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Taiwan: ROC on to holiday adventure

Taiwan: ROC on to holiday adventure

This fiercely independent island nation is brimming with everything that makes a memorable and soul-refreshing holiday adventure.

Formally known as Republic of Taiwan, the country’s history is a fascinating story full of epic governmental machinations and political intrigue, which can be vicariously experienced at the extraordinary National Palace Museum in Taipei. Here visitors can see first-hand the finest treasures of Beijing’s Forbidden City collected by Emperors for thousands of years, and brought by nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek to the former Formosa Island following his defeat by mainland communists.

Taipei’s premier landmark is the towering Taipei 101 Building, the tallest structure on the island and the world’s 5th tallest skyscraper.  The tower’s distinctive, Chinese -influenced architectural design of concentric squares has made it a true home- grown icon that features an 89th floor observation deck offers stunning panoramic views. A gigantic tuned mass damper, weighing 728 tonnes, occupies the 92nd to the 87th floors, acting as a giant pendulum by swaying to counteract the building’s movement caused by strong wind.

The main attraction of the Taipei Martyrs’ Shrine is the changing of the honour guard in front of the main gate. The elaborately bedecked guards display an impressive Beefeater-like stoicism as they run through the meticulously choreographed hourly hand-over routine.   

It’s a small world at the Miniature Museum of Taiwan, a vast wonder-world of displays featuring pint-sized doll houses, dioramas and figurines. The buildings represented include famous edifices, historical and period structures and individual rooms – all including tiny, yet realistic furniture and rendered in amazing detail.

Famed for its historical fort, fresh seafood, and beautiful sunsets, the quaint seaside town of Tamsui is the perfect day trip destination for visitors to Taipei. The traditional style buildings lining the town’s main thoroughfare give Tamsui its old-world charm, particularly evident in the stately Oxford College and Mackay Hospital. History buffs will revel in the details of town’s turbulent past, but most visitors will simply enjoy the many superb seafood restaurants, with their breath-taking sunset views and ocean-fresh delicacies.

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A sleepy mountaintop village overlooking Taipei City, Maokong is a popular scenic spot known for its multitude of teahouses where some of the region’s finest quality leafy-brew is served. But getting there is half the fun when you step aboard the Maokong Scenic Cable Car. Launched in 2007, the lofty transport system features spacious, climate-controlled gondolas with large viewing windows and transparent floors that afford breathtakingly vertiginous views of the lush mountain landscapes.

The island nation also boasts a number of natural attractions including Yushan National Park, home to the country’s tallest mountain and the scenic Sanqingshan peak.

Close enough to the capital for a thoroughly fascinating day trip, Yangmingshan National Park is centred around a dormant volcano which has calved off a plethora of hot springs and the more dramatic Yangmingshan geysers. The steamy sprayers can be reached via a network of scenic pathways and hiking trails.

Outdoors-y types will want to visit Alishan Scenic Mountain Area, with its abundant and easy hiking trails and lots of picturesque spots for taking holiday snaps, while the mountain railway journey to the top is itself worth the trip.

Taiwan’s largest inland body of water, Sun Moon Lake is a picture-postcard recreation area with a wide choice of hotels along its banks. Commuter yachts filled with tourists criss-cross the lake, while the nearby Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village is accessible by modern cable car.