Taiwan, a tiny country located southeast of one of the largest countries in the world, China, and north of the Philippines, a famous archipelago for its heavenly islands, is often forgotten by travelers in Asia.
Few tourists favor Taiwan on the first trip to Asia. There are usually true Asian enthusiasts who want to further their discovery of these cultures in contrast to our own. While traveling to Taiwan, Chinese and Japanese influences can fell while appreciating the particularities of Taiwan.
The diversity of Taiwan’s landscapes will please any type of traveler. Were you looking for mountainous landscapes and tea plantations? Head towards the surroundings of Ruifeng.
Are you a fan of heavenly beaches? Go to an unknown place, the Penghu Islands. Do you want to rest on a lake that is both peaceful and breathtaking? Don’t miss the Sun Moon Lake. You will see, Taiwan has a lot to offer and is full of fascinating natural places. Lovers of northern Asian cuisine will be in heaven in Taiwan, which offers one of the most diverse and delicious cuisines on the continent.
Six places to visit in Taiwan
1/. Taroko Gorges
Located in the heart of Taroko National Park, Taroko Gorges offers a magnificent landscape and numerous treks for all levels in a rare natural setting.
The simplest treks like “Shakadang Trail” or “Swallow Grotto” can be done in less than an hour (return trip) and with children.
The most advanced treks require a permit that must be requested at least one week in advance. Even the hardest treks in the park are not that difficult as long as you are used to it. It is not the Ultra-Trail of Mount Fuji).
Arriving at the top of Taroko National Park (3,400 meters above sea level), this is the type of view you can have. You can reach the summit by trek or simply drive (road #8 that connects Hualien County to Nantou County).
Useful precision: You can also borrow helmets (available free of charge at the small hut after the park entrance) if you are afraid of potential stone falls.
2/. Sun Moon Lake
The lake takes its name from the fact that it has the shape of the sun and the moon. Even after watching the lake from the top of the gondola, I wonder who could find the form of sun or moon in the shape of the lake
Geography aside, This is one of the most famous places in Taiwan, so be ready to deal with hordes of tourists from China. Not to mention that the excessive concrete of the shores has dramatically undermined the charm of the site.
3/. Sunrise in Alishan
It is worth seeing the sunrise at the top of the Alishan Mountains. You have to get up around 4 a.m. to take a small train that will take you to the summit (impossible to go by car) and then finish on foot the last 400 meters that will take you to the observation platform.
Is that worth it? Yes! The moment when the sun appears at the tip of Alishan’s tops is a magical moment. Where a simple sunrise reminds you that the earth is a fantastic place.
Good to know: tickets for the first train in the morning (the one that allows you to see the sunrise) are available the day before until 4:30 p.m. only. If you arrive after this time, you will have to queue at the opening of the ticket office to hope to have placed (if they not all sold the day before).
Another thing: you are not going to be alone; despite this journey of the fighter, hundreds of people will be with you (even during the week in the low season). So try to get to the train station at least 20 to 30 minutes before departure to make sure you have a seat.
Last thing: the most excellent observation platform is not the one at the arrival of the train, but the one located 400 meters further up the summit, so make an extra effort to get there, you will not be disappointed!
Located to the north of Hualien, the beach of Chishingtan (which means “the seven-star beach”) offers an apparent horizon over the Pacific Ocean.
Somewhere between heaven and earth is Chishingtan Beach. Probably one of my favorite places in Taiwan.
And if you stay for a night in Hualien, I advise you to keep at RA Guesthouse, which is a fantastic place, right in the middle of the city and whose staff is friendly and full of good ideas for visits.
A mountain-side village whose narrow streets lit by red lanterns have become emblematic.
For it was Jioufen, who inspired Hayao Miyazaki to write the animated film “The Trip of Chihiro.” And it allowed this former mining town to become a popular tourist spot, especially among Japanese tourists.
Indeed, the Trip of Chihiro is the most significant success of the box office in Japan (ahead of Titanic and Frozen), and all the places that inspired the film have become very touristic.
6/. Din Tai Fung
Taiwan’s best-known restaurant, although paradoxically it was its branch of Hong Kong that won a Michelin star. Forget the other Din Tai Fung of Taipei; it is to the pilgrimage to Dongmen that you have to go since it is the very first restaurant that opened.
To be quite honest the Xiaolongbaos are the same as in Singapore but the dumpling noodles are much better in Taipei (see photo).
I hope I will make you want to go and discover Taiwan. For practical information about your stay (Budget, Route, address), you can read the previous article Road-Trip in Taiwan.
Also on beequizz: 10 things you have absolutely to do in Singapore
In french: 6 lieux à visiter à Taïwan