Welcome to the Heart of Asia

Taiwan in a nation of many names: To early Portuguese settlers, it was the Ihla Formosa -The beautiful Island; Due to it’s location and service as an entry point and regional hub for East and Southeast Asia, it’s central location within the area, and   it’s blended culture and economic value, it is commonly referred to as the Heart of Asia; If you are a local, you may affectionately refer to it’s unusual shape and call it the Sweet Potato. However you refer to this rich, multicultural, dynamic country, you are sure to find delight in its beauty. 

Though modern Taiwan began as a place for refuge after the defeat of the Kuomintang in 1949, Taiwan has seen significant growth, particularly over the past 30 years. Their largest economic contribution is the semiconductor industry, for which they are the world’s largest manufacturer. And despite tension brewing between Taiwan and Mainland China, you will find Taiwanese are friendly and welcoming to their overseas guests. 

The small island is densely packs with activity. If you are outdoorsy, hiking is all too easy to come by outside of the major cities. If you are looking for shopping, gifts, or food, there is no shortage of those either. Taipei, the capital, is particularly packed with places to enjoy the favorite Taiwanese pastime: Eating. 

Cultural excursions abound in Taiwan as well. There are temples and shrines scattered throughout the cities, towns, villages, mountains, trails, and roadsides. museums, culture parks, and memorials are popular destinations for culture and history buffs. Art can be found in museums as well as in the least likely of places. Wander a small town long enough, and you will no doubt come across an obscure mural or abandoned building-turned-art-piece. 

Travel

Taiwan offers Visa-Free entry to 65 countries including the United States, Canada, and The United Kingdom. please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs Website for a list of eligible countries. 

All but 12 visa-free countries are eligible for up to 90 days without a visa. Additional restrictions may apply. Please see the Bureau of Consular Affairs Website  for more information on restrictions and visa-free durations. 

Visitors with birthplaces listed as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, the People’s Republic of China, Syria and Yemen who hold passports from Eswatini, Belize, Nauru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and Tuvalu are ineligible for visa-free entry. 

U.S. and Japanese visitors must have a passport that is valid for the duration of their stay. All other visitors must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months at the date of entry. 

As of July 31, 2022: Russia’s trial program has been suspended and is under review. 


Things to Do

Here are a few recommended places to visit while travelling in Taiwan. Please note that this a very incomplete list, and there is plenty more that Taiwan has to offer than I could fit on here. for more complete lists, Check out the Lonely Planet Taiwan Guides: Lonely Planet Taiwan (11th Edition)Lonely Planet Taipei (2nd Edition)

Snow King (Ice Cream) - Zhongzheng, Taipei 

Heritage Cafe and Bakery - Zhongzheng, Taipei

Fuhang Soy Milk (Breakfast) - Zhongzheng, Taipei 

Lao Shandong Noodles - Wanhua, Taipei

Modern Toilet (International) - Shilin, Taipei 

Din Tai Fung (Soup Dumplings) - Multiple Locations 

Nomura (Sushi) - Da'an, Taipei 

Maji Park (Food Court) - Zhongshan, Taipei 

Lin Dong Fang (Beef Noodle Soup) - Zhongshan, Taipei 

RAW (French) - Zhongshan, Taipei 

Taiya Popo (Aboriginal) - Wulai, New Taipei City 

Flower Space (Vegetarian) - Hualien 

Mu-Ming (Indiginous) - Hualien 

Shilin Night Market - Shilin, Taipei 

Taipei 101 - Xinyi, Taipei 

Tonghua Night Market - da'an, Taipei 

Eslite Spectrum (Shopping Center) - Xinyi, Taipei 

Breeze Nanshan (Shopping Center) - Xinyi 

Yingge Old Street (Traditional Shopping area) - Yingge, New Taipei City

Jishan Street (Street Stalls, Souvenirs) - Jiufen, New Taipei City 

Miniatures Museum of Taiwan - Zhongshan, Taipei 

Taipei 101 Observation Deck - Xinyi, Taipei

Hidden Taipei (Tour) - Longshan Temple, Guangzhou, Taipei

Miramar Entertainment Park - Zhongshan, Taipei

Light Project Ximending (Massage Parlour) - Ximending, Taipei 

i-Ride Taipei (5D Cinema) - Songshan, Taipei 

Taipei Eye (Traditional Theatre) - Zhongshan, Taipei 

Marshal Zen Garden (Restaurant and Hot Spring) - Beitou, Taipei

Villa 32 (Hot Spring) - Beitou, Taipei

Maokong Gondola - Maokong, Taipei 

Taipei Zoo - Maokong, Taipei 

Jia Jiu liao Stream (Water Activities and Hiking) - Wulai, New Taipei City 

Jiufen Tea House - Jiufen, New Taipei City 

Cat Village - Houtong

WaGaLiGong (Water Sports) - Dulan

Longshan Temple (Taoist Temple) - Guangzhou, Taipei

Bao'an Temple (Taoist Temple) - Datong, Taipei 

Taipei Confucious Temple - Datong, Taipei 

National Palace Museum - Shilin, Taipei

Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines - Shilin, Taipei 

Ciyou Temple (Taoist Temple) - Raoher, Taipei

Tamsui Customs Wharf - Tamsui, New Taipei City 

Guandu Temple - Beitou, Taipei 

Ketagalan Culture Center (Aboriginal Culture Center) - Beitou, Taipei 

Tea research and Promotion Center - Maokong, Taipei 

18 Lords Temple - Ganhua, New Taipei City 

Quanhua Temple - Shitoushan, Miaoli

Gandtiangong (Taoist Temple) - Hualien

2-28 Peace Memorial Park - Zhongzheng, Taipei 

Shilin Official Residence (Historic site and Garden) - Shilin, Taipei

Elephant Mountain - Xinyi, Taipei

Thermal Valley (Natural Hot Spring) - Beitou, Taipei 

Yangmingshan National Park -  Taipei

Manyueyuan Forest Recreation Area - Near Yingge

Wulai Waterfall - Wulai, New Taipei City 

Yehliu Geopark - Yeliou, New Taipei City 

Golden Waterfall - Jiufen, New Taipei City 

Pingxi Crags - Pingxi 

Fulong Beach - Fulong

Turtle Island - Toucheng

Taroko Gorge - Taroko National Park 

Sixty Stone Mountain - Hualien County 

Fuyuan Forest Recreational Area - Ruisui

 

National 2-28 Memorial Museum - Zhongzheng, Taipei 

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall - Zhongzheng, Taipei

Zhongshan Hall - Zhongzheng, Taipei 

National Revolutionary Martyr's Shrine - Shilin, Taipei 

Former Residence of Taka Eikichi - Tamsui, New Taipei City 

Fort San Domingo - Tamsui, New Taipei City 

Tamkang University Maritime Museum - Tamsui, New Taipei City 

Beitou Hot Spring Meuseum - Beitou, Taipei

Grass Mountain Chateau - Beitou, Taipei

National Human Rights Museum - Xindian, New Taipei City

Cihu Memorial Sculpture Park - Cihu, Taoyuan

Benshan Fifth Tunnel - Jiufen, New Taipei City 

Taiwan POW Memorial and Peace Park - Jiufen, New Taipei City 

 

Things to consider

Climate

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Landscape

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Cultural Differences

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Must-See Cities

Taipei – The famous capital boasts more restaurants and eateries than you could eat through in a lifetime, a rich culture, and a ton of cultural landmarks. The night market scene in Taipei is huge – 30 night markets in the greater city region, many with their own specialty dishes and unique personalities. 

New Taipei City – While Taipei proper makes up the inner circle of the greater Taipei region, New Taipei City is a series of neighborhoods with a similar city vibe. NTC is expansive and covers many areas that seem at first to be outside of the city limits. One such example is Jiufen, one of my persona favorite places. It was the inspiration for the Miyazi Film ‘Spirited Away’ and has a whimsical, fantasy-like aura. For a romantic getaway, take a trip to Tamsui and take a walk by the river or visit the fisherman’s wharf at sunset. 

Kaosiung – Kaosiung is a major port city and Taiwan’s second largest city. They are best known for their modern atmosphere and attractions like Taroko Park, which offers shopping and adventure in one place. It is also close to Yushan national park and Shoushan, so if you are looking to get out of the city for a while nature is just around the corner. 

Tainan – The former capitol is host to many historical sites and even more food. 

Hualien – The highlight of this smaller city and its surroundings is Taroko Gorge, an incredible nature site that is a must-see on any trip to Taiwan. If it’s food you are after, the massive Dong Da Men night market has a huge selection, with many stalls offering Aboriginal-inspired dishes you won’t find anywhere else.