Matsu’s most visually compelling islands are DONGYIN (東引; dōngyǐn) and XIYIN (西引; xīyǐn), two hilly tracts of land connected by a causeway at the archipelago’s northernmost point. Characterized by sheer granite cliffs that plunge dramatically to the sea, the scenery here is sublime – especially on the larger island of Dongyin, where most of the sights and all of the tourist amenities are located. Dongyin also has some standout historical sites, such as the solitary Dongyong Lighthouse that dominates the island’s far eastern tip.

Owing to their isolation, the islands get comparatively few tourists and locals tend to go well out of their way to make them comfortable. And, although both islands are still heavily militarized, even the soldiers are exceedingly friendly to the few visitors who make it here.

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