A cultural awareness is hitting Taiwan, much like the recent trend in other large countries, to acknowledge the indigenous peoples. The aboriginal population have long called this island home but they only make up a mere 2.3% of the inhabitants. There are 16 recognised groups and presently there is an island wide revival of their customs, traditions, weaving and singing.
A visit to Taiwan would not be complete without a visit to some of these cultural parks and museums that are popping up around the island. The largest of these is located an easy hour drive outside of Kaohsiung city. The Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Cultural Park includes 82.65 hectares of land and is located in a natural parklike setting.
Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Cultural Park features a grand 360 degree multimedia room, a lifestyle exhibition, a wax figure museum and a room displaying aboriginal handicrafts.
The cultural heritage of nine main aboriginal tribes are displayed. Walking through the displays and exhibitions allows you to learn about these indigenous people’s history and culture.
Included within this large park are walking paths and natural wooded areas, complete with indigenous housing and communal structures. These have been built in each tribes traditional way with materials they would have used in the past. Some of my favourite included a hut built completely out of tree bark and another built from stacked stones and tree branches. There are quite a few structures to see. You can take your time and stroll into and around these structures. See and feel what it may have been like to live at a time before modern conveniences arrived.
Twice a day (10:30 am and 2:30 pm ) at a beautiful and spacious theatre you can see aboriginal dancing and singing. The gorgeous costumes are full replicas of their tribes traditional clothing. This show completely mesmerised us, it was professionally choreographed and so much fun to watch. The music was a delightful mixture of singing and chants. This was a highlight of our visit to the park and I would suggest you adjust your schedule so you make sure to catch it.
There is one restaurant and lots of small shops selling local specialty handicrafts onsite. I have found that many of the indigenous handicrafts are only available at these types of areas. If you see something you really like you may want to buy it as you may not see it again. My favourite souvenirs have been found at the indigenous areas. Nice benches and public seating areas are scattered around. So we opted to pack a picnic lunch and ate outside enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
There is an additional attraction nearby, a super long suspension bridge you can cross. That leads you to an area where locals are selling boar sausages and a mixture of local fruits and treats.
We did this before the park but in retrospect I would have done it after as it’s a one way journey. And it lets you out quite a ways down the road from the park. You will have to wait a while for a little bus to pick you up and bring you back around to the park again. The park hours are 8:30 am until 5:00 pm and it is open 6 days a week. Keep in mind the park is not open on Mondays.
You can do this by public bus but the buses only run a few times a day and you must first get to Pingtung. Check current bus schedules before you go. Uber or local taxis can also take you from Kaohsiung. Or check out our Kaohsiung Hike trip http://discovertaiwanadventures.com/tour/guided-day-hike/ to add this to a hike to some nearby waterfalls. We were able to complete the park and check out a nice waterfall nearby all in a one day time frame.