8 Of The Best Reasons To Add Taiwan To Your Bucket-List
As far as East Asian countries go, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it island of Taiwan isn’t generally on everyone’s lips when it comes to a must-see travel destination. The likes of Thailand, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines in these parts tend to get more attention. It’s entirely possible that many people would even struggle to find Taiwan on a map! The fact that it often gets overlooked, is doing it a great disservice.
It appears those days are numbered, however, as more and more people discover the delights of this small but eclectic island, filled with diverse culture, a smorgasbord of culinary delicacies, friendly people and an excellent hospitality infrastructure. One such person is Agness Walewinder, one half of popular travel blog eTramping, who has recently settled in the country for the foreseeable future. Here’s her run-down on why you should make Taiwan your next travel priority.
In Taiwan, much like mainland China, food is king. In these parts, they don’t so much ask you how you are, as to whether or not you’ve eaten yet. And when you have food as good as this – why wouldn’t you?! All the delights of the east are here, with Taiwan geographically situated between some serious culinary powerhouses.
There’s a plate for everyone in Taiwan, and with tasty street food affordable and the excitement of the bustling night markets, visiting this island is a foodie’s dream.
The Night Markets
While we’re speaking of food, we should include that the night markets are reason alone to visit Taiwan. They’re such colourful melting pots of sights, sounds, and smells, it would be a sin to come here and not soak them up as much as possible, especially if you are a foodie – you will love vegetarian Taiwanese food there! All life can be found here, and it explodes with activity when the sun goes down.
You really can’t beat the exotic mix of bright lanterns and Asian cooking. You know you’re travelling when you’re here.
It’s said that Taiwan is a continent on an island, and when you’re exploring its diverse landscape you can clearly see why. There are beautiful misty mountains to hike, stunning moon lakes on which to reflect, hot springs to enjoy, dramatic gorges, unique rock formations, and sandy beaches. If you’re looking for it – you’ll most likely find it here.
And perhaps the great beauty of it all, is that the island is so small you can get around it with ease. It means you can pack loads into even a short break here. Just don’t forget your hiking gear.
If it’s possible to be friendly to a fault, the Taiwanese are surely it. They are among the friendliest folk I’ve ever met – and I’m not alone. Time and time again when travellers are asked about their experiences here, they will tell you that the locals were a particular highlight. They bend over backward to make sure your stay here is an enjoyable one.
Many people speak very good English, and even the shy ones will soon come out of their shells. Living and working here is a blessing because of their hospitality.
The Aboriginal History
It might not be that well known that Taiwan has a rich cultural history with regards to indigenous, aboriginal people. There are no less than 16 tribes currently recognised on the island, and visiting them is a highlight of any stay.
While I personally have yet to rub shoulders with them, visitors are keen to see their culture up close and personal. A small caveat though – always make sure you ask before taking any pictures. As it should be anywhere – it’s frowned upon to be rude to tribespeople here.
While the Philippines rightly lay claim to holding the most parties in the world, Taiwan is not to be outdone and hosts its fair share of vibrant spectacles each year – born from a mix of religion and tradition. The most popular of these is the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival which takes place during January and February. Thousands of lanterns are released to send messages to the gods.
There are still plenty more to choose from throughout the year though, especially if you don’t want to contribute to environmental debris. Try the Fulong International Sand Sculpture festival instead!
The Capital City
Taipei needs to be seen to be believed. It’s the very definition of a west meets east city, a fight between modern and ancient, but somehow, they can shake hands afterward. On one side you have centuries-old history, culture, and architecture, including some beautiful temples and landmarks; while on the other you have cosmopolitan Taipei – which can also be a lot of fun!
Nightlife is also a big draw, and there’s something for everyone going on all around the clock. Shopping is extremely popular in the big cities, and there’s also an abundance of the weird and wonderful if you’re looking for alternative attractions. Don’t miss the toilet restaurant for something truly unique and unforgettable.
It’s Visa Free!
Finally (in my inexhaustive list) I should mention that for around 60 countries, Taiwan is visa-free. This means you can stay anything from 30 to 90 days without freaking out you’re going to be arrested and deported. At eTramping, we dream of a world without borders, and so countries with relaxed entry policies will always get our vote.
I’m sure while living here I’ll find out many, many more reasons to add Taiwan to your bucket lists, but this is surely enough to start you off. If I were you, I’d come and visit before it gets REALLY popular, and if you see me – say hello!
Have you ever been to Taiwan? Let us know about your experience!
This beautiful guest post was contributed by my dear friends Agness and Cez.
BIO: Together with her best friend Cez, Agness set up travel blog eTramping way back in 2011. Since then they’ve been trotting the globe and bringing you the best tips and tricks for awesome traveling experiences. Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or their twitters – Agness & Cez.
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