Things to Do in Taiwan: Sanxiantai and the Dragon Bridge

While doing WorkAway in Dulan, we took advantage of WaGaLiGong‘s discounted scooter rental for volunteers and used a day off to ride up Taiwan’s east coast to Chenggong, for seafood and Sanxiantai.

Though our scooter was old and clunky, the ride was sensational. Flanked by mountains on the left and the wide open ocean on the right, we enjoyed views of shimmering riverbanks, near-fluorescent fields of rice, and a fascinating variety of flora and fauna.

Breakfast in Chenggong

By the time we made it to Chenggong, we were ready for a breakfast stop. In our search for a good place to eat and attempts to follow directions, we made a few leisurely circles around the town.

Eventually, we pulled up at a simple local eatery where we enjoyed dan bing (蛋餅, a Taiwanese egg crepe and breakfast must-have) and a few other tasty bites.

My partner attempted conversation with the owners and before departure, we ended up with a plateful of valencia oranges. We didn’t know it at the time but apparently, the region is famous for them.

Sanxiantai Arch Bridge

The Sanxiantai Arch or Dragon Bridge is the attraction we thought we were coming to see. However, this manmade structure pales in comparison to the striking island to which it leads.

It is a great photo-op spot, though.

Walking the Dragon Bridge to Sanxiantai Island

From the right angles, it could be dubbed not only Dragon Bridge but also Archway to Heaven.

View of the Dragon Bridge from Sanxiantai Island

The bridge also offers amazing views of surrounding scenery. Even the water underneath is stirring.

Water under the bridge

Sanxiantai Island

On Sanxiantai Island, a walkway has been sliced into thick native foliage.

Tourists can walk through the heart of the island’s nature while remaining separate from it—in this way limiting the impact they can have and leaving the island with an untouched feel.

It almost feels like being on safari in Jurassic Park.

As you traverse the island, you can observe the wildlife up close.

These shiny beetles, for example, who love eating this peculiar fruit that looks like a much more worthy bearer of the name pine-apple than what the rest of the world calls ananas.

Behold, the true pine-cone shaped fruit. Only the beetles can say if it tastes like an apple.
They’re called Christmas beetles because their backs look like tinsel.

The pathways take you around Sanxiantai’s first two big rocks and lead right up to the third. You can climb up that one for some amazing views.

Names: Deciphering Sites and Cities in Taiwan

Sanxiantai (三仙台) means “three immortals platform”. What’s really interesting is how easy the Chinese characters are to interpret.

三 means three, while the second part of 仙 means mountain (and looks just like one: 山). The final character, 台, is the same “tai” in Taiwan and Taipei and means terrace or platform.

Also fascinating: Taiwan (台湾), which more or less means “platformed gulf”, contains the cities Taipei (台北, “Tai-north”), Taichung (台中, “Tai-middle”), Taitung ( 台东, “Tai-east”), and Tainan ( 台南, “Tai-south”).

From Pebble Beach, you can nearly make out Sanxiantai’s three little mountains or “platforms of the immortals”.

Sanxiantai Lighthouse, Gift Shops, Mochis, and Japanese Bidets

If you plan enough time at Sanxiantai (and bring enough water) you can walk up to the lighthouse for more stunning views.

We unfortunately ran out of water and energy, opting instead to return to the gift shop for hydration and mochis—to feast upon while lounging in the grass.

A final random but worthwhile note on Taiwan’s tourist attractions: they have amazingly clean and highly advanced toilets.

Chenggong Fish and Donghe Buns

On our way back through Chenggong, we rode through the Xingang Yu (fish) Market to ooh and ah over heaps of freshly caught food from the sea.

The fish were nice to look t but too expensive to eat, so we made our next food stop at Donghe Baozi—another highly recommended stop along Taiwan’s brilliant east coast.

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