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Taiwan: travel from temples to skyscrapers

By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor
Renowned mainly for economic misery and 'Made in' labels, the island of Formosa - or Taiwan - in fact offers everything from lush and luxuriant valleys to snow-capped mountain peaks, down to blissful beaches in the south.

Travel guide

Lovers of Chinese culture will find happiness amongst the patchwork of different people from across the sprawling Republic and Taipei, a capital lying at the crossroads between tradition and modernity, is the epicentre of this higgledy piggledy quilt of cultures. It has an astonishingly rich heritage, numerous green spaces and the second tallest skyscraper on the planet - certainly worth a stop-over for a few days, if not longer.

Our Editorial team's advice

In Taipei, be sure to stop over at Cathay, an incredible antique Chinese market with traditional costumes and craftsmen.
Good and well-equipped trekkers should take the opportunity to make a four-day expedition to Mount YŘ.
The Taoist temple of the "Jade Emperor" at Tainan is amongst the most original of all Taiwanese temples, with rites and exorcisms frequently pulling large groups of visitors to witness the spectacle.

Taiwan's Yehliu Geopark is another of its major draws. Until 1962, when Haung Tse-Hsui published a photo series entitled "Yehliu - Forsaken Paradise", the Yehliu geopark was just that: forsaken and paradisical. Nowadays, the site receives over three million visitors each year.

Divided into three areas, the park's first section is home to mushroom and ginger rocks, including famous candle-shaped and ice-cream rocks. The second is slightly smaller but with a similar geological make-up, where you'll find the famous Queen's Head, as well as the charmingly named 'elephant rock', 'fairy's shoe', 'peanut rock' and 'dragon's head'. The third is the narrow wave-cut platform that gives the visitor a glimpse at the park's looming future.

Its flag bearer, though, is the symbolic Queen's Head - a 4,000-year-old rock honed by sea water and strong winds into what locals say is an uncanny resemblance of our esteemed Queen Elizabeth II. Sat precariously atop a rocky outcrop, experts are worried that the regal rock will soon lose its head.


  • +Rich and overlapping cultures
  • +One of the best culinary palettes that you will find in Asia.
  • +A huge variety of mountains, plains, hills, rivers, snow and beaches.


  • -Most information is written in Chinese.
  • -The country is too far and too diverse for a short stay.
  • -This is one expensive trip


The Taiwanese are very attached to their customs and show the greatest respect for each and every one. They adore post cards and offer them to you with both hands and heads bent forward. They are also very punctual - an unjustified delay is considered particularly offensive. No time is lost in drinking either, as popular Taiwanese beer is light and drunk bottoms up, after saying "Campey!" (Cheers!).


Taiwan's cuisine is exceptional - a refined blend of traditional cooking from continental China and Japan. The Eastern School is excellent with its fujians - omelettes filled with spiced sea food and a pinch of sugar. The Western School draws inspiration from traditions of the Hunan province in South China, whilst roast duck and sautÚed vegetables come from Cantonese cooking.
As for drinks, Taiwanese wine, beer and cognac are all worth a try, whilst tea is traditionally drunk during meals.


Taiwan is a shopping paradise. Marble, bamboo, copper and cane, furniture decorated with mother-of-pearl and intricate embroidery are the pinncales of local handicraft. You will also find designer clothes and electronics at prices far cheaper than in Europe.

What to see

Lake Shihmen , The Taroko Gorges , Ta´wan
Lake Shihmen
The Sun and Moon lake , Wulai , Ta´wan
The Sun and Moon lake
Shimen Lake, The Beitou and Wulai hotsprings, Landscapes, Taiwan
The Beitou and Wulai hotsprings
The Coral Lake , Sun Moon Lake , Ta´wan
The Coral Lake
The thermal springs of Wula´, Beitou hot springs, Landscapes, Taiwan
Beitou hot springs
The Alishan train, Ali-Shan, Landscapes, Taiwan
The beaches of the south coast, The south coast, Coasts, Taiwan
The south coast
The north coast, Coasts, Taiwan
The north coast
The Pescadores archipelago , The Penghu archipelago , Ta´wan
The Pescadores archipelago
The art of Tea , The Lantern Festival , Ta´wan
The art of Tea
Puppet shows, Martial arts, calligraphy, alternative medicine..., Arts and culture, Taiwan
Martial arts, calligraphy, alternative medicine...
Taiwanese traditions, The Lanterns Festival, Arts and culture, Taiwan
The Lanterns Festival
The art of tea, Puppet shows, Arts and culture, Taiwan
Puppet shows
The Grand Hotel Taipei, The National Palace Museum, Monuments, Taiwan
The National Palace Museum
Taipei 101 , The Taipei 101 Tower , Ta´wan
Taipei 101
Ta´wan : Explore