The International Hot Air Balloon Festival has been held annually in Taitung since 2011.

And this year the festival that started on July 11th, and is scheduled to run through to the end of this month, is more popular than ever.

Due to restrictions on traveling abroad put in place by COVID-19, the number of people visiting The International Hot Air Balloon Festival has of course increased many times over compared to previous years – so be prepared.

Photo: viantsai818 on Instagram

The venue itself can easily be reached by public transportation as well as car, and / or scooter, so if you are on the look out for something interesting to do in August and are ready to explore the beauty of Taitung- The Back Garden of Taiwan, just book a train ticket, and let’s go!

Taitung is a really beautiful place to visit, not only because of its popular tourist attractions, but also because of its long and well recorded historical culture.

As interesting as the wider region is – and maybe next time I will write a more detailed travel guide introducing Taitung proper – this article will only focus on the annual International Hot Air Balloon Festival.

Taitung’s prestigious Hot Air Balloon Festival was listed as one of the Top 12 most amazing Hot Air Balloon Festivals by TV’s Travel Channel a while back, and this has made Luye Kaotai a very famous attraction with visiting foreigners.

Every year a variety of hot air balloons in different colors and shapes are released into the sky in “Luye Kaotai” (鹿野高台) – the Luye Highlands.

Pilots from all over the world come to celebrate this annual fiesta.

However, the pandemic we are now faced with has limited some foreign pilot participation this year. Nevertheless, the hot air balloons displayed are still fascinating. 

One of my personal favorites is the Sponge Bob hot air balloon, but there is much more  information about the hot air balloon characters on display in the “Balloon Catalog” on the official website (link below).

There are two ‘flying’ sessions for the hot air balloons daily: one in the early morning (from around 5:30 am – 7:00 am) with the other in the late afternoon (from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm). This is the time the main event starts.

It is recommended you arrive at the site early so that you can find a decent viewing spot on the grasslands. Oh, and checking the weather is also important as the release of the hot air balloons depends on it.

In addition to the hot air balloons released at the Luye Highlands, there are also a number of special night-glow concerts in Chenggong Township at Sanxiantai, in Taimali Township at the The Aurora Gardens, in Beinan Township at the Jhihben Hot Springs, here in Luye Township at the Luye Highlands of course, and in Taitung City at the Taitung Forest Park.

Further information can be found on all of these under the “Night-Glows” page on the official website.

Watching the hot air balloons go up into the sky is of course the ‘thing’ most visitors will limit themselves to.

However, if you want a truly unique experience, you can actually book tickets online or you can opt to line up in person at the site for your own chance to ride in a hot air balloon.

Paragliding and grass sliding are two other popular activities that people like to try when visiting Luye.

Photo: angelahsieh0428 on Instagram

And these comments come from someone who has been there, and got the T-shirt;  my friends and I visited The International Hot Air Balloon Festival in 2018.

I was personally very impressed by the breathtaking view when all hot air balloons were released into the night sky.

And having a group of friends sitting around you on the grasslands as you wait for the release of the hot air balloons is a very special – and unforgettable – experience.

More information about the festival can be found through the official website here.

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