One of the most contested territories in the world, there have been questions hanging over Taiwan’s autonomy throughout the 20th Century. Known for its cultural diversity, Taiwan has Han, Japanese, Chinese, Dutch and Portuguese influences, which are evident in the country today. Under Japanese rule until the aftermath of the Second World War, it fell under the control of China soon afterwards, but its current state is ambiguous. Having undergone radical modernisation in the latter half of the 20th Century, it still retains its natural beauty and unique culture.
At one point the tallest building in the world, Taipei 101 is one of the most visually distinct skyscrapers in the world. Owned by the Taipei Financial Centre Corporation, the building has been the country’s most iconic physical landmark since its completion in 2004. Known for its postmodern design, it synthesises traditional and futuristic architectural elements. One of the greatest architectural accomplishments of the 21st Century and a definitive symbol of the modernisation of Taiwan.
Sun Moon Lake
Taiwan’s largest body of water, Sun Moon Lake is one of the most beautiful locales on the island. Deriving its name from its name from its unusual shape, the lake is a sight to behold. Known for its serene atmosphere, spectacular views and plentiful hiking trails. Swimming is generally forbidden with the exception being for the swimming carnival held annually in September.
Taroko National Park
One of Taiwan’s most beautiful destinations, Taroko National Park is arguably the most spectacular of the nine national parks on the island. Abolished in the wake of the Second World War by the ROC government, it was only reopened to the public in 1986. Taroko is known for its wealth of marble as well as the spectacular views, hiking and cycling routes. It is also often plays host to a number of festivities and celebrations.
Jiu Fen Old Street
Taiwan’s capital city of Taipei is known for its bustling street life and there is no better place to experience this than JiuFrn Old Street, a market district which harkens back to the city’s recent past. A far cry from the rapid modernisation currently underway, Jiu Fen Old Street is an authentic and engaging sample of Taiwanese culture, offering some of the best food on the island as well as a number of other local goods.
Alishan National Scenic Area
Another of Taiwan’s most beautiful places, the ALishan National Scenic Area has grown in popularity amongst tourists in recent years, and it is easy to see why. With some of the best hiking trails around, it is a perfect romantic getaway from the bustle of Taipei. Located 2500 metres above sea level, the views in the national park are nothing short of spectacular. Other notable features include the old Japanese-built trains and the Shouhjen Temple.
One of the most unique of Taiwan’s nine national parks, Yangmingshan is well-known for its cherry blossoms and hot springs, the latter owing to its location surrounding a dormant volcano. Incredibly picturesque, Yangmingshan is located roughly at the midpoint between Taipei and New Taipei City and well worth visiting for a day trip.
National Palace Museum
Taiwan’s finest museum, the National Palace Museum is a major cultural institution, boasting a considerable collection of ancient Chinese art and artefacts. Objects in the museum date back as far as 8000 years old. The collection is sourced from works of the Imperial Chinese Emperors, having previously been held in the Forbidden City. The museum’s origins began in Beijing but were transplanted to the new location in Taiwan to escape damage and destruction during the Chinese Civil War which followed the Japanese occupation of the Second World War.
Established to house wounded war veterans in the early 1960’s, Qingjing Farm is one of the most peaceful and serene destinations in Taiwan. Known for its breathtaking views and top-quality hiking trails, it has become an increasingly popular tourism destination in recent years. Also of interest is the farm’s agricultural life as a major breeding hub for cattle and sheep as well as a major plantation zone.
Another site of considerable natural beauty in Taiwan, Yehliu Geopark is an insightful and beautiful exhibition of the country’s geological diversity. Off the beaten path, it is about a 90 minute bus journey from Taipei, but is well worth seeking out due to the natural beauty of the rock formations.
One of Taiwan’s most iconic natural landmarks, Shifen Waterfall is located along the Keelung River. Reaching 40 metres tall, it is easily accessible for visitors and reachable by train from Central Taipei. It is known for its cultural importance in addition to its natural beauty. The nearby market is one of the finest in Taiwan and it provides the backdrop for the Sky Lantern Festival, one of the most jubilant celebrations of the year, which draws a number of visitors.