Taiwan sits on the edge of the Pacific “Rim of Fire” off the south coast of China. The constant tectonic movement has helped forge the dramatic mountainous ranges, luscious rainforests and crystal blue coastlines that Taiwan has to offer. While this may not be the first place you think of to holiday in Asia, it is a great place to visit for any couple looking for a culinary experience and an adventure across a country less travelled.
See and do
Taipei has something for every traveller, a mix of Japanese, Chinese and Dutch culture has created an ideal atmosphere to explore and understand the many cultural influences present in this ever-changing landscape. By day, the streets feel empty and the city quiet, an ideal time to explore the many museums. The former President of the Republic of China Chiang Kai Shek has had a massive influence on the island and it’s worth visiting the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall in the centre of Taipei. If you are there on the hour during daylight hours, a synchronised changing of the guards will take place. After this, a short train ride down to the Taipei 101 will leave you in awe of the alluring city below.
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The 502 metre tall building was the tallest in the world until 2010. Taipei 101 still houses the world’s fastest elevator and an 800 metric tonne spherical damper at the top to protect against movement in a typhoon or earthquake. Taipei comes alive after dark, the lights shine brightly down the main streets and the locals come out from wherever they have been hiding throughout the day. If you only have two days in Taipei, make the most of the city and explore the memorials and buildings in the daylight, and when the sun goes down is when the fun really begins.
Night markets are synonymous with Taiwanese culture, with a plethora of local seafood and other interesting food that caters to everyone’s tastes. Shilin Night markets are the largest and most well-known in Taipei and are open from 5pm every day until midnight. If you still have some energy left, look around for some city shrimp fishing, a local custom. Locals gather at all hours of the day around a small pond or pool and fish for prawns, which when caught are fried on the bbq and washed down with a drink. Just pay for an hour of fishing to join in, rod and bait included! Next place to head is down to Taitung City on the south-east of Taiwan. Either a short plane ride or if you want to see the countryside, jump on the train. Taitung is the gateway to Green Island.
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If you are looking for a relaxing couple of days by the beach, reading a book and experiencing some of the best snorkelling in the region, catch the ferry across to Green Island. This volcanic island is 33 kilometres south-west of Taitung City and is one of the top places to visit. Green Island is home to the saltwater hot springs; the waters warmed by the volcanic action below. Hire a scooter and cruise around the ring road circumnavigating the island.
If you keep travelling up the east coast, the next place to stop will be the Taroko National Park and the Taroko Gorge. In one afternoon, you can move from the crystal blue waters of the coastline to the rugged theatrical mountain range that is the Taroko Gorge. Nicknamed the marble gorge, this amazing display of nature is sensational. Stay a night at the resort at the Gorge and explore the many bush walks available.
Sun Moon Lake
Cradled by rolling mountains Sun Moon Lake got its name from the unique terrain that looks like the sun on one side of the lake and the moon on the other. Regarded as one of the eight wonders of Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake is another amazing place to visit. The best way to see the lake is to hire a bicycle and ride around, stopping to take in the breathtaking views. The best time to see the lake is sunset or sunrise when the invitation for romance hangs thick in the air. The other way to see and experience all Sun Moon Lake offers is by cable car or on the lake by boat. Whichever way you decide to go, Sun Moon Lake, like the rest of Taiwan, will astound.