There’s no place quite like Taiwan. The Taiwanese are a warm, hospitable group of people who never fail to be courteous and helpful.
The national pastime in Taiwan seems to be eating. The Taiwanese, both adults and children, are very work and study-oriented. Their lifestyles demand healthy food that is available on the go. As a result, eating in Taiwan has become an epicurean’s playground. The food is an international smorgasbord of culinary delights, with a budget in mind for every wallet.
For the true pleasure-seekers, and those with time to spare, there are international five-star restaurants of every variety throughout the city of Taipei. Night markets are also a huge draw for gastronomes. Whether you’re there to sample local Taiwanese treats or whether you’re there for some good old-fashioned dining, Taiwan’s night markets promise to keep your belly full while your wallet remains relatively unscathed. Stinky tofu, oyster omelettes, noodles of every variety, and the savory aroma of delicately brewed local teas should be at the top of your hit list.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find another land mass the size of Taiwan with so many topographical differences and delightful hideaways. There is something truly magical around every corner in Taiwan. Check out Taiwan’s northern coastline for some incredible lunar-like landscapes at Yehliu Geopark, or head to the beaches of Kenting on the southern tip of the island. Don’t forget to have a dip in any of the numerous hot spring resorts scattered around the island. The beautiful islands of Penghu just off Taiwan’s western coastline won’t fail to delight your sense of wanderlust and are especially well-known for their beautiful golden beaches. If you want to continue journeying off the beaten track, head to the lush subtropical climates of Orchid Island and Green Island just off the southeastern coast.
If it’s rugged outdoor travel you’re looking for, day and weekend excursions can easily be made. Grab a scooter and head up into the green mountains running in five ranges from the northern to the southern tip of the island. Climb to the summit of beautiful Jade Mountain and watch the sun rise. This beautiful peak, at 3,952 meters, makes Taiwan the world’s fourth-highest island. Try some eco-trekking in Taroko National Park, where you can hike through mountainous terrain and gorges or stop to dip your feet in swiftly flowing mountain rivers. To really enjoy Taiwan’s majestic beauty, don’t forget Taiwan’s Eastern coastline, which has some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in the world, from plunging sea cliffs and splashing surf to beaches, nature preserves and rural towns a world away from their big-city brothers.
Speaking of big cities, the northern city of Taipei has something to offer everyone. Check out the feeding frenzy of the markets or enjoy a cool stroll around Ximending, Taipei’s answer to Japan’s Shibuya. Di-hua Street during Chinese New Year offers plenty of local flavor and culture as people get ready for the holidays. Museums, art galleries, mega-department stores, Taipei 101, and a plethora of beautiful parks and delightful walking paths mean you’ll never be stuck on a Saturday afternoon with nothing to do. With a temple, a KFC, tea stations and noodle shops on every corner, you’ll never lack for cheap food in your belly and a taste of local culture.
Taiwan, La Isle Formoso, may be a small island but it contains a lot of sights and sounds to keep any visitor occupied.
Carrie Marshall has been living in Taiwan for over 3 years. A recent newlywed, you can read about her adventures and life in Taiwan at her blog, My Several Worlds.