Taroko National Park is Taiwan's most visited park. Gorge is a perennial crowd pleaser & deserves to be witnessed firsthand. If you thought you were immune to the romanticism of nature, try these cascading waterfalls & mist shrouded forests on for size.
2: Glove puppet shows
Attend a glove puppet show these shows, which feature finely wrought puppets with gorgeous costumes, are popular with all ages, and great to break the language barrier.
3: Try paragliding
Taiwan's precipitous terrain and steady winds offer perfect opportunities for hang gliding and paragliding at all skill levels. Green Bay on the North Shore and the Luye Plateau in Taitung County in the southeast offer inspiring scenery to boot.
4: Ride the bullet train
There's nothing like sitting in comfort, sipping a coffee, while the world blurs underneath you at 150mph. Taiwan has one of the fastest, and sexiest, trains in the world, catapulting you from Taipei to Kaohsiung in just 90 minutes.
5: Sun Moon Lake
Is the island's largest lake. It is a beautiful alpine lake, divided by the tiny Lalu Island, the eastern part of the lake is round like the sun and the western side is shaped like a crescent moon.
6: Confucius Temples
Confucius temple is a very simple, austere place, with little decoration and no deities or holy figures. It is a place for quiet contemplation, and there is no burning of incense or blasting of fireworks.
7: Buddhist Temples
The entrance to a Taiwanese Buddhist Temple is usually guarded by a pair of warrior statues, each armed with an axe. Most temple structures incorporate a Pagoda, used as a storage house for religious relics and for the ashes of deceased devotees. Inside, the temples are places of peace and quiet, with some form of representation of Buddha, often flanked by a pair of saints.
8: Taoist Temples
Taoist Temples tend to be bright and colourful structures, with broad curving roofs that are adorned with divine figures and traditional symbols of luck such as dragons and carp. While the temples do not have resident monks or nuns, they are often filled with devotees, and are used as the base for many ceremonies ranging from parades to exorcisms. Taoist ceremonies are as brash and colorful as their temples, with music, chanting and firecrackers. The central area of a Taoist temple is a large oven, where sacrificial "Ghost Money" is burnt as an offering to ancestral spirits.
Taiwan is a mountainous country, with terrain ranging from beautiful forested hill to soaring peaks. Whether you are hill walker or a mountaineer, you can find the perfect trek or hike for your levels of fitness and experience. Prime trekking areas include Alishan, where there is an extensive network of hiking trails offer everything from day hikes to serious ascent trekking. Highly recommended is the 10 hour circuit to Fengshan, or the easy dawn hike to the summit of Chushan to watch the sunrise.
There are also good hikes possible in the hills around Wulai, in Tungpu and along the Southern highway.The sheer cliffs near keeling on the North East Coast are popular with technical rock climbers.
10: Mountain Biking
For the independent traveler with a mountain bike, the mountainous terrain of Taiwan is ideal. The relatively small area of the island makes Taiwan an ideal cycling destination. The best combination of terrain, scenery and traffic free roads is the East Coast, which is an ideal long distance cycling route.
The many narrow gorges and winding rivers of Eastern Taiwan make for perfect rafting country- and the Hsiukuluan is the best white water in the area. Well organized and fully equipped rafting trips are run from the nearby town of Hualien. With 22kms of fine grade rapids to run, a white water expedition is a full day event, carrying rafts along a twisting course of challenging water- with unforgettable scenery along the way. This is a must for any adventurous traveler in Taiwan.
12: Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Take a look at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, an imposing tomb and shrine to Taipei's most famous leader, which also houses Taipei's main venues for the performing arts, the National Theatre and National Opera House, in its large grounds.
13: Kenting National Park
Chill out for a day or two in Kenting National Park, a much-visited forest recreation area boasting glorious beaches, coral lakes and a bird sanctuary, as well as facilities for watersports and golf, all set amidst tropical coastal forest. The park occupies the extreme southern tip of Taiwan.
14: Eternal Golden Castle
Like many famous sights around Tainan, the Eternal Golden Castle goes by different names: Erkunshen Cannon Fort, Anping Big Cannon Fort and Eternal Golden Castle. The fortress was built in 1876 to shore up Taiwan's defences against the Japanese threat. Not much remains of the original fortress; oddly, though, the intact arched front gate was built with bricks pilfered from Anping Fort. The reconstructed fort and the cannons make for good photo ops. It's possible now, and recommended, to walk to the castle from the other sights in Anping.
15: Wufei Temple
When Koxinga's grandson surrendered to the Manchus in 1683, all hope of restoring the Ming dynasty ended. King Ning Jin, the last contender for the Ming throne, knew his time was up. Before he committed suicide, however, he urged his concubines to 'get thee to a nunnery'. The concubines refused, claiming their honour was as important as the king's, and hanged themselves on a roof beam in the bedroom of his palace. The palace is now the shrine to Matsu's parents at the Matsu Temple and the beam is still in place.
16: 2-28 Peace Park
At first glance the lovely 2-28 Peace Park doesn't seem more significant than any of the other dozen or so parks in Taipei. There's a band performance stage, some lovely shrines and pavilions, paths and playgrounds. But there is a certain air of solemnity to this place, for it is dedicated to the memory of a massacre that began on 28 February, 1947 (hence the 2-28), an event which heralded the start of Taiwan's martial-law era.
Visit Tainan, the oldest city on the island and the former capital. It's known as the 'City of 100 Temples, there are, in fact, 220, and amongst them some of the best examples of Confucian temple architecture in Taiwan. Expect ancient monuments, lip-smacking food and a packed calendar of festivals and events.
18: Taroko Gorge
Take time to marvel at the scale of Taroko Gorge, Taiwan's most iconic natural attraction and a worthy inclusion on any itinerary. The ravine's towering cliffs are shot through with extensive marble deposits, contributing to the overall beauty of one of the Far East's most striking sights.
19: Scuba Diving
Taiwan is one of Asia's great undiscovered dive destinations, with diving to rival neighbouring dive spots in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia. With its subtropical location directly on the Tropic of Cancer, its not suprising that the waters around the island are rich in sealife and spectacular reef. More and more divers are now discovering Taiwan, and there are over 50 dive shops on the island.
20: Hsitzuwan Beach (Kaohsiung City)
Hsitzuwan Beach is smaller than Cijin, but it's a calmer swimming beach and is also an excellent place for hanging out and watching the sunset. We prefer it to Cijin, as it has a cool tropical feel and a lovely mountain backdrop. The beach is on the grounds of Sun Yat-sen University so the whole environment on and around the beach is clean and well maintained.