Taiwan is not just about its bustling megapolises. The gorgeous island state, home to over 23 million people, is resplendent with breathtaking landscapes, iconic temples, towering cliffs across the mighty Pacific, dense jungles and a culture so gracious that “have you eaten?” is what people say to greet here!
It’s not surprising at all that 550,000 Malaysian tourists are projected to visit Taiwan next year, out of which 15% will be Muslims. Another reason why “Ilha Formosa” (its former name which literally translates to “Beautiful Islands”) have been promoted as Asia’s Favourite Destination at the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Fair third time in a row.
Well, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that you’re actually spoilt for choice in terms of beautiful destinations and memorable experiences in Taiwan. And we’re here to help by hand-picking some of the best things to look forward to there.
Here are 6 reasons why Taiwan should be your next international holiday destination.
1. Taroko Gorge National Park
Well, if you’re a nature lover, you just can’t miss hiking across this super-popular marble-walled gorge that promises a stunning landscape! This 18-km mountain trail is adorned by jewels like the Qingshui Cliff, Tunnel of Nine Turns, the hanging bridges of Swallow Grotto and the ethereal Eternal Springs Shrine — all the necessary ingredients for a memorable day trip.
It’s a bit far — although doable — from Taipei City (around 165 km), so many tourists halt at nearby Hualien City (more about this in the next point) the night before entering the mesmerising park. So put on those comfortable hiking shoes and rain jackets (just in case) and aim to reach the park early, before the crowds of tourists make their way.
2. Hualien County
This absolute gem on the Taiwanese east coast can be reached following a 2-hour train ride from Taipei. And believe us, it’s a lot more than just a base for people travelling to Taroko Gorge! While you get unparalleled views of the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean from atop the Qingshui Cliff, travellers can also have a relaxed time at the nearby half-moon shaped Qixingtan Beach and the jaw-droppingly pretty Liyu Lake.
And that’s not all. While the numerous eateries at Zhongshan Road will ensure a memorable street food binge, visitors can also enjoy brilliant musical performances by the locals at the Dongdamen Night Market.
Check out this blog for more information on things to do in Hualien County.
The throbbing, modern cosmopolitan capital city is more steeped in its cultures and traditions than you thought. From the soaring heights of the Taipei 101 (currently the 10th tallest building in the world at 1,667 feet) and the scenic Jiufen Street to the rows of believers immersed in devotion at the ancient Longshan Temple of Manka, Taipei will mesmerise you!
Another must-see attraction is the National Palace Museum, home to an incomparable collection of Chinese art, sculpture, paintings and innumerable other rare objects of the past — some hundreds of years old. Perhaps the most famous among them is the 7.4”x3.6” dimensioned Jadeite Cabbage, a sculpture “hardly larger than a human hand” first displayed at Forbidden City’s Yonghe Palace in 1889.
And while shutterbugs will have a gala time at the Bopiliao Old Street reminiscing the Qing Dynasty times, shoppers will find irresistible deals on apparels at the Wufenpu District and on all things quirky at the Taipei City Mall underneath the Taipei Main Station. Tired legs can then head to Ximending for some amazing parties and shopping hotspots.
4. Sun Moon Lake
Your trip to Taiwan is never complete without visiting the majestic Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan’s Yuchi township. The biggest waterbody in Taiwan at an altitude of 2,454 feet, the lake resembles a sun on its east side and a moon on the west side and sees a steady flow of tourists across the year.
The breathtaking landscape surrounding the lake is best enjoyed onboard a ferry, while hikers and cyclists can have a brilliant time too exploring the land of the Thao indigenous tribe. There are countless hotels dotting the lake, especially in Shueishe Village and Itashao.
And it’s not just the picturesque lake that visitors can enjoy here. Sampling fine tea at the Antique Assam Tea Farm, paying a visit to the famous Wenwu Temple, getting the best views from the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway are only some of the must-experience things here!
5. Yushan and Alishan
If you want to escape the maddening crowds, all you need to do is to take a 43 km taxi ride from the Sun Moon Lake to reach Yushan National Park, home to Yushan (also known as Mount Jade), Taiwan’s highest mountain peak at 3,952 metres. The sunrise from here will probably be one of the most beautiful sights of your life.
While the national park is frequented by professional climbers for obvious reasons, even casual day hikers can have a fantastic time here walking through the many beautiful jungle trails. Click here for all the information you need about the Yushan National Park.
Another place to enjoy the Mount Jade sunrise is from the Alishan National Scenic Area at Chiayi County. You can get to Chiayi from Taipei on a train, and then head to Alishan through a picturesque train ride or using regular buses or private taxis.
Once in Alishan, make the most of this mountain resort by taking any of the equally spectacular trails from the Forest Recreation Area. Early the next morning, you can head to Yushan on a sunrise viewing train, or have a leisurely time exploring the 3,000-years-old Unique Sacred Tree, Sister’s Ponds and the Shouzhen Temple. And don’t forget to try the steamed freshwater trout at the Shah Bin Restaurant — an Alishan speciality! Check this blog for all the information you’d need on Alishan.
6. The booming food scene!
Well, we’ve saved the best for the last! Awesome food is arguably the biggest reason throngs of tourists head to Taiwan every month. And why shouldn’t they? From the number of Michelin star restaurants at Taipei serving finest French and fusion food to rolling out the best sushi outside Japan, Taiwan is fast becoming a major global food destination.
But it’s the booming local street-food scene in Taiwan that truly stands out! And where else to begin than in the world-famous Shilin Night Market in Taipei. the biggest in Taiwan. The beef noodle soup, shrimp rolls, stinky tofu, Taiwanese sausage, oyster omelettes and bubble tea are the most favourite dishes here. One can also explore Keelung Night Market and Raohe for some more street-food fare!
In fact, night markets bustling with street food options is commonly found in all the other Taiwanese cities. “Exploding pancakes” for breakfast and amazing lunch boxes are other must-try things. You can check this blog for more insights into the fantastic food scene in Taiwan.
Upgrades for Muslim tourists as well
These were just some of the top reasons why Taiwan is becoming a major tourist hotspot. There are so much more to explore here that a single trip just won’t be sufficient. And the fact that Malaysian citizens get a visa-free stay of up to 30 days makes Taiwan and an even more appealing destination.
You’ll come across a number of attractive travel deals on Taiwan at the upcoming MATTA Fair to be held from September 7 to 9 at the Putrajaya World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur. In fact, what’s better is Taiwan is making more arrangements to attract Muslim tourists by providing halal certifications to more than 170 restaurants and eateries across the country among other Muslim-friendly upgrades.
If you’re planning to visit Taiwan or any other international destination for that matter, it would be worthwhile to point out that a travel credit card does help in saving more on vacation costs. From discounted flight tickets and seat upgrades to lounge accesses and deals on hotel bookings, the benefits are plenty! Don’t forget to check out some of the top travel credit cards in Malaysia at the moment.
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