Located in heart of East Asia, this tropical island features majestic mountains, scenic cliffs, amazing waterfalls and peaceful lagoons with crystal clear water where you can swim and enjoy. Taiwan is the perfect place for an adventure seeker!
With a population of 23 million, Taiwan consists from two contrasting parts: a flat plains region and the gently rolling hills of west coast where most of the population live, and the eastern two-thirds dominated by a rugged mountain range. The mountains extend 330 kilometres from north to the south.
Things to do in Tapei
Taipei is the political, economic, educational, and cultural centre of Taiwan. It is located in the north of Taipei. Taipei has much to offer in the way of monuments and also day trips.
Here are some of the city landmarks that should not be missed:
- Taipei 101 is 101-floor, 508-meter high skyscraper. Its design resembles bamboo rising from the earth, symbolizing durability and growth. The building features one of the world fastest elevators, which can get you up to 89th-floor observation deck in less than 40 seconds. Inside the building, you will notice big golden ball: it is the world’s largest spherical tuned mass damper (one of three) that keep the building steady, even during frequent earthquakes.
- The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall consists of a bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek, watched by guards that are changed every hour in a rifle twirling ceremony. The memorial is surrounded by Chinese styled garden and also few other spectacular buildings. This is a place to go at any time of the day.
- Longshan Temple is one of the oldest temples in Taipei. Taiwanese come here over and over to pray. The surrounding of the temple – Wanhua district – offers a bit more original feel – so different from the modern skyscrapers and giant shopping malls. Come and silently observe one of the ceremonies – the atmosphere is really unique!
- Yangmingshan National Park, it’s Taipei’s closest national park, is located just 12 kilometres from downtown Taipei. This is where locals do their weekend outings into nature! The park is dotted by peaks and also hot springs – try one of the day hikes and then allow yourself to enjoy the healthy bath.
- The National Palace Museum is the most interesting museum in Taipei. Interestingly enough, it shares the same roots with the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City in Beijing, mainland China. For some, it comes as surprise – but National Palace Museum features the world’s best collection of Chinese historical artefacts and antiquities (nearly 700 000 artefacts and artworks!). Visiting the National Palace Museum, you get an overview of 10,000 years of Chinese history.
Taipei’s best hostels
There is plenty of hostels in Taipei. New hostels are starting out every week. Here are 10 hostels that are modern and foreigner friendly. The choice is all yours!
01| Star Hostel
Star Hostel features a gorgeous relaxing area with a bit of Japanese touch: it’s all about space, pillows, and flowers. The wooden construction used in shaping the house is made from wood from Taiwanese forests. The hostel is utilizing green technologies and is eco-friendly. The breakfast is great, too – there is a different menu every day! Dorms from: 580 TWD.
02 | Homey
Homey Hostel is a great place for the new kids in town – their reception staff can help with everything from bus tickets to the airport to excursions around Taiwan.
Homey Hostel is a great place to socialize, either at one of the weekly outings (Taiwanese dinner or Elephant mountain hike) or in their vivid common area. And not to forget- they have happy hours for beers (buy 1 get two) every night! Dorms from: 600 TWD.
03 | Work Inn
Work Inn went ahead with technology – tell me where else can you get your own LCD screen TV attached to your dorm bed? Work Inn is a chic and cosy place with 24 hours reception and it’s as near the Taipei Main Station as it can get.
Their ambience is quite special since the hostel was designed by an artist. If you want to try something new, go for their tatami room. Dorms from: 650 TWD.
04 | Apartment 10 F
Apartment 10F, located as its name suggests – on the 10th floor offers stunning city views both from the room and especially from the common area featuring a large glass wall.
This hostel is rather small and private – there are just two dorm rooms (one male and one female) and a couple of privates. Dorms from: 500 TWD.
The Best Adventures in Taiwan!
Taiwan, although often overlooked by backpackers and tourists in favour of Japan, offers some great waves. About 30 surfing spots around the island break during all times of the year.
Head to the East Coast to for some of best scenery or explore the beaches of northeastern Taiwan as a one-day gateway from Taipei.
Why should you do it? Surfing offers both fun and active use of beach time! Also, you might get to know the local and expat surfing community (that, for the most part, consists of foreigners.)
Where to do it? East Coast: biggest waves are between Donghe and Changbin (Try Dulan as your base). North: Jinshan (nearest to Taipei). Northeast: Fulong and Waiao (well accessible from Taipei) South: Kaohsiung, Kenting. Outlying islands: Penghu.
How much? I took a surfing lesson with Rising Sun at Waiao beach. Two hours cost NT$ 1500/USD 50. If you know this craft already and just want to rent the board, you will pay NT$ 500/USD 16 a day.
2. River trekking
River trekking (in Taiwan often called river tracing) is a combination of hiking, bouldering and climbing along a rural mountain river. Popular also in Japan and Hong Kong, river trekking is a must-try in Taiwan. You will get to swim in the lagoons and waterfalls. Get ready for some jumping as well!
Why should you do it? There is no better way to fight suffocating summer temperatures than to immerse yourself into the cool waters of a river. Apart from that, seeing Taiwan from a river base is very unique and spectacular in itself.
Where? Near Taipei, you can give it a try along an easier river in Wulai (Jia Jiu Liao- 加九寮) and a more challenging one in Yamingshan park (Touqian – 頭前溪). But for the best crystal clear water, you should head to the East coast, to Hualien.
How much? I did river trekking with an aboriginal tribe in SanJhan Village near Hualien. A one-day package costs NT$ 900 / USD 30 including the transfer, bow shooting, river trekking and lunch. The same community centre also organizes trips to the Golden Grotto (I hard it’s most beautiful river trekking in Taiwan).
A combination of beautiful scenery and great roads make Taiwan an ideal place for cycling. Thanks to massive government’s investments into the infrastructure, the routes cover together more than 3,000 kilometres. The most hardcore cyclists tour the island from north to south (it takes about 6 days). Luckily, there are still plenty of enjoyable routes without impossible, crazy ascents!
Why should you do it? It’s easily accessible within Taipei (you might take a U-bike or rent a sporty one). As for the rest of the island, biking is an excellent way of transportation in some of the more rural areas. It provides a complete experience of a particular place, including the views, the sounds and the smells.
Where? Almost everywhere. Taipei: easy riverside trails. East rift valley: easy day trips, or big one from Hualien to Taitung (180 kilometres). Sun Moon Lake: tour the island in three hours. Central mountain range: challenging, nice vistas.
How much? Depends on location, quality of the bike and number of days. On my cycling trip in East Rift Valley, I went to Chihshang and rented a bike from one of many shops. It was NT$ 300 /USD 10 for the whole day. Needless to say, the bicycle was very basic.
Who didn’t once dream of flying? Have your dream to come true in Taiwan! There are a few spots across the island to try paragliding without having had any previous experience: the flight is managed by a professional pilot. Your only task is to hold your breath and enjoy the scenery.
Why should you do it? To see the island from above! In Waiao, you will be spoiled by the ocean views before landing softy on a nearby beach. In Luye Gaotai, where the flight time is as long as 10 minutes, picaresque mountain scenery is awaiting.
Where? Waiao: near Yilan, 2 hours by train from Taipei, can be as a day trip. Find instructors landing on the beach and then join them for the drive uphill. Luye Gaotai: Go by car or take a train from Taitung to Luye Gaotai and then take a taxi to the paragliding area (NT$ 200).
How much? Paragliding in Waiao costs NT$ 1000/USD 30, this is their FB page. In Luye, you can choose between the short flight (2-5mins, NT$ 1800/ USD 57) or long one 10 mins NT$ 2500/USD 80), this is their FB page.
Wakeboarding,a new water sport whose name was coined only about 15 years ago, borrows techniques from three other disciplines: water skiing, snowboarding, and surfing. The rider is pulled by boat or by a cable suspended above the water.
Why should you do it? It’s a sport suitable for people of all ages (including kids) and helps build your upper body muscles (for me, my arms were in pain for 3 days!). And you can get some stunning views: In Kaohsiung, the wakeboarding is done on/at Lotus pond, Kaohsiung’s most beautiful lake with two iconic pagodas.
Where? Kaohsiung (the only one with full-sized 5-Tower cable system), Taipei (Luzhou), Kenting and Hsinchu
How much? I tried wakeboarding in Lotus Wake Park in Kaohsiung. Two hours cost 800 NTD/ USD 25 during weekdays and NTD 1000/USD 30 at the weekend.
Written by Veronika Tomanova, blogger at VeronikasAdventure.com
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