February 18, 2012

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Douliou City 斗六市, Taiwan

Yunlin County's charming capital

Douliou City 斗六市 might not be your fairytale-like destination, but it has a certain indefinable charm. When my wife and I planned our trip to Southern Taiwan, she was not too excited to stopover here, I however was very curious about the capital of Yunlin County 雲林縣 or literally "Cloud forest county", which is famous for a plenty of agricultural products throughout Taiwan. Douliou with its 107.000 inhabitants is one of the smallest county seats in Taiwan, but definitely among the most interesting ones.

There's definitely something happening in Douliou, because the railway station is one of the newest and neatest in this part of the island. And the website of the municipality confirms this notion. Check the mayor Hsieh Shu-ya, her political convictions and action plan (original source). These are some pretty uplifting words:

This compact pocket-small city is not so different than other cities and towns in the area. Scooters are whizzing through the narrow streets, run-down facades are covered with a forest of signboards and the garbage truck is playing "Per Elisa"... Nevertheless, it was worth a short stopover, especially because we were privileged to enjoy a very tasty lunch at one of the popular restaurants.

Let me share some images of Douliou with you:

The Douliou Railway Station. The flag of Taiwan on the left greeted us.

The inside of the new station building.

The area right outside the railway station.

Look on the right.

Look back at the new building.

Walking to the central area.

Taiping Old Street 斗六太平老街

Taiping Old street is one of the remains of the Japanese colonial period in Douliou (first half of the 20th century). The neo-baroque buildings have been polished up in recent years to attract more tourists and to preserve their historic value to the next generation. Sadly, the street is not as popular and not as charming as the old steets in Sanxia or Chishan.

A corner boutique.

The street looked very empty around noon.

Something like a small town square.

Signboard forest.

Western end of the street.

Historic buildings slowly disappearing.

Only the paving is the same here.

A small stretch of 20th century Japan.

We decided to walk further in order to find a very popular restaurant.

Popular restaurant: Aguo's main shop 阿國獅總店

This was by far the most popular restaurant in central Douliou (find it on a map).

We headed downstairs, but the place was full, so we had to wait a while.

We finally got the seat at the back and ordered few delicacies.

This is a century egg with tofu.

You gotta mix them together. True, it doesn't look too appealing to European eyes and century eggs have a bad rep in Western circles, but I have to say this was very delicious.

A soup with bits of squid. Very tasty.

This soup is famous: It's thicker, has thinner noodles and lots of squid mouths.

Squid with wasabi - a true delicacy.

After dinner we headed out to explore some parts in the area.

I think this was cute - it's a market in the area.

A big temple.

A church nearby.

Walking back to the station, we fought ourselves through a crowded day market with narrow streets. It was amazing to see the garbage truck driving through here.

Xiao Ing, Taiwan's former presidential candidate with a local politician.

I hope you enjoyed my small tour of central Douliou City. In case you have some additional recommendations and observations, submit them in the comments below. I hope to return here and explore more of Douliou and Yunlin County in the future.

[My TAIWAN TRAVEL page][TAIWAN][All photos by MKL, 2012]


  1. Beautiful photo diary. I enjoyed this post a lot. :)

  2. Fur Elise or Per Elisa? Don't think I have ever heard of Per Elise.

    Yun Lin reminds me strongly of Ipoh's old town in the morning.

  3. @Rizalenio, thank you :)

    @k0k s3n w4i: Don't think I have ever heard of Fur Elise. Für Elise, if you want to nitpick, is correct.

  4. My Dad was was born there and we've been back to visit when we are in Taiwan. The last time I was there was over 15 years ago and I have to say after seeing your photos, it has changed A LOT! Next time I'm there, I will have to dine at that restaurant! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Douliu is my hometown and I really appreciate you've spent some time and ink (figuratively) on it. Very enjoyable read.
    Another place to try near the train station is 吳記肉圓 (https://plus.google.com/108617486711420350119/about?hl=en) but they usually sell out by the mid-afternoon.

    Hope you'll get a chance to explore more Yunlin and Douliu. Cycling would be a good idea. You'll see the quieter side of the town and the roads are not crowded 10 min from the train station.

  6. @GDUMAS: You're welcome!

    @Anonymous: Yep, sadly I didn't have a lot of time, but it's fine, I'm saving some spots for the next time and I will follow your advice :)

  7. There are a ton of nice places to go and visit when you're in Douliou next time. If they still have at the station please pick up a pamphlet about the city and you will find they feature some of the stores on the old street like one who has been making comforters the traditional way for generations.

    Some of my picks:
    Old Wu Beef Noodle (was winner of People's choice during the beef noodle festival in Taipei)
    East Market Lamb (You actually have a photo of where it is. (Douliou Food Market)
    La Famille: One local went to France to study at Le Cordon Bleu and returned to her hometown to start up a now very popular and very tasty pastry shop. She has two newer outlets in Taichung as well.
    吳記肉圓: They are super famous for their Taiwanese meatball. I LOVE eating it and will not eat any other person's version of it in the city. They have been featured numerous times on television and print.
    3wdika: Is an authentic Thai restaurant that has a lot of repeat customers both local and foreigners alike. The ladies operating the place really are Thai. The server is friend and can speak English. Super yummy! http://blog.yunlin.me/2011/08/28/eat/

  8. @Morris Chang: Thanks for the tips! They will be useful for my next visit :)

  9. Nice look at Douliu. With the last round of budget spending before the next elections, the city has decided to completely pave over the Taiping Old Street with blacktop. Not much to look at it, but at least it's smooth to drive on and looks uniform. Really changes the atmosphere, as well (not really in a good way, but the street never really had much of that "old" atmosphere anyway.)


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