Top 100 Green Destinations in 2023
Taiwan’s efforts in creating green destinations are being recognized internationally. Six national scenic areas were included in the list of Green Destinations Top Stories for 2023 compiled by the Green Destinations organization. The North Coast and Guanyinshan NSA was included for rebuilding a trail on Heping Island using environment-friendly methods; the Northeast and Yilan Coast NSA for transforming an abandoned military camp into a tourist site; the Sun Moon Lake NSA for increasing income from tourism for the indigenous Thao people; the Southwest Coast NSA for creating an ecological flood detention pond; the East Coast NSA for organizing the Moonlight Sea Concert; and the Penghu NSA for preserving Jibei Island’s fish weirs.
New Observation Platform on Yilan Coast
If you take a train from Taipei to the East Coast, wait for the moment after the train has passed the New Taipei City village of Fulong and exits the next tunnel. In an instant you will see the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean and Turtle Island in the not-too-far distance. This is the type of view you can take in from numerous locations along the Yilan County coast, some of which have manmade facilities, like the brand-new Dafu Observation Platform, part of the Dafu Seaside Recreation Area in Zhuangwei Township. This is an excellent spot for sunrise gazing or for taking a rest on coastal bike rides.
Hyatt Place New Taipei City Xinzhuang (新北新莊凱悅嘉軒酒店) | located in New Taipei City’s Xinzhuang District; 278 guestrooms; grand opening September 2022
Anna King Hotel (安娜與國王酒店) | located in central Chiayi City; 51 guestrooms; Thai-style interior design; grand opening in January 2023
New Park at Tainan’s High-Speed Rail Station
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Japan’s Shinkansen, aka bullet train, system. When the Tokaido Shinkansen Line was put into operation in October 1964, its stream-lined 0 Series trains became an instant hit, impressing people around the world. Today there are only 27 of these trains left, and one front car of those is now on display in the small 0 Series Oiran Train Scenic Park at THSR Tainan Station. The train car was imported to Taiwan in 2004 to serve as a testing vehicle for Taiwan’s new high-speed rail system (opened for service in 2007), and used until 2008.
New Bikeway Section Added at Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake, located in central Taiwan’s Nantou County, has been one of the island’s top tourist draws for many decades. The lake is surrounded by high mountains of the Central Mountain Range and is enchantingly beautiful whichever season you decide to come for a visit. Apart from just lazily taking in the lake-and-mountain scenery – from the comfort of your room balcony if you stay in one of the lakeside hotels – there is also much active fun to enjoy, first and foremost going on a round-the-lake bicycle jaunt. Much of the roughly 30km route, often named as one of the prettiest in the world, consists of dedicated bikeway sections, often very close to – and sometimes even above – the water. The newest section, opened last September, is a 600m stretch at the village of Ita Thao on the east side of the lake, which now makes riding from the Ita Thao Wharf to the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway Station even more convenient.
Keelung Buys Duck Boats
The city of Keelung, to the east of Taipei, is dominated by its port, and not surprisingly this is an asset worth promoting as a tourist attraction. Witnessing how port cities around the world, including Yokohama, Singapore, and Boston, have successfully employed amphibious vehicles (“duck boats”) for harbor cruises, the Keelung City Government has decided to purchase two such boats from Japan to put into service this year. The exact date when and the location where the boats will start operating has yet to be announced.
New Tainan City Museum
This year, Tainan City celebrates its 4th centennial. If you want to find out more about how the city developed over those 400 years, there might be no better place than the new Tainan City Museum (formerly the Koxinga Museum; reopened under a new name in December 2023 after nearly three years of renovations). The museum houses around 5,500 artifacts spanning from prehistoric to modern times. Also part of creating the Tainan City Museum has been the integration of three other cultural sites, the Tainan City Zuojhen Fossil Park in Zuozhen District, Tainan Shan-Shang Garden in Shanshang District, and Tapani Incident Memorial Park in Yujing District.
“North Eye Platform”
The best views of central Taipei City from high up (excluding manmade structures such as Taipei 101) are arguably from lookout platforms on Elephant Mountain (Xiangshan) in Xinyi District. For a different perspective, head to the opposite (north) side of the Taipei Basin and walk the trails of Mt. Jiantan (trails start behind the Grand Hotel Taipei). A great panoramic view is from the Old Place Observation Deck (encompassing airplanes landing at Taipei Songshan Airport). Another great lookout spot on the mountain is the recently built North Eye Platform, from where you can take in Shilin District, with MRT Jiantan Station and the iconic Taipei Performing Arts Center in full view.
New AI Translation Service at Visitor Centers
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being implemented in all facets of life these days, including tourism. The Taiwan Tourism Administration recently unveiled a new service for foreign tourists. First installed on a trial basis at visitor centers inside Taipei Songshan Airport and at the Yehliu Geopark on the North Coast, the system facilitates communication between tourists and info center staff. Both sides simply need to talk into a microphone using their own language and then see the translation in the respective other language appear on a screen. Initially available for English, Japanese, and Korean, translating into and from Chinese, the system is said to be comparable to a seasoned interpreter with three years of experience.
New Penghu Ferry
The fastest way of getting to the islands of the Penghu archipelago from the Taiwan mainland is flying from Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, or Kaohsiung (less than an hour flight time for each route). A slower way is taking a ferry, either from the town of Budai in Chiayi County or from Kaohsiung Port (about four hours one way). If you opt for the latter route, starting this August you will enjoy the trip on a brand-new vessel, the Penghu Ferry. The new ferry has replaced the Taihua Ferry, which served on the route for more than 30 years.
Tainan on National Geographic Cool List 2024
This year is an important one for southern Taiwan’s Tainan. The city is commemorating its entry into the era of global navigation, which began in 1624 with the Dutch commencing the building of a fort, later named Fort Zeelandia (now Anping Old Fort), in what is now Tainan’s Anping District. The city government is organizing a large number of events this year as part of this celebration, including the Taiwan Lantern Festival (Feb. 3 ~ Mar. 10). Foreign media has taken notice, and Tainan has been included in the latest National Geographic Cool List: “Where Taipei sparkles with steel and glass, Tainan – Taiwan’s former capital – cuts a more historic figure, its skyline dotted with fortress towers and soaring temple roofs. And in 2024, the city’s quadricentennial puts its intriguing heritage under the spotlight and offers a fresh reason to visit.”