What comes first to mind when you think of Taiwan? The usual answer might be ‘electronics’. Little is known about Taiwan and it’s even mistaken for Thailand. It’s not a surprise that not many people know just how amazing the country is, which makes it one of the most underrated destinations in Asia. Famed for centuries as Ilha Formosa (Beautiful Isle), the little island off the coast of China is a gem waiting to be explored. After calling it home for nearly three years, I can attest to its awesomeness. What makes Taiwan so special and why has it kept me here for so long? It lies in its contrasts. Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, is all things. A blend of pulsing street life, pulsy surroudings, and majestic natural scenery. Taipei is also a vibrant mix of traditional culture and cosmopolitan life. Good food. Trees. Hot springs. Cool hangouts. Taipei might be Asia’s most laid-back city. I’m about to head back to my beloved home in London, but before I do so I’d like share you my Top ten reasons to love Taiwan.
Convenience is almost a lifestyle in Taipei. And when I say that I mean there’s a 7-11 on literally every street corner, and then some in between! Public transportation in Taipei is so fantastic that it can take you to the must see areas or even to the nearest beach within no time.
Who doesn’t want to marvel at an array of dazzling lanterns of all shapes and sizes? Towards the end of Chinese New Year, Taiwan literally explodes into a dazzling spectacle. Tens of thousands of lanterns and firecrackers are lit all across Taiwan. People write their New Year wishes on the lanterns before releasing them into the sky with the belief that these wishes will be carried into heaven where the deities will fulfil them.
You must visit Jiufen, a small Japanese influenced mountain village. It’s incredibly scenic and magical at night. The site was even used as inspiration for the animation Spirited away. Besides from the atmosphere, there’s an array of delicious foods at your fingertips and you can even have some tea at one of the Japanese inns.
I remember the excitement that I felt when I first heard about Taiwan’s hot-springs! Anyone wanting to relax and recharge their mind and body naturally, Taiwan has some awesome hot springs! Few cities can boast such a natural abundance, volcanically activated hot water springs on their doorstep. Fortunately to Taipei’s ever-convenience public transport system, popping out for a quick soak in hot, bubbly water, cool beers at hand and a massage in mind has never been easier.
Taiwan probably has the most awesome night market scene in the world and some of the most exciting street food in Asia. With little space at home or the even the time to cook, most prefer to head out almost every night to the bustling markets for the cheap snacks. There are plentiful food stalls on corners, in clusters of food-devoted streets Don’t speak a word of Chinese? No problem. Simply stand in front of the stall, point to what you want.
Taiwanese people are generally friendly. You’d be surprised to see that they’ll go out their way to help you. Even if you can’t speak Mandarin, locals will try to help you with the things you need to the best of their abilities and without expecting anything in return. I once forgot my phone in the taxi and it was eventually returned to me by the taxi driver the same day!… that just wouldn’t happen anywhere else.
The smellier, the better. That’s the rule for Stinky Tofu in Taiwan. It smells so awful, but thankfully the taste is far less pungent than the smell. Asia has many foul foods, but Century eggs are a legend. I’m not sure if many can stomach the dark green colour or the gooey texture, but it does not taste or smell rotten, sulfurous, or foul in any way. How about pig blood cake? Your visit to Taiwan wouldn’t be complete without trying these unusual foods.
The island isn’t just about cities and high tech. Taiwan is an island of quite extraordinary natural beauty. The jaw-dropping majestic mountains of Taiwan can be seen even at the corners and are all easily accessed . There are enough enchanting spots to keep a weekend explorer going for months. Ali Mountain and Sun Moon Lake are some of the most noted scenic areas that are dreamed to go by all visitors willing to Taiwan. The island is also home to one of North-east Asia’s tallest summit making hiking and cycling a unforgettable scenic experience.
Thank you for reading. I hope you do get a chance to visit this wonderful island as there is plentiful to discover than what I’ve listed. Please tell me your travel experiences about Taiwan or if you’re curious about visiting.