The island of Taiwan is any tourist’s dream. If the historical buildings and pagodas to busy markets, museums, parks and religious sites aren’t an eyeful, you have the nature in all its bounty with mountains, lakes, beaches and theme parks.
To top it all the annual Taiwan Lantern Festival attracts thousands of tourists all clicking away the illuminated streets.
So here are the top ‘not to miss’ activities while in Taiwan.
Starting from 1990, the Tourism Bureau integrated civilian and local governmental resources to conduct the event to celebrate the Lantern Festival (fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar calendar) and the end of the Chinese New Year. The purpose of the festival is to spread the traditional folklore. It is also known as the Yuan Xiao Festival.
Held in Taoyuan city last month, the festival celebrated the Year of the Monkey under the theme ‘Golden Monkey Offering Peaches’.
The traditional fest took inspiration from Toyuan’s natural ponds and ethnic cultures.
Optoelectronics were also used to present images that reflected the city’s culture, technology and vision.
The lanterns and the activities are designed in correspondence with the surrounding, the culture and the history of Taoyuan.
With different theme areas of lanterns, light shows, and fireworks, Taiwan Lantern Festival is definitely an event one would not want to miss.
Discovery Channel once recommended Taiwan Lantern Festival as one of the best holiday celebration events.
The Lantern Festival is not only a time when you can admire lanterns, but to experience the local Taiwan way to celebrate an important meaningful festival.
Sun Moon Lake
Flowing at an altitude of 762m in the mountains of Nantou County, the Sun Moon Lake is the most beautiful sanctuary of the island nation. And the about seven-minute Sun Moon Lake Ropeway ride allows visitors to enjoy a birds-eye view of the beautiful sceneries of the Lake.
The site also houses an Aboriginal Culture Village – the only theme park to have received 2 stars from Michelin.
If you coincide your visit with the Lantern Festival, then you also get to see the famous Cherry Blossom Festival, when thousands of Peony Cherry trees bloom radiantly. For all romantics, the purple lavender will tuck at your heart strings a few weeks later, when the island nation is at its natural best.
Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village
Formosa Aboriginal Cultural Village has the largest outdoor museum in Taiwan dedicated to displaying the traditional homes and architecture of Taiwanese nine principal aborigine tribes.
Before Dubai built the majestic Burj Khalifa, Taipei 101 Tower was the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2010.
With a height of 508 meters it is consists of 101 floors – hence the name Taipei 101.
Fast moving elevators whisk the tenants to their floors, as well as visitors to the observation deck on the 89th floor in 37 seconds.
The tower contains a 728-ton tuned mass damper (TMD), a large spherical steel pendulum that offsets lateral movements caused by strong winds. The TMD is located in a large multi-story cavity near the top of the tower.
The building is the influence of bamboo on the outside spire, the pagoda shape is also very evident inside and outside.
Queen's Head is the main attraction at Yehliu Geopark – a natural result of weathering of stones caused by sea water.
In fact, Yehliu was honored with the title of “Most Beautiful Landscape in Taiwan” in 2013 by Focus Taiwan for its numerous rock formations.
'Queen's Head' is an eight-meter tall rock, which got its name through its apparent resemblance to Queen Elizabeth I.
One of the favorite destinations the tired and stressed out tourists head to, are the hot springs. The nearest springs to Taipei are at Beitou- accessible on the main MRT line. However, the highest concentration of hot springs can be found in the Yangmingshan region, where the mostly dormant Tatun Volcano is located.
The Wulai hot springs, along the banks of the Nanshi Creek, are the most famous sodium carbonate hot springs, dubbed ‘Spring Beauty’.
Most of them are naturally located along Side Rivers and are ideal locales to take long hikes through the wilderness.
Tea is an integral part of Taiwanese culture. The famous tea got its name from the first sailors that landed on the island and dubbed it ‘Formosa’ – meaning the beautiful island.
The Pouchong translates to ‘paper wrapped’. Originally produced for scenting, this tea is beloved for its delicate floral flavor, buttery texture and light earthy undertones.
Tung Ting is traditionally made from the Qin Xin cultivar, one of the originals brought over from the Fujian province of China. This tea boasts a deep honey aroma, buttery mouth feel, and notes of lilac with a fresh vegetal finish.
Bai Hao has a beautiful, autumnal grey-reddish appearance. It has a multitudinous complexity and a lingering, clean finish.
Taiwanese Night Market Street Foods
Once in Taiwan, you cannot miss the street food scenes. Of the hundreds of markets, Taipei's Ningxia night market is not to be missed. Make your way through elbow-jostling crowd and high-pitched hawkers across the small stalls all brightly lit that waft such exotic aromatic mix that force you to grab a plate.
It is, indeed, a melting pot of cuisines - heavy on offal and seafood, you will also see a bit of a Japanese influence and in recent years, Western fusion elements have been incorporated as well. Catering to tourists, these stalls demand no language skills either.
Prices of dishes are written down and openly placed, where you simply go, point to what you want and have your hearts fill.
There are a plethora of museums that houses the fantastical culture of Taiwan from its ancient glory to the technological advancements the island nations takes pride in. From Taipei Astronomical Museum and the Museum of Art to Miniature Museums.
There is also the 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan - dedicated to the 7.3 earthquake that struck the center of Taiwan at on September 21, 1999. That only speaks of the meticulous attention of the Taiwanese lay in preserving their culture and honoring their land.
Yangmingshan National Park
Established in 1985, Yangmingshan National Park is a dormant volcano with visible Sulphur fumes emitting from ground, complete with forested mountains, hot springs, rolling grass hills, and some handsome lodgings and restaurants.
Situated on Mt. Yangming, one of the most well-known mountains in Taiwan, this National Park is one of the most popular national parks in Taiwan.
The park covers 114.55 sq km, with a top elevation of 1120m, and is easily accessible from the downtown area by frequent buses.
It features volcanic formations and fragrant blooming flowers during all four seasons.
Because of the variety of beautiful plants and colorful flowers that flourish in the park, some people regard Yangmingshan National Park as the ‘backyard of Taipei’.
Watching Dreams Take Flight
Pingxi is rich in culture and history and provide a nice glimpse at Taiwan's beautiful natural scenery.
Events such as the Sky Lantern Festival draw visitors year round to create a Chinese Lantern with a wish written on it to set into the sky, all for a modest NT$100-200.
During Chinese New Year it is especially encouraged for tourists to visit Pingxi and release a Chinese lantern into the sky.
The lanterns are made out of oiled rice paper, sheepskin, bamboo filaments, silk, or satin fitted with a large candle at the bottom.
As the lamps heat up, they take flight and linger in the air for as long as the flame flickers.
Pingxi is special for its unique architecture and design, as its market area, Pingxi Old Street, is built into a hill with a train track going overhead right through the middle with shops around selling local food and gifts.
Visitors are able to check out shops built during the 1930s and 1940s, as well as wooden houses built during the Japanese occupation era.
Calla Lily Season in Yangmingshan
In Zhuzihu(Zhuzi Lake) within Yangmingshan, pure white calla lily is the star of this area in springs.
This year, from March 20 to April 26 comes Zhuzi Lake Calla Lily Season.
There are about more than 30 units planting calla lilies in this area, with the total coverage of around 13 hectares.
The biggest fun is that tourists can go into the farm picking calla lilies themselves. Sometimes various activities will be held, like concert, photography contest, ecological tour and so on.
To go to Zhuzi Lake, tourists can take Bus No. 260 at Taipei Railway Station, or Bus No. 230 at Beitou MRT Station, or Bus Red 5 at Jiantan MRT Staion to Yangmingshan. Then transfer Bus Small 9 to Zhuzi Lake.