Content Produced in Partnership with Taiwan Tourism Bureau
Like the Iceland’s and Thailand’s of the world, Taiwan is right on the brink of its tipping point. It has managed to fly under the radar so far, but savvy travelers are beginning to take notice as they look for more off-the-beaten-path destinations to adventure in.
What makes Taiwan appealing to intrepid adventurers? Taipei is basically entry-level Asia. It’s a good jumping off point for those looking to dip their toes into the culture, while being cleaner and less chaotic than many other countries.
Hot springs are a national pastime. Street food is safe and tasty. The people are friendly and helpful. And most of all, it has a backdrop for an endless bounty of adventures. There are lush mountains, craggy-cliffs, and miles of shoreline. Whether you want to challenge the mysterious peaks or the crashing waves, Taiwan is an untapped adventure paradise just begging to be explord.
Here are a few of the must-have experiences:
Traverse Taroko Gorge National Park – Home to 27 of the 100 tallest peaks in Taiwan, Taroko Gorge National Park is a place of extreme beauty. From mosaic marble rock walls to suspension bridges and shockingly turquoise water, it’s a hiker, biker, and photographer’s haven. There are almost 40 trails, which means you could spend days exploring and still not see it all. If you don’t have that kind of time, some of the most popular sights are the Eternal Springs Shrine (Chengchun), Shakadang trail, the Qingshui Cliffs, the Baiyang Waterfall, the Tunnel of Nine Turns, and the Hehuanshan forest. One secret of the park? Taroko Gorge is still occupied by a few indigenous tribes, which you can hike to way up in the mountains and spend the night in an authentic village.
Get out on two-wheels – If Taiwan were to have one national pastime, it would be cycling. Route No. 1 circumvents the entire island and encompasses a whopping 602-mile trail. Quickly becoming one of the most popular adventures in Asia, the ambitious undertaking takes 10-12 days to complete and begins at Taipei’s Songshan Station. For the more casual bike enthusiasts, there are plenty of shorter jaunts throughout the country or you can opt for a segment of the trail just to see what it’s like.
Hot Springs Hop – With well over 100 hot springs in every corner and crevice of Taiwan, there is no shortage of places to stretch your weary muscles. You’ll find everything from fully developed spas to authentic groundwater heated by volcanoes. One of the best areas to explore Taiwan’s hot spring culture is an hour north of Taipei in Wulai. The town is actually named after an indigenous word translating to “boiling water” and has numerous venues to unwind and natural pools along the riverbank.
Try your hand at river tracing – A unique summer pursuit, river tracing is an adventure sport invented in Taiwan that combines hiking through water, bouldering, canyoneering, and cliff jumping into one adrenaline-filled day. It’s a way to get down and dirty in Taiwan’s waterfalls, rivers, and gorges. Make sure you go with a guide who knows the area’s landscape topography and get ready to push yourself to the limit. One of the biggest draws? Thanks to the ever-changing river conditions, no two adventures will ever be the same.
Play in the water – When you’re busy exploring the cities, it’s easy to forget Taiwan is surrounded by water. The gnarly waves make ocean surfing, SUPing, and kayaking favorite water sports to pursue. The southernmost tip of the island near Kenting National Park offers the best stretches of beach and sand for fun in the sun.
Scoot around by motorbike – Taiwan’s most popular means of transportation, motorbikes come in all shapes and sizes from Vespa-like scooters to full on motorcycles. You can rent a bike by the day, week or even month. It requires a bit of balance, but just about anyone can pick it up fairly quickly. Beyond riding yourself, it’s pretty funny to watch them balance luggage, boxes, children, and even pets on their scooters as they wiz around town on the Taiwanese version of the clown car.
Explore under the sea – Taiwan isn’t just one island, it’s actually a conglomerate of over 100 islands, many of which are accessible by boat or ferry. These remote eco-paradises are places to SCUBA or snorkel with untapped marine life, coral, and even wrecks to explore.
See Taiwan from the sky – For the true thrill seekers out there, paragliding is one of the most accessible extreme sports. You can find launch sites around Taiwan, but soaring over Sun Moon Lake offers one of the most memorable experiences. Don’t you want to be able to say you flew over the moon?
Looking for a great day-trip from Taipei? Consider Shifen waterfall.
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