First Dawn Flight, Tribal Rites and Beautiful Taitung: A Unique Way to Spend New Years in Taiwan

Many are the activities worth experiencing in Taiwan on New Years Day, but we think it’s safe to say that few will wind up being as unique, epic and culturally enlightening as a full day tour incorporating a private sunrise flight, two catered feasts, and participation in the Mangayau, the annual rite of passage of Taiwan’s Puyama tribe.

As with most things worth doing, this experience will require a bit of sacrifice on the part of participants, specifically a super-early wake-up call – or, for those looking to party in the new year – a serious test of stamina.

A Private Jet and the First Sunrise of 2019

Photo by Sebastián León Prado on Unsplash

The experience begins at 4:30 AM at Taipei’s Songshan Airport, where participants will group up for a private chartered flight that will slowly cruise down Taiwan’s eastern coast, maximizing the view as passengers look upon the first sunrise of 2019 from 25,000 feet above sea level. There’ll be catered food and beverages as the flight cruises down the coast, and once the sun is fully up the feast continues on the ground in Taitung as participants partake in a breakfast feast featuring local dishes, fruits, and freshly brewed coffee. After breakfast, guests will be whisked by private van to take part in the Mangayau, a traditional festival of the Puyuma Tribe.

A Tribal Rite of Passage

The Mangayau celebration is the final part of a sequence of tribal festivals and rituals held from December 24 January 2, festivals marking the end of one year and the start of a new and prosperous cycle of seasons. According to the World Summit of Indigenous Cultures Website:

The Mangayau is the single most important Puyuma ritual in the entire year. All youngsters on the verge of manhood participate in the Hunting Ritual. Its origins lie in the days of headhunting when the men would set out to avenge themselves on other tribes by taking the heads of their warriors. Since headhunting has become a thing of the past, today’s Mangayau is purely a hunting festival—but other activities are also included, such as comforting recently bereaved families and coming-of-age ceremonies.

image source: Taiwan Tourism Bureau

Through the course of the morning festival, participants will be invited to both watch and take part in ritual dances and ceremonies alongside members of the Puyama tribe. Following the Mangayau, guests will be invited to partake in the feast prepared by the tribe to mark the closing of the ceremony. There will be time for reflection, and perhaps a bit of rest, and visitors who are interested in learning something new will be invited to take part in handicraft classes in which skills like traditional weaving and the making of glutinous rice dumplings are passed down from the elders.

(Read also: Journey to Another World – Orchid Island)

Exploring the landscape of Taitung

In the afternoon, the group will coast down the coast to check out some of the sweeter spots of the East Coast Scenic Area, including Jialulan, a park known for both picturesque scenery and coastal artwork and Xiaoyehliu, a unique geological area containing fossilized remnants from Taiwan’s prehistoric past. (Read more: Six Spots in Taitung Worth Visiting)

Xiaoyehliu, Taitung (image source:台東風管處)
Taitung Forest Park (Photo by Taiwan Scene)

As the day winds down, there’ll be quick forays into Taitung forest park and seashore park before the group reaches the final venue capping off an epic Taitung experience, Tiehua Village, a colorful collection of local shops and eateries set amidst a restored railway station. Visitors can explore the shops and grab a bite to eat at one of the sidewalk restaurants before being brought back to the airport to catch the last plane back to Taipei.

Tiehua Village in night (image by Alan Huang)

Interested in taking part in this epic adventure? It all happens on January 1, 2019, and seats are definitely limited.  Learn more about 2019 First Dawn Flight & New Year’s Day Eastern Beauty Experience now.

Special thanks to Philip Diller at the World Summit of Indigenous Cultures website for insight on the Mangayau festival of the Puyuma Tribe of Taitung.

Related content: Eight Amazing Ways to Celebrate New Years in Taiwan