8 Must See Attractions in Taiwan

8 Must See Attractions in Taiwan
Taiwan may be a small island, but this unique place is filled with a plethora of amazing attractions and beautiful sites to experience. Here are 10 attractions that you must visit when in Taiwan.

Taipei 101
Taipei City, Taiwan

Taipei 101

Deemed the world’s tallest building from 2004-2010, this beautiful skyscraper boasts 101 floors and an elevator that can transport passengers from the 5th to 89th floor in a matter of 37 seconds. Visitors can ride all the way up to the 89F Observatory and enjoy a breathtaking view of the city. After enjoying the view, they can make their way down to the Taipei 101 Mall, a premier shopping destination, featuring international luxury fashion brands and fine dining.

National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Taipei City, Taiwan

liberty squareThe National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is a national monument and landmark, erected in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, former President of the Republic of China. The monument is flanked on the north and south by the National Theater and National Concert Hall, which have hosted many international art performances and famous musicians. Visitors can also watch the changing of the guard ceremony that occurs every day.

National Palace Museum
Taipei City, Taiwan

National Palace MuseumThe National Palace Museum houses the world’s largest collection of priceless ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and art. The museum, designed in the style of a Northern Chinese palace, hosts over 600,000 objects and the collection encompasses 8,000 years of history of Chinese art from the Neolithic age to the modern. Visitors can enjoy and appreciate ritual bronzes, ceramics, jade, books, calligraphy, archival documents, and more.

Yangmingshan National Park
Taipei City, Taiwan

Yangmingshan National ParkYangmingshan National Park is one of nine national parks in Taiwan, and is known for its beautiful cherry blossoms, hot springs, hiking trails, and is the home of Taiwan’s tallest dormant volcano, Seven Star Mountain. The Park is characterized by a large clock formed with flowers with water running around the clock and music played every hour. In the spring, visitors can enjoy the parks famed cherry blossoms and when the time is right, even pick fresh calla lilies from the fields.

Jiufen
New Taipei City, Taiwan

jiufen

Often seen as the inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, Jiufen is located not too far from Taipei City. During the Qing Dynasty, this small village housed only 9 families, and the village would request 9 portions every time shipments arrived, hence the name Jiufen. Later, Jiufen would become the center of gold mining, attracting many prospectors to settle in this small, isolated village. Visitors must walk through Jiufen Old Street, which winds through most of the village. On Old Street, they can shop and taste various local dishes and enjoy the nighttime scenery.

Sun Moon Lake
Nantou County, Taiwan

Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of water and only natural lake in Taiwan that surrounds Lalu Island. The area around the lake is home to one of the aboriginal tribes of Taiwan, the Thao tribe. The southern part of Lalu Island is shaped like a new moon, and the northern part like a sun, thus the name Sun Moon Lake. Some famous attractions include the Ita Thao, the Wenwu and Xuanzang Temple, Ci-en Pagoda, and experiencing local aboriginal culture.

Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

temple
Built in 1976, the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas is a temple located on Lotus Lake, and is the representation of traditional Kaohsiung culture. The temple connects to the shore with a bridge, with the dragon’s throat as the entrance and the tiger’s mouth the exit. Entering the dragon’s throat and coming out of the tiger’s mouth is said to symbolize turning bad luck into good fortune. Inside the temple, there are paintings of the Jade Emperor’s thirty palaces, paintings of Confucius, as well as scenes of heaven and hell to inspire people to do good deeds.

Taroko National Park
Hualien County, Taiwan

Taroko National Park
Taroko National Park was named after the Taroko Gorge, the landmark gorge of the park carved by the Liwu River, and is famous for its spectacular mountains and marble canyons. The most famous waterfalls in the park include Baiyang Waterfall, Yindai Waterfall, Changchun Waterfall, and Lushui Waterfall. The Swallow Grotto and the Tunnel of Nine Turns are the most impressive natural scenes in Taroko. Visitors can appreciate the natural beauty of the park and enjoy the sounds of swallows chirping while hiking along the trail.

Taiwan Special Food

Taiwan is well known as a paradise of foods. To fairly describe Taiwanese foods, there’s no word better than “wild”. They are unusual but in a way that is attractive or exciting.  Now, imagine yourself being at the most popular night market with streaming people. Let’s have a bizarre food adventure to explore the authentic “Taiwan Way”. (In Mandarin, “flavor” is pronounced “way”)

Stinky Tofu

stinky tofu

 

Taiwan group tour packages
Photo From Los Angeles Times
The smell from all kinds of foods always mixed up together. But you can still identify the smell of the most fear worthy delicacy-stinky tofu. (Article and product) There are variations of stinky tofu. Fried stinky tofu is equipped with pickles and special sauce. Hold your breath and take a bite, you can taste the crispy skin and the juicy inside. It has a strong fermentation smell, but it doesn’t taste what it smells. You can take one more challenge of spicy stinky tofu. It is cooked with spicy(mala) broth and sometimes added with duck blood. If you like spicy foods, you will definitely be addicted to it.

Pig Blood Cake

pig blood cake
Taiwan local tour package
Photo Resource
Pig blood cake is named among the top 10 unusual foods in the world by travel website VirtualTourist.com. It is steamed rice coated with pig’s blood, special sauces, a thick layer of peanut powder, and coriander. Tourists often get intimidated when they know that it’s made with blood. But the cake doesn’t taste bloody at all. You can give this mind-blowing snack a try.

Iron Egg

Iron Egg
Taiwan tour guide
If you see anything with an oval shape and dark brown, black sphere. It’s 99% unlikely to be chocolate. It’s actually a kind of egg braised with soy sauce, crystal sugar, and Chinese herbal medicine for seven days in a row. Cooked over and over again, the iron eggs taste chewy.

Duck Tongue

Duck Tongue
Taiwan private tour guide
Some people commented that eating a duck tongue is like kissing with a duck. You can feel the tongue is teasing your taste bud while chewing. And you will enjoy the flavor one after another. The duck tongue is so charming that even the superstars from Hongkong always buy several packs when they visit Taiwan.

Century Egg

Century Egg
Taiwan local tour guide
Century egg, some people call it a thousand-year-old egg. No matter what the name is, you may get the hint that it can be preserved for a long time(but that’s not true). CNN once reported it as one of the grossest foods in the world and said that it was “egg of the devil “. Despite the notorious reputation, century eggs are widely welcomed in Taiwan and China. What’s more, it is actually full of nutrition, containing protein, vitamins, and minerals. The egg looks dark not because that is expired but because that it is processed with some alkaline material so the egg white and the egg yolk are semi-solidified.

Night Market In Taiwan

Forget clubs and bars—in Taiwan, the best nightlife is found at food markets. The country has a penchant for snacking and a desire to eat with friends all night long.

Although night markets are traditionally a Chinese phenomenon, Taiwan’s scene has grown to be considered one of the best in the world. Taiwan’s night markets initially began as informal vendor meetings, where merchants would get together and sell their wares. These groupings eventually turned into more formal night markets. Now, visitors will find great Chinese food mixed with Taiwanese food, and that’s because of history—at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1950, general Chiang Kai-Shek retreated to Taiwan, bringing along more than two million people and some of mainland China’s best chefs.

To get a real Taiwanese experience, skip the convenience stores and head out on the town for a night market snacking excursion. You may never think of midnight snacks the same way after checking out these five must-visit night spots in Taipei:

Shilin Night Market

shilin-night-market

According to Cheng, Shilin Night Market is Taiwan’s most famous. The area used to be a trading spot where agricultural products were exported to other port cities like Banka or Dadaocheng. Though trading predates the market’s establishment, Shilin has been in operation since 1909. It has since become a must-visit munchy destination that brings color and flavor to Taipei’s nightlife.

The market has a main food hall, but also spills out into streets surrounding the area, encompassing more than 500 stores. It’s a great place to try the local specialty, stinky bean curd—a fermented snack that smells strongly of blue cheese.

Open 11 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Ningxia Night Market

Ningxia Night Market

 

Although sit-down restaurants are abundant here, Ningxia Night Market specializes in Taiwanese snack foods. It was the first night market in the country to separate pedestrian traffic and car traffic and can be found a short 15-minute walk from the nearby Zhongshan MRT train station.

Ningxia is famous for its oyster and egg omelets, but you can also find barbecued squid on a stick, fish rolls, pig kidney and grilled cheesy scallops within its walls.

Open 6 p.m. until midnight.

Huaxi Night Market

Huaxi Night Market

When the snakes all left Ireland, it’s likely they went to the Huaxi Night Market, where specialties include cooked snake and snake wine. Huaxi is so identified with slithering reptiles that it’s also known as the Snake Alley Night Market. This was the first night market in Taiwan built specifically for tourists—it began operations in 1951 with signs in both English and Japanese. Aside from snake, visitors can try squid soup, goose, eel noodle soup and Taiwanese meatballs.

The biggest attraction at Huaxi is the Tainan Tantsumien Seafood Restaurant, a gourmet eatery designed to evoke the splendor of Versailles. The seafood cooked within is so fresh that it’s picked—while still alive—from tanks out in front of the restaurant.

Open 4 p.m. until midnight.

Raohe Street Night Market

Raohe-night-market

One of the oldest markets in the city and one of the most traditional, Raohe stretches nearly 2,000 feet and includes more than just food—there’s also a robust craft trade here, with chances to buy traditional handmade Taiwanese items. Raohe also has a mascot: an owl with eyes that glow at nighttime.

Stop here in the winter for herb-steamed spare ribs, or try some of the market’s other succulent specialties: oyster noodles, pepper meat buns, bubble tea and pork feet noodles.

Open 5 p.m. until midnight.

Linjiang Street Night Market

Linjiang Street Night Market

Eating and shopping go hand-in-hand at Linjiang, where grocery stores and food stalls sit alongside quilt and clothing shops. About 200 stalls sell snack foods throughout the night, though it’s in a residential area; neighborhood businesspeople frequent this market for cheap eats after work.

Feeling adventurous? Try one of this market’s more unique specialties: peanut-powdered pig’s blood rice cakes. Then fill up on oyster noodles, barbecue sausage, sponge cake and Taiwanese-style hamburgers.

Public Transport In Taiwan

Taipei is the transportation hub of the whole Taiwan Island. Travelers can take a flight from many places in the world to get here; then enjoy a train ride or a long-distance bus trip to other cities on the island; or take metro, city buses, taxis or bikes to travel around the city.

Air

Taoyuan International Airport

There are two airports available for you: Taoyuan International Airport and Taipei Songshan Airport.

Taoyuan Airport is the most important international aviation hub of Taiwan. Many cities have direct flights to get there such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dubai, Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. It has buses to Taipei Bus Station and Nangang Exhibition Center Station, taking 40 minutes or so. What’s more, shuttle buses and airport metro are available for you to high speed rail Taoyuan Station, where you can take a high speed train to Taipei or other cities in west Taiwan. There are also free hotel buses to Novotel. A skytrain and buses commute between two terminals.

Taipei Songshan Airport operates the domestic air routes to / fromBeijing, Tianjin, Wuhan, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Hefei, Chengdu and Chongqing… and international destinations include Seoul and Tokyo. Airport shuttle bus 214/ 1/ 16, Metro Wenhu Line and city bus 254, Dunhua Line and inter-zone bus line 262, which are all available for you to travel between Songshan Airport and Downtown Taipei.

Train

Taiwan High Speed Rail

The city has more than one railway station. Among them, Taipei Railway Station is the largest, where Taiwan Rail Line and Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) meet. You can go to any other cities of Taiwan through Taiwan Rail Line such as Yilan, Hualien, Taitung and Pingtung. Taiwan High Speed Rail only passes the western cities like Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung.

The station has four underground floors. The ticket hall is on the B1, the railway platform is on the B3, and the B2 and B4 are for the metro.

You can take both the metro and the city bus from the station to other downtown places. The metro and buses 63, 2, 14, 15, 22, 39, 205, 218, 246, and many others have a stop here.

Long-Distance Bus

Taipei Bus Station

Taipei Bus Station, located to the north of Railway Station, is the largest bus center of the city. The bus station and the railway station are connected by an underground passage. It is only 10 minutes’ walk between the two. The exits R1, Y1, Y3, and Y5 of the underground passage lead to the bus station. Many long-distance passenger transport companies are set there, among which Kuokuang Passenger Transport has the best reputation. The bus destinations include Kaohsiung, Tainan, Chiayi, Hualien, Taichung, which depart every one hour. The bus to Chiayi costs about NT$250 with the duration of 4.5 hours, to Tainan takes 5 hours and NT$350, to Kaohsiung costs  NT$500 with the travel time of 6 hours, and to Hualien takes 5 hours with the ticket price of NT$400.

Taipei City Hall Bus Station is also of great importance in the transportation to Keelung, Yilan, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, and Tainan. To get there, you can take the metro to City Hall, and go out from the exit 2.

Ship

There are ships traveling between Taipei and Fujian Pingtan on Mainland China. The ship from Pingtan departs at 09:00 on Monday and Saturday, and 14:30 on Tuesday and Wednesday. The duration is about 3 hours. A first class ticket costs NT$6,500 and a tourist class ticket costs NT$4,500 for a single trip. Sometimes you may enjoy a discount.

Metro

taipei metro

Metro is the most efficient transport to travel around the city. It has seven lines passing a number of scenic spots and transport hubs such as Taoyuan Airport, Shihlin, Tamsui, Ximenting, and Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. A single trip costs NT$20-65 based on the distance and a one-day ticket coasts NT$200. Transportation cards to be mentioned below can also be used to take the metro.
Taipei Metro map

City Bus

There are over 300 bus routes in the city. Shihlin, Chunghsiao East Road, and Jhonghua Road are all important transfer places. Besides, you can take the bus near almost each metro station to those scenic spots. A one-section journey costs  NT$15. The buses may not stop at every stop, so you have to ring before getting off and wave to the driver to get on. To name a few bus routes, to Taipei 101, you can take buses 1, 284, 611 or 650 and get off at the World Trade Center; to National Palace Museum, you can take buses Red 30, 255, 304, 815, Small 18, Small 19, Brown 13, and Brown 20.

Taxi

The taxis are yellow there.

Bike

The city has about 180 bicycle lease stations and riding a bike is a good way to see the city. You can use the Easy Card to rent or pay NT$2,000 as deposit. It takes NT$10 every 30 minutes for the first 4 hours, NT$20 every 30 minutes for 4-8 hours, and NT$40 every 30 minutes after 8 hours. On the way, you can find clear route signs. What’s more, there are also detailed cycling maps for you.

Maokong Gondola

Maokong Gondola

Maokong Gondola is the main transport in Maokong area where roads are narrow. The cable car has two stations in and around the zoo, a Chihnan Temple station, and a Maokong station. There are 30 crystal cable cars for you to better enjoy the beautiful scenery. The ticket price is  NT$70 for a one-stop trip,  NT$100 for a two-stop journey, and NT$120 for three. You can also buy a round-trip ticket at the price of NT$260 and a one-way trip will be gifted. Also, one-day ticket is available and it costs NT$350.

Cruise Ship

The Blue Highway is a sightseeing sea route. You can cruise the Tamsui River from Twatutia, Dajia, Kwantu, Meidi, and Xikou wharves.

Motorcycle

taipei motorcycle

Motorcycles are commonly used in Taiwan. You can rent one with an International Driver’s License to travel around the city. There are motorcycle rental shops at No.132 of Chang’an West Road, No.9 of Wanda Road and many other places in the city.

Beitou District is special for its motorcycle service. You can take them to shuttle back and forth. Most drivers are the locals, and they usually prepare a helmet for you. The starting price is NT$40.

Taipei Transportation Smart Cards

For convenience, you are recommended to buy an Easy Card. It can be used to take the metro, city bus, taxi or ship, rent the bicycle, and pay inchain shops. By using the card, you will enjoy a discount on metro or bus tickets, and a 30-minute free ride of the public bicycles.

Taipei Pass is also usable to take the metro and the city buses. The one-day ticket costs NT$180, two-day ticket costs NT$310, three-day ticket costs NT$440, and five-day ticket costs NT$700. They allow passengers to take the metro and city buses unlimitedly within the valid time.

The Religion In Taiwan

It is true that religion in Taiwan can be completely strange, even totally crazy at times. Every year, people travel to Taipei and other places around Taiwan to witness religious processions, ancient Chinese festivals, and other fascinating aspects of Taiwanese religion.

Taiwanese Religion and Temples

Temples are everywhere in Taiwan. I thought Thailand was the country with the highest concentration of religious buildings, but no… it doesn’t even come close to Taiwan. Some estimate their number to more than 30,000! For a country that’s approximately the size of Maine or Belgium that’s a lot of temples!

Religion in Taiwan – A Complicated Story!

Constitutional religious freedom and a dizzyingly complicated colonial history make Taiwan a place of exceeding religious diversity. The Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese have all tried to impose their beliefs on the sometimes helpless island, though the nature worship of indigenous Taiwanese still exists today.

  1. Taiwan Religions – Buddhism and Taoism

Most commonly, Taiwanese practice a syncretism of Buddhism (Fo Jiao), Taoism (Dao Jiao) and Chinese Folk Religion.

The colorful temples and wafting incense odors are identifiers of Taoist worship, and Taiwan boasts over 18,000 Taoist temples island-wide.

Taiwan’s Buddhist population can be particularly strict, many of them adhering to vegetarianism. If you spot a restaurant with the Buddhist swastika, it will almost definitely be full vegetarian, not even serving onion or garlic, which strict Buddhists avoid due to strong tastes.

Top Buddhist Temples in Taiwan
My favorite Buddhist temple in Taiwan is the impressive Foguangshan Monastery, located 45 minutes away from Kaohsiung city, in Southern Taiwan.

Two other very important Buddhist sites in Taiwan are Chung Tai Chan in Puli, in Nantou County, and Lei Tsang Zen Temple in Caotun, 30 minutes south of Taichung.

Religion in Taiwan – Festivals

Taiwan’s religious openness, dramatically different from life in Mainland China, gives way to a number of public festivals and celebrations. These festivals are an opportunity for Taiwanese people to thank deities, worship ancestors and have reunions with family members.

Taiwan Religion – Confucianism

Confucianism (Ru Jiao) also plays a tremendous role in many aspects of life in both Taiwan and mainland China. The teachings of Confucius are generally not thought of as a religion per se, but the influence reveals itself in much the same way that other religions do.

There is no deity or spiritual world discussed by Confucius, the emphasis is rather on the self. Confucianism teaches that all humans can strive toward a kind of perfection that consists in a virtuous and self-disciplined life.

Confucianism has had an unbelievably long impact on Chinese culture – the man himself was born in 551 BCE – affecting the way government and education are run even today. Confucius may be to blame (or thank, depending on who you ask) for the rigorous testing culture that is found in Asia.

He was perhaps the original creator of the standardized test, which was used in ancient China to determine qualification for civil service. Confucius believed that no human being was any better than the next, so the government exams were his solution to determining the potential of a given individual.

Confucius Temples in Taiwan
Confucian temples are found in every major city in Taiwan. They usually don’t have statues of gods on display. Instead, you’ll see red tablets with the names of some of Confucius’ disciples (teachers) written on them. Confucius’ birthday is celebrated at Confucius temples throughout the island on September 28th. The biggest religious ceremonies held for that occasion are held in Taipei and Taichung, very early in the morning.

Taiwan Religion – Ghost Money

Generally, the paper being burned is what’s called “ghost money”, or “joss paper” (Ming Zhi), and is offered to the spirits to venerate the emotional and financial debts of one’s ancestors. You’ll see Taiwanese people burn ghost money outside their homes in small “money-burners” placed on the pavement, or at temples in big ovens usually found on the courtyards.

Have you ever heard about the Ghost Festival (Ghost Month)?You should read about it here. It’s a month-long Chinese holiday that is held in the summer. Taiwanese burn tons of ghost money during the Ghost Month.

Foreign Religions in Taiwan

“Foreign” religions are also practiced, albeit not nearly as widely as Buddhism or Taoism. However, Taipei’s Grand Mosque is always available and Protestant churches are fairly easy to spot.

The European colonial influence has not totally disappeared, and Catholicism is still practiced by a small percentage of Taiwanese. The most important thing to know is that in Taiwan you will almost definitely not be discriminated against or unfairly questioned because of religious preference.

You may encounter a lack of awareness; maybe somebody will be shocked if you are a Muslim-American, but beyond that there are usually only the best of intentions.

Taiwan Religion – Some Taboos

Taiwanese are very nice and most of them are easygoing. They won’t get angry if you do something “wrong” in a temple. Still, it’s better if you already know some Chinese religious etiquette, so you don’t offend anyone.

  • Try to be as quiet as possible.
  • Don’t make jokes, don’t laugh loudly.
  • Don’t talk about ghosts.
  • Don’t point at the gods.
  • Don’t whistle in a Chinese temples. An ancient Chinese religious belief has it that whistling attracts bad spirits.
  • Try not to walk in front of someone who is praying and burning incense in front of a Chinese god or an altar.
  • Don’t touch the statues of gods, or burning incense sticks in temples.
  • You’re supposed to walk around the temple in a counterclockwise fashion.

Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage

There are diverse religions practiced in Taiwan  like Buddism, Taoism, Christianity, Catholicism, and Islam. According to an unofficial estimate, Mazu believers are up to 140 millions, which covers more than 60 percent of the population in Taiwan. Dajia Mazu pilgrimage is the biggest Mazu celebration held annually and has the longest history in Taiwan.

Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage

Taiwan has the highest density of Mazu temples with more than 850 temples. In Taiwan, we have the saying goes; “Mazu March Mania”  is a Chinese goddess the sea. In the 18th century, many Fujian immigrants moved to Taiwan by crossing the dangerous Taiwan Strait. To thank Mazu for arriving Taiwan safely, the believers hold the Mazu pilgrimage  In this devotion journey, pilgrims escort the Mazu statue by holding palanquin walking around different cities to celebrate Mazu’s birthday in March of Chinese lunar calendar and hope the Mazu will protect them for the whole new year. This year, people will start this celebration from April 7th to 16th. The pilgrimage route will start from Dajia, Taichung, Changhua, Chiayi, to Yunlin, and return to Dajia.

Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage

In the Departure of the Procession, the Dajia Zhenlan temple will hold a firework show around Dajia River. With the noise of firecrackers and vibrant firework show in the sky, this eight-lane bridge will be jam-packed with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and spectators. After this ceremony, the pilgrimage officially starts. Along with this journey, you can find warmth and friendliness from the Taiwanese. Local residents provide free foods and drinks to followers like herbal cake with sliced radish, mochi, and grass jelly. Also, you can experience the Roadside banquet of Taiwanese cuisine. But please mark that the provided food is vegetarian. Followers can’t eat meat until the return route. If you want to participate in the pilgrimage, you can start eating vegetarian food three days before.

In this journey of devotion, you can experience the local color of Taiwan like lion dance, Taiwanese Electric Flower Car, glove puppetry, and Taiwanese opera. This long-lived religious event also develops a unique culture—grabbing Mazu. According to the legend, crawling under and touching the palanquin will bring good luck for a whole new year. Therefore, local groups grab Mazu for attracting good luck for its community in Changhua.

Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage

In the pilgrimage, you will find some big idol of the Guard Gods. The idols are operated manually. People have to carry the idol during the parade. If you can’t imagine how difficult it can be, watch the video below.

For those who want to have an in-depth tour in Taiwan, Dajia Mazu pilgrimage can definitely meet your satisfaction to learn Taiwan local culture. If you want to join this celebration, don’t forget to have the blessed flag along the pilgrimage and have the temple stamp on it. Apart from the aforementioned information, please find out and follow etiquettes before you take part in this religious event.