Prowlin’ in Maolin

For Tasty Foods, Nifty Buys, Comfy Places to Sleep

Text: Charette
Photos: Chang Jin-rui

Though a place of quiet and of simple-living people, there is no lack for appealing choice when it comes to accommodation, eating, and gift/souvenir purchases in the Maolin region.

The Pu-Lao Hot Spring Hotel is in a majestic setting, looking across at a low line of mountains over the sometimes roaring, generally water-thirsty Laonong River. In the shape of a squared “U,” the hotel has a pretty, welcoming landscaped courtyard with an attractive topiary, a mini-windmill, and a faux-rookery waterfall. The area’s weak carbonic-acid mineral waters are piped into each room’s Japanese-style soaking tub, and into the covered outdoor courtyard-side communal bathing pools with a cross-valley view (there’s also a swimming pool).
I recommend staying in the left arm of the “U,” where the rooms are like a series of attached log-wall cabins. Large and spartan, the furnishings rustic, the rooms reminded me of those in my parents-and-uncles-owned family cottage back home in Canada. (Rooms start at NT$3,500.)

On our first day on this trip your Travel in Taiwan crew visited the Rukai/Paiwan tribal village of Rinari. The village is a great place to learn about indigenous culture, and it also has a number of indigenous-artist studios, including four in the large tribal development center at the top of the village and a number in annexes attached to private homes. At some houses residents have a range of village-produced items on display for sale. On my village tour I decided on a work of exquisitely crafted headgear and a glass-bead necklace and bracelet, for wife, mom, and mom-in-law, respectively, and was taken aback by how inexpensive it was to take possession of such beauty. It took six full hours to create the most expensive, the bright-red traditional-style cloth cap (NT$350), covered in small decorative seashells, glass beads, and metal trinkets.

If you spend time in Rinari village you can take part in DIY sessions learn to make indigenous-style handicrafts, such as bracelets, wooden key rings, and leather ware. The village also offers archery sessions and Paiwan-cuisine cooking classes. Groups who have signed up for these activities are likely to receive a special warm welcome, including singing and dancing by village representatives. If you want to explore the surrounding area, you can also rent bikes in the village. Rinari nights are very quiet, and many residents sit out on their patio “living rooms” chatting or singing hymns. In the evening you can also take in the sparkling city lights of Kaohsiung in the far distance.

  The Rukai and Paiwan are renowned for their artistic skills, their works – especially those in the shared traditions of glass-bead jewelry, pottery, and hunting knifes – adorned with bold and powerful totemic imagery. The valley slope-tipped village of Sandimen is the hub of a continually growing cluster of shops operated by native artists and artisans. At Shatao Dance & Glass Art Studio, watch traditional-style glass beads being made and used to create striking jewelry. You can also make your own beads. At Er-Ge Workshop, watch workers craft pottery vessels in the ancient Paiwan style, and watch wood carvers craft and decorate furniture, doors, and other items.

  In the Dajin area by the Laonong River, on Provincial Highway 27, is the Zhong Family Fruit Farm. The Maolin National Scenic Area authorities are working with local farmers, promoting their produce and farm-experience visits, and with advance notice farmer Zhong Huan-hong is happy to show off his large net-protected fields of Chinese dates (jujubes) and papayas. This year he’s producing a new Taiwan-created cultivar on his 20-year-old date trees, “snow honey dates,” and the results are delicious, the best Chinese dates I’ve had, extra-large, finger-lickin’ juicy, nectar sweet – no writer’s embellishment here. Prices are based on weight; a box of 12 will be about NT$350. The 36-date box I brought home was gone in minutes when presented to my (Taiwanese) wife’s clan members, and one, a fruit-store owner, is now sourcing direct from Zhong.

Ever heard of jinafu? Though I’ve eaten traditional fare in many indigenous villages and restaurants around Taiwan over the years, I certainly never had until I stepped into Du Mama, a simple shop with walls of corrugated steel right on County Route 185 at Jiayi Village’s north end. Owner Mama Du is a Paiwan-tribe member; jinafu is an old-time Paiwan delicacy, and her shop is a must-stop for tourists.
Jinafu is made by wrapping ground millet, a staple of Taiwan’s tribes, and seasoned minced pork in leaves. Minced pork is the norm; Mamu Du fries chunks in a wok. These are first wrapped in a plant called Trichodesma calycosum, then in shell-ginger leaves. Steaming causes the millet to absorb the flavor of the pork and the leaves’ unique taste. The outer leaf layer, too thick and fibrous, is removed before eating. Mama Du also offers three other types of savory rice treats, using millet or glutinous rice.

When visiting Rinari village you can also enjoy an indigenous feast (NT$350 per person) that is a traditional welcome for visitors and invariably served to all family members who’ve been living away. Hearty and filling, my favorite selections were the grilled boar, steamed sweet potato topped with cane sugar-sweetened peanut, and a-bai, which is what the Rukai call their jinafu. Coffee, lemongrass drink, and afternoon tea are also available in the village.


English and Chinese

snow honey dates雪蜜棗
Take Your Shoes Off – Kucapungane脫鞋子的好茶部落
Zhong Huan-hong鍾煥宏


Du Mama (杜媽媽)
Add:104-13, Taiping Lane, Jiayi Village, Majia Township, Pingtung County (屏東縣瑪家鄉佳義村泰平巷104-13號)
Tel: (08) 799-0426

Er-ge Workshop (峨格手藝工作室)
Add:52, Sec. 2, Zhongzheng Road, Sandi Village, Sandimen Township, Pingtung County (屏東縣三地門鄉三地村中正路二段52號)
Tel: (08) 799-5200

Kucapungame (Rinari Village) (好茶部落)
Add:1, Makazhaya Street, Majia Township, Pingtung County (屏東縣瑪家鄉瑪卡札亞街1號)
Tel: (08) 799-7070

Pu-Lao Hot Spring Hotel (不老溫泉渡假村)
Add: 82, Xinkai Rd., Xinfa Borough, Liugui District, Kaohsiung City (高雄市六龜區新發里新開路82號)
Tel: (07) 679-1888

Shatao Dance & Glass Art Studio
Add:7, Lane 37, Sec. 2, Zhongzheng Road, Sandi Village, Sandimen Township, Pingtung County (屏東縣三地門鄉三地村中正路二段29巷45號)
Tel:(08) 799-3332

Zhong Family Fruit Farm (鍾家果園)
Add:171, Dajin Borough, Liugui District, Kaohsiung City (高雄市六龜區大津里172號)
Tel: (07) 680-1656 / 0919-198-396


Lovely Lotus Flower Fields

Little Streets and Small Alleys

Noodles, Buns, and Dumplings

Shin Kong Chao Feng Resort Ranch

Hao Bu Hao Chi?

Taitung by the sea

Sleep, Eat, and Buy Options in Alishan’s North Sector

Mt. Guanyin

A Night at the Market

Alishan North

Green and Sleepy

Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail

Taiwan and Hotpot

Jinyue Indigenous Village

Seven Stars Mountain

DaMorLee Leisure Farm

Quick Trip to Taipei

Up into the High Mountains

Romantic Evenings in Kaohsiung

Railways to Bikeways

Xiang Luo Lei Restaurant

Land Ho! Penghu – Beckoning You

The Guanshan Town Circle Bicycle Path

The Heart of Hualien

Dageeli Tribe Restaurant

Coastal Hualien

Ximending (West Gate District)

Bunun Hunters Restaurant

Hello Hualien!

The Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area

Tianwei Highway Garden

Prowlin’ in Maolin

Strawberry Town

The Maolin National Scenic Area

Stairways to the Sky

Pedaling Along

Daluan Restaurant

Around the Northern Tip

Hats and Mats

Orange Country

Travel Taiwan, Film Taiwan!

A Place to Relax

Through the Grapevine

The Tatami of Dongshi


Lion’s Head Mountain and Beipu

Exploring the Valley of the Glowing Sky

Fruit of the Angels

Its Cake Culture

The Amazing Bamboo

Yilan’s Kumquats

Lovely Nanzhuang

The Sea of Flowers in Xinshe Festival

Healthful Eating and Delicious Flavors

The Black King Kong of Yuanchang

From Art Brush to Beauty Brush

A Strange Fruit

The Sound of Drums

Zuoying Wannian Folklore Festival

The Hot Springs of Beitou

Simakusi (Smangus)


Water Frolics

Overnighting on the Northeast Coast

Giant Buddha, Old Temples, and Glass Art

Mt. Beidawu

The Most Joyous Thing in the World is Music

Taiwan Fun on the Tropic of Cancer

FUN WITH CHINESE - Men in the Fields during Rain

NK 101 Tea @ Style

Taitung Backpack Bus Trip

The Life of Pi

Taipei’s East District Where the Art of Shopping Is Serious Business

Spring Onion Country Yilan's Sanxing Township Offers Ideal Conditions for Cultivating Scallions

Sandy Beaches, Rocky Coastline, Quiet Country A Whirlwind Tour Round Hengchun Peninsula

What Happened at Wushe

Confucius Day

Keeping It in the Family: I Wan Jan Puppet Theater

Taiwan Has a Unique Culture

Welcoming the Year of the Rabbit and the ROC's 100 Years

All the Flowers You Can Dream Of

Music from the Marshland

Pristine Scenes

Fierce Faces

Following the Tide

A Wonderful World Out There

Off to the Beach and the Rocks

Taiwan’s Easy Rider Goes Into the Wild


Taipei Int'l Flora Expo




Taiwan's Ultra Man Going Beyond Extreme

Rice by Any Other Name

Taiwan is Beautiful!


Slate Houses and Mud Rivers

From Fir Formosa

Touring Kaohsiung by KMART


Taoyuan HSR Station

Taking Taiwan's Slow Train

Bus Trip to Central Taiwan

Establishing a Beautiful Taiwan

High Mountain Ecology

Exploring High Mountain HighsTaiwan at Her Peaks

Cultural Tourism in Taiwan:What's in It for You?

Getting to Know Taiwan's Indigenous Cultures

Leaving Stress Behind

Taiwan! "Feel Good" Country

Exploring Taiwan's Rural Side

Aboriginal Tribes & Festivals

The Famous Lantern Festival in Taiwan

Night Markets in Taiwan

Great Arts, Culinary Exhibitions and Events in Taiwan's National Palace Museum and Other Places

Mountains in Taiwan

Water Fun in Taiwan

Taiwanese Arts, Arts Festivals and Interesting Artifacts

"Taiwan's Ghost Festival and Other Religious Events"

Dragon Boat Festival

City: The Tallest Building Taipei 101 & Kaohsiung's Love River

National Scenic Area (IV)-Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, Penghu National Scenic Area, Matsu National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (III)-East Rift Valley National Scenic Area, East Coast National Scenic Area, Maolin National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (II)-Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area, Alishan National Scenic Area, Southwest Coast National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (I)-North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area, Northeast Coast National Scenic Area, Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area

Offshore Islands- Penghu、Kinmen National Park、Matzu、Green Island(Lyudao)、Orchid Island(Lanyu)

Eastern Taiwan- Taroko National Park、East Rift Valley、Rueisuei & Hongye、Jhihben

Southern Taiwan- Alishan、Tainan、Kaohsiung、Dapeng Bay & Little Liouciou、Kenting National Park

Central Taiwan- Miaoli、Taichung、Changhua、Nantou、Yushan National Park

Northern Taiwan -Taipei City、Yangmingshan & Beitou、Danshuei、Wulai、Jioufen & Jinguashih、Yilan、Taoyuan & Hsinchu