouse on the northern-most island of Taiwan. Maybe also checking out the northern-most point of Taiwan. Read...

  • There is also a wine distillery on Dongyin. I will just visit one of them among Kinmen and Matsu.

  • ✅ Eat "Matsu burger" (继光餅), noodle soup with ingredients that are prepared using old wine (老酒蛋麵), sweet potato dessert (黃金地瓜餃), fish-made noodle (鱼面), etc. Read...

  • More on what to see and local festivals — read...


I will not plan my trip down to minute details that will make it "strictly a paper trip". Pre-planning is one way of deciding if the intended places are worthwhile to visit and stay for a few days. And a plan may change after finding out more from the locals on possible undisclosed places or things to do that may not have made it into guide books or on the Internet. The key point is: set my foot there first!


There may be more things to do that I may dig up later while researching further and I will add them to this list. Stay tuned until I complete this trip!


Now that I have set some objectives and roughly know which islands I should prioritise to spend a few days, I will research into how to get around the islands next:


The Transports


#Taiwan #Kinmen #Matsu #Penghu #IslandHopping

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