15 of the perfect issues to do in Taiwan

Taiwan is a rustic with extra sides than the 11-headed Guanyin you’ll see inside its temples. On anyone journey you possibly can be biking between skyscrapers, ingesting espresso at plantations, sun-bathing, forest-bathing, hovering on luscious homegrown whisky, or reeling from rocket fireworks or the repertoire of an evening market. The choices are infinite. 

So whether or not you’re a first-time customer or coming again for extra, and making up your thoughts on what to do may simply be the toughest a part of your journey. Listed here are a number of the greatest experiences in Taiwan. 

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Temples supply a glimpse into non secular life in Taiwan © iStockphoto / Getty Photographs

1. Take your choose of 15,000 temples

Choose a pair, if no more. Whether or not incense-filled and packed to the eaves with idols and artwork or a dusky roadside shrine, whether or not Taoist, Buddhist, Confucian or people, temples supply a captivating glimpse into Taiwan’s non secular life. You’ll see devotees, together with a stunning variety of younger folks, praying and giving thanks. They burn joss paper for the departed, toss moon blocks to hunt divine steering on whether or not to purchase a automotive, and make choices of guava, orchids and sesame crackers to a pantheon of deities. Throughout festivals, temples supply up a smoky and noisy slice of native life. On quiet days, with their relics, sculptures and caisson ceilings, temples are museums in their very own proper. 

Each Tainan and Lukang are residence to a wealth of previous constructions, from understated Confucius temples to Mazu temples wealthy in southern Chinese language people ornamental artwork. Some favorites from all around the nation are Taipei’s Unesco-award profitable Bao’anTemple, Lukang’s sleek Longshan Temple, Penghu’s previous Tianhou Temple, Tainan’s fierce Metropolis God Temple, and Changhua’s Nanyao Temple with its Doric columns.

Native Tip: Getting into a temple the correct manner – by means of the “dragon door” on the right-hand facet, and exiting by means of the “tiger door” on the left means you go into safety and depart hazard behind. Absolutely you wouldn’t need it the opposite manner spherical. The middle door is reserved for the gods, the abbot, and the president.

2. Sunbathe on Jibei Sand Tail, Penghu Islands

The windy assortment of islands often known as Penghu is distinctive but arduous to pin down. Set alongside its roaring coastlines are sea-facing temples, coral stone-walled villages the place distributors promote seashell pendants and prickly pear sorbet, and seashores good for water sports activities – in winter Penghu turns into a windsurfing scorching spot for top-class athletes the world over. 

Added to this combine are geological wonders, a big aquarium, and remnants of historical sea commerce in all their desolate splendor. Additional nonetheless, Penghu delicacies is well known for its scrumptious simplicity and plentiful seafood. Better of all, although, in case you come out of season the golden spit often known as the Jibei Sand Tail might be all yours.

People stand near a stone gate at the entrance to a temple with yellow and red lanterns hanging above them
Tainan’s most important sights are within the metropolis heart, and greatest explored on foot © iStockphoto / Getty Photographs

3. Discover city Tainan on foot

City Tainan has such a good weave of points of interest that strolling is one of the best ways to take every thing in. What’s extra, cafes, eating places and dessert outlets are liberally tucked into the material, providing plentiful choices for a refuel. And must you want some tiding over, there’s the T-bike and bus.

Many sights are clustered across the roads radiating from the Tang Te-chang Memorial Park roundabout in central Tainan. You’ll see near the rim the Museum of Taiwan Literature in a beautiful Japanese colonial constructing, and the Altar of Heaven. Barely additional out are the Neoclassical Land Financial institution, the artwork deco Hayashi Division Retailer, the previous and the brand new Tainan Artwork Museums, the Confucius Temple with its pink partitions, and the Metropolis God Temple. Additional out nonetheless are the Nice South Gate, Koxinga’s Shrine, Chihkan Towers, the Official God of Struggle Temple, and the Grand Mazu Temple. 

From the roundabout, a 15-minute stroll northwest takes you to Shennong Avenue, an artwork village with shophouses repurposed into boutiques and cafes. Sharing the ‘hood with the hipsters are the Wind God Temple, the Water Fairy Temple and the King of Drugs Temple. 

Planning Tip: Well-known Anping Fort and the previous streets sagging with conventional snack outlets close to it are quarter-hour away by T-bike or 45 minutes by bus from Shennong Avenue.

4. Hike alongside Swallow Grotto at Taroko Gorge 

Taiwan’s high vacationer draw is a walk-in Chinese language portray. Rising above the froth of the blue-green Liwu River, the marble partitions (sure, marble!) of Taroko Gorge swirl with the colours of an artist’s palette. Add gray mist, lush vegetation and waterfalls seemingly tumbling down from heaven, and you’ve got a very basic panorama. Stroll alongside the Swallow Grotto to see the gorge at its most elegant or courageous the Zhuilu Outdated Path, a vertiginous path 500m (1640ft) above the canyon flooring.

5. Cycle or drive alongside the breathless East Coast at Hualien

Biking is Taiwan’s nationwide sport, and cyclists favor the gorgeous and unspoilt east coast for multi-day journeys. Love the ocean? Then trip the attractive shoreline alongside the Pacific Ocean, between Yilan and Hualien or Hualien and Taitung. It’ll depart you breathless in additional methods than one. 

There are dramatic elevation modifications in Taroko Gorge, and parts of the highways are topic to landslides after heavy rain. However the magnificence is unparalleled and you may move seashores, fishing harbors, indigenous cities and artwork villages. Just like the mountains? Trip the East Rift Valley and watch cloud drama unfold on glistening rice paddies or seas of orange daylilies. On each routes there are indigenous guesthouses and eating places, campgrounds, prehistoric websites and scorching springs to make sure your journey will not be an train in logistics.

Native Tip: In the event you constitution a automotive from Taipei, the motive force will make stops at scenic spots and points of interest. 

6. Do a homegrown espresso crawl and purchase beans

Blessed with good soil, and a local weather and altitudes conducive to arabica timber flourishing, Taiwan has grow to be the espresso mecca of Asia, bagging awards worldwide for its beans that vary from peanutty to tea-like. You’ll be able to sip them at their supply in Gukeng and Dongshan in case you’re climbing close by, but it surely’s extra enjoyable to strive completely different cafes that serve killer homegrown brews and likewise roast and promote beans. A bonus is the setting, which might vary from retro Taipei by means of hipster book-and-bean to Nordic minimalism. 

Detour: Cacao farms in Pingtung develop beans and craft a few of Asia’s most interesting candies. You’ll be able to tour the premises, study concerning the bean-to-bar course of, and make your personal sweets at Select Chius and Fu Wan Chocolate.

Diners sit at small tables in front of vendors cooking and selling food at a night market with yellow paper lanterns flying above them
Keelung’s night time market is legendary for its unimaginable vary of meals © iStockphoto / Getty Photographs

7. Get pleasure from a feast at Miaokou Night time Market, Keelung 

Grazing is a helpful method to have on the highway and Taiwan’s night time markets are nice for honing this ability. Fulfilling the necessity for meals and leisure (to say nothing of socializing), the markets deliver completely satisfied crowds each night time of the week to gorge on a bewildering array of snacks and dishes. Take a look at harborside Miaokou Night time Market in Keelung, in some ways the largest and greatest of all of them, for the quintessential expertise of grazing (on seafood particularly!) and people-watching.

8. Get a style of gourmand Taiwan in Mountain and Sea Home, Taipei

Taiwan could also be one of many world’s street-food capitals, however don’t simply restrict your self to informal eats – the nation’s eating panorama has lots extra to supply. Taiwan is steadily making a mark on Asia’s culinary panorama. Within the 2022 Michelin Taiwan, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Taipei and Tainan got here beneath scrutiny and earned the nation 38 stars, up from 20 and solely Taipei assessed in 2018. 

The lists do not simply honor chefy French-style cooking, costly Japanese or meticulous Cantonese kitchens, but in addition solidly executed Taiwanese delicacies, reminiscent of Taipei’s Mountain and Sea House. In addition to this, a rising variety of cooks with or with out awards are working magic with native produce from oolong tea to sakura shrimp, like Pingtung’s AKAME which makes a speciality of Rukai cooking.

Planning Tip: Reserve not less than a month prematurely for well-known eating places, Michelin-honored and in any other case. 

9. Be wowed by the Nationwide Palace Museum, Taipei

Taiwan homes one of many biggest collections of dynastic Chinese language artefacts on the earth. With historical pottery, bronzes and jade, Ming vases, Tune panorama work and calligraphy that even those that should not artwork lovers can recognize, Taipei’s Nationwide Palace Museum is not merely a must-visit, it is a must-repeat-visit. Why? Out of the practically 700,000 items within the museum’s assortment – spanning each Chinese language dynasty, along with prehistory and the modern-age – solely a fraction is ever on show on the one time.

10. Delve into navy historical past whereas having fun with artwork at Alien Artwork Middle, Kaohsiung

The navy outposts of Kinmen and Matsu Islands with their tunnels, forts and artillery shows will please hardcore navy buffs, however if you need one thing softer and distinctive sufficient that everybody can take pleasure in, head to Kaohsiung. The darkish and mysterious nationwide relic that’s the Imperial Japanese Navy Wi-fi Communication Station has lastly discovered peace however for tent reveals and exhibitions. Alien Artwork Middle, housed in a former hostel for younger males departing for navy service, is one in all Taiwan’s strongest modern artwork museums. Cihou Fort on Cijin Island was utilized by the Qing Empire, the Japanese, the Nationalist Military, and extra lately, tripod-wielding sundown photographers. 

The participating Army Dependents’ Village Museum reveals how the households of troopers of the Chinese language Nationalist Military lived after their retreat to Taiwan post-1949. The high-rises of Guomao Neighborhood are the two.0 model of such villages. Do because the locals do – go there to take pleasure in genuine regional Chinese language cuisines on the eating places. In a compound subsequent to Taiwan’s largest naval base, the Story Home of Naval Base Zuoying particulars the world’s navy heritage. 

Detour: New Taipei’s Human Rights Museum, sitting on the location of a former detention heart for political dissidents, is really helpful for perception into how far democratic Taiwan has come. The English audio information is useful. The museum’s sprawling department on Inexperienced Island, a former penal colony, could be visited by reserving a guided tour. 

People crowded together wearing crash helmets and other protective gear as fireworks spark around them
Get your protecting gear on on the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Competition © An Rong Xu / Getty Photographs

11. Be part of locals in hazmat fits on the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Competition

Attending a standard people competition is without doubt one of the most exhilarating methods to expertise native tradition. Taiwan has a slew of those – solemn, weird, carnivalesque, you identify it. You don’t should be a believer to go – the locals are inclusive and welcoming, however be respectful after all. It’s not unusual to see pilgrims and guests from throughout Taiwan and overseas on the most spectacular festivals.

The nine-day annual Mazu pilgrimage sees tons of of 1000’s of individuals escorting a palanquin containing a statue of the goddess Mazu by means of 50 cities. The triennial Burning of the Wang Yeh Boats options highly effective spectacles over eight days that finish with the burning of a celestial boat on a seaside. The unusual Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Competition is a blowout through which 1000’s in protecting gear (or not) place themselves willingly in a melee of exploding fireworks. 

Planning Tip: The Mazu Pilgrimage takes place within the third lunar month; the Boat Burning Competition in October or November, with the following one taking place in 2024; and Yenshui’s fireworks go off on the 14th or fifteenth day of the primary lunar month. In the event you attend the final, deliver goggles, a motorbike helmet and protecting clothes in case you don’t wish to pay for overpriced gear on-site or find yourself in hospital.

12. Observe historical looking trails by means of forests in Wulai

Taiwan is 50% forested and asphalt offers approach to the actual factor astonishingly rapidly – a delight for nature-lovers. In mountainous Wulai township, previous indigenous looking trails lower by means of misty tropical forests. 

Take a break out of your trek to take pleasure in crystal streams or deep swimming swimming pools and repeat this expertise all around the island. Taiwan can be two-thirds mountainous, with tons of of peaks hovering above 3000m (9842ft) and well-established climbing routes operating throughout. Jade Mountain (Yushan) is the very best peak in Northeast Asia, however the second highest, Snow Mountain, is a extra picturesque climb.

13. Perceive Indigenous Taiwan at Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines

There are 16 acknowledged indigenous tribes in Taiwan. Although lengthy suppressed, tribal tradition and delight has made a exceptional turnaround within the twenty first century. Start your understanding on the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines in Taipei or the Museum of Prehistory in Taitung. See their work and installations on the Kaohsiung Museum of High quality Arts, a world-renowned authority on Austronesian artwork, hear them learn their poems at Tainan’s Museum of Taiwan Literature. 

Then verify into an underground homestay run by Yami islanders on lovely Lanyu Island, ideally through the flying fish season, or contemplate a go to to the communally run Smangus, a high-mountain heart of Atayal tradition. In summer time, head to the east coast for indigenous surfer cities and exuberant festivals celebrating harvests, coming of age, and a deep love of reside music. 

Native Tip: Pattern Amis delicacies in Hualien. You are able to do so on the indigenous stalls in Dadongmen Night time Market or at Amis-run Mu-Mang. 

People gather in pools surrounded by foliage
Soak your muscle mass at Beitou’s well-known scorching springs © iStockphoto / Getty Photographs

14. Loosen up in Beitou’s scorching springs 

Taiwan’s floor floor has loads of fissures, which provides rise to an abundance of spring sources arduous to match wherever on the globe. Locals imagine the waters are efficient for every thing from soothing muscle mass to conceiving. 

In the event you wish to soak in stone, wooden or marble swimming pools with mountain views, head to Beitou, Wulai or Taian. For wild impromptu dips, tread deep into valleys for a pristine wild spring like Lisong Scorching Spring, typically thought-about probably the most lovely of all of them, or make your approach to Inexperienced Island for one of many world’s three seawater scorching springs. 

15. Tour the Kavalan Distillery to see how Taiwan’s single malts are made 

Whisky lovers, you’re in luck. Taiwan is a rustic of whisky drinkers, they usually’re not solely sipping imported Laphroaig or Hibiki – Taiwan’s personal award-winning Kavalan is a large favourite. The world appears to agree – on the Asia spherical of World Whisky Masters 2022, the homegrown label scooped 10 golds plus a Grasp Medal. You’ll be able to strive Kavalan on the rocks or in a smoky martini at one of many nation’s many beautiful cocktail bars reminiscent of Taichung’s Goût and Taipei’s Ounce, however it’s also possible to tour the distillery in Yilan free of charge and pattern (after all!) the only malts. 

Native Tip: Taiwan has a vigorous craft beer scene with microbreweries popping up throughout, but it surely’s greatest to style homegrown beer in a bar reminiscent of Zhangmen, Le Blé d’Or and Taihu.