“Traveling in Taiwan” generally means escaping the cities for the mountains or coast. Are there any towns worth visiting? Do any cities here - other than Taipei and Tainan - offer a distinctive flavour and enough attractions to make an overnight visit worthwhile. I find most towns and cities rather dull and featureless. Even somewhere like Lukang, which is touted as a historical city, could - except for a few pockets - pass for any other place in Taiwan.
Danshuei (sp?) is has some sights worth seeing if you haven’t been there. Probably not worth an overnighter. We once started out late afternoon in Taipei, spent the night in Keelung, hit that place on the coast with the weird rocks (Yieliou?), and were in Danshuei by late afternoon. A pretty enjoyable trip, especially if you like bbq squid.
I tend to think Taiwan has a lot of distinctive towns and places. It’s just a matter of going out and finding them which requires a lot of legwork/motorcycle riding.
My last ride was on Route 9 down to Ilan, than hooking up to route 7 to Taipingshan, but turning off befor it went there and instead following it into the mountains into Taoyuan county then following that to Tucheng. It was a great ride and I saw quite a bit.
It was a bit dull and there is almost no chance of getting laid, but I want to see more of the place I live in. If SARS closes everything down for 2 weeks, I’ll ride my scooter to Ilan, Hualian, Taidong, Kenting Kaoshiung and back. I have it planned out for that eventuality. Hopefully it doesn’t happen.
I’ve heard good things about Chiufen (Jiufen) and Sanyi. Planning to go Sanyi on Saturday; apparently they have loads of those little white flowers around there at the moment. Sanyi is famous for woodcarving and Hakka culture, Jiufen is a picturesque old goldmining town on steep ground near the sea. Pictures of Jiufen look great.
I suppose you’ll have been to those places already, though?
I went to Chiu Fen for the first time this Tuesday, after having been here for years.
It’s a pretty place to stroll around and enjoy the snacks and tea shops along with the views of the surrounding mountains. We also did the easy climb up Keelung mountain from where you can enjoy a beautiful sunset view.
I thoroughly recommend it but suggest going mid-week as it was very quiet, and the mountain was deserted.
SanXia is not that nice me thinks, there is only the temple to see and perhaps that small museum of the person who designed (?) it, he is also a painter. If you are lucky you get explained the pictures by his son.
The old town (one small street actually) is disappointing, houses falling apart and the shops selling the usual souvenir fair.
JiuFen is indeed nice though, like to sit on top of the tea houses and sip a nai cha or play some cards with friends. Not that we do this often - unfortunately. TamShui is also ok, visit the town (recommended food: squid on the stick), old fort and Fisherman’s Wharf. You can take a river cruise from there, too.
Just because you’ve been branded the “Chicken Little” of Taiwan’s cyberspace and are in danger of becoming fried chicken, doesn’t mean that you need to have a go at me.
There are many nice spots around Taiwan. However, anyone who rates Taiwan’s urban areas needs to have their face slapped with a shoe.
I’ve been to all of the places mentioned in the posts. Jiufen is pretty nice. There are places in Dansui worth visiting.
Because I love history, architecture, and walking, the first thing I like to do in any city or town is explore it on foot, especially the older parts.
I don’t travel to drink. Of course there will be heavy drinking involved, but that is liked saying that I’ll be breathing, eating or sleeping.
Actually, most trips I take are to learn something (I’ll resist the word “research” as it isn’t that well-organized). Next week I’m going to the Endemic Species Center in ChiChi. And closer to home I’ll be going to Dongxi port in Chiayi County to find out what shark species they are landing.
When I first saw this thread, I wasn’t sure which of my reactions I would share. I have felt disappointed by my experiences in some Taiwan cities, but I have also encountered lots of wonderful sites, peoples, and events.
Almas John, you ask about cities where you could spend the night and find enough attractions to make the visit worthwhile. I guess ultimately that depends on what type of attractions you are interested in personally. I will, however, provide a list of cities/towns where a traveler could pass an enjoyable twenty-four hours. Granted, these are not places with nightlife that would rival Taipei or Tainan, but they do have more than a few pockets of interest.
Wulai, Taipei County
Shuanghsi, Taipei County
Upper Baleng, Taoyuan County
Beipu, Miaoli County (?)
Huashan, Taichung County (hotels in Lishan)
Luku, Nantou County
Dongpu, Nantou County
Shuili, Nantou County
Shanmei, Jiayi County
Liukuei, Kaohsiung County
Lanyu Island (not one traffic light, if I remember correctly)
Chengkung, Taidong County
Tayuling, Hualian County
Yuli, Hualian County
Kuangfu, Hualian County
Suao, Ilan County
Yes, ZhongTai temple is certainly worth a sidetrip if you find yourself in the Puli area. I like the approach; a winding rural road takes you through a small village, and then suddenly, the temple comes into view.
Just caught this thread and have a question. I was in Jiji a few weeks ago but did not see or hear of an endemic species centre. Where is it? And what is in it?
Oh, did you guys see the collapse temple in Jiji? The 2nd floor rests on the ground, the bottom being a victim of the 921 earthquake, and the locals have decided to leave it like that, as the temple is much more of a draw now than it ever was before.
[quote=“Mucha (Muzha) Man”]Just caught this thread and have a question. I was in Jiji a few weeks ago but did not see or hear of an endemic species centre. Where is it? And what is in it?
Oh, did you guys see the collapse temple in Jiji? The 2nd floor rests on the ground, the bottom being a victim of the 921 earthquake, and the locals have decided to leave it like that, as the temple is much more of a draw now than it ever was before.[/quote]That temple is amazing. I came to Taiwan well after the earthquake, but seeing that temple brings home the kind of destruction there was.
The endemic species centre is a nice natural history museum, focused on plant and animal species unique to Taiwan. It has some very interesting dioramas with model animals and trees; each diorama depicts the wildlife specific to a particular elevation/altitude. For anyone thinking of going there, allow around an hour to go round: certainly not more than an hour and a half, unless you want to sit for a while and contemplate the very large relief map of Taiwan (about 5 metres long: unfortunately no labels but you can amuse yourself trying to identify the mountains and areas that you know).
Sorry, I can’t give exact directions as both times I’ve been I was in someone else’s car. I would estimate it as a mile or two out of Jiji; maybe someone else can be of more help.
By the way, did you rent bicycles while you were there? That seems to be the thing to do. Any time I mention that town to a Taiwanese person, they very soon say ‘You have to rent bicycles in Jiji’. As Alishan is the place to see the sunrise, Jiji is the place to rent bicycles for the day. I’m afraid that both times I’ve been there, I went without, so I cannot comment on the Jiji bicycle experience.
I didn’t rent a bicycle in Jiji but in Ershui. In Ershui the bicycle route starts just left of the train staton and runs through farmland for about 9 km. It’s a much better route than the Jiji bike path which runs alongside the main road in town.
In Ershui you have the fields all around you and to the left the lush Sungpo ridge. It’s a perfect rural setting highlighted by pagodas, old red brick style villas, and the occasional merchant selling odd grass drinks. I spent two hours riding around and never even made it to the end of the trail as I kept going off on near deserted country roads (it was a weekday) to explore.
Riding the Ershui trail gives you a genuine feel for rural Taiwanese community whereas the Jiji path is pretty touristy. That said, if you ride straight away from the Jiji station you can get to some lovely treelined roads in Jiji. Of course there is also the famous “green tunnel” just a few kilometers out of town. Less well known is the area around the weir where you can ride along clean riverbanks and through the Zhoushui River valley.
There is also a mountain highway a few km from the train station that is not steep (at least in the early kilometers) and takes you into some pretty remote country. It is barely wide enough for one car to drive along and so just perfect for a bike. Later this year the Jiji bike path will be expanded to a 10 km or so loop. This may get you into more interesting country.
If you like hiking both Ershui and Jiji have good trails. On the aforementioned Songpao ridge is a hour hike up to Shoutian Temple, a sacred spot for the islands’ Taoist. The trail goes through the most pleasant, peaceful wood I have been to in Taiwan. Almas John, you would love this. The diversity of plant life is amazing. And the birds! In spots I could not hear anything else.
In Jiji, there is the trail up to Great Jiji mountain. It’s a 3-4 hour hike if you start from the highway, or 90 minutes or so if you drive up the farm road to the trailhead proper.
Joe, I found the endemic species centre on my tourist map of Jiji. Yes, it’s a few kilometres from the train station going west along #16. According to my map, Mingxin Academy is right beside it. Founded in 1885, the academy was a centre for Confucian studies and now is a museum of sorts with a library, antique furnishings, and numerous displays of cultural artefacts. Did you go here? Seems like there is a lot more to Jiji than I expected.
By the way, at the endemic species centre do the displays have English explanations?
I didn’t go there. Thanks for the tip. I’ll look out for it next time I’m down that way.
[quote=“Mucha (Muzha) Man”]By the way, at the endemic species centre do the displays have English explanations?[/quote]If I remember rightly, there isn’t too much English, so it would be best if a kindly person could explain some of the stuff to you. But you can still pick up quite a bit if not. The dioramas showing the wildlife at various altitudes give the altitudes in metres on the labels.
Much Man wrote: [quote]If you like hiking both Ershui and Jiji have good trails. On the aforementioned Songpao ridge is a hour hike up to Shoutian Temple, a sacred spot for the islands’ Taoist. The trail goes through the most pleasant, peaceful wood I have been to in Taiwan. Almas John, you would love this. The diversity of plant life is amazing. And the birds! In spots I could not hear anything else. [/quote]
Thanks Mucha Man,
It sounds great. I’ll have a look at these areas in the near future.
Joe and Mucha Man,
Regarding TESRI (Taiwan Endemic Species Research Center), I’ve only been around the nature walkway (which has no English signage) and in the offices talking to the researchers. I’ll be visiting TESRI a few times in Spring (and hopefully they’ll let me put in English signs/info) and I will get back to this thread with an update.