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The Asian continent is dotted with a chain of island groups that stretches from the east and the southeast coast, then widens from the Sakhalin Island in Russia and extends towards the myriad islands in Indonesia. Nearby the east coast of Fujian province in China, neighboring up to Japan towards the northeast, and with the Philippines towards the southeast lies the beautiful semi-tropical island of Taiwan right in the middle of this chain of islands.
Taiwan has become a vibrant tourist destination over the past few decades. Boasting more than a hundred mountain peaks reaching above 3000 meters and sprinkled with more than a hundred hot springs scattered all around the island, Taiwan is a destination that can fulfill your dreams for an exotic getaway. In addition to this, Taiwan is also bedecked with pristine golden and black beaches and nine national parks. Moreover, it is home to outstanding museums, impressive skyscrapers, scintillating temples, and a host to terrific night markets.
The island is surrounded by the Strait of Taiwan, the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. Taiwan covers an area of 36,188 km (22,486 miles) and with a population of 23.4 million.
The exceptional geographical milieu and a distinctive historical background play a pivotal role in shaping Taiwan's rich culture. The ethnic groups settled in Taiwan over the years, ranging predominantly from the Indigenous Peoples to Chinese and Japanese people. These ethnic groups manifesting diverse heritage and multi-faceted culture imparted their values and traditions, which gradually weaved in Taiwanese cultural tapestry. Furthermore, the island's previous inhabitants left behind many historical fragments, including their architectural designs, relics and artifacts, aboriginal tribal culture, temples, and folk art.
Taiwanese traditions include a close-knit family system where the parents support their children even after they are married, and then the children support the parents in their later years. As a result, it is common for three or more generations to co-habit in a single house even after marriage.
Ancestor worship is also a deep-rooted tradition in Taiwan. It's common for shrines to be built in houses where their descendants are worshiped and held in reverence.
Taiwan is often lauded for its diverse religious environment and tolerance of different sects. The predominant religions Taiwanese observe are Buddhism and Daoism. Christianity and Islam are in a small minority.
The official language in Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese. The local dialects displaced by Mandarin include Hokkien and Hokka, which remain common today, although Hokka is disappearing. Japanese used to be common and is still spoken by older generations. English is often taught as a second language. English-speaking tourists generally get by fine in Taiwan, especially in major centers like Tapei.
Taiwan as a Tourist Attraction
Although Taiwan is a small island, it is still packed with magnificent attractions and awe-inspiring landmarks. The kinetic pace and the dynamic energy of the cities of Taiwan make it one of the top tourist destinations. Moreover, its remarkable temples and geographical sites like the Taroko Gorge synchronize with the contemporary allure of the cities and their abundant natural beauty.
Taiwan is sprinkled with a plethora of diverse and exuberant marvels. Amongst these, the mineral-rich hot springs encompassed by splendid scenery and the roaring waterfalls are popular tourist spots. In addition, the harbors, historical monuments, Elephant Mountain, night markets, museums and entertainment, and theme parks in Taiwan make this a place you need to spend considerable time to get to know. Apart from these hotspots, the National Museum of Marine biology and Aquarium is one of the most recognized places of interest for tourists. It has a colossal display of marine ecology, allowing the visitors to come up close to a wide assortment of marine life. The Taiwan festivals are also one of the driving magnets for tourists. Many cultural and religious festivals and aboriginal celebrations stem from time-honored Chinese traditions and are integral to their festival calendar.
Why should you visit Taiwan?
Taiwan is endowed with dazzling coastal panorama, exotic forests that are rich in flora and fauna, and exquisite wildlife and birdlife. The awe-inspiring natural beauty of the island is further enriched by the enthralling blend of modernity of the cities.
There are several reasons why Taiwan should be on your bucket list, and some of these motivations are:
You can unwind on the paradise beaches and bask in the sun, or you can visit the national parks and be mesmerized by the striking natural vista and exotic beauty of the forests.
You can visit the hot water springs and feel your worries ebbing away with the soothing water.
You can soak up the rich culture and visit museums, temples, and festivals.
Suppose you are a sports fanatic and like to partake in outdoor activities like diving, snorkeling, rock climbing, trekking, bike riding or zip-lining. In that case, Taiwan will fulfill all of your adventure cravings.
You can gorge upon the lip-smacking cuisines and encounter an incredible food experience.
Preparation for travel:
Nearly all countries' passport holders can enter Taiwan visa-free for tourism, but be sure to check the requirements for your country. US, Canada, UK, EU passport holders, and many more get a generous 90-day visa-free travel.
What should be the standard budget for your stay in Taiwan?
Even though Taiwan is amongst the most affordable countries, you will still need to plan a travel budget for a stay in Taiwan. This will ensure that you can get the most out of your one-week trip and manage to visit many tourist attraction spots in limited time and expenses.
According to the expenses that the past travelers have recorded, the average daily price in USD is:
Local transportation $11
A hotel room for a couple is $60
So your estimated traveling cost per day would amount to around $87, although this can vary massively depending on your preferences and budget. You can also save on your expenses by visiting free attractions and using metro and bus passes. Taiwan has an excellent public transportation system.
Is travel insurance necessary while visiting Taiwan? And what does it include?
While travel insurance isn't mandatory, it can give you the peace of mind to enjoy your trip to the fullest. It's usually not too expensive, so it's a good idea to purchase a medical insurance package that will cover unexpected expenses like hospitalization, medication, ambulance, and emergency service costs. Trip insurance comes in handy if unexpected events happen, forcing you to cancel your trip. In that case, you would be reimbursed for all non-refundable expenses and prepaid costs.
While Traveling in Taiwan
Best cities to stay in:
Taiwan is home to beautiful cities that draw tourists every year. However, if you must prioritize, here are two of the top cities to think about staying in for your trip.
The busiest city and the capital of Taiwan, Taipei, is deemed to be the political, cultural, and economic nucleus of this island. Taipei's bustling city exemplifies tasty food, spectacular skyscrapers, magnificent architecture, and buzzing night markets.
With its blend of distinctive cultures and landmarks eloquently portraying the rich heritage, the cosmopolitan city continues to draw visitors annually. Some of the compelling attractions in Taipei include the Taipei Zoo, Botanical Garden, Taipei 101 skyscraper, and Hsing Tian Kong temple.
In addition, a hike up the Elephant Mountain shouldn't be missed at any cost as it provides a bird's view of the incredible Taipei skyline and lays bare the spell-binding panorama of the entire city.
Kaohsiung is the third-largest in Taiwan and is reputed for its colossal harbor, splendid maritime industry, and lively night markets known for Taiwan's famous beef noodles. Kaohsiung gives tourists abundant opportunities to traverse natural, cultural, and historical landmarks. Kaohsiung also takes pride in showcasing the world's largest glass art monument, more commonly known as the Dome of Light.
The urban landmarks like the Kaohsiung Dream Mall and the "85 Sky Tower" portray modernity and merge beautifully with the natural attractions like Love River, Yushan National Park, and seeing the Formosan rock monkeys. The dragon and tiger pagodas at the Lotus Pond in Kaohsiung are another must-see attraction.
Food and restaurants in Taiwan:
Taiwan has thousands of inexpensive restaurants catering to every budget and demographic group. Night markets have many food vendors who sell delectable specialties with high food quality standards, making this a must-see for an authentic Taiwanese food experience. Tourists can spot many restaurants that serve vegetarian cuisines, Japanese, Spanish, and German cuisines. Halal restaurants and Indian eateries are also widespread.
Top 10 Tourist Attractions to See in Taiwan
Taroko Gorge and Taroko National Park
A geological marvel located in eastern Taiwan, Taroko Gorge is deemed to be a spectacular world-class attraction. This natural masterpiece features a picturesque combo of rock and surging water. Situated inside the Taroko national Park and encircled by the Liwu River, the majesty of the gorge is unrivaled and one of the most popular attraction spots in Taiwan.
The park is dotted with flora and fauna and exhibits rich biodiversity. Refreshing walks, gentle strolling paths, and challenging hikes and trails exemplify the splendor of this vertiginous national park. There are also excellent private tours to get the full experience with no hassle.
Dubbed as the Niagara Falls of Taiwan, the horseshoe-shaped waterfall is one of the most majestic falls in Taiwan, attracting millions of tourists every year. The surge of water plummets into a deep pool casting the arc of an enchanting rainbow over the mist on sunny days.
An exotic lush forest encompasses the Shifen waterfall. The locals of the Shifen village exhibit a breathtaking lantern display at night for the visitors. This waterfall is situated in Pingxi District in New Taipei city. For your convenience, you can be picked up in Tapei by a private tour guide that will take you to the falls.
Sun Moon Lake
Characterized as a glistening body of tranquil water bordered by lush green mountains, Sun Moon Lake is a destination that endows romance to honeymooners and scenic beauty to nature-lovers.
Sun Moon Lake is surrounded by temples, pagodas, hotels, resorts, and fantastic restaurants. Visitors can enjoy fun activities like biking along the shores' bike paths, canoeing, rowing boat, and an exhilarating cable car ride. Situated in Central Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake is two hours away from Taipei and inarguably one of the most stunning lakes of Taiwan and a hotspot destination for tourists. Private tours can bring you out there from Tapei for a 1-day trip.
The laid-back ambiance of Taitung, which is located on the eastern coast of Taiwan, beckons visitors in sheer numbers. The awe-inspiring geological panorama and rock formations showcased in the sculpture park of Xiaoyeliu are a must-see attraction. The prestigious arched bridge fashioned to look like a dragon connects the route to Sansiantai Island, which features a natural reserve. Here tourists can witness the mesmerizing sunsets and enchanting sunrises. Taitung is also home to the Caves of the Eight Immortals (Baxian Cave), which had remains discovered from the Changping culture thought to be five to six thousand years old. If you make it out this way, one unique experience is to see how peanuts are farmed and processed into traditional snacks. You can find more information by clicking the link below.
Yushan National Park
Yushan National Park, perched in the remote county of Nantou, is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers and home to many rugged mountainscapes. The Jade mountain peak rises to an impressive height of 3,952 meters (12,966 feet) above sea level, making this landmark one of the most popular hiking spots for tourists. Yushan National Park has incredible views and a myriad of camping and hiking opportunities.
Lodged in the northeastern side of Taiwan and nestled in the mountainside valley, the Jiufen Village was once the country's leading gold mining center. The picturesque streets and pretty alleyways, the conventional teahouses, and the assortment of alluring food stalls and souvenir shops lure tourists annually. In addition, the scenic view of the surrounding mountainside overlooking the Pacific Ocean makes this village a must-see destination during your visit to Taiwan. The same 1-day tour that takes you from Tapei to the Shifen Waterfalls stops at the Jiufen Village on the way.
Taipei National Palace Museum
The National Palace Museum located in Taipei boasts of possessing ancient Chinese artifacts. These relics showcase the Chinese culture and history dating back over 5000 years. The Museum reserves more than 690,000 pieces which integrates all the branches of Chinese art, amongst which antiquities, sculpture art, paintings, ceramics, calligraphy, bronze, and jade relics are included. You can gain admission to the museum for about $12.50 in person. Another top-rated option for travelers looking for a more historical tour of Tapei is doing a half-day tour that ends at the National Palace Museum.
Kenting National Park
Enveloping stunning beaches sprinkled with swaying palm trees and offering a host of prospects for hiking, diving, jet-skiing and other beach activities, Kenting National Park perched on the southern side of Taiwan is one of the most popular tourist destinations.
In addition to beaches, the verdant jungles, dramatic cliffs highlighting exceptional backdrops over the shoreline, the sea makes it the perfect place for an exotic getaway. Visitors can visit the nearby fishing villages and enjoy an authentic experience in the lively night markets. If you decide to stay in Kaohsiung, there's a tour guide that can pick you up and take you hassle-free out to the Kenting National Park.
Beitou Geothermal Valley
All the rage amongst the tourists and a unique landmark of Taiwan, Beitou Geothermal Valley is situated in the Beitou Hot Spring Park on the edge of Taipei. More often termed Hell Valley, Beitou Geothermal Valley is home to one of the hottest springs. In fact, with temperatures between 80-100 degrees celsius and corrosive elements, you can't bathe in this hot spring. Moreover, the sulfuric steam rising from the hot springs creates a surreal halo around the valley, granting it a fear-provoking look. Nevertheless, visitors flock from around the world to witness the unusual geothermal activity and aura of the hot springs. There's a private tour that goes from Tapei out to the Beitou Geothermal Valley and many more hotspots around the area. Find out more by clicking the link below.
Yimin Temple to Leofoo Village Theme Park
If you're able to stop by Hsinchu City in Taiwan, you'll want to check out Yimin Temple before heading out 20-minutes to Lefoo Village Theme Park. Leofoo Village Theme Park is one of the great destinations that cannot be missed, especially if you visit Taiwan with kids. This amusement and theme park is designed to render an unforgettable safari experience and is perched on Hsinchu County. The park is categorized into four themes and includes innumerable nerve-racking and spine-tingling rides. The inverted shuttle coaster and spiral coaster take hair-raising turns, and bone-chilling twists and drops allure plenty of visitors all year long. The park also features an African Safari theme zone home to more than a thousand wild animals. This zone can be toured by sedan, bus, or steam train.
In a nutshell, Taiwan epitomizes an exotic getaway that will proffer you with memories to cherish for a lifetime. The scintillating cities, pristine and romantic beaches, charming architecture, jaw-dropping panoramic natural views, succulent cuisines, and the friendliest of people are what exemplify the Taiwanese culture and heritage.
If you are into photography, then traveling to Taiwan will be a breakout moment in your whole travel experience because every nook and corner of the entire island is breathtaking. Taiwan, with its fantastic culture and exotic landmarks, will end up becoming one of the top destinations that will compel you to revisit it should you be so lucky. Have an excellent trip!
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