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Kaohsiung and Taiwan’s south

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Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s southern metropolis – once relegated as an industrial city – is now a bustling city that is known for its hipster culture, particularly around the Love River and Pier 2. As the main city in the south, with its gleaming skyscrapers and wide open boulevards, the pace is much slower than in Taipei.

Kaohsiung is also a convenient base if you’re visiting some natural gems like the Maolin Valley and Tianliao Moon World.

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Taipei’s Taoyuan Int’l Airport MRT is offering 25,000 passengers free rides

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As some of you would know, there’s finally an MRT that connects Taoyuan Airport to Taipei City. Even though the 51km-long Taoyuan International Airport MRT line stops at 21 stations, it still cuts commute time to the airport to 35 minutes, a journey that usually takes more than one hour to drive due to traffic.

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Need ideas for next year’s Valentine’s Day?

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While romance can often bloom in the most unlikely of places, here are some locations that may be ideal to spend that quality time together.

 

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Taiwan: Lottery for Travellers

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Travelling is all about the little things, and when you’re in Taiwan, it’s the little things that not only make travelling there an amazing experience – think of amazingly friendly locals or the incredibly cheap food – but also a fruitful one.

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Typhoon Meranti Destroys Big Mushroom

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Typhoon Meranti was the strongest super-typhoon in 21 years to hit Taiwan, and one of its casualties was a popular dive site near Green Island known simply as “Big Mushroom”. This 10m-high mushroom-shaped pore coral tower – a landmark for divers from around the world – stood no chance against the mighty force of Meranti.

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Head into Taiwan’s mountains [VIDEO]

For many, the mountains of Taiwan are hard to resist. Some go for the scenery (and cooler temperatures), while others like to challenge themselves on the windy mountain roads. Whatever the reason, there’s more to see and experience – from steaming fumaroles to ancient mountain temples and wildlife experiences, the mountains of Taiwan has something different to offer no matter how many times you go.

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Taiwan: Aboriginal Experience

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Taiwan is a popular holiday destination for many reasons – food and mountains seem to top the list. Those who are willing to venture a little further will find that the country is also home to an aboriginal population that still maintain some aspects of their traditional culture.

Check out our latest video which features the Saisyat tribe, whose stronghold is the mountains near Nanzhuang in central Taiwan.

Urban Adventures from Taipei

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Taipei has long been a go-to place for foodies and those taking advantage of long weekends. However, the city’s attractions aren’t the only things visitors can cram into a long weekend, as many Taipei-ites can attest to. Check out our short video of our Urban Adventures in Taiwan!

Thanks to its relatively small size, Taiwan’s beautiful mountains and coastline are easily accessible on a day trip from Taipei; the dramatic northeast coast and the Yangmingshan mountains are within an hour’s drive from the capital, and are great places to go hiking, mountain biking, diving or rock climbing. And at the end of the day, soak away your aches at a hot spring.

Yangmingshan: Taipei’s Backyard

On top of Mt. Cising in Yangmingshan

Located on the northern tip of Taiwan, Yangmingshan Park is a popular weekend getaway for Taipei’s city dwellers, thanks to its proximity, its wealth of hot spring retreats and undulating mountainous landscape. One of the most popular hikes is up to the summit of CiSing Shan (1,120m) – the tallest peak in the park. Any local will tell you that “it’s just like a walk in the park”. Translated, it means “don’t attempt it in your flipflops”. After all, the locals are used to living on an island that is 70% mountains.

The hike starts out with a straightforward stair-climbing exercise from the carpark. Halfway up, expect to be occasionally engulfed in wafting clouds of sulphur emitted from various cracks in the mountain, giving a new meaning to the word ‘Stairway to Heaven’. This area is, after all, Taipei’s hot spring paradise.

Walking on the Stairway to Heaven

Non-hikers can experience these fumaroles from a viewing point near the carpark, which busloads of tourists do. However, it’s always a far better experience getting close enough to feel the fizzing ground beneath your feet; just don’t stand there long enough to melt your soles.

The trail zig-zags its way up the rather steep mountain, its sides flanked by stunted trees that (unfortunately) do nothing to give any form of shade. Hats are essential, although some older locals do carry umbrellas on hikes to some strange effect. The many viewpoints along the way give you a bird’s eye view of the mountains with steaming vents, and the roads that snake their way through the valleys. Come winter, the entire area will be carpeted with flowering pink cherry blossom trees.

The trail up Mt. Cising

From the summit, there is an impressive 360º view of the rolling Yangmingshan mountains and beyond. If you’re lucky, you can see all the way to the ocean on a clear day. Be prepared for a sudden change in the weather – it may be hot and sticky on the climb up, but once you reach the top, the wind could freeze-dry you.

The way down involves climbing up the neighbouring peak before the descent really begins. The descent is definitely more impressive, mostly due to the fact that you’d be staring at the expansive undulating green landscape, rather than the mountain path right in front of you.

The trail finally takes you through a shaded forest where you can spot some of Taiwan’s endemic birds, the most impressive of which is the long-tailed Formosan Mikado Pheasant. The other species that you can find here are bird fanciers, whom are easily spotted as they sport conspicuous binoculars and long zoom lenses.

Night market Squid lady

Beitou and Yangmingshan
Located just a short drive (or MRT ride) north of Taipei City, Beitou marks the midway point to Yangmingshan. Dozens of hot spring spots line the road near the Beitou MRT station, giving you options like day soaks (at the public bath) and private hot tubs in your own room (at some of the hotels). Nothing beats a soak after being punished by the mountains.

Since this is Taiwan, the other thing to indulge in is night markets. The ones in Taipei City (like Shihlin Market) are popular and are therefore great places to get your face stuck in everyone’s armpits.

If you’ve ever wondered about what ‘stinky tofu’ smells like, you’ll find out right here. If you’re starving after a long hike, you can easily stuff all the calories back by packing yourself full of cheap street food, from deep-fried mushrooms to pickled plums and everything in between from just NT$10.