Taiwan is so much more than Taipei 101. The one-time tallest building in the world draws the world’s attention every December 31 as it hosts a fireworks display of epic proportions, but there’s more to this island nation than sparks in the midnight sky. Here are just some of the things for which the country is famous and that are synonymous with the word Taiwan.
Acer and Asus are two of the world leaders in laptop production, and with these two giants of the industry in Taiwan, it’s no shock that there are hundreds of smaller local companies riding along on their coattails. Taiwan produces a huge percentage of the world’s computer components, and it’s not too far behind on peripherals and hardware. Taiwan is also home to Computex, one of the world’s largest computer and IT trade fairs.
It should come as no surprise that an island nation with a thriving fishing industry has some of the world’s finest seafood. In fact, seafood is so common here that there are hundreds of seafood restaurants in Taipei City alone. Try the oyster omelet. It’s one of the country’s most popular dishes.
It’s the country’s most famous food, and no two dishes are the same. Competition to create the tastiest bowl is fierce, and thus the standard and quality of this dish should be very high no matter where you dine. However, there are very few noodle shops that can compare to Niu Ba Ba, the restaurant that sells the most expensive beef noodles in the world.
Betel nut beauties
These scantily clad ladies stand at the roadside selling the locally farmed betel nuts. The nuts are said to give you a bit of an energy boost, but they are also linked to quite a few health issues. The government is trying to cut down on betel nut production and has also banned betel nut beauties from selling within Taipei City limits.
There are night markets all across Asia, but none are quite the same as those you’ll find in Taiwan. Here they are bustling hives of activity, and practically every neighborhood has one. Food, clothes, oddly shaped cakes, toys, and games – the Taiwanese night market has them all and then some.
Taiwan is home to both Merida and Giant Bicycle manufacturers. Giant is accepted as the world’s largest bike manufacturer while Merida sells their bikes in 77 countries. Taiwanese locals have a serious love affair with cycling, so it’s understandable that both Giant and Merida have honed their skills to become the powerhouses of the industry that they are today.
HTC started out making computers and building smartphones for Microsoft, but they now produce under their own brand name. They recently signed a massive deal with Google to move 2000 of their employees over to the internet giant, helping them with the production of the Pixel smartphone.
Most people assume that the vast majority of imperial Chinese artifacts would be in Beijing, but they are in fact here in Taiwan’s National Palace Museum. Here you’ll find the world’s largest collection of said artifacts all of which were rescued and moved to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War. It’s a stunning collection resulting in the museum becoming one of the most visited museums in the world.
Taiwan has nine national parks all of which encompass areas of stunning natural beauty, but the one that tourists flock to is Taroko National Park. Here you’ll find the world-famous gorge, which is home to some unique rock formations, caves, and hiking trails. There’s even a shrine built on top of a waterfall called the Eternal Spring Shrine, which has to be one of the most well-placed religious sites in the world.
Tea and pearl milk tea
Taiwan produces some of the world’s most sought-after teas, and connoisseurs from across the globe travel here each year to sample some of the country’s best. There are teashops everywhere, and boxes of tea leaves are one of the most popular souvenir items on the market.
However, it’s pearl milk tea, or what some call bubble tea, that is getting all the attention of late. This relatively new drink (it was invented in the ’80s but only “discovered” by other nations recently) is fast becoming a favorite all over the world, and it all started right here in Taiwan.