Photo: East Rift Valley National Scenic Area, Taiwan
For most of us when we think of Taiwan we think of the capital Taipei and a large crowded city, but there is so much more beyond Taipei. Visually breathtaking, Taiwan is a photographer’s paradise. Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range binds the island together, running over the landscape like a spine. Travelers come from all over to climb East Asia’s tallest peaks. Taiwan is given life with its many rivers, running like veins through the country to the surrounding ocean, while great beaches provide the perfect environment for water sports such as surfing and windsurfing.
HOT SPRINGS – Taiwan is actually located on the ‘ring of fire’, and as such has some of the most accessible salt-water hot springs, the best arguably being the Sunrise Hot Spring on Green Island. Checking out Taiwan’s hotsprings are popular with both travellers and locals, and is essential to enjoying the essence of Taiwan. An easier option exists in many hotels, where you don’t even have to leave the main island to enjoy the soothing waters of the hot springs of Taiwan as many hotels offer piped-in hot spring baths.
TEMPLES – Temples dot the landscape of Taiwan as beacons of cultural diversity. Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist temples shed light on the various religious influences in Taiwan’s history. There are many temples around Taiwan, and each of the temples represents different gods and local cultures. Wenwu Temple, for example, worships the legendary Confucius. For photography lovers, temples are always fun to photograph, as you will not only experience the beauty of architecture, but also capture precious moments that tell a touching story about Taiwan!
HIKING TRAILS – Hiking in Taiwan is at its peak during autumn. The country is a deep emerald green and the temperature is perfect. Anyone who is interested in hiking must visit the mountains of, Yushan, Alishan, Taroko Gorge, Yangmingshan and the Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area. In the Taroko Gorge area, Zhuilu Old Trail is about 6 miles / 10 kilometers long and is one of the most spectacular hiking trails. Zhuilu Old Trail (aptly nicknamed the Vertigo Trail) follows the last remaining stretch of Old Hehuan Mountain Road. The trail is named after the cliffs of Zhuilu and is not for the faint of heart as at its narrowest point, the trail is no more than 28 inches / 70 centimeters wide, carved into the cliff face, raised just under 3,610 feet / 1,100 meters from the gorge! Your bravery is rewarded with the breathtaking view provided by this cliff-side expedition. You need to be in decent shape to do the hike and have no fear of heights! Not for the faint of heart or out of shape.
FOOD MARKETS – Every hungry traveler visiting Taiwan hoping to experience the true culture of the island must visit Keelung if only to make a trip to the Miaokou night market. The market’s cuisine was heavily influenced by Japanese colonial rule in the 19th and 20th centuries. This means that if you love seafood, Miaokou is a ‘must visit’ attraction. Miaokou means ‘temple entrance’, the market gets its name from the Dianji Temple where the original market expanded from. Today the market covers several streets and features food for all kinds of hungry travelers. Keelung also has the Gold waterfalls and the geologic formations on Keelung Peace Island.
Taiwan can be a destination on its own or included in a stop on your way to Bali, South East Asia, Hong Kong, mainland China and more, but if you do anything in Taiwan, remember it’s more than just Taipei!
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