Top 7: Taiwan

1. Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial

fo guang shan buddha memorial complex taiwan
Giant Buddha at the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Complex

              Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial easily tops the list as my #1 tourist destination in Taiwan.  This temple complex is the largest in Taiwan and houses, amongst many other things, a Buddha tooth relic.  The whole temple complex is huge and anyone who sets foot in it will find themselves hard pressed not to be amazed and awe inspired by the size and grandeur of it all.  Not only are there numerous temples and statues throughout the complex, but there are also many shows and festivals practiced on a daily basis in the many areas throughout. 

2. Teapot Mountain

teapot mountain taiwan
View of Teapot Mountain from the top of the mountain range

              Coming in second on my list is Teapot Mountain.  It is easily my favorite hike in Taiwan.  It is just a day hike, easily reached by bus from Taipei, but it has a lot to offer.  It offers easily climbable stairs to the teapot formation, a little rock climbing through the teapot and up the mountain ridge, and even some scaling along the side of a cliff.  Some of it might sound difficult but you will find that it actually fairly easy and well worth the effort.  Every turn of the trail presents another great view; views of the ocean, goldmines, forest and mountain range, and on a clear day you can even see Taipei and its towering Taipei 101.

3. Eat Eat Eat

grilled squid night market taipei taiwan
Grilled squid at a night market in Taipei

              No list about Taiwan should go without mentioning the food.  Taiwan is a dream location for any foodie out there.  Taiwan has an array of restaurants from themed places, like the Modern Toilet, to family owned shops that have been serving the same family recipes for as long as they can remember; not to mention the numerous shops and roadside stands where you can find those dumplings you have been dreaming of (or is that just me!).  

bbq night market taipei taiwan
Bbq at a night market in Taipei

If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, make your way out to one of the many Night Markets Taiwan has to offer.  Easily my favorite eating destinations, and almost a nightly obsession, there isn’t much you won’t be able to find to eat in these alleyway eateries.  Here you can eat your way through countless bite size treats and snacks while you’re on the go looking for more.  Some of my personal favorites are the tempura squid, seafood scampi in a half shell, and pretty much everything at the bbq stands.  Whether you are wanting to dine in a restaurant, scour the night markets, or find those hidden gems, Taiwan has so much to offer on the food front that you are sure to leave happy.

4. Taroko Gorge

taroko gorge taiwan
Taroko Gorge

              If your looking for a chance to camp in the great outdoors or just spend a day engrossed in nature, look no further than Taroko Gorge.  Taroko Gorge is a great place to spend the day or weekend hiking the many trails it has to offer.  Whether you want to just knock out a few easy hikes in a day or spend a few days hiking through some of the protected wilderness, Taroko Gorge has it all. 

5. Green Island

waves shoreline green island taiwan
Two rock formations on the shore of Green Island

              GreenIsland might be the most beautiful place in Taiwan (so much so, that it turned my worst day of traveling into a top destination).  Green Island, a land of both beauty and history, can easily be toured by scooter in a day.  Enjoy the wind on your face as you ride a scooter around the coastal road and take in the beautiful sites around you.  

shoreline green island taiwan
Waves breaking on the shoreline of Green Island

The scenery is simply breathtaking!  You can watch the ocean breaking against the rock formations along the shore, see sika deer venturing from the forest, or venture through the rainforest covered mountainside.  If you’re looking for some history, stop by the Green Island Lodge Prison to look around; the old political prison that kept Taiwanese dissenters during the White Terror.  While you’re at it, you can also stop in at the Zhaori Hot Springs; one of the few saltwater hot springs in the world.

6. Festivals in Taiwan

lanterns day pingxi sky lantern festival taiwan
Lanterns floating away during the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

              Taiwanese celebrate numerous festivals, so it’s a great idea to do a little research before you arrive to see if your trip might overlap with one of them.  If you are lucky enough to be in Taiwan during one of its festivals, I highly recommend attending it and become immersed in the fascinating culture and history of the Taiwanese people.  Taiwan celebrates both Taiwanese and Chinese festivals so there a number to choose from.  Some of my favorites are the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival and the Beehive Firework Festival. 

7. Tour of Taipei

chiang kai shek memorial complex taipei taiwan
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Complex in Taipei

              Rounding off this list is a tour of Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.  This bustling city has a lot to offer any type of tourist.  With museums, monuments, and temples spread out all over the city you can easily take in some of Taiwan’s culture and history at every turn.  Taipei is also home to a lot of great food; whether it be in one of its many shops or lively night markets.  You can take in all of the views of Taipei in just a few days or easily get wrapped up in the sights and life of this town for days on end. 

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