Two weeks ago I took my third international trip this year to the lovely island of Taiwan. Before moving to Asia, Taiwan was never really on my radar in terms of must-see places or potential vacation spots; however, after hearing a myriad of great reviews I decided to give it a go. To my happiness, I was not at all disappointed - Taiwan has culture, class, friendly people, modern amenities, and an abundance of mouthwatering food. More affordable than Osaka or Kyoto, and (much) classier than Phuket, I would absolutely recommend Taiwan for anyone looking to take a trip in Eastern Asia.
Here's the breakdown...
5 out of 5
We flew into the southern coast city of Kaohsiung, so I cannot speak for the airport in Taipei, but my experience arriving and departing in Kaohsiung was very pleasant. On our departure we were literally the only people in the customs and security line.. talk about personalized service! Additionally, the main subway line in Kaohsiung has an airport stop, so getting to and from the airport is convenient and extremely easy to do - no muss, no fuss, and best of all, no traffic.
In terms of getting around inside the country we relied predominantly on trains, but did take a few buses. Both options were clean, comfortable, cost effective, and for the most part on-time (within a few minutes of stated arrival/departure times). There are several varieties of trains ranging from the super-fast bullet, to the all-stop local, and all train tickets could be purchased either at the desk, or an automated kiosk. Literally no complaints about Taiwanese public transportation.
6 out of 5
I know 6 out of 5 shouldn't be possible... but in this case, it is! The food was cheap, plentiful, and so freaking delicious! Taiwan is bastion for international influences and unique flavors; as such, the cuisine is unlike anything I've tried elsewhere. We devoured piping hot black pepper buns, fresh squid sauteed in tangy soya, sweet sausage wrapped in a sticky rice bun, succulent beef noodle soup, tender pork dumplings filled with savory broth, and of course fresh bubble milk tea. My mouth is actually watering as I write. I would consider living in Taiwan just so I could eat that food - it was that good.
My suggestion would be to ditch the "Western" areas and make like a mad person to the local night markets. Every major city has one or two, and your hostel or hotel owner will know which direction to send you.
3.5 out of 5
Unlike Korea, Taiwan does not have a huge drinking culture, and unlike Thailand, it is not world renowned as a 'let's-get-stupid-and-make-bad-decisions hot spot', so if that's what you're looking for, I would keep that in mind. "The Party" definitely can be found, but you need to be looking in the right places. We did find one or two good bars in every city we stopped in, and there were several dance clubs in Taipei; however, the casual drinking scene was pretty much nil. This being said 7-11 and Family Mart has a decent selection of beer and other spirits, and I actually saw three stores with an amazing selection of craft beer. Seeing as craft beer is pretty much non-existent in Korea, this was quite a happy find.
Overall, the best city for partying was definitely Taipei, which makes sense since it is the capital. If you're looking to party on the cheap I would suggest buying a bottle of the local hooch - it's 50% alcohol, costs under $3 USD, and when paired with 'CC Lemon' is actually tastes pretty good. Smells terrible, but tastes good... a dangerous combination.
4.5 out of 5
Though all of Taiwan is undeniably beautiful with lush greenery, serene countryside, and unique architecture, in terms of beautiful views, my favorite city was Kenting. Located on the southernmost tip of Taiwan, the beaches of Kenting were breathtaking: crystal clear, stunningly blue water, soft white sand, and plenty do (surfing, jetskiing, boating). For two days we frolicked in the ocean, sipped mojitos, and lazed around on the beach - it was a little slice of paradise. An added bonus? The beaches were not overrun with tourists and various money making schemes (Phuket I'm looking at you), so we were able to lay out in the sun and enjoy ourselves in relative peace.
There are several beaches peppering the South coast, but my favorite was called Baisha, so make sure to look that up. Also, if you do head to Kenting, I would definitely rent a scooter! The cost for the entire day is a little under $10 USD, they make travelling between the beaches so much easier, and they are ridiculously fun. But don't forget to put sunscreen on before you ride around!
4.8 out of 5
Overall, my experience in Taiwan was fantastic. The people were friendly, the food was amazing, and I even caught myself thinking 'I could live here'. There was a bit of sly "let's take a picture of the foreigners and hope they don't notice" going on, and I did not get an overwhelming feeling of love (like the one I got on my visit to Japan) - so that's why no 5 stars. This being said, I had a great time and would highly recommend making the trip if you can.
Taiwan is affordable, unique, beautiful, classy, and delicious!
So, when planning your next excursion, definitely give it some consideration.
For more Taiwan views, check out my photo essay, going live this Friday. If you enjoyed this post, please 'like' or 'share' with friends OR click the buttons on the top right-hand to find me on Facebook, IG (abeautifulview0), or Twitter @beautifulview0
Enjoy the beautiful view!