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A quaint backstreet in Tainan's Yanshui District. (SC)  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Taiwan

Taiwan Sights & Attractions

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Those who think of Taiwan as a grimy, densely populated industrial island haven't seen the mountains which occupy two-thirds of main island, nor the unspoiled east coast, nor its beguiling minor islands. Taiwan is home to some stunning landscapes, most famously Taroko Gorge near Hualien and Yushan National Park. Both are very impressive and not to be missed. Low-, mid- and high-altitude hiking opportunities abound, and there are some excellent spots for scuba diving and birdwatching.

Cultural Attractions

The Cultural Revolution and Communist campaigns against old ways didn't affect Taiwan. Until the 1970s, the KMT regime worked hard to promote their version of Chinese culture, as a response to Communism on the mainland, and also in an effort to dilute Japanese-influenced Taiwanese culture. As a result, Taiwan has a rich and diverse society that retains many elements of traditional Chinese culture nowadays seldom seen in China proper; these are especially apparent in folk rituals. The aboriginal minority adds another layer to the mix, as does the growing number of residents of Vietnamese and Thai origin.

Scenic Highlights

People tend to think of Taiwan as a crowded island filled mostly with factories, and if you stay along the west coast you might indeed maintain that illusion. However, the island is also home to high mountain ranges, great beaches, hot springs, and stunning national parks.

  • Alishan - misty forests of giant cypresses and amazing sunrises at the center of the island; the narrow-gauge train has been out of service since 2009.
  • Kenting National Park - located at the extreme southern tip of the island, this park is famous for its beaches and lush vegetation.
  • Shei-pa National Park - a park spanning mountains and rivers located in the northwest, with superb hiking trails
  • Sun Moon Lake - nestled at 762m (2,500ft) above sea level, this lake in the dead center of Taiwan is famous for its clear sparkling blue water and picturesque mountain backdrop.
  • Taipingshan - a historic logging area and one of Taiwan's most scenic spots; located in Yilan County in the northeast.
  • Taroko Gorge - a fabulously impressive gorge next to the east coast.
  • Yangmingshan National Park - spanning a mountain range which overlooks Taipei.
  • Yushan (Jade Mountain) - at 3,952m (12,966ft), the highest mountain not just in Taiwan, but in all of East Asia.
  • Lalashan - one of Taiwan's nature's reserves, with divine trees 500 to 2,800 years old; the No. 5 divine tree is older even than Confucius. Visiting Lalashan during the peach season (July-August) is fun but you'll have crowds to contend with. Located in the interior of Taoyuan County, in the north.

Things to See in Taiwan

Monument/Building Beigang Yimin Shrine
Beigang's most intriguing place of worship has the misfortune of being just a few hundred meters from one of south Taiwan’s best known Mazu shrines. Were it located elsewhere, Beigang Yimin Shrine (北港&#... more
 1 Fans, free, in Taiwan
Cemetery Danshui Foreigners Cemetery
Of all the outsiders who've died on Taiwanese soil in the past 200 years, relatively few were laid to rest in Danshui Foreigners Cemetery (淡水外僑墓園). Far more Western remains are gat... more
 1 Fans, free, in Taiwan
Monument/Building Confucius Temple (Tainan)
In his 2001 travelog Keeping Up With the War God, Steven Crook compares entering the grounds of this gorgeous shrine to, "falling through a trapdoor into a different world." You may very well feel the same way as... more
free, in Taiwan
Monument/Building Temple Of The Lord Of The North Pole
Squeezed between shops and lacking the drum and bell towers common in major shrines, the Temple of the Lord of the North Pole (北極殿, aka Beiji Temple) is devoted to a god considered a guardian of the Mi... more
free, in Taiwan
Monument/Building Magic School Of Green Technology
This four-floor, 4,799m2 building is a landmark in sustainable architecture. Known in Chinese as the Y. S. Sun Green Building Research Center (孫運璿綠建築研究大樓... more
free, in Taiwan
Museum Bo Yang Museum
Located next to the main campus of National Tainan University in an old residential neighborhood, Bo Yang Museum (柏楊文物館) is a two-story building celebrating the life and work of writer an... more
free, in Taiwan
Museum National Museum Of Taiwan Literature
Before entering the National Museum of Taiwan Literature (國立臺灣文學館, NMTL), you should spend a few minutes scanning the exterior of this 1916 Baroque-style edifice, which once... more
free, in Taiwan
Monument/Building Fangliao Yimin Temple
One of the largest, and certainly the best known, of the 40-odd places of worship in Taiwan dedicated to yimin, Fangliao Yimin Temple (枋寮義民廟) is central to the religious life of many Hakk... more
free, in Taiwan
Cemetery Cimetiere Francais De Kilung
In 1884, war broke out between France and China over Annam, part of what is now Vietnam. China regarded Annam as a tributary state, and were angered when the French incorporated it into their Indochinese colony. On October... more
free, in Taiwan
Monument/Building Puli Paper Dome
Puli's Taomi Community (埔里鎮桃米區), which has a population of 1,200, suffered very heavy damage in the 921 Earthquake. Since its rebuilding it has successfully repositioned itself as ... more
NT$50, in Taiwan
These are just 10 of 120 Things to See in Taiwan. Show more.

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