Taiwan, known as the ROC (Republic of China) , is a small island nation off the eastern coast of China and is one of Asia's economic powerhouses. The quick industrialization and rapid growth of Taiwan during the latter half of the 20th century has been called the "Taiwan Miracle". Taiwan is one of the "Four Asian Tigers" alongside Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore. It has the 22nd-largest economy in the world, and its high-tech industry plays a key role in the global economy. It is ranked highly in terms of freedom of the press, health care, public education, economic freedom, and human development.
While Han Chinese make up the predominant population there are also 16 recognized aboriginal groups in Taiwan. These groups have more recently been reintroducing their unique customs and languages due to the passage of the Indigenous People's Basic Act and a consciousness of private and public organizations.
This fascinating blend of people as well as traditional and modern culture is one reason Lonely Planet chose the country as one of the 10 best-value holiday destinations for 2015, suggesting travelers put the country on a bucket list for its cuisine, hot springs, museums, scenery and temples. With a complex network of public transportation, travel in Taiwan is affordable and reliable, allowing you to travel with ease to see these beautiful sights.
The Tropic of Cancer cuts right across Taiwan giving it a tropical to sub tropical climate, creating a climate similar to Hawaii, leading many to call Taiwan the Hawaii of Asia. With the east and west being divided by mountain ranges running from north and south. These impressive mountains which cover 2/3 of Taiwan are some of the highest in Asia, and include Jade mountain or YuShan which reach heights of more than 12,000 ft. But while mountains dominate Taiwan's centre and rugged east coast, the island's western third is mostly alluvial plain and is host to most of the population. The diverse geography and terrain of Taiwan adds to the variety of plants and animal species here and lends itself to activities of all sorts, including hiking, biking, bird watching and surfing just to mention a few.
- Bird Watching
- Hiking and Mountaineering
- Living and Studying in Taiwan
- Medical Travel
- Museums, Theater, and Arts
- Outer Islands
- Rock Climbing
Comprehensive Guide for Foreigners
Check Your Receipts in Taiwan
Considering Taiwan has several famous homegrown bicycle companies, including the worlds largest, Giant Bicycle Manufacturer, its no wonder that cycling has become somewhat of a national pastime. Miles upon miles of rugged coastlines, lined with pristine beaches, mountain passes and spanning rice fields make up some of the most amazing topographies for bicycle lovers. Taiwan has every terrain a cyclist could desire, from flat plains to rolling hills to jungles to serious, hardcore mountain climbs. Adding to that, Taiwan has spent millions of dollars to develop the country’s cycling infrastructure and to promote yearly biking competitions. Bike rentals are super cheap, varied and many allowing for even the novice rider a chance to enjoy this special aspect of Taiwan.
Serious cyclers feel Taiwan is a good choice for a short bicycle touring holiday or as part of a longer Asia tour. Biking Taiwan can be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it. If you want a challenge, hit the mountains and cycle one of the cross island roads. If you want to take it a little easier, stick to biking the quiet roads of Taiwan’s east coast. Cycling Taiwan poses few difficulties. You rarely have to cycle long distances without services, roads and cycling paths are in good condition and the country is safe enough that you can camp or picnic just about anywhere.
Taiwan has a warm and humid climate and a variety of terrain, including sandbars, plains, basins, hills, plateaus, and mountains. As a result, the country is home to abundant animal and plant life, including various endemic species, and can therefore be regarded as one gigantic eco-park.
Because of the formation of mud flats and mangroves along the coast, large numbers of migratory birds from around the world are attracted to Taiwan, where they use these coastal areas as a temporary shelter and rest area before they resume their journey. In spring and summer time, there are the birds that leave the tropics behind to spend this season in Taiwan, such as the eyecatching fairy pitta, known in Chinese as the eight-color bird. During autumn time, birds from colder northern areas come to Taiwan to spend the winter, such as the black-faced spoonbill.
The grayfaced buzzard will be right on time to participate in the Double Ten celebrations (Taiwan's national day) in October each year, and there are also countless other migratory birds that use Taiwan either as a stopover or as their final destination, one way or the other adding exuberant vitality to the island's wildlife.
If you’re like many of our travelers, one of the main reasons you’re excited to visit Taiwan is the food. Taiwan is an amazing foodie destination, diverse, affordable and abundant are just some of the ways it has been described. A 2015 CNN Facebook poll rated Taiwan as number one " Best food destination " in the world. And one can't help but notice food is everywhere! Every block has a restaurant and every corner has a food stall.
The Taiwanese love to eat, and their diverse fare reflect both their multicultural background and the traditional roots from which they come. Chinese and Japanese food cultures are blended into the local Taiwan dishes for a truly Asian fusion eating experience.
Taiwanese street food is a culture all of its own and is constantly evolving, with new menu items popping up all the time at the night markets across the nation. A whopping 24% of Taiwan's arable land is used for farming, resulting in an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables for these culinary delights.
Taiwan is a rapidly changing, ever evolving nation whose culture is a blend of aboriginal, Taiwanese folk, Chinese classical, and Western-influenced modern cultures. This kaleidoscope of cultures gives visitors to Taiwan an amazing mixture to discover. One thing that appears across the board is the kind, helpful and friendly spirit of the Taiwanese people.
With a plethora of temples, ancient rites and deeply held religious beliefs one visiting Taiwan cannot help but notice a deep connection between the present and the past in modern day Taiwan. Also, easy to discern is the predominantly Han Chinese culture taken from mainland China. What many visitors may not be aware of is that Chinese migration to Taiwan is only a recent historical occurrence, happening as late as the 17th century when the Dutch were in search of farm laborers.
Up until this time, Taiwan was mainly inhabited by what we now refer to as the aboriginals, descendants of the Austronesian peoples of Southeast Asia. They have lived on the island for thousands of years. Taiwan has 16 recognized tribes who share similar values but these indigenous tribes all have unique histories, cultures, languages, and practices which distinguish them from each other.
The government in Taiwan has recently been promoting these cultures as part of the identity of Taiwan. Taiwanese aboriginal groups have seen a reviving of their traditional cultures and are now sharing their distinct dress, musical style and talent with the world. Cultural parks abound and including a trip to some of them is sure to deepen your appreciation for the culturally diverse island of Taiwan.
Taiwan is a small island, covered by mountains. No matter where you are in this country, there is usually a mountain to climb near by. Trails are generally well maintained and well marked, all level of hikers will find Taiwan a hikers paradise. Abundant in natural flora and fauna allow photographers to capture those once in a lifetime shots. You can enjoy the rugged wilderness of Taiwan along with excellent skyline views without the need for lengthy travel times or specialized equipment. On many trails throughout the island you can include hikes to waterfalls, river tracing and natural hot springs. Camping is affordable and easy, in one of the worlds safest environments.
Mountaineering is very popular in Taiwan; climbing all of the listed mountains over 3,000m on the island is a much sought-after objective for many Taiwanese; there are over 100 listed. The most popular peak is the 3,952m Mount Yushan or Mount Jade, the country’s highest summit. The mountain is made up of 11 separate rocky peaks offering numerous mountaineering challenges. The best time to climb Mount Yushan is from October to December, during the dry season; the upper slopes of the mountain are usually under deep snow from January until March. World class climbs on the second highest peak in Asia make Taiwan a must see destination for any who love high mountain hiking. Other high mountain hikes like Hehuan mountain can be done in a relatively easy way driving up close to the summit and hiking the remainder.
Taiwan is one of the most amazing spa destinations in the world, yet it is little-known outside of the Asian world. Taiwan has an abundance hot springs, and has its own distinctive hot spring culture with the highest concentration and greatest variety of hot springs in the world.
Among more than one hundred hot springs found in Taiwan, some of these springs have been diverted into bathhouses and health spas where the waters can be enjoyed in public spas and private bath rooms. Others remain completely natural or wild found in forests and alongside rivers, and provide indulgent moments while hiking through the many national parks or scenic areas of Taiwan.
The perfect way to relax and recharge your body naturally, hot springs abound in most parts of Taiwan and can be incorporated into almost any tour around the island.
With a high quality of life, high pay scale ( for English teachers ) and a low cost of living, Taiwan is beginning to capture the worlds attention. Great healthcare, and a super safe environment all make Taiwan a great choice for living abroad. A true Democracy that allows for freedom of religion and thought leads expats and locals to experience a high happiness rating. US grocers like Costco make the adjustment easier to handle. And setting up a comfy home base is a breeze thanks to IKEA. Possibly you could land a job with Corning or DuPont if teaching is not your thing, or you may want to finish your college degree or study Mandarin Chinese at one of the many learning institutions here. Many offer scholarships and programs to help foreigners study abroad.
Teaching English in Taiwan
Living in Taiwan
Studying in Taiwan
With one of the best medical systems in the world, Taiwan is now attracting more overseas medical guests than ever. Poised to capture a large portion of the medical travel business, Taiwan is a desirable location. A safe, friendly environment with plenty of choices for super affordable hospitals, specialists and medical procedures. Many doctors are trained in the USA and speak impeccable English. They also carry high credentials and have studied at some of the most prestigious schools around the world. Combine that with ease of travel, lots of cheap food and entertainment and you have a great medical travel destination.
Like all metropolitan areas Taiwan has an abundance of museums, theaters and art galleries. Most notable of course are found in Taipei and Kaohsiung. But, lesser known galleries and specialty arts are found throughout the whole of Taiwan. New cultural art centers/theaters are popping up around the island. Interesting architecture and exhibits embody many of them. Of course, mainland China has had a great influence on culture here but Taiwan has been ruled by the Dutch and Japanese with a huge influence being felt from western nations as well, so there is a diverse amount of productions and exhibits that will appeal to a wide variety of people. If you love cultural arts or theater you could incorporate these into a visit to Taiwan for a more enriching experience.
A scattered collection of islands, some off Taiwan's western and southern coasts, and several right on the periphery of mainland China, Taiwan's numerous outer islands are fascinating destinations rarely visited by outside travelers. Many of these islands are geographically and physically disparate, ranging from beautifully clear white sand islands to rocky, imposing mountains that have been hollowed out into military fortresses. One thing that these islands do have in common, however, is that they are far-removed from much of the hustle and bustle of major urban areas, such as Taipei and Kaohsiung. Daily flights or ferries to the majority of them make getting there a breeze. Providing an idyllic atmosphere for those whose sole desire for travel is rest and relaxation.
Taiwan has plenty to offer keen rock climbers and mountaineers. Long Dong, in the north of Taiwan, is the country’s premier rock climbing destination; it is about an hour from Taipei. It is an extensive sandstone cliff offering around 500 sport and traditional climbing routes. Being by the sea, it is also a popular deep-water solo climbing location. The cliffs are up to 70m high and there are routes suitable for both beginners and experienced climbers. Numerous climbing guide services operate in the area.
Other popular destinations include Big Cannon Cliff at Yangming Mountain in Taipei, an area of small volcanic cliffs suitable for bouldering and top roping, and GuanziLing, a sport climbing area in Tainan. There are also numerous indoor climbing walls offering both lead climbing and bouldering around the country.
Waterfalls and rainbows, who doesn't love them? High mountains with loads of natural rivers make most of Taiwan a source of continual waterfalls. The entire island hosts all types and shapes of waterfalls. Some are along roads and easy to see and access others require a short hike or an over night camping trip to enjoy. Many include gorgeous river walks and beautiful blue lagoon swimming holes to frolic in. Some are a short distance from natural hot springs. The government of Taiwan has been working to fix and maintain trails so these beauties can be reached by the serious or novice hiker. Local expats have been working hard to access, photograph and map as many as can be found, so more can appreciate these hidden gems. Check out their blogs to see what they are finding. If you love nature, outdoors and hiking Taiwan has all you are looking for and more.