Taiwan (ROC) often called the ‘Beautiful Isle’, is an island lying 180km off the southeast coastline of mainland China. The eastern two-thirds consists mainly of rugged mountain ranges and forests, while to the west, the rolling Chianan Plains are home to most of the population.
Taipei is known for its busy night markets and street-food vendors and a great introduction to Taiwan’s traditional snack culture is a visit to Shilin Night Market. Highlights of the capital city include the world’s largest museum and collection of Chinese artefacts, the National Palace Museum. The view from Taipei 101, a bamboo shaped skyscraper offering panoramic views of the city from its observation deck. Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf, a popular recreational and sightseeing spot, where you can enjoy fresh seafood and watch beautiful sunsets from Lover’s Bridge.
Along the east coast, the mountainous terrain of Taroko National Park gives way to deep valleys and tumbling waterfalls and features its landmark Taroko Gorge, with a scenic walking trail running along side called the Tunnel of Nine Turns. Kenting (Kending) NP covers Taiwan’s most southerly resort areas, with an inviting tropical climate and sandy beaches. The Spring Scream international rock festival is held here in March of each year.
Taiwan has a unique environment evolved from its location next to an oceanic trench and volcanic system, resulting in a large number of high-temperature springs. Hot springs are claimed to offer great health benefits, particularly in Japanese culture, and Taiwan has the highest concentration (more than 100 hot springs) and greatest variety (hot to cold, mud to seabed) thermal springs anywhere in the world.
The first hot spring hotel was opened in Beitou in 1896, since then spas and resorts have sprung up around these revitalising, natural phenomena, yet Beitou Hot Spring still remains one of the most popular, largely due to its close proximity to Taipei City. More recently, Ludao, a tiny island off the south east coast has been developing its tourism. The surrounding waters and reefs are ideal for swimming, snorkelling, diving and fishing, but the main attraction, a saltwater hot spring, is almost one of a kind.
In need of a boost, or feeling peckish? Rejuvenate yourself, or sample a snack, the taste of Taiwan will surely put a spring back in to your step.