Taiwan is an island that has also been graced with a remarkable landscape that led 16th century Portuguese explorers to citing it as Ihla Formosa (meaning “beautiful island”). While most might venture eastwards for the endless night market food, why not include some fun ecotourism activities while you’re at it?
Image by Taroko National Park
No list is complete without a mention of Taiwan’s most famous national park. With its close proximity from Taipei and range of trails available, we recommend setting aside a day just to explore this 92,000 hectares worth of cloud-piercing mountains, waterfalls, temples and dramatic gorges.
The hiking and photography enthusiasts among you will be spoiled for choice. If you have 3 hours to spare, take the 4.4 km Shakadang Trail. This scenic route traces a clear sapphire river and brings you to a Truku aboriginal village and the breathtaking Eternal Spring Shine, which sits atop a waterfall.
Alternatively, shorter routes exist such as the 1.5 km Changchun Trail or 1.37 km Yanzikou Trail (also known as the Swallow Grotto Trail) which will bring you to the Indian Head Rock, marble walls and potholes. If you are on the hunt for a waterfall, go on the 2.2km Baiyang Waterfall trail which will only take you around 1.5 hours for a round trip. This fun route will bring you pass the Water Curtain Cave, where you will be given flashlights and raincoats to enter the Water Curtain Cave: a tunnel where water spills down on top of you as you walk through.
Is it any wonder that this park is such a source of national pride for the locals?
How can you visit an island without popping by the beach?
Located a mere 2 hours from the Kaohsiung Airport, Kenting is located in the southern part of the island and is a picturesque beachside town that somehow, astonishingly enough, has yet to jump on to the commercial tourist radar. All this means that it’s high time you make a trip there before it gets too crowded to be enjoyed!
To get around, rent a motorbike or scooter. Taste the scent of the ocean in the air, lounge upon shaded beach chairs with that book you never got around to reading and end the day with a cocktail or two at one of its roadside truck bars. For the thrill seekers, you can go surfing, jet skiing, stand up padding, banana boating, or scuba diving to see the colourful world beneath the waves.
If the sea doesn’t call your name, there is still plenty of action left to spare. You can go racing around its dune-like terrain on an ATV, horseback riding and even go-karting, ensuring that a stay at this particular beach will be anything but boring.
Did you know that you can also go dolphin and whale watching when in Taiwan?
Gueishan Island, which means Turtle Island due to its floating turtle-shaped land, is Taiwan’s only active volcano and is encircled by a rich underwater ecosystem that draws in the top predators of the sea: Cetaceans. Consequently, a tour to this island holds a 90% chance of spotting dolphins although whales might prove to be a little more elusive. The tour guides tend to set out at 3am to do a spot of whale watching first so you can get a gauge on your chances when you meet up with them at 8am on the day.
You will need to book a tour to get there from Wushih Harbour in Yilan. Some tour options also include an island tour where you will have a chance to hike up to its stunning sea cliffs, a lake, an abandoned village, military tunnels and offshore whale watching. Dolphinately not a day to be missed.
Please note that tours tend to be closed from December to February due to rough seas and the cold weather, so you should book a flight over right now!
We bring to you Taiwan’s very own Lost City of Atlantis.
Penghu Island is an archipelago that was voted by Lonely Planet as one of the world’s best kept secret islands and we can see why! You can cover visit the Blue Hole (see image above) in half a day but we recommend setting aside around 3 days and 2 nights to fully capture everything that this place has to offer.
The Blue Hole is one of its star attractions. This natural sea cave still hovers beneath the public radar and is the result of the natural erosion of its basalt rock columns. Try taking a boat out at midday to explore. The top portion has caved in causing sunlight to bask the cave in an otherworldly splendour of blue hues against the turquoise blue waters. Magical in every respect.
Another classic draw is the Daguoye Columnar Basalt (see image above), which features unique hexagonal basalt columns that are becoming increasingly popular for pre-wedding photoshoots.
Other things to cover your days include visiting Qi-Mei Island for more columnar basalts near the Dawan fishing site, Niaoyu for a day of bird watching and other brilliant locations including Yuan Beiyu, Dongji-Yu, Jishanyu, and Kueibishan (or “Turtle Wall Mountain”) - a northeastern scenic spot made of basalt magma and known for the many turtles that call it home. You can also spot a black intertidal area that looks like the pebbly remnants of when Moses parted the Red Sea.
River tracing is a combination of bouldering, hiking and climbing along a rural mountain river. Popular in places like Hong Kong and Japan, we would be remiss to not mention things when talking about adventurous activities!
There are plenty of places to experience river tracing. The Jiajiuliao Stream, several kilometers north of Wulai, is one of the most popular river tracing sites that will have you fighting through frothing white water, scaling rocky boulders and discovering hidden gorges. Yangmingshan is another classic and contains two popular routes - the Masu Stream and Toucian Stream. Here, you get to climb over bright orange boulders, encounter a 2 meter high waterfall and scale a steep cascade to gain entrance into a nearby cave. Finally, there is the Golden Grotto near the Taroko Gorge - a 4 hour adventure that will have you crossing rivers, scaling waterfalls and swimming through cavern pools via rope just like the image above.
This is one summertime activity you don’t want to miss when in Taiwan.
Top tip: Bring a waterproof outdoor camera. Don’t lose it to a watery grave!
We would be here all day if we listed everything that Taiwan has to offer. There is a vibrancy to this country, a richness in history, ecosystem and landscape, that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Have you noticed that we didn’t mention popular hot spots like Alishan, Mount Yu and the Sun Lake Moon? All of those would make an equally perfect holiday but we thought we would go a little off the beaten road this time. Dig up some of the lesser known attractions; experiences that will remain etched forever in your memory.
Taiwan is a mere 5 hours’ flight from Malaysia, so what are you waiting for? Your next holiday destination has just been sorted. And if you book with Mayflower.com, you can enjoy a discount of up to 50% on Flight + Hotel booking for the period of 1 to 16 June 2019.
A faith-driven Sarawakian lawyer who believes that it is never too late to start crafting a socially impactful legacy. When not grappling with warranties and liabilities, she loves pursuing adrenaline-fueled adventures, improving her Español and playing the violin. You can find her at @vidadeliya or https://www.vidadeliya.com