When Portuguese sailors first saw Taiwan in the 1500s, they dubbed it “Ilha Formosa” which means the beautiful island. And with its many national parks and incredible scenery, never has a name been more fitting. But it’s not just the scenery that makes Taiwan a country for the avid traveler’s bucket list. Here are 12 reasons you should visit.
If there’s one thing Taiwanese people love, it’s food. While many other cultures make do with three meals a day, locals here place no such dietary restrictions on themselves. The never-ending Taiwanese quest for new tastes and flavors means that there are always new dishes to try and the local passion for street food means that eating out can be quite a cheap alternative to cooking at home.
Ask for directions on the street and regardless of whether the person assisting you can speak your language or not, they will gladly help. In fact, many tourists have found that the hospitality offered to them was one of the main reasons they loved the country so much. Taiwanese people really are that friendly.
The night markets
While the country is pretty lively during the day, it’s when the sun goes down that the place comes alive. Taiwan’s bustling night markets are a sometimes overwhelming fusion of delicious street food and budget-friendly clothing with a light sprinkling of stalls that sell anything and everything. If you were to choose one place to visit during a trip to Taiwan, you can’t go wrong with the local night market.
The incredible temples
For the most part, Taiwanese people are quite religious with the huge variety of beautiful temples dotted throughout the country a clear indicator of their pious nature. These places of worship are quite often opulent in appearance with some located in stunning surroundings. And while some tourists may feel a little intrusive by visiting these sites, locals are extremely welcoming to those that do.
Whether it’s a trip to an all-night Karaoke venue or a night out clubbing with friends, Taiwan has it all. There are many clubs in the cities with Taipei in particular boasting venues that appeal to lovers of every musical genre. Prefer a quiet night enjoying some locally brewed craft beers? Then the many cafés and bars popping up all over the country have you covered.
The amazing scenery
Those Portuguese sailors were on to something when they named Taiwan the beautiful island. Home to amazing national parks that boast beaches, mountains, valleys, and even dormant volcanoes, Taiwan has such natural beauty that several major film productions such as ‘Silence‘ and ‘Life of Pi‘ took advantage of its scenery.
The hiking trails
With such scenery there comes the inevitable hiking trails. From light treks to serious climbs, there’s no shortage of hiking opportunities throughout the island that offer tourists a glimpse of a traffic-free Taiwan in all its undiluted glory.
The unique hotels
Hotels are big business in Taiwan and business is booming as the country gains recognition throughout the world as the ideal Asian holiday destination. And with so much competition, hotel owners are coming up with some unique themes for their hotels and accommodations. Fancy sleeping in a Bat Cave themed room? Well, you can do that right here in Taiwan.
The architectural landmarks
Taipei 101 is, of course, the most famous of Taiwan’s modern architectural landmarks attracting huge numbers of tourists each week, but it’s not the only landmark in the country. From shoe shaped churches to stained glass domed subway stations, there’s a plethora of unique buildings that dot Taiwan’s many townships and cities.
Yes, there’s the small matter of the typhoon season which runs from June to October to contend with but generally speaking the weather in Taiwan (particularly in the south) is perfect. Lovers of the sun will appreciate the soaring temperatures in the south which is home to some of the country’s most incredible beaches and coastlines
The major cities such as Kaohsiung, Taipei, and Taichung are packed with department stores, boutiques, and gift shops. There are several major department store chains that operate throughout the country so no matter what is on the shopping list, chances are you’ll find it. But it’s not just run of the mill consumer goods that are popular here. Taiwan is famous for manufacturing computers and their components and in Taipei tourists can visit the huge Guang Hua Digital Plaza for all their PC-related needs.
While religious festivals are a common occurrence in Taiwan, there are also many other festivals held throughout the country that capture the imagination of travelers. These include Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival, Organik techno festival, and the Lantern Festival. In fact, no matter when you are visiting the island, there’s a chance that your trip will coincide with at least one major festival.
Like every country, Taiwan has the standard national museums we come to expect and love on our trips abroad. However, there are also many smaller or privately owned museums throughout the country that offer an interesting way to spend a morning or an afternoon. The Chimei Museum with its European-influenced architecture and the Miniatures Museum of Taiwan are the perfect examples of popular private museums.