Today I propose you to go to the China Sea and more particularly to the island of Taiwan. The archipelago wants to be independent although this status is not recognized by the international community, which officially attributes it to China.
Not necessarily one of the flagship destinations of Asia, the island has many assets to attract tourists. So it’s bag on the back and in the company of my brother and my Taiwanese sister-in-law, who made me discover the island off the beaten track, I take you to discover the inevitable Taiwan!
1) Go fishing in an Urban Shrimps Fishing Place
The Taiwanese spend whole days in these places where large basins have been built to be able to fish shrimp and lobsters. We pay here by the hour and if we are good fisherman it can quickly prove profitable. This was not our case since after an hour and a half, several locals had pity the kindness to come show us some techniques to get some crustaceans. In most of these places there is a kitchen available and for a few Taiwan dollars it is possible to eat what we have just caught!
– Here is the address of the one I went to: yuantong road lane 205, Taipei
– Count around 20-30 euros for fishing a few hours, the material (bait and canes) is provided
2) Go for a swim in hot springs
Taiwan being a volcanic island you will find plenty of hot springs for swimming. We tested one about 30 minutes from the center of Taipei, you can rent a vehicle to get there. This thermal spring includes several pools of different temperatures. It is possible to rent for a few hours private terraces with Jacuzzi and views of the China Sea!
– Here is the site of the place we visited: Warmspring.com
– About 10 euros entry per person (The price varies depending on the duration and the type of pool where you want to go)
3) See the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial
True representation of Taiwanese art in all its splendor, the Chiang Kai-Shek memorial is simply a monumental size as you can see in the film I made on Taiwan ! The building contains in particular a status of Kai-shek first president of the Republic of China. The memorial is located in a park with fountain where you can stroll with pleasure.
Address: 10048, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District / Free Admission
4) Make a Night Market
Night markets are an integral part of Taiwanese culture. There are many more or less large. They will be an excellent showcase of what can be the world of street food in Taiwan and it is in these places that you will discover the famous Stinky tofu ( https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tofu_puant ), a national dishes. If you wish to taste hang your stomach well, I wish you good luck! You will not be able to miss the stalls, you will smell the nauseating smell of dozens of meters around.
5) Climb to the top of Taipei 101
Highest skyscraper in the world from 2004 to 2010 Taipei 101 (commonly known as “one-o-one”) is the most touristic place on the island.
It is possible to access the summit for about 14 euros the entrance.
If you are interested in architecture, look at its construction which is really a technical feat when you know how much the island is affected by earthquakes and other typhoons.
– Address: No. 7, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Taipei
6) Go eat at Din Tai Fung
If you go to Taipei 101 you will find the first floor Din Tai Fung restaurant. Known worldwide for its Xiaolongbao ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiaolongbao ), it was named in 1993 by New York Time Magazine as one of the 10 best restaurants in the world and today it is one of the few chains to own a Michelin star. Just that !
As in most restaurants in Taiwan, you do not take a dish for yourself but several that we put in the middle of the table and that we share. Which is much more user-friendly in the end!
Of course I would not recommend a place that would cost you a second plane ticket, our bill for 3 people really having the belly well filled us back to fifty euros.
Going to Taiwan without eating Xiaolongbao is like going to Italy and not eating pizzas, so go to the best place!
– Address: Taiwan, Taipei City, Xinyi District, City Hall Rd, 45
– Price: From 10-15 euros per person.
7) Drink tea in Maokong
Maokong was once the main place where tea was grown in Taiwan. Perched on top of a hill with a bird’s eye view of central Taipei, it is now Taiwan’s must-see place for tea at dusk. A really nice place to rest at the end of the day away from the hustle and bustle of the city. There are many Tea House in Maokong you will be spoiled for choice!
– Location: Maokong, Taipei. About 25 minutes drive from the city center.
– Count a little ten euros per person to drink tea in this place apart.
8) Visit the city of Jiufen
Jiufen in northeast Taiwan is a small town made famous by the film “A City of Sadness”, the first Taiwanese film to be awarded at the Venice Film Festival. The setting is typical and we walk with great pleasure in these narrow streets or side stalls of gastronomic specialties and other local crafts.
If you want to go to Jiufen I strongly advise you to go there during the week to avoid the tourist crowds of the weekend.
9) Go to Grand Hotel Taipei
The Grand Hotel Taipei is simply the largest building in the world with Chinese architecture. Count a little over a hundred euros if you want to stay overnight in a basic room. For having hosted from Richard Nixon to Margaret Thatcher through Nelson Mandela the place is really a “must-see” of Taiwan.
My opinion about Taiwan:
After more than 2 weeks discovering Taiwan, I really think the island deserves the trip. This is not necessarily the first destination to think about when you want to go to Asia, but the island has many assets including cultural and gastronomic are really worth it. In addition Taiwanese are really nice people always ready to discover their country and their culture.
Tips for going to Taiwan:
- How to get there ? Count between 400 and 600 euros return trip more the national airline Eva Air offers direct flights from Paris.
- When to go? : From October to March: Dry season / avoid from April to August: rainy season.
- How long to stay in Taiwan? From 2 to 3 weeks will be a good time to have time to do an overview of the island.
- How to move? If you plan to stay in the center of Taipei I would recommend using public transport which is extremely expandable. However renting a vehicle can be a great way to get around Taipei. You will find many rental agencies at the airport and in the city center.
- Currency: the Taiwanese dollar: 1 euro equals approximately 36 Taiwanese dollars
- Official language: Traditional Mandarin and unlike China many Taiwanese speak English.