The Mission: Find the entrance to Kenting National Park and hike some trails!
I decided to stay in Hengchun, a small town north of the park. From here, I took a local bus down to the Kenting area. It can be quite confusing as Kenting is the name of the park as well as the name of the area surrounding the park.
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!
Merino wool socks
Shorts and tank top
Plenty of water and snacks
I started early and hopped on a bus for Kenting, not knowing exactly where to disembark. I told the driver I was trying to get to the national park and to let me know when we were close. At some point the driver stopped the bus and shouted “here! off now!” and off I went with the faint sound of laughter from the other passengers in the background. I took in my surroundings and realized I was in front of a resort, not a park. After aimlessly walking down the highway for a while, I found a Starbucks and asked for directions….at least I was walking in the right direction they said. I continued walking for another 20 minutes when I found the park entrance. I was hoping to find an information booth or some sort of map, but found nothing of the sort so I continued walking into the park and finally saw a road sign for “Kenting Forest Recreation Area”- I was going in the right direction. I waited at the bus stop for a while only to realize it was never coming so I started hoofing it up the hill. A few cars stopped and tried to offer me rides (I think), and as much as I would have loved to forego the long uphill walk, I figured hitchhiking probably wasn’t the smartest idea so I continued on….and on…and on. After about 45 minutes, I reached the entrance where I received applause from some of the other visitors who had driven by me on the road.
After paying the NT$150 entrance fee, I roamed the area wandering through lush forest greens, coral reef and narrow canyons. I explored the Fairy Cave and encountered some bats, took in the views from the observation tower and roamed the Valley of the Hanging Banyans with its’ hanging roots. The park is very easy to navigate via the paved trails and numbered signs that direct you to 17 different attractions.
When I was finished exploring the recreation area, I took a walk down the road to the Sheding Nature Park. Here I found multiple trails winding through more coral formations and narrow caves. I hiked up to one of the viewing platforms where there was a spanning ocean view and extreme winds. Wanting to escape the cold of the winds, I headed back down to the trail system and continued around the loop chasing butterflies through the dense greenery.
After completing a loop around the area, I was sufficiently tired and ready for lunch, but I still had to walk another 45 minutes back down the hill to town! After a quick bite to eat, I hopped back on the bus to Hengchun where a much longer day than anticipated resulted in a nap.
- Level of difficulty: casual to moderate
- Save yourself a lot of trouble and rent a motorbike to get around the park. It will save you a lot of extra walking!
- Arrive at the recreation area early as it tends to get crowded.
- If you forgot water or snacks, there is a visitor center at both Sheding and the Nature Area as well as restrooms.
- Grab a map at the entrance of the Nature Reserve and decide which direction you want to go so you don’t backtrack- it’s easy to get turned around in this park.
- Parking is available at the Nature Area for a fee.