Travel in Taiwan (No.79 2017 01/02 )

Page 1





A Wonderful Time In

Taipei Shopping / Culture / Romance

RAIL TRAVEL Pingxi Branch Line


Paragliding in Wanli



5 THINGS TO DO IN Jiufen & Jinguashi

THEME PARK Leofoo Village


International Cuisine

Welcome to

Taiwan! In this edition of Travel in Taiwan, as always, we take you around this island and its offshore islands; but since most international travelers come in through Taipei and spend a good deal of their time in and around the city, this time we thought we’d spend more than the usual amount of time in the capital region. Our Feature is an in-depth exploration of a dynamic metropolis that has gone through a fundamental change in look and personality over the past two decades and more. The “Taipei brand” is today a strong one on the international stage. For travelers from places far away, the images that come to mind when the word “Taipei” pops up are likely to be of superb shopping, of deep culture – and even of romance. We show you where you’ll find all these, along the way also providing suggestions on fine places to dine, cup a good brew of coffee, and hug a pillow. In our Island Feast section our focus is on premium-quality Taipei restaurants serving international specialty fare. Head out on culinary-culture expeditions exploring the gastronomic gems that Turkey, the rest of the Mediterranean area, and the Caribbean region have presented to the world. Outside the city, we jump off a cliff – paragliding – at Green Bay on the north coast, we also explore the old mining settlements of Jiufen and Jinguashi on the northeast coast, which look down on the ocean and are today popular tourist destinations, we ride the touristoriented Pingxi Branch Line through a beautiful valley in the mountains inland from Jiufen/ Jinguashi, and we plunge into Leofoo Village Theme Park in northwestern Hsinchu County for a day, which presents you with “flying carpets, prehistoric creatures, jungle landscapes, and cowboy standoffs.” These exciting trips await, respectively, in our Adventure, 5 Things to Do, Railway Travel, and Theme Park Joy departments. Now, off to points more distant. In our A Day in the Big City segment the big-shouldered city of Kaohsiung, in the far south, is laid at your feet, with an emphasis on leisurely metro, bike, and boat-cruise travel. And furthest from Taipei, but in no way least, in Hidden Treasures we present the Kinmen Islands, just off the mainland China coast, a “treasure-house of traditional architecture and military history.” Enjoy your time with us!

Joe Y. Chou, Ph.D. Director General Tourism Bureau, MOTC, R.O.C.

CONTENTS Januar y ~ Februar y 2017

10 PUBLISHER Joe Y. Chou Editing Consultant

Producer Vision Creative Marketing & Media Co. Address 7F-1, 1, Sec. 4, Nanjing E. Rd., Taipei City 10595, Taiwan

Where you can pick up a copy of Travel in Taiwan

Wayne Hsi-Lin Liu

TEL: 886-2-2715-1052 Fax: 886-2-2715-0924 E-MAIL: General Manager Frank K. Yen Editor in Chief Johannes Twellmann English Editor Rick Charette DIRECTOR OF PLANNING & EDITING DEPT Joe Lee MANAGING EDITOR Krista Yang EDITORS Ming-Jing Yin, Chloe Chu, Nickey Liu CONTRIBUTORS Rick Charette, Owain Mckimm, Nick Kembel, Richard Saunders, Quyen Tran PHOTOGRAPHERS Chen Cheng-kuo, Maggie Song DESIGNERS Andy Chang, Maggie Song, Carrie Chang, Erin Chen ui-chun Tsai, Nai-jen Liu, Xiou Mieng Jiang, Administrative Dept H Chen Wen-ling, Sandy Yeh


Publishing Organization

Taiwan Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and Communications CONTACT

International Division, Taiwan Tourism Bureau Add: 9F, 290 Zhongxiao E. Rd., Sec. 4, Taipei City, 10694, Taiwan Tel: 886-2-2717-3737 Fax: 886-2-2771-7036 E-mail: Website:

台 灣 觀 光 雙 月 刊 Travel in Taiwan The Official Bimonthly English Magazine of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau (Advertisement) January/February, 2017 Tourism Bureau, MOTC First published Jan./Feb., 2004 ISSN: 18177964 GPN: 2009305475 Price: NT$200 中華郵政台北雜字第1286號執照登記為雜誌交寄

Copyright @ 2017 Tourism Bureau. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any form without written permission is prohibited.


1. Wu-Nan Culture Plaza, No. 6, Zhongshan Rd., Central Dist., Taichung City 40043 886-4-2226-0330 2. N ational Bookstore, 1F., No. 209, Songjiang Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City 10485 886-2-2518-0207 This magazine was printed with soy ink. Soy ink is said to be more environmentally friendly than petroleum-based ink and to make it easier to recycle paper.

Offices of the Tourism Bureau in Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Frankfurt; Taiwan Representative Offices; Overseas Offices of the Ministry of Economic Affairs; Overseas Offices of the Central News Agency; onboard China Airlines, EVA Air, and other selected international airways; selected travel agencies in Asia, North America, and Europe; and other organizations.

Fisherman's Wharf in Tamsui (photo by Chen Cheng-kuo)

This magazine is printed on FSC TM COC certified paper. Any product with the FSC TM logo on it comes from a forest that has been responsibly maintained and harvested in a sustainable manner.

In Taiwan


Tourism Bureau Visitor Center; Tourism Bureau; Taiwan Visitors Association; foreign representative offices in Taiwan; Tourism Bureau service counters at Taiwan Taoyuan Int’l Airport and Kaohsiung Int’l Airport; major tourist hotels; Taipei World Trade Center; VIP lounges of international airlines; major tourist spots in Taipei; visitor centers of cities and counties around Taiwan; offices of national scenic area administrations; public libraries

Read the online version of Travel in Taiwan or download the app for iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android (smartphone/tablet) from http://tit. See more amazing images of Taiwan in our Travel in Taiwan app! Simply scan this QR code to reach the download page (iOS/Android).


FEATURE Taipei – Shopping, Culture, and Romance – A City that Regales You in Oh So Many Ways


THEME PARK JOY Leofoo Village – Enchantment & Delight at One of Taiwan’s Premier Theme Parks



ADVENTURES Soaring Above the Big Blue Sea – Paragliding at Wanli on the North Coast

1 4 6 7 8 24

Publisher's Note Taiwan Tourism Events Convenient Travel News Culture Scene Special Report - Fireflies


36 The Kinmen Islands – On Taiwan’s Edge – A Voyage to the Golden Gate


40 Fine Foreign Food

– Restaurants Serving International Specialties in the Capital


FIVE THINGS TO DO Jiufen and Jinguashi – Top Tourist Villages on the Northeast Coast


A DAY IN THE BIG CITY One Day in Kaohsiung – Things to Do and Places to Go in the Big City Down South


RAIL TRAVEL The Pingxi Branch Line – One of the Most Popular Railway Journeys in Taiwan

40 36


Taiwan Tourism Events Calendar website

Lanterns, Sheep, Books and More

Events in the First Few Months of

02/11 02/19

Taiwan Lantern Festival 台灣燈會

Two weeks after the Lunar New Year (January 28 this year), the end of the Spring Festival period is celebrated with Lantern Festival activities around Taiwan. The biggest of these activities is the Taiwan Lantern Festival, each year organized by a different city or county government. This year it is Yunlin County, a part of the island not much on the radar for most foreign visitors, but attractive and very convenient to get to using the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) service. With the Lantern Festival grounds located right beside THSR Yunlin Station, there is even more reason to join the celebrations. The annual festival’s star attraction is the main theme lantern, usually a construction, 15~25 meters tall, in the shape of that year’s zodiac animal (2017 is the Year of the Rooster), illuminated with high-tech laser lighting. Thousands of smaller decorative lanterns are also displayed, created by professional artists and gifted students. Location: Main Theme Lantern Area: From plaza in front of THSR Yunlin Station ( 高鐵雲林站 前 ) to Agri-Expo Ecological District ( 農博生態園區 ) – No. 301, Zhanqian E. Rd., Huwei Township, Yunlin County ( 雲林縣虎尾鎮站前東路 301 號 ) Beigang Lantern Area: Zhongshan Road area to Guanguang Bridge area in Beigang ( 北港中山路 街區及觀光大橋周邊 ) – Zhongshan Rd., Beigang Township, Yunlin County ( 雲林縣北港鎮中山路 ) Website:

02/10 02/11



Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival 新北市平溪天燈節 Standing in the line of exploding streams of fireworks is not for everyone, so if you’d prefer to take part in more peaceful Lantern Festival activities than those at Yanshui, consider visiting the Pingxi Valley in New Taipei City. This is a very popular area with tourists, most

of which take the Pingxi Branch Line (see related article on pages 50~54). While sending a sky lantern (a paper lantern with wire frame and heating flame inside) to the heavens has become part of a Pingxi trip for many visitors throughout the year, during the Lantern Festival, when thousands gather to release lanterns into the night sky together, the experience becomes especially memorable and heartwarming. Location: Shifen Sky Lantern Square ( 十分天燈廣場 ) – No. 136, Nanshanping, Nanshan Village, Pingxi Dist., New Taipei City ( 新北 市平溪區南山里南山坪 136 號 ); Pingxi Junior High School ( 平溪國 中 ) – No. 92, Shidi Street, Pingxi Dist., New Taipei City ( 新北市平溪 區石底街 92 號 ); Jingtong Elementary School ( 菁桐國小 ) – No. 45, Jingtong St., Pingxi Dist., New Taipei City ( 新北市平溪區菁桐街 45 號 ) Websites:

Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival 台灣慶元宵 - 鹽水蜂炮

When young and daring you do things that you will look back at years later and think: “Oh boy, that was crazy.” Attending the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival certainly falls into that category for many who have been brave enough to “do” it. What’s so scary about this religious happening? Imagine someone shooting beehive rockets at you, then multiply that experience thousands of times. That’s what a night in Yanshui is like during this annual event, which originated in 1885 when the residents of this small town in southern Taiwan used firecrackers to rid themselves of a cholera epidemic; i.e., the blasts scared off baleful spirits. It goes without saying that you want to go prepared if deciding to experience this likely once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Essential equipment includes full-face motorcycle helmet, surgical mask, thick shawl, gloves, thick jacket, and sturdy pants. Be prepared to discard all of the things you wear afterwards, because chances are that there will be burn marks all over them! Location: Yanshui Wu Miao Temple ( 鹽水武廟 ) – No. 87, Wumiao Rd., Yanshui Dist., Tainan City ( 台南市鹽水區武廟路 87 號 ); Yanshui Junior High School ( 鹽水國中操場 ) – Yanshui Dist., Tainan City ( 台南市 鹽水區鹽水國中 ) Website:


Travel in Taiwan


05.10. 02/ 11.13

Miaoli Bombing the Dragon 苗栗旁龍系列活動 Another important Lantern Festival event, the Miaoli Bombing the Dragon, is organized by the Miaoli County Government to celebrate the end of the Spring Festival period. The ritual of bombing the dragon (firecrackers are ignited on the ground, with dragon-dance troupes moving around them) has a long tradition in the Hakka villages of Miaoli; and as part of efforts to boost tourism the Miaoli

government revived and upgraded the activity in 1989 into a full-fledged festival, attracting large crowds each year. The festival includes a ceremony during which the dragons are “given eyes,” painting them on their faces to bring the mystical creatures to life. Dragon-dance troupes compete against each other, a dragon parade winds through the streets, various dragon-bombing activities take place and, finally, the dragons are set ablaze to send them to heaven.

Locations: Miaoli City Office, Miaoli City, Miaoli County ( 苗栗縣苗栗市苗栗市公所 ) Website: (Chinese)


Running of the Sheep Festival 清境奔羊節

02/08 02/13

Taipei International Book Exhibition 台北國際書展 Since 1987, the Taipei International Book Exhibition has brought together publishers, authors, and readers from around the world. Described by past participants as an intimate and warm event, the exhibition is both a platform for players in the industry to conduct business and a place for book lovers to learn about the latest trends in publishing, browse through a wide variety of new publications, meet and greet authors, illustrators, and other creative minds, listen to experts during panel discussions, and take in entertaining live performances. The sixday event attracts more than 500,000 visitors each year, and is one of the most important book fairs in Asia.

Locations: Hall 1 and 3 of Taipei World Trade Center, Xinyi District, Taipei City ( 臺北市信義區台北國際世貿中心一 三館 ) Website:

Qingjing Farm, in central Nantou County’s high mountains, is a very popular recreational farm, known for breathtaking scenery and green pastures. Roaming these pastures is a flock of woolly sheep, a rare sight in Taiwan. The sheep “perform” regularly in front of visitors to the farm, running up and down the slopes and jumping across fences – “encouraged” by the relentless chasing of agile shepherd dogs. Once a year they are put on an even bigger stage, the Running of the Sheep Festival, which also happens to be the farm’s birthday celebration. During the event the sheep – about 150 of them – are paraded through the farm, allowing visitors the chance to see them up close, and to act as impromptu shepherds. The festival also features a number of other fun events, such as sheep-shearing demonstrations, a horsebackriding acrobatics show, indigenous dance and music performances, and much more. Location: Green Green Grasslands, Qingjing Farm ( 清境農場青青草原 ) and Qingjing Guesthouse ( 國民賓館 ) – No. 25, Dingyuan Lane, Datong Village, Ren’ai Township, Nantou County ( 南投縣仁愛鄉大同村定遠巷 25 號 ) Website:

C onvenient T rave l

Taiwan Tourist Shuttle website

BUS TRIP Tourist Shuttle to Shifen

Shifen Waterfall

Shenkeng Old Street

Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus Network Public transportation in Taiwan is convenient, and most major places of interest, save for those in remote mountain areas, are easily accessible by railway and bus. The comprehensive network of Taiwan Tourist Shuttle bus routes was established in 2010 to further facilitate travel for tourists by connecting tourist spots with railway stations and other transportation hubs with dedicated bus services. Buses run frequently, and info is provided online as well as on bus stop signs in Chinese and English. For more information, visit .

Bus route: MRT Muzha Station ( 捷運木柵站 ) – Shenkeng Old Street ( 深坑老街 ) – Shuangxikou ( 雙溪口 ) – Guniang Temple ( 姑娘廟 ) – Jingtong Old Street ( 菁 桐老街 ) – Pingxi Old Street ( 平溪老街 ) – Lingjiao Railway Station ( 嶺腳站 ) – Wanggu Railway Station ( 望古站 ) – Shifen Old Street ( 十分老街 ) – Shifen Visitor Center (Shifen Waterfall) ( 十分遊客 中心 [ 十分瀑布 ])



Travel in Taiwan

The village of Shifen is among the best tourist spots in northern Taiwan. Most tourists take the railway from Taipei to get there (eastbound train to Ruifang, then Pingxi Branch Line train to Shifen); but you also have a great alternative, the Muzha Pingxi Shuttle Bus, operated as part of the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle bus network. Buses on the line depart about once an hour from MRT Muzha Station (Taipei Metro Line 1), and take about 80 minutes (faster than the railway option from central Taipei) to get to the Shifen Visitor Center, which is conveniently located close to Shifen Waterfall.The bus also stops at Shifen Old Street, Pingxi Old Street, and Jingtong Old Street, all popular with tourists and close to stations on the Pingxi Branch Line. Two other stops you might consider getting off at are Shuangxikou, from where you can take bus No. 666 to Shiding, a small village known for old houses located right on the banks of two small rivers, and Shenkeng, known for its beautifully restored heritage residences and many stinky-tofu eateries. The bus fare, calculated by section (NT$15/section), is NT$45 from Muzha to Shifen.


NEWS & Events around Taiwan

Double-Decker Sightseeing Buses – All-in-One Taipei Touring Visitors to Taipei can now enjoy sightseeing tours on double-decker buses. There are two routes on the just-launched service. On the Fashion Route , buses take you past such must-see attractions as Taipei 101, Yongkang Street, and Ximending, while a tour on the Classic Route brings you to the northern part of the city, taking in tourist spots such as the Chiang Kai-shek Shilin Residence and National Palace Museum. Onboard, you can make use of Chinese, English, Japanese, and Korean audio-guide equipment. Buses ply the Fashion Route daily from 9am to 11pm, while rides on the Classic Route are available from 9am to 6:20pm. There are a variety of ticket options, such as half-day (NT$300) and full-day (NT$500) tickets and different pay options. Facilities for the handicapped are available.

Taiwan’s Northeast One of Top Global Sustainable Destinations The Northeast and Yilan Coast region was included in the list of Sustainable Destinations TOP 100 2016 released last October, and was described as an area “offering its visitors green mountains, clear waters as well as cultural heritage sites.” Another part of Taiwan recognized was the Chihalaay Cultural Landscape Area in Hualien County’s Fuli Township; it was lauded thus: “This Taiwanese destination is known for its rich natural resources, rice terraces and historical irrigation systems that are still used by the local tribal people.” Website:


Japan in Taiwan Solar-Powered Boats on Wushantou Reservoir Wushantou Reservoir, in the Siraya National Scenic Area, is a major southern Taiwan reservoir located on the border of Liujia and Guantian districts, Tainan City. The reservoir is known for its intricate, zigzagging shoreline and many small islands. Since last November tourists have been able to go on reservoir cruises. The two solar-powered boats used, which have only minimal impact on the environment and water quality, are launched from the northeast side of the reservoir’s dam. Tickets for individual visitors are NT$250; NT$200/person for groups. Website:

The people of Taiwan are fond of Japan, and love to travel to their neighbor to the north (nearly 3.8 million travelers from Taiwan visited Japan last year). Making the trip to Nippon, however, is not the only way to experience at least a touch of Japan if you find yourself in Taiwan. You can take a hot-spring bath in Japanese-style bathhouses, you might dine in one of the countless Japanese restaurants serving sushi, sashimi, and other quintessential fare – and then there is Momotaro Village, in central Taiwan’s Zhushan Township. Opened early last year, this quirky park, created around the popular folk figure Momotaro (“Peach Boy”), has everything from a large replica of a Japanese castle to an old-time village complete with temple and police station to stands selling Japanese snack foods. Performers in samurai and ninja costume entertain the crowds with thrilling stunts and dance. Website:

Travel in Taiwan



CULTURE Concerts, Exhibitions, and Happenings

03/03 05/28

National Theater & Concert Hall

Until 02/26

02/24 EXPO Dome, Taipei Expo Park


Taiwan International Festival of Arts

Taiwan International Festival of Arts

臺灣國際藝術節 Website:

Time to celebrate! It’s the 30th anniversary of the National Theater & Concert Hall (NTCH) in Taipei, the two prestigious performing-arts venues located on either side of the National Chiang Kaishek Memorial Hall. After receiving a minor facelift (concert hall) and undergoing a major renovation (theater), these two iconic cultural institutions are ready to host an especially grand Taiwan International Festival of Arts, which over a span of three months will feature a program of 25 premiumquality shows, including dance, music, and theater, performed by artists from Taiwan and abroad.

01/30 02/04

Linkou Stadium, National Taiwan Sport University

The Wonderful World of Disney on Ice 冰上迪士尼 — 繽紛奇妙世界 Website:

First staged in October, 2016 in the northeastern China city of Dalian, The Wonderful World of Disney on Ice is the first Disney on Ice show to premiere outside the United States. The spectacle features Disney mainstays Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald Duck, who take the audience on an exploration tour down memory lane with scenes from such classics as The Lion King, Toy Story, and The Little Mermaid.


Travel in Taiwan

National Taichung Theater

歌劇院 x 臺灣國際藝術節

Despicable Me – The Evil Studio 神偷奶爸-邪惡製片廠 Website:

Fans of the movies Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 don’t want to miss this opportunity. Lifelike scenes from the movies are created, allowing you to enter the world of Minions and Supervillains and have fun playing interactive games.

Until 03/25


The brand-new National Taichung Theater, opened last year, is quickly following in the big footsteps of Taipei’s venerable National Theater and Concert Hall. This spring, the theater is presenting stage performances by local and international talent as part of the Taiwan International Festival of Arts, including works by the Nederlands Dans Theater, Berliner Ensemble, and Compagnie Louis Brouillard.

02/24 National Palace Museum

The Art and Aesthetics of Form: Selections from the History of Chinese Painting 造型與美感-中國繪畫選粹 Website:

Learn about the history of painting in China in this exhibition, which showcases outstanding representative works from the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties, including figure, landscape, and bird-and-flower paintings. A key focus is how styles changed significantly over the centuries.


National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall

Notre Dame de Paris 鐘樓怪人法文版音樂劇 Website:

The French answer to the Phantom of the Opera , the musical Notre Dame de Paris, based on the novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo, has been a huge success since its debut on September 16, 1998 in Paris. It had the most successful first year of any musical ever, and has since been performed around the world. Taiwan will be the only Asian stop on the tour of the musical’s latest edition, featuring a star-studded cast with Angelo Del Vecchio in the role of Quasimodo.


Until 03/05

Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Until 03/12

Huashan 1914 Creative Park

Until 03/05

National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Shinzi Katoh: Little Red Riding Hood Special Exhibition 加藤真治小紅帽特展

Line of Vision – The Photography of Wang Hsin 另一種目線─王信攝影展 Website:

This is a retrospective exhibition of images selected from the vast vault of work created by accomplished Taiwanese photographer Wang Hsin, primarily photographs shot with conventional film cameras.


Shinzi Katoh is a world-renowned Japanese artist and designer of zakka (loosely defined as“everything and anything that improves your home, life, and appearance”). One of his creations, Little Red Riding Hood, is a popular cute cartoon figure found on myriad household items, such as mugs and shopping bags. For this exhibition a dream-world space has been created, allowing visitors to enter the whimsical Little Red Riding Hood world.

Shadow Dialogue – Kumi Yamashita – 25 Years of Creation 浮光掠影-山下工美 25 年創作展 Website:

Retrospective exhibition of New York-based artist Kumi Yamashita, who is best known for light-andshadow sculptures created using everyday objects.


A City that Regales You in Oh So Many Ways


Travel in Taiwan


Text: Rick Charette Photos: Chen Cheng-kuo

Travelers ask a lot from the cities they visit on their globe-trekking explorations, and the city of Taipei is both ready and able to oblige. Global best in shopping? Done. Unique culture of depth and breadth? Done. A little romance – or a whole lot? Done.

Evening view from Elephant Mountain

Travel in Taiwan




Taipei seen from the Grand Hotel

we nt y ye a r s ago, i f you h a d a ske d a n international traveler about his/her impression of Taipei, a blank look would hardly have been a surprise response. Today the Taipei brand is strong. The background reasons are myriad, but one element is key: the conscious decision by what might be described as a “threshold mass” of individuals in the public and private spheres to make their lives better, and the lives of those around them better. Taipei’s great effort at quality-of-life improvement was launched around twenty years ago. Better and more infrastructure. Better design. “International standard” the only acceptable standard, the only badge to be worn with pride. The result is a city now consistently praised by international organizations and chosen as host for their keystone events. Examples: Taipei was the proud World Design Capital in 2016, is the home of what is just the world’s third commissioned Red Dot Design Museum, and will host the 2017 Summer Universiade, second only to the Olympics in number of athletes and countries represented. International organizations know their members/ participants will go home happy after spending time here. And what makes them happy is sure to leave you feeling plenty pleased with how you’re living life as well, should and when you visit. Let’s tour this city’s powerful “shopping/culture/ romance” brand. Let’s take a tour. Your host, this writer, has with both a selfish and unselfish heart happily watched this impressive shedding of the old and hated “ugly duckling of Asia” moniker to become the sleek, gleaming, vibrant, confident international metropolis of today, reveling in its old and its new, its inheritance and its unfolding future. Following are my favorite city destinations.

Shopping Xinyi District / East District / MRT Zhongshan Station Area The Xinyi District is a Taipei and Taiwan golden oasis of design chic, a glittering bricks-and-mortar paean to culturalcreative exuberance and ingenuity. Its core, largely open field just a few decades back, is today choc-a-bloc with big, bold architectural statements, notably the soaring Taipei 101 tower, among the world’s tallest buildings, which does duty as Xinyi’s clarion beacon, its neon lights seen throughout the city and far beyond. Xinyi has Taiwan’s greatest concentration of international-brand malls, department stores, and boutiques, Michelin-starred restaurants, and entertainment venues. Two keystone local heritage sites are today dedicated to cultural-creative pursuits; enjoy the designer-label shopping plus weekend indie-designer market at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, and bohemian-style café plus weekend


Travel in Taiwan

Enjoying modern Xinyi District


Yen Chinese Restaurant

Places to Eat and Drink The dignified and sophisticated YEN Chinese Restaurant sits perched high up in the young, upscale W Taipei hotel. The cuisine is selfdescribed as “nouvelle Cantonese,” wedding Chinese gastronomy with international flourishes and singular photogenic presentation. The menu is the creation of an executive chef with rich Michelin-starred experience; among the signature dishes, specially pleasant are the mud crab with aged Hudiao wine and Penghu prawns with Chardonnay. Located on floor 31 overlooking glamorous Xinyi District, the views are a cut far above most all its Taipei competition. (Lunch sets start at NT$980, dinner sets at NT$2,000.) YEN Chinese Restaurant ( 紫艷中餐廳 )

Add: No. 10, Sec. 5, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City ( 台北市信義區忠孝東路五段 10 號 ) Tel: (02) 7703-8887 Website:

Located on the 86th floor of Taipei 101 Ding Xian 101 Gourmet Restaurant attracts gourmets with magnificent views over the city and its Taiwanese culinary classics, with a strong emphasis on seafood. (Lunch and dinner sets start at NT$1,380.) Ding Xian 101 Gourmet Restaurant ( 頂鮮 101 美食美景餐廳 )

Add: No. 7, Sec. 5, Xinyi Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City ( 台北市信義區信義路五段七號 ) Tel: (02) 8101-8686 Website:

Busy crossing in Xinyi

Ding Xian Restaurant

indie-designer bazaar at 44 South Village, once a military dependents’ village. Other notable places to hunt for a piece of Taiwan in consumerpurchase form are the tittot ( and Liuli Gongfang ( outlets in Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store. These celebrated Taiwan brands offer exquisite glass art heavy in local-culture themes. A fine Xinyi day is to bracket your shopping with a couple of ascents into the sky to see Taipei as its avian residents and through-passers do, starting with the 89th-floor Taipei 101 Observatory and finishing with a meal in one of the high-flying restaurants way, way up the skytickling tower or W Taipei hotel.

Travel in Taiwan



From top: Window shopping in the East District; Pacific SOGO Department Store; browsing books at Eslite Bookstore

The posh East District, hinged on three major intersections – Zhongxiao/Fuxing, Zhongxiao/Dunhua, and Dunhua/Ren’ai roads – caters to the zealous shoppers of Taiwan’s white-collar legion. Between the first two intersections is a Taiwan icon, the gleaming-white Pacific SOGO Dept. Store, Taiwan’s first international department store and today still going strong. In 1987 shopping sprees were done in the “old west,” especially around Taipei Main Station. The new department store changed everything, a dense forest of other upscale international department stores, international-brand boutiques, cosmopolitan restaurants and

Central Taipei

Eslite Hotel

Zhongshan Stn. Taipei Main Stn.

East District Zhongxiao-Fuxing Stn.

W Taipei Xinyi District

Pacific SOGO Department Store

Taipei 101/ TWTC Stn. Eslite Dunhua

bars, and other shopping and entertainment enticements sprouting around it – today still the area’s great temptresses. East District places you must go: The former flagship outlet of Eslite Bookstore (, just south of Zhongxiao/Dunhua. Open 24H and home to a smart in-store café and in-building brandname sales points, this outlet is still the chain’s most appealing in the mind of most every expatriate resident. Eslite is a homegrown enterprise, Taiwan’s leading chain; when launched in 1989 it redefined the Taiwan book-retail world.


Travel in Taiwan

Browsing books at the Eslite Bookstore


Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Taipei Nanxi

Stylish exterior of Swiio Hotel Daan

Places to Stay The exterior and interior at the attractive boutique hotel Swiio have been created by two well-known local designers. The exterior is striking, with large windows in different geometric shapes climbing up the gleamingwhite façade, creating a striking contrast with the surrounding gray-tone high-rises. Inside, a cool, modish black/white contrast dominates, with gold/silver flourishes. The large guestrooms feature sleek minimalist styling. Breakfast is enjoyed at the Le Blanc restaurant, run by a chef who has worked at numerous Michelin-starred restaurants globally. (Rooms start at NT$4,280; breakfast included.) Swiio Hotel Daan ( 二十輪旅店大安館 ) Add: No. 185, Sec. 1, Da’an Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City ( 台北市大安區大安路一段 185 號 ) Tel: (02) 2703-2220 Website:

The stated goal of Home Hotel is “to create a place that is welcoming, comforting and relaxing, a place you can call home in Taiwan!” The hotel is located right in the center of modern Xinyi District, with easy access to department stores and Taipei 101. Home Hotel Xin-Yi Add: No. 90, Songren Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City ( 台北市信義區松仁路 90 號 ) Tel: (02) 8789-0111 Website:

Swiio guestroom

“Handicrafts Alley” (Ln. 205, Aly. 29, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E . Rd.) is a boutique area of imaginative facades and wondrous house-crafted serendipity. Any sampler kit must include two enterprises that have taken substantial lucre from me, Figure 21 (No. 1-6), suffused with the nostalgiainducing air of finely worked leather, where customers watch the owner-designer team crafting bags, briefcases, and other sophisticated leather items by hand, and AtWill (No. 7-6), maker of personalized jewelry fusing freewheeling rock-and-roll and retro themes. The MRT Zhongshan Station area is anchored on the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Taipei Nanxi department-store complex, divided among three high-rise buildings on Nanjing West Road. All about on the main streets and side alleys are eclectic-character boutiques, eateries, cafés, and other consumer-luring draws. A long and narrow artwork-prettified green park stretches between MRT Zhongshan and Taipei Main stations, following the corridor of belowground Tamsui-Xinyi Line. Underground, the Zhongshan Metro Mall runs between the two stations. Whichever browsing route you choose, score upon score of visually seductive storefronts await your passing, vying for your eye. For a nice change of pace from your modern-consumerism foray, step into the past at the renowned Lin Tian Barrel Store, at No. 108, Sec. 1, Zhongshan North Road just south of Chang’an West Road. The Lins have been handcrafting traditional wooden barrels/buckets, food steamers, flower stands, kitchen utensils, etc., since 1928, with high-quality Taiwan cedar and cypress favored choices.

Travel in Taiwan



Culture Central Taipei

Zhongshan Stn. Taipei Main Stn.

Songshan Cultural and Creative Park East District Xinyi District Yongkang Street

Taipei 101/ TWTC Stn. 44 South Village

Huashan 1914 Creative Park / Songshan Cultural and Creative Park /Yongkang Street Area The sprawling complex of old, gray cement buildings today called Huashan 1914 Creative Park ( started life in 1914 as a Japanese sake-production facility; then, after WW II, it served as the Taipei brewery for the state-owned Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Monopoly Bureau for 40 years. When production was moved out of the city in 1987 the site was abandoned, until an avantgarde theater troupe began using it in 1997. Today the renovated site thrives, in a public/private partnership, as a venue for exhibits, cultural-arts performances, and workshops for the cultural-creative arts. There is heavy emphasis on non-mainstream expression. The “Huashan” used in the name refers to the old name of the area surrounding the sake factory. This name was bestowed to honor Count Kabayama Sukenori, first Japanese governor-general of Taiwan during Japan’s 1895-1945 period of colonial rule. The characters used in “Kabayama” are pronounced “Huashan” in Mandarin Chinese. Your edu-tational options are plenty, but what has emerged over the years as my most relished Huashan sortie is a meal at one of the quality on-site restaurants/cafés followed by a fine arthouse flick at the SPOT-Huashan (; Chinese) cinema. Songshan Cultural and Creative Park (www.songshanculturalpark. taipei) is another of Taipei’s polestars of cultural-creative invention and good-design promotion newly minted in an old place. It was born as a tobacco-factory complex built by the Japanese during the 16

Travel in Taiwan

Huashan 1914 Creative Park

late 1930s and served as Taiwan’s center for cigarette production during the war era, handling both local supply and supply to central/ south China and Southeast Asia. The old “Japanese early modernist” factory building, warehouses, boiler room, and other facilities are now given over to such endeavors as a Red Dot Design Museum, the Taiwan Design Museum, an ever-renewing schedule of exhibitions and cultural-arts happenings, and much beyond. The famed Eslite Bookstore chain constructed a dedicated building to house a large bookstore/designer mall attraction, the Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store (artevent.; Chinese), and the Eslite Hotel (see box). On offer here is a magnetic, addictive mix of old and modern, quiet and boisterous, preserving memories of the past while creating new memories for new generations. You can’t go wrong setting yourself up with a window seat overlooking the central plaza in one of the smart restaurants-cumcafés in the Eslite building, but what can’t be beat is an alfresco café wood-deck seat looking out over the waves of human traffic before, and avian traffic above and on, the large Ecology Pond (originally a reservoir created for firefighting purposes). The Yongkang Street neighborhood is among Taipei’s most inviting and attractive for foreign visitors and expatriate residents. The enclave of narrow streets and alleys is a magnet for imaginative designer boutiques, restaurants, cafés, antique sellers, and other


Places to Eat and Drink The hip Drip Café, right outside Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, is so popular you’d best book ahead. It’s as much restaurant as café, with a hearty menu. A repeat visitor, I agree that the house bestseller indeed should be – the Cheese Steak sandwich (NT$220), featuring soy sauceseasoned beef, sautéed mushrooms, and melted Monterey Jack. Two other pushy suggestions: the strawberry cronut (NT$210), with fresh berry, custard, and strawberry puree & ice cream, and the Drip Coffee (NT$130), iced and topped with blowtorched brown sugar. Drip Café ( 好滴咖啡 ) Add: No. 26, Ln. 553, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City ( 台北市信義區忠孝東路四段 553 巷 26 號 ) Tel: (02) 2764-8181 Website:

Within the Huashan 1914 Creative Park complex, VVG Thinking is a stylish bistro serving up Italian and other Western fare. The tiled flooring, red-brick walls, and high ceiling create a truly unique ambience. VVG Thinking ( 好樣思維 ) Add: No. 1, Sec. 1, Bade Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City (inside Huashan 1914 Creative Park) ( 台北市中正區八德路一段 1 號 ) Tel: (02) 2764-8181 Website:

Drip Café

Strawberry Cronut

Songshan Cultural and Creative Park

Travel in Taiwan



Yongkang Street


owner-operated enterprises. The presence of old Japanese-style abodes and cosmopolitanism added by adjoining National Taiwan Normal University add to the feeling this is a global village, the people and languages of many lands drifting through this emporium of culture. Old shopsigns and new shopfronts stand side by side in what is a preferred urban oasis for the city’s cultural-creatives. The combination of terrific foods and original and entertaining boutiques and other shops is an unbeatable attraction, making an hour or two roaming the district a happy voyage of discovery. Note that you can’t truthfully claim to have “done” Yongkang if you haven’t stopped at the Smoothie House (No. 15, Yongkang Street; www.smoothiehouse. com) for the mango shaved ice; both Taiwan’s delicious fresh fruits and its shaved-ice dessert universe are cultural treasures.

Eslite Hotel

Places to Stay The tasteful Eslite Hotel, which has an understated artsy aesthetic, is quietly hidden away right inside Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, the central plaza below and Ecology Pond beyond. The attractive curvedfaçade building it is in, evoking a gleamingwhite cruise ship seen from afar, is shared with the Eslite Spectrum Songshan Store. Guestrooms (108) feature contemporary styling, wood and earth tones prevalent, and most have splendid-view balconies, Taipei 101 soaring to the sky on the south. Facilities include a bright, well-equipped fitness center with floor-to-ceiling windows and a sparkling panorama. (Rooms start at NT$7,800; breakfast not included.) Eslite Hotel ( 誠品行旅 ) Add: No. 98, Yanchang Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City ( 台北市信義區菸廠路 98 號 ) Tel: (02) 6626-2888 Website:

A brand-new hotel located next to Huashan 1914 Creative Park (the park is in full view from guestrooms facing west), Wallsun Hotel Taipei is a fine choice for travelers wanting to stay in a stylish business hotel that is conveniently located. Wallsun Hotel Taipei ( 華山文旅 ) Add: No. 1, Jinshan N. Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City ( 台北市中正區金山北路 1 號 ) Tel: (02) 2396-3388 Website:

Eslite Hotel lounge


Fisherman's Wharf in the late afternoon



Thermal Valley in Beitou

Yangmingshan / Beitou / Tamsui My very first long romantic walk in Taiwan with my then-sweetheart, and now-wife-and-still-sweetheart, was in Yangmingshan National Park ( When Yangmingshan is tickled with light rains, as it oft is, umbrellas come out, pathways and trails grow cozily quiet, and smoky, quick-traveling mists sculpt scenes of ethereal beauty. The high-mountain national park, affectionately dubbed Taipei’s “backyard garden,” is, magically, right on the urban area’s doorstep, much of it within city limits. This is a precious place of dormant volcanoes, cloud-creating fumaroles, hot springs and public-use soaking pools and ritzy resorts, long trails and short trails and hard trails and easy trails through thick forest and open grassland, and villas-now-museums once inhabited by first couple Chiang Kai-shek and his wife-sweetheart … and more, so much more … but time and word space have now run dry. Almost. If you’ve time to visit only one of its attractions, that must be Yangming Park. This is a mystic in-the-clouds realm of landscaped waterfalls and ponds, gardens, and brilliant floral colors. Getting there is easy. Take public bus No. 260 right outside Taipei Main Station’s North Exit No. 2, or the Red 5 bus right outside MRT Jiantan Station. The Yangmingshan bus stop is just outside Yangming Park. When I need to get away from the big city for a bit, but physical escape is impossible, a favorite getaway destination to overnight is the Beitou hot-springs resort area, on Taipei’s northwest side, nestled at the foot of the Yangmingshan massif and right outside MRT Xinbeitou Station. Most local hotels/resorts offer pickup service. This resort area was the first such in Taiwan, developed by the Japanese starting in the late 1890s, and once reached by a dedicated railway. Today the expanded city presses in on the long, narrow hot-spring valley piercing the massif. A steamy sulfur spring runs through its lower half, through pretty Beitou Park, emerging from a main attraction, Thermal Valley (also called Hell Valley), a large rockwalled depression that bubbles and boils.

Travel in Taiwan



Beitou Hot Spring Museum


The name “Beitou” comes from patauw, the word for “sorceress” in the language of the native people who once lived here. The curling, drifting sulfurous mists meant not romance to them, but magic, witchery, and otherworldly beings. Beyond the many resorts, in all price ranges, there are numerous historical attractions, including the Beitou Hot Spring Museum ( ), housed in Taiwan’s first public bath, once visited by future Emperor Hirohito. Another is the Beitou Museum (, with displays on the everyday lives of Taiwan’s people in past times, housed in a Japanese wood-built hot-spring inn where kamikaze pilots once spent their last days. The big fishing-port town of Tamsui, which overlooks the mouth of the Tamsui River where it debouches into the sea, is known throughout this island for its glorious harvest of exquisite sunsets. Its siren combination of charms include the romantic, timeless rhythms of an old port, fresh-catch waterside seafood dining, a very long, wellplanned, fetching riverside promenade, water-view cycling (bike rental available), an old Dutch/Spanish fort and other remnants of the island’s modern colonial history – and those silky red sunsets. This is a prized destination for Taipei weekend/holiday daytrippers, access made especially easy by the Taipei Metro system, which drops you (Tamsui-Xinyi Line terminus) at the Old Street area edge. Beyond, on the river/sea cusp, is breezy Fisherman’s Wharf, hopelessly popular with never-leave-you tight-hugging sweetheart couples and wedding-shoot bridal couples, a place of Taiwan/ international-style eateries, cafés, and tremendous mountain-andsea views. The wharf is reached in 20 minutes via the Red No. 26 bus from the MRT Tamsui Station, or the more romantic ferry service just a short promenade-stroll from the terminus.

Private hot-spring pools in Beitou

Places to Stay The comparatively large and modern Grand View Resort Beitou (66 rooms) stands high on a slope looking down into the main Beitou hot-spring area. The Beitou Museum is right beside, and there is forest cover behind and to the other side. Guestrooms are spacious and elegant, and facilities include an array of hot-spring and spa options, the Outdoor Japanese Springs notably enjoyable. Hotspring water is also piped into guestrooms. Shuttle-bus service is provided to/from MRT Xinbeitou Station. (Rooms start at NT$15,400; breakfast included.) Grand View Resort Beitou ( 北投麗禧溫泉酒店 ) Add: No. 30, Youya Rd., Beitou Dist., Taipei City ( 台北市北投區幽雅路 30 號 ) Tel: (02) 2898-8888 Website:

Hotel Day+ Tamsui is situated close to Tamsui’s popular Fisherman’s Wharf, known for its spectacular sunsets, and not far from the town’s Old Street area. The modern-decor guestrooms are full of character; choose a Classic Room if you like the idea of having a bathtub right by your bed.

Afternoon tea at Grand View Resort Beitou


Travel in Taiwan

Hotel Day+ Tamsui ( 承億文旅淡水吹風 ) Add: No. 27, Shalun Rd., Tamsui Dist., Taipei City ( 新北市淡水區沙崙路 27 號 ) Tel: (02) 2805-5050

Romance by the Tamsui River


Travel in Taiwan




Travel in Taiwan

Yangmingshan National Park


Indonesian-style dining area at Rong-Ti Waterfront Restaurant

Places to Eat and Drink On Tamsui’s water front a 10-minute-walk from MRT Tamsui Station, with a transcendent sweeping view up and down the Tamsui River, Mt. Guanyin beyond, river mouth and ocean immediately on the right, the mood-calming peaceful RongTi Waterfront Restaurant is a little piece of Indonesia’s Bali on Taiwan’s nor th edge. Dine amidst palm trees in thatched open-face gazebo-style “huts,” seated on woven-rattan chairs. The famous Tamsui sunsets add even more romance to the evenings, especially with the soft neon lighting and live-music accompaniment. The food is primarily Western-style surf and/or turf, the pork knuckle and Thai-style pork ribs signally pleasurable. (Most set meals NT$800~900.) Rong-Ti Waterfront Restaurant ( 淡水榕堤水灣餐廳 ) Add: No. 229-9, Zhongzheng Rd., Tamsui Dist., New Taipei City ( 新北市淡水區中正路 229-9 號 ) Tel: (02) 2629-0052 Website: (Chinese)

When dining in Tamsui you of course want to enjoy the splendid river and mountain views. La Villa Dan Shui, located right beside the Tamsui River, serves up fine European cuisine . Weather permitting, sit outside and unwind with the sun setting in full view. La Villa Dan Shui Add: No. 261, Zhongzheng Rd., Tamsui Dist., New Taipei City ( 新北市淡水區中正路 261 號 ) Tel: (02) 2626-8111

Outside the restautrant

Taiwan Snack vendor at Tamsui Old Street

Google map with info English and Chinese 44 South Village 四四南村 Beitou 北投 East District 東區 Huashan 1914 Creative Park 華山 1914 文創園區 Lin Tian Barrel Store 林田桶店 Liuli Gongfang 琉璃工房 Songshan Cultural and Creative Park 松山文化創意園區

Tamsui 淡水 Thermal Valley 地熱谷 tittot 琉園 Xinyi District 信義區 Yangmingshan National Park 陽明山國家公園 Yongkang Street 永康街 Zhongshan Metro Mall 中山地下街

Travel in Taiwan




ature lovers and eco-tourists visiting Taiwan are well aware of the fact that Taiwan has an amazingly rich ecological environment. The island is a paradise for bird and butterfly lovers, and thanks to its unique topography and climatic conditions there is a staggering variety of flora and fauna to explore. Protection of the environment is taken seriously in Taiwan nowadays, and efforts by the government and private enterprises have been successful in creating nature reserves and cleaning up areas that have suffered from human encroachment. The city of Taipei is surrounded by mountains covered with thick forests, and it often just takes a quick bus ride out of the city center to access trailheads from where you can start eco-excursions into an enchanting natural world. However, you don’t even have to leave central Taipei to find small sanctuaries where birds thrive and butterflies flutter about. One example is the large Da’an Park, served by MRT Daan Park Station. It is surrounded on four sides by heavy-traffic arteries, but that does not deter a large number of waterfowl, including various types of ducks and herons, from making the park their home. To the delight of bird photographers, many of these beautiful birds can be seen up close on and around a large artificial pond, which has a small island in its center. What many people

don’t know, however, is that Da’an Park has recently also become a home to fireflies! Fireflies are a common sight in other parts of the island, especially the Alishan National Scenic Area, where they can be seen from March to June. The recent revival of those light-emitting insects in Taipei is thanks to efforts by the city government to introduce them to selected parks after the city gained the right to host the 2017 International Firefly Symposium. In order to make fireflies feel at home in Da’an Park, the park has been equipped with firefly-friendly LED street lights that are bright enough to light paths for pedestrians but do not deter the light-sensitive insects. With the reintroduction of fireflies to the center of the city, Taipei has become the most densely populated area where these fascinating creatures can be seen. Considering that Da’an Park is visited by 10,000 people on average each day, the reintroduction of fireflies has been described as “mission impossible accomplished.” Note: Nature lovers interested in going to the park to get a glimpse of the glimmering fireflies are reminded that flashlights and cellphone lights should not be used, and that visitors should keep quiet at all times to avoid disturbing the insects.

Fireflies Are Back in Taipei! Text: Vision

Photos: Karen Chiu

The International Firefly Symposium 2017 (IFS 2017) will be held April 24-28 in Taipei. This is the first time the event is being hosted by Taipei. The gathering will bring together firefly researchers from around the world to exchange their professional experiences and learn about the latest accomplishments in firefly research. Participants are invited to go on a free field trip to the Alishan National Scenic Area, where two-thirds of all firefly species in Taiwan have been recorded. For more information about the symposium, visit 24

Travel in Taiwan


Leofoo illage V Text: Nick Kembel Photos: Chen Cheng-kuo

Enchantment & Delight at One of Taiwan’s Premier Theme Parks


Travel in Taiwan


Mighty Mountain Flume Adventure

Unique souvenirs? Check. Exotic wildlife? Check. Parades and cabaret performances? Check. Dancing water fountains? Check. Diverse range of dining options? Check. A 53-meter plummet to the earth from the inside of a huge hollowed-out baboon skull? Check. A day at Leofoo Village Theme Park is like a holiday within a holiday, whisking you away on an otherworldly adventure of flying carpets, prehistoric creatures, jungle landscapes, and cowboy standoffs.


ith a Disneyland in Tokyo and Hong Kong and, recently opened, one in Shanghai, Taiwan is often overlooked as a theme-park destination. But the country boasts no less than 20, and Leofoo Village Theme Park is arguably the jewel in the crown. Even if you haven’t visited a theme park since you were a kid, read on and we’ll have you convinced to add this wonderland to your Taiwan itinerary. Forget about sightseeing for a day – enter this park and set your inner child free! The theme park was created as the Leofoo Wildlife Park in 1979. Ten years later the park was expanded to include a multitude of entertainment facilities and reestablished as Leofoo Village Theme Park. It hasn’t stopped growing since, thus ensuring its continued standing as one of the most popular theme parks in Taiwan. Ask just about any young adult in the northern half of the country and he/she will recall fond memories of school field trips to Leofoo Village. So what makes it one of the best? For starters, it is Taiwan’s largest theme park – covering more than 100 hectares – and also the most accessible choice from the capital, Taipei. Secondly, Leofoo Village is the most diverse of all theme parks in Taiwan, combining a multi-themed amusement park with 60+ rides and facilities, a waterpark, a safari area, and a safari-themed hotel.

Travel in Taiwan



Facing the water fountain from the direction of the entrance artery, you can make out the park’s four themed areas: the Wild West area at 9 o’clock, the South Pacific at 10:30, the dominating Arabian Kingdom at 12, and the African Safari at 3. Let’s take a clockwise tour of these four enchanting fairylands, heading into the Wild West first!

Meerkat encounter Old Oil Well ride

Walking down the entrance avenue into the Wild West, you might just feel as though you’ve been transported to an American frontier town in the late 19th century. Swinging saloon doors, smoky steakhouses, and old-time general stores abound. You can even dress up like a cowboy in the Billy the Kid photo shop. The Wild West also features what might just be the scariest ride in the entire park: the Screaming Condor. This “inverted shuttle coaster” is a rollercoaster with the rails on top, leaving your legs hanging as it rips at a speed of over 100 km/hr, taking you 54.9 meters into the air at one end of the track and then backwards to the same height at the other. The Wild West also includes the Big Canyon Rapids Ride, on which you float through raging rapids and get sprayed by surprise water cannons. Smart Park

When you arrive, don’t be overwhelmed by the sheer number of tour buses in the parking lot and the groups of overly excited children running toward the entrance gate. The park is so large that the crowds are well distributed. The park is at its busiest, as one would expect, on weekends and through the summer period, but these times might be best if you prefer to avoid the groups of schoolchildren on field trips. As well, you may not want to come on a Monday, when there is a break in many of the live performances. Having said that, of course, if you don’t care about live shows Monday might be the best day of the week for you! After passing through the entrance gate, drop into the visitor information center to the right to pick up a complimentary map, which will help you get oriented quickly. Despite the park’s size it’s easy to find your way around, and it is not so big that you can’t cover all the main areas in one day. The first thing you’ll see, as you dive in, is the giant water ride to the left. The Leofoo Waterpark, which is open June through September, features a wave pool, slides reaching a height of 15 meters, water cannons, and a dancing water fountain, all decorated in the style of Greek islands. A combined adult ticket to the waterpark and the rest of Leofoo Village costs NT$1,299 (NT$999 with no access to the waterpark, NT$599 for access solely to the waterpark). Following the main walkway past the waterpark, you reach a central circular plaza, and here you’ll see that the park is shaped like a giant clock. At the center of the plaza is a ground-level water fountain that features a dreamy, 15-minute water-dance show each hour on the hour, best after dark when the waters are lit up in a kaleidoscope of colors. If you want to cool down, there’s nothing stopping you from joining the kids prancing about under the fountain during the show!


Travel in Taiwan

A popular theme park attracts a whole lot of visitors, meaning that even in a park as spacious as Leofoo Village, people often have to stand in long lines before getting on rides. To solve this problem Leofoo, in cooperation with the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, has come up with a smart solution, the Lineup app. The free app (iOS, Android) allows you to virtually line up at rides, permitting you to do something more meaningful with your time than waiting. The app will notify you shortly before your time has come to board a ride. To download the app (so far only available in Chinese), just search for “Lineup” in the App Store or in Google Play.

Fun at the Arabian Kingdom


Follow the walkway behind the Little Rattler rollercoaster and you’ll suddenly find yourself in another time and place. The South Pacific area combines Polynesian imagery with a volcanic landscape and dinosaurs. On the Mighty Mountain Flume Adventure take a canoe ride through a Jurassic world that culminates in a threestory watery plunge from a volcano, or experience zero gravity as you plunge 53 meters on Pagoda’s Revenge. While you’re lining up for the latter, why not try the virtual reality version first, which is perhaps about as terrifying as the real thing. You’d be better off waiting until after the ride to snack on some of the succulent deep-fried squid or teriyaki chicken offered at stalls in the park. If you need a breather, go for a stroll in the Tiki Garden and admire some live toucans. With its vertical architecture and golden spires, the Arabian Kingdom is like a scene out of One Thousand and One Nights. The Ring of Fire is a 360-degree roller coaster, while Sultan’s Adventure takes you through a dark, haunted land of mummies and disgruntled crocodiles. For something different, team up with a few friends for the laser maze or throw fireballs at a threeheaded dragon in the Happy and Honey’s Adventure 5-D Theater.

When you spot alpacas, pony rides, and a petting zoo, you’ve reached the African Safari area. Soon you’ll come upon an enclosure in which you can enter a tiny tunnel and pop your head up in a transparent dome in the midst of a gang of meerkats. In a nearby enclosure you’ll find the star of Leofoo Village, Mashisa, one of only 300 white tigers in the world. You may find it hard to tear yourself away from admiring her elegant beauty and radiant blue eyes. Come at 12:30 (weekdays) or 1:00 (weekends), when she comes out to meet visitors. From the tiger enclosure, hang a sharp left and board the Nairobi Express, a vintage British steam train. This is the safari portion of the park, a 15-minute ride through a landscape populated with herbivores including hippos, rhinos, zebras, giraffes, warthogs, peacocks, bison, and more. Another highlight is the Primate Sanctuary, where you can walk among over a hundred monkeys, including capuchins, siamangs, red-tailed monkeys, and baboons. Alternatively, view them from above on the pedal-powered Monkey Trail ride.





Leofoo Village Theme Park ( 六福村主題遊樂園 ) Add: No. 60, Gongzigou, Ren’an Borough, Guanxi Township, Hsinchu County ( 新竹縣關西鎮仁安里拱子溝 60 號 ) Tel: (03) 547-5665 Website: Leofoo Resort Guanshi ( 關西六福莊 ) Add: No. 60, Gongzigou, Ren’an Borough, Guanxi Township, Hsinchu County ( 新竹縣關西鎮仁安里拱子溝 60 號 ) Tel: (03) 547-5365 Website: Getting There Public transport : From Taipei, take Bus No. 5350, which leaves from Taipei Songshan Airport and passes Taipei Metro’s Zhongxiao Dunhua, Gongguan, and Jingan stations before zipping to the park. The ride takes about one hour.

Pick-up service : The park offers a pick-up ser vice on weekends and public holidays from Hsinchu High-Speed Rail Station departing 8:45am and 10:20am (HSR Station) and 4pm and 5:30pm (Leofoo Village). Times are slightly different between July 17 and August 28 (9:15am and 11:15 am from HSR Station; 6pm and 8:15pm from Leofoo) Self drive : Take Freeway 3 to the Guanxi Exit, turn left and follow County Road 118 to central Guanxi, then turn left again onto Township Road 27 and follow the signs to the park.


If you want to spend the night, the Leofoo Resort Guanshi offers luxury African safari-style accommodation, where guests can admire wildlife from the comfort of their own room. Kick your feet up on your balcony and watch giraffes and zebras grazing, f lamingos wading, and giant tortoises crawling below. Don’t be startled should you find ring-tailed lemurs hopping around the viewing terrace adjacent to the lobby; they are so tame you can touch them. Two meals and a guided wildlife safari are included in the price of your stay, and when we visited there was an African band performing in the entrance driveway.

Obstacle Free Park The management at Leofoo V illage Theme Park is known for its efforts to provide an obstacle-free environment for visitors with special needs, including families with toddlers, the elderly, and the handicapped. A booklet is provided with a map (written info in Chinese) that allows visitors to easily locate specially equipped bathrooms, recharging stations for electric wheelchairs, facilities to contact the park’s nursing staff, and appropriate rides and services. Guides for visitors with special needs can also be provided, along with priority-access cards for rides, reducing wait times.

Travel in Taiwan



Soaring Above the

Big Blue Sea Paragliding at Wanli on the North Coast Text: Quyen Tran

Photos: Maggie Song

“Let’s do something different, a little bit adventurous yet safe, a little bit thrilling yet relaxing, maybe nice scenery too!” Here’s something for you: paragliding at Wanli!

30 Travel in Taiwan



am standing on a cliff overlooking Green Bay, a scenic stretch of the north coast between the harbor city of Keelung and the highly popular Yehliu Geopark. Strapped to my back is a straggling pack, and a giant billowing canopy spanning four to five meters extends behind me. With nothing else but kneepads, a helmet, and my all-encompassing faith in the instructor I just met who is going to take me on a tandem flight, I'm going to run off that cliff and pray that the winds do not falter. Paragliding has been a popular outdoor sport in Taiwan for some time now. The coastal mountains behind Green Bay, in New Taipei City’s rural Wanli District, receive plenty of sea wind, making them a perfect point of departure for paragliders. There are other locations in Taiwan suitable for paragliding as well, also offering great vistas – Puli in central Nantou County, Saijia in southern Pingtung County, the Luye Highland in southeastern Taitung County, and Wai’ao in eastern Yilan County. Wanli, however, perhaps offers the best conditions, with steady winds and marvelous coastal scenery.


With his trademark bandana, Mustang, the owner of Wanli's one and only Mustang Paragliding Club, greets his visitors with a broad grin and a dry sense of humor. He has been flying here, and offering flights to others, for around thirty years now. After learning to paraglide in Taiwan, he took to the skies in many places around the world, even doing a flight over China's Great Wall on one occasion. He then saw an opportunity, he sheepishly admits, to make money in Taiwan while doing what he loves best, and set up a paragliding club in Wanli, first sharing the launch pad with other outfits, then buying the land it sits on to gain exclusive access. He couldn’t have chosen a better spot. Wanli is situated less than an hour away from central Taipei by car – a bit longer by public transport (train to Keelung, then bus to Wanli) – and the unobstructed views you get from where the paragliders depart makes the site a tantalizing jumping-off point. Looking out, the azure water of the sea seemingly melds with the sky, beckoning even the most apprehensive visitor to come closer.

Paragliding down to the beach at Green Bay

Travel in Taiwan



Taking off from the launch pad at the Mustang Paragliding Club

Mustang is proud of his operation, and especially of the fact that he has made paragliding accessible to everyone:

"My prices are the lowest around! It makes everyone happy, so I keep it cheap! " His honesty and sense of humor momentarily distracts me from my impending flight – a distraction that the many nervous first-time flyers probably appreciate. This is not my first time taking a literal leap of faith, however. I have done paragliding before, in Slovenia, in an attempt to conquer my fear of heights, and I distinctly remember the sensations: There was initial anxiety, panic at the sudden realization that I was running towards a cliff edge, then an odd mix of relief and thrill once the wind was under the sail and I was up in the air. Soon enough, any fear I had held inside dissipated, and I was looking down and taking in the scenery like a soaring eagle. A sense of freedom and calmness took over. That was then. Strapped into the safety equipment, I am now asked by Mustang to head towards a brightly uniformed group of people waiting at the launch pad, a "boarding pass" in my hand. I hand the pass to the friendly instructor assigned to me as my pilot. I am also given a GoPro mounted on a stick, with an attached wristband that will prevent me from dropping the small video camera. After the flight I’ll receive the 32 Travel in Taiwan

memory card with my recorded flight (the card is included in the price for the flight). After a few simple instructions on what to do and not to do during start, flight, and landing, it is our turn to take off. Helpful Hint: If you have no experience filming yourself, remember to hold the GoPro camera steady, point it towards the scenery and then yourself, continually alternating without sudden motions, and smile! At first I feel as though things are happening all too quickly. But this is due to the highly efficient team Mustang has put together. After all, he hasn’t been running this business with around a dozen other qualified instructors for so long for nothing. It’s a smooth operation. After arriving, visitors pay the fee and are helped into their gear; then flight instructors are assigned to each passenger according to height. The team works quickly, efficiently, and professionally, and is thus able to keep up with the sometimes considerable number of visitors. This professionalism is definitely reassuring for those who might feel a bit anxious about going on a flight. Mustang's clientele are visitors from Taiwan and abroad alike, including travelers from mainland China, Southeast and Northeast Asia, and the West. Everyone, it seems, is drawn to this fun and thrilling experience, and Mustang relishes welcoming his new flyers in different languages. He estimates that 60% of his clients are women, the majority of these, young women like myself.


Shortly before the launch

"Men are the biggest scaredy-cats," he quips with a hearty laugh. He's been met with a few surprising visitors. His club has welcomed pensioners over 90 years old, and even blind people who, Mustang says, are often especially brave and appreciative of the thrill of paragliding. Young or old, adventurous or not, everyone should try soaring the skies like this at least once in his or her lifetime. With this insight in mind, I face the looming drop-off and begin running at a determined speed. My instructor keeps yelling at me to not let up, and even though I am sure I am going to run off the cliff before the wind catches me, I believe him and keep up the pace. Suddenly, I hear the wing billowing behind us and feel straps pulling tightly across my chest, caused by the tension from the gust of wind I have been hoping for. Relief rushes over me, and before I know it we are lifted off the ground. I sit back in a surprisingly comfortable saddle, and begin enjoying our gentle drifting across the verdant mountains and the beach-rimmed coastline. Below me is Green Bay and its azure waters, glistening in the sun. I can see Keelung Islet in the distance to my right, while to my left is the unusual rock landscape of Yehliu Geopark. It is almost too pretty to be true, and I keep thinking I could stay up here for a long, long time. Yet soon, way too soon, we are descending, and the golden-sand beach quickly comes closer. My instructor reminds me on what to do upon touching down. Unlike my previous experience in Slovenia, landing on the sandy beach here requires running to a stop. While I

remember that I am supposed to stand up as soon as my feet touch the sand, for some reason my legs have lost all feeling and I find myself falling backwards. I fail the landing miserably, though we still touch down safely, thanks to the pilot’s skills and experience. Whether it is because I have done this before, or there just hasn’t been enough time to feel anxious, the entire process has not been the least bit nerve-racking, as I remember it was the first time. Wanli is blessed with upward-flowing breezes generally gentle enough for beginners, and many of the instructors have over 10 years of flying experience. Furthermore, the short flight (only about five minutes) ensures that first-time flyers do not get nauseous from being in the air too long. Observing others who have just landed on the beach, I can attest that no one experiences nausea ... only the desire to go up again.

Landing on the beach Travel in Taiwan


MAP-C3 Sense the art Sense the luxury

Paragliding in Taitung Mustang Paragliding Club ( 野馬飛行傘俱樂部 )

Tel: (+886) 0932-926-289 Website: A single tandem flight is currently priced at NT$1,600 per person (including an 8GB SD memory card with which you take footage of your flight, holding the camera yourself; the price does not include insurance, but you have the option to buy it before the flight separately if you wish to do so). The club offers flights throughout the year, depending on the weather. Call around 9am on the day you want to fly to check conditions.

Getting There

Hotel Sense Taipei is conveniently situated in the heart of Taipei City, between Zhongshan Nor th Road and Linsen North Road, in one of the city’s most prosperous business and entertainment districts. We sincerely invite you to experience a unique sense of art and sense of luxury! Hotel Sense is your best choice when staying in Taipei. It is just 2 minutes by foot from MRT Zhonghe-Xinlu Line Zhongshan Elementary School Station (take Exit 2) Received Muslim-friendly Hotel certificate in December 2016 10451 台北市中山区林森北路 477 号 No. 477, Linsen N. Rd., Zhongshan District, Taipei City 10451, Taiwan R.O.C.

T. +886-2-7743-1000 F. +886-2-7743-1100 E-mail:

Close to the beach a van is already waiting to take us, the instructors, and the equipment back to the launch pad. Back up on top, we hang around a little bit longer, taking in the views and watching how Mustang and his team help more visitors off the cliff to experience their short yet wonderful flight down to the beach. What to do next? While in the area, you want to check out the beautifully bizarre rock formations at Yehliu Geopark and Keelung’s famous Miaokou Night Market.

Self-drive from Taipei : Take Freeway 3 to Jijin ( 基 金 ) Exit; turn left onto Prov. Hwy. 2, heading to Jinshan/Wanli ( 金山 / 萬里 ); turn left onto Jijin 3rd Rd. ( 基金三路 ); turn left onto Zhongfu Rd. ( 中福 路 ) and then immediately onto Zhong 6 th St. ( 忠六 街 ); and drive uphill through a residential community, following the yellow signs in Chinese for the Mustang Paragliding Club ( 野馬飛行傘 ). By public transport from Taipei : Take a commuter train to Keelung; transfer to bus 789, 790, or 862 at the bus stop near the blue pedestrian overpass to the right of the station, get off at Wanli Beach bus stop ( 萬里海水浴場 ), and call the club to get picked up. English and Chinese Green Bay 翡翠灣 Keelung 基隆 Keelung Islet 基隆嶼 Luye Highland 鹿野高台 Miaokou Night Market 廟口夜市

Puli 埔里 Saijia 賽嘉 Wanli (District) 萬里 ( 區 ) Yehliu Geopark 野柳地質公園

Be Nurtured by Nature, Feel at Ease on Your Journey

Tai-Yi Red Maple Resort, a four-star hotel with myriad flowers and a natural SPA, is located near Taiwan’s geographic center, just outside the town of Puli in Nantou County. Not far away are such tourist draws as Sun Moon Lake and Mt. Hehuan. The 13-hectare resort has seven ecological-farm areas, each with a different focus. The resort is an ideal place for visitors who want to enjoy a relaxing time surrounded by nature. You can choose from a variety of accommodation options. The resort has 104 guestrooms, including rooms in farm-stay, homestay, and resort-hotel settings.

Tai-Yi Red Maple Resort (Tai-Yi Ecological Leisure Farm) Add: No.176, Sec. 1, Zhongshan Rd., Puli Township, Nantou County Tel: (049) 299-7848, Fax: (049) 290-0037 E-mail: Resort visit hours: Weekdays 8am ~ 5pm; weekends 8am ~ 5:30pm Stay time: Check in after 3pm, check out before 11am



Travel in Taiwan

A Voyage to the Golden Gate


These tourist-popular small islands, looking directly at mainland China, are a rich treasure-house of traditional architecture and military history

Gate at Shanhou Folk Culture Village


ravel due west from central Taiwan and, just before you hit the great wall of the China mainland, you come ashore on great low-topped granite outcrops called the Kinmen Islands. Though small, these tourist-friendly isles have played an outsized role in Taiwan’s history, and today their two main draws, traditional architecture and military facilities/battle sites, attract ever-expanding waves of visitors, who are accommodated with ever-growing and -improving tourist facilities. “Kinmen” means “golden gate.” A stone’s throw from mainland China, just 2km away at the closest point, they are the outermost islands of a granite archipelago, with the great Chinese city of Xiamen located on the innermost side. Of the islands that Taiwan controls, the largest four are Kinmen itself, Lieyu, also called Little Kinmen, Dadan, and Erdan. Why “golden gate”? It’s said people began coming here about 1,600 years ago, seeking refuge during one of China’s countless turbulent times. The archipelago the islands are a part of is superbly positioned in the Taiwan Strait, perfect for regional trade, and much wealth flowed in during imperial times. Hence, goes one story, the “golden gate” moniker. In modern times the islands have also been called the “Gibraltar of the Far East.” One legacy of this wealthy past: richness in beautiful traditional architecture enjoyed by today’s tourists. When retreating to Taiwan at the end of the 1940s Chinese Civil War, Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists held on to Kinmen, which was heavily fortified thereafter. One legacy of this troubled past: richness in unusual military facilities now open to the public. Kinmen’s long period of martial law after the Chinese Civil War froze the islands' economic development. An inadvertent benefit was the preservation of its traditional architecture. Its collection

Wooden doors with rich ornamentation at Shanhou

Beishan Ancient Western-style House

Fun Fact: By the way, there is another and more widely accepted “golden gate” origin tale – that “golden gate” referred to the “golden/ impenetrable” walls raised in the 1380s around Jincheng, the main settlement, for pirate protection. of southern Fujianese architectural works is perhaps the finest extant, and there are many still-intact clan villages. Much government-supported fixing up has been undertaken. Let’s visit a few of the most popular locations. Shanhou Folk Culture Village, a clan village of 18 densely packed residences built in the late Qing Dynasty using money made in Japan, has the look and feel of a museum showcase. Be sure to visit as early as possible; the sun sets directly behind the village, making photo shooting tricky. More than 100 Western-style colonial mansions are also found in Kinmen, most built in the late 1800s and early 1900s by returning local traders after they had made fortunes in Southeast Asia and Japan. Under a government-funded program, many of these mansions now serve as homestays and/or cafés/souvenir shops. To my mind, the two most remarkable of these mansions are the Beishan Ancient Western-style House and Shuitou’s Deyue Mansion.

Travel in Taiwan



Exploring the old houses at Shuitou Village

The Beishan residence, a two-story Western-style building, looks like the backdrop for a war-movie set, ripped apart with bullet holes and blasted-out scars. In 1949 Communist forces came ashore in a massive surprise attack on this area. This residence was commandeered by the Red forces as a command post. Today’s abandoned hulk is demonstration of the intensity of the fighting; after 56 hours of brutal hand-to-hand combat, some 15,000 soldiers lay dead, 3,000 from the Nationalist side, and around 6,000 on the Communist side had been taken prisoner. Deyue Mansion, which has a distinctive pinkish-stone façade and imposing four-storey gun tower, was for a long period Kinmen’s tallest structure. It was constructed in 1931 by the Huang clan, which settled Shuitou. There is a welcoming courtyard souvenir shop and comfortable balconied café. Beside the mansion complex is the breezy 200-year-old clan school, Youtang Villa. If time allows, spend time meandering Shuitou, Beishan, Nanshan, Qionglin, and Oucuo, “living” clan villages in which life still mosies slowly along much in the manner as in the days of history, with residents busying themselves doing laundry, chatting, spreading farm-field produce in their courtyards to sun-dry, and so on. The 700-year-old Shuitou is home to one of Taiwan’s premier collections of heritage residences, both Western and Chinese. Many old Kinmen homes are in the traditional southern Fujian three-winged style with a central courtyard. The clan-village 38

Travel in Taiwan

architecture is rich in auspicious symbolism. Here are some things to look for: Many Kinmen residences feature the distinctive, elegant swallowtail roofs usually restricted to temples; this symbolized the occupants’ wealth and elevated social position. Homes of the wealthy also feature red tiles, a rarity in imperial times because of the then difficult-to-control rapid cooling required to make them. Some rich owners also put iconic Kinmen wind lion figures on rooftops, and incorporated them right into exterior walls. Clan-village residences are generally fitted tight against each other along narrow lanes, for two primary reasons: protection against attack from such ne’er-do-wells as pirates and other clans, and protection from the often biting winter winds. The small size of the Kinmen Islands, their overall flat terrain, and their wide, primarily straight roads make scooter and bicycle travel a pleasure. There are scooter-rental (and car-rental) outlets at Kinmen Airport and elsewhere, notably by the Jincheng bus station. Renting a 150cc scooter for 24H is about NT$550 (car rental about NT$1,300). Eco-friendly bicycling is actively promoted, with free bike hire offered. Borrow government bikes for three days (park bikes for one day) simply by showing your ID. Helmet use is obligatory, as is returning bikes to their original location. Biking on the quiet public roads is everywhere a pleasure, but specially recommended is large Sun Yat-sen Memorial Forest, free of motor vehicles and with an on-site shop providing free bikes.


Deyue Mansion

A Wind Lion statue

Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor

Kinmen has four special hop-on, hop-off tourist-shuttle route services, with daily service, each route encompassing a selection of major attractions (1-day pass NT$200, 2-day pass NT$350). They are part of the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle system overseen by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. Two launch from the Jincheng bus station and two from the Shanwai station. These are guided (Chinese) tours. For details, visit www.taiwantrip. Budget Traveler Tip: Prices on accommodations drop by as much as 40% in the cooler, breezier winter months. A stay in one of the quality government-vetted heritage-residence B&Bs is highly recommended. What season should you visit? Rapeseed is extensively grown on island farms, and in spring bright golden fields of rapeseed flowers will be your photo backdrop. Foodies should consider autumn travel, prime harvest season for two delicious local delicacies, yellow croaker and crabs. Birders will chirp with joy in winter at the great numbers of migratory arrivals. What are the must-buy souvenir items? Few travelers leave without at least one of the following iconic Kinmen products in their luggage. Peanut candy: a favored form of Kinmen tribute at the Chinese imperial court. Kinmen knives: made with steel from artillery shells sent over from mainland China during the martial-law era. Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor: sorghum (gaoliang / kaoliang ) liquor production was introduced to the islands by a Nationalist general. Fun Fact: The wide roads and long, straight sections are not an accident – they exist so that military jets have a handy place to land in the event of any military or technical trouble. Practical Information There are regular daily flights to Kinmen island from Taipei and other points on Taiwan’s west coast. Advance booking is advised, especially in summer. For more details on travel to/from and around the islands, visit the Kinmen County Government Tourism Section website (tour. ) and Kinmen National Park website ( ).

“Wind Lion God” Selfie Opps Travelers come across Wind Lion God statues in picturesque spots all around the islands. Often colorfully painted, the gods are favorite “celebrity” additions in group photos and selfie shots. They’re placed in strategic spots to deflect the winds that swoop over the flat islands, protecting homes and farm fields. In Chinese folklore the auspicious lion can also both ward off evil and attract good fortune. The prosperity of the islands brought deforestation many centuries ago, with land cleared for farms and salt pans. Popular lore, however, says the denudation came from cutting trees to build the massive fleet of Koxinga, the 1600s Ming loyalist who fought the China-invading Manchu Qing and drove the Dutch out of Taiwan. Drop in at one of the island’s tourist information centers and ask for a Wind Lion tour map. There are over 60 spread around the islands, and many tourists, notably younger, eagerly tackle theme touring, searching them out across villages and the countryside.

English and Chinese Beishan 北山 Beishan Ancient Western-style House 北山古洋樓 Dadan 大膽 Deyue Mansion 得月樓 Erdan 二膽 gaoliang 高梁 Jincheng 金城 Kinmen 金門 Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor 金門高梁酒 Koxinga 國信爺 Lieyu 烈嶼

Little Kinmen 小金門 Manchu Qing 滿清 Nanshan 南山 Oucuo 歐厝 Qionglin 瓊林 Shanhou Folk Culture Village 山后民俗村 Shuitou 水頭 Sun Yat-sen Memorial Forest 中山紀念林 Wind Lion God 風獅爺 Youtang Villa 酉堂

Travel in Taiwan




Travel in Taiwan


Dining at Safranbolu


aiwan is often described as having a pan-Chinese gastronomy, meaning (thanks to the island's long history of Han Chinese immigration) a microcosm of Chinese food culture. Wonderful news, if you're looking for a Chinese meal. Taiwan's international-food scene, however, is not quite as bountiful, with the notable exception of Japanese cuisine. Due to a relatively homogenous population, and a relatively small amount of long-term immigration from outside the Sinic world, the foreign visitor looking to find the authentic tastes of home sometimes has to try a bit harder. Local takes on foreign dishes are also often “Taiwanese-ified” to suit home-grown tastes, whether it be by giving Western dishes Taiwanese shapes (spaghetti with tomato sauce is sometimes turned into noodles in tomato soup), or by adding local ingredients (redbean paste, taro, or pork floss, for example) to dishes that a purist might not take too well to. Safranbolu

It's a welcome pleasure, then, to find a place like Safranbolu, a Turkish restaurant where the aim is to bring authentic Turkish cuisine, to both adventurous locals and homesick foreigners alike.

Asian spices

On Nanjing East Road, a short walk from MRT Songjiang Nanjing Station, Safranbolu was opened in 2014 by Ergülü Kayretli, a long-time restaurateur from Ankara, the capital of Turkey. While visiting his nephew Musa, now the restaurant manager, who was studying Chinese in Taipei on a scholarship, he saw a gaping hole in the market for Turkish cuisine and decided to set up shop. Safranbolu is the only Turkish restaurant in Taipei, and one of only three in the entire country. Looking at the shopfront, with its two vertical rotisseries set up behind the counter, slowly cooking seasoned stacks of beef and chicken, you'd be forgiven for mistaking the restaurant for the type of takeaway joint or kebab shop common in those countries where some like to drink copiously on weekends and soak up their binges in döner meat. Up a narrow set of stairs on the right, however, patrons emerge into a spacious, second-floor dining area, painted red and cream to match the color palate of the traditional houses of Safranbolu, the town in northern Turkey the restaurant is named after. Intricately woven Turkish carpets hang on the walls, lanterns of yellow, purple, and green drop from the ceiling, and lithe, curvaceous Turkish coffee pots ornament the shelves and sideboards.

Travel in Taiwan



We order four mains, some home-made lavas bread, dips, two salads, two desserts, and coffee to finish – a veritable feast, and not an inexpensive one, with enough to comfortably feed five at least. The centerpiece of our Turkish banquet is the Safranbolu Special Kebab, a packed platter of barbequed chicken breast, wings, lamb, beef, eggplant, and tomatoes, with a healthy dollop of hummus on the side. The meat is rich and flavorsome, rubbed with such classic Turkish spices as sumac, cumin, and isot pepper. Safranbolu's hummus, like its bread, is also home-made, and slightly chunkier than the hummus I'm used to – you can actually feel the small chunks of chick-pea on your palate – a little less tangy, too, but fresh and moreish nonetheless. To drink, a salted yogurt beverage called ayran, which provides a cooling, silky palate cleanse after the heavily spiced dishes and comes, pleasingly, in stylized copper mugs. The second barbeque dish, the Beyti Kebab, is a particular favorite of mine. Ground lamb is barbecued, wrapped in lava ş bread, topped with tomato sauce, and served with rice, which Ergülü imports from Thailand – Taiwanese rice is too glutinous and chewy to use in Turkish dishes, while the long-grain variety from Thailand is more akin to that eaten in Turkey. The kebab also comes with a little mountain of sour yogurt, providing a layer of piquant pizazz to an otherwise staple-heavy dish. Our third main, the Mixed Pide, is a canoe-shaped flatbread served with a topping of ground beef, cheese, and egg, and is the Turkish equivalent of a pizza. The pide are cooked in a brickbased oven on the first floor, constructed by Ergülü himself for the purpose. Those ordering takeaway downstairs can glimpse the pide being cooked alongside sheets of lavaş bread, which balloon as the hot air expands between the layers, as well as Köfte (beef meatballs

Paella at PS Tapas

marinated in sweet chili, tomato, and garlic, topped with cheese), which is our final main, baked in a terracotta dish at the back of the oven. Accompanying all of this, of course, is our selection of dips: a peppermint-infused yogurt with mushrooms (yo ğurtlu mantar), yogurt with mayonnaise and carrot (havuç hydradi), a side dish called şakşuka, featuring eggplant, sweet chili, tomato paste, and potato, and green beans in olive oil, which we scoop into our mouths with the help of the aforementioned lavaş.

Halal-certified No alcohol is served at Safranbolu, for religious reasons, and the restaurant is also halal- cer tified. For non- Muslims, this simply means that all meat used by the restaurant has been slaughtered according to a specific set of religious guidelines. With the number of Muslim visitors from Southeast Asia on the rise (notably from Islamic-majority Malaysia and Indonesia), more and more restaurants in Taiwan are providing Muslim-friendly and halal options. A list of these can be found at .


Travel in Taiwan

We round off the meal with a classic crème caramel, and sütlaç – a baked vanilla rice pudding that Musa informs me holds a special place in Turkish hearts. It's easy to see why: simple, sweet, and creamy, it is excellent, and though Musa informs me that many Taiwanese find it a little too sweet, I must admit to disagreeing wholeheartedly and rudely hogging most of the dessert for myself. To finish, we have coffee, served in dainty enameled cups with a motif of Turkish tulips. What sets Turkish coffee apart is not the beans, but rather the brewing method. The beans are ground incredibly finely and added to water (rather than the other way around) to soak, before being heated to almost boiling and then immediately removed from the heat. This heating process is repeated several times until all the flavor has infused. Musa also tells us that the grounds left in your cup after drinking are used for fortune-telling, much as tea leaves are elsewhere, though I am by now so full of the brew that the only future I can imagine is one in which I slip into a food coma.


ABV Bar and Kitchen

Opened in 2015 by a foursome of travelloving Taiwanese buddies, ABV Bar and Kitchen aims to bring the whole gamut of Mediterranean cuisine to Taiwan’s capital. There is no focus on any individual Mediterranean nation. Rather, the owners have taken their pick from the entire region, with Italian cold-cut meat platters and pizzas sitting alongside Greek tzatziki, Spanish chorizo meatballs, and even Moroccan shakshuka. Not content with plundering the Mediterranean, the owners recently opened a Caribbean-style restaurant near their first, offering everything from Guyanese pepperpot and Cuban beef stew to Jamaican jerk pork ribs and Cajun jambalaya. As the restaurant names suggest, however, there is also a strong focus on having a good drink, and fridges bursting with international craft beers (from Belgium, the US, New Zealand, and even local Taiwanese brews) will satisfy even the most terrible of thirsts. PS Tapas

No prizes for guessing what this restaurant specializes in. The menu has a good selection of Spanish finger food – beef Barbecue ingredients at Vege Teji Ya

carpaccio, deep-fried seafood, garlic butter shrimp, fried potatoes – as well as more substantial dishes such as the Spanish omelette – made with potatoes, bacon, and bell peppers – and the classic paella. Diners who visit PS Tapas are greeted with a stylish wood and brick interior and an ambiance both relaxed and convivial, possibly something to do with the jugs of sangria on hand. Prices are, as one might expect, on the high side, though this doesn't seem to be putting off the punters, and the restaurant's popularity means that booking ahead is recommended. Vege Teji Ya

Popular in the Kansai region of Japan, with stores in Kyoto and Osaka – and now Taipei too – Vege Teji Ya is a Japanese-owned barbecue and teppanyaki restaurant offering Japanese and Korean fusion cuisine. The menu is extensive, and meats come infused with flavors such as pomelo, Japanese pepper, and plum. Guests are encouraged to try the barbecued morsels wrapped in leaves of organic lettuce, and in addition to the meat there are over thirty accoutrements on offer, with which you can customize your meat-lettuce wrap. On the Korean side of things, try the spicy tofu hotpot or a Korean shaved-ice dessert. To drink, explore one of the restaurant's mouthwatering cassis fruit cocktails.

Safranbolu Turkish Restaurant ( 番紅花城土耳其餐廳 ) Add: No. 60, Sec. 2, Nanjing E. Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City ( 台北市中山區南京東路二段 60 號 ) Tel: (02) 2522-2939 Hours: Mon~Sun, 11am ~ 10pm Website: turkishrestaurant ABV Bar and Kitchen (Mediterranean Cuisine) Add: No. 39, Lane 260, Guangfu S. Rd., Da'an Dist., Taipei City ( 台北市大安區光復南路 260 巷 39 號 ) Tel: (02) 8771-8114 Hour: Mon~Sun, Noon ~1:30am Website: ABV Bar and Kitchen (Caribbean Cuisine) Add: No. 11, Aly. 19, Ln. 216, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Da'an Dist., Taipei City ( 台北市大安區忠孝東路四段 216 巷 19 弄 11 號 ) Tel: (02) 8771-8114 Hours: Mon~Sun, 12noon ~ 1:30am Website: PS TAPAS – Anhe Branch ( 西班牙餐酒館 – 安和店 ) Add: No. 19, Ln. 21, Sec. 1, Anhe Rd., Taipei City ( 台北市安和路一段 21 巷 19 號 ) Tel: (02) 2740-3636 Hours: Mon~Sun, 11:30am ~ 2am PS TAPAS – Guangfu Branch ( 西班牙餐酒館 – 光復店 ) Add: No. 28, Ln. 346, Guangfu S. Rd., Da'an Dist., Taipei City ( 台北市大安區光復南路 346 巷 28 號 ) Tel: (02) 2741-6368 Hours: Mon~Sun, 11:30am ~ 2am Vege Teji Ya ( 菜豚屋 ) Add: No. 8, Aly. 16, Ln. 410, Sec. 2, Bade Rd., Taipei City ( 台北市八德路二段 410 巷 16 弄 8 號 ) Tel: (02) 2778-8055 Hours: Mon~Sun, 5pm ~ midnight

Chicken wings at ABV Bar and Kitchen

Travel in Taiwan



Jiufen and

Jinguashi Top Tourist Villages on the Northeast Coast Text and Photos: Vision

Jiufen A Mei Teahouse


Travel in Taiwan


trip to the mountain village of Jiufen and its “little sister,� Jinguashi, sits atop the list of things to do for many tourists visiting Taiwan. Both settlements are located in the scenic coastal mountains overlooking the northeast coast, both were once thriving mining centers (copper and gold), and both are worth spending a good amount of time exploring. Below are five places and things to experience/check out/enjoy while there.


1. Jiufen Old Street After arriving at Jiufen, most tourists head straight to the Old Street, a narrow and winding pedestrian-only alley lined with souvenir shops and eateries on both sides. Apart from trying some yummy hot or cold (depending on time of year) tapioca and sweet-potato ball soup (Jiufen’s best-known specialty), have a cup of tea at Jiufen A Mei Teahouse, in a beautiful and well-preserved wooden structure with great views, and visit the close-by Shengping Theater, Taiwan’s first cinema, built in 1914 to entertain miners during the heyday of mining in Jiufen.

2. Gold Ecological Park Just a short bus ride from Jiufen is the village of Jinguashi. It’s much quieter here, and the scenery is even more spectacular than in Jiufen. The village’s main attraction is the Gold Ecological Park, a showcase on Jinguashi’s gold-mining legacy. Be sure to touch the world-record 220.30kg ingot of 99.9% pure gold on display at the park’s museum, and explore the old mining tunnels to get a feel for the conditions miners had to deal with while digging for this and other metals.

Travel in Taiwan



4. Golden Waterfall If you follow serpentine County Highway 34 from Jinguashi north, downhill toward the coast, you’ll pass a remarkable waterfall, conveniently located right beside the road. The water here picturesquely cascades over a golden-brown streambed and rocks, creating a truly unique scene. The color stems from minerals that were exposed during mining operations further up the mountain and then deposited in the stream, which interestingly emanates from the ground. The waterfall is a favorite spot for photographers. Tea Pot Mountain

3. Tea Pot Mountain/ Mt. Jilong The average tourist, content with sightseeing/eating/shopping, is missing out when it comes to breathtaking scenery. What already looks nice from Jiufen and Jinguashi proper becomes even more dramatic when higher up the local mountains! There are two great hiking options, Mt. Jilong north of Jiufen and Tea Pot Mountain east of Jinguashi. Both mountains have easy-to-follow but steep and shadeless paths (don’t forget sun protection and plenty of water in the summer) that bring you to vantage points with incredible views of the coastal mountains and sea.


Travel in Taiwan


5. Jiufen Evening Scenery Back in Jiufen, make sure to stick around until the evening when the weather is fine. The mountainside-hugging town faces the northwest, meaning that the sun will set to the left when looking out over the coast. The sunset can be quite remarkable and dramatic, especially when there is a scattering of clouds in the sky, a common occurrence on the northeast coast.

Getting There: Bus from Taipei : There is frequent bus service (No. 1062) from near MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Station (Exit 1) in downtown Taipei to Jiufen and Jinguashi. The ride takes about an hour.

Railway plus bus : Alternatively, take an eastbound train (heading to Yilan/Hualien) to Ruifang and transfer to a bus bound for Jiufen/Jinguashi or further on to Fulong (passing the Golden Waterfall). English & Chinese Fulong 福隆 Gold Ecological Park 黃金博物園區 Golden Waterfall 黃金瀑布 Jinguashi 金瓜石 Jiufen 九份 Jiufen A Mei Teahouse 九份阿妹茶樓 Mt. Jilong 基隆山 Ruifang 瑞芳 Shengping Theater 昇平戲院

Northeast Coast seen from Jiufen

Travel in Taiwan



The banks of the Love River are the place to go if you want to experience the romance of Kaohsiung in the evening. To fully appreciate the beauty of the river and environs, go to the dock near the Ambassador Hotel and take a Love Boat. On a cruise lasting about 30 minutes, enjoy the views of the buildings along the river and the nighttime charms of the bespangled harbor city.

MRT: Orange Line (subway) to City Council Station, then walk along Zhongzheng 4th Road and turn left onto Hedong Road to reach dock in front of Ambassador Hotel. C-Bike Station: Ambassador Hotel ( 國賓飯店 )

Love River

Pier-2 Art Center has a pronounced historical and cultural atmosphere, and is the ideal place for an evening stroll. The complex is centered on old warehouses of Kaohsiung Harbor’s Pier 2 that were built in the 1970s and have now been given a new lease of life as an experimental and innovative art cluster. You can take a fun ride around Pier-2 on a mini train on the Hamesen Pier-2 Line S izi from Penglai Area Warehouse B8. h Sta wan Add: No. 1, Dayong Rd., Kaohsiung City

( 高雄市大勇路 1 號 ) Website: MRT: Orange Line (subway) to Yanchengpu Station or Sizihwan Station; 5-min. walk C-Bike Station: Kaohsiung Chenai ( 高雄真愛館 )



nc Cou y t Ci tion Sta

Ya n

ch en Sta gpu tio n

Things to Do and Places to Go in the Big City Down South Text & Photos: Vision

Located on the southwest coast of Taiwan, Kaohsiung is the island’s secondlargest and second most important city. It attracts visitors with its warm weather, friendly people, and range of new and distinctive scenic spots. Have fun and sate both your gourmet and gourmand spirits along Kaohsiung’s metro-system lines (subway and light rail). You can also explore the city by bike during the day and on a romantic boat cruise on the Love River in the evening. Here we provide some helpful guidance that we hope will make your fun-packed day in sunny Kaohsiung that much more exciting! Travel in Taiwan




sa bas m A el Hot


Central Park Station

Pier-2 Art Center

One day in Kaohsiung



g hen


Belfort Bistro

Belfort Bistro, located near the Love River, serves up tasty Italian pasta dishes and risottos, various appetizers, and limited-availability pizzas on weekends. The dishes are made with fresh and healthful ingredients. The restaurant is in a converted old residence, and has a wooden floor that adds to the warm and welcoming atmosphere. Enjoy a good dinner here, relaxing after a fun-filled day. Add: No. 83, Qianjin 2nd St., Kaohsiung City ( 高雄市前金二街 83 號 ) Tel: (07) 281-9876 Dream MRT: Orange Line (subway) to City Council Station Exit 2; 5-min. walk C-Bike Station: Kaohsiung City Government Police Bureau ( 市警局 )

Mall S


Jiu ru 2n d Rd

Kaohsiung Main Station

Formosa Boulevard Station

Zh on gz he ng 3r d Rd

Martial Art Stadium Station


u2 Wu f

nd R


Zho ngs han 2nd




Just Sleep Kaohsiung Zhongzheng

Add: No. 134, Zhongzheng 1st Rd., Kaohsiung City



uo and

This hotel is conveniently located not far from Martial Arts Stadium Station. Music is the main design theme of the hotel. There is a pianola in the lobby playing Western music, and a guest-use room on the 2nd floor has over 100 jazz, classical, and movie soundtrack records. The hotel has 158 guestrooms, including doubles, 4-person rooms, and family rooms, meeting the different needs of guests.

Sanduo Shopping District Station

( 高雄市中正一路 134 號 )

Tel: (07) 972-3568 Website: MRT: Orange Line (subway) to Martial Arts Stadium Station; 5-min. walk

C-Bike Station: Martial Arts Stadium (MRT) ( 技擊館 )

If you’d like to explore the city on a bicycle (find info about the city’s public bike system at ), you’ll want to take in this visually pleasing steel-structure bike overpass. Leaping over the light rail metro line, the bridge has a viewing platform from which you can take in the cityscape, including two predominant landmarks, the 85 Sky Tower and the Dream Mall Ferris wheel. From the bridge, Dream Mall can be reached by following Kaixuan 4th Road and then Zhonghua 5th Road. MRT: Green Line (light rail) to Cianjhen Star Station or Red Line

Star of Qianzhen Bike Bridge Dream Mall

(subway) to Kaisyuan Station

C-Bike Station: Indigenous Affairs Commission ( 原民會 )

Cianjhen Star Station

Dream Mall is an integrated center for shopping, leisure, entertainment, and dining based on four themes: ocean, flowers, nature, and universe. Its most striking feature is its massive rooftop Ferris wheel, known as the Kaohsiung Eye. While on a ride you enjoy a spectacular bird’s-eye view of city center, harbor, and sea. Add: No. 789, Zhonghua 5th Rd., Kaohsiung City ( 高雄市中華五路 789 號 ) Tel: (07) 973-3888 Website: (Chinese) MRT: Green Line (light rail) to Dream Mall Station C-Bike Station: Fire Bureau ( 消防局 )

English and Chinese Dream Mall 夢時代 Just Sleep Kaohsiung Zhongzheng 捷絲旅中正館 Kaohsiung Eye 高雄之眼 Love River 愛河 Star of Qianzhen 前鎮之星 Pier-2 Art Center 駁二藝術特區


MRT Red Line MRT Orange Line Light Rail Train

Travel in Taiwan



The Pingxi Branch Line One of the Most Popular Railway Journeys in Taiwan Text: Richard Saunders Photos: Vision

50 Travel in Taiwan

Pingxi Branch Line at Shifen Village


Riding the Pingxi Branch Line in New Taipei City is a journey into the past, as well as a jaunt into lush and scenic countryside that feels hundreds of miles from busy and crowded central Taipei, which is in fact just a quick bus or train trip away.


ith a modern railway line encircling the island, and a highspeed rail service zipping down its west coast connecting major cities, Taiwan has an excellent railway service. The island’s first railway, connecting Keelung in the northeast and presentday Hsinchu in the northwest, was completed in 1893; it was one of the first to be built in Greater China. After the Japanese took control of the island in 1895, they continued the modernization of its infrastructure by building a line connecting Keelung and Kaohsiung in the south, completed in 1908. While improving access to all island areas was a major aim for Taiwan’s colonial rulers when building the railway system, it wasn’t the only one. Coal was first mined in the 1870s, at pits on Taiwan’s northeast coast, and later in other parts of northern Taiwan as well. To transport the black gold, several short rail lines, including the 12.9-kilometer-long Pingxi Branch Line (finished in 1921), which traverses the picturesque Pingxi Valley, were built. The line escaped closure after the area’s mines were abandoned in the late 20th century; today it has become one of Taiwan’s most popular tourist-railway attractions, and a must-experience for visitors to the northern part of the island! In 1936, another railway line serving mining purposes was built along the coast, connecting Keelung, Badouzi, Shen’ao, and Shuinandong. This was the original Shen’ao Line, used until 1962. Three years later a new line was opened, using part of the original line and now connecting Ruifang, instead of Keelung, with Shen’ao and Shuinandong. The full line was in operation until 1989, then a portion of it until 2007, when the Shen’ao Power Plant it had been serving was dismantled. With the opening of the National Museum of Maritime Science and Technology (NMMST) on the original site of the Northern Power Plant in 2014, a 4km stretch of the Shen’ao Line was revived, connecting Ruifang and a newly constructed station close to the museum, Haikekuan (an abbreviation of the museum’s Chinese name). To the delight of railway lovers and tourists, last December a second station was added to the line, Badouzi, right by the coast. Slow commuter/tourist trains now run between Badouzi in the northeast and Jingtong Railway Station in the southwest, combining the Shen’ao Line and the Pingxi Branch Line. At Ruifang Railway Station travelers can transfer to trains running on the main railway line between Taipei and Yilan.

Badouzi Station Start the day off by taking the train first from Ruifang to Badouzi. What makes this tiny station special – and beloved by railway aficionados – is its location. It sits right beside the coastal highway, just a stone’s throw away from the waves crashing against the scenic rocky northeast coast shoreline. The original railway line extended from here further east to Shuinandong, where the main road from the tourist villages of Jiufen and Jinguashi meets the coast. Currently, the New Taipei City Government is assessing the feasibility of creating a bike path along the original line between Badouzi Station and Shuinandong, which would make for a fantastic cycling experience along the coast.

Buy a Day Pass! There’s a lot to see between Haikeguan and Jingtong, so you might want to pick up a Pingxi Line 1-Day Pass (NT$80), which allows unlimited travel (and stops) along the length of what the Taiwan Railways Administration collectively calls the Pingxi/Shen’ao Line. Tickets are sold at the Taipei, Songshan, Keelung, Ruifang, and Yilan railway stations, as well as some of the stations on the Pingxi Branch Line. If you’re just stopping at a couple of the stations, note that an EasyCard (a popular Taiwan smart card) can also be used.

National Museum of Maritime Science and Technology

Badouzi Railway Station

National Museum of Maritime Science and Technology ( 國立海洋科技博物館 )

Add: No. 367, Beining Rd., Zhongzheng District, Keelung City ( 基隆市中正區北寧路 367 號 ) Tel: (02) 2469-6000 Website:

Travel in Taiwan



Mural in Houtong

Grumpy cat in the “Cat Village”

Haikeguan Station Start your day by taking the train first from Ruifang to Haikeguan, close to the National Museum of Marine Science and Technology ( ). Follow the signs from the station to the museum, passing through a lovely ‘tunnel’ of banyan trees (a walk of about five minutes). The main exhibition building of the museum (developed from the original structures of the old power station) houses eight exhibition halls on four floors, and is chock-a-block with such creative and colorful displays as the Marine Science Gallery, which at first glance looks as though it found its way here from the Taipei Astronomical Museum. Large, glowing orbs representing the Earth explain the complexities of ocean currents and other things natural in easy-to-understand language, while striking hands-on installations explain other strange marine phenomena. Don’t miss the hourly sound-and-light show in the Deep Sea Theater on the third floor, housed in the dark, cavernous expanse of what was originally the power plant’s boiler room. If you want to spend more time on the coast, note that there is a popular fishing harbor, Badouzi, and a scenic coastal-cliff area, Wangyou Valley, close by.

Ruifang After visiting the marine museum, take the train back to Ruifang. The main reason to get off at this town is to take a side trip to the very popular tourist spots Jiufen and Jinguashi, two mountainside villages overlooking the sea. There are regular buses that run to both villages from the bus stop on the main road (about 100 meters to the left after exiting the station).

Houtong The first stop after passing Ruifang, the village of Houtong, is the site of the open-air Coal Mine Ecological Park (which opened in 2011), and the most complete surviving coal-mining community in Taiwan. Most visitors, however, come to see its famous stray cats! Around 2008, local animal lovers started caring for abandoned cats. The majority of these cute kitties now live in a traffic-free area (“Cat Village”) of Houtong across the railway tracks from the main part of Houtong, and these friendly felines (which number over a hundred these days) are remarkably unfazed by all the attention they receive from adoring visitors. Much of the village seems to be centered around the cats these days – a couple of souvenir shops next to the train station do a roaring trade in cat-themed merchandise, while images of cats (painted, drawn, cut, and sculpted) adorn surfaces everywhere. To get to “Cat Village,” simply turn right immediately after passing through the ticket barrier of the railway station, walk up the stairs, and cross over the rails via the pedestrian overpass, the roof of which has the shape of, you guessed it, a large cat.

52 Travel in Taiwan

Stone step path in Jiufen

Sandiaoling Railway Station


Sandiaoling Most regular tourists don’t get off the train at the next station, Sandiaoling; but many hikers do, because there is a great and easy-tofollow trail that has become quite popular in recent years. Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail starts beside the abandoned elementary school in Sandiaoling village and follows a tributary of the Keelung River upstream through thick forest and past a series of three spectacular waterfalls, the second of which pours over a very large overhang where visitors can stand, safe and dry, behind the curtain of water.

Hiking at Sandiaoling

Shifen Continuing inland, beyond Sandiaoling the branch line follows the river through a scenic wooded gorge. The train is soon plunged into darkness as it enters the first of four tunnels on the line. For much of the way to the next station, Dahua, the train is either underground or the tracks and the river are crammed side by side in a rocky ravine. Try to get a seat on the right-hand side to get the best views. After rain, tributary streams course down both sides of the gorge in a series of small waterfalls. After passing tiny Dahua Station, the train emerges from the last tunnel on the branch line, rolls over a long bridge high above the river, and runs straight down the center of the main street of Shifen before coming to a halt at this village’s station. Shifen is one of the most popular stops on the line. All kinds of Taiwanese snacks, from shaved ice and popsicles to grilled sausages and stinky tofu, can be sampled in the main street, which is also a great place to make, decorate, and set off a sky lantern. Write wishes or messages with brush and paint on the sides of a metertall paper lantern, fix a wad of “ghost money” inside, and after lighting the money allow the lantern to float up into the sky, where the wishes will hopefully be communicated to the gods! Follow the crowd that gets off at the railway station to the northeastern end of Shifen Old Street, follow the main highway until you reach a fork, and take the road to the right to get to the Shifen

Shifen Waterfall

Travel in Taiwan



Visitor Center and, further on, to the magnificent Shifen Waterfall. After heavy rainfall, this 30-meter-wide curtain of water is awesomely powerful, hence its nickname, “Taiwan’s Niagara Falls.” After enjoying the waterfall, cross the Waterfall Viewing Suspension Bridge right beside the railway line and return to Shifen on the main highway.

Lingjiao Beyond Shifen, the Pingxi Branch Line traverses a gentler countryside, passing the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it settlement of Wanggu before reaching Lingjiao. Immediately below the station, the Keelung River plunges over Lingjiao Waterfall, a striking sight after heavy rain. Follow the train tracks back towards Shifen for a couple of minutes to the entrance of a short trail on the right that leads down to the foot of the waterfall. Pingxi Pingxi, the second-to-last station on the line, lies beside the infant Keelung River. Life in its narrow streets goes on much as it did many decades ago. Above the police station, Guanyin Temple affords a fine view over the village and the mountains opposite. Nearby is the Cave of the Eight Immortals, a narrow tunnel carved out of soft sandstone. Pingxi Old Street is another great place to chow down on various cold and hot snacks served up in quaint little eateries. Sky lanterns can be launched right from the train tracks near the railway station. Note that the area around Pingxi also has numerous hiking trails, the most popular of which takes you to some peculiar and thrilling mountains, known by hiking expats as the Pingxi Crags. Jingtong The terminus of the Pingxi Branch Line, Jingtong station is a lovely old wooden building dating back to the Japanese colonial period. Just outside is Jingtong Old Street, a narrow and colorful alleyway that runs alongside the railway tracks, lined with eateries and food stalls plus, of course, shops selling sky lanterns. Segments of bamboo scrawled with the hopes of lovers hang from the fence bordering the railway. Another favorite place to fix these expressions of undying love is, naturally, the Lovers’ Bridge, which spans the river just below the station, reached by a flight of steps. Coal was discovered at Jingtong in 1907 and the area once enjoyed the reputation of producing Taiwan’s finest. Spooky old mine workings can be seen on a trail on the hillside just above the station. Two of the mine buildings have been turned into coffee shops: great places to kick back, relax, and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding hills. Turn right out of the station, cross the main highway, and follow the path opposite down past the Japanese-era Taiyang Club. Cross the infant Keelung River, climb the stone steps on the left, and at the top is the famous Huang Gong Tea House, set in a beautiful Japanese-style building which has been featured in many TV series, adverts, and even a few movies. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing break after exploring some of the many attractions along this very special railway line. 54 Travel in Taiwan

Jingtong Station

Colorfully painted Pingxi Branch Line train at Jingtong

Pingxi during the annual Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

English and Chinese Badouzi 八斗子 “Cat Village” 貓村 Cave of the Eight Immortals 八仙洞 Coal Mine Ecological Park 煤礦博物園區 Dahua 大華 Guanyin Temple 觀音巖 Haikeguan 海科館 Houtong 猴硐 Jingtong (Old Street) 菁桐 ( 老街 ) Keelung River 基隆河 Lingjiao (Waterfall) 嶺腳 ( 瀑布 ) Lovers’ Bridge 情人橋

Pingxi (Old Street) 平溪 ( 老街 ) Pingxi Branch Line 平溪支線 Ruifang 瑞芳 Sandiaoling (Waterfall Trail) 三貂嶺 ( 瀑布步道 ) Shen’ao Line 深澳線 Shifen (Old Street) 十分 ( 老街 ) Shifen Waterfall 十分大瀑布 Taiyang Club 台陽俱樂部 Wanggu 望古 Wangyou Valley 忘幽谷 Waterfall Viewing Suspension Bridge 觀瀑吊橋


Hotels of Taiwan

Taipei 台 北



Taipei 台 北

華 泰 王子大 飯 店

Visitors to Taiwan have a wide range of choice when it comes to accommodation. From five-star luxury hotels that meet the highest international standards, to affordable business hotels, to hot-spring and beach resort hotels, to privately-run homestays located in the countryside there is a place to stay that satisfies every

No. of Rooms: 60

traveler’s needs. What all hotels of Taiwan — small and big, expensive and affordable — have in common is that

Room Rates: Deluxe Room Grand Deluxe Room Premier Room Premier 9 Éclat Suite

No. of Rooms: 220 NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$

12,000 12,500 13,000 15,000 35,000

(All rates are exclusive of 5% VAT and 10% service charge)

Room Rates: Single / Deluxe / Executive NT$ Suit NT$

6,000- 8,500 9,500-20,000

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Japanese, Chinese

serve and hospitality are always of the highest standards.

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese, Cantonese


The room rates in the following list have been checked

RestauRaNts: Éclat Lounge

sPecial featuRes: Coffee Shop, Fitness Center, Business Center, Meeting and Banquet Facilities,Laundry Service, Non-smoking Floor, Parking Lot, Airport Transfer Service

for each hotel, but are subject to change without notice. Room rates at the hotels apply.

sPecial featuRes: Member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World; strategically located in the most fashionable and prestigious district of Taipei; offers guests great convenience for business and entertainment; Wi-Fi connectivity and in-room business facilities; variety of meeting rooms providing the ideal venue for professional meetings, corporate functions, and social gatherings. 370, Sec. 1, Dunhua S. Rd., Da-an District, Taipei City 106 106 台 北 市 敦 化 南 路 一 段 370 號 Tel: 02.2784.8888 Fax: 02.2784.7888 Res. Hotline: 02.2784.8118

369, Lin-sen (Linsen) N. Rd., Taipei City, 104 10 4台北市林森北路3 6 9 號 Tel: 02.2581.8111 Fax: 02.2581.5811









Taipei 台 北

Taipei 台 北

No. of Rooms: 268

No. of Rooms: 81

No. of Rooms: 203

Room Rates: Superior Room Deluxe Room Deluxe Suite Executive Room San Want Suite

Room Rates: Studio Room Single/ Twin NT$ 8,000 / 9,000 Park View Room Single/ Twin NT$ 8,800 / 9,800 Studio Suite Single/ Twin NT$ 12,600 / 13,600 Park View Suite Double NT$ 20,000 / 21,000 Penthouse Double NT$ 50,000

Room Rates: Deluxe Room Business Room Executive Deluxe Room Boss Suite Premier Suite

Single/ Twin Single/ Twin Single/ Twin Single/ Twin


6,000 / 6,800 7,000 / 7,800 8,000 / 8,800 8,800 / 9,600 16,800

Desk Personnel sPeak: English, Japanese, Chinese restaurants: French All Day Dining (Buffet), Bon Amis Steak Room, Chao Ping Ji (Cantonese & Dim-Sum), Sumie Nouvelle Japonaise Cuisine (Japanese), Sumie SHABU (Hot pot), Pozzo Bakery, Zorro Bar sPecial Features: Two minutes walk from MRT ZhongXiao Dunhua Station. Business Center, Fitness Center, Conference Room, Banquet Room for 500 people, Free Parking for Room Guests, Free Broadband Internet Access in Guestrooms, In-Room Safe, Express/Dry Cleaning Service, Fine East and West Art Collections on Display

Desk Personnel sPeak: English, Japanese, Chinese restaurants: Dining Lounge (Buffet Breakfast, Free Beverage and Light Snack for Room Guests) sPecial Features: A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Showcase of contemporary Taiwanese art collections, Personal secretarial assistance, Fitness center, Free wireless internet, Free rental of cell phone, Complimentary shoeshine service, 37” LCD TV, Pants presser& Suit rack, Multi-Functional Printer, Sunken Bathtub

Taipei 台 北

Hsinchu 新 竹

No. of Rooms: 141 NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$ NT$

8,000 10,000 11,000 17,000 21,000

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Japanese, and Chinese RestauRaNts: Rain Forest, Garden Terrace, Lounge 81, Tic-Tac-Toe Café sPecial featuRes: Business Center, Multifunctional Room, Fitness Club, Outdoor Pool, Sauna, Spa, Aromatherapy, Car Park



6,000 7,000 8,000 9,000 12,000 20,000

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Japanese, and Chinese RestauRaNts: The Zone Bar & Restaurant sPecial featuRes: Gym, Sky Lounge, Sky Garden

172 ZhongXiao East Rd., Sec. 4, Taipei City, 106 106台北市忠孝東路四段172號 Tel: 02.2772.2121 Fax: 02.2721.0302 E-mail:

128 Nanjing East Rd., Sec. 1, Taipei City, 104 10 4台北市南京東路一段128號 Tel: 02.2511.5185 Fax: 02.2511.1585 E-mail:

83 Civic Boulevard, Sec. 3, Taipei City, 104 10 4台北市市民大道三段8 3號 Tel: 02.8772.8800 Fax: 02.8772.1010 E-mail:

111, Sec. 2, Gongdao 5th Rd., East Dist., Hsinchu City 300, Taiwan 3 0 0 新 竹 市 公 道 五 路二 段111號 Tel: 03.623.1188 Fax: 03.623.1199 E-mail:

Travel in Taiwan



Taipei 台 北



Taipei 台 北

53 HOTEL 寶島53行館

No. of Rooms: 79

No. of Rooms: 160

No. of Rooms: 500 (Suites: 57)

No. of Rooms: 70

Room Rates: Superior Room Business Room Deluxe Room Executive Deluxe Room Executive Suite Sense Suite

Room Rates: Single Room Deluxe Single Room Deluxe Twin Room Suite Room

Room Rates: Single/DBL Suite

Room Rates: Standard Room Superior Room Deluxe Room Family Room Deluxe Family Room

NT$ 7,500 NT$ 8,500 NT$ 9,500 NT$ 9,000 NT$ 10,000 NT$ 15,000

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Japanese, Chinese sPecial featuRes: Business center, fitness center, meeting rooms, Club House with luxury furniture and advanced media facilities for private meetings and gatherings, wood-floored openair Sky Garden, parking tower, close to the MRT system near Zhongshan Elemen tary school MRT station and key commercial and entertainment districts.

477 , Linsen N. Rd., Zhongshan District, Taipei City 104 104 台 北 市 林 森 北 路 477 號


6,400 7,000 7,800 12,000

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Japanese, Chinese RestauRaNts: Golden Ear Restaurant (Western semi buffet); Golden Pot (Chinese Cuisine) sPecial featuRes: Business Center, meeting rooms, airport transfer service, parking lot, laundry service, free Internet access, LCD TV, DVD player, personal safety box, mini bar, private bathroom with separate shower & bath tub, hair dryer

NT$ 8,200-13,000 NT$ 18,000-30,000

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, French, Spanish, and Japanese RestauRaNts: Western, Cantonese, Northern China Style Dumplings, tea house, coffee shop, steak house sPecial featuRes: Grand Ballroom, conference rooms for 399 people, 10 breakout rooms, business center, fitness center, sauna, Olympic-size swimming pool, tennis courts, billiards

186 Songjiang Rd., Taipei City,104 104 台 北 市 松 江 路 186 號

Taichung 台 中


4,500 5,000 5,500 6,000 6,500

Desk PeRsoNNel sPeak: English, Japanese, Chinese sPecial featuRes: Our guests enjoy easy access to all attractions lively Taichung City has to offer. From the hotel it’s a two-minute walk to Taichung Railway Station and a three-minute walk to the bus station, from where guests can easily reach popular tourist sites, such as Qingjing Farm, Xitou Forest Recreation Area, and Sun Moon Lake. 53 Hotel offers a wide range of services, including laundry/dry cleaning, a business center, a gym, and free wireless Internet access. 27, Zhongshan Rd., Central District, Taichung City, 40042

Tel: 02.7743.1000 Fax: 02.7743.1100 E-mail:

Tel: 02.2541.5511 Fax: 02.2531.3831 Reservation Hotline: 02.2541.6888 E-mail:

1 Chung Shan N. Rd., Sec. 4, Taipei City, 10461 10461 台 北 市 中 山 北 路 四 段 1 號 Tel: 886.2.2886.8888 Fax: 886.2.2885.2885

40042 台 中 市 中 區 中 山 路 27 號 (距離火車站 2 分鐘) Tel: 04.2220.6699 Fax: 04.2220.5899 E-mail:

3 minutes by foot from Exit 2 of MRT Zhongshan Elementary School Station

Exit 1 of MRT Xingtian Temple Station on the Luzhou Line.

Edison Travel Service specializes in Taiwan tours and offers cheaper hotel room rates and car rental services with drivers . Edison welcomes contact with other travel services around the world.


Taipei 台 北

Travel in Taiwan

( two minutes from railway station)

HOTEL PROVERBS TAIPEI is the latest design hotel of GLORIA HOTEL GROUP. It’s located in Taipei’s exclusive eastern district.

It captures the essence of lavish living, passionate expression and modern beauty. In September 2016, HOTEL PROVERBS TAIPEI became a member of Design Hotels™ and Starwood Preferred Guest ® Loyalty Program.

56, Sec. 1, Da’an Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City 106, Taiwan

w w w. h o te l - p r ove r b s .c o m

For Reservation +886 2 2711 5539



200 NTD

Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.