Officially, Taiwan is still part of China. It is a kind of apostate province or a naughty child if you like. However, unofficially, it has long ceased to be part of the Motherland. Since the nationalistic forces of Chiang Kai-shek fled from the mainland and established their Republic of China in Taiwan, the island has been gradually moving away from the mainland. Unification may be a distant dream for the communist government in Beijing. But it is not an option for Taiwanese people who see themselves as a separate country and nationality despite careful diplomatic steps.
“Other” China is a high-tech, capitalist, mountainous island where traditional Chinese culture remains strong without facing such hideous notions as Mao, A “big leap forward” that destroyed much of the mainland’s cultural and traditional heritage. But it is not only Chinese culture, there is also a strong local tradition, and the customs of the islands are a unique combination of the two.
Surprisingly, given the high population density, Taiwan can offer a lot of nature. So the mountainous terrain is sparsely populated and covered with dense forests, ideal for hiking and other outdoor activities. Taiwan is a mix of futuristic cities and traditional villages, skyscrapers and high mountains, four-lane highways and jungle trails, modern architecture and age-old temples, Chinese customs and indigenous traditions.
Also try street food in Taipei, go through the Taroko Gorge, learn about the local culture in Taidong, sip tea among the Maokong tea plantations, or climb Mount Shea-pa National parka.
Time to board this plane and let Taiwan surprise you!
Highlights from Taiwan
- Take a stroll through Taipei, the capital, don’t miss the National Palace Museum, Bao’an Temple, and head for Taipei 101 (aka Taipei Financial Center) for a good overview
- Hiking in Taroko National Park
- Boat Around Lake Sun Moon
- Try all kinds of snacks and street food at the Miaokou Night Market in Kielung
- Climb the snowy mountain (aka Xueshan, Shueshan or Xueshan) in Shey-pa National Park
- Drink tea in Maokong
- Take the ferry to the Penghu Islands (aka Pescadores) for a while on the beach.
- Hiking, snorkeling, diving, or just lying on the beach at Kentin National Park
- Get off the highway at Matsu or Kinmen Island
- Walk through the Alishan National Scenic Area
Tips & Hints for Taiwan
Get a phrasebook, because Chinese characters can be tricky.
Most (Western) countries do not require a visa to enter Taiwan.
Public transportation is good and cheap.
Typhoon season from about June to October