This is my second time going to Kenting. The first time was about water activities, food, sightseeing, and chilling. This time, it was about surfing.
Kenting is a simple, quiet area which offers little of everything else and plentiful of beaches and waves. Kenting is often visited most by couples, families with children, and high school students, as evident by the people we saw. Besides the Kenting night market, there is little elsewhere that you would see crowds, particularly at night. A 15 minute walk from our hostel and not a single sighting of a bar; this place does not have any entertainment after sunset except for the night market. There’s even one nightclub, the King Night Club, which to be honest from the outside looks nothing like a nightclub – all I see are dart tables, and no trace of a dance floor. (OK I’m on their Facebook and there are tables and chairs and you watch performances… and sometimes you can dance on the floor). What can I say, we didn’t go in so maybe I shouldn’t be judging, but Kenting just isn’t a place for nightlife.
Regardless, like I said, I wasn’t there for the night, I was there for the day. I was there for the sunshine, the gentle waves that were perfect for amateur surfers, and the innocence of the surrounding environment. The green trees and plants through our drives suggested that the environment here was unscathed, untouched, and unharmed by the human touch. Everything here was so natural, so beautiful… it reminded me of the time when I was in Japan. But Japan was clean, the nature here was natural.
Anyway, Kenting is a great visit for cheap but still good sashimi, fun water activities, and amateurish surfing. Well the waves were amateurish during these months… it might be more aggressive during typhoon days or non-summer days.
We stayed at Afei Hostel. It’s a relatively well known hostel for both locals and expats alike. The owner owns a couple of hostels across Kenting, but he’s always here to also teach surfing lessons as well. Very friendly people, cool people, real surfer dudes – tanned and chill. They have a couple of rooms as well. Actually, if you book a surfing lesson with them, you get discounted rates with the rooms as well. It is normal if they ask you to pay the room upon arrival; however for surfing you may need to bank transfer the money to them first. They also have relatively cheap pickup service from Kaohsiung airport and they are also very accommodating in giving you lifts to the Kenting night market. Afei Hostel also has a bar next to it… well 2 stores next to it. That’s also where you can get breakfast.
Anyway, so I booked my own room. Aircon was provided, it was nice and cozy. Don’t expect anything like a hotel room, but it was comfortable enough for me. My friends stayed at a 8 mixed dormitory, shared bathroom. You have mini curtains for your own privacy, also has aircon. Unless you are really on a budget or are on a mission to meet people, I would suggest just getting your own room.
This is the entrance to my room. Sorry I forgot to take pics of the inside. The bathroom didn’t have its own “room”, I mean there is still glass separating it, but it isn’t sound proofed. But overall, not a bad room to be in, especially good value after discounts gotten from surfing lesson.
The lobby / reception. The guy in the middle, obviously a surfer, is also staff. The staff people were super friendly… they were also instructors to surfing lessons as well. Their teaching was excellent.
There are several ways to travel to Kenting. The first is you can rent a car for a few days, ideal if you have a group of people planning on going to the outer skirts of the area. The second is taking the public buses from the Kaohsiung airport to Kenting, then you can take taxis around Kenting. Or, you can contact Afei and they can arrange a carpool service for you from Kaohsiung airport to go to Kenting. In fact, the carpool service is only slightly more expensive than if you took public buses. Once in Kenting, besides taxis, you can also rent electric scooters (capped at around 40kph) or motorcycles; the latter you need a proper motorcycle license and an international license. Electric scooters are like 900 TWD per day, motorcycle costs 800 TWD per day excluding gas.
Bossa Nova Beach Cafe – honestly there wasn’t many cafes here, so this and another Italian restaurant, both more “upscale”, are constantly rated top restaurants… but they are pretty much the only restaurants around Kenting beach area. There are no other restaurants, except the ones provided by the hostels themselves, except if you go to the restaurants in Kenting night market. Otherwise, you will have to travel a bit further.
Anyway, so the Bossa Nova Beach Cafe is an Asian & French Cuisine, offering coffee, desserts, curries, cheeses, pasta, sandwiches, and wines. Compared to Kenting it’s expensive, compared to Hong Kong it’s cheap, and in my opinion I think it is fairly priced, in fact cheaper than I’d expect, especially the wine. While having a monopoly of a proper restaurant industry, it manages to not sacrifice quality and the taste of the foods were actually OK, in fact pretty good. Like I would come here again good.
They also have free wifi.
In Kenting, where everything closes at like 8pm (except 7-11), last order here is I think 9:30pm… if I remember correctly.
Address: 220 Nanwan Rd., Hengchun Town, Pingtung, 946, Taiwan (nearby Afei Hostel, 3 min walking distance)
Houbihu is an area southwest of the island where you get to enjoy many, many seafood. Kenting is actually renowned for having really good, value seafood. Well, it depends on what items you get.
THIS. This was not worth it. The picture you see right now isn’t the after we finished eating picture, it’s what was given to us. This uni contributed to 2% of our meal, and 80% of our bill. Not worth.
Address: 43 Daguang Road, Daguang Village, Hengchun Township
Hours: 10am – 7pm
Third Mother Stinky Stinky Pot
OK the name sounds weird cause that’s just a direct translation of its Chinese name. We had this in Hengchun, after we finished the Hengchun night market (yeah we’re fatties). So basically the stinky pots that they serve, their most famous pot, smells like stinky intestines and tofu. They also have other pots with different flavors though, so don’t worry.
Taiwan is famous for its beef noodles, and we were craving it. It was only when we were at Kaohsiung did we consume some beef noodles.
Address and phone number is above in the business card picture.
Kenting Night Market
Of course, how can we not talk about the Kenting night market! At night, Kenting is just… quiet. There are no bars, no clubs, no nothing. Wherever you go people are only congregated in two places – one is 7/11, and the other is Kenting Night Market. That’s where all the street food is, and actually they are pretty good better than the one in Taipei.
From our hostel, it was about a 5-10 minute car ride.
Hengchun Night Market
A lesser known market is the Hengchun Night Market. It is lesser known as it is smaller and it only opens on Sunday nights, but it is just as crowded. Worth going because the food there is different than from the Kenting Night Market. The restaurants around this night market are also much more local.
As mentioned above, we took surfing lessons with the crew with Afei Hostel. There are usually two sessions – one is morning session, meet up 9am at main hostel, and the afternoon session, meet up 1:45pm at main hostel. Morning sessions usually take you to the South Bay Beach, while afternoon sessions take you to the Jialeshui beach. The latter being less people, but no matter, they will go to the side of South Bay beach which has no people as well. We booked a 2 day surfing lesson, so we spent one session in the morning, and the next session in the afternoon. Going to Jialeshui requires a bit of a drive, which they will provide.
So they will ask you whether you’ve surfed before and your level. They will determine your skill based on your standing posture, or from body on board jump to posture. On our first day learning surfing, half the time was spent on working on the fundamentals, such as paddling, getting up, and the actual standing process. The next half was attempting to stand up, with an instructor next to you who will give you a slight push when a wave was coming (so you wouldn’t need to catch a wave yourself).
The second day, we spent more time in the water, and again we tried standing posture as well. After a while, they will let us try to catch the wave ourselves and stand ourselves.
At the end of it all, you can find some surfing photos of yourselves that the instructors have taken on their Facebook page, where you can download them and share with your friends!
Things to Do
Get lost with electric scooters
As I mentioned earlier, one of the transportation methods to go around Kenting is on an electric scooter. If you can ride a bicycle, I highly recommend this experience as you can get lost and get wonderful views. Be careful though as you will be driving on the same roads as cars. Also, make sure your electric scooter mirrors are working… I didn’t know mine kept falling everytime I adjusted only after I scooted away from the rent shop. The rent shop will make sure you have the necessary license to drive and to have you sign a contract to make sure any damages or injuries they are not liable.
One of the random shops we encountered while getting lost on our scooters. Owner of the shop, very nice guy! We did our ‘surfing’ hand sign and he asked if we were surfers, and we said we just had a lesson. He said he had been surfing for twenty years, now owns this shop. Gave us mango shakes, yum.
Or not even using electric scooters, just walk around and see what interesting shops are nearby your accommodation.
One of the prettier beaches, near Houbihu, is the Baisha Bay. You can come here to do water activities as well, such as ride on a jet ski or go on banana boats.
Once you’ve done exploring Kenting, you might want to spend time in Kaohsiung as well. Kaohsiung is way more city than Kenting, and it’s where you have to be as it is the closest airport to Kenting.
What part of Kenting excites you more, the surfing or the eating or something else?