It’s a wonderful place to get a taste of modern Asia, but Taiwan remains a mystery to most Australians. The country remains close to its ancient cultural roots, yet it’s super-contemporary, with the urban action sitting comfortably alongside pristine natural settings. Having escaped the Cultural Revolution and decades of social engineering on the mainland, in some ways it’s ‘more Chinese than China’ on this beautiful island.
Emerging from military dictatorship in 1987, Taiwan has become a thriving democracy. Tourism has boomed, attracting travellers who come to enjoy a thriving indigenous folk culture, museums bursting with treasures, bustling night markets with a unique food culture, and the latest in high-tech gadgets. But what really makes visiting Taiwan such a pleasure is the friendly outlook of the 23 million people who call the island home.
Fly to Taipei via a connecting city. Note: Some flights may depart one day later.
Arrive at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport, you will be greeted warmly at the airport by your local tour guide and transferred to your hotel. Standard hotel check-in time is 3pm.
Today’s highlight is a visit to the Presidential Building (outside) and Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. This afternoon, visit Tamsui – a laidback waterfront town on the northern part of Taipei city. Enjoy lunch today at Tamsui Old Street, where you can feast on many famous Taiwanese snacks. Visit Lin An Tai Historical House and Museum. This elegant building is built in the style of prosperous houses in China’s Fujian province, where many Taiwanese migrated from, and the paving stones in the courtyard were once ballast in merchant ships. In the evening, explore the bustling night life of Taipei. Have a traditional Taiwanese dinner of Xiao Long Bao, then proceed to colourful Huahsi Night Market.
This morning travel to Sun Moon Lake, situated 762 meters above sea level in the lofty mountains of central Taiwan. Cruise across the lake and take in the view of Xuanguang Temple & Lalu Island, as you relax on the lake’s tranquil waters. Then, take Sun Moon Lake Ropeway to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village and observe Taiwan’s traditional indigenous lifestyles and traditions. After a dinner of Taiwanese-style roasted chicken, check in to the hotel.
After breakfast, we will head to an Oolong Tea Farm before continuing south towards Kaohsiung and Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Centre (BMC). Completed in 2011, BMC has enshrined a relic of the Buddha, gifted by Tibetan Lama Kunga Dorje Rinpoche, since the beginning of contraction in 2001. We will be spending most of our day at this place to enjoy the serene atmosphere and explore the entire area at our leisure. Then, learn how to make Pineapple Tarts at the popular Vigor Pineapple Factory. Later we will be enter Kaohsiung City and explore Pier 2 Art Central, where 25 former warehouses have been converted into a thriving arts precinct. After dinner (Taiwanese Shabu Shabu hotpot), explore one of Kaohsiung’s bustling night markets.
The highlight today is a visit to Kenting National Park, Taiwan’s first nationally recognised park and undoubtedly one of the most spectacular landscapes you will see. Be awestruck by the vastness of the natural reserve and stand on the southernmost tip of the island at Maopitou and Longpan Park, also known as ‘The Light of East Asia’ as its lighthouse is one of the most powerful along the Taiwan coast. This afternoon, head to Kenting Main Street in the heart of Kenting, an area bustling with locals, tourists and vendors. Spend lunch time discovering the numerous stalls and restaurants offering a variety of local snacks and cuisines. Travel up the scenic Southern Link Highway to Taitung Country, ending the day with dinner at the hotel.
The highlight today is a visit the East Coast National Scenic Area, known as ‘Taiwan’s last unspoiled land’, stretching 170 kilometres down the east coast of Taiwan. Weathering and erosion have produced a wide range of breathtaking landforms here which can only be appreciated first-hand. Stop at Siao-ye-liou (‘little wild willow’ geological formations), San-sien-tai (Three Immortals Island), Shi-ti-ping (Stone Steps) and take in the spectacular views. Proceed to Hualien, to Taroko National Park. Encompassing Taroko Gorge, Swallow Grotto, and Shakadong Trail, the park covers over 120,000 hectares and rises from sea level in the east to heights of over 3700m further west. The aquamarine Liwu River cuts through the centre, forging deep slit valleys before joining the sea.
Today, visit a Marble Factory on the return trip to Taipei. Depending on the size of the group, visit local scenic towns Yilan or Shifen. These towns are both rich in culture and local history, and provide a nice glimpse of Taiwan’s beautiful natural scenery. Later, visit Taipei 101 (admission fee at your own expense, payable to the guide). Experience soaring heights and impressive views at the tallest building in Taiwan, and the 6th highest in the world. Taipei 101 was the first building to exceed 500m in height and has a unique design that mimics the shape of bamboo. Dinner will be hotpot (or similar, depending on availability).
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home via a connecting city.
Arrive home this morning