Award Banner
Award Banner

Post-restrictions travel guide to Taiwan

Post-restrictions travel guide to Taiwan
PHOTO: Pexels

Holidaymakers, rejoice. On the heels of Japan, Taiwan has done away with travel restrictions and opened its borders to international tourists.

Since Sept 29 2022, Singaporeans could enter Taiwan visa-free for up to 30 days. Pre-departure PCR tests are not required, and there are no vaccination requirements to enter Taiwan.

But as of Oct 13, quarantine is no longer required, and travellers just need to observe seven days of self-health management.

Time to visit Taiwan?

Taiwan had been gradually easing its restrictions as part of what it dubs the 'new Taiwan model', which aims to coexist with the Covid-19 virus without shutting down the economy. Its latest step is to remove travel restrictions and quarantine measures to reopen to international tourists.

With the Taiwan dollar depreciating to its lowest level in over five years (from $0.050 to $0.044 for every 1 NTD), it could be a good time to visit before the tourist crowds return. So if you're already making travel plans, here are some areas you won't regret visiting.

Best tourist spots in Taiwan

Once called 'Ilha Formosa' (or beautiful island) by 16th century Portuguese sailors en route to Japan, Taiwan is a mix of bustling cities, old temples, lively night markets and picturesque spots such as the Sun Moon Lake and Taroko Gorge.

Taiwan's cultural legacy is a combination of Chinese, Japanese, aboriginal, Dutch, and contemporary influences. You can shop around Taipei City District, hike through Taroko Gorge, view the extensive collection of Chinese artifacts at the National Palace Museum or cruise around Sun Moon Lake, all while experiencing the generous hospitality Taiwan is renowned for.

Explore this humble yet vibrant island with our roundup of the best places to visit in Taiwan.

1. Sun Moon Lake

Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan's largest alpine lake, and is best known for its cultural heritage and, of course, natural beauty. In the foothills of Taiwan's central mountain range, silky waters lie amid forested peaks.

It boasts pleasant weather all year round, and is surrounded by a countryside dotted with temples and pagodas. One such pagoda is the Chi-En Pagoda (aka the Pagoda of Filial Virtue), where you can catch spectacular views of the area. During spring, you can even catch a glimpse of fireflies on the trail leading up to the pagoda.

To explore Sun Moon Lake, you can cycle along the pedestrian-bike path around the lake's perimeter, hop on a cruise that departs daily from the shores, or even rent a canoe or rowboat. Alternatively, there is a cable car service that offers views of the mountains and water.

On the east of the lake is the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village. As the name suggests, this theme park features a section of recreated indigenous villages that display traditional hand-crafted handicrafts and weapons.

2. Kenting National Park

As the oldest national park in the country, the Kenting National Park is located in southern Taiwan and is a popular destination amongst tourists and locals alike. Its biggest draw is its scenic views, beaches and summery climate that makes it so appealing.

A must-see attraction is the Eluanbi Lighthouse that overlooks its surroundings. The annual Spring Scream Festival also takes place in early April and draws thousands of music-lovers each year.

3. Alishan National Scenic Area

Home to the indigenous Tsou people who are best known for their tea-making, the Alishan National Scenic Area is a mountainous region featuring twenty-five mountains that reach a height of two thousand metres, as well as forests, waterfalls, hills and valleys. Suffice to say, the view is spectacular.

To get to the various viewpoints along the way, you can take any of the trails and paths or hop on the Alishan Forest Railway that winds through the forests and along the mountain. Its final stop is at Fenqihu, a picturesque railway town that contains the ruins of a Shinto shrine.

4. Taroko Gorge

Just a train ride away from Taipei is the Taroko National Park, a scenic jewel that makes it one of Taiwan's natural wonders. At times, the gorge's vertical cliffs and winding tunnels come so close together that, from a distance, they appear to meet.

One key attraction is the Eternal Spring Shrine, which was built in memory of those who died while constructing the Central Cross-Island Highway in the late 1950s. You can take the Taroko Gorge Trail from the park entrance to access the shrine, a tranquil spot that features a waterfall and pavilion.

Another attraction is the Swallow Grotto, a 400m stretch of limestone and marble cave that lies west of the shrine. This is one of the park's most popular trails due to its incredible view of the magnificent Liwu River. You might even spot the swallows that make their occasional appearance near the rock face.

In the west is the Tunnel of Nine Turns, where you can catch stunning views of the white marble cliffs of the gorge as you wind through some of its narrowest sections.

5. Jiufen and Shifen

Jiufen and Shifen are popular day-trip destinations that you can easily make from Taipei.

Until the Japanese occupation in 1893, the little mountain town of Jiufen in northeastern Taiwan was pretty isolated. As a result of the gold rush during that period, the town quickly developed and many buildings in the town reflect the Japanese influence on Taiwan's architecture and culture to this day. It is now best known for the Spirited Away-esque old town, which features narrow alleyways lined with teahouses, souvenir shops and street-food stalls.

Some attractions in Jiufen include the Shengping Theatre, which was first established in the 1900s and has since been restored, as well as the Gold Mine Museum that showcases the town's history as a mining hub during the Japanese-era gold rush.

Similarly, Shifen was a coal mining town before the 1950s and features a collection of alleyways and lanes around the Shifen Railway Station area. The railroad town continues to retain its rustic charm while featuring local delicacies and the iconic Taiwanese activity of releasing sky lanterns.

6. Kinmen Islands

The Kinmen Islands is a group of islands located between Taiwan and China. Historically, it was the battle site of the Nationalists and Communists in 1949, though it is now a popular tourist destination.

Due to its historical significance, there are lots of historic buildings in Kinmen, as well as old architecture, beaches, and beautiful scenery. Its natural beauty featuring lush forests, wild blooms and nature reserves such as the Kinmen National Park gave it the nickname 'the park in the sea'.

It's also known for its local cuisine and products, so you can do some souvenir shopping while going shutter-happy as well.

ALSO READ: Taiwan welcomes back visitors after ending Covid-19 quarantine rules

This article was first published in ValueChampion.

This website is best viewed using the latest versions of web browsers.