Taiwan is an underrated destination. However, this post is about the underrated places in Taiwan. Taiwan has much to offer; from bubbling hot springs to golden waterfalls, this place is a treasure trove of scenic destinations.
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Where is Taiwan?
Officially known as the Republic of China, Taiwan is a country in East Asia. Taiwan has the Philippines as its southern neighbor, the People’s Republic of China on its northwest, and Japan on its northwest. The Portuguese named Taiwan “Ilha Formosa” which means “beautiful island”. The Portuguese gave this name when they sighted the island in 1542.
History of Taiwan
Taiwan’s earliest history of human inhabitation dates back to 3000 BC when an agricultural tribe arrived here. These people are Taiwan’s indigenous people of Austronesia descent. The Dutch ruled Taiwan in the 17th century.
Around the same time, Hakka immigrants from China moved to Taiwan. Taiwan was briefly controlled by Spain who was driven out by 1642. In 1662, Koxinga established the House of Koxinga after defeating the Dutch.
After the Chinese Civil War, the Republic of China retreated to Taiwan. The “Taiwan Miracle” where it experienced rapid economic and industrial growth alongside Singapore and South Korea brought this country recognition.
Taiwan requires tourists to have at least 6 months validity on their passports. According to the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, citizens from select countries are visa-exempt for either 90, 30, or 14 days. This depends on the passport they are holding. For citizens which require a visa, the official portal to apply for an e-visa is at the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan.
The Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is aimed at reducing traffic congestion within the city limits. The first line began operations in 1996 and there are currently 6 lines with 131 stations in between.
How Much Does Taipei MRT Cost?
A single journey ticket costs around NT$30 ($1) and NT$160 ($5) based on distance traveled. A map complete with the estimated costs of the ride is on the Taipei MRT website.
How Much is the Taiwan MRT card?
Taiwan uses a contactless smartcard known as the EasyCard. This card is a must-have in Taiwan as it is used on all transport providers such as MRT, buses, Taiwan Railways, Taiwan Speed Rails, taxis, and ferries.
The Adult EasyCard costs NT$500 ($17) inclusive of top-up and deposit. The maximum amount allowed on this card is NT$10,000 ($358). Any unused fees and deposits are refundable.
Do People in Taiwan Speak English?
The national language of Taiwan is Taiwanese Mandarin, Taiwanese Hokkien, Taiwanese Hakka, Formosan, and Matsu. This being said, Taiwan is making an effort to turn into a Mandarin-English speaking nation by 2030.
English is used in the tourism sector. However, it is worth taking down the written name of the destination in Chinese to show the taxi drivers who may not have a grasp of the language.
What cities should I visit in Taiwan?
We have chosen the top 5 cities to visit according to Marie France Asia. However, you can check out the 10 Beautiful Towns To Visit in Taiwan for more ideas.
The first underrated place in Taiwan is Hualien. Hualien is the largest and least populated county in Taiwan. The largest city in Hualien City. This city was originally Kiray by the Sakizaya Aborigines who live in this county.
This county faces the Pacific Ocean towards Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture. Check out the Best Things To Do in Hualien County, you will not be disappointed.
The second in our underrated places in Taiwan is Taichung. Taichung is the second-largest city in Taiwan. After the Sino-Japanese War in 1895, Japan had control over Taiwan and this city was renamed “Taichu”.
Taichung was formerly several hamlets scattered until Japan took over and began its “modern” development. The “modern” development led to the building of dams, levees, and a planned township. Taichung was nicknamed the “Kyoto of Formosa” during that period.
Check out The 10 Best Things to See and Do in Taichung and see why this vibrant city should be on your bucket list.
The third underrated place in Taiwan is Taipei. Taipei is the capital city of Taiwan. Taipei is an enclave within the New Taipei City and sits on an ancient lakebed, the Taipei Basin. During pre-historic times, Taipei Basin was home to the Ketagalan Tribe whose language is now extinct.
Legend has it that the Ketagalan originally stayed on another island. However, a monster would appear and terrorize the villagers every night. The villagers were pushed to insanity and left without a choice, they chose to sail the seas.
In their voyage, they discovered what is now Taiwan. However, as the community grew, they drew straws to determine who would live where. Those with long straws continued living on fertile grounds whilst those with short straws moved to the mountains.
One of its landmarks is the Taipei World Financial Center which is known as Taipei 101. This landmark was the world’s tallest structure from 2004 to 2009 until it was surpassed by Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
This 101-floor skyscraper was built to withstand typhoons and earthquakes which are common in Taiwan. The 101 floors symbolize the renewal of time. The main tower comprises 8 segments with 8 floors. In Chinese culture, the number 8 symbolizes abundance, good fortune, and prosperity.
The second famous landmark is the National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. Sun Yat-sen is the “Father of the Nation” and the first president of the Republic of China.
Taipei is also famous for its food. Check out The 10 Best Restaurants in Taipei and for vegetarians, fret not! Check out the 5-Michelin Recommended Restaurants for Vegetarians in Taipei.
The fourth in our underrated places in Taiwan is Tainan. Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan and the fifth largest on the island. This is the oldest city as archaeological evidence points that this city has been inhabited for at least 31,000 years. The Siraya tribe that dominated the landscape here.
This city is the “City of Snacks” due to the variety of food available at any time of the day. Read on to know the 19 Great Dishes in Tainan. Tainan is an underrated city worth visiting.
The fifth in our underrated places in Taiwan is Kaohsiung. Kaohsiung is the third-largest city in Taiwan and is known for its harbor rather than tourism. The Port of Kaohsiung was previously a lagoon and was developed into a harbor over several hundred years.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, Hoklo immigrants named this city Takau. Tainan was annexed and renamed Fongshan County in 1684. It began operations as a port in 1680. CNN Travel gives you 7 Reasons to Love Kaohsiung.
What are the Underrated Places in Taiwan?
The next in our underrated places in Taiwan is the Golden Waterfalls. This waterfall is known for its cascading golden rocks. For decades, the locals believed that the golden hue was a result of rampant mining activities nearby.
The gold color is a result of heavy mineral deposits in the area. This waterfall is highly sulphuric and it is not advisable to swim in it. There is no entrance fee as this waterfall is a short drive 40-minute drive from Taipei along the North Coast Expressway.
Plan your day early and you can combine the Golden Waterfall, The Gold Museum, Yin Yang Sea, and the Elephant Trunk Rock as a day trip from Taipei.
Yin Yang Sea
This sea is a “half gold, half bluish-green” sea. The name of this sea came about due to the natural duality which is in line with the concept of Yin and Yang. The discoloration was from local mining activities nearby.
However, the color is from insoluble floating iron and a heavy concentration of pyrite. Pyrite is “Fool’s Gold”. It is also believed that large amounts of mud from landslides washed into the Pacific Ocean during Typhoon Megi. This created the Yin Yang effect.
There is no entrance fee to view the sea. However, swimming is prohibited due to the toxicity of the waters. For the adventurous, you can hike up Teapot Mountain for fantastic views of the sea and its surrounding.
The next in our underrated places in Taiwan is Jiufen. This town is famous for its Old Street and teahouses. The Old Street passes through the village. There are steep staircases and plenty of teahouses along the route.
Check out the 10 Best Things to Eat on Jiufen Old Street. Jiufen’s tea houses were once a meeting place for Taiwanese writers and artists. Read on for the 5 Best Teahouses in Jiufen and sip your worries away while you are there.
Jiufen was a filming location for the City of Sadness. It has a resemblance to the locations mentioned in Spirited Away.
The name Jiufen comes from the Chinese word Chiufen which means “nine portions” which represent the 9 families that originally lived here during the Qing Dynasty. Hence, the villagers would request 9 shares or nine portions of any shipment that arrived in this village.
Lotus Lake Temples
This artificial lake is a popular tourist destination as it is home to many temples. This lake is about 3 hours from Taipei with a distance of approximately 218 miles. The temples are Kaohsiung Confucius Temple, Spring and Autumn Pavilions, Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, and Chi-Ming Palace.
These temples are featured on Atlas Obscura and Insider. Check out the 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Kaohsiung’s Lotus Pond to know more about this place.
Ruins of the 13 Levels
This place is the “Potala Palace of Mountain Mines”. This abandoned place has the world’s longest pipe measuring 1.2 miles in length. Due to its abandoned derelict state, these ruins have been the backdrop for many music videos.
Do you know that the former name of this place was Shuinandong Smelter and it was the largest in Asia at one point in time?
Elephant Trunk Rock
This rock is located near Shen-Ao Port and is about 22 miles from Taipei. Erosions from monsoon rains and sea waves caused the formation of the rock.
Elephant Rock Structures Around the World
The first elephant rock structure around the world is in Neptune, Wisconsin in the United States. This Elephant Trunk Rock also goes by the name Devil’s Hitching Post and is on Highway 154. Interestingly, the rock structure here has been visible for over a century.
The second elephant rock structure is in Heimaey in Westman Island, Iceland. However, Westman Island sits at the split of two continental plates which make eruptions and earthquakes happen daily.
The third elephant rock structure is Elephant Trunk Hill in Guilin, China. The rock structure here resembles an elephant drinking water. This hill is at the confluence of Toahua and Li Rivers and has been a tourist destination since the Tang Dynasty.
What are the best hotels in Taiwan?
This luxury hotel is located above Taipei City Hall MRT station and is next to the iconic Taipei 101. This hotel has 405 rooms decked in zodiac-inspired sculptures and map installations. Situated in the heart of the city, this hotel has a busy nightlife, endless retail therapy, and scrumptious cuisine.
Shangri La Far Eastern Plaza
This urban retreat prides itself on combining Eastern and Western influences in the design of this hotel. This hotel has 420 rooms and a rooftop swimming pool with a view of Taipei’s skyline. The hotel organizes daily activities throughout the week for guests.
This hotel prides itself on combining arts, culture, and living in one space. Humble House has 235 rooms with each room having displays of artistic work by international artists. Check out the Art Gallery within this hotel to know more.
Is Taiwan Worth Visiting?
Yes! Taiwan is one of the underrated destinations in the world. There is much to see and offer on that beautiful island. Scrumptious food, throbbing nightlife, and little-known places make Taiwan a must-visit at least once in a lifetime.
BBC gives 5 Reasons to Visit Taiwan whilst Telegraph UK gives 15 Reasons Why Taiwan Should Be Your Next Adventure and Business Insider gives you 23 Reasons To Travel to Taiwan.