Many people head to Asia when backpacking, the hot climate, and rich cultural history attract thousands every year. Not many of us take the time to research and uncover the history of the countries we visit, preferring to jump right in and get exploring. It might be worth just taking a second to try to understand the history of Taiwan should you be heading there though.
A brief history
Taiwan is officially called the Republic of China, it neighbors China, Japan, and the Philippines. It is the most densely populated nation that doesn’t belong to the United Nations. Taiwan was ruled by the ancient Chinese Qing dynasty before they ceded the country to Japan in 1895. After World War II and the Japanese surrender to the Allies, Taiwan was once again controlled by China. Taiwan now governs itself, and China has no control over them, despite their protestations saying otherwise. Alright, enough history, where should you visit?
Like most countries, it is always worth swinging by their capital city to get a feel for the culture and vibrancy of the nation. If you visit the city, you must venture out at night to discover the fabulous night markets. These markets offer many local delicacies, and there is no shortage of the street snacks, so make sure you go with an empty stomach to pack as much in as possible. Take a trip out to Pingxi, an hour from the city, and let off a sky lantern. The area is well-known for its Sky Lantern festival in February or March. If you feel like a walk, try hiking Elephant Mountain. Many trails are well marked, and the scenery is unbelievably green, once at the top of the mountain you can take in the whole city. Bring a camera!
Yangmingshan National Park
The national park is one of Taiwan’s greatest attractions and contains hot springs and geysers as well as volcanic rock. Amazingly, entry to the park is free, but vehicles will incur a parking charge. Paid tours are available for those not comfortable setting off on their own. Travelers enjoy walks to the flower clock and strolling through the cherry blossom or calla lily fields.
The former capital city of Taiwan is full of hidden secrets just waiting to be discovered. Head to the Ten Drum Culture Village to witness the huge drum that was converted from a disused sugar refinery. Locals recommend visiting at night due to the lights they have in place around the instrument. Sticking with the theme of transformation, you must visit the Anping Tree House, in the Anping district. This house has been almost entirely taken over by mother nature, and many people draw comparisons to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Entrance is less than $2, so it really is worth a visit.
Taroko National Park
Visit the Eternal Springs Shrine, built to commemorate those who lost their lives during its construction. The shrine is placed within the Taroko gorge and is a must see if you visit the park, visitors to the park recommend heading up to the bell tower near the shrine to get a good view of the scenery. Following the shrine, visitors must hike the swallow grotto trail, which goes through several tunnels, the name comes from the swallows nesting in the cliff rocks. The short hike has many wonderful views and is a peaceful stroll through the park.
Those were some of the places we recommend you check out during your trip to Taiwan. The value for money is incredible, with many attractions costing just a few dollars apiece, which definitely will not break the bank.