Is Taiwan worth visiting?
Taiwan is a great country with tasteful food, friendly people, enjoyable weather and beautiful nature. Is it the best country ever? No, it is not. Although it’s a great country we missed some impressive natural things which you find in other locations. Nevertheless, I can really recommend it, certainly for less experienced people.
Taiwan is not a big country and most convenient is to ride either clockwise or counter clockwise around the island. We selected to go clockwise and in the end we rode 1539 km in 2 weeks. We decided to return our rental car before spending our last days in Taipei.
Can you easily drive yourself?
The short answer is: Yes. The roads are in good condition, they ride on the right side of the road and most Taiwan people are disciplined drivers. There are a few specialities that we have noticed during our trip.
Firstly it’s important to realise that maximum speed is very limited and that outside the Taipei region you should count for an average speed of 45 to 50 km per hour. Yes, covering 100 km will easily take you 2 hours. At one side this is due to the low speed limit, but also due to the hundreds of traffic lights you will come across. Someting I noticed was that the Taiwan people accelerate really really really slow at traffic lights. A convenient thing is that they have “pre traffic lights” at crucial points. It can be when you’ll need to reduce speed or when there’s a traffic light behind the corner, the pre-traffic light will inform you there is an upcoming traffic light and it shows already the current color. It was a little confusing in the beginning which made I was stopping at the wrong location.
Most major traffic signs are in both Chinese and English, but it means also plenty of them are not translated into English. With Google Maps navigation we managed to get everywhere we wanted, and only had a few awkward moments like when we ended up on a weighbridge for trucks where the people quicky informed us to just move on.
Some final tips:
- As we spent quite some hours in our rental car during our trip, we downloaded our favorite Spotify lists up front, so we could listen at them without using roaming data.
- We rented our car at Avis to make sure we had a trustworthy company. We rented a lower car class as we always get a car upgrade due to our American Express membership.
- There are plenty of speed cameras so make sure you obey to the speedlimit.
Yehliu is a cape on the north coast of Taiwan. It’s known for Yehliu Geopark, a landscape of honeycomb and mushroom rocks eroded by the sea. Well-known formations named for their shapes include the Queen’s Head and Dragon’s Head. This park is a must visit and you would probably want to spend up to 1 hour or 1 hour 30 minutes. We took the time to go at the far most point, but if you are short of time you can easily skip this part of the hike.
Taroko National Park
This is really one of the highlights of Taiwan and you might want to spend more than 1 day in this National Park. The most impressive is the tunnel of the 9 turns where you can admire the marvelous gorge.
Yushan National Park
Kenting National Park
In my opinion there are 2 tourist traps in Taiwan. First is Sun Moon Lake and secondly there is Rainbow village.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
A powerful building with a statue of Chiang Kai-shek flanked by armed soldiers. Between 9 am and 5 pm you can watch the hourly change of the guards. Its impressive and worth to attend. Make sure to arrive a little before the hour to get a good spot.
Ximending is a neighborhood and shopping district in the Wanhua District and is a Pedestrian Area for shopping. The screens near the metro station have some resemblance with Times Square and Piccadilly Circus. The place gets extremely busy certainly in the weekend. There are often artists or music groups performing on the street hoping to become the next big thing.
A famous hike is the Elephant Mountain trail which will take you 30 to 45 minutes. The trail exists out of hundreds of steps. In the weekend and towards sunset it get very busy. You will be rewarded with marvelous views over the skyline of Taipei.