Think lush forests, azure skies, blooming flowers in myriad hues and sentinel-like mountains and you are drifted to the picturesque island of Taiwan in the Republic of China. In the early 17th century Taiwan was colonized by both the Dutch and the Spaniards. During that time it was named llha Formosa which in Portuguese means beautiful island. True the meaning of its name this little nugget in the Republic of China is bound to rejuvenate the spirits of the weary traveler.
Taiwan enjoys a maritime climate making it an ideal getaway. The best season and time to visit this island is between October to December. A relatively unexplored destination on the tourist map, Taiwan is fast gaining popularity owing to its pristine beauty. A míélange and pot pourri of cultures, Taiwan thrives on contrasts. There is something for everyone. The spiritualist finds solace in nature and the rich culture and traditions which are an embodiment of the island. The gizmo buff can scrounge for gadgets and the gastronomic can revel in the scrumptious fare. Slices of history peek out from the most unexpected corners taking you in their folds, making you time travel.
Take a walk near the wharf and explore Taipei city, and you can espy the unusual dragon-like boats bob lazily over the Keelung River and soak in the quietude as. Somewhere in the distance you can hear the wind’s song and the rickety wheels of an old bicycle whir by on the dusty pathways. The line of old sampans tied to the rocks in the pier bob gently as the fishermen make their way back home. The old world charm of Taipei sweeps into your soul, embalming your spirit in its simplicity as you get acquainted with ancient temples and the rich aboriginal culture.
Some of the little feathers in Taiwan’s cap are given below
Places you must see in Taiwan
Back in the 19th century Danshui or Tamsui (its English name) used to be the commercial capital of northern Taiwan. Remnants of Spanish and Dutch history can be glimpsed in nooks and crannies even now. Famous for its street food and the sunset over Fisherman’s Wharf, Danshui has some unusual architectural marvels tucked away in its folds. The Hongmao Castle or Fort San Domingo which is popularly known as the Red Hair Castle is one such site.
The foodies can hop over to Tamsui Old Street and the waterfront to sample the local delicacies like iron eggs and A-Gei. Take a ferry ride along the Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf and soak in the idyllic setting.
Yangmingshan National Park, Taipei
When translated in Mandarin Yangmingshan literally means Grass Mountain. Also known as the Caoshan, this mountain range is a group of peaks. The Seven Star Mountain or Mount Qixing, at 1120 metres, is the tallest peak. The panoramic view of Taipei from the observation area is a must see for all tourists. The adventure seekers can go hiking and soak in the flora of the region, which is rich in cherry blossoms and Azaleas
Alishan (Ali Mountain), Chiayi
The Dawu Mountain range, Jian Mountain, Zhu Mountain and Ta Mountain form one of the most visited and picturesque spots located a few hours from Taipei. The range is also famous for the “Mystical tree of Alishan” which is close to 3000 years old and draws several people. The unusual thing about this tree, which stands at 52 metres, is that despite the broken trunk the branches on top are green and thriving with life.
The sea of clouds which adorn the range and the picture-perfect landscape make Alishan a popular destination.
Tainan has the distinction of being the culture capital as well as the oldest city of Taiwan. Home to the first ever Confucian Temple, this ancient city is replete with historical sites which form an integral part of the country’s history. The Anping Fort Zeelandia, Chikan Tower and the Yidsai Golden Castle are some of the other heritage sites which are must see.
Famous for its hot springs, tourists come here to indulge in some relaxing and benefit from the healing power of these natural springs. The area is vibrant and has several waterfalls and gorges surrounding it. The natural splendor of the place makes it an ideal getaway.
Taiwan has plenty of aces up its multifaceted sleeve to entice the traveler. There is something for everyone. The island is booming with activity and is yet caught in a time warp, a place of interesting contrasts. A place where you can soothe and revivify your senses.
Currency: Taiwan Dollar (TWD)
Language: Chinese, Cantonese, English
Best time to Visit: From October to December
Time Zone: GMT +8
Calling Code: +866
Major Airports: Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport