Taiwan

I made another trip to Taiwan this past September. As you will see from this article, Taiwan holds a special place in my heart and I believe it makes a wonderful vacation destination. I have been traveling to Taiwan since 1998 and lived there for 1 year in 2012. Taiwan is a well-kept travel destination secret. When I travel to Taiwan, most folks think I am in China or Japan, some think I am in Thailand. Taiwan is an island nation off the coast of China. Taiwan’s history and culture are intertwined with China and Japan. In fact, China considers Taiwan as part of their sovereign nation. Because of their varied history, Taiwan is rich with culture and tradition.

Taiwan contains a wonderful mix of big city experiences and natural adventures. Taipei is the capital of Taiwan and is the largest city. Taipei is a mixture of a modern city with some local flair. The Taipei 101 building dominates the skyline. Up until a few years ago the Taipei 101, at 1670 feet, was the tallest building in the world. It no longer holds this title, but it is still an impressive sight. The architecture is unique, and its symbol has come to represent modern Taiwan. A trip to the top of the Taipei 101 is a must do for the first-time visitor. The view is amazing and understanding the engin2012-12-25 17.14.02eering of a building that can withstand earthquakes and typhoons is very interesting.

Another must see in Taipei is the National Palace Museum. This amazing museum contains many Chinese treasures Chiang Kai Shek absconded with when he fled to Taiwan in 1949. This museum contains some of the best Chinese art and artifacts in the world.

The night markets in Taipei are a sensory overload. These markets are crowded with people and offer exotic shopping and street dining. There are several night markets in Taipei. The Shilin night market is my favorite.

Speaking of food, the cuisine in Taiwan is awesome. Since several culinary cultures have come together to form modern day Taiwan, the food choices are endless. The dim sum is a great place to start with Din Tai Fung being an important stop. 2012-12-25 12.45.52The Chinese and Japanese food in Taiwan is some of the best I have ever eaten. Plan on eating some special meals during your visit to Taiwan.

If you like hiking, Taiwan is the place to visit in Asia. The terrain is mountainous with an almost endless supply of well-maintained hiking trails near Taipei. I lived near a place called Elephant Mountain. I hiked to the top of this mountain several times a week. The wonderful thing about Elephant Mountain is the view of Taipei.IMG_1944 For longer and more intense hikes, Yangmingshan National Park is just a short distance from Taipei. When hiking in Taiwan remember it is usually hot and always humid. It is very important to bring more than enough water with you. I always carried a small towel to wipe off the seemingly endless supply of sweat.

There are plenty of great travel destinations outside of Taipei. I recommend  Sun Moon Lake as a beautiful getaway from the hustle and bustle of Taipei. This is a lake located in central Taiwan. I stayed in a hotel on the water. We took a boat trip across the island to an aboriginal town. We also went on a hike around the lake. There is plenty to do at Sun Moon Lake.

2013-01-04 12.32.28I have also visited Kenting, Taiwan. Kenting is at the southernmost point in Taiwan. This is a beach town with plenty of resort type activities. There is also a beautiful lighthouse near Kenting.

One area on my Taiwan bucket list is Taroko Gorge. I have heard wonderful things about this place from the locals. It is a bit more complicated to travel to Taroko Gorge, but the word is, it is worth the trip.

Taiwan is an easy place to visit for English speakers, and probably anyone else. The country is very modern, and crime is almost not existent. The transportation infrastructure is awesome. The Subway, or MRT, is vast and nearly always runs on schedule. The taxi service is reliable and affordable. During my last trip I discover Uber has now been introduced to Taiwan. The only mode of transportation that has challenged me is the bus. Unless you happen to know where you are via landmarks, you are likely to miss your stop a few times before sorting it all out.

Finally, what makes Taiwan very special is its people. The Taiwanese are some of the most friendly and respectful people I have ever encountered. Taiwanese are very helpful to tourists, even if they don’t speak your language, they will try to help.

If you are looking for an effortless way to experience vast elements of Asian culture, I highly recommend traveling to Taiwan!

Make the most of this day!

 

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