Taiwan is known for being somewhat mystical and rightly so.
A small but perfectly formed island, wandering through the streets fires up the senses with the exciting architecture and delicious smells of street food.
There’s a lot packed onto the island with both densely populated cities and an amazing mountainous landscape right next door to one another.
Mixing things up
The history of the country means the cities of Taiwan are a wonderful cultural mix bringing together the best delights of this region of the world. From food to architecture, just wandering the streets of Taipei you’ll lose yourself in this magnificent place. As with many countries, there are local dishes that must be tried.
For Taiwan this includes Tainan milkfish, a breakfast dish mixing broth, rice and milkfish in a sort of porridge equivalent and ‘sanbei’ or three cups, a mix of soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil mixed together and used as a sort of marinade or broth served with meat or tofu in a clay pot.
There’s plenty more of this to be found in the night markets or Yeshi, or the cities. Miaokou in Keelung is possibly one of the most famous and definitely worth a visit.
As well as providing a mix of delicious foods, the mixed history of Taiwan means there’s a mixture of amazing architecture as well.
Bringing together the different styles from the East Asian region and the different religions of the area, there’s a lot to explore and enjoy.
Pagodas are common in the country and there are some awesome ones in Taipei and in the mountainous regions. Even the more modern architecture draws on these styles with Taipei 101, once the tallest building in the world, clearly showing pagoda stylings.
Conversely, there are several places where you can see traditional Asian styles next to buildings with clear European influences from previous settlements in the 1600s.
Getting out and about
The eastern side of the island offers a significant contrast to the bustling cities of the lowlands. The rugged mountains that stretch the length of the country are a wondrous landscape and reach as high as 3,952 metres at their tallest point, Yu Shan or Jade Mountain.
Taiwan is known for having one of the highest densities of tall mountains in the world. If you really love hiking and fancy taking things a step further there’s a list known as the Baiyue list of 100 mountain peaks in Taiwan that hikers consider to be the most interesting and unique in the country.
There’s more to Taiwan than Taipei and mountains. Kaohsiung to the south of the country is a great place to visit if you like water and all its associated activities. The southern climate means that there are coral reefs in the cities harbour making it good for diving. With Love River and Lotus lake and the sea there are plenty of chances to get out on a boat or try something different like wakeboarding.
There are other notable attractions to take in in the area too for those who like to be out in the open. In the city on Lotus lake there are some excellent examples of Taiwanese pagodas, the Dragon and Tiger pagodas stand tall on the lake side and are an awesome sight to see.
If you want to get a little higher and are missing the mountains, then there’s Mount Shoushan, a distinctive mountain made entirely of coral reefs and calcium carbonate. With macaques and tea stations all the way up the mountain, it’s a unique experience that’s a must if you want to escape the city a bit.
Whatever your interests, there’s a real mix of nature less than an hour away from the hustle and bustle of cities and cultural highlights from around the world. Taiwan is small, but packs a lot in for you to explore.