Although Taiwan occupies less than one percent of the Earth’s land, it is home to a diverse landscape, ranging from winding gorges and misty mountains to hot springs and tropical beaches. Portuguese sailors en route to Japan in the late 16th century deemed Taiwan “Ilha Formosa,” or beautiful island, and for good reason. Its cultural legacy is equally rich, combining Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, aboriginal and modern influences. Whether hiking through Taroko Gorge’s walls of swirling marble, exploring the world’s largest collection of Chinese artifacts at the National Palace Museum in Taipei, or cycling around turquoise Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan offers something for every traveler. Here are ten destinations not to miss.
To plan your custom trip to Taiwan, contact one of our Country Specialists, or explore this 13-day itinerary, custom created by Smithsonian Tailor-Made Journeys by Audley Travel to visit these 10 locations.
Taiwan’s capital city is home to some of the country's most impressive cultural treasures, both modern and historical. Chief among them is the National Palace Museum, which houses the most extraordinary collection of Chinese art anywhere in the world. Ranging from ancient bronzes to Ming vases, the museum's holding of nearly 700,000 artifacts, transported to Taiwan in 1949 during China's civil war by the fleeing Guomindang, is so vast that only a small selection can ever fit on display at any one time. Current exhibitions include terracotta sculptures from the Qin Culture and an unparalleled display of Tibetan Buddhist art.
Another highlight is the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Commemorating the former president of the Republic of China, the hall features an exhibit of his cars as well as a mock-up of his former office, and a ceremonial guard change takes place on the hour. Outside, palatial buildings flank a large square in the style of Beijing's Forbidden City.
To experience the pulse of the city as well as its world-class foodie culture, head to the Shilin night market, Taiwan's largest.