14 Reasons We Love Taiwan
We love Taiwan because it fits a surprisingly exotic array of activities into a tiny area. Mountains, beaches, and cities are all connected by high-speed rail, so within hours of landing a visitor can browse the world’s finest collection of Chinese art in Taipei, bathe in rare mineral mud springs in the south, or stroll among the tea fields in Taiwan’s mountains. Convenience, culture, and low cost all contribute to our love affair with Taiwan.
No. 211, Guangzhou Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10853
Longshan is not Taipei’s largest temple, but its unique beauty and proximity to the MRT have made it a very popular one. It’s an awesome place to stop by at sunset when the after-work crowd comes to worship. The temple fills with people from all walks of life praying and telling fortunes using traditional bua buei blocks. The slanting light from the setting sun highlights the smoke rising from incense urns, giving it a supernatural feel.
Alishan is likely the most famous, and most visited, mountain because of the incomparable tea grown there, its relatively easy access from major cities, and its association with the historic Taiwan Railroad. The best way to see Alishan is to hike the many trails that wrap around it, but the easiest way to see all of the best parts is to the the Train Tour, which offers views unlike any I’ve seen from a train in my life. Think about those mystical (kind of cheesy) Chinese paintings of mountains shrouded in mist that seem too scenic and serene to be true. A view from high on Alishan early in the morning will prove to you that those paintings are not only realistic, but understated.
Liuqiu, Liuqiu Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 929
This west-facing beach may appear to be white sand at a glance, but your bare feet will quickly discover that it’s made of corse shards of coral, so watch your step. Rough edges aside, this beach is seldom visited (some people may have been known to camp on it) and is an excellent place to enjoy the sunset with a few Taiwan Beer and good company.
No. 221, Sec 2, Zhi Shan Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
When Chiang Kai-shek fled mainland China for Taiwan, he took with him many of the treasures that at one time were featured in Beijing’s Palace Museum. Among the items are relics and antiques reflecting 8,000 years of Chinese history. Today the collection includes nearly 700,000 pieces, an impressive collection that merits a full-day visit. Among the many treasures that once belonged to the Emperors of China are a delicately carved jade cabbage, intricate ivory work, and artifacts that chronicle the evolution of the Chinese language and culture over millennia. The gift shop is just as impressive, and is the perfect place to buy easy-to-carry souvenirs and gifts.
Soaring more than 1,600 feet into the air, Taipei 101 is one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world and probably Taipei’s most iconic site. For a small fee, visitors can spend time on the observation deck—a large space that offers a 360-degree view of Taipei. From here, you can get a better understanding of the city and how it is organized. For that reason Taipei 101 is the best place to start your sightseeing adventures. There are also a number of great restaurants in Taipei 101 along with shops and entertainment options; you can plan at least half a day of experiences at this one site.
Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area, Nantou County, Taiwan
Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan‘s largest fresh water lake. When I lived in Nantou County, central Taiwan, I would often ride my scooter to Sun Moon Lake for a bit of fresh air and reflection. One day I drove to the lake and traveled up a hill to the Ci-en Pagoda. Parking my bike, I climbed to the top of the pagoda and gazed out at the misty lake, which seemed magical in that moment. Many legends surround Sun Moon Lake, including the one which says the lake was once inhabited by two dragons. These dragons used the sun and moon as toys, causing the world to fall into darkness. Eventually a young couple came and defeated the dragons, brining light back into the world. Sun Moon Lake is one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever visited.