Taiwan is a place which is well considered for its exports. But only few people are aware of the fact that due to its alluring landscapes and captivating culture, Taiwan was referred to as “Ilha Formosa” (the beautiful island) by the Portuguese sailors during their first visit to Taiwan in the 1600s. However, these factors are not enough for someone to put Taiwan on their bucket list. So let’s explore further and see what else this incredible island has to offer!
With its leaf like structure, the island of Taiwan is located in the southeastern coast of Asia with neighboring countries such as Philippines to the south, China to the west and Japan to the northeast. The population is more than 23 million. There is no predominant religion in Taiwan as one-third of the population is clung to Buddhism and the other one-third practicing Taoism, around 18% population identifying themselves as non-religious and likewise. The official currency of Taiwan is New Taiwan Dollar (or NT$), available in five different types of denomination, namely, NT$2000, NT$1000, NT$500, NT$200 and NT$100 in notes and NT$50, NT$20, NT$10, NT$5 and NT$1 in coins Due to safety concerns, tourists are needed to apply for an entrance permit if they want to go for mountaineering. Sometimes, an English speaking guide is sent with a group of more than 4 mountaineers. The tourists are asked to provide one of their IDs and passports as well. Taiwan is a home to many beautiful landscapes such as Sun Moon Lake, Taijiang National Park, Elephant Mountain, Mugumugi, Tarako National park and many more! Mountaineering is also popular in Taiwan as it is bestowed with more than 200 mountains making it geographically distinctive. Moreover, one can explore the beauty of Taiwan through the local metro which is very feasible for getting around as well as it accepts all types of payment methods, be it cash or credit card. Biking also serves as a good option as there are biking trails stretching one side of a city to another. In this way, you can ride along the mountains and experience the pure and fresh air all by yourself. Taiwan further amazes you with the 6th tallest building in the world, the Taipei 101! Also, it possesses the sixth most visited museum in the world, the National Palace Museum with more than 6 million yearly visitors. Therefore, it becomes clear from all these things that there is no chance of Taiwan failing to surprise you with its wonders during the visit.
Culture In Taiwan
The culture of Taiwan is strongly influenced by its historical events dating back to the 16th century. The Dutch and Spanish were the first to colonize the island for the purpose of trade and production activities. Consequently, it became a colony of Japan and at the end of World War II; it got liberated from colonial rule. The people of Taiwan are known as Taiwanese and they are friendly to tourist. They are very warm-hearted and offer the most hospitable welcome to the visitors. Moreover, you may meet some English speakers in Taiwan too. Another aspect of Taiwan’s culture is its night life. The jolly night markets of Taiwan are known worldwide for the street food and affordable shopping destinations. The official language in Taiwan is Mandarin. However, due to the majority of Taiwanese people coming from Fuijanese background, a language known as Minnam is also widely spoken. Speaking of foreign languages, English is also spoken in Taiwan. Further, it is also taught in school as a part of the curriculum. Many tourists and travelers prefer Taiwan as a good place for learning the Chinese language as there are many Chinese learning schools in Taiwan. The festivals occupy a special place in the hearts of the Taiwanese people. The Taiwanese calendar brings with itself many occasions and celebrations. Some of them are
- The Taiwan lantern festival where people release paper lanterns into the sky in the city of Pingxi.
- Dragon Boat festival in which boat races are conducted on local rivers.
- Taiwan international balloon festival where you experience flying in a hot air balloon or just look at hundreds of colourful balloons going into the sky.
There are many other festivals such as Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival, Organik techno festival and many more! Taiwan also offers an endless variety of traditional crafts, modern art, performing arts, etc. which reflects the expression of the country’s rich and diversified culture. Some of them include calligraphy writing, oil paper umbrellas, glove puppetry while performing arts embrace Chinese folk dance, ballet, etc.
Learn The Taiwanese Way Of Life With A Local
In a culturally vibrant country like Taiwan, one gets an opportunity to explore a lot of things. Therefore, in order to gain a better exposure of the country, homestays serves as a good option. In this way, one gets to tour around the region with the association of a person who has been born and brought up in that region so that you can get an elaborative view of the country. Moreover, one must be aware of the fact that Taiwan is a country that never stops. People always keep themselves occupied in something, whether it is watching movies in theaters or taking a bath at hot springs. During the stay, one must get an Easy card which is a must in Taiwan. You can avail the benefits of an easy card by paying fares charges, charges for public parking and supermarket bills as well. These cards can be obtained at metro stations or bus stations and can be recharged as per your needs. In Taiwan, you don’t have to hop around form one place to another to get your work done. And this is because you get the 7-Eleven as a helping hand in Taiwan. Anything can be done at 7-Eleven, whether it is making payments for concert tickets or having a delicious meal. Always keep an umbrella with you as one may not know if it is going to be a bright day or a rainy day in Taiwan because Taiwan’s weather is constantly altering several times in a day. Therefore, the umbrella’s got your back. One must follow the Metro rules in Taiwan as the Taiwanese are very sincere in terms of the Metro rules. You should stand in a line while boarding a train and stand on the right side of the escalator as well. You are further not supposed to sit on dark blue seats in a metro as these are reserved for pregnant women, children and senior citizens.
What Is A Cultural Tour?
More than sightseeing, it is an exploratory travel and tourism in Taiwan, where you immerse into a new culture and explore a city, not like tourists in Taiwan but like a local! When you are a tourist of Taiwan, eat the Dumplings, become a part of a Lantern festival, live the language like it’s your own! Through a cultural tour, you get a front line view of the native history, art, architecture, religion etc. Typically, a cultural tour may be urban or rural or both. The purpose of such a Cultural Travel would be to have a Global exposure all by yourself or with a group of close friends & learn the minute details of the Taiwanese way of Life along with the top tourist destinations in Taiwan!
Language lessons are also conducted for students not only for the purpose of encouraging the students to interact with the locals on their own but to make them globally competent as well as enhance their thought process.
Whether you’re a budget traveler or a big spender, the accommodation facilities in Taiwan has covered it all. From a luxurious 5 star hotel to an affordable and satisfactory hotel room, the island of Formosa has got it all. You are also obliged to pay a 10% service charge in the hotels of Taiwan. Moreover, there are some good options for accommodations which are listed down below:
- Hotel: Just like other countries, Taiwan also provides a variety of hotels for every person and every occasion. Most of the 5 Star hotels are found in Taipei and budgetary and mid-range hotels can be found anywhere in Taipei as well. The Taiwanese hotels provide every facility such as safety, luggage holding, room services, comfort, etc. Moreover, the staff speaks English.
- Homestays: One gets a true glimpse of the culture of the nation if he opts for homestays. You get to eat home cooked food and the hospitability is unquestionable. Homestays are mostly found in rural areas. The places offering homestays are generally clean and amiable. However, most of these homestay places are a bit far from public transport, yet pick-up and drop services are available from nearby railway and bus stations.
- Hot spring resort: Well, here comes the exciting stuff. Who doesn’t want to sink into a pool of steaming water and just relax? One can’t leave Taiwan without relaxing in a hot springs session.
- Motels: Motel stay stands out as a perfect for option for budget travelers as they offer excellent ambience and amenities at an affordable rate.
- Hostels: These are very popular type of accommodation for those who are seeking a budgetary stay. Many hostels provide laundry facilities, internet facilities and a common TV room as well.
- Camping: Camping has also gained popularity in recent times, especially in forest recreation areas. You can go for grass spots which would cost you around 350NT$ while camping on raised platforms are priced at 500NT$. Many campsites further provide sleep bags along with tents on rent. These areas are equipped with washrooms and barbecue pits too!
The Taiwanese culinary heritage is the contribution of various cultures. While Taiwanese cuisines draw some of its influence from China and Japan, some recipes are the contributions of the Taiwan’s aboriginal people. Moreover, when it comes to food, the Taiwanese are hearty eaters. And if you want to experience the true flavour of these dishes, local night markets stands out as the best places, providing excellent taste at an affordable rate! Some of these cuisines are:
- Beef noodles Soup: Ever heard that a dish is so popular in a nation that it has its own festival? Well, the Beef noodles have one. It is a soup comprising of noodles and beef and sometimes veggies such as cabbage and scallions.
- Oyster omelet: These are also one of the popular cuisines in the night markets. The main ingredients include beans, potato starch, lettuce, eggs, oysters and the dish is accompanied with sauce too.
- Stinky Tofu: It is a fermented tofu with a very strong fragrance. This is another dish which is very famous in the night markets. The tofu is deep fried and further fermented in milk or vegetables. It is served with spicy sauces and has a crispy taste.
- Scallion pancakes (or Green onion pancakes): These are pancakes stuffed with minced green onion and oil and are served with sauce. Legend also says it that the pizza has evolved from the scallion pancakes.
- Oyster vermicelli: It is a soup with ingredients such as noodles and misua floating over it.
- Douhua (or Tofu Pudding): It is a soft and fresh tofu with a topping of sweet sauces and dry fruits. In summer, it is accompanied by ice too.
- There are many other cuisines such as Milkfish, Taro Balls, Taiwanese sausages, etc.
Let alone cuisines, Taiwan also offers some of the most interesting and fascinating themed restaurants too! For instance, the toilet themed restaurant, where the dining is designed like a toilet, or be it the Hello Kitty cafe, where the cuisines are served in the shape of cartoon cats
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