Dramatic landscapes, warm hospitality and a gastronomic delight- Taiwan is a great destination for travelers to explore. I am surprised that it is yet not very popular among Indian tourists, even though it has got everything that we Indians love, food included! My recent week long trip to Taiwan gave me a peak into its life and culture besides being a satiating holiday experience. Though I can give you many reasons, here are the Top Five reasons why your next holiday destination should be Taiwan!
1)Speedy Visa Process
One of my best friend, a travel buff, travels only to countries that offer visa on arrival because he hates all the hassle that usually comes with the visa. Taiwan doesn’t offer visa on arrival, but has liberalized its visa process that is simple and speedy. You can get free visa online if you have had a visa from any of these countries ( not expired more than 10 years prior to the date of entry to Taiwan) – Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, any Schengen countries, the United Kingdom or the United States. Breezy right?
2) Most Tourist Attractions are Free
Yes! We visited the dormant volcano site of Yangmingshan National Park in Taipei, the Eternal Spring Shrine of Tarako National Park, beautiful day lily covered Sixty Stone Mountain ( Liushishi Mountain) and didn’t have to queue up to buy tickets. Most tourist attractions of Taiwan allow free entry barring few like the Taipei 101 Observatory ( which is still a must do of course).
Not only this the very cool one hour tour of the Kavalan Whiskey Distillery, Taiwanese distillery owned by the King Car Group and located in Yilan county, is free as well! What more could you ask to call a destination tourist friendly!
3) Night Markets
The bustling street night markets of Taiwan are popular both among tourists and locals. These night markets are a perfect treat for foodies with array of stalls serving local specialities- oyster egg omelets to frog egg soups to some local fresh juice.
Don’t know who coined the popular hashtag Food Porn that is widely used on social media, but why do I have a feeling that it was some food influencer visiting one of the night markets of Taiwan and came up with the term after watching some street vendors rustle up a meal with fresh meat and ingredients.
We visited the The Luodong Night Market, Yilan County, Taiwan and binged on all the food. The Shilin night market of Taipei comes highly recommended.
4) Hotels, of course!
We at The Hotel Explorer are always on a lookout for hotels with a heart, the hidden gems as we like to call them. From non-hotels to boutique properties, from heritage hotels to home stays Taiwan offers an array of stay options that are more than just a cluster of assembly line rooms. We stayed at The Grand Hotel which has magnificent Chinese architecture, houses an Olympic size pool and has rooms with balconies that has the urban view of the Taipei city. This is also one of the brightest hotel I have stayed at and it has a secret tunnel!
Another gem of a property was the Leader Village Tarako, that is surrounded by picturesque green mountains, is run by the Taroko aborigines, has rooms with low beds and serves local food. Leader Village’s hospitality has left me speechless. But thats not all Taiwan has no dearth of such local hotel brands that a traveller must experience. Another one was the Yu Peng Villa that has an intriguing collection of art and sculptures in its public areas besides a beautiful art gallery. The rooms too are done in a local Taiwanese way with low beds and bathrooms stock organic toiletries. I would highly recommend all these properties.
5) Basically because, You Will Love the Locals!
You must visit Taiwan to experience Taiwanese hospitality and culture. We visited a soy farm where locals taught us the process of Tofu making and then were treated to a sumptuous DIY Soy milk hotpot food. The people behind the whole experience were the best thing. We also spent a day at the Pacific sea where local fishermen kept us engaged in fishing and snorkelling. We even shared their daily meal with them.
Another experience was the time spent at the beautiful Xing Yuan Tea Farm. Xing Yuan Tea garden doesn’t use any kind of pesticides or chemical fertilizers and is an organic farm. Here again the local owners engaged us in Green Tea ice cream making, sharing not just the know-how but making the whole experience fun.
Taiwanese will entertain you, introduce you to their culture and local life and make you realize why travelling is so important!
( The Hotel Explorer team visited Taiwan on invitation the Taiwan Tourism Board India)