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Taiwan Travel Guide:Taipei

In end of September 2011, the dream of Taiwan tour come true in the final. This year coincides with the centennial of the 1911 Revolution, it is lucky for me to travel to the island at this time! We spent eight days traveled to the island of Taiwan, and now we are willing to share with you some thoughts  and what we see & hear on the way!

Taipei is Taiwan’s largest city as well as its economic, political, and cultural center. It is a modern cosmopolitan metropolis with a lively and diversified face, filled with exuberance.

From the world’s tallest building to the biggest collection of Chinese art, Taipei invites you into a world of fascinating contrasts-a mix of the modern and traditional, with a generous dash of energy and friendly smiles to make this one of your most memorable trips to Asia.

The cultural kaleidoscope of Taiwan’s capital city pulses wherever you go. Incense-veiled temples dating back to dynastic times blend seamlessly with a neoned street life of a decidedly more modern era. Taipei has dozens of world-class restaurants where gourmets can sample the best regional Chinese cuisine; and for the gourmand, there are plenty of night markets serving up scrumptious evening snacks in an environment of chaotic excitement and fun.

Taipei 101, with a mass of shops on the lower floors, incorporating many top brands under the LVMH group, such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Celine, etc. The fourth floor houses the Page One bookstore from Singapore, with the highest-roofed coffee house in Taipei and many fine restaurants.

Whether you’re just stopping over en route to another Asian destination, or planning a longer stay, Taipei is a many-faceted treasure that will call you back again and again.

The polarities of Taipei are vividly present as well in the joining of the urban and natural. Just a few minutes from the heart of the city you can soak away the cares of the world in mineral-rich hot springs nestled in the lush mountain foothills ringing the Taipei Basin. And throughout the city there are plenty of trails, parks and other oases of tranquility to lift and invigorate your spirits.

These lines are dotted with a variety of attractions and scenic spots. Accordingly, visitors can take a leisurely journey through most of the attractive parts of Taipei by using the MRT service.

Auto ticketing slots can be found in all MRT stations, providing ticketing services (Coin changers are equipped in all stations.) “Single-journey Ticket” price ranging from NT$20 to NT$65 depending on travel distance. A 200-dollar “One-day pass” purchased from service booth will allow unlimited travels among all MRT lines within one day. Please make full use of One-day pass if you are in desire of visiting spots along MRT lines.

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall was built in 1972. It is located in east side of Taipei and is close to Taipei City Government. The memorial hall was built to commemorate the great founding father of R.O.C., Dr. Sun Yat-sen and was built on the 100th birthday of Dr. Sun. The building is inspired by structure of Chinese palace. It is grand and beautiful.

There is a statue of founding father in the building for the public to pay their respect. There are exhibitions of historical items related to creation of R.O.C. The memorial hall has a concert hall that can accommodate more than 3,000 people. It is equipped with excellent facilities and hardware items and has become an important place for performance.

The National Palace Museum houses the world’s largest collection of priceless Chinese art treasures, one which spans China’s nearly 5,000-year history.

Most of the museum’s 620,000 art objects were part of the Chinese imperial collection, which began over 1,000 years ago in the early Song dynasty.

Exhibition Building: Open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM every day of the year.

Free Guided Tours in Chinese, English, and Taiwanese.

The name of Ximending came from the period of Japanese colonization. At that time most local residents live within Taipei City. Ximending is the center for recreation. In 1896, the first theater “Tokyo Stand” was set up. In 1922, the place was officially called Ximending.

In 1990s, the business and entertainment activities of Taipei gradually shifted to East District. Later, Zhonghua Business Buildings were torn down for road construction. Ximending became silent for a while. Then, MRT Bannan Line was completed. Zhonghua Road was converted to be a prosperous main street under the planning of Taipei City Government. Furthermore, there are many emerging squares and activity locations. On holidays and at weekends, people gather here for art, culture events or sports, music performance. The business opportunities and people are coming back to Ximending.

The Xinyi Planning District is Taipei’s newest trend-setting commercial district, embracing dozens of fashionable malls, restaurants and hotels between Xinyi Road sections 4 and 5. Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store’s New Life Square and A4 branches, Novel Hall for Performing Arts, View Show Cinemas, Grand Hyatt Taipei Hotel, and Taipei 101 are just a few of the many places where you can satisfy your consumer cravings.

By day, the Xinyi Planning District bustles with the fast-paced energy of business as Taipei’s commercial and financial center. But at night, the skyscrapers come alight with eye-catching displays of LED lights, setting the mood for evening fun.

When the weekend arrives, Xinyi Planning District transforms again as outdoor stages and squares come alive with concerts, dance performances, record release events, and celebrity appearances, making this the place to go to experience the youthful energy of Taipei.

Taiwan Travel Guide:Delicacies

In end of September 2011, the dream of Taiwan tour come true in the final. This year coincides with the centennial of the 1911 Revolution, it is lucky for me to travel to the island at this time! We spent eight days traveled to the island of Taiwan, and now we are willing to share with you some thoughts  and what we see & hear on the way!

The culinary culture of the Chinese people goes back a very long time; and while Chinese food can be enjoyed in every large city in the world today, true gourmets know that only in Taiwan is it possible to enjoy fine authentic cuisine from all the different regions of China.

Shilin Night Market

Shilin Night Market is the one of the largest night markets in Taipei. The market is centered on Yangming Theater and Cicheng Temple. The night market is formed by many prosperous shops on Wenlin Road, Dadong Road and Danan Road, etc. Among them, Shilin Market was built as early as in 1899 and the market is famous for various snacks and eatery. Many visitors have come to Shilin Night Market to enjoy the delicious foods, such as large pancake enfolding small pancake, hot pot on stone or Shilin sausage. Shilin Night Market has become a renowned place for great foods.

Because the night market is close to many schools, students are the main customer group. Goods are sold at less expensive prices as compared to regular stores. There are special areas for furniture, clothing, photo shops or pet shops. The finery shops and cold dessert shops in “lover’s lane” attract most student customers.

Shilin Night Market covers a large area. When one walks in the turning lanes and alleys, he (she) would often find something unexpected. The night market is packed with many people during holidays. We can often see families carrying many things from shopping and enjoying good meals. Their satisfaction is fully shown from their happy expressions.

Fengjia Night Market

The Fengjia Night Market is one of Taichung’s famous commercial business districts, covering approximately one kilometer in diameter around Feng Chia University and includes the Fengjia-Wenhua Night Market, Fengjia Rd., and Fuxing Rd.

In this CBD, you can find delicious snack foods, quality clothes at reasonable prices to express your unique personality, and the trendiest mobile phones at excellent bargain prices. After the Department of Transportation made great efforts to tackle the parking problems, it has become much easier to park your car or motorcycle at the Fengjia Night Market. Now you can enjoy a relaxing visit here without worrying about not finding a parking space.

Take the train to Taichung Railway Station, continue by Bus No. 25 or 35 to Feng Chia University stop.

Liuhe Night Market

You will not be considered to visit Kaohsiung if you miss out Liuhe Night Market. As early as in 1950, more and more stalls came to stationed in Dagangpu of Xinxing District in Kaohsiung, finally forming the well-known “Dagangpu Night Market”.

The night market is developed into large-scale, known as Liuhe Night Market. The Night Market is not far away if you walk from Kaohsiung Railway Station along the Zhongshan Road straightforward, which takes only ten minutes more, and then turn right to Liuhe Road. In daytime, the market is a straight road, and turns into prosperous market area in nighttime.

There are 138 stalls in Liuhe Night Market, most of them serve snacks and provide entertainment and games for recreation, the garments/apparels and groceries are rarely seen in the market. In particular, the dozens of steak houses boom around the market offering beef steak at reasonable price or family-size package meal.

No matter what you like to have, a variety of delicious food, specialties, cold drinks, ices and seafood here are offered for your choice. Just remind you, don’t miss the opportunity to taste the papaya milk and steamed salty shrimps in Kaohsiung.

Tastes of Taiwan

In Taiwan, most of locals are huge fans of tasty and special cuisinest, it is said that there is a snack shop every three steps and a restaurant every five.

As the country’s economy has developed rapidly in the recent years, its culinary culture has expanded beyond the traditional Chinese foods to Chinese-style fast-food chains, thus bringing greater complexity than ever before to the art of Chinese dining. Foreign foods from all over the world have also made their appearance in Taiwan, and the country is now filled with eateries serving American hamburgers, Italian pizzas, Japanese sashimi, German pig’s knuckles, Swiss fondues, and just about everything else.

These establishments serve all kinds of Chinese food, from the roasted ducks, smoked chickens, lamb hotpot, fish in wine sauce, beef with green peppers, and scallop and turnip balls of the north to the camphor-tea duck, salty fried chicken with spices, honey ham, stir-fried shrimp, dry-fried eggplant, and spicy bean curd of the south.

All of this makes Taiwan a veritable paradise for gourmands. Taiwan’s own native cuisines have also become known around the world, and if you try it just once you will remember it forever.

Taiwan Travel Guide:Coastline

In end of September 2011, the dream of Taiwan tour come true in the final. This year coincides with the centennial of the 1911 Revolution, it is lucky for me to travel to the island at this time! We spent eight days traveled to the island of Taiwan, and now we are willing to share with you some thoughts  and what we see & hear on the way!

Taiwan has a very rich marine ecology. In the Pacific Ocean on Taiwan’s east, groups of bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, and pan tropical spotted dolphins can be seen jumping out of the water. Azure seas and magnificent coral reefs can be found in Kending (Kenting) on the south end of Taiwan, and on Green Island and the islands of the Penghu Archipelago. It is there for you to discover and marvel at.

Kaohsiung

A thriving international metropolis at the southern tip of Taiwan, Kaohsiung was the host city for the 2009 World Games. Due to the regulating effects of the marine climate, Kaohsiung is generally sunny and enjoys pleasant weather year-round.

Known as “Taiwan’s Maritime Capital,” the city has worked hard in recent years to develop its tourism industry, including through beautification of the urban landscape.

Kaohsiung is home to several popular visitor sites, including the Love River, Shoushan (Mt. Shou), Xiziwan Bay, Lotus Pond, Qijin, and the Old City of Zuoying. It also is an ethnic melting pot, joining Hokkien and Hakka communities, the Pingpu, Tsou, Rukai, Bunun, and Paiwan indigenous tribes, and a military community culture.

Kaohsiung also offers scenic mountains, ocean views, and rivers, as well as port, cultural, and historic attractions. Visitors to the city can experience the beauty of nature and savor fine cuisine, or head to the nearby Hakka village of Meinong to experience traditional oil paper umbrella art.

The Neimen Songjiang Battle Array and the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist monastery in Dashu further add to the ethnic richness of Kaohsiung. Taiwan’s biggest mall and well-known night markets complete the scene for a thoroughly satisfying trip.

Pingtung

Taiwan’s southernmost county, Pingtung covers a long and narrow territory with a border defined by mountains to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Taiwan Strait to the west, and the Bashi Channel to the south. Due to its subtropical location, Pingtung enjoys spring-like weather all year round. Graceful coconut trees add to the county’s ample South Pacific charms.

Pingtung has a number of local specialties. Linbian Township is known for its juicy and sweet black pearl wax apple, Wanluan for its tasty and chewy pig’s feet, and Donggang for melt-in-your-mouth bluefin tuna.

Kenting

The centerpiece of the Hengchun Peninsula is Kenting National Park, Taiwan’s only tropical national park. Established in 1982, Kenting National Park covers a total area of 33,268 hectares of land and maritime environments.

This is Taiwan’s most densely populated national park, and it includes large stretches of agricultural land’s providing visitors with a view of typical Taiwanese rural life.

In addition, the national park includes mountains, forests, pasture, lakes, sand dunes, beaches, and coral reefs imply everything you could desire when you want to get up front and personal with Mother Nature.

Pacific Ocean

From coastal areas to mountain highs, Taitung greets visitors to a land of ecological richness and scenic beauty. The county is also known for its distinctive local products, from premium rice, day lilies, hibiscus, and sugar apples to sailfish, bonito(skipjack tuna), and other specialty seafood items.

Ethnic diversity has endowed Taitung with a unique culture, diverse festival occasions, and a vibrant tradition of oral history and myth to provide plenty of food for the mind.

Xiaoyeliu

Located at the 162-kilometer mark near the southern end of the East Coast National Scenic Area, Xiaoyeliu (Little Yeliu) offers a rich variety of fascinating rock formations similar to those found at Yeliu on Taiwan’s North Shore. Unlike the rest of the Philippine Plate that determines the geology of this area, the rock of Xiaoyeliu is sandstone. This prompts geologists to believe that it originated somewhere else.

You should first study the detailed explanations of the geological displays in the Visitor Center before going to the seashore and examining the tofu rock, honeycomb rock, fungus rock, and other strange ormations there. On clear days, you can easily see Green Island from the shore at Xiaoyeliu.

Situated at the main entrance to the Xiaoyeliu Scenic Area, the Xiaoyeliu Visitor Center features a geology exhibition hall with many carefully-designed models and rock samples introducing the geological features of Siaoyeliou and the Coastal Range. This is a good place to get orientated before heading out on tours of this area.

Sanxiantai

Sanxiantai is one of the most popular scenic spots in East Coast.

You can find out more about these natural wonders and ecology of this area before departing on your tour from the Sanxiantai Visitor Center.

East Coast

The East Coast National Scenic Area is located along the coastal section of the east coast of Taiwan in Hualien and Taitung County. To the wast, it includes 20 meters of sea level.

With an of abundance of indigenous culture along the way as well as prehistoric cultures to discover, the East Coast weaves a wonderful charm for tourists.

Taiwan Travel Guide:Landscape

In end of September 2011, the dream of Taiwan tour come true in the final. This year coincides with the centennial of the 1911 Revolution, it is lucky for me to travel to the island at this time! We spent eight days traveled to the island of Taiwan, and now we are willing to share with you some thoughts  and what we see & hear on the way!

Taiwan’s total land area is only about 36,000 square kilometers (14,400 square miles). It is shaped like a leaf that is narrow at both ends. It lies off the southeastern coast of mainland Asia, across the Taiwan Strait from China– an island on the western edge of the Pacific Ocean. To the north lies Japan; to the south is the Philippines. Many airlines fly to Taiwan, helping make it the perfect travel destination.

Sun Moon Lake

Sun Moon Lake, situated in Nantou County’s Yuchih Township, in the center of Taiwan, and is the island’s largest lake. It is a beautiful alpine lake, divided by the tiny Lalu Island; the eastern part of the lake is round like the sun and the western side is shaped like a crescent moon, hence the name “Sun Moon Lake”.

Its crystalline, emerald green waters reflect the hills and mountains which rise on all sides. Natural beauty is enhanced by numerous cultural and historical sites. Well-known both at home and abroad, the Sun Moon Lake Scenic Area has exceptional potential for further growth and recognition as a prime tourism destination.

Its beauty is created by the combination of mountain and water scenery, and its 760-meter elevation helps give the impression of a Chinese landscape painting with mist-laden water and clearly defined levels of mountains. The constant changes of mists and moods on the lake make it impossible to comprehend in a single look, and thus, visitors like to linger here.

Alishan

Alishan National Scenic Area spans a broad range in altitude. Lower elevations, such as in LeYe Township, share the same subtropical and tropical climate as the rest of southern Taiwan, while the climate changes to temperate and alpine as the elevation increases. Snow sometimes falls at higher elevations in the winter.

The Alishan area was originally settled by the Tsou tribe of the Taiwanese aborigines; the name derives from the aboriginal word Jarissang. Ethnic Han Chinese settlers first settled on the plains near modern day Chiayi as early as the late Ming Dynasty (around the mid 17th century), but did not move into the mountains until the late 18th century, establishing the towns of Ruili , Ruifeng Xiding, and Fenqihu . The resulting armed clashes between the settlers and the aborigines pushed the aborigines even further into the mountains.

Following the cession of Taiwan to Japan at the end of the First Sino-Japanese War, Japanese expeditions to the area found large quantities of cypress. This led to the development of the logging industry in the area and the export of local cypress and Taiwania wood. A series of narrow-gauge railways were built in the area during this time to facilitate the transportation of lumber from the mountains to the plains below, part of which continues to operate as the Alishan Forest Railway. Several new villages also began to sprout up along the railway lines. It was also during this time that the first tourists began to visit the area. Plans were even drawn up to incorporate the area into the new Shintaka (New Highest) Arisan National Park.

With the exhaustion of forest resources by the 1970s, domestic and international tourism overtook logging to become the primary economic activity in the area. The tourism industry continued to expand with the completion of the Alisan highway in the 1980s, displacing the railroad as the primary mode of transportation up the mountain. To combat the problems associated with the growing crowds of tourists and the expanding tea and wasabi plantations, the area was declared a national scenic area in 2001.

Taroko

The name, Taroko, means “magnificent and beautiful”. Long ago a Truku tribesman saw the beauty of the azure Pacific when he walked out of the gorge. On seeing the magnificent scene, he cried “Taroko!”. And so it became the name of the place, in a fashion not dissimilar to how the island, Formosa, got its name.

Taroko Gorge and its surrounding area are well known for their abundant supply of marble, leading to its nickname, “The Marble Gorge”. The rock now seen in Taroko began over 200 million years ago as sediment on the bottom of the ocean. As the sediment collected, it was subject to increasingly large amounts of pressure which eventually hardened it into limestone.

Over the past 100 million years, tectonic compression between the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate supplied additional pressure that metamorphosed the limestone into marble. Uplifting forces from the plate collision pushed this rock above the surface of the ocean to where we see it today. In fact, the region is still being uplifted by approximately 0.5cm per year.

The gorge itself was carved into the marble by the erosive power of the Liwu River.

In addition, there are known to be jade in this gorge. This jade is only found in Taiwan and the jade from this area supplies the jade market in Hualien. These mountains can be seen from rafting (a common activity during summer months in Taroko Gorge) through the rivers.

The Tupido Tribe Trail was built by the Batto Bulego family of Taroko some 120 years ago, and now only parts of its ruins remain on the Tianhsyang mesa . Four generations of the family resided there until the Japanese army massacred the tribe and banished the survivors in 1914.

Taiwan lies on the western edge of the Pacific “rim of fire,” and continuous tectonic movements have created majestic peaks, rolling hills and plains, basins, coastlines, and other natural wonders. Taiwan’s tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate climates provide clear differentiation between the different seasons. There are about 18,400 species of wildlife on the island, with more than 20% being to rare or endangered species. Among these are the land-locked salmon, Taiwan mountain goat, Formosan rock monkey, Formosan black bear, blue magpie, Mikado pheasant, Xueshan grass lizard, and many more.