On island hikes, discover old temples and other religious sites.
The Matsu islands, opened to foreign visitors in 1994, are steeped in military lore from the cold war between Taiwan
and China. The five-island archipelago
is geographically closer to Mainland China’s
Fujian Province than Taiwan’s mainland, and be-
cause of years of isolation, they can feel like time
capsules of a tension-filled era.
Just a one-hour flight from Songshan Airport,
in the center of Taipei, lies Nangan Island, the
most developed of the Matsu chain.
A great way to experience the tropical
greenery and ocean vistas of Nangan is by
taking the recently paved Fuqing Bike Path.
Nangan, a once-isolated
Taiwanese island, rewards
explorers with pristine
landscapes, the legacy
of forgotten wars and
remnants of bygone eras
The route passes by fierce military monuments,
unusual rock formations and weather-beaten
temples and religious statues. Paths created by
years of marching soldiers wind through quaint
maritime villages, reclaimed military zones
and beaches gloriously devoid of chain hotels and
Those looking to get out of the sun while taking
in some history can visit Nangan’s Beihai tunnels.
Exhibits of uniforms, guns and preserved
instruments of war are wedged into ad-hoc
meeting rooms where Taiwan’s generals once
strategized against the People’s Republic of
Several small towns have a handful of modest,
family-run bed-and-breakfasts, and most hotels in
Nangan feel frozen in the mid-20th century. Coast
of the Dawn hotel in Ren-ai Village, on the other
hand, features an industrial-chic concrete-and-glass
design that provides a subtle nod to the military
architecture dotting the island. The public areas
are cool, clean and enlivened with modern art and
panoramic views of the beach, while rooms are
basic but comfortably appointed and also have
Overall, I found the Matsu Islands to be perfect
for visitors looking for a mix of history, nature hikes
and adventure. It’s got the o;-the-beaten-path,
quirky vibe that comes from years of being on the
front line of a cold war. https://eng.taiwan.net.tw
— Elyse Glickman
A giant statue of Mazu, Goddess
of the Sea, greets visitors to
Taiwan’s Matsu Islands.
Nangan's Beihai tunnels harken
back to Cold War tensions.