Taiwan is a small island nation located on the southeast coast of Mainland China. When Portuguese sailors first discovered this island, they called it “Ilha Formas,” meaning beautiful island. This island had a fascinating history, including influences from the Aboriginal People, Han Chinese, Dutch, Spanish, and Japanese. With breathtaking topography like the Toroko Gorge and Sun Moon Lake as well as a wide variety of traditional food and historical sites, travelers will certainly be able to find tours in Taiwan that will satisfy their travel desire. Come and explore the best of Taiwan.
TAIWAN TRAVEL GUIDE
THINGS TO DO IN TAIWAN
Taipei 101 is an iconic landmark in Taipei City, which comprises of offices, observation decks, and shopping centers. In addition to shopping and observation decks, Taipei 101’s colorful night lights cannot be missed. If you pay close attention to the evening lights displayed at Taipei 101 on the outside of the building, you will notice each evening the colors follow the rainbow pattern. The color on Monday is red, on Tuesday it is orange, and so on. If you are in Taipei during New Year’s eve, be sure to join the New Year’s celebration at Taipei 101. You will have an unforgettable New Year’s eve countdown experience.
National Palace Museum in Taipei
National Palace Museum is located in Taipei City Shilin District. It was built in 1965, and the building was modeled after Chinese palaces. The museum contains the world’s largest collection of Chinese art from the Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing Dynasty. The collection almost covers the entire five thousand years of Chinese history. The National Palace Museum provides guided tours in seven languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Western, Korean, and other Chinese dialects.
Longshan Temple in Taipei
Taipei’s first Longshan Temple was built in the Qing Dynasty and had a history of dating back 300 years. The temple is located in the Wanhua district, southwest of Taipei, which was the birthplace of Taipei City.
In addition to visiting this ancient temple, visitors can also go to the Huaxi street night market next to Longshan Temple. You can taste a variety of Taiwanese street food at the Huaxi street night market. Huaxi night market is also where the movie “Monga” was filmed. After the film was released, many movie buffs flock to the Wanhua district to visit the movie scene in person.
Kenting National Park
Kenting is located in Hengchun Township, Pingdong County, on the southernmost tip of Taiwan. It is home to Taiwan’s first national park. What makes Kenting special is it’s beautiful coral reefs, sea erosion, and cliff terrain. You will instantly notice the vitality and energy when you visit this tropical paradise.
Taroko National Park
Taroko National Park is most famous for its mountains and canyons, especially the drive on the central trans-highway Taroko to Tianxiang area of The Fog Valley. You will discover many fantastic marble rock formations and majestic canyons.
Yangmingshan National Park
Yangmingshan National Park is the national park in Taiwan closest to the metropolitan area. The total area of the park is 113.4 km2 and includes famous mountains such as the Datun Mountain, Seven Star Mountain, Sahat Mountain, and Xiaoguanyin Mountain. Within the park, the altitude starts at 200 meters and can go up to 1120 meters.
Yangmingshan National Park was established in 1985 and was the third national park established in Taiwan. During the Qing Dynasty, the government would regularly set fire to the mountains in Yangmingshan to prevent thieves from hiding in the forest and stealing sulfur.
Jiufen is located in the Ruifang District in New Taipei City. Jiufen Old Street is a narrow winding street and was a prosperous commercial center bein the early days. Many grocery stores, barbershops, snack bars, leather shoe shops, department stores, lined up the Jiufen Old Street back in the days. Today, Jiufen Old Street is a quaint and must-visit place in New Taipei City that offers excellent food and relaxing tea shops.
COUNTRY QUICK FACTS
- In terms of total land area, Taiwan is slightly bigger than Belgium.
- Taiwan is a democratic country in Asia.
- Taiwan has the highest convenience store density in the world.
- You might be reading this page with a “Made in Taiwan” electronic product.
Because different countries ruled Taiwan in the past, Taiwanese customs were influenced by many different cultures. Here are some traditions unique to Taiwan.
- Taiwanese people don’t give fans as gifts because the fan means you want to get rid of the other person.
- People in Taiwan don’t give umbrellas as gifts because, in the Taiwanese language, the word umbrella sounds very similar to “part ways.”
- When giving gifts in Taiwan, it is customary to wrap the gifts in red packaging. Red symbolizes good luck in Taiwanese culture.
Government and Economics
Taiwan’s government is now a multiparty democracy, led by the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which controls both the executive and the legislature. The main opposition party is the Kuomintang, which had been in power for eight years until 2016.
When Taiwan was a Japanese colony in the early 20th century, the Taiwanese people used the “Taiwan Bank Voucher” issued by Taiwan Bank. Due to the war in the 1930s and 1940s, there was rampant inflation. Taiwanese government issued a new currency on June 15, 1949, which was called “New Taiwan Dollar.” Since 1949, New Taiwan Dollar has been the official currency in Taiwan.
The main religion in Taiwan is Buddism and Taoism. A comprehensive survey by the Religious Counselling Section of Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior showed that 35 percent of the Taiwanese population considered themselves Buddhists, and 33 percent identified themselves as Taoists. Although the vast majority of people consider themselves either Buddhists or Taoists, many also consider themselves both Buddhists and Taoists. Many Buddhists also incorporate Taoist practices into their religious routine and vice versa.
In addition to Buddhism and Taoism, other religions also flourish in Taiwan, including Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, and others.
Taiwan’s demographics face the same challenge as many developed nations, namely, population decline. Presently Taiwan has about 23 million people. The current birth rate for Taiwan in 2020 is 8.409 births per 1000 people, a 0.1% decline from 2019. Taiwan’s birthrate is lower than Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the US. At the current birth rate, it is estimated that by 2050, Taiwan’s population will drop to 20 million.
The rich and diverse languages in Taiwan are valuable assets to the country. Mandarin Chinese is the official language in Taiwan, but other dialects are also widespread, including Taiwanese Hokkien and Hakka. Because Taiwan was under Japanese ruling for 50 years, many older generations also incorporate Japanese words in their daily conversations.
According to linguist Robert Blust, the Formosan languages, languages spoken by the aboriginal people in Taiwan, were the origins of the entire Austronesian language family. Austronesian language is spoken by people in New Zealand, East Island, and parts of Madagascar.
English is also widely taught at schools. Thus, many young people in Taiwan can also speak English.
Sports and Leisure
Taiwanese people enjoy a wide variety of sports and leisure activities. Baseball is a national spectator sport in Taiwan, so most cities in Taiwan have at least one professional baseball stadium.
Many young Taiwanese people enjoy playing Basketball nowadays. The sport is becoming popular in recent years because Jeremy Lin, whose parents are from Taiwan, played in the NBA for nine years.
Food and Drink
Taiwan is a multi-ethnic, diverse, and inclusive society, and Taiwanese food is the best represents this culture. CNN has written stories about must-eat food in Taiwan while in the 2019 Netflix original series Street Food, the best restaurants from Chiayi, Taiwan, were featured. When you visit Taiwan, be sure to try out the below authentic Taiwanese food.
Beef noodle is one of Taiwan’s national cuisine. A bowl of good beef noodle soup consists of noodles, Taiwanese spiced soup stock, and tender beef. Each beef noodle shop has its own secret recipe and interpretation of what makes a bowl of excellent beef noodle soup. Be sure to ask our friendly local guide for recommendations on where to find the best beef noodle soup in Taiwan.
Xiao Long Bao
Xiao Long Bao is another classic dish in Taiwan. You can find Xiao long bao from fancy Michelin-Star restaurants to a mom and pop shop inside a night market. But they all have one thing in common, and that is “super delicious!”
Stinky tofu is your ultimate Taiwanese Street Food. You can probably smell stinky tofu from a block away, and at first, it might drive you away. But for brave travelers, it’s a snack that we highly recommend you to give it a try!