The island nation of Taiwan offers everything – from city dynamism and fascinating cultural activities to a rich history, incredible food and adrenalin-filled adventures.
Its capital, Taipei, is a vibrant metropolis where old is new and tradition and tranquillity sit side by side with innovation and buzz. It’s a beautiful mish-mash, and families will love soaking up the urban culture.
On the other side of the scale, the natural wonders of Taiwan are magnificent – deep forest-filled gorges, huge cliffs that tower over the sea, and some of the best hiking and cycling trails in Asia. Then there’s the food (dumplings, meat soups, oyster omelettes and so much more), the culture and the hospitable nature of the Taiwanese people.
For an unforgettable adventure, fly into Taipei and soak up the hustle and bustle for a few days. Then make a beeline for one of the smaller outlying islands.
This year has been coined the Year of Bay Tourism, an initiative of Taiwan Tourism Bureau and the Penghu County Government. What this offers travellers is an opportunity to explore Taiwan’s lesser-known archipelagos, enjoying activities that are focused on eco-tourism, marine conservation, sustainability and ecology. Here are just some of the island highlights.
This archipelago of 90 islands is renowned for its picturesque white-sand beaches and clear turquoise waters. The landscape is characterised by basalt rocks, coral reefs, sea-eroded formations and beaches. In the main city of Magong, must-visit sights include the Tianhou Temple – Taiwan’s oldest temple, featuring the architectural work of famous Tangshan artists – and the Four-Eyed Well, which dates back to the Ming dynasty.
Located a short ferry ride from Taitung, Green Island was formed by an undersea volcanic eruption. It boasts lush mountains and pristine beaches and is home to the Zhaori Hot Springs, one of only three seawater hot springs in the world. Thanks to its location in the tropics and its proximity to the Kuroshio Current, the island attracts about 50 fish families and boasts more than 300 species of coral, making for fabulous snorkelling conditions.
This traditional fishing island located off the coast of Donggang in Pintung County is Taiwan’s only large coral island – and the only island off Taiwan that has a significant human population. It’s home to plenty of temples, beautiful coastal views and breathtaking rock formations – the most famous being Vase Rock. Locals are religious and there are more than 100 temples scattered across the little island, each with its own unique features and special attractions.
The Matsu islands are famous for towering cliffs, sand-and-pebble beaches, and terrain formed from millions of years of sea and wind erosion. In the summer months, the waters off Matsu’s coast glimmers with a magical blue glow, a phenomenon known as “Blue Tears”. This ethereal display – which occurs when a special type of algae called dinoflagellates gathers at the shorelines – is best seen at night between June and August. Matsu is also home to traditional eastern mountainside Fujian villages and military-built fortifications.