FUN TAIWAN

Written by root. Posted in Featured Article, FEATURES

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Published on November 02, 2018 with No Comments

Eight must-do experiences for the first-timer.

Words ANIS RAMLI
Images TAIWAN TOURISM BUREAU KL OFFICE

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JIUFEN
The mountain town of Jiufen sits along the northeast coast of Taiwan. Once a mining town, it has transformed itself into a tourist hotspot. Most locals come to Jiufen to shop and eat. The winding roads that take you to the top have a magical feel to it and give you a great view of the ocean below. Take a stroll through the Jiufen Shopping Street and peek into quaint boutiques, local artisan shops and cafes. Stop by Jiufen A Mei Teahouse, a beautiful and well-preserved wooden structure, for a steaming cup of tea while soaking in the great views. Fans of Japanese anime might recognise the teahouse as the setting that inspired Hayao Miyazaki’s fantasy film Spirited Away that won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003.

Release lanterns in SHIFEN
Releasing sky lanterns at Shifen Old Street in Pingxi is the kind of stuff that makes everyone, young and old, feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Pingxi is the only place in Taiwan where sky lanterns can be released legally, thanks to its geographical advantage being located on the high mountains. The annual Sky Lantern Festival is synonymous with this region and is held to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. The old street bustles with the day crowd eager to get a glimpse of the railroad town it once was that still retains the charm of yesteryear. While lantern shops are aplenty, there are still others that cater to foodies and souvenir hunters. The Shifen Waterfalls, an easy 20-minute stroll from the old street, rounds up this visit nicely.

TAIPEI Liberty Square
One of the most important points for public meetings and events in Taiwan is the Taipei Liberty Square. It is both an impressive and beautiful space, and where you will find the National Theater, the National Concert Hall and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Filter in at almost any given time and you’ll find locals making the most of the space, whether to jog, play mahjong, practice tai chi or simply chill out. Try to time your visit during the raising of the Taiwanese flag or when the square is used for military exercises.

XIMENDING
Considered the “Harajuku” of Taipei, this is one of the most interesting places to go in town. For night wanderers, the neon lights that jolt into the sky are captivating. Day-trippers will find plenty to do as Ximending is a trendy shopping area, popular with Taipei’s well-to-do younger crowd. It’s also a neighbourhood that literally never sleeps. As soon as dawn breaks (or even before), there is a shop somewhere that is open and ready to serve breakfast. In the evenings, the neighbourhood comes alive with plenty of food stalls.

MAOKONG
Stunning views, breathtaking tea plantations, quaint teahouses and fresh mountain air is what awaits you at Maokong. And oh, did we mention there is also a cable car ride to the top? Some of the cars even have glass bottoms for added thrill. What makes Maokong a favourite hotspot for both locals and tourists is its proximity to the city – you can catch the cable car from the Taipei Zoo MRT. At the top, the welcoming teahouses offer samplings of teas distinct to the area – Bochon tea and Taiguanying. Tea farms welcome visitors to tour and speak to tea connoisseurs while trails once used to transport tea harvests have now become foot paths that allow for an easy hike for scenic views.

GEOTHERMAL VALLEY
Make that therapeutic journey to soak your feet in hot spring pools and marvel at the jade beauty of the waters of Beitou’s Geothermal Valley. A volcanic crater, the valley is known for waters that have a unique mineral composition. The suplhur odour is strong, but the beauty of the valley itself will drown any misgivings you have about coming here. In cooler weather, the steam that rises from the waters look almost ethereal and the place has long been a favourite with landscape photographers. Beyond the hot springs, the Beitou Hot Springs Museum and the Taiwan Folks Arts Museum make for an interesting visit.

SHILIN Night Market
Without a doubt, this is the most famous market in Taipei. Even the locals come here – so that says a lot about the place. Superb food, great shopping and organised sections make this a pleasant outing despite the massive crowd. Street food aplenty – it’s the best place to really get under the skin of the Taiwanese people. With so many food stalls around, your best guide is to join the longest queue you can spot of a stall. Oyster omelettes, stinky tofu, pearl milk tea, aiyu jelly, grilled squids – these are some of the things famous at the market. And when you’ve gone into a food coma, just browse around the market to really soak it in.

YANGMINGSHAN National Park
Very few know that you can catch beautiful cherry blossoms bloom in Taiwan. The best place to see them is at Yangmingshan, Taipei’s own little green backyard where locals escape the chaos of urban living. A visit here during Febraury or March is best as this is the height of Sakura flower season. Apart from the cherry blossoms, the area is filled with other manicured blooms creating a landscape that will please shutterbugs and flower lovers alike. But, the area is also famous for another bloom – the calla lilies. Spring is when the calla lilies bloom in full and transform the area known as Zhuzihu, which means “bamboo lake”, into a sea of white. The calla lilies here are so famous that they are celebrated with their own annual festival, replete with guided tours, activities such as food tasting and flower-picking.

 

Royal Brunei Airlines flies Taipei 3x weekly from 03 December 2018 for easy connections to other cities. Discover things to do in Taipei in www.muhibah.com.bn

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