Wild Taiwan Guide: Explore Taroko Gorge and East Rift Valley

Taiwan, a wild island with nature, has many attractions worth exploring like Taroko Gorge and East Rift Valley. To travel in the mountains, please follow us southbound from Hualien to Taitung. Hualien and Taitung are where the most aborigine tribe located in Taiwan and also has the most natural scenic spots. Let’s go sightseeing in this beautiful place.

Drive through the tunnel, we are on the Qingshui Cliff. This marble cliff rises vertically from the Pacific Ocean. The sparkling stone beach comes into view, marking the beginning of this wild Taiwan journey. Ocean waves crash the shore, making the eternal sound back and forth. Calm down with the sound of waves from the far and deep Pacific Ocean.

Going deeper and deeper, we will see the magnificent Taroko Gorge. Seeing Changchun (Eternal Spring) waterfall gush out of the rock into the waterfall and carve the marble gorge all year round, Changchun Shrine offers not only a place to rest and visit but also commemorate the devotion of establishing Central Cross-Island Highway crew. Walking into the mountains, we will get to Tianxiang.

There is a Catholic church, Pudu suspension bridge, White Robed Guanyin Statue, Tian Feng Pagoda, Giant Statute of the Bodhisattva, Xiangde Temple, and Daxiong Baodian temple in Tianxiang. You can enjoy the peaceful religious atmosphere and feel the bird chirping while you go through the bridge. Apart from Taroko Gorge, Hualien also has many places to go. You can try the exciting rafting in Xiuguluan River, eat local street food at the Dongdamen Night Market, and stay in the old Japanese wood house—Hualien Tourism Sugar Factory.

As we go south, we will get to East Rift Valley. East Rift Valley is between the Central Mountain Range and the Coastal Mountain Range. Liyu Lake welcomes tourists first in East Rift Valley. You can have light-boat sailing and biking around this natural lake. If outdoor enthusiasts are still unsatisfied, you can hike in the forest footpaths in the adjacent Liyu Mountain. After hiking, you can go south for the Lintian Mountain Forestry Center. This fully-functional lumbering community was established during Taiwan under Japanese rule. Now it is a forestry culture and history center to exhibit the memories like lumbering machines, faded pictures, and yellowing document.

After having so much fun in the mountains, we can go biking on Brown Boulevard. The vast rice field may help you get rid of the busy life in city. During autumn, the green filed will turn to brown. And the rice spike will swing with the wind. After that, going down, you can watch the hot balloons in Luye Highlands. The 2019 Taiwan International Balloon Festival will kick off on 6/29. Apart from watching and riding hot balloons, tourists can also try Paragliding here. As for more scenic spots in East Rift Valley, you can check it on our website.

After the wild Taiwan journey, you can explore another side of Taiwan like the fast-paced Taipei, the leisure Taichung, or the harbor Kaohsiung. For the outdoor lovers, don’t miss to go snorkeling in Green Island and feel the ocean in Orchid Island.

 

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Day tour Taiwan recommended: Dreamy lanterns of Pingxi

Pingxi is an adorable district of New Taipei City, in which you can experience both the cultural and the natural side of Taiwan. Pingxi is located in the mountain area, so it is one of the best spots to escape the summer heat in the city. Have been seeing the amazing view of sky lanterns floating into the air in many traveling videos of Taiwan, it is exciting and a dream come true to finally see them with our own eyes. However, public transportation could be long and not so comfortable, that is to say, that traveling here by a charter car or van is a much more ideal choice. It would be also more convenient to visit nearby sites as well.

One thing tourists love to do in Pingxi is to release sky lanterns. There are plenty of shops to choose from, and a variety of sizes and colors of lanterns. When you’ve decided on your lantern, you may write down your wishes with a writing brush. Setting your sky lantern into the sky represents sending your wishes up to the sky. Despite the popular activity, few of us know about the story and origin of this practice. People back in the days, sky lanterns were to warn each other about upcoming dangers, since they live in the mountains.

Other than experiencing this cultural bit of Pingxi, there is another great site to visit nearby, just a ten-minute car ride away. The Shihfen waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls of Taiwan. Shihfen waterfall is up to 20 meters tall, which is absolutely astonishing to see. Other than the breathtaking fall, you can also enjoy the cool breeze of nature and scent the calmness of the mountains. It is very relaxing to just stand by the fall and admire the beauty of nature.

For being located only 16km away from the port of Keelung, Pingxi is a great place for a one day tour for a cruise stop in Taiwan. Spend half an hour and you would not regret making the decision to travel to Pingxi. A quick escape from your busy everyday life has never been more easy.

 

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Queen’s Head of Yehliu Geographic Park

I had an amazing cruise experience with my family and a great private day tour from the port of Keelung to Yehliu. Our tour guide greeted us with the friendliest smile at the port and then we took a comfortable ride in a comfy charter van along the ocean line to Yehliu. It only took us no more than 2 hours to get there, and we enjoyed the amazing ocean view along the way.

Our tour guide explained to us the forming of Yehliu’s unique landscape and the origin of its name. The geographic area is most famous for its sea-erosion, where we can see the magic of Mother Nature. The mushroom rocks, ginger rocks have been corroded by seawater and wind for hundreds, even thousands of years. The name Yehliu was said to be originated from the Spanish words “Punto Diablos”, meaning “devil’s scape” when the Spanish came to Taiwan in the 16thc. And the most famous rock of the park is the Queen’s Head, named after its similar look of a queen’s head with a crown. It’s “neck size” is currently 125.01cm, while back in 2008 it was 138.27cm. I really hope that the Queen can keep standing forever. 

When we arrived at Yehliu geographic park, I was immediately amazed by the wave-cut platform with all the different shapes of rocks. The seawater was also so crystal clear as the sun shines upon it. We walked on the platform and had close looks at the magnificent rocks, there were candle-shaped rocks which I really liked. The famous Queen’s Head was really popular among the tourists, so it took us a while to have a photo with it, but it was absolutely worth it.

I had a great family trip to Yehliu, we were all taken away by the breathtaking view of the ocean and most of all the landscape. Our tour guide was professional and made the day trip even more meaningful by mapping out all the information to us. Our family really prefer relaxing and slow-paced schedules than hurrying from site to site. Overall we had the best Taiwan tour experience, and we are definitely going to advise our friends to come and visit Taiwan one day.

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One day tour of the Port of Keelung and Jiufen

There are plenty of articles about the historical town in the mountains near the north coast of Taiwan, Jiufen. The town was built by the Japanese during their colonization and we can walk through the street view of the famous animation Spirited Away! There was also a time when there was a gold rush, which brought the town to prosper. The roads up to the town are quite small and curvy though, so it is better to go by a chartered car because it seems not so convenient going by the crowded bus.

The streets are indeed very special, you can feel the Japanese culture remaining among the architecture. The well-known snack in the town is really popular – Taro balls, they taste absolutely delicious and chewy. Moreover, there is a breathtaking ocean view right at the shop, perfect! There is, of course, a great variety of food choices there, make sure to try traditional cuisines like fish ball soup and noodles.

In the late afternoon, you could go to the port of Keelung, which was an open port since 1858. Now, this is the main port for international trade ships and cruise ships. People can sail and travel from Taiwan not only to Japan or South Korea, but there are also many international cruises from Europe and America. This year the famous cruise “World Dream” has come to Keelung for the first time this year. You could definitely go on a trip on a cruise ship if you ever have the chance, it just looks so fancy and adventurous. And it is also a great choice to visit Jiufen is your travel to Keelung by cruise. And by the way, it only takes less than two hours from Keelung to Taipei.

Keelung night market is one of the best night markets to visit. Before developing into a tourist site, it was originally a smaller area of streets of food by the Keelung temple. The temple was built in the Qing dynasty and has been the heart of Keelung since then. Since it is a night market by the sea, do try a lot of seafood made snacks like butter crabs, shrimp soup, deep-fried squid, and so on. There are also nice traditional sweet pies with pineapple and mung beans, which were great desserts. Ending the day with delicious food is always the best.

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The Classic Kaohsiung Guide

Kaohsiung is the second biggest city in Taiwan. Despite the fact that tourists might go to Taipei and skip Kaohsiung on their first trip to Taiwan, Kaohsiung has many tourist attractions worth visiting as a coastal city in southern Taiwan.


In the city, You can feel Kaohsiung by walking along Love River and stay at a café for an afternoon. To have in-depth experience, there are some cultural spots like Pier2 Art Center(駁二藝術特區). Tourists can feel young creative power and learn old local stories in it. To see the classical architecture and the historical path in The British Consulate at Takow(打狗英國領事館), which records the memories since 1865.


For those who love to have a stroll in the green space, Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum(佛光山佛陀紀念館) can be a good choice. The huge Buddha statue and serene temple may bring peace to travelers’ hearts. This museum also houses one of the tooth relics of Sakyamuni Buddha, the founder of the Buddhist faith. Lotus Pond is another tranquil destination known for the lotus plants on the lake and temples like Dragon and Tiger Pagodas (龍虎塔) and the Confucian Temple (孔廟). After wandering around, tourists can have dinner at Ruifeng Night Market(瑞豐夜市) where residents always go after work. You can find delicious stinky tofu, braised clam, and Takoyaki here. Don’t forget to have a cup of Huada milk tea after eating the greasy food.

kaohsiung’s famous tourist attractions – lotus pond

If tourists want to explore more cuisine in Kaohsiung, Liuhe Night Market(六合夜市) is the most popular night market among tourists. You can always find seafood like barbecued lobster and deep-fried squid and restaurants with beers at areasonable price here. After eating, don’t forget to try the papaya milk for its fresh and smooth taste.

To go outside, You can have a day trip by taking a ferry ride to Cijin(旗津) Island from Siziwan(西子灣). Witnessing the conflicts between Britain and France in 1720 at Cihou Lighthouse and the Cihou Fort, You may know why this island is attractive and has the historical meaning. Watching the sunset at Cijin beach, don’t forget to take a photo with the Rainbow Church installations.

To visit Kaohsiung in a classical way, you can check our Kaohsiung Night Tour . If you’ve fallen in love with coastal sites, Kenting and Liuqiu Island could also be the next destination for the beachgoers and ocean lovers.

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Things to Do with Kids and Elderly in Taiwan

While planning a family trip, there are always question for where is the best place for kids and the elderly to go in Taiwan. We try to find some attractions to relax and play in northern, central, and southern Taiwan.

In northern Taiwan, Taipei Zoo and Maokong Gondola is the best recommendation for those travelers with kids. Families could take a stroll for the penguin, koala, Formosan animals, and pandas. The cute pandas Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan definitely cannot be missed. To view the nightscape of Taipei, tourist can take Maokong Gondola to the mountain. Apart from nightscape, Maokong is also famous for its tea and local cuisine. Another family-friendly tourist attraction is Huashan 1914 Creative Park. There are exhibitions held in Huashan 1914 Creative Park every week. Kids and the elderly can experience making the woodcraft in the workshop.

In central Taiwan, Cinjing Farm could be a good option for nature lovers. The sheep shearing show, DIY handicraft, and horse riding show are the unique experience that families can join together and make a stronger bond with each other. Another tourist attraction good for a family trip is Nantou Monster Village. Kids will absolutely fall in love with the cute monsters. Adults and kids can try some bread and desserts like witch’s finger or monster’s eyeball. If you still have the energy to go around after being scared by the monsters, don’t miss the nearby Sun Moon Lake. It is also a good famous place for the family to relax in the mountains.

As for southern Taiwan, Love River is a good place for the family trip with the elderly. Taking a ride of the boat, you can view the riverside slowly and chat with parents. There are also bars along the Love River. If tourists want to have some drinks, you can try some at the bars. For those who want to spend an afternoon to enjoy the river scenery, there are also Cafés for you. Drinking a cup of Cappuccino and chat with families, travelers may laze freely in Kaohsiung. In Kaohsiung, if you are interested in Taiwanese temple culture, Lotus Pond could be a great destination. Around Lotus Pond, there are Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, Spring and Autumn Pavilions, and Confucius Temple. Kids can go through the Dragon’s mouth and out of Tiger’s, then they can turn the bad luck into good fortune. There is also Guanyin (Buddhist bodhisattva with compassion and veneration) riding dragon pagoda in front of Spring and Autumn Pavilions, which is also a knowledgeable classroom for tourists to learn the temple culture. Confucius Temple here is the largest Confucius Temple in Taiwan. Confucius is the great teacher of China, who is responsible for education. Built in the style of the Song dynasty, this solemn and majestic architecture welcomes all tourists.

If you are planning a family trip to Taiwan, these spots can be listed on your Taiwan tour. Also, Justaiwantour offers a customized tour for the family trip. Feel free to ask itinerary for the family trip.

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Top Five Cultural Experience in Taiwan

When you come to Taiwan, you’ve searched online and knew that Taiwan is an island of food. So, don’t miss the night market in Taiwan. Here’s the must-visit night market with different characteristics. In Northern Taiwan, there is Raohe, Huaxi Street, and Ningxia, and Shilin Night Market. Don’t miss the shaved ice, Taiwanese sausage with sticky rice, and fried chicken. The mango shaved ice is your best friend in summer to get rid of the hot temperature. Also, don’t miss the sausage with sticky rice大腸包小腸, which means the small intestine in the big intestine. Fried chicken is also a must-eat item in Taiwan, especially on the street.

taiwanese sausage with sticky rice closeup at night market

Apart from food, you can play games in night markets like pinball games, ring toss, balloon darts. In southern and eastern Taiwan, there are Luodong, Dongdamen, and Huayuan Night market. Also, after hanging out, don’t forget to find some foot massage around the night market to relax your body. If you are interested in fortune telling, there are also fortune teller stalls to talk about your future.

Another element of Taiwanese Culture is the temple. You can see temples everywhere like the village deity. When you come to Taipei, don’t forget to visit Longshan Temple, where people pray safety and love. The Yuelao (Love God) in Longshan temple is responsible for a good relationship between lovers. The nearby district is full of Taiwan history atmosphere and treasure—Mengjia. Don’t miss the Bopiliao Old Street for its unique historical stories.

When you come to Taiwan, never forget to try our tea. The tea ceremony is a very important cultural element in Taiwan. For those who love Oolong tea, Dongfang Meiren, also called Champagne Oolong, is highly recommended for its fruity aromas. Because plates squeeze against one another here, there are many high mountains in Taiwan. Taiwan high-mountain tea is of high quality because of the cool and misty climate all year. For the black tea lovers, Sun Moon Lake Ruby 18 Black Tea is the best in Taiwan because of its silky and smooth taste. Try to brew tea like a local Taiwanese in Dadaocheng, where much historical architecture is located. Feel and taste a sip of Taiwan culture.

In winter, Taiwanese love to soak in the hot spring in winter to boost circulation and detox. Most visitors like to go to Beitou for hot spring because it is near Taipei and has a historical trace of Japanese colonial Empire in the 1900s. After having a hot spring, you can also visit the Beitou Hot Springs Museum, which is a warm red-brick Japanese architecture.

Last but not least, taking a stroll in the old streets is the most unique cultural experience in Taiwan to feel how Taiwanese live. Near Dadaocheng, Dihua Street is the most visited old street. It preserves the old prosperous city appearance of colonial Japan times. It is also New Year Shopping Street full of the traditional New Year items. Another old street in Taipei is Tamshui Old Street. Tamshui Old Street is famous for its beautiful river-side view and delicious A-gei. Apart from the river side, mountain scenery is also tourists’ favorite. Jiufen Old Street is known for its humanistic and cultural experience. You can try taro-ball here, and feel the mountain town atmosphere. For those who love ceramics, Sanxia Old Street is recommended for ceramics making and buying. If you want to experience the southern Min culture, never miss the Lukang Old Street in Changhua. Tourists love the classic overhangs of architecture and humanistic ambience most. And in Anping Old Street, you can try the hand puppet, fresh fruit, and coffin bread here.

If you plan to visit Taiwan, don’t forget to try the aforementioned five major Taiwan experience. It will definitely help you experience deeper and learn more about Taiwan.

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Must-Eat Foods and Drinks in Taiwan

Standing in the night market, you are dazzled by the vendor food everywhere and don’t know which to try. Famous for its cuisine, Taiwan has different kinds of food you need to try.

Taiwan’s most famous street food is often in the night markets. When you go to the night market, Oyster omelet, Stinky tofu, Misua (salted noodles) are often seen. When you explore the streets and alleys of Taiwan, Minced pork rice, Steamed dumpling, Luwei (food selected with broth) are also everywhere. Scallion pancake is the best friend of students when they are hungry after school.

fried dumplings on the iron plate

To explore Taiwanese cuisine, cheerful Rechao restaurant is where the delicious secrets hide. Local Taiwanese will eat in Rechao restaurant (Taiwanese beer house) when Taiwanese are off work. Rechao gathers the traditional Taiwanese taste into the cuisines. People cheers and make business deals in Rechao restaurant, thus beers are the inevitable element of Rechao. In the messy, loud, and cheap Rechao restaurant, people may also bare their souls to their friends. Three cups chicken, Stir-fried rice and Taiwanese pineapple shrimp balls are always hot on the menu. Being an island surrounded by the ocean, there are many seafood dishes like Steamed crab and roe on glutinous rice, Salt-grilled shrimp, and Stir fried clams with basils.

Breakfast matters in a day. In Central Taiwan and South Taiwan, people often open their day with sumptuous meals. Taichung has fried noodles and Pig’s blood soup. Radish cake, Egg pancake, and Taiwanese chicken rice are the top breakfasts in Chiayi. Beef soup, Milkfish congee, and Zongzi (rice dumpling) can be eaten in Tainan. Another breakfast also can be eaten in Taiwan, like soymilk, Youtiao (Chinese churros), sandwich, eppanyaki noodles, and meat toast with eggs.

In addition to the food above, Taiwan also has much vegetarian food. You can find Vegetarian Restaurant offers buffet, hot pot, and caferteria in Taiwan. Don’t miss our vegetarian Pan-fried pork buns, dimsum, Misua, Oyster omelette, Luwei, and Conveyor belt sushi. There are also delicious vegetarian fried noodles, rice vermicelli soup, and fried mushroom worth trying.

chinese dessert, tofu pudding with tapioca ball

For the sweet addicts, Taiwan is also a paradise of sweets. Not to mention the famous Boba tea, there are Douhua (Tofu pudding), Peanut ice cream crepe, and Tanghulu (Candied fruit). Also, don’t forget to bring Pineapple cake, Nougats, Mochi, Suncake and Mango jelly for your friends and family as souvenirs.

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Have fun in Penghu Ocean Fireworks Festival

Penghu is an archipelago including about 90 islands and islets of about 825 square kilometers, and it is located off the western coast of Taiwan. It is nominated as one of the Asian’s emerging tourist city by Agoda.com in 2015. Penghu’s largest city—Magong (literally means mother’s palace) is named because it has the oldest Mazu temple of Taiwan. The best time to visit Penghu is from April to October. Feeling this beach island with the sunny weather and salty breeze may be the best experience in Penghu to all the travelers.

Penghu Ocean Fireworks Festival is going to kick off from 4/18 to 6/27 on every Monday and Thursday this year. There will also be a firework show added on 5/12 Sunday to celebrate Mother’s day. Innovation and environment-friendly elements are added to the firework show this year. The firework show is held in Guanyin temple, where a rainbow bridge lies. The river will reflect the magnificent fireworks in the sky. There will be the warm-up series—music concerts, dancing shows, and performances held before the firework show.

Being in this beach archipelago, don’t miss to try the watersports in Penghu. You may be fascinated with Cimei’s colorful coral reef. This fishing island also has a special Twin Hearts Stone Weir to trap fish. Near Cimei Island, there is a nesting environment of green sea turtles in Wang’an Island. Beyond these islands outside, let’s go back to the main island of Penghu. The Tianhou (Mazu) temple established in Magong is the religious center of the locals. For those who love historical spots, there are also Penghu Zhongyang Old Street and military Dependents Village Cultural Park to visit. To go through Penghu Great Bridge, you will arrive at the second biggest island of Penghu—Xiyu. Xiyu means the western island of Penghu in Chinese. It also has different kinds of attractions worth visiting. Being an island in the front line of Taiwan, Xiyu West Fort and Xiyu East Fort try to protect this island. The Yuwengdao Lighthouse leads the ships to find the way home. And this sea island also combines the sea world to temple. You can see the underground dragon’s palace (where the dragon king lives under the sea in Chinese tales) the Zhuwan Dayi Temple.

To have a summer vacation by the beach, Penghu is strongly recommended. You can not only have fun in the watersports and hot attractions in Penghu but also charmed by the Penghu Ocean Fireworks Festival. To have a convenient and local tour, Justaiwantour also provides English-friendly custom tour service for you.

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Picking calla lilies in Zhuzihu(bamboo lake)

As the middle part of Yangmingshan, Zhuzihu is near Tianmu and Qingtiangang. Go down, there is Tianmu ancient trail. Go up, you will arrive at Qingtiangang. In Zhuzihu, it is often rainy and misty, and damp. So if you overlook Taipei 101 from here, it may stand in the hazy mist. Yangmingshan is famous for its four flower seasons: calla lily, cherry blossom, Hydrangea, and bamboo. The Calla Lily Festival is kicking off in Zhuizihu from 3/29, and the flower viewing time will last for one and half month.

Going into the farm of the calla lily, you can enjoy the magnificent scenery of the calla lily sea on this blurred mountain and view the white flowers swing in the wind. Before picking calla lily, you need to change your clothes into “frog clothing.” You will put on a big green fisher clothing and rain boots. Then you can go into the sea of calla lily, and pluck this flower of innocence. While picking the calla lily, hold the bottom part of it and pull it up. While it gets out of the soil, there will be a popping cork sound. Take a part of this beautiful scenery back home. Put the calla lily in the bottle on your desk. It may bring joy and satisfaction to you.

After picking the flower, staying and eating the local cuisine in Zhuzihu is a good choice. Warm up yourself with Pineapple & Bitter Gourd Chicken Soup on the chilly mountain. The farms also provide a collection of jungle vegetables like Stir-fried bitter gourd with salted eggs, stir-fried jungle fern, fried Chayote. You can also go fishing on some farms. After catching the fish, the cook will make it into striped bass soup. As for the dessert, Sweet Potato Ginger Soup is the must-eat item in Zhuzihu. Besides, there are ten calla lily landscape designs in the farms for couples to take romantic pictures.

Besides, you can have a walk along the arrow bamboo trail after picking calla lily in Zhuzihu. The bamboo grows in dense clusters. It is the perfect wind-breaking barrier. Relax and listen to the sound that wind flows through the bamboo forest. Additionally, if you go up, there is Macao hot spring and Yangmingshan National Park. Because of sulfur mining, it is a fumaroles spring with smoke. Yangmingshan National Park has diverse recreational facilities of hiking trails and wildlife like black pines, acacia trees, and the Formosan sweet gum.

After hiking downhill, visiting Tianmu ancient trail nearby and Beitou hot spring is highly recommended to have a nature therapy. Along the trail, you may find yourself having the forest bath. Sometimes you may have the chance to see the monkeys hanging from the trees. There is also an attractive Fengcui Waterfall you can enjoy. Beitou is famous for its hot spring and historic culture. If you go to Beitou, remember to visit Beitou hot spring.

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