Southern Taiwan is a land of timeless rituals and strong folk culture. The yearly calendar is chock-full of some of Taiwan's most unforgettable festivals: when they’re not burning boats to honour their indomitable ancestors, southerners let off fierce fireworks to seek supernatural protection for the future.
If you’re looking for variety in your Taiwan travel experience, look west. The Matsu Pilgrimage, one of the country’s biggest and holiest celebrations, is definitely a highlight. This nine-day parade across half of Taiwan is an extravaganza of feasting, prostrating, praying and great acts of generosity.
Taroko National Park & The East Coast
Much is made of the old Portuguese name for Taiwan, Ilha Formosa, which translates as 'the Beautiful Isle'. Well, it's this part of the country that they gave it to, and this part to which it still applies best. The eastern landscape is dominated by towering sea cliffs and marble gorges, rice fields and wooded mountain ranges.
Penghu (澎湖, Pénghú), also known as the Pescadores, is famous for its great beaches, glorious temples and the traditional Chinese-style homes surrounded by coral walls. In the summer months Penghu is hot and beautiful, while in winter and spring the archipelago is possibly the windiest place in the northern hemisphere.
Kinmen (金門, Jīnmén), lying only 2km off the coast of mainland China, is an odd remnant from the bitter civil war between communist and Nationalist forces. Along with Matsu, Kinmen is a small chunk of Fujian province occupied by Republic of China (ROC) forces and administered from Taiwan.
North & Northeast Coast
The 166km coastal Provincial Hwy 2 winds along the top of the island from the mouth of the Danshui River to the alluvial plains of Ilan. It's a stunning route with a wide range of coastal landscapes: rolling grass hills, high rugged cliffs, sand beaches, pebble beaches, rocky terraces and windswept peninsulas.
Yangmingshan National Park
How fortunate Taipei is to have this diverse park at its doorstep, complete with forested mountains, hot springs, rolling grass hills, and some handsome lodgings and restaurants. The park covers 114.55 sq km, with a top elevation of 1120m, and is easily accessible from the downtown area by frequent buses.