If one journey could be said to sum up the contradictions and joys of travel in Taiwan, it’s the twenty-minute cable-car ride from the capital, Taipei, into the surrounding hills. As the skyline of the pulsating modern city gives way to the tops of fir trees, a tranquil world of temples, ornamental gardens and tea houses takes over. Seated on a stone-lined terrace, you can gaze through gaps in the swirling mist at the distant metropolis over a bowl of sweet plums and cup of finest Chinese tea, poured from terracotta pots with bamboo handles.
Contrary to the country’s hi-tech image, traditional Oriental pleasures tend to provide the defining moments of trips to this distinctive island, located off the coast of southeast China... Watching shaven-headed monks lighting incense in ancient Shinto shrines; admiring the afterglow reflected on the glassy waters of Sun Moon Lake; tracing the arc of an eagle’s flight high above the marble crags of the Taroko Gorge; or sampling pungeant “thousand-day eggs” beneath the two-thousand-year-old cypresses of Yushan mountain.
Area: 36191 sq km (Slightly less than one twentieth the size of the UK)
Population: 23 million (One third of the UK’s)
Religions: A mixture of Buddhist and Taoist (93%), Christian (4.5%) and others (2.5%)
Languages: Officially Mandarin, though Taiwanese is also spoken. English may be understood in the major cites but is not widely spoken outside of these
Time: +8 hrs (GMT)
When to go
The most pleasant months to visit are spring and late autumn. Taiwan has a largely sub-tropical climate with two distinct seasons, hot from May to October (with the summer months being especially humid) and cooler from November to March. The northern areas receive monsoon like rainfall from January to March, and are generally cooler than the south. The southwest monsoon starts in May and ends in late September. Heavy rainfall can occur any time of year, and the typhoon season generally runs from May into October.
Getting to Taiwan
Eva Air fly to Taiwan via Bangkok. Connections are also available via Hong Kong on British Airways and Cathay Pacific. Flights generally take 15-17 hours including transit time. Connections are available across Asia.
Private transfers and sightseeing
In Taiwan we use private cars and guides for the majority of the transfers and sightseeing, though shared seat in coach tours and independent train travel can also be undertaken should you wish to have more independence or cut costs.
A network of internal flights links many of the major cities.
There is a highly developed, fast and punctual rail system. Train travel is recommended.
Taiwan’s major roads are well maintained. To hire a car you require an international license. We do not recommend driving in the major cities.
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Our trip to Hong Kong and Taiwan, including Taipei and Taroko Gorge, was very well coordinated and smooth. All transfers and travel whether by air or car were stressless, interesting and well planned. Most remarkable was our guide in Taiwan who was very knowledgeable, of course, of history, but who also gave us the “background” information of what we were experiencing as well as the nation’s view.Mr & Mrs Krywucki, Tailor-made Hong Kong & Taiwan read more comments