Sharon discovers the fantastic food, mesmerizing scenery and melting pot of cultures of Taiwan…

Surrounded by thickly forested mountains, Taiwan’s capital is nevertheless a bustling city reminiscent of New York crossed with Bangkok. Eating out is a big part of the culture here. Every few steps you can expect to encounter a local café, a Michelin-recommended restaurant or a street vendor, all serving delicious local delicacies. Thanks to a spotless MRT system and high-speed rail network, getting around is both easy and cost-effective.

We began our journey just east of Taipei in the small mountain town of Jiufen, exploring its rich gold mining history as well as its wonderful markets, food stalls and tea houses. Our next stop was Taipei 101, one of the highest buildings in the world, where you can get a brilliant bird’s eye view of the city. In the afternoon, we watched the changing of the guard at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, before sitting down to a delicious dinner at the famous Din Tai Fung restaurant.

Delving deeper into Taipei, we visited the National Museum, which houses thousands of amazing artifacts – a must-see for history enthusiasts. You could easily get lost for hours exploring the beautiful displays of jade, ceramics and calligraphy.

In search of relaxation, we then set off for Beitou and the beautiful Thermal Valley, which can be reached via MRT or with a driver. Here you’ll find a huge selection of public and private hot springs – it is important to note that most are naked bathing, so choose carefully if you prefer swimsuits. With many different pools of varying degrees, the experience was very relaxing and quite traditional. Most hot springs are open-air and popular with the locals.

Thermal Valley

Leaving Taipei behind, we took the high-speed rail to Taichung. A mere 47 minutes (and a short drive) brings you to the beautiful Sun Moon Lake in the centre of Taiwan. Here you can visit a working tea plantation and have a go at making your own tea for a unique souvenir before continuing to the lake. We hired e-bikes to enjoy a ride around the lake’s perimeter, an absolutely stunning route rated as one of the most scenic in the world. It can get pretty busy, so if you can, plan to be there mid-week.

Sharon at Tea Plantation

Later we enjoyed a tranquil boat ride on the lake itself, stopping along the shores to visit the many temples. Our hotel tonight had stunning views and a hot spring in each room, and ended up being one of the trip’s highlights. Nothing beats waking up to the mist rising over the lake while enjoying your morning coffee.

The following day we were off to Tainan to discover the charms of this interesting town, learning about its old port and visiting its many pagodas, as well as stopping by the Confucius Temple and the Anping Old Fort.

Sun Moon Lake
Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, Kaohsiung

On our final full day, we visited the beautiful town of Kaohsiung to discover the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, the Lotus Pond and the Pier-2 Art Centre. We finally ended up at the National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts, with its lovely lake and parks filled with locals enjoying the outdoors. In the evening, we boarded the high-speed rail back to Taipei, checking into an airport hotel as we had an early start back to London the following day.

Overall, my experience in Taiwan was wonderful, full of great culture and history, welcoming people, beautiful scenery and excellent food.

Get in touch with Sharon for any information on a holiday to Taiwan!