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Taiwan is famous for its towering mountains, with dozens of peaks rising upwards of 3,000 meters and one, the scenic Yushan (Jade Mountain), reaching to nearly 4,000 meters, making it Northeast Asia's highest peak. The geographical richness of Taiwan is especially evident in the mountain areas of the island with their unique landscapes and scenic charms.

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Activities

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Hot Springs
Hot springs are formed by natural waters that emerge from the bowels of the earth and that possess therapeutic properties said to have a positive effect on disorders of the nervous and digestive systems, the circulation, and the organs. People have used hot springs to keep in good health for ages. In Taiwan, with its peculiar crustal structure and location on the fault line where the Euro-Asian and Philippine continental plates meet in the Circum-Pacific seismic zone, subterranean heat is spread across the island producing hot springs island-wide. With the exception of Changhua, Yunlin and Penghu counties, almost every city and county in Taiwan can find hot springs, and so it is well to see that by some tourists name Taiwan "the Hot Spring Kingdom".

More than one hundred hot springs have been discovered in Taiwan, located in different geological areas including plains, mountains, valleys, and oceans. The highest concentration of hot springs can be found in the northern Taiwan, where the Datun (Tatun) Volcano is located, while along both sides of the central mountain range, covering an area that to the north is bordered by Yilan and to the south by Pingtung, the largest number of hot springs can be found. Hot springs found here make up more than 80% of all hot springs in Taiwan.

Tea
Mountains can be seen everywhere in Taiwan.Strolling in the mountains, you will experience Taiwanese tea culture on hundred-year-old trails.

Experience tea picking and tea making in the plantations. Smell the aroma, sip a cup of soothing tea, listen to birds chirping in the woods, and take in the traditional culture slowly, quietly.

Tea tours in Taiwan cover the island’s tea farms from the north to the south, including Pouchong tea, Emei Oriental Beauty tea, Yuchi Assam black tea, Ali Mountain (Alishan) high mountain tea and Ruisui honey black tea. Enjoy the diverse and beautiful tea fields.

LOHAS (“Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability”)
In Taiwan, you can give your taste buds a treat and stay healthy at the same time by enjoying your fill of medicinal foods and healthful organic cuisine. If you are anxious to achieve a physical and mental balance, then you might try yoga, Zen meditation, martial arts, or Tai Chi to bring you tranquility the Oriental way. If you just want to relax a bit during your trip, then a visit to one of Taiwan’s popular spas, a soak in a hot spring bath, or a soothing cup of traditional tea might be just the thing for you. If you want to experience the Chinese medical treatment that is receiving ever more attention around the world, then Taiwan will provide you with a health-travel environment of the highest quality. This brochure introduces Taiwan’s rich variety of health-giving resources so that you can experience, in the most relaxed and natural way possible, the island’s health culture and leisure travel at the same time.

Night Markets
Next to these Chinese delicacies, the enormous variety of typical Taiwanese snacks is unique in the world and most perfectly illustrates the important place that the food culture takes into the lives of the Taiwanese people. Famous and unique Taiwanese snacks range from oyster omelets to fried rice noodles, tempura, Tainan Danzai noodles, Taiwanese spring rolls, rice tube pudding, and braised pork rice. Food is cheap and delicious, and by no means inferior, while each specialty gives you an insight in the people of the area it originates from.

Typical Taiwanese snacks are found everywhere, but Taiwan's night markets in particular, each night market having its own traditions and characteristics, are the places where these snacks can be found in abundance. Trying out these snacks, tourists will be able to learn about different specialties, cultures and people from different areas, adding a whole new perspective to traveling.

Rail Tour
Taiwan's railways offer an endless variety of experience, and the scenery lining their routes provides an infinite range of fascinating scenery. If you want to get a close look at the island's beauties without having to suffer the troubles of unfamiliar roads and the frustrations of traffic congestion, then you could do no better than choose a railroad tour and immerse yourself in the delights of enchanting coastlines, awesome mountains, placid farmlands, and engrossing countryside.

The history of railroads in Taiwan dates back to 1887, in the declining years of the Qing Dynasty, when court official Liu Ming-chuan started to work on a section of track in the northern part of the island. The Japanese expanded on that beginning when they occupied Taiwan from 1895 to 1945, and the round-the-island network was completed after the island was restored to Chinese rule. Today, more than a century after its small beginning, Taiwan's convenient railway network consists of the West Coast Trunk Railway, East Coast Trunk Railway, North-Link Railway, and South-Link Railway. Passenger service is divided into four classes, offering travelers a choice depending on their destination, the urgency of their trip, and the size of their pocketbooks.

Arts

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Literature and Art

Perhaps the best thing about experiencing the endless variety of Taiwan's cultural and artistic wonders is that whatever you like, whether it be folk festivals, religious practices, traditional skills, or modern art, everything is right at hand. You can find expressions of the country's rich and varied arts on every street and lane, and in the lives of the people. And every part of Taiwan - north, center, south, and east, and even the offshore islands - presents its own unique local characteristics, profoundly different yet centered on a common cultural core. This is the source of Taiwan's magnetic allure.

Glove Puppetry
Glove puppetry is one of the most important traditional performing arts in Taiwan, an art form that incorporates literary motifs, music, and voice acting.

The puppets are expertly crafted with carved wooden heads, elaborate attire, and other trimmings that make them works of art in their own right. Their faces have no obvious expression; the liveliness of the figurines depends entirely on the puppetry skills of the puppeteer. The carvings and paintings of the puppet stage further add to the delight of the show.

Oil Paper Umbrellas
Oil paper umbrellas play an important role in the life of the Hakka people. In addition to providing shelter from sun and rain, they are also a symbol of good fortune. The Hakka town of Meinong in southern Taiwan is renowned for its oil paper umbrellas. It is a custom among the townspeople to give umbrellas away as a gesture of good luck. It is common to see people in Meinong walking through the town streets holding an oil paper umbrella on a rainy day. The umbrellas represent not only the locals' love for their hometown, but also pride in their skill and art.

Dough Figures
The making of dough figures is a traditional folk art in Chinese culture. The figures are fashioned from steamed sticky rice and flour dough and so are also called "rice sculptures." Most dough figures are made into characters from legendary stories or are shaped like beasts, flowers, or birds.

Nowadays, some dough figures are shaped into cartoon and comic story characters as well. Since they are brightly colored, dough figures are popular among and loved by children. Dough figures were often sold at temple fairs. Today, they are considered as art works to be collected and appreciated rather than items offered at an altar to the dead or deities in temples, as they once were.

Blowing Sugar Figurines
A sugar figurine is made by first melting malt sugar in a pot, then taking it out when it becomes semi-colloid and blowing it into a hollow round ball with a long and thin tube. When the ball cools down, it becomes solid while the lump of elastic sugar remains soft and warm in the hand. At that point, the sugar blower pulls, rolls, and pinches the ball while blowing into the tube. In less than a minute, a figure takes shape. Although it is not difficult to learn the basics of blowing sugar figurines, it takes much time and practice to do it well.

Chinese Knots
In earlier times, knots were used not only to fasten objects, but also to record facts. In Chinese culture, they have long served a decorative function as well.

The knots have a symmetrical design and subtle beauty that exemplifies traditional Chinese aesthetic values. Today they are called "Chinese knots," or "Chinese macrame."

Scented Sachets
It is customary in Taiwan to make and wear scented sachets (pomanders) during the Dragon Boat Festival, celebrated on the 5th day of the fifth lunar month of the Chinese calendar. In the past when medicine was less advanced, people ground up realgar (arsenic mineral ore) and artemisia and calamus plants into fine powders, and wrapped them in a small piece of cloth to make a sachet that could be worn around the neck. The sachets gave out a scent that kept away insects and bacteria; this is the origin of today's scented sachets.

While these auspicious symbols are no longer used to ward off evils or cure illnesses, they still retain a cultural value and are appreciated for their decorative beauty.

Spinning Tops
"Spinning tops" is a game dating from ancient times which still enjoys great popularity today.

This special type of folk sport is well preserved in the town of Daxi in Taoyuan City, where many residents begin whipping tops from a very young age. The largest "king top" displayed at the Furen Temple weighs 120kg, and is played with a cord thicker than your thumb. The next time you visit this enchanted town to see its historical streets, appreciate the wooden furniture, and shop for tofu, don't forget to see the tops as well!

Kites
Traditional kites in Taiwan are made of narrow bamboo strips and cotton paper, which is light, easy to paint, and not so easily damaged as paper made from wood pulp. Today's kites are mostly made of plastic or nylon and are durable even in rain. In terms of style, there are regular flat kites and sculptural kites in the shapes of dragons, centipedes, and other fanciful figures.

Diabolos
A diabolo is a juggling prop whirled and tossed on a string connected to two sticks, one held in each hand. As the diabolo accelerates, it issues a low humming sound. Experienced performers can simultaneously spin multiple diabolos and send them high through the air. Diabolos are also incorporated into dances and other riveting performances.

Calligraphy
Calligraphy is the most appreciated form of all Chinese arts. Some say it embodies the essence of Chinese culture.

Calligraphy comes in many styles. The characters may be carefully and neatly written, or described with flourish. The characters may also be presented to emphasize their meaning. A work of calligraphy evokes a different response from each viewer. Calligraphy is said to bring peace of mind and inner tranquility, elevate one spiritually, and promote the ability to observe and make judgments. It is also said to enhance perseverance and willpower.

Beaches

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Offshore Islands

Are you looking for a place where the waters are clear, the skies are blue, and countless stars stud the sky at night? Or, would you like to wander through remote and picturesque fishing villages? Then pack your bags and visit the offshore islands of Taiwan!

Taiwan is located along the southeast coast of the Asian continent, on the fault line where the Euro-Asian and Philippine continental plates meet. This unique geographic location and frequent seismic activity not only created an extremely diversified topography and natural environment on Taiwan, but also resulted in the diverse characters of its off-shore islands. Main offshore islands include Penghu, Ludao (Green Island), Lanyu (Orchid Island), Kinmen, Matzu, Turtle Island, and Little Liuqiu. As their locations, topographical characteristics, and human activities differ; each has its own unique scenery and culture. Therefore, each island offers something different to satisfy the various needs of visitors, such as sightseeing, snorkeling, or sport fishing.

Penghu
The Penghu archipelago is Taiwan's offshore island group, situated in the straits that separate Taiwan from China. Penghu is made up of 90 small islands with a combined coastline that stretches more than 320 kilometers. Each season brings its own particular scenery, and rich natural and cultural resources can be found here. The landscape here is characterized by basaltic rocks, coral reefs, sea-eroded formations, and beaches, while the fishing culture and migratory birds add extra dimensions to the picture.

Ludao
Ludao, also known as Green Island, is located some 33 kilometers off the coast of Taitung in eastern Taiwan. It is a volcanic island where winds blow and waters eat away at the rocks all year round, creating a beautiful and diverse coast.

Lanyu
Lanyu, or Orchid Island, is situated off the southeastern coast of Taiwan; like Ludao, its neighbor to the north, it was raised from the sea by the accumulation of volcanic lava. It has a moist and rainy climate, and its mountain areas (which occupy most of the island) are covered with dense rain forests that are filled with a great variety of plant and animal life. Coral reefs decorate the surrounding seas, and the Japan Current which flows past brings in large numbers of fish. This makes Lanyu a paradise for fishermen and skin divers. The island is inhabited mainly by people of the Yami (Tao) tribe, the most primitive of Taiwan's indigenous peoples, who still keep much of their traditional culture and lifestyle. Their traditional stone houses were built mostly underground to avoid extremes of temperature as well as the ravages of typhoons. The Flying Fish and Boat Launching festivals are seen nowhere else on earth. In addition to savoring the beautiful island scenery, you can also enjoy a glimpse into the fascinating Yami (Tao) culture during your trip to Lanyu.

Kinmen
Lying just 2,100 meters off the coast of China at the nearest point, this hilly island is composed mostly of granite and has a history that derives largely from war. It can, therefore, be termed a "battlefield island," and it possesses unique battlefield scenery. Kinmen also contains numerous traces of history, and the government has designated 21 historic sites within its small area. It also has large numbers of houses built in the traditional southern Fujianese three-sided courtyard style, giving it a rich ancient atmosphere.

Matsu
Situated in the northeast corner of the Taiwan Straits and separated from China by only a narrow strip of water, Matsu, like Kinmen to the south, is also made up largely of granite. Its scenery consists of sea-eroded terrain, natural sand and pebble beaches, sand dunes, precipitous cliffs, and other scenic features. In addition to its beautiful jagged coastline and the migratory birds that pass through Matsu also offers traditional eastern Fujian villages built on mountainsides as well as defensive fortifications built by the military.

Guishan Island (Turtle Island)
This small, solitary island located about 10 kilometers off the coast of Toucheng in Yilan County has a volcanic terrain that, from certain angles, looks like a turtle floating in the sea. Among the features of the island are high cliffs, steaming fumaroles, welling underwater hot springs, mountain peaks, sea-eroded caves, a lake, and unique cliff vegetation, as well as rich marine ecological resources. It is a perfect place to study volcanic terrain and the natural ecology.

Little Liuqiu
Lying in the sea about 14 kilometers to the southwest of Donggang in Pingtung County, Little Liuqiu is the only one of Taiwan's numerous offshore islands that is composed of coral. Three special features make this island unique: the finest location for viewing the sunset, the most species of coral, and a terrain made up of coral. Strange coral rock formations stand throughout the island, and its ocean scenery is entrancing. This is a fishing island whose inhabitants are intensely religious; there are many temples here, each with its own unique features and special attractions.

If you are longing for a peaceful holiday on an island, Little Liuqiu should be at the top of your list of choices. Let the clear transparent sea water, blue skies, and interesting local folk customs and cultures entertain your eyes and enrich your mind!

Events

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Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is celebrated from the first to the fifth day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar. Literally, Chinese people refer to this festival as "passing the year," which means shooing out the old and welcoming the new; it is considered the most important Chinese holiday of the year. There are a number of related customs and traditions that go along with the festival. Normally, on the 23rd or 24th day of the last month of the Chinese lunar calendar, people sacrifice to the Hearth God and send him off on his annual journey to Heaven; this signals the start of the Chinese New Year holidays.

On the Chinese New Year's Eve, families complete their spring cleaning, signifying the sweeping away of the misfortunes of the previous year. After the spring cleaning, a New Year's cake is made (the cake is a symbol of "reaching new heights"). The second to last day of the last month of the Chinese lunar calendar is when families stick up spring couplets and New Year’s prints on their doors and windows to bring good luck. On the last day of the last month of the Chinese lunar calendar, families gather together for a New Year’s Eve dinner, called the "Gathering around the stove." Adults then give the younger members of the family, particularly children, red envelopes with cash inside. This monetary gift is thought to bring peace and good fortune to the recipients. Then there is the "Keeping of the Year," which is seeing the old year out and the New Year in by staying up on New Year’s Eve. This starts after the family has finished eating the New Year’s Eve dinner. Once the clock strikes midnight, people set off firecrackers to welcome the arrival of the New Year.

Chinese New Year activities also include the practice of going around to friends and relatives to offer New Year’s greetings on the 1st day of the Chinese New Year, visiting the wife's family on the 2nd day, welcoming the God of Wealth on the 4th day, and reopening business on the 5th day.

Taiwan Lantern Festival
The Lantern festival is also known as the "little New Year." Aside from the usual worship of the gods, the occasion involves guessing lantern riddles, eating rice-flour dumplings, and releasing lanterns into the sky in New Taipei City’s Pingxi Township. The Yanshui Beehive Rocket Festival in Tainan County is another major event during the Lantern Festival. Colorful lanterns of all sizes and shapes have always been main attractions of the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated with a grand national festival and other major festivals in Taipei and Kaohsiung.

The Taipei Lantern Festival is held for several days at the Taipei Expo Park, reaching its peak on the day of the Lantern Festival itself. There are many traditional lanterns, electromechanical lantern displays, and large themed lanterns sponsored and designed by different companies.

The Kaohsiung Lantern Festival is held along the Love River. During the festival period, both sides of the river, as well as Wufu Rd., Heping Rd., Guangzhou St., and other thoroughfares, have lantern exhibitions. There are also musical performances, helping to throw the whole city into a festive mood.

Dragon Boat Festival
Together with the Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival is one of Taiwan's three major annual traditional holidays. Because of its origins and customs, it is closely related to the remembrance of Qu Yuan, a poet who lived during the Warring States Period. That is why, from ancient times, people have also referred to the Dragon Boat Festival as the" Poet's Festival."

At the time of the Dragon Boat Festival, the most common customs are holding dragon boat races and eating glutinous rice dumplings called zongzi. Legend has it that when the poet Qu Yuan jumped to his death in the Miluo River, the local people rowed their boats to and fro in search of him. Later, this practice slowly evolved into the dragon boat races. Today, dragon boat races are a popular activity in Taiwan and abroad, and many local areas in Taiwan hold their own races. Every year, there is also an international dragon boat race with competing teams from Taiwan and abroad.

The practice of making zongzi came from the people who tried to save Qu Yuan from being eaten by fish by stuffing rice into bamboo sections and throwing them into the river to feed the fish. Today, the dumplings are wrapped in bamboo leaves and eaten by people.

Zhongyuan Festival
The seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar is Ghost Month. Traditionally, it starts from dawn on the first day of the month, when the gates of the netherworld open, and ends on the 29th day of the month, when the gates close. During the festivities of the month, which reach a peak on the 15th day, people hold rituals to solicit salvation from disaster and misfortune.

Zhongyuan Universal Salvation Ceremonies
Traditionally, on the day of Zhongyuan Festival every household has to prepare meat, fruit, fresh flowers, and other sacrificial items, which they offer to the “hungry ghosts” at temples or on temporary altar tables set up in front of their homes. They also ask monks to say prayers for their deceased loved ones as well as those lost souls who have no living descendants left on earth. This is known as Zhongyuan Pudu, or Universal Salvation.

The ceremonies take place in temples and on streets. On the afternoon of Pudu, local residents prepare offerings and carry them to the main altar at a temple to join in the ceremonies there. For the street festivities, local residents prepare chicken, duck, and fish as offerings in front of their homes in a ceremony known as “doorway worship.”

Launching of the Water Lanterns
The launching of water lanterns is a longstanding custom. The purpose is to help light the way for the lost souls in the water, call the souls to come on land to enjoy the offerings prepared for them, and pray for the early reincarnation of these souls. It is also said that the further a lantern floats on the water, the better the fortune that the clan it represents will enjoy in the coming year.

Grappling with the Ghosts
Grappling with the Ghosts is a pole-climbing competition held during Ghost Month. In Taiwan, it is carried out only in Toucheng, Yilan County and Hengchun, Pingtung County. Of these two locales, Toucheng has the larger celebration.

In the early days, people migrating to Yilan from Guangdong and Fujian provinces were beset by natural disasters, accidents, and diseases, and many of them died. They were afraid that nobody was going to be left alive to make offerings after they were gone, and that their souls would have nowhere to go. Therefore, they held pole-climbing ceremonies to commemorate those who had passed away during the year. Since Toucheng was the first city to be developed in the Yilan area, residents of its eight major districts jointly organize the Universal Salvation ceremony. On the last day of the month - the day when the gates of the netherworld close – they also hold a big Grappling with the Ghosts pole-climbing competition.

Mid-Autumn Festival
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also called the Moon Festival, is the holiday with the most romantic atmosphere. Because this holiday occurs during the autumn, when the harvest season is over, people in earlier days chose this day to make offerings and thank the gods for the bountiful harvest. The celebration has become a time for families to get together. The most familiar myth concerning this festival is that Chang-e flying to the moon after secretly drinking her husband's elixir of life. Aside from this, there are also tales of the Jade Rabbit and of "Wu Gangchopping down the cassia tree."

Because most of the activities held on this holiday are related to the moon, it has come to be known as "Moon Day." Important activities at this time include eating moon cakes, which symbolize unity and togetherness; strolling under the full moon; and eating pomelos, since the Chinese term for pomelo sounds like "care and protection." The barbecuing that is so popular in Taiwan on this holiday is a recent custom is in which families and friends get together and enjoy a meal.

Explore The Outdoors

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Taiwan is only 36,000 square kilometers in size, but nearly 60% of the island is covered by forests with rich and varied landscapes and natural resources, attesting to the unusual tenacity of life.

Tropical, subtropical, temperate, and subfrigid zone plants can all be found in Taiwan, fostering an equally diverse animal kingdom. The forest areas of Taiwan are also steeped in fascinating history and culture, adding another dimension to the forest recreation environment. The following forest recreation areas are currently open for public enjoyment in Taiwan:

North: Taipingshan, Dongyanshan, Neidong, Manyueyuan, and Guanwu

Central: Dashuishan, Baxianshan, Hehuanshan, Wuling, and Aowanda

South: Alishan, Tengzhi, Shuangliu, and Kenting

East: Zhihben, Chinan, Fuyuan, and Xiangyang

Food

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Local Specialties

Tea
With a reputation of being a tea empire, Taiwan has topography and climate that are perfect for growing tea plants. There are many varieties of tea available in Taiwan; among these, Wenshan Baozhong Tea, Dongding Oolong (Wulong) Tea, Pekoe Oolong (Baihao Wulong) Tea, and Tie Guanyin are the four mainstream teas.

You can pick up virtually any type of teapot in department stores or tea stores. If you want to buy a piece of porcelain culture aside from having a teapot to boil tea in, go to Yingge, the ceramics capital of Taiwan. Yingge's Jianshanpu Rd. is a newly designed pedestrian area, and the whole shopping area provides various types of porcelain products. This is the best place to buy your teapot and have a look around.

Major department stores and supermarkets have special stalls that sell tea, which makes this national beverage readily available. Besides, there is also the tea bag, a simple and convenient way to enjoy a cup of tea.

Pineapple Cake
Pineapple is widely grown here in Taiwan, which is also known for producing canned pineapple, pineapple drinks, and pineapple jams. Pineapple is also made into pineapple cake, with the pineapple's sweet and sour taste mingling with the loose, soft outer skin that seems to melt in your mouth; definitely worth giving it a taste... and more!

Shaoxing and Gaoliang Wines
The water quality of the Ailan Plateau, located on the western side of Puli Township, Nantou County, is pure and sweet. Because of the water's unique qualities, it is considered the primary "Shaoxing wine spring." Made by fermenting glutinous rice, Penglai rice, wheat, and other ingredients, the golden yellow Shaoxing wine has a dry, sweet taste.Kinmen, with its hot, dry weather and unpolluted environment, is the best place to make Gaoliang spirit. Thanks to excellent water quality, the Gaoliang produced here is superior in quality and fine in taste. In Matsu, with the uniqueness of the local spring water, brews such as Daqu, Gaoliang, and Matsu Old Wine are most popular. Clear ruby-colored Matsu Old Wine is not just a favored drink on Matsu, but is also widely used in Chinese cooking.

Rice Noodles
Tradition has it that rice noodles first arrived in Taiwan via Fujian in mainland China. Today, Hsinchu rice noodles and Fengkeng rice noodles are the two best known versions of this popular staple. Hsinchu offers an ideal climate for making rice noodles, which require plenty of sunshine and wind for air drying. The resulting noodles have a springiness that resist mushiness when boiled. The rice noodle industry in Changhua County's Fengkeng Village has roots tracing back over a century. Fengkeng natives have also brought their rice noodle making skills to nearby Puli, helping the township to rise as another well-known spot for rice noodles.

The biggest difference between the rice noodles of Hsinchu and Fengkeng comes from the final manufacture steps. The Hsinchu noodles are steam boiled and then air dried to retain more of the original rice taste. The Fengkeng noodles, by comparison, are water boiled before air drying to add to their chewiness. Each version has a unique appeal and mouth-watering taste.

Mochi
Mochi (sticky rice cake) was called "doushu" (bean rice cake) in early Taiwanese society but later became better known as "mochi" under the influence of the Japanese dessert "wagashi" during the Japanese colonial period. This treat is one of the representative delicacies of Taiwan's aboriginal and Hakka cultures. The Amis "dulun" is a chewy, corn-based version of this treat made without filling.

Hakka mochi has come into the spotlight in recent years in large part due to Tseng's Mochi in Hualien. Mr. Tseng moved from western Taiwan to Hualien, where he opened a shop selling traditional Hakka style mochi. Tseng's Mochi is made the traditional way, by hand-grinding the glutinous rice, pressing it dry, and then repeatedly kneading the dough into a dense soft texture that is chewy but not sticky. The fillings have a solid and rich taste that has made the cakes a local favorite and Hualien specialty.

Meat Balls
Taiwanese-style meatballs are said to have been invented by a dutiful son who wanted to make an easy-to-eat dish for the family elders. He pulped cube pork and kneaded it into balls, which were boiled in water to create a delicious dish with an al dente texture. Since pork is the main ingredient, this dish was originally called "rouyuan" (meatballs), but later became better known as "gongwan," a name alluding to the pestles (gong) used in their preparation. Hsinchu, where the meatballs originated, continues to enjoy the best reputation for this dish today.

Lei-cha (Ground tea)
Lei-cha (ground tea) is a traditional tea-based Hakka beverage made with grains, dried fruit, and legumes. These materials are ground, dried into a oil-free powder mixture, and then served with hot water, creating a convenient and healthy dish. Lei-cha is still part of the diet in Hakka communities today and is often served for dinner with a generous garnish of puffed rice and stir-fried side dishes. For most people, however, lei-cha is generally eaten as a banquet refreshment. Authentic style lei-cha can be enjoyed in Beipu Township in Hsinchu County, Nanzhuang Township in Miaoli County, and Meinong District in Kaohsiung City.

Sun Cakes
During the early Republican period, Taichung baker Wei Ching-hai improved on a traditional malt cake to create the sun cakes known today. Sun cakes ensconce a malt sugar filling in a golden pastry shell that is formed into a flat round shape approximately the size of a palm for convenient eating. The name comes from their sun-like shape. Sun cakes are also known as "xibing" (fine cakes) due to their delicate texture and popularity as a dessert among the better heeled. They are also known as "paobing" (soaked cakes) due to the common practice of dipping them in hot soymilk to release their malty taste and soften the texture for easier consumption by seniors and children with baby teeth. Taichung is the cradle of sun cakes and home to several old-time bakeries that specialize in making this treat. The cakes are a popular souvenir gift among visitors to central Taiwan.

Square Biscuits
Chiayi's Minguo Road is famous for its noodle and mantou (steamed bun) shops, but it is perhaps best known as the birthplace of square biscuits. Square biscuits are made powdered milk, butter or lard, sesame seeds, and sugar. The dough is baked into fragrant and crispy biscuits and cut into their namesake square shapes.

Coffee
Coffee has been cultivated in Taiwan since the Japanese colonial period. The industry subsequently fell into decline due to high export costs and competition from Central and South America, but in recent years coffee has been making a resurgence in Taiwan. One of the best-known coffee growing areas in Taiwan is Gukeng Township in Yunlin County. Gukeng coffee is cultivated in the Hebao Mountain, Huashan, Huanan, Guilin, and Zhanghu areas at altitudes ranging from 200 to 800 meters above sea level. Abundant sunshine and rain, good drainage, and soil rich in potassium carbonate create ideal conditions for coffee growing, placing Gukeng coffee among Taiwan's famous local products. Dongshan District in Tainan City has also been vigorously promoting its coffee industry with local government support. The main coffee growing area here is Kantou Mountain in Nanshi Village and Gaoyuan Village. A local coffee festival has further boosted the popularity of the local beans.

Kumquat Preserves
Kumquat preserves are a well-known Taiwan specialty. The kumquat variety used in making this treat originally came from Oujiang County in Zhejiang Province and in Taiwan is grown most widely in the Yilan area. The townships of Jiaoxi, Yuanshan, and Sanxing are also major growing areas for kumquats thanks to their rainy climate, good drainage, and shelter from sea winds and storms, resulting in local yields as high as 90%. The fruit is harvested from November to February, with peak production in December and January. Kumquat rinds have a tangy taste with a natural sweet finish. They also promote salivation, help digestion, and sooth the throat, making them a popular snack and refreshment.

Mullet Roe
Mullet roe processing has a history of over a hundred years in Taiwan. Production begins with the selection of female mullet and removal of the roe. The roe is then cleaned, drained of blood, salted, desalted, pressed, dried, and then shaped in a process that takes about a week. The quality of mullet roe can be judged from its appearance and taste. High-quality mullet roe has an attractive color, uniform thickness, and translucence; and the taste and texture are well balanced in terms of saltiness, moisture level, and hardness. In Taiwan, this popular delicacy is generally roasted and flavored with sorghum wine. Mullet roe can be purchased at most department stores and specialty shops. It is especially popular as a gift during the Lunar New Year and other festivities.

Pig's Knuckle
In northern Taiwan, pig's knuckle is generally stewed in light broth, whereas soy sauce braising predominates in the south. The best-known version of this dish is the soy-stewed pig's knuckle Wanluan Township in Pingtung County. Wanluan pig's knuckles are braised in soy sauce using special techniques and ingredients to give them their delicious taste. All of the pig's knuckles used are selected from the foreleg portion and then carefully stewed. The meat is tender and juicy meat and can be eaten hot or cold. In Taiwan, it is said that eating pig's knuckle with noodles can dispel bad luck and turn sorrow into joy. Although science hasn't yet confirmed this, it is still a comforting thought.

Brown Sugar Cake
Brown sugar cake evolved from a type of steamed sponge cake presented as an ancestral offering. The brown sugar version is believed to have been brought to Penghu by early immigrants from Okinawa, an island well known for its brown sugar. The brown sugar cake famous in Penghu today was first produced by a Ryukyu baker surnamed Maruhachi. While brown sugar cake was originally used strictly as an offering, local bakeries now make this treat to meet growing tourist demand. Made with new techniques, the cakes today are softer and less sugary than their predecessors. They are also beautifully packaged, making them a popular souvenir gift in Penghu.

Jiguang Bread
According to legend, this bagel-like bread was invented by the Ming dynasty General Chi Chi-kuang as an easy-to-transport military ration since the bread could be strung together and carried around the neck. The bread is made with naturally leavened dough that is carefully kneaded to produce a solid and chewy bread. The dough is baked by sticking it to an oven wall. The oven walls can't get to hot or the bread will peel off and be ruined. The Matsu variety of jiguang bread is faithful to the northern Chinese style. The breads were originally served deep-fried, but a healthier oven-baked version now prevails. The bread is often served with ham and fried egg like a hamburger, and is therefore commonly known as a "Matsu hamburger."

Ox Tongue Biscuits
These popular biscuits are named after their long, oval tongue-like shape. Yilan and Lugang are the best know areas for ox tongue biscuits in Taiwan. The two varieties, though similar in appearance, are in fact two distinct treats that reflect the different environments of the their birthplaces.

Yilan ox tongue biscuits are long, narrow, and thin. The ingredients are kneaded by hand into a dough, rolled flat, tapped down the center with a knife, and then baked to a crispy biscuit-like texture. The Lugang version, on the other hand, is thick and oval-shaped. The biscuits are flaky and lightly sweetened with a malt sugar filling and baked or fried.

National Parks

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Taiwan now has 9 National Parks - Yangmingshan National Park in Taipei suburb, famous for its volcanic landscape; the Shei-Pa National Park, acrossing Hsinchu & Miaoli counties and famous for special fish species: formosan land-locked salmon; Taroko National Park known for its lofty canyon landscape; Yushan National Park, acrossing many counties in central Taiwan, famous for its bright sunshine; Kenting (Kending) National Park, located in south tip, gives you a total touch of Southeast Asia; Kinmen National Park known for legacies from the war decades ago; Dongsha Atoll Marine National Park has a unique white sand landscape, formed of coral and shell; Taijiang National Park, with its cultural, historic and environmental protection functions; Finally, South Penghu Marine National Park, which brings together natural ecology and geological landscape with cultural and historic sites. These nine national parks await for your discovery.

Places

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Daxi District, Taoyuan City: A Presidential Town
Daxi is closely linked to the history and memory of Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo, former presidents of the ROC, with a trove of stories waiting to be discovered. For the traveler, this picturesque, centuries-old town offers historic buildings, trails, cultural activities, wood sculpture, and delicious food. It also offers the perfect blend of natural beauty and modern amenities for relaxation. Daxi has been a hub for travelers for over a century. It is the origination point of the Northern Cross-island Highway. Setting out from Daxi, travelers can experience a variety of scenic attractions and tribal culture. It is also highly accessible for international travelers. The 2011 Michelin Guide gave Daxi a two-star (Recommended) rating and a two-page introduction. Ready to go? Join us, and create lasting memories in Daxi.

Anping District, Tainan City: Namesake of Taiwan
In earlier times, Anping was known as "Dayuan," the origin of the name "Taiwan." It is known not only for its deep culture and history, but also for its sunsets, nightlife, beautiful natural scenery, ocean activities, and delicious cuisine.

Anping abounds with historic sites—Anping Fort, the Eternal Golden Castle, and Anping Tree House are a few of its major attractions. Other points of interest include the Old Julius Mannich Merchant House, Haishan Hostel, Tait & Co. Merchant House and Anping Minor Artillery Fort. These historical sites reflect the history and architectural styles of the Dutch occupation, Cheng Cheng-kung (Koxinga) period, Qing administration, and Japanese colonial era, embodying more than 300 years of quintessential history in Taiwan.

No visit to Anping is complete without trying the amazing array of delicious local foods—shrimp cakes, bean curd pudding, candied fruit, shrimp rolls, oyster rolls, fish ball soup, and oyster pancakes, for a start. The shops around Yanping Old Street are good places to find distinctive mementos and gifts—no one leaves Yanping empty-handed!

Dajia District, Taichung City: Matsu Culture
Dajia brings together a unique mix of natural assets—the Dajia River, Da'an River, and Tiezhen Mountain among them, with other attractions, such as the Craftsman's Hometown recreational farm area, Songbo Harbor, distinctive folk ceremonies, and a rich local history and culture. Zhenlan Temple, built on present-day Dajia Street by early Han Chinese settlers, hosts the Dajia Matsu pilgrimage activity each March. More than one million people join this annual event, ranking the festival among the top-three religious celebrations in the world. Living history can be experienced at the Chastity Arch, which recounts the story of the frail sister who saved the townspeople, and Wenchang Temple, built with funding by the local gentry to support education. Dajia is also famous for its specialty farm products, including award-winning premium rice, certified high-quality bitter gourd, Welsh onions, and square watermelon. Jian Well (Sword Well), built on Tiezhen Mountain during Koxinga's administration of Taiwan, the historic Rinan Railway Station and Da'an River Bridge, and locally-produced hats, mats, and pastries are other worthwhile attractions for local and foreign visitors alike, inviting you to discover the deep history and warm hospitality of Dajia.

Jincheng Township, Kinmen County: Old World Charm in Houpu
oupu has a history dating back six or seven hundred years. It is the political and economic center of Kinmen and home to numerous legends and historic sites. The cultural legacy of the town combines southern Fujianese and overseas Chinese influences, as well as traces of its battlefield history. To walk its streets is to take a journey back in time.

Houpu is also well positioned geographically, weaving together the river, sea, harbor, and town into the rhythm of life. Visitors can explore the scenic lakes and hills or relax by the sea and watch the birds riding the waves. A simple elegance, beauty and human warmth all contribute to the lasting impression one invariably brings home from a journey to Houpu.

Meinong District, Kaohsiung City: Hakka Beauty and Hospitality
einong is a small southern Hakka community with plenty of visual charm. Meinong came out on top in the "Land of Smiles" internet survey jointly conducted by CommonWealth magazine and the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. Its vibrant Hakka culture, rustic landscape, and simple, sincere residents make it a popular destination for visitors who want to experience the richness of the Hakka culture and way of life.

Yilan County: LOHAS Life at the Jiaoxi Hot Springs
Jiaoxi is home to the only flatland hot springs in Taiwan. In addition to its convenient transportation links and abundant natural charms, the township offers a visitor-friendly environment with high-quality tourism attractions, services and facilities. A local commitment to tourism development has further raised Jiaoxi's profile as one of Taiwan's premier visitor destinations.

Jiji Township, Nantou County: Railway Impressions and Cycling Excursions
Few things can lighten the spirits like a leisurely bicycle ride along the sun-splashed Jiji Green Tunnel. The railway and beautiful farmland accompany you along the way; and the ever-changing tapestry of Jiji Township's scenic charms unfold as you pedal along, showing one why this area is one of Taiwan's premier visitor destinations.

For those weary of the noise and stress of the city, Jiji offers a small-town escape into a world where life slows down and the soothing influence of nature is everywhere present.

Jiji's allures are multidimensional, from its historic railway station to natural landscape, cuisine to local specialty items. All of these elements form together to create a place of natural richness and cultural depth and place Jiji Township in a unique position on Taiwan's tourism map. Board a train or set out on a bike, however you explore, Jiji is sure to win your heart.

Ruifang District, New Taipei City: Gold Mines of Discovery in Shuinandong, Jinguashi, and Jiufen
huinandong, Jinguashi, and Jiufen are former mining towns in Ruifang District, New Taipei City. The three towns present living records of the history and culture of Taiwan's mining industry, each one distinguished by the different mining methods they adopted: the simple charm of Shuinandong; the tranquility of Jinguashi; and the traces of the miners' nightlife in Jiufen. Though the gold mines are now closed, these towns continue to exert an allure that attracts visitors to visit and dream.

In Shuinandong, the abandoned "13-Level Smelter" evokes the image of Pompeii. The Yin Yang Sea, with its yellow and blue waters, and the beautiful Golden Waterfall are other attractions here. Jinguashi is a quiet hillside town. And along the old lanes of bustling Jiufen, one can find gold mines of history and culture. Together, these areas offer welcome comfort to the road-weary traveler and provide plenty of food for thought.

Beitou District, Taipei City: Small Town Elegance
Featured in the Travel section of the The New York Times online edition, Beitou a hot spring escape with abundant natural, cultural and historical attractions, as well as convenient rapid transit access, making it one of Taipei's premier tourism destinations.

Beitou District encompasses the Beitou Hot Springs, Yangmingshan National Park, and the Guandu scenic area. The Beitou Hot Spring Museum, Taiwan Folk Arts Museum, and Plum Garden are a few of the many points cultural and historic interest here. Distinctive hot spring hotels, Taiwan's first green library building, and the hot-spring themed MRT train art are other attractions here. In 2011, Beitou was ranked as a three-star tourist attraction in the Michelin Green Guide. Fox News also gave a thumbs-up to this very special tourism district.

Xinyi District, Taipei City: Fashion Central
Xinyi is a one-of-a-kind tourism area in Taiwan. A product of urban planning, it is the center of fashion and a place where Taipei's future is being created. The district has convenient transportation links to other parts of the city and region. The stores here sell the world's best brands. Xinyi is also home to Taiwan biggest bookstore chain, Eslite and the international landmark Taipei 101 building. Si Si Nan Village (a restored military dependents housing complex), Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, an internationally-renowned Michelin star restaurant, eye-catching buildings and installation art, and the annual Taipei New Year Eve Party all further add to the sparkle of Xinyi District.

Ruisui Township, Hualien County: Fragrant Tea, Dairy and Hot Springs
Ruisui Township boasts a wide range of specialty products, cultural attractions, and some of eastern Taiwan's best tourism resources, with something sure to satisfy every visitor desire.

Ruisui is also an ideal place to enjoy the leisurely pace of life on Taiwan's East Coast. In an area defined by a mere 135-km circumference, one can enjoy delicious dairy, coffee, tea, and other beverages, take a healthy hot spring excursion, savor a spectrum of specialty cuisine, experience small town life, or go on an exciting whitewater rafting adventure. Local and Hakka ceremonies and stirring percussion performances at the Drum King Competition further add to the township's unique tourism appeal. In addition to its cultural allures, Ruisui presents the beauty of nature in its full charm, setting the perfect stage for a leisurely escape to Taiwan's East Coast.

Lukang Township, Changhua County: Craftsmanship, Cuisine, and Historic Sites
Lukang was the economic and transport hub of central Taiwan in earlier times. The saying "first Tainan, second Lukang and third Mengjia (today Wanhua District in Taipei)," illustrates the high position of the town in its glory days. In addition to being the early cultural capital of Taiwan, Lukang was also a commercially prosperous area. During the Qing period, the town was an important trading port, bringing all types of products to the town and fueling Lukang's economic rise. Lukang was also unrivaled for its high cuisine and a diversity of local snack foods reflecting its broad immigrant mix. Delicious seafood, baked goods, and distinctive street food are part of Lukang's signature appeal. This diverse food culture, along with historic sites, scenic attractions, beautiful craftsmanship, make Lukang a destination as rewarding to the eyes and mind as it is to the palate.

Sanyi Township, Miaoli County: Taiwan's Wood Sculpture Capital
Miaoli has been dedicating efforts to tourism marketing with an aim to create new business opportunities and put the county on the global map. This campaign involves the promotion of seven major tourist routes and three major routes tailored for international visitors. The county is also marketing Sanyi Township as a center for wood sculpture and a new hub for international travel in Taiwan. In addition to its wood sculpture industry, Sanyi has convenient transportation links, world-renowned scenic spots, a variety of tourist attractions, and warm hospitality. The township is also investing heavily to develop the local tourism industry to international standards, while continuing to preserve and innovate on its tourism appeal as a unique destination for wood sculpture industry-based tourism.

Restaurants

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Gourmet Cuisine
Taiwanese people like to put food on their priority list. It is said that when you are on a street here, walk three steps and you shall find a small bistro. Walk five steps and you shall see a big restaurant. These places serve all kinds of cuisine, from northern-style to southern-style. Any food you think of can virtually be found in this country. Due to rapid industrial and commercial development, other than traditional oriental food places, chain stores have emerged, making dining culture in Taiwan more complicated. Also, because many different cultures have been introduced to this country, a vast range of foreign food has appeared, such as American hamburgers, Italian pizza, Japanese sashimi, German pork knuckles and Swiss cheese. Such culinary diversity makes Taiwan a gourmets’ heaven. Of course, Taiwanese cuisine is craved by food fans around the world. You shall never forget its resounding taste once you try it.

Shopping

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Choose from a variety of Department Stores, Shopping Centers, Wholesale Stores, Cosmetics and Medicine Stores, Bookstores, Convenience Stores, Large Shopping Districts, and Duty Free Shops.

What kind of vacation would you like to take?