Taiwan is a country rich with a wide panorama of attractions and experiences for just about every genre of traveler. While it would take months to cover all that this country beholds, here are a few gems that stand above the crowd and perfectly encapsulate the natural beauty, dazzling culture, and brilliant colors that represent Taiwan.
1. Visit a Gold Mine
For visitors in Taiwan who know little of its history, the Gold Museum is the perfect starting point to dive into. The open-air museum is comprised of several buildings; as Taiwan tour guides lead visitors through each building, they explain the role Taiwan played in WWII, the colonization of the Japanese, as well as help visitors understand the gold mining business. It is free to visit and easy to get to via bus from Taiwan’s Ruelfang Station. The museum also goes by the name Gold Ecological Park, so visitors to the museum need to look out for either of the signs in order to get there.
2. Hike Teapot Mountain
There are literally thousands of miles of trails to hike in Taiwan, but Teapot Mountain is the first one anyone should walk while visiting the country. Visitors in good shape can easily hike the mountain in a day, and it’s a great day trip from Taipei. The trail gets steep, but is lined with climbing ropes over the most difficult passages. The stretches of grass can cut through skin, so it’s best to wear long sleeves and long pants, even in the hottest of summer months. There are multiple trails up the mountain, and all of them lead to either Jiufen or Jinguashi; the trailheads are written in both English and Mandarin, and are both well marked. Trekkers shouldn’t let the extreme nature of the trail stop them from attempting the climb; the views from the top of the Taiwan landscape are some of the best in the country!
3. Ride the Moakong Gondola
Take to the sky and see Taipei from an angle not everyone gets to enjoy! Travelers afraid of heights should avoid it, but riding the Moakong Gondola is a cheap and fun way to see a different side of Taipei. The best time to go is either early in the morning or late in the evening, around sunrise or sunset, when the heat isn’t as intense (the cabins do not have air conditioning) and the crowds are fewer. When buying a ticket, ask for the round trip fare; it’s cheaper and unadvertised, and will save you a bit compared to buying two one way tickets up and down the mountain. The Moakong Gondola climbs its way up the mountains, stopping at several stations along the way up. Riders can easily hop on and off to sample tea from local tea houses, try out local specialty ice cream, or check out Taipai’s zoo.
4. Explore Taipei’s Famous Neighborhoods
The best way to explore Taipei’s beauty is to take to the streets; the city has plenty of famous neighborhoods that provide hours of opportunity to window shop, try out local restaurants, and see what day to day life is like in Taiwan’s capital city. Navigating the city’s streets can be a bit overwhelming, as the city has been constantly rebuilt throughout the centuries; so hiring a local Taipei tour guide is the best way to see the city and get a feel for the layout. The travel guide can take you to Bopiliao Old Street, which is filled with buildings, artifacts, and shops from the 17th century. The neighborhood is only open during select hours every day of the week. Ximending is one of the most popular districts for shopping; it’s the perfect neighborhood to window shop and find souvenirs to take back home. Then there’s Snake Alley, also known as Huaxi Street Night Market, filled with restaurants and street vendors that serve some of the most unique dishes Taiwan has to offer made of snakes.
5. Visit the Longshan Temple
Located in the heart of the capital city of Taipei, The Longshan Temple is easily the most iconic and certainly one of the most beautiful temples in Taiwan. Even the exterior of the temple is surrounded in beautiful elements of tribute to the gods and history of the temple, such as the beautiful waterfall in the courtyard outside, whose rocks are from the original immigrants that built the temple centuries ago. The temple has been perfectly restored despite centuries of bombings, fires and political unrest, and remains full of vivid colors, ornate carvings, and plenty of history. Unlike many temples in Asia, tourists are welcome to take as many photos as they like, and enter into the temple and watch the worship rituals of the local believers.
6. See Liquid Gold
Located near Jinguashi, Taiwan’s Golden Waterfalls aren’t impressive in size, but the drastic coloring of the landscape makes it worth a stop. Although the waterfall seems off the beaten track, it’s very easy to access via public transportation for just a few dollars. Buses run from both Keelung and Ruifang, and drive right up to the base of the waterfall. It’s free to visit, and the gorgeous copper coloring of the water is unlike any other waterfall in Asia.
Right across the Golden Waterfalls lies the Yin Yang Sea. The sea is one of the few places in the world where the waters are multiple tones, due to mineral run off from shore. The colors in the ocean are beautiful; visiting takes only an hour or so when combined with the Golden Waterfalls. Because of the high mineral content in the water, swimming isn’t advised, but it’s still a great place to enjoy the view and snap a photo or two.
7. Visit the Shifen Waterfall
Known comonly as the Niagra Falls of Taiwan, Shifen Waterfall is the perfect place to get away from the crowds and enjoy the peaceful, haunting beauty of Taiwan. The cascade waterfall is part of the Keelung River, and reaches just over 60 feet in height. The waterfalls are easy to get to from the Shifen Train Station; signs litter the way and it takes around an easy half hour to hike from the visitor’s center to the waterfall. For serious trekkers, the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail also crosses the waterfall while adding on an additional few hours of hiking from the train station in Sandiaoling.
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