Tainan, in southwestern Taiwan, is a city known for its historic sites, but the city also has its share of modern, even futuristic, buildings worthy of exploration.
The tourism experience in Changhua's Fangyuan Township includes intertidal-zone oyster harvesting, “iron ox” eco-tours, “sea ox” rides, fresh harborside seafood and tidal-flats oyster/clam barbecues, Seaside Skywalk mangrove forest exploring and…
Tainan City, born four centuries ago, is Taiwan’s most illustrious repository of important heritage sites. Here is a quartet of attractions that have been born within the past two decades.
Things to Do in April~May
Mazu Pilgrimage – this annual activity is the biggest religious happening on the island and the perfect opportunity to witness traditional religious culture and practices in Taiwan.
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.
Closed to the public for two years to carry out a major dredging operation, the Moonworld Dream Lake Scenic Area in Tainan City’s Longqi District is now open again. The area features a small lake surrounded by gray-colored hills that somewhat resemble the barren surface of the moon. A photogenic highlight is a round pavilion that appears to be floating on the lake’s waters.
Hsinchu Miaoli Connection
More good news for cyclists. It is now possible to ride on dedicated bikeways along the western coast of Taiwan all the way from the northern border of Hsinchu City to the southern border of Miaoli County. This was recently made possible by linking two bike paths, the Hsinchu City 17km Bikeway and the Miaoli Green Light See Breeze Bicycle Path (68.5km).
Hotel Indigo Alishan (阿里山英迪格酒店) | international-standard hotel in Alishan; grand opening later this year; www.facebook.com/hotelindigoalishan Humble Boutique Hotel (寒居酒店) | new hotel of the My Humble House Group in central Taipei; grand opening second quarter of 2022; www.mhh-group.com OLAH Poshtel Taichung (台中悅樂旅店) | second Poshtel in Taiwan (first in Hualien); close to Taichung Railway Station; grand opening earlier this year; www.olah.com.tw
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