Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, is a state in East Asia. You can never expect to find in Taiwan a modern country with high-speed trains, big technology hub, and Taipei center that looks like stolen from the future. Everybody thinks of Taiwan that is an emergent country because we all have something home with a label ‘made in Taiwan’ but, the country is really high tech and not so poor 🙂
If you plan to rent a car: Taiwan has a ‘blacklist’ with countries (perhaps the ones that didn’t recognize the independence) and they simply don’t allow you to rent any car, scooter and so on…well, Romania is one of them. We rented a car from rentalcar.com and when we arrived, with our International Driving License, they still didn’t allow us to drive the car as Romania is on the blacklist. So we had to take the train and reorganize all the vacation… Because of this issue, we visit only Kaohsiung and Taipei 🙁
No trip to Kaohsiung is complete without the city’s night visit. If you thought Bangkok’s Chatuchak market was the best, you didn’t see anything. The heart of Kaohsiung beats in its night markets where local cuisine and shopping. Be prepared for aroma bombs and awesome shopping. The two best night markets in Kaohsiung are the Ruifeng and Xinjuejiang.
Fashionistas may just fall in love with the endless stretch of street shops so reasonably priced; the $20 will feel limitless. 🙂
Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
Some cultures believe that luck is something you’re born with; others use all sorts of talismans to change their luck. Even if you’re not into this superstitions, this one ritual is a must-try for all the visitors to Kaohsiung.
The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas is a temple located at Lotus Lake. The temple was built in 1976. One of the towers is the Tiger Tower, the other one being the Dragon tower.
Run into the dragon first and go out from the tiger’s mouth is said to change the bad luck into a good one.
Lotus Lake is home to majestic structures reminiscent of China’s palaces. They are a lot of temples around the lake and you can go for an enjoyable walk and find the hidden temples around it.
Access fee: free/open nonstop.
Art On The Street At The Pier 2 Art District
With its rustic industrial and modern installations, the Pier 2 district is the perfect spot for families with kids, couples where you can relax and enjoy the local graffiti with a nice local beer.
I tried to see Taipei in comparison with other places. Let’s see: Taipei has a bit culture of Japan, the language of China, the clean metro system of Singapore and the beautiful prices of Malaysia. It’s modern. With shop signs in Mandarin , it feels like a smaller and cutter Hong Kong.
Because Taipei isn’t like anywhere in the world. This technology hub of 2.7 million is Taiwan’s capital city, can take you anywhere in time by simply walking in the city.
Climb Taipei 101 or see it from the Xiangshan Trail
In Taipei, many people pay to visit the Taipei 101 observation deck, but, these stops have a free alternative.
The Xiangshan Trail is a climb up but it’s breathless by the fact that you’re surrounded by nature as you go. From the top, you have the perfect view of Taipei with Taipei 101 (once was the tallest building in the world). Try to go at sunset at it’s the perfect time to capture your dreamy Instagram pictures, but be prepared for a lot of tourists.
Night markets in Taipei
Walk from Longshan to Ximending, so you’ll see both sides of Taipei. Ximending is called the Harajuku of Taiwan because it’s colorful, active and extremely bizarre. Walking around this neighborhood is a nice way to get to know it. There are countless cafes and street food around Ximending. It’s a place for young people to enjoy music, food and enjoy social events.
National Palace Museum
Fans of Chinese culture will love to visit the National Palace Museum which has the largest collection of Chinese art in the world – more than any museum in China! Interestingly, it was put together inside Bejing’s Forbidden City but later moved to Taipei. Catch the MRT red line to Shilin and jump on a bus to reach the museum as it’s in the North part of the city.
Next to the National Palace Museum is the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines where you can learn about the native people of Taiwan. Now, they account only 2% of the population of Taiwan.
Taiwan was an amazing experience, besides Taipei, it will be hard to find somebody who will speak English so try to download an offline translate app. (Google Translate works just fine). If you choose to go to Taiwan, try to book more than 7 days and travel threw the whole country. It’s safe, beautiful and you will love it.