The New Year is upon us and people from around the world are setting goals to improve their quality of life. Among those goals is a resolve to travel more, especially to exotic destinations that once seemed out of grasp. The island state of Taiwan is one of those destinations, yet some people remain on the fence about booking their ticket to the unknown. As the purveyor of immersive experiences in the East Asia we can safely say that there is no better place on the planet to add to your New Year resolution travel itinerary. Here’s why.
Five Reasons Why to Make Taiwan Your Top Travel Destination for 2020 and Beyond
1. It’s Not What You Think
When most people return from a first-time visit to Taiwan they often state that it’s not what they expected – and in a very good way! For one, the island boasts a very distinct culture – unlike any other East Asian region. If you’ve already travelled through Hong Kong and much of China and think you’ve “been there done that” when it comes to a trip to Taiwan you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. Taiwan is exceedingly unique and extremely welcoming to people from all over the world, from groups of globe-trotting Americans to solo female travelers in addition to the LGBT community and so many more.
2. An Enriching Culture for All to Appreciate and Enjoy
As alluded to above the culture in Taiwan is very unique and unlike anywhere in the world. The number of religious temples is mind blowing with approximately 15,000 temples (including registered and unregistered) to explore. That number may seem daunting to visitors as clearly not all will live up to or exceed expectations, which is why we’ve taken on the tough task of narrowing down the five most culturally enriching ones for you, right here. Beyond spiritual enlightenment, you can dive deeper into Taiwanese culture with a visit to some of the most historically significant yet interesting museums on the island. But if you really want to immerse yourself in Taiwan we suggest planning your trip around key culturally-focused annual events such as the Taichung Mazu International Festival (March to April), the Yansfhui Fireworks “Beehive” Festival (February), and the“Pingxi Sky” Lantern Festival (February).
3. The Adventures
Not everyone wants to spend their days exploring temples, museums, and historical landmarks. Some of you are looking for adventures, from mild fun ones to those bordering on extreme. Taiwan has it all. National parks are a top draw in this capacity, offering wildlife experiences, zip-lining, rock-climbing, spelunking, hiking and bike riding (view top cycling destinations) with breathtaking scenery as a backdrop. The mountainous national parks eventually give way to coastal wonders for those in search of saltwater activities. The beaches near Taipei offer all sorts of fun but if you want to take your ocean adventures up a notch you can go snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing (view top surf spots), cliff diving, and white water rafting along these coastal sections of the island. Of course, no exploit here is complete without a visit to Kaohsiung where you will find Monkey Mountain – home to the Taiwan’s endemic Formosan rock macaque. The possibilities for adventure are endless in Taiwan.
4. The FOOD (and Drink)
We capitalized FOOD for good reason because when it comes to eating they is nary a better place on the planet to visit than Taiwan. We kid you not – the dining options are absolutely bonkers! It all starts with Taiwan’s famous night markets. They may be known as top shopping destinations with great bargains found at every corner kiosk but in our opinion it’s all about the cuisine. Within 20-minutes of your airport arrival you will see what we mean as world famous Zhongli Tourist Night Market in the Zhongli District of Taiyuan City awaits. There (or at any night market for that matter) you will find the most eclectic collection of culinary treats, offering everything from beef noodles and gua boa to dan bing and pineapple cake. The beverage selections are also incredible, and no trip to Taiwan is complete without immersing yourself in the tea culture as Taiwan has a pedigree in producing some of the finest teas in the world with oolong tea and pearl milk tea topping the list of “must sips”. Believe it or not (believe it) Taiwan is also fast becoming known for it’s craft breweries, so be sure to add this local tap room guide to your itinerary.
While you can’t help but run into food-laden markets all over Taipei we encourage you to venture west to Taichung where you will find the Fengjia Night Market (biggest night market in Taiwan) which has the most innovative and diverse dining options on the island. Since you’re in Taichung, plan a visit to one of the most popular ice cream shops on earth (that you haven’t heard of) – Miyahara Ice Cream.
5. Access to Local Experience Guides
In the past some people may have told you that Taipei and the other major destinations in Taiwan felt like a bit of a tourist trap. It was once a fair assessment with “big box” tour providers cramming guests onto buses and sucking the authentic life out of visits to temples and historical landmarks that should have been delivered a spiritual/cultural awakening. That was then, this is now, and while some may still inadvertently stumble into cash grab schemes you will not because you have instead stumbled on to Loci Amica. We connect you to independent local guides in Taiwan who will work with you to build a truly customized and engaging experience. They will serve as your private (yet very affordable) driver and concierge, taking you not only to the places you came to see but a few hidden gems along the way. Your custom tour will be authentic and tailored to your tastes as much as you want it to be. At press, Loci Amica is exclusive to Taiwan which means there is no other place in the world where you can get an authentic local experience quite like this.