Taiwan Sightseeing and Attractions: Places to Visit in Taiwan
Taiwan has a lot of places to visit as well as for sightseeing and tourist attractions. Here are some of the places that we visited in Taipei, Taiwan.
National Palace Museum
One of the places we visited in Taipei was the National Palace Museum known as “the treasure house of Chinese culture”. If you want to see the world's largest collection (around seven hundred thousand items) of Chinese artifacts, this museum located in the Waishuanghsi neighborhood of the Shihlin District is a must on your list of places to visit in Taipei. This museum ranks as one of the four best museums in the world, in a class with the Louvre, the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Included in the collection are artifacts made from jade, bronze, porcelain, lacquerware and enamel. There is also tapestry and embroidery, and many priceless documents and books containing excellent examples of ancient Chinese calligraphy. The most famous and notable pieces of the treasures now displaying at the museum are Jadeite cabbage, Meat-Shaped Stone, Agate Finger Citrons, White Jade Branch of Elegant Lychee, T’ien-huang Stone Miniature Mountain, and Jadeite Screen Insert. Some of the oldest artifacts in the collection of the museum are pieces of prehistoric pottery over 5,000 years old. The vast majority of these art objects are from the private collection of China's emperors.
The museum displays around fifteen thousand pieces at any given time while the other treasures are kept in well protected, air conditioned vaults buried deep in the mountainside. The displays are then rotated once every three months.
Visit the National Palace Museum's website to read their calendar of events, visiting hours, entrance fees, site location and more!
National Palace Museum
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Noted as a national historical site of Taiwan, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall or the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall was built to commemorate the former Taiwan President Chiang Kai-Shek. This important landmark attracts large populations of visitors every year so we made sure this was part of our Taipei tour.
We got to see history coming alive through preserved photographs, vehicles, uniform, old commodities used by the former president. His former office was restored with him seated on the table.
Aside from the main memorial hall, there is also a National Theater and National Concert Hall, where numerous local and international performances have been shown.
Website: Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
Built in the Ching Dynasty, the Lungshan Temple is one of the most famous and most worshiped temples in Taiwan. The devotees worship Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, and other divine spirits. Known to be one of the oldest and magnificent Buddhist temples in Taiwan, it has a three-sectional shaped design, the best traditional temple architectures of Chinese temples. There is a front, middle and rear hall with bronze dragons on the right and left pillars. The doors, beams and poles are wonderfully decorated. You can also see stunning wood sculptures. Numerous worshipers visit during the first and fifteenth day of each month of the lunar calendar. Surrounding the temple are antique shops, medicine shops and traditional streets.
Nanya Rock Formation
Our first stop on day 2 of our Taiwan tour was the northernmost part where the entire coastline was a breathtaking view of sculptured stones and sea waves. Nanya has this fantastic rock formations and a unique sea-eroded coral shore. This is formed through the weathering of the sandstone and the oxidation of iron ore that looks like a striped pattern, seen as striations on the stone.
Nanya Rock Formation
Yin Yang Hai or Yin Yang Sea
Yin Yang Hai or Yin Yang sea is also called the bay of two colors. As the bus traveled along the coastal road, we saw a bay where the sea has two colors --a brownish/yellowish color due to copper and iron deposits amidst a majestic blue.
Some believed that the yellowish sea color was due to the pollution resulting form smelting activities does by mining company. Strangely even if the mining company has stopped operating, the Yin-yang sea still exists. Scholars claim that the area which has a large amount of pyrite that has formed Fe3+ which does not dissolve easily in water. It resulted to the formation of iron ion floating particles when it flows into the sea caused the bay of two colors to exist until today.
Yin Yang Sea
Further along, we stopped to watch a waterfall. Still you can see the brownish colour of the waterfall due to the copper and iron deposits picked up during their passage through the mines. Hence, the waterfall is known as the Golden Waterfall. It is also believed to be one of the sources of the Yin Yang Sea.
Jiufen Village or Chiufen Village
Jiufen or Chiufen village is a quaint little town nestled on a mountain in Rueifang Township of Taipei Country near Keelung. This used to be the gold mining center of Taiwan. I also read that Jiufen means 9 portions in Chinese. And there used to be 9 families who lived in this mountain. Since transportation was difficult, the village would request for 9 portions every time a shipment arrived from the town. We walked along the winding lanes, tea houses, shops and enjoyed taste testing the different food/delicacies that was there. We also ended up buying food stuff to bring home as souvenirs.
I adored Yehliu Geopark with its fascinating rock formations. Yehliu is a cape on the north coast of Taiwan located in the town of Wanli. This is in between Taipei and Keelung. The most common rock formation and easily visible are the mushroom rocks. There were many mushroom rocks dotting the coastline. There were also honeycomb rocks, obviously because they look like honeycombs. And ginger rocks, candle rocks, pot holes, chessboard rocks and fairy's shoe.
The most famous rock found in the Yehliu Geopark is the Queen's Head. Lots of tourists fall in line to have their photo taken with this iconic landmark in this region. Of course, including us! The Millennium Queen is believed to be around 4,000 years old. Continuous exposure to the wind, sun, rain has caused the Queen's neck to become thinner through the years. So they also made a similar one to remember this remarkable rock formation just in case time will destroy the real one.
This landmark skyscraper, Taipei 101 or the Taipei World Financial Center, is located in the Xinyj District, Taipei, Taiwan. From 2004 up to 2010 (until the opening of Burj Khalifa in Dubai), it ranked as the world's tallest building.
As the name implies, Taipei 101 comprises 101 floors above the ground and 5 flours underground. We took some time to tour around the shops inside Taipei 101 but refrained from going up the observation deck since the line was too long.
On our third day, we were going to experience the famous hot springs! But before that, we dropped by The Yangmingshan National Park. The Yangmingshan National park is the only national park in Taiwan that
has volcanic geography and hot springs. It is next to Sha Mao Shan (Shamao
Mountain) and Chi Hsing Shan (Chihsing Mountain), with Da Tun Shan (Datun
Mountain) on the right and Kuan Yin Shan (Kuanyin Mountain) in its front. Established in Sept. 16, 1985, its vegetation differs from other areas at similar latitudes. The volcanic activity that created the area makes the soil unusually warm and it is strongly acidic and lacking in calcium.
Hot Springs at Calla Young Garden Resort
Our tourist guide took us to Calla Young Garden Resort to experience the beauty of hot springs. Located between Yangmingshan National park and the North Coast and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area, the resort is nestled among lush, green mountains. Wash away the tiredness and worries by dipping into the hot spring pool (there is also a cold spring pool) that was very refreshing and relaxing.
After our hot spring bath, we ate in the Pin Shan Shue Restaurant with a breathtaking view of the mountains as we enjoyed their delicious, organic meals.
Outdoor Pool of Calla Young Garden Resort
Guess who was grinning the biggest smile ever when we reached the Taipei Zoo? Of course, my 7 year old nephew was beside himself with excitement! The cool weather with a touch of the warmth of the sun was just perfect as we explored the largest city zoo in Asia. The Taipei zoo displays animals from Taiwan, Africa, Australia, the Asian tropical rainforest, the desert and the temperate zones.
Panda Bear at Taipei Zoo
Before dinner, we rode the maokong gondola, cable car or crystal cabins. It is also called the eyes of Maokong Gondola. Unfortunately, the queue was long so when it was time to board the maokong gondola, it was rather dark already and we couldn't see the trees and mountains around us. The beautiful thing though was seeing the view of the city lights and buildings as we rose above the air. The weather was cool up there since it was December. I enjoyed my maokong gondola ride.
Maokong Gondola--Cable Car Ride
Sanshia Old Street
On our last day of the tour, the group decided to start late in the morning since our flight was scheduled late in the evening. We checked out of our hotel and asked the tourist guide to take us to a souvenir shop to buy goodies to bring back to our families.
Then we traveled to sansia/sanshia old street where we also entered the sansia qingshui zushi temple. After we walked along the streets and entered the quaint looking shops with red bricked buildings, arched hallways and Baroque styled architecture.
Temple near Sanshia Street
Spanish Ceramic Art Exhibit
The Spanish Ceramic Art exhibit was a treat as we saw ceramics being used in many ways including sculpture and paintings. "Spanish ceramic art offers an interesting interpretation of trends in the world of contemporary ceramic art. The pieces on display showcase a stunning collection of different styles, types, techniques and expressive methods, illustrating the diverse range of aesthetics and ideas that infuse the artistic medium of ceramics."
Ceramic Art Exhibit--Some Samples
A visit to Chiang Kai Shek's mausoleum
In 1975, 26 years after Chiang came to Taiwan, he died in Taipei at the age of 87. He had suffered a major heart attack and pneumonia in the months before and died from renal failure aggravated with advanced cardiac malfunction at 23:50 on April 5.
A month of mourning was declared. Chinese music composer Hwang Yau-tai wrote the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Song. In mainland China, however, Chiang's death was met with little apparent mourning and Communist state-run newspapers gave the brief headline "Chiang Kai-shek Has Died." Chiang's body was put in a copper coffin and temporarily interred at his favorite residence in Cihu, Dasi, Taoyuan. When his son Chiang Ching-kuo died in 1988, he was entombed in a separate mausoleum in nearby Touliao (頭寮). The hope was to have both buried at their birthplace in Fenghua if and when it was possible. In 2004, Chiang Fang-liang, the widow of Chiang Ching-kuo, asked that both father and son be buried at Wuzhi Mountain Military Cemetery in Xizhi, Taipei County (now New Taipei City). Chiang's ultimate funeral ceremony became a political battle between the wishes of the state and the wishes of his family. --Source: Wikipedia
Chiang's body was not buried in the traditional Chinese manner but entombed in his former residence in Cihu in respect for his wish to be buried in his native Fenghua.
Chiang Kai Shek Statues
Tina, our tourist guide, thank you!
One Last Note
Our trip was booked through the Edison Travel Agency and the hotel where we stayed was in the Riviera Hotel. The MTR station was about five minutes walk away. The staff spoke English and was quite friendly. Our rooms were nice, clean and quiet. Our tourist guide, Tina, was very helpful and made sure our trip was a very memorable one.
December is a rainy month therefore, we brought with us umbrellas and raincoats just in case it rained. I remember Tina saying that we are very lucky that the weather was very good. I would grin and declare back, "Yes we are very lucky."
Our Taipei, Taiwan trip was a very beautiful one and I wouldn't mind going back to explore more of the beautiful places that they have to offer.