When the Portuguese first set eyes on the island we now know as Taiwan, they named it Ilha Formosa or Beautiful Isle. The name is an understatement because, more than beautiful, Taiwan is mysterious and multifaceted.
You can spend a morning hiking through untouched forests and be in a bustling downtown area enjoying tea with a few nibbles in the afternoon. You can live years in Taiwan and honestly say that there is more to the country that you have yet to explore.
But you don’t have to live years in Taiwan to get a taste of what it’s like. Visit these twelve exciting destinations for a glimpse through the mysteries of Taiwan.
Taiwan’s capital city is a charming vista where the old make way for the new. Here you’ll see centuries-old temples and historical buildings sharing space with modern glass towers lit in neon at night. You can spend days exploring Taipei, and there are plenty of day trips to nearby towns and parks if you want a brief change of scenery.
If Taipei is a city that embraces the old with the new, Tainan is a city where time is a slow grind. Tainan is the oldest settlement in Taiwan, and its well-preserved temples and architecture can make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Jinguashi is an historical mining town, famous for its gold and copper mines. The area is reported to contain one of the world’s largest gold deposits. Jinguashi celebrates its mining heritage with its Gold Ecological Park and its gigantic bronze statue of the god Guang Gong.
Like Jinguashi, Jiufen is a gold mining town a short drive away from Taipei. Because of the gold rush it experienced in the 1890s, Jiufen adopted a labyrinthine character, with houses and establishments jutting this way and that.
Today, these maze-like structures add to the town’s charm, along with its mountain scenery and magnificent ocean views. In our opinion, that’s one of the nicest places in Taiwan!
Considered the happiest place in Taiwan, Hsinchu has built a hipster reputation over the years. This is largely due to the presence of many trendy cafes and restaurants in the city, not to mention the establishment of the Hsinchu Science Park, Taiwan’s answer to Silicon Valley.
Taichung is the place to go if you intend to shop until you drop on your holiday to Taiwan. It is a veritable shopping mecca, home to the country’s biggest night market. It is also foodie paradise; you’ll find so many treats in Taichung, like pineapple cakes over ice cream and oolong-flavored tofu. Taichung is also famous as the birthplace of bubble tea.
The industrial town of Changhua is famous for its giant statue of Buddha, sitting on the top of a hill. Statues of other characters in Buddhist lore line the path you need to take to get to the Buddha statue. These, however, are not the only charms Changua possesses. Changhua is also home to a garage for old-fashioned steam-engine trains, as well as Taiwan’s oldest Confucian temple.
Lukang may not seem much at first glance, but don’t let its nondescript appearance fool you. It’s one of the most colorful small towns in Taiwan, home to its most gorgeous temples, folk art and handicrafts. Lukang is the place to go if you want to experience Taiwan’s culture at its most authentic.
Formerly a highly industrialized port city, Kaohsiung has transformed into a lovely urban sprawl, with its many picturesque parks, seaside cafes, and well-maintained beaches. It is a city of romance, best experienced through strolls along the Love River and visiting the temples near the Lotus Pond.
The coastal city of Hualien is the favorite visitors’ base for trekking to Taroko Gorge, a breathtaking gorge carved out of marble. But Hualien has its own attractions like Meilunshan Park and the harbor area.
Also known as Green Island, Ludao is a small island just off the southeastern coast of Taiwan. It’s one of the most popular snorkeling and diving destinations in the country, with its awe-inspiring marine life and coral ecosystems. You can also explore the verdant forests from which Green Island gets its name.
The seaside city of Magong on the Penghu Islands is a popular destination for couples, especially honeymooners, thanks to its quiet, restful atmosphere as well as tourist spots like the Twin-Heart Fish Traps and the charming Central Street. Magong is also home to the oldest temple of Matsu in Taiwan.
What do you think about these Taiwan attractions?
These are just some of the many destinations you can head to on your holiday to Taiwan but we might have missed some. Share your fave places in the comments!
You should also check these 14 resources that will help you get around like a PRO! And if need to book a Muslim-friendly hotel in any city, visit our Taiwan country guide for Muslim travelers that also has a Qibla map and a prayer time calendar so you don’t miss your prayer.