Taiwan, China Attractions
Lanyu (orchid island) is of volcanic origin and one of the smallest islands on the east coast. This is home to the indigenous Yami, one of the world’s last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes. Spring and Autumn Pavilions, Dragon Pagodas and Tiger Pagodas stand at Lotus Lake. Along the coast are some of the region’s most beautiful coral reefs, and even in peak season, you can still enjoy the tropics here.
Formerly the island’s capital, Tainan (website: www.tainan.gov.tw ) is the oldest city in Taiwan and home to National Cheng Kung University. Also known as the “City of 100 Temples,” the city actually has 220 temples, some of the finest examples of Confucian temple architecture in all of Taiwan. Other sights include the remains of forts that are more than 300 years old, such as Fort Provintia, as well as buildings from the Japanese colonial era.
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The mountain resort of Wulai south of Taipei is known for its waterfalls and hot springs. There are several spas and you can also take a pleasantly warm bath in the Nanshi River itself. This is home to the Atayal people, Taiwan’s second largest indigenous people. In the Atayal Museum you can learn more about the culture of the indigenous people. A visit to the waterfall park is also worthwhile, which offers a wonderful view.
Kenting National Park
The tropical Kenting National Park on the Hengchun Peninsula at the southern tip of Taiwan offers fantastic beaches, coral lakes, a bird sanctuary, numerous water sports and a golf course. A special feature is the biodiversity of the park. The Formosan sika deer, which are already extinct in the wild, live here, as well as several species of amphibians and over 200 species of butterflies. The park is also very popular with ornithologists, as numerous migratory birds spend the winter here.
National Palace Museum
A visit to the National Palace Museum on the outskirts of Taipei (Internet: www.npm.gov.tw ), which houses the largest and most valuable Chinese art collection in the world, is definitely worthwhile. Many of the exhibits come from the art collection assembled by Emperor Qianlong in the Forbidden City in Beijing and were brought to Taiwan by the supporters of Chiang Kai-Shek during the Chinese Civil War. The collection is so extensive that only a small part can be exhibited at a time.
The capital has been a self-governing city since 1967. One of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, Taipei 101, almost reaches the clouds at 508 meters. The visitor floor offers an incomparable view of the city. Other notable structures include the Martyrs ‘ Shrine, the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall and the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall with the adjacent National Theater and Opera House. In the city center are the National Museum (website: www.ntm.gov.tw ) and the Museum of Fine Arts (website: www.ntmofa.gov.tw ).
Taroko National Park
Taroko National Park is named after the Taroko Gorge, which consists of high marble cliffs and is one of Taiwan’s most famous attractions and best explored from Hualien. There are numerous temples and shrines in the gorge. Other attractions in Taroko National Park include the Chingshui Cliffs, Baiyan Waterfalls, and the Shakadang River. Several hiking trails criss-cross the park, and registration is required for most tours. The visitor center at the entrance to the park provides up-to-date information about the condition of the trails.
Sun Moon Lake
The romantic Sun-Moon-See is a popular travel destination, especially for wedding couples. The lake is at an altitude of 760 meters, so the climate here is very pleasant. Sights along the lake include Wenwu Temple on the north bank, Xuanzan Temple on the south bank, and the Ci En Pagoda, which is over 40m tall and offers a magnificent view of the lake and the surrounding mountains. During a boat trip you can visit the island of Guanghua.
Along the north coast
The northeast coast road runs through the foothills of the central mountain range and offers breathtaking views of the East China Sea and the Pacific. The drive passes through many small villages where the lifestyle has hardly changed despite the rapid progress. Here you will find some very good fish and seafood restaurants.
Yehliu Geopark (website: www.ylgeopark.org.tw ) has some interestingly shaped rock formations. Over time, the lava and sand rocks of the gently sloping coast have been carved by the sea and wind into numerous mushroom-shaped sculptures, one of which even resembles the bust of the famous Egyptian Queen Nefertiti.
China in miniature
The Window of China in Lungtan (about 50km southwest of Taipei) features 1:25 scale replicas of historical and well-known sites in China and Taiwan. Well-known buildings such as the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Great Wall of China or the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei have been recreated in miniature. Some buildings from other parts of the world are also represented here, including the Cologne Cathedral, the Taj Mahal or the White House in Washington.