Today's post is written by Courtney Fulton from courttheblog.com . She is currently living in Taiwan and in this post, she shares with us 5 things that she recommends you do and see when travelling in the beautiful country of Taiwan.
You can follow Courtney on Twitter @courttheblog
5 Things You Cannot Miss When Travelling Taiwan
I moved to Taiwan about 6 months ago and have had quite the adventure in my new home. If
you’re planning on travelling to Taiwan, here are 5 things you can’t miss. And if you’re not
planning a trip, hopefully these ideas will convince you that you should!
1) Explore the Da’an neighborhood in Taipei
When in Taipei, don’t miss exploring the trendy cafes and shops of the Da’an neighborhood. Its
name translates to “great peace” and literally nothing could be more fitting. Less popular and
more local than the famed Ximending District, Da’an offers something for everyone. Start your
day at Da’an Forest Park, Taipei’s largest green space, and end at Megane Café, a cozy coffee
shop with the best tiramisu.
I also highly recommend checking out the Jian Guo Flower Market if you’re in town on a weekend. The best places to eat include Toasteria, Herban, Plants, MissGreen, and Vast Cali Eatery. Taiwan has an incredibly underrated café culture and it really shows off the best of the best in Da’an.
2) Spend a weekend at Sun Moon Lake
My day trip to Sun Moon Lake remains probably the best day I’ve had in Taiwan. Sun Moon Lake offers one of the top 10 most scenic bike trails in the world, a 15-mile route circumventing the entire lake. From the lakeshore, you can hike to the top of Ci’en Pagoda for breathtaking views of the surrounding valley. Don't miss out on the region’s famed prawn dumplings and abundant tea plantations. The highlight of my trip was riding to the gondola to the Formosa Aboriginal Cultural Village and learning more about the rich history of an underrepresented group in Taiwan.
3) Visit Chun Shui Tang in Taichung, the birthplace of boba tea.
Did you know boba was invented in Taiwan? In 1988, at a little shop in Taichung called Chun Shui Tang, founder Lin Hsiu Hui accidentally poured tapioca balls into her iced tea and from that point on, the world was never the same. Maybe that’s a dramatic interpretation, but once you try boba tea in Taiwan, you’ll understand a bit more. My favorite drink is unequivocally the brown sugar boba milk tea, and you can still visit Chun Shui Tang in Taichung today for the real deal. Other strong contenders for best boba tea include Wanpo, Tiger Sugar and Hua-Da.
4) Reflect at the Fo Guang Shan Monastery
It’s hard to believe there are actually places in the world as beautiful as Fo Guang Shan – it just takes your breath away. The monastery houses the largest Buddha statue in the world and has an impressive number of museums and galleries. Dharma Hall offers beautiful gardens, calligraphy sessions, and scenic vistas. My personal favourite is the exquisite Jade Buddha Shrine, which is incredibly sacred and represents the passing of the Buddha into the afterlife after attaining nirvana. There is so much to learn here about the principles of Buddhism and the lush and expansive grounds provide you with ample space for personal reflection. It’s hard to describe the serenity that permeates the environment here.
5) Enjoy Hiking, Snorkelling, and Swimming at Kenting National Park
Ah, the tropics. Taiwan is a small island, but Kenting still feels like a universe away from rainy Taipei. When you need a good dose of sand and sunshine, look no further than the most beautiful beaches you’ve never heard of. As you travel further south, urban sprawl fades into rolling rice paddy fields at the base of massive, palm-covered mountains. Life slows down a bit as you soak up on vitamin D. Spend an afternoon swimming at quiet Xiaowan Cove or snorkel at Wanlintong Beach. Your only companions are sure to be the colourful marine animals living among jagged coral reefs. There is also an extensive hiking trail system for a bit of adventure in the surrounding jungle.