Apart from Taipei 101 (one of the world’s tallest building), the rest of Taiwan is a mystery to me. I did not feel I was ever called to personally explore the country yet to learn about it. But, when I was invited to join the trip courtesy of China Airlines and Taiwan Visitor Association, I immediately grabbed the chance without any hesitation.
Located on the north of the mainland, Taiwan, dubbed “the Heart of Asia”, offers travellers an invigorating beauty of nature through its unique geographical structure, up-to-date urban landscape, -[/half] [half]fascinating history, amazing food and immensely rich cultural and spiritual heritage, all waiting to be discovered by travellers. It was also once known called ‘Formosa’ (beautiful island) by the Portuguese back in the 16th century. However, despite these welcoming qualities, Taiwan is more known for its exports rather than as a top holiday destination. That is a pity because we personally think that the island could easily find its spot in many travellers’ top destinations list.[/half]
MUST VISIT PLACES
Based on our observation, the busy city is packed with friendly people, top-notch sights and excellent food trail. It is divided into four sections by the east-west Chunghsiao Road and the north-south Chungshan Road. Chungsan North Road is lined with shops, restaurants, bakeries, while the narrow lanes and alleys that run off the main road are full of small Chinese restaurants selling cheap delicacies.
The rocky landscape of Yehliu Geopark is one of the most famous wonders in the world. The strong waves, rock weathering, earth movement and crustal movement contribute to the formation of such rare and stunning geological landscape. A number of rock formations have been given creative names based on their shapes. The most popular are the ‘The Queen’s Head’, an iconic image of Taiwan and the unofficial emblem of Wanli. Other formations include ‘The Fairy Shoe’, ‘The Bee Hive’, ‘The Ginger Rocks’ and ‘The Sea Candles’.
National Palace Museum, Taipei
On par with the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Palace Museum has 700,000 Chinese artefacts comprising artworks made from jade, bronze, enamel, porcelain, lacquer ware, tapestry, and embroidery, including priceless documents and books containing ancient Chinese calligraphy, too many to be displayed at one time. The museum is situated in the suburbs of Taipei and was built in 1965.
Shangrila Leisure Farm
Situated at the foot of Da-yuan Mountain, Yilan Shangrila Leisure Farm offers a perfect site for visitors to enjoy the view of the valleys, rivers, farms, islands, and ocean. The farm is also an excellent site to witness flora and fauna like Taiwanese macaques, tree frogs, firebugs, butterfly and a variety of plants. Yilan Shangrila Leisure Farm also organises interesting folk activities such as releasing the sky lantern, playing whirligigs and making matzo balls.
Shilin Night Market
The Shilin Night Market is one of the well organised and popular night markets in Taiwan. It is separated into two major sections; one covering the streets surrounding the traditional Yangming Theatre, stretching towards Chicheng Temple on Danan Rd, while the other is a centralised food court serving a wide variety of snacks that attracts large crowd. At the Shilin Night Market, visitors can shop from store to store and have a large selection of clothes and accessories at bargained prices.
Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf
Tamsui is a small city located north of Taipei, functions as the centre of shipping and commerce in northern Taiwan in the 19th century. The city is also popular among travellers as the place to watch the sunset. Further down the coast from the Tamsui old street area in northern Taipei is a little port called Fisherman’s Wharf. As the sun’s golden glow canvassed the western sky, we took hundreds of pictures to capture the beautiful scenery of the port, a perfect way to end our journey in Taiwan.
There are now more and more options for Muslim travellers to enjoy halal food when being in Taiwan. To the delight of Muslim travellers, there are now over 30 halal restaurants available throughout Taiwan, certified by the China Muslim Association. The certified restaurants offer a wide range of cuisines, including Indian, Thai, Turkish and Egyptian. To find out whether a local restaurant is halal, travellers can simply ask if the food is ‘Qing Zhen’ (pronounced “ching jen”), the Mandarin phrase referring to halal food. One of the restaurants we visited was Taj Indian Restaurant, which offered us the most tantalising middle-eastern cuisine in the city.
Quick Facts about Taiwan
- Taiwan is an island situated in the Pacific Ocean about 160 kilometres (99 miles) off the south-eastern coast of China.
- The island’s total area is 35,563 square kilometres (13,869 square miles) with its dimensions being 394 kilometres (244miles) long and 144 kilometres (89miles) wide.
- The New Taiwan Dollar, denoted by TWD, is the official currency of the Republic of China (ROC), commonly referred to as Taiwan. It has been the currency of the island since 1949, when it replaced the Old Taiwan Dollar.
- Taiwanese Hokkien is the language spoken by a majority of the population in Taiwan.
- The most popular religion in Taiwan is Buddhism, with almost 4.9 million followers.
- Most of the earthquakes registered in Taiwan actually occur off the east coast and cause little damage.
- Between 1901 and the year 2000 there were 91 major earthquakes in Taiwan, 48 of them resulted in the loss of life of many people. However, Taiwan is also known to be among the most prepared nations in the world when it comes to responding to calamities such as earthquakes, therefore travellers should not be overly worried – they only need to be on alert, not to become panic when an earthquake strikes and simply follow the safety procedures followed by the locals.