Freediving is a sport that has become quite popular in Taiwan in recent years. Xiao Liuqiu Island is one of the best locations to learn the sport. And Ray Ko…
Find out where energetic entrepreneurs, mostly younger in age, are breathing new life into vintage buildings and hoary tight-knit Tainan communities.
Bird lovers rejoice! There is a brand-new zoo in Nantou County with a focus on birds. In fact, it’s the largest bird-focused zoo in Asia, with dozens of rare birds kept. The zoo has numerous aviaries and outdoor areas where visitors can get up close to a wide variety of birds, including large species such as ostrich, crane, and flamingo. Among the most popular birds are the brightly colored Scarlet Ibis, Western Crowned Pigeon, and Vulturine Guineafowl. Apart from the bird area, there is also Dinosaur Hill, featuring large dinosaur sculptures.
Blooming in May and June
Golden Shower Trees in Tainan – In May and June the bright-yellow blossoms of the Golden Shower Tree add vibrant color to parks and scenic areas in Tainan City, including the Hutoupi Scenic Area in Xinhua District. Mt. Hehuan High-Mountain Rhododendron – The easiest-to-access 3,000m mountaintop area in Taiwan, the high slopes of Mt. Hehuan are especially beautiful in June thanks to the blooming high-mountain rhododendron bushes.
Combining fine cuisine with fine scenery, the Taiwan Railways Administration now offers luxury train rides on its eastern Taiwan route with 5-star cuisine served in cozy dining cars. The food, a 5-course meal prepared by Formosa Int’l Hotels Corp., comes as part of two services provided by Lion Travel: a one-day trip from Taipei to Hualien or a two-day trip from Taipei to Taitung with an overnight stay at a local hotel. A first for Taiwan, these culinary rides, on the “Future” tourist train, come with a 5-star price tag of NT$15,800 and NT$37,900, respectively.
Yunlin County in central Taiwan is better known for its coastal and agricultural lands than its mountainous areas. It is, however, home to a very unique sight in its far southeastern sector. Wannian Gorge is a ravine beautifully sculpted by the Naihu River. Surrounded by tall mountains, it is surprisingly easy to access by car (10-min. walk from car park). The gorge is about one kilometer in length, two to five building stories deep. The recent addition of a skywalk trail has made access to and viewing of this scenic attraction more convenient and safe.
One of the top tourist attractions in Changhua City is the Mt. Bagua Great Buddha Scenic Area. With a height of 22 meters and a shoulder width of 4 meters, the Great Buddha statue is a sight to behold. The park also rewards visitors with great views of the city below. On the way up to the statue you will pass Guashan Village, a building complex opened last year to give 18 artists and artisans a place for creative work. Earlier this year, in addition, nine youth-oriented shops and eateries were opened on its first level, collectively named Buddha Square, giving young visitors an additional reason to pay the area a visit.
Southern Cross-Island Highway
Looking at a topographic map of Taiwan, you will see a landmass somewhat resembling a tobacco leaf with a “spine” of tall north-south mountains in the middle traversing almost the entire island. There are only a few major roads, “cross-island highways,” that allow the crossing of these mountains. Amazing feats of engineering, these routes are spectacularly beautiful and highly popular with self-driving tourists. One of them, the Southern Cross-Island Highway, has recently been reopened after suffering severe damage 13 years ago during Typhoon Morakot.
New Taiwan-Matsu Ferry
Getting from the harbor of Keelung City in northern Taiwan to the islands of Matsu, an archipelago close to mainland China, by ferry means a 10-hour overnight journey on one of two aging vessels, the Taima and Taima Star. Starting in April there will be a more modern and much faster service alternative from the Port of Taipei, a high-speed ferry operated by North & South Shipping. The journey will take just three hours, with the ferries, operating 3 or 4 times a week, carrying up to 298 passengers. Tickets will be priced NT$1,700 one way.
“Yong’an Sea Snail Cultural Experience Park”
About 20km west of downtown Taoyuan City is Yong’an Fishing Harbor. Like many fishing harbors, it’s known for seafood restaurants, but also attracts visitors with a scenic footbridge and the chance of catching eye-pleasing sunsets. One new reason to pay the harbor a visit is the recently opened “Yong’an Sea Snail Cultural Experience Park” on the opposite side of the harbor from the seafood restaurant area. Apart from its unique architectural design (the building was constructed to resemble a sea snail), this new sight also features fun AR and VR experiences for visitors, there is an observation deck with wind chimes, and inside you can sit down for a cup of coffee in the “Sea Snail Café.”
Taipei Restaurant Bus
Fancy a high-quality afternoon tea or dinner on board a double-decker bus that slowly makes its way through downtown Taipei? Well then, perhaps the Taipei Restaurant Bus is your wish-come-true. Starting and ending its 90min (afternoon tea)/120min (dinner) journey at Taipei City Hall, the bus makes a loop through Taipei’s modern east district, passing such landmarks as Taipei 101 and Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. The exquisite set meals are priced NT$1,000 (afternoon) and NT$1,800 dinner).
Just 20km from the geographic center of Taiwan as the crow flies, the Aowanda Forest Recreation Area is a popular summer retreat destination surrounded by the towering mountains of the Central Mountain Range. This is an area of tranquility and natural scenic beauty where you’ll want to stay at least a day or two. Until recently you could opt to sleep in one of the two main accommodation buildings (Red/Green Resort Village) or in a cabin. Now you have a new option, glamping! There are eight comfortable yurt-like tents on wooden platforms, each sleeping four. Available packages include complimentary meals and guided tours.
Getting around the harbor city of Keelung, on Taiwan’s North Coast, has now become a little bit easier and more fun with new signposts pointing you to sites of interest. The signposts come in different sizes but with the same blue-and-orange color scheme. The larger ones provide multilingual information, including area maps; smaller ones show you the direction and distance to nearby attractions. On top of each of the smallest posts you will see a different cute figurine wearing a raincoat, reference to the frequent rain in the city. Tourists are encouraged to go “figurine hunting,” capturing them in memorable pictures.
Taipei Performing Arts Center | Location: Just outside MRT Jiantan Station in Taipei; construction to be completed 2021; projected opening July 2022