Taiwan is the ideal destination for travellers wanting to combine culture and outdoor adventure in a country that is still largely off the Western tourist trail. The island’s charm comes from its unpretentious, friendly people, vibrant cities, and spectacular natural environment.
The densely-packed cities of Taiwan’s west coast may cram more people together per square mile than almost anywhere else on Earth but, despite the fascinating riot of activity, they still retain a very human feel. Even in the biggest cities, you will find small neighbourhoods with local markets and food stalls, and you will meet people who are perfectly at home in their environment, and welcoming of others who want to share their space. One thing you can be sure of is that as you stroll around the neighbourhoods you will always bump into something new to surprise and delight you.
Known for decades as a manufacturing powerhouse, most of Taiwan’s heavy industry has now shifted to China and South-East Asia. The populace that pulled off a miraculous economic transformation in the second half of the 20th century is now increasingly focusing on quality of life, leading to a boom in the leisure industry and an appreciation of the finer things. Twenty years ago, the only people cycling were rural schoolchildren, but today, along with Giant and Merida, two of the world’s largest bicycle manufacturers, Taiwan is also home to a huge number of hobby cyclists, and has hundreds of kilometres of new, purpose-built paths along some very scenic routes.
Taiwan effortlessly combines the ancient and the modern, and revels in the sublime and the profane. You will find the world’s premier collection of Chinese art housed in Taipei’s National Palace Museum, yet half an hour’s drive away is the Taishan Doll Museum, a monument to Barbie, who was manufactured here until the 1980s. The lure of Taiwan’s jaw-dropping gorges, rift valleys, sea cliffs, lakes and rock formations exist alongside a first-rate food culture, captivating performance arts and fascinating urban environments.
It is this glorious mix of experiences that make Taiwan an excellent choice for the discerning traveller in search of an unforgettable trip.
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