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Best things to do in Taiwan

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Where in the world: Asia  /  Taiwan

Top 15 things to do in Taiwan

1. National Palace Museum, Shilin

Home to an unsurpassed collection of Chinese artifacts and artworks, National Palace Museum preserves nearly 10,000 years of Chinese history with some items dating back to Neolithic times. Most of its 700,000 pieces--including ceramics, calligraphy, paintings, religious sculptures, jade carvings, weapons, and Qing and Ming dynasty furniture--were collected by Chinese emperors themselves. Officially founded in the Forbidden City in 1925, the museum was moved to its present building in 1965 and then expanded on several occasions due to the sheer size of the collection. Do not miss the most popular exhibits: a skillfully carved piece of jade shaped like a cabbage with two grasshoppers hiding in its leaves, a meat-shaped stone, and a bronze bell specially made for King Li of Zhou.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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2. Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Zhongzheng District

Surrounded by landscaped gardens and manicured walkways, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is dedicated to the country's former president and military leader. Better known as Jiang Zhongzheng in China, Chiang Kai-shek ruled China from Taiwan during the most of the "white terror" period from 1949 to 1987. A flight of 88 stairs--one for each year of Chiang's life--leads to the entrance of the white marble neo-classical palace. See a model of presidential office with a life-sized mannequin of Chiang and his two Cadillacs. The grandiose seated statue of the authoritarian leader in the main hall is always guarded by two soldiers, whose motionless postures make them look like statues coming alive every hour with the changing of the guard ceremony.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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3. Taipei 101, Xinyi District

An engineering wander constructed to defy cyclones and earthquakes, Taipei 101 held the honor as the tallest building in the world for six years until 2009. The architectural features and elements of the 509 m (1,700 ft) tall tower are fueled with symbolism. Notice how its design resembles an elongated pagoda or a bamboo stick--recalling growth. The number of levels (101) indicates striving for more than perfection, and the number of segments consisting of the same number of floors (eight) stands for good fortune and prosperity. However, its most popular element is the damper that defied the strongest typhoon in history (2015). The skyscraper houses a huge shopping mall on its first five floors, along with restaurants, clubs, and two observation decks on 89th and 91st floors.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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4. Taroko Gorge, Xiulin

Carved by the Liwu River, Taroko Gorge sits within a national park known for its many marble rock formations. Examine the imposing rocks while driving on the serpentine mountain road, possibly the easiest way to enjoy the beauty of exotic jungles and beaches. Wear quality walking shoes during your treks across this rugged landscape, especially if you go off beaten paths.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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5. Chiufen (Jiufen Old Street), Ruifang

Stroll through mysterious Chiufen (Jiufen Old Street) lined with rows of red lanterns hanging in front of quaint Chinese teahouses and inns. The narrow cobblestone street has changed little since the gold rush era of the town. Its traditional architecture, hilly surroundings, and misty weather evoke the atmosphere of the Academy-awarded anime "Spirited Away," attracting flocks of Japanese tourists and Ghibli fans. Eat your way through numerous food stalls packed with yummy traditional treats. Keep off the stairs at dusk when lanterns start to light up, or you will be trapped in the crowd of tourists trying to capture this scenic moment with cameras.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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6. Sun Moon Lake, Yuchi

Famed for its sparkling blue waters set against a mountainous backdrop, Sun Moon Lake represents Taiwan's largest body of water. Hike the surrounding trails, which lead to interesting sites like a Chinese style pagoda, Thao villages, and a grand temple. You can also take a boat tour to visit Lalu Island, which aboriginal locals consider a sacred place. Generally quiet and off the beaten path, the area around the lake comes to life during festivities, which include laser shows, concerts, and fireworks.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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7. Lungshan Temple, Wanhua

Known by locals as a "meeting place of the gods," Lungshan Temple serves as one of the oldest and most famous temples in Taiwan. Han settlers from Fujian established the temple in 1738, dedicating it to Kuan-in, the Mother of Mercy, which is represented by a statue in the main hall. This statue was left intact after the main hall was destroyed in an air-raid near the end of World War II. Over the years, the temple suffered damage from cyclones, earthquakes, and fires, but has been restored repeatedly. See numerous Taoist deities in the back hall testifying to the tolerant nature of the Chinese religions. The name of the temple translates to "Dragon Mountain," which explains the colorful dragons on the roof and the intricately carved twirling dragons on the bronze pillars at the entrance.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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8. Kenting National Park, Hengchun

The oldest park of its kind in the country, Kenting National Park encompasses the southern tip of Taiwan and features mountains, lush vegetation, and rugged coastal stretches. Pay a visit to this popular national park to explore the wild extremes of the Hengchun Peninsula, where rocky cliffs meet the churning waves. Use the network of paths and trails to view the jungle and its wildlife, including a population of native monkeys. Keep in mind that the park also offers a number of sandy beaches where you can kick back and admire ocean views. Try hitting the waves, or go snorkeling to view the park's colorful offshore coral. Renting a bike or a scooter makes for an efficient way to sightsee around the park, and also helps to reduce fatigue in the tropical climate.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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9. Ximending, Wanhua

A bustling pedestrian shopping and entertainment paradise in a historic district, Ximending has a huge variety of fashionable clothing outlets and cultural events. Built during Japanese colonization as a recreational district and the first pedestrian zone in Taiwan, the neighborhood features a lively mix of high-end shops, clubs and bars, street performances, and exhibits. Count yourself among the 3 million annual shoppers here, and sample authentic Taiwanese snacks and a variety of Western-style dishes. The bustling area is particularly popular with the young crowd.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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10. YehLiu Geopark, Wanli

Stretching some 1,700 m (5,577 ft) into the ocean, YehLiu Geopark serves as a natural exhibition area for some of the strangest tent rock formations in the world. Dotted with hoodoo stones, the promontory offers fantastic views of the distinctive geological formations created in Miocene, which pushed the Dalian Mountains out of the sea. Marvel at the rocky Queen’s Head, the rock resembling a profile of Elizabeth II Queen of England, then check out Sea Candles, Fairy’s Shoe, or Ginger Rock. You can have fun concocting your own name for some of the shapes while walking through a forest of tall mushroom-shaped rocks. This bizarre Martian-like landscape can be reached by bus 90 minutes from West Taipei station.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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11. MyTaiwanTour Travel Services, Zhongzheng District

Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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12. Yangmingshan National Park, Beitou

Centered around Qixing Mountain, Taiwan’s highest dormant volcano, Yangmingshan National Park, features 13 hot springs and several scenic trails easily accessible from central Taipei by frequent buses. Smoking fumaroles, Taiwan blue magpies, and rhododendrons growing from andesite rocks stand out as the national park's trademark sights. Enjoy a stroll around Dream Lake and visit Grass Mountain Chateau, Chan Kai-shek’s summer residence. You can see a staggering 1,360 species of plants as you wander around the park's rolling grass hills, which were created after the government burnt forests to prevent thieves from stealing rich sulfur deposits. Covering 114.5 sq km (44.2 sq mi), the area serves as a popular weekend and holiday outing spot.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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13. Xiao Liu Qiu, Liuqiu

Get away to experience the life of leisure at Xiao Liu Qiu. With friendly people and plenty of restaurants, the island serves as a destination for those looking to take a break from everyday life. Rent a scooter to explore the island, looking for the strange natural rock formations and caves. Soak up the sun on the sandy beaches, or go swimming or snorkeling in the clear waters around the island to see the typical marine life in the area. Don't worry about crowds, as the seclusion of the island provides plenty privacy.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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14. Alishan National Forest Recreation Area, Alishan

At Alishan National Forest Recreation Area you, can hike in the scenic mountain surroundings, and take in nationally renowned views, enhanced by the area's unique climate. Covering an area of 1,400 ha (3,459 ac), Alishan rests 2,200 m (7,217 ft) above sea level and has a climate that stays fairly constant all year round, with an average temperature of 10.6 C (51 F) and a humid, cloudy atmosphere. A draw for those looking to escape the heat of the summer, this temperate weather also allows for some picturesque photo opportunities, observing seas of clouds and distinct Alishan sunrises. Around the area, you'll also have the chance to take in the region's historic narrow gauge railway and its accompanying wooden station, the largest of its kind in the country. The village harbors souvenir shops and indigenous dishes to sample, and nature-lovers can take strolls into the wild, with a 4 km (2.4 mi) trail dedicated to bird-watching. The weather can get very cool year-round, so be sure to bring along something warm to wear no matter when you visit.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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15. Taipei Zoo, Wenshan

Hailed as Asia's largest zoo, Taipei Zoo holds the title as the continent's leader in research, education, and conservation of animal and plant life. Opened in 1914, the property was originally owned by a Japanese zoologist. The family-friendly zoo shelters animals from tropical rainforests, deserts, and temperate zones from all over Asia, Africa, and Australia. You can explore various habitat exhibits, such as the reptile house, insectarium, aviary, and a panda shelter.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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