Often overlooked by travellers, Taiwan offers an awesome destination to the seasoned holidaymaker, as well as, unfamiliar travellers to the east. An island that combines Japanese and Chinese influences fused into its own culture reflected in its food, architecture, arts and festivals. Taiwan is a welcoming nation which stages both the annual Lantern Festival and the spectacular Dragon Boat Festival, both well worth attending.
Eva provides direct flights to Taiwan from London Heathrow Airport with a touchdown in Bangkok. Emirates fly via Dubai from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports as well as from Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Newcastle. Singapore airlines offer flights via their hub from Heathrow and Manchester.
Located in the north of the island, the capital city of Taipei is the entry point onto this wonderful island. Touchdown at Taoyan International Airport and enjoy a holiday of a lifetime. With easy access using the high speed trains, buses, taxis to the capital city of Taipei. Taiwan is a great taster for travel to the Far East and the roads official directional signs are mostly written in both Taiwanese and English, making a self-drive holiday a great option.
The mixture of culture and the vibrant city life is spell-bounding. With amazing cuisine and wonderful sights you will not be disappointed. The Taiwanese people are truly just so friendly and accommodating.
Where to Stay
Taipei offers a variety of accommodation from hostels to ultra-luxurious hotels. If you have the budget try the Mandarin Oriental Taipei, it is a wonderful hotel. Located in the Songshan district, expect to be impressed. The hotel offers a choice of deluxe king rooms and club suites. The guest rooms are exquisitely decorated and finished to a high standard.
Another great choice for a luxury stay in Taipei is the 60 bedroom boutique Hotel Éclat in the Da’an district of the city. The ultra-luxurious rooms exude class with the finest touches to enhance your stay; the walk-in rain forest shower is amazing. The Hotel Éclat Taipei is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The hotel showcases some incredible art pieces including famous artists such as Salvador Dali, Gao Xiao Wu and Chen Wenling. You can get a really great deal when booking direct on the Hotel Éclat website.
Great mid-range hotels include the WESTGATE Hotel in Taipei City. This 121 bedroom hotel is conveniently located close by the Ximen MRT Station. The air-conditioned rooms are comfortably appointed and the location in the Wanhua district is great for the street markets, shopping and trying out the local cuisine.
For those who would prefer an apartment the Gloria Residence provides superb accommodation in a great location, the Zhongshan District. You can select from an air-conditioned studio, one or two bedroom apartment. This modern hotel offers a continental breakfast and fabulous facilities including an indoor swimming pool. The spacious apartments offer a flat-screen TV, DVD player and an iPod dock. The kitchens even have an espresso machine.
There are plenty options for budget travellers and backpackers. The CityInn Hotel Taipei Station Branch III is a mouth full, but it offers good clean accommodation in a great location at a very reasonable price. The hotel is just 5 minutes from Taipei’s main station and allows easy access to other public transport. Close to Q-SQUARE and a 5-minute walk from The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Taipei. It is a 5-minute drive from Ningxia Night Market and an hour’s drive from Taoyuan International Airport.
For really cheap accommodation in a good location try the Best Hostel in the Zhongshan district. The accommodation is in dormitories with single and double bed options. The accommodation is clean and modern. You can get a bed for less than £20 a night. The hostel is close by the Taipei Bus Station, Liaoningn and Ningxia night markets.
What to Do
In Taipei, you will need to try and spend at least three nights in order to explore and enjoy this vibrant city, it’s infectious.
You should climb up nearby Elephant Mountain to be rewarded with the brilliant view of the city skyline and the dominant building known as Taipei 101. Taipei 101 was officially classified as the world’s tallest skyscraper in 2004, and remained such until the completion of Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2009. It’s worth going to the top of this skyscraper to enjoy the amazing views from the 89th floor.
The Taiwanese cuisine is impressive and distinctive, combining Taiwanese, Chinese and Japanese influences. From vibrant night markets to high-end restaurants there is something to satisfy every palate. Seafood is very popular as are chicken and pork dishes; try the xiaoyu huasheng (stir-fried fish dish with peanuts and pickled vegetables), it’s delicious. The vibrant night markets are fun with lots of great food options and interesting stalls.
Taiwan has a host of fabulous restaurants offering traditional foods to top international cuisine. Try the Din Tai Fung restaurants they offer seriously great food at reasonable prices, there are a number of branches including in the 101 building and the Fuxing store which are just fabulous. The Chamonix restaurant chain offer dishes inspired by traditional Teppanyaki and French cuisine. Their stylish restaurants offer good value and a set menu. The Da Wan BBQ offers superb seafood and other meats, definitely worth a visit.
If it’s the brew that counts, Taiwan is famous for its tea plantations and some iconic blends like Ruisui honey black tea, Alishan high mountain tea and Pouchong tea won’t disappoint.
If you would prefer an organised tour in Taiwan,
Golden Foundation Tours offer some really great tours. From a day tour of Taipei to longer tours around the island. If cycling is your thing why not cycle around Taiwan.
The Show Taiwan team offers packaged and customised cycling tours in Taiwan. Taiwan provides a very friendly, cycling environment with many awesome sights to discover. Their tours are conducted at a leisurely pace enjoying the cultural diversity and natural landscape. Show Taiwan selectively chooses routes that are visually stunning and have stories that go with them.
We think Taiwan is one of Asia’s best kept secrets, why don’t you go and find out. Our next blog post will take us south to Tainan and Kaohsiung.