Having once been a Japanese colony, modern Taiwan now stands as a distinctive mix of contemporary Japanese culture and traditional Chinese heritage. When we think of Taiwan, we think of bustling streets, labyrinthine night markets and vast cities. Team this with an array of stunning ancient temples, breath taking mountain ranges and shimmering lakes and you’ve got an island ripe for exploration. It’s one of our favourite Asian destinations, so take a read of this all-encompassing itinerary to see what you could discover in Taiwan.
EXPLORE THE CAPITAL
Starting in the capital, Taipei, you’ll be enchanted by the way incredible natural landscapes sit effortlessly alongside modern architecture. Imagine high rise towers standing next to sprawling mountains that reach above the clouds. It’s as inspiring as it sounds. Having undergone a huge overhaul in the 80s, Taipei is now regarded as one of Asia’s most dynamic cities. Naturally then, your first stop here has to be the 89th floor of Taipei 101 to take in the cityscape that rolls out beneath you.Read more
Back on the street, we’ll have you transported to Longshan Temple to soak up the serene atmosphere. The exquisite carvings and decorations within the temple hark back to Taiwan’s traditional Chinese roots, so you’ll get a little insight into the island’s history that dates back tens of thousands of years. For a further look at Taipei’s history, we’d also recommend you visit the National Palace Museum and enjoy one of the world’s largest collections of Chinese art and artefacts. Art not really your thing? Then a trip to Martyrs Shrine is a great and educational alternative. Resting on the slopes of the Qing Mountains and overlooking the Keelung River, this shrine symbolises the martyrs’ brave spirit and pays tribute to the men who sacrificed their lives in the revolution and Civil War. The military officers guarding the main gates are rigidly trained and stand like statues. Even your best attempts won’t make them twitch; trust us.
ATMOSPHERIC NIGHT MARKETS
Now, a trip to Taiwan wouldn’t be complete without walking the streets of the famous Shilin Night Market. With an array of interesting cuisine on offer we’re sure you’ll find the perfect evening meal to indulge in. What’s more, the market boasts an electric atmosphere and with such a variety of stalls, you could easily spend hours here.
Leaving behind Taipei, take the bullet train south to Hualien. Located on the east side of the island, expect a much more rural landscape and a slightly slower pace of life. The majestic views of this city have come to represent Taiwan; it borders the Pacific Ocean on the east and is hemmed in by the Central Range to the west. Visit Taroko Gorge and take in the spectacular mountain range and marble canyons. There’s a plethora of waterfalls here too, plus Swallow Grotto, so it won’t be hard to find things to see whilst staying in this Asian idyll. Enjoy some early morning chanting with some monks, try a meditation experience or partake in a calligraphy lesson against the backdrop of the Taroko National Park. There’s no better place to really get under the skin of Taiwan.
To round off your time on this dynamic island we suggest you head inland and spend a few peaceful days at Sun Moon Lake. With views that look like they’ve just come out of a travel brochure, Sun Moon Lake might just be one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen. While away your days walking in the surrounding areas. If you’re feeling really proactive, climb one of the peaks, otherwise simply lazing by the water edge is a perfect way to spend your time here. For some more temple time, visit Wen Wu Temple or the Holy Monk Shrine. Both temples are an oasis of calm and you’ll be blown away by the intricate patterns and decorations both of these temples boast. And the piece de resistance? It has to be the Tse En pagoda. Surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the Sha Ba Lan mountain range, the pagoda is twelve storeys high and serves as a beacon of serenity in an already stunning location.