Traveling in Tantalizing Taiwan!
Travel solo or with gang!
Endowed with sparkling waterfalls, natural rock formations, myriad hot springs, world’s deepest marble gorge, and East Asia’s highest mountain, Taiwan is a picturesque island state.A seamless blend of tradition and modernity is discernible in this island.
Equipped with world-class infrastructure and state-of-the-art transport facilities, Taipei, the capital makes an ideal hub for visitors who want to travel to the surrounding weekend getaways, coastal towns and other myriad tourist attractions across the length and breadth of the country. Bustling cities like Taipei and Taichung are in the forefront of the technological and consumer development sweeping the country. In a short time, Taipei has gone electronic, hi-tech, and is gung-ho for the technocrat and super-growth oriented.
The soaring Taipei 101, named for the number of floors it holds, affords a panoramic view of the glitzy high rises and belts of humped woodland all sprawled in the Taipei Basin. Taipei 101 is a testimony of Taiwan’s financial power. The 101 floors and 509 meters tall building actually held the record for tallest building in the world till Burj Khalifa in Dubai relegated it to the second place. First five floors are dotted with swanky malls with global designer brand stores while the observatory on the 89th floor offers a breathtaking view of the city. The lift that covers a distance of 89 floors in a minute is hailed as a modern marvel. Currently, it is the world’s tallest green building. The elevator can take people up at an amazing speed of 40 seconds up to the observation deck on the 89th floor. Equally fascinating is the mammoth gold-colored iron wind damper sphere, the largest in the world which keeps the tower stable through typhoons and earthquakes.
National Palace Museum
With its breathtaking collection of 6,53,597 objects including bronzes, porcelain, ceramics, curious, Chinese calligraphy, jades, paintings, books, documents, it is Taipei’s sightseeing highlight and rated as one of the world’s top-four museums. The piece de resistance is the Chinese cabbage from the Ch’ing Dynasty, carved of white and green jade, with grasshoppers hidden among its leaves. There are delicate blue-and-white Ming porcelain vases, millennia-old bronzes, ivory wrist rests and a hand-sculpted olive kernel which portrays a miniature boat, complete with exquisite awning, passengers, and rigging.
Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Centre
The imposing Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Centre with its octagonal blue pagoda-style roof and white marble façadeis a tribute to the late President Chiang-Kai Shek. Don’t miss the hourly changing of the honor guard ceremony.
Taroko National Park
Located in eastern Taiwan, the Park is world-renowned for its scenic charm, craggy landscape, and marble canyons. Taroko is a trekkers’ delight. The best way to enjoy the park is to embark on its innumerable hiking trails. You’ll be enthralled by the lush forests interspersed with vertical walls, contorted tunnels, sheer precipices, and towering marble cliffs that dot this picturesque route.Equally fascinating is the Swallows’ Grottos composed of marble cliff faces covered with many potholes, the result of long-time corrosion by the river and groundwater. The name came about because House swifts and Pacific swallows often forage and nest here. The Tunnel of Nine Turns offers enchanting vistas.
Mataian Wetland Ecological Park
Take a stroll along a network of wooden bridges crisscrossing over lotus fields in the luxuriant Mataian Wetland Ecological Park at the foot of Masi Mountain in Hualien County.Interact with the traditional Ami tribes and imbibe lessons in farming and also fishing using ingenious traditional three-layered fish trap or palakaw. When you get tired of the fishing, watch the cooking session when freshwater fish and wild vegetables were cooked in a dry leaf bowl by adding heated river stones. The red sticky rice and the salt roasted scaly tilapia grilled over charcoal make a deadly combination.
Lintienshan Forestry Cultural Park
A former logging base during Japanese reign in Taiwan, Lintienshan Forestry Cultural Parkis currently a forestry cultural park to conserve a unique logging heritage. One can see remnants of the public facilities built by the Japanese, a disused logging railway, sawmills, machine repair factory besides several stores and a Wood Carving Gallery which is lined with sculptures crafted out redwood by the best artists in Taiwan.
Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village
It is a theme park spanning a mountainous nave in two sections – a cultural segment showcasing the heritage and aborigines of Sun Moon Lake and an amusement park speckled with joy rides and thrill conceptions.There’s a section with a blend of thrill attractions with outdoor replicas of aboriginal dwellings of the nine tribes that occupied Sun Moon Lake.
Sun Moon Lake
Located at the center of Taiwan in Nantou County, the Sun Moon Lake is an alpine mountain lake with plenty of water, which gives it the wide expanse of a lake set in picturesque mountains. Hailed as ‘Heart of Taiwan’ both for its location in the centre of the island and also due to its importance as a major hydropower generating site, this wonder is worth a visit. Lalu Island in the centre of the lake is the holiest ancestral spirit land of the Thao aboriginal tribe. Divided by this island, the northern half of the lake resembles the wheel of the sun, while the southern half looks like a crescent moon. Thus the lake was named ‘Sun Moon Lake.’Its other name is Honey-Moon Lake. There are several hiking trails around the lake. It is also an important site of hydroelectric power generation. This picturesque destination was the favourite retreat of Chiang Kai-Shek.
The night markets in Taiwan are any shopper’s dream. You can shop till you drop in Taiwan. From accessories, shoes, apparel, beauty products to endless food joints, there’s something for everyone on offer here at a very reasonable price. If you are looking for tasty street food at budget-friendly prices, head to the night markets. Each night market has its own distinctive character and style. Gadget freaks will do well to check out the six-story Guang Hua Digital Plaza, that stores latest gadgets and funky accessories.
Transport: Taiwan offers frequent flight service to major cities around the world. Taiwan’s cities are linked by an island-wide railway network. The High-Speed Rail zips along the Western Corridor of Taiwan at speeds up to 300km/hr.
Weather: Taiwan has a pleasant climate all year round.
By Susheela Nair