Taiwan is situated about 160 kilometers off the southeastern coast of the mainland China and between Korea and Japan in the north and Hong Kong Island and the Philippines to the south. The island has always been known as one of the most beautiful in the Pacific. The Portuguese called it Formosa, which means just that. With its mountains that rise up high above the green-forested foothills, its terraced flatlands and coastal plains and basins and foremost with its friendly generous people, it’s really almost “paradise” (if you overlook the widespread environmental devastation caused by rapid development). Not just the breathtaking scenery with waterfalls, lakes, hot springs or misty hillsides, make Taiwan well worth a visit. Pagodas and temples build on a culture that goes back beyond the beginning of western civilization. Next to nature and tradition there’s also the modern Taiwan with skyscrapers that almost reach into heaven, with their feet firmly planted in a chaotic stream of traffic. Whatever you’re looking for, you can probably find it in here. If you visit the capital city of Taipei, even if you’re just passing through take a day or two to look around and to visit the Yangmingshan National Park. Other cities of interest are Taichung and the industrial city of Kaohsiung. (They are invariably heavily polluted, dirty, over-crowded, lacking sidewalks). The most beautiful natural regions are Central Cross-Island Highway, the Hsitou’s bamboo forests, Sun moon lake, Kenting National Park and the Yushan National Park and of course there’s Yushan or Mount Jade, Alishan, and Toroko gorge.
If you think you have seen the whole island you also have to discover the Penghu Islands, off the southwestern coast of Taiwan. Ancient temples, picturesque farms and windswept fishing villages, friendly people, fine beaches, coral reefs, and rugged coastlines are just a few keywords to get your attention. This is a great place for all kinds of water sports and don’t forget to try the fresh seafood!