In this post, I’ll describe some of my favorite places to visit in Taiwan. All of these places are accessible by public transportation but if you are short on time, cabs are fairly cheap in Taiwan.
Longshan Temple – Buddhism is the common religion in Taiwan and you will see multiple altars in stores as well as small temples in houses as you walk along the street but the biggest temple in Taipei is Longshan Temple. It’s an interesting place to visit and easily accessible on the MRT (Longshan Station). There are lots of vendors outside offering packages of offerings (usually incense, candles, and fruits). The temple is huge and intricate and always full of people (at any given time many people will be praying at the large offering table in the center or at the many small incense pots). I love just hanging out here and people-watching. One fun thing is that in the MRT station you can also get your fortune told by fortunetellers who use birds as their guides.
Beitou Hot Springs – I love hot springs after skiing, Taiwan admittedly does not get cold but it’s still really relaxing to soak in the hot springs in Beitou. You can take the MRT to Xin Beitou and there are public hot springs but I quite enjoyed my time at Spring City Hot Spring. It is $800NT to enter their outdoor spa; there are nice changing rooms and lockers to hold your stuff. On the day we visited, no one was at the spa so we had 9 different (8 hot ones, which each had a different mix to benefit different parts of the body and 1 cold one because sometimes it’s nice to run from a super hot spring into a cold spring) hot springs pools to ourselves. You can also inquire at the desk for a private hot spring room if you want to ensure some time to yourself. On your way back to Xin Beitou station, be sure to check out the Beitou Public Library. It’s a beautiful building and entirely eco-friendly.
The National Palace Museum – Tickets cost $160NT and you can take the MRT to National Palace Museum. This is full of interesting artifacts taken by the Nationalist Army from China when they fled after the Chinese Civil War. It has one of the largest collections of Chinese artifacts in the world including the famous cabbage jade. I was pretty amused when my aunt kept hyping this jade but it was nothing when compared with the pork belly jade. =)
Not in Taipei:
Yeliu Promontory – this is a geological park in the northern part of Taiwan. It has lots of interesting rock formations that formed when the ocean rapidly receded from the land. It’s a beautiful walk along the coast and you will get to see many interesting rock formations including ones that (theoretically) look like a Queen’s Head (this one actually does), candles (kind of), and ice cream (not at all).
Taroko Gorge National Park – you can take the bullet train to get to Hua-Lien and then take a shuttle to the National Park. Hua-lien is famous for its mochi (sweet rice cakes) so don’t forget to pick some up while you are here. There are lots of wonderful hiking trails and bridges in this park. The first hike we did was the Tunnel of 9 Turns Trail, which actually is very wide and paved but you walk along the gorge and have a great view of the aquamarine river below. We spent a couple of days in the park, and stayed in the Taroko hotel, which was wonderfully run, and took one of the tours offered by the hotel. We officially had a schedule but the driver was very accommodating and let us pick where we wanted to go. Taroko has a very varied landscape and you can go from dense forest to pebbly coast in the span of an hour.
Featured Image by McKay Savage