Taiwan Matsu Islands Information: Find out how to get there, getting round and the place to remain 马祖

Taiwan‘s offshore islands have their very own distinctive character and the Matsu Islands aren’t any exception. These rugged, hilly islands which can be nearer to China than Taiwan itself are standard home vacationer locations for tern watching and the blue bioluminescence phenomena. I visited the islands solo and right here’s my information on the best way to get to the Matsu Islands, getting round and all the sensible data it’s essential plan your personal journey.

Matsu Islands View From Plane
Hey Matsu! Have a look at how hilly it’s

Questioning what there may be to see in Taiwan’s Matsu Islands? Keep tuned to my posts on the 2 foremost islands that I visited: Nangan and Beigan [coming soon]. This put up offers with all the opposite nitty gritty it’s essential know and my experiences from visiting in Might 2023.

The Matsu Islands tourism web site can also be a fairly helpful useful resource total – right here’s the English website, however they really have extra data on the Chinese language pages, so that you could be higher off utilizing the Chinese language website after which Google Translating the pages.

The place are the Matsu Islands positioned?

The Matsu Islands are considered one of Taiwan’s offshore islands, often known as Mazu 马祖. Geographically they’re loads nearer to China’s Fujian province than they’re to mainland Taiwan itself – kinda like Kinmen Island.

In truth the Matsu Islands was thought-about part of China, which is without doubt one of the causes the islands ended up changing into a battlefront within the battle between Taiwan and China.

The Matsu Islands doesn’t simply consult with a single island, however a group of islands in Taiwan’s Lienchang County and are usually damaged down into 4 areas:

  • Nangan 南竿 – the principle island within the Matsu Islands with probably the most services
  • Beigan 北竿 – north of Nangan, it additionally has an airport
  • Dongyin 東引 (north) – northernmost level of Matsu and Taiwan as an entire, is linked by land to Xiyin 西引
  • Juguang 莒光 (south) – southernmost level of Matsu Islands, consists of Dongju 東莒 and Xiju 西莒

Find out how to get to the Matsu Islands

By airplane

The quickest approach to attain the Matsu Islands is to fly from Taipei’s Songshan Airport (TSA) 松山 to Nangan Airport (LZN) 南竿 or Beigan Airport (MFK) 北竿 in about 1 hour. A 1-way ticket prices round 2,100-2,200 NTD (S$91-97).

Matsu Beigan Bishan Airport View
Beigan Airport (MFK) runway from the hilltop viewpoint on Bishan. Nice for airplane spotters who can watch planes land and take off 3x a day

A reminder that Songshan Airport (TSA) is in Taipei Metropolis itself and to not be confused with the Taoyuan Worldwide Airport (TPE). There are some worldwide flights that go direct to Songshan Airport, however most worldwide airways fly to Taoyuan, so give your self a while if you’re planning transfers. There are direct buses between Taoyuan and Songshan airports each 20-Half-hour, the journey between the airports is about 50 minutes.

Airways that fly to the Matsu Islands:

Matsu Nangan Airport Uniair Plane
UNI AIR airplane

Some suggestions for flying to Matsu Islands:

  • E book your flights as early as doable. The airports are tiny and the planes are small propeller planes and so they get booked out fairly shortly. The flights perpetually have a ready listing.
  • Be ready for delays or cancellations. Matsu Islands can get fairly foggy which hampers airplane landings. Heavy rains are one other issue that makes it arduous for planes. Be sure to have journey insurance coverage and provides your self sufficient buffer if it’s essential catch a connection.
  • Each UNI AIR and Mandarin Airways have a free 10kg checked bag restrict, however don’t fear in case you exceed as a result of every extra kilo is 16 NTD (S$0.70) per kg, however simply word that you just’ll have to pay this price on the counter if you drop off your bag. In my expertise, UNI AIR was fairly strict about charging this price even when I used to be simply 1kg over the restrict as a result of the system was automated, however Mandarin Air did issues manually and didn’t hassle charging me.
  • You can also make bookings and even choose your seat on-line if you verify in, however give your self somewhat time to select up the ticket on the airport as a result of their system is extra used to coping with Chinese language names, so longer English names the place the surname/identify are somewhere else from Chinese language names means you most likely can’t use the kiosks to get your ticket. A lot of the counter employees made handwritten amendments to my identify on the ticket after checking my passport, however I didn’t have every other points.

Greatest for: These with restricted time or get seasick simply

Purchase airplane tickets at UNI AIR’s web site or Mandarin Airline’s web site. In case you are strictly going for a 3D2N go to in a bunch, you possibly can think about the spherical journey flight packages on KKday [affiliate link] as effectively.

By in a single day ferry

You probably have extra time or plan to go to the northernmost island Dongyin as effectively, you might take the in a single day ferry Taima Star 臺馬之星 from Keelung Harbour 基隆港 in New Taipei Metropolis that goes to Dongyin and Nangan in about 10-11 hours. 

A 1-way ticket prices 1,100-1,200 NTD (S$48-52) for a single mattress and 1,800-1,880 NTD (S$76-81) for two pax sharing a double mattress.

Matsu Nangan Taima Star
Taima Star 臺馬之星

Taima Star Schedule

  • Keelung Harbour – Nangan Fu’ao Harbour – Dongyin (Odd days)
  • Keelung Harbour – Dongyin – Nangan Fu’ao Harbour (Even days)

I did wish to do this out however as a result of I used to be strapped for time, I ended up flying as an alternative and skipped Dongyin altogether. Right here’s an account by Luomujie about his time on the Taima Star in case you’re curious. There are precise bunk beds and cabins to lie flat and sleep.

Greatest for: These on a price range and have time to spare

Purchase Matsu In a single day Ferry tickets on KKday [affiliate link] or on eMatsu

By quick ferry

A brand new quick ferry North-South Ferry 南北之星快輪 takes simply 3 hours to get from Taipei Harbour 台北港 to Matsu Nangan Fu’ao Harbour 南竿 福澳港. A 1-way ticket prices 1,700-1,785 NTD (S$74-78). 

If you happen to’re questioning the place Taipei Harbour is positioned, it’s in Bali, New Taipei Metropolis, throughout the river from Tamshui/Danshui.

Matsu Nangan Fuao Harbour Ticket Counters
Ticket counters at Fu’ao Harbour

Quick Ferry Schedule

  • Taipei Harbour – Nangan Fu’ao Harbour: 10am -1pm
  • Nangan Fu’ao Harbour to Taipei Harbour: 3pm – 6pm

I didn’t do that as a result of I used to be on a good schedule, but it surely feels like a good compromise between the lengthy ferry rides and costly flight tickets.

Greatest for: these unable to guide flights and don’t get seasick

Purchase Matsu Quick Ferry tickets on KKday [affiliate link] or on eMatsu

Travelling across the Matsu Islands

The one approach to get across the varied Matsu Islands is by boat. You may’t fly as the opposite islands don’t have airports, and helicopters are just for emergency conditions.

Matsu Nangan Fuao Harbour Sign
This is without doubt one of the roads resulting in the harbour which is to the left of this pic. I simply kinda like how this man got here into my shot on the proper time

Nangan Fu’ao Harbour 南竿福澳港 is the principle ferry hub within the Matsu Islands with frequent connections to neighbouring Beigan Baisha Harbour 北竿白沙港 (simply 10 minutes away, many connections) and longer connections to Dongyin within the north (2 hours) in addition to the Southern Juguang Islands (about 1 hour 45 minutes).

E book your ferry tickets through eMatsu or on the ferry terminal straight

Nangan – Beigan

There are ferries that go between Nangan and Beigan each hour from 7am to 530pm.

  • Nangan > Beigan: The ferries from Nangan go away on the hour – 7am, 8am, 9am, 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, and the final ferry leaves at 510pm
  • Beigan > Nangan: The ferries from Beigan go away on the half hour – 730om, 830am, 930am, 1030am, 1130am, 1230pm, 130pm, 230pm, 330pm, 430pm and the final ferry leaves at 530pm

Particular ferry: Nangan – Daqiu – Beigan

Daqiu Island 大坵 is a small uninhabited island very near Beigan that’s most well-known for being dwelling to a variety of Sika deer, so most individuals normally take a ship to Daqiu through Beigan’s Qiaozi Harbour.

If you happen to’re going from Nangan to Beigan and wish to visit Daqiu alongside the way in which, one different means is to take the North South ferry 南北之星from Nangan to Daqiu. The stopover in Daqiu island is about 2 hours, after which the boat drops by Beigan on the way in which again, so it can save you your self a further boat journey on Beigan.

Matsu Daqiu North-South Ferry
Boarding the ferry at Daqiu

This ferry normally leaves Nangan at 920am and takes 20 minutes to get to Daqiu. I left my bag on the ferry to discover Daqiu for two hours, after which ended up in Beigan round midday. This boat runs from March to October, and through the peak months from Might to August there’s a second boat at 120pm. Extra data at Matsu Tourism (this web page is simply obtainable in Chinese language so simply Google Translate it if you must)

Matsu Daqiu Harbour Hill View
The harbour space on Daqiu – there’s a little bit of a hill to climb to see the island

You actually don’t have to spend very lengthy on Daqiu trigger it’s fairly small – 2 hours is greater than sufficient time to stroll across the total island!

This Nangan-Daqiu-Beigan ticket prices 350 NTD and may be booked on-line through eMatsu or on the ferry terminal straight

Getting across the Matsu Islands

Listed below are the maps used within the official Matsu Tourism brochures for reference.

Matsu Nangan Map
Nangan Map
Matsu Beigan Map
Beigan Map

On Scooter

Probably the most handy approach to navigate the Matsu Islands particularly as a solo traveller is to journey a scooter. A warning right here about Matsu’s terrain – it’s extraordinarily hilly. Now I assumed Lanyu was fairly slopey, however right here in Matsu Islands, these are some actual steep hills.

I get pleasure from hopping on a scooter every time doable in Taiwan’s outskirt areas, however if in case you have by no means ridden a scooter in your life or should not assured on the highway, Matsu is NOT the place so that you can attempt it out. Belief me on this.

If you happen to do journey a scooter, positively put on your helmet and ensure the brakes in your scooter work effectively. Bear in mind to squeeze each brakes and don’t panic squeeze only one otherwise you would possibly find yourself flying off the bike. Take your time on these loopy slopes!

Matsu Beigan Road Slope
Simply an instance of the numerous actually steep slopes you could find within the Matsu Islands

For individuals who don’t plan to journey, you might look into renting a automobile, taking a taxi or hiring a driver as an alternative. Your guesthouse ought to find a way that will help you organize this.

Public Bus

If you happen to don’t have your personal transport choice, Nangan and Beigan each have public buses that go across the islands. You may decide up the newest bus schedule on the customer centre (it’s printed on the brochures), however generally you have got 1-2 buses working each hour from 7am – 5pm.

Matsu Nangan Public Bus
Matsu public bus

Taiwan Haoxing Vacationer Shuttle Bus 台灣好行

One straightforward approach to discover the Matsu Islands is to make use to the Taiwan Tourism shuttle buses. Just like the Hualien East Coast Shuttle Bus that I took, these buses operate like a mini half-day tour and take you to the principle sights in Matsu with out you having to fret about transport. The one situation is that you’ve a hard and fast schedule to comply with. Every journey prices 300 NTD.

The Nangan Vacationer Shuttle bus operates within the morning (121) and the afternoon (122) with totally different routes.

The Beigan Vacationer Shuttle Bus operates within the morning (221) and the afternoon (222) with totally different routes

The place to remain within the Matsu Islands

Determining your lodging choices? Right here’s the place I stayed within the Matsu Islands and a few of my suggestions.

Lodging Reserving Ideas

I normally guide lodging by way of reserving.com due to comfort and I do get reductions as a frequent consumer, however one choice you possibly can think about is to make use of Google maps to seek out lodges/guesthouses that you just like, after which contacting these locations through e mail, LINE or telephone in case you can communicate Chinese language. These guesthouses can normally give you higher charges or packages straight.

A word that the usual follow in Taiwan is normally to switch a deposit to the guesthouse as a pre-booking price, however in case you inform them you’re no in Taiwan, they normally are okay to allow you to pay on arrival.

To this point I haven’t discovered any technique of creating transfers to Taiwanese accounts in NTD simply, which is extra because of Taiwan’s moderately closed banking system – multi forex websites like Revolut and Clever don’t allow you to create NTD wallets, and the transfers to Taiwan are in USD for some purpose as effectively.

Nangan – Jinsha Vanilla Homestay 南竿津沙香草民宿

I selected to remain at Jinsha Village 津沙聚落 within the southwest nook of Nangan Island. It’s a historic village in Nangan that many individuals go to and takes about quarter-hour to get to by automobile from Nangan airport.

I stayed at Jinsha Vanilla Homestay [booking.com affiliate link] which was fairly conveniently positioned within the ‘heart’ of the village. The homeowners have been an accommodating couple who picked me from the airport after I arrived, dropped me on the ferry harbour after I left and gave me fairly good tips about sights to see across the island.

Matsu Nangan Jinsha Village View
Jinsha Village from above
Matsu Nangan Jinsha Vanilla Exterior
Jinsha Vanilla from the surface
Matsu Nangan Jinsha Vanilla Room
My room had beds for 3 pax
Matsu Nangan Jinsha Vanilla Hallway
Shared rest room outdoors – rest room is small and fundamental, the opposite room is behind me on this picture
Matsu Nangan Jinsha Vanilla Red Glutinous Rice
This Crimson Glutinous Rice snack is tremendous dense and I acquired to eat it free as a visitor!

They bought snacks and drinks through the day so each morning I acquired to eat freshly made native snacks. I additionally rented my scooter straight from them. This guesthouse has simply two rooms on the higher stage so there was a shared rest room (the homeowners lived within the room downstairs).

Another choices in Nangan you possibly can think about [booking.com affiliate links]

Beigan – Qinbi Qingnian Homestay 芹壁青年民宿

In Beigan I additionally opted for the historic village of Qinbi 芹壁聚落 and it actually was very fairly. Conventional previous stone homes and little slim alleyways and staircases.

I stayed at Qinbi Qingnian Homestay which was in a standard home which suggests a few issues – no ensuite bogs and fairly small rooms, however total it was cosy and I had a little bit of a seaview from my room.

My guesthouse homeowners once more picked and dropped me off, however they didn’t reside in the home itself so I had all of it to myself on the 2nd night time when the opposite visitor left! There are 3 rooms in whole – I used to be up on the third flooring and it might sleep 8 folks, so if in case you have a bunch you possibly can guide the entire home.

Matsu Beigan Qinbi Village Coast View
Qinbi Village on a beautiful cloudy day – the rock islet going through the village is known as Turtle Island
Matsu Beigan Qinbi Qingnian Homestay Exterior
Qinbi Qingnian Homestay from the surface
Matsu Beigan Qinbi Qingnian Homestay Room
My room on the third flooring – little or no flooring area! Additionally deliver a watch masks in case you’re delicate to mild because the skylight can’t be closed!

Another choices in Beigan you possibly can think about [booking.com affiliate links]

  • Yo Ho 23 Homestay – additionally positioned in Qibi, this one appears like a fairly place to remain
  • So Lohas B&B – the rooms at this guesthouse at Qiaozi have balconies and it appears fairly good
  • Chingya Home – centrally positioned in Tangi Village close to the airport

Different Matsu Island Journey Ideas

Have further TWD readily available

Right here’s the factor about island life in Taiwan, even on bigger islands akin to Penghu: ATMs are few and much between, and even in case you do discover an ATM, there’s a excessive likelihood that it doesn’t take international playing cards.

I do know this as a result of I used to be almost caught with out money on my final day on the Matsu Islands. Beigan has ONE single ATM machine on the Chunghwa put up workplace in Tangqi Village, and sadly doesn’t settle for international bank cards. The employees stated MAYBE Nangan (which is barely larger) may need a world ATM… Fortunately I paid my guesthouse in money and so they have been prepared to just accept bank card as an alternative so I managed to get my money again from them.

The Matsu Islands are somewhat pricier than you would possibly assume. Due to its remoteness, a few of the meals locations price about the identical as a restaurant in Singapore, which is dear by Taiwanese requirements. Withdraw greater than you assume you will have on the ATMs at Songshan Airport earlier than you fly – there are ATMs there that don’t cost worldwide charges.

Matsu Jianbing Viewpoint
This was my final full day within the Matsu Islands and I’m consuming the Jiguang bread or ‘Matsu hamburger’ as a result of I simply realised my ATM card couldn’t work and I used to be all the way down to lower than 200 NTD for the day. This price me 15 NTD (60 cents SGD) and I purchased 2 simply in case and I’m chilling at a close-by viewpoint ready for my guesthouse homeowners to answer me on whether or not they will help me out lol. Fortunately they did so I had lunch and dinner.

Count on early nights

Matsu has little or no in means of nightlife – most locations are open within the day and even on the subject of dinner, there aren’t that many choices. In Jinsha Village the place I stayed in Nangan there have been simply two eating places open for dinner at night time.

Issues additionally have a tendency to shut early, so begin enthusiastic about dinner by 6pm newest to make sure you don’t go hungry. There are some small comfort shops in a few of the bigger villages however these don’t run 24 hours – they have been fairly helpful after I ran out of money as I may pay along with your bank card/EasyCard.

In the summertime months, night time time is for Blue Tears looking! Up your probabilities at seeing the Blue Tears by staying close to a seaside.

Matsu Beigan Qiaozai Blue Tears Coast Glow 3
Possibly you’ll get fortunate like I did?

Keep on with foremost highways at night time

If you happen to’re exploring at night time, keep on with the principle highways that lower by way of the middle of the islands (the bus route) and keep away from the smaller roads as not all of the small roads are lit at night time. The principle highways could be an extended distance, however whereas they’re slopey, they’re effectively paved and lit by roadlamps.

The smaller roads could also be equally slopey however not totally paved – a few of them have this half paved stone and half easy concrete which is moderately precarious for a scooter in case you hit the highway on the fallacious angle, particularly at night time.

Matsu Beigan Road Slope View
Notice the 2 totally different highway pavings on this slope which is typical of smaller roads within the Matsu Islands. Not a difficulty with vehicles, however for scooters, typically the transition between the paved and easy rock can jolt your bike, which is hell if you’re already coping with steep slopes and pitch darkness (no lampposts right here!)

Have you ever been to the Matsu Islands in Taiwan? I positively wish to return once more and see the islands that I’ve missed out on. Within the meantime, try the opposite Taiwan offshore islands that I’ve visited or see all my Taiwan posts.

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