A Cruising Couple | October 22, 2015 9:00 PM ET
10 Reasons We Absolutely Love Taiwan
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock, all others courtesy of A Cruising Couple.
It’s hard to believe that it has been over two years since we lived in Taiwan. It seems only yesterday we were buzzing around on our scooters, eating dumplings every day and attempting to speak Mandarin (much to the amusement of the Taiwanese). Though two years have passed since we called Taiwan home, this dynamic island is still one of our favorite places in the world.
Few travelers ever make it to Taiwan. In fact, most people still confuse it for the completely different but soft-rhyming country of Thailand — a locale that is really nothing like Taiwan. But those who do visit are always left in awe of the jaw-dropping natural attractions and jam-packed list of things to see and do in such a small area.
By no means an all-encompassing list, here are 10 of our favorite reasons to love Taiwan:
1. The Cuisine
By now it’s no secret that we love to eat, and local cuisine is often what makes us fall in love with the destination. Luckily, Taiwan boasts plenty of mouthwatering drinks and dishes. If in doubt, ask for Beef Noodle Soup. Taiwan’s national dish, this savory soup consists of chunks of beef, noodles and in-house spices and seasoning — a special secret blend for each restaurant. Other popular dishes to try include dumplings, pearl milk tea, papaya milk, oyster omelets and stinky tofu. The night markets are some of the best places to find these local snacks all around Taiwan.
2. Taroko Gorge
Taroko Gorge is Taiwan’s biggest tourist attraction, boasting almost 14 miles of majestic mountains dropping off into steep ravines. It’s an absolute must-visit, best experienced with your own set of wheels so you can fully explore the stops along the gorge.
The must-see sights of Taroko Gorge include The Shakadang Trail, Eternal Spring Shrine, Swallow Grotto and Tunnel of Nine Turns, when it’s open.
3. The High-Speed Rail
Taiwan’s clean and chic high-speed rail makes it easy to travel from the north to south of the island in just an hour and a half. It’s perfect for those whirlwind travelers who don’t want to sacrifice their travel itinerary for the sake of time.
4. The People
Don’t worry if you don’t know a lick of Chinese — the Taiwanese are some of the most warm and friendly people we have ever met. Locals will often stop to not only give you directions, but actually take you wherever you want to go. That’s if they don’t invite you out for a night of karaoke first though!
Taipei is a bustling and cosmopolitan capital city. Primarily known for Taipei 101, once the tallest building in the world, Taipei is also home to world-class museums, fine dining, and an enchanting mix of old and new.
6. Kenting National Park
In southern Taipei you’ll find Kenting National Park, a gorgeous strip of rainforests, caves, mountains and beaches. It’s a bit of a trek to get to (the high-speed rail doesn’t go quite all the way), but the journey is well worth it. Just avoid visiting during any holiday weekend, as the park becomes packed with local tourists escaping the cities for the natural attractions.
7. The Hiking
It’s a shame that for a long time, Taiwan was only known internationally for its industrial cities. All it takes is a short drive to stumble upon world-class hiking opportunities. There is hiking for all levels and experiences. One of our personal favorite day hikes is Teapot Mountain, a short trip outside of Taipei.
8. The Culture
Taiwan boasts a unique mix of traditional Chinese and Taiwanese aboriginal cultures, along with vestiges of life under Japanese rule. Whether it’s partaking in a traditional tea ceremony, experiencing a festival or navigating the National Palace Museum — home to more Chinese artifacts than any other museum in the world — Taiwan promises to inspire everyone from casual travelers to culture-vultures.
9. The Rock Climbing
If you’ve ever wanted to try rock climbing on a sheer cliff face overlooking the ocean, then Taiwan is the place for you. In particular, the cliffs of Long Dong are located on the Northeast coast of Taiwan. Long Dong draws climbers from around Taiwan and even throughout Asia for its isolated climbing on sandstone crags up to 230 feet in height. There are over 500 routes, with options for sport climbs, trad, deep-water solo and bouldering.
10. The Hot Springs
And last but not least, one of the reasons we love Taiwan is for its 150 hot springs that dot the island. In Asia, hot springs are believed to raise energy levels while possibly treating chronic fatigue, eczema and arthritis — as well as being totally and utterly relaxing. Hot springs range from natural outdoor pools to private ones you can enjoy from the comfort of your own hotel room.
These are 10 of the reasons why we love Taiwan, but of course, we want to hear from you! If you’ve visited Taiwan, then drop us a note about what you loved the most in the comments below.
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