Taiwan – Asia’s best kept secret
Header: Taiwan – Asia’s best kept secret
Intro: Taiwan is one of the best kept secrets for expats from Asia and a visit there proved it! Yes, the secret is out, Taiwan is cool!
Access to Taiwan is through Taipei, the Capital City, a pulsating, buzzing metropolis with the right mix of food, culture, adventure, folk arts and architecture. The bustling lanes, busy shopping streets and modern buildings dotting the skyline jostle alongside the lively street-food scene and the vibrant night markets.
We list the top five must-dos in Taiwan for your next visit and promise you that you won’t come back disappointed!
For the Cultural aficionados
National Palace Museum
This amazing Museum is home to the world’s largest and possibly best collection of Chinese art; including invaluable treasures in painting, calligraphy, sculptures, figurines, laquerware, ceramics, jade and other such objects of art. Some of the most popular items, such as the famous jade cabbage, are always on display, but, given the size of the museum’s collection, much is on alternation. The place is a veritable treasure trove of history with a range spanning multiple dynasties like the Qing and the Ming dynasties.
For the Foodie
Taiwan has fabulous food options ranging from the standard to the bizarre and the comical! The food is a mix of influences from southern Mainland China, Japan, Beijing, and Hunan among others and there’s no better place to try it out – for cheap – than at a lively night market. Stroll through the narrow stall-lined lanes of Shilin night market, sampling the delicacies on offer as you walk – try oyster omelettes, fresh seafood, stinky tofu, beef noodle soup, pan fried buns, ice shaves, pancakes, mango ices, fried chicken, and honey-glazed cherry tomatoes on a stick, to name but a few. Wash them all down with a cup of bubble tea –milky, sweet tea with floating sago ‘bubbles’. My favourite is the pineapple cake – mini-pies filled with candied pineapple — one of Taiwan’s best food souvenirs.
The Ten Drum Ciaotou creative Park located in Kaohsiung Ciaotou District, within the precincts of the Kaohsiung Sugar Refinery, is home to culture and art, and a place for fun and relaxation. Deriving from metropolitan models, this early 20th-century wine factory has been restored into Taipei’s most retro-chic venue. Remodelled warehouses hold live music performances, shops sell innovative Taiwan-designed souvenirs and a host of stylish restaurants, cafes and bars have you warming up to the atmosphere. There are robot parks, factories to explore, bikes to rent, drum performance to see and fabulous drum classes to take!
For the Adventurous
Take a trip to Taiwan’s mountainous eastern coastline to Taroko Gorge National Park and explore Hualien County with its mountains, water and a Gorge!. Breath-taking views of the swirling blue river waters and high contrasting layers on the marble slab, with small pockets of shrubs are absolutely stunning!
The Touristy Stuff
The tall, bamboo-shaped Taipei 101 skyscraper, with upscale shops at the bottom and a rapid elevator to Observation decks on the 88th and 89th floors and an outdoor deck on the 91st floor is a must-visit for the avid tourist. Don’t miss the gigantic wind damper that keeps the tower stable through typhoons and earthquakes. At the base is Din Tai Fung, the original vaunted xiao long bao house that spawned an international soup dumpling empire and no trip to Taiwan is complete without sampling the dumplings there!
Day trips are chiefly delightful; with a speedy MRT ride taking you to tea fields for exquisite tea ceremonies, therapeutic hot spring experiences and hiking trails to quaint towns nestling within mountainous national parks. Within Taipei don’t miss the beautiful temples with distinctive ornate works, the cultural vibe and boutique shopping centres showcasing unique designs by local designers, the energetic neon neighbourhoods with karaoke bars, themed restaurants like the Toilet Restaurant which has diners eating food cooked to look like faeces out of toilets, or the buzzing nightlife scene.
For the avid shopper, Ximending is one of the most popular tourist spots among both local and international travellers. Ximending features a wide selection of fashionable clothing and accessories in many styles include Japanese, Chinese and Western. Ximending is filled with all kinds of shopping options, from department stores to shops and stores, including various CD shops, hair salons, Elite Department Stores, movie theatres, Karaoke and many others.