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  • Where to go in Taiwan | Rough Guides
    at Beitou and the volcanic peaks of Yangmingshan National Park The storm battered North Coast and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area is a short ride away as is the wonderful night market in Keelung the intriguing Pingxi Branch Line Railway and picturesque Shifen Falls Nearby the old mining towns of Jinguashi and Jiufen are deservedly popular for their historic streets and teahouses while the Northeast Yilan Coast National Scenic Area contains some of the most rugged coastline on the island Southwest of Taipei Hsinchu makes an excellent base for trips to Hakka country the primary home of Taiwan s small but influential Hakka minority while Shei Pa National Park provides an opportunity to tackle some of Taiwan s largest and most memorable peaks Nearby Taian Hot Springs is perhaps the island s most alluring hot spring resort Central Taiwan is home to some spectacular scenery though it pays to spend a couple of days in vibrant Taichung renowned for its teahouses and lively nightlife Not far from the city Changhua is noted principally for its Great Buddha Statue and atmospheric Lugang is celebrated for its craftsmen and classical architecture East of Taichung picture perfect Sun Moon Lake makes a fitting introduction to Taiwan s mighty central ranges a place for languid lakeside walks and gorgeous views Just outside Puli to the north of the lake Chung Tai Chan Monastery is a man made wonder a remarkable blend of modern architecture and Zen Buddhism Heading south Chiayi provides a staging post for the cool valleys and Tsou villages of the Alishan National Scenic Area Beyond this lies Yushan National Park and the scintillating hike up Taiwan s highest mountain commanding awe inspiring cloud capped vistas South Taiwan is the most traditional part of the island with Tainan making the obvious introduction to the region a modern city crammed with historic sights particularly temples complemented by superb food Kaohsiung is Taiwan s second city and an earthy counterweight to Taipei its smattering of sights enhanced by a growing number of parks outdoor cafés and bars Nearby is the elegant monastery at Foguangshan while the dramatic Southern Cross Island Highway heads east across the mountains to Taitung slicing through the northern end of Maolin National Scenic Area rich in Paiwan and Rukai culture The southern tip of Taiwan is dominated by Kenting National Park with its popular beaches and surf spots The east coast is a world apart isolated from the rest of Taiwan until very recently and still home to the greatest concentration of its indigenous tribes Most visitors make for Taroko National Park with spectacular Taroko Gorge at its heart in parts an incredibly narrow gap between lofty walls of stone Hualien is the largest settlement on the east coast and makes the ideal gateway to Taroko with plenty of opportunities to buy its famous marble tasty dumplings and sweet filled rice cakes From here there are two routes south the East Rift Valley is noted for its hot springs and rafting

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/taiwan/where-to-go/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Best Time To Visit Taiwan | Rough Guides
    Rough Guide to Bali Lombok View Guide The Rough Guide to Nepal View Guide Kyoto and Nara Rough Guides Snapshot Japan View Guide The Rough Guide to Malaysia Singapore Brunei View Guide Rough Guides Snapshot Malaysia Kuala Lumpur View Guide The Rough Guide to China View Guide The Rough Guide to Seoul View Guide Tibet Rough Guides Snapshot China View Guide The Yellow River Rough Guides Snapshot China View Guide Taiwan When to go Taiwan has a subtropical monsoon climate with wet humid summers and short relatively mild winters though it often snows on the highest peaks affecting the best time to visit The north tends to be several degrees colder and a lot wetter than the tropical south The northeast monsoon lasts about six months from October to late March and brings wet weather to Keelung and the northeast side of the island while central and southern regions stay relatively dry The southwest monsoon starts in May and ends in late September primarily affecting the south The latter part of this monsoon season is associated with typhoons that batter the east coast and central mountain range with an average of two to three direct hits a year That s not the end of the rain however the annual plum rain season can bring two months of rain any time between early spring and early summer affecting the whole island In winter the average monthly temperature ranges from 15 to 20 C across the island while mid 30s are common in the summer Temperatures in the high mountains can be substantially lower than on the plains In general autumn and winter are the best times to visit Taiwan though early summer May to July can also be pleasant at higher elevations and in the north and the high temperatures in

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/taiwan/when-to-go/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Getting there | About Taiwan | Rough Guides
    nonstop flights also operate between Taiwan and mainland Chinese cities such as Beijing Shanghai and Guangzhou From the UK and Ireland There has long been a dearth of direct air connections between the UK and Taiwan and the same is true when flying from Ireland or continental Europe Almost all travellers coming from Europe will need to make at least one stop with the closest and most convenient being Hong Kong followed by Bangkok At the time of writing the only airline with nonstop flights from London to Taipei was China Airlines which flies three days a week 14hr for about 800 900 return in peak season they also fly to Taipei nonstop from Vienna and Frankfurt EVA Air flies to Taipei from London via Bangkok for about the same price From Ireland you ll save a heap of cash by taking a budget airline to London and connecting with one of the flights mentioned above From the US and Canada There are several daily flights to Taiwan from North American cities on both the east and west coasts From the US direct flights leave from Los Angeles New York Seattle and San Francisco with the average return fare around US 900 1200 depending on the time of year Most nonstop flights from Canada operate out of Vancouver but EVA Air also flies from Toronto three times a week from Can 1400 From Australia New Zealand and South Africa Almost all flights between Australia and Taiwan have a stopover somewhere else in Asia with Hong Kong the best connected Some of the cheapest fares to Hong Kong from Sydney are with Cathay Pacific while the only nonstop flight between Sydney and Taipei 9hr is with China Airlines 5 weekly for about Aus 1400 return China Airlines also flies nonstop from

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/taiwan/getting/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Getting around | About Taiwan | Rough Guides
    you intend to travel a lot this can be a good deal though the catch is that the pass is only valid on non reserved seats on fùxīng or commuter trains not zìqiáng or High Speed Rail Anyone can buy the Island Round Rail Pass for NT 1706 which offers up to fifteen percent discount on full zìqiáng fares the pass comprises seven portions valid on all trains for fifteen days after first use starting within sixty days of purchase High Speed Rail Taiwan s superb High Speed Rail 台灣高鐵 táiwān gāotiě w www thsrc com tw features a bullet train that has cut the travelling times between Taipei and Kaohsiung by two thirds The train one of the world s fastest stops at eight stations along a 345 kilometre track travelling at an average speed of about 300kmph Note however that apart from Taipei most of the specially built stations are well outside city centres and mean an additional shuttle leg for travellers looking to stay in the heart of major cities The first eight High Speed Rail stations are Taipei Banqiao Taoyuan Hsinchu Taichung Chiayi Tainan and Zuoying Kaohsiung Four more stations will be added by 2015 Nangang Miaoli Changhua and Yunlin while Kaohsiung will get it s own station sometime after that By bus Buses are generally cheaper than trains and with the exception of the High Speed Rail can be much faster provided you travel when traffic is light and there are no road accidents In addition the best bus companies have extremely comfortable air conditioned coaches with big cosy armchair style seats movies and an on board toilet Bear in mind that the air conditioning is never turned off so it can get quite chilly on board However buses in rural areas are being dropped each year as more Taiwanese tourists take to the roads in their own cars or book guided package tours For independent travellers this makes already hard to reach mountain areas even more difficult to get to without your own transport In most cities the main bus companies have ticket offices clustered around the train station and their buses usually stop right outside the office Be sure to save your ticket as you are often required to return it to the driver before you are allowed off if you lose it you might be asked to pay for another ticket By car In more remote areas such as the cross island highway routes and segments of the east coast hiring a car can be the most convenient way to get around However driving in major cities can be extremely stressful and dangerous for inexperienced drivers though anyone used to driving in big European and North American cities should find it manageable Taiwanese drive on the right hand side of the road and the highway speed limit is 110kmph On other roads speed limits generally range from 50 to 70kmph and police speed traps are common Foreign tourists renting a car in

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/taiwan/getting-around/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Accommodation | About Taiwan | Rough Guides
    attached bathroom with shower TV and phone Mid range hotels usually cost NT 1000 3000 and standards generally vary in accordance with price At the lower end rooms are likely to resemble cleaner versions of budget hotels often with the only difference being that they offer packets of tea and coffee in addition to cable TV At the higher end rooms can be quite clean and comfortable with big bathtubs and or shower cubicles and breakfast is often included in the price You re also more likely to encounter staff who can speak English All of the biggest cities but especially Taipei have international five star hotels that feature giant beds with fine linen high speed internet connections in the rooms business centres fitness rooms spa and massage services and luxury restaurants Though discounts are sometimes offered these hotels generally charge a minimum of NT 4000 for a standard room and prices are often twice that Staff usually speak English Hot spring hotels Hot spring hotels are all the rage in Taiwan but standards vary wildly according to location Those in resorts close to big cities can be expensive often charging at least NT 6000 for rooms with en suite jacuzzis while those further afield can offer the same amenities for less than half of that price Almost all offer public pools which are free to paying guests and can be used by non guests for what is usually a nominal fee Many hot spring hotels also rent rooms for shorter periods for those wishing to bathe in private without paying for overnight accommodation Note that the quality of the spring water varies between resorts and even between hotels at the same resort In general the older looking hotels tend to be disappointing often only having small bathtubs into which the spring water is piped through the tap Meanwhile newer and considerably more expensive hotels have been designed with a keener eye for aesthetics with larger tubs made of marble or with Japanese style wooden designs Homestays So called homestays mínsù have sprouted up all over Taiwan particularly in rural scenic areas where families have set up bed and breakfast style businesses to take advantage of mounting tourist numbers However the nature of these homestays varies dramatically and many are nothing more than tiny family run hotels plus prices tend to be on a par with mid range to expensive hotels Rooms are usually in wings that adjoin the owners houses and breakfast though provided is typically not eaten with the family However places advertising themselves as homestays are nearly always clean and friendly as well as exuding more character than most hotels Although many aren t directly accessible by public transport most offer pick up services from the nearest train or bus station if you ring them in advance Hostels These days hostels are just about the only accommodation in Taiwan that could accurately be described as budget Dormitories can offer beds for as little as NT 350 per

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/taiwan/accommodation/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Food and drink | About Taiwan | Rough Guides
    huángyú and drunken chicken zuìjī Cuisine based on Zhejiang and Jiangsu specialities including Huangzhou food which also features delicately flavoured freshwater fish is fairly easy to find Southern cuisine is best epitomized by Cantonese food a global favourite with colourful and varied ingredients but fewer spices than other schools Often associated with lavish banquet food such as shark s fin soup dim sum diǎnxīn and the ubiquitous roast meat stalls provide a more affordable option Fujianese food is closely related to Taiwanese Buddha Jumps over the Wall is probably its most lauded and expensive dish a rich stew of rare seafood and meats but the most authentic seafood dishes are found on Matsu and Kinmen Sichuanese food is part of the Western school the spiciest of all Chinese cuisines with fiery chilli and black peppercorns added to dishes such as mápó dòufù a spicy meat and tofu stew and chicken with peanuts gōnğbǎo jīdīng Two Taiwanese obsessions are derivatives of Sichuan dishes beef noodles niúròu miàn and hotpot huǒguō The latter has blossomed into a major obsession on the island with Japanese Cantonese Mongolian and spicy hotpot variations the main difference is the sauces and stock used to flavour the water Once you ve chosen the sauce you select your raw ingredients and boil them in a gas fired cauldron Hunan food as spicy as Sichuan food but more oily and featuring dishes such as honey ham and minced pork is not so common and found primarily in the capital Japanese food Japanese food is extremely common in Taiwan ranging from traditional highly expensive restaurants in hotels to cheap local derivatives with a decidedly Taiwanese flavour you ll also see plenty of Japanese snacks such as onigiri sticky rice wrapped in seaweed in local convenience stores Japanese food traditionally revolved around rice but today is associated with richer fare usually involving seafood the best known is sashimi or raw fish typically served on rice to create sushi which in Taiwan can be very affordable and also sold in most supermarkets Numerous restaurants specialize in shabu shabu hotpot curry rice ramen soba or udon noodles yakitori chicken kebabs tempura battered and deep fried seafood and vegetables and teppanyaki stir fried meat and vegetables Western and other international food The choice of Western food especially in the big cities continues to improve in Taiwan but quality varies and many restaurants produce highly localized versions of the original cuisine Bars and pubs often serve decent staples such as burgers sandwiches and basic Tex Mex favourites while hotels offer more upmarket options In cities like Taipei and Taichung the choice of French Italian and American style food isn t bad with plenty of expat chefs and talented locals opening restaurants all the time prices tend to be higher than local food however Korean food is gaining popularity on the island and tends to be a lot more authentic than southeast Asian cuisine such as Thai which is usually adapted to local tastes and blander than what you d get in Bangkok South Asian and Indian food buoyed primarily by a small but growing Pakistani and Bangladeshi expat population is becoming more available in Taiwan while major fast food chains such as Burger King Domino s Pizza KFC McDonald s and Pizza Hut can be found all over the country Where to eat Night markets yèshì are the best places to sample local food at budget prices They are typically NT 20 40 per dish They are usually located along streets lined with both permanent shops and temporary stalls though in cities such as Taipei and Tainan a few markets have specially built premises Some stalls open for lunch but in general things only really get going after 5pm and start to wind down after 11pm though many stay open till the early hours especially at weekends Language is not a problem just point and get stuck in The crowds can be suffocating at the weekends but that s all part of the experience and probably the reason why most night markets also feature foot massage centres Cheap local diners and buffets zìzhù cān offer similar fare the latter an especially good idea if you want to avoid having to order in Chinese Hygiene standards are better than they seem at these places and it s generally safe to drink water or tea served for free on your arrival which will have been boiled or purified If you fancy a stronger tipple with your food beerhouses píjiŭ wū are atmospheric locations to try Taiwanese snacks such as squid steamed peanuts with small fish fried oysters fresh clams and fried prawns Teahouses also serve delicious food Restaurants Restaurants in Taiwan as in China tend to be set up for groups diners sit at large round tables in order to share the sizeable plates of food on the menu It s quite acceptable to dine alone anywhere on the island but with more people you ll be able to try more dishes All the major hotels operate expensive but top notch restaurants their lavish buffets the best value if you want to splurge Restaurants get going early in Taiwan opening for lunch well before midday Most close in the afternoons and open again at 5pm for dinner only a handful of places do a brisk trade later in the evenings though most will stay open till 10pm Prices vary according to the quality of the establishment but it s rare to pay less than NT 120 per dish or NT 400 at smarter places Ordering can be difficult if there s no English menu or English speaking staff but unless it s exceptionally busy someone will usually be able to help Often there will be an English menu somewhere on the premises if you ask for one and at street stalls pointing is usually sufficient Chopsticks are de rigueur in all Chinese style restaurants but larger places will have knives forks and definitely spoons if you ask

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/taiwan/food-drink/ (2016-02-16)
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  • The media | About Taiwan | Rough Guides
    unheard of in Asia s other Chinese societies Since the end of martial law in 1987 when the ban on independent newspapers was lifted there has been a rapid proliferation of print news and entertainment media with plenty of feisty political debate and steamy celebrity gossip You ll need to read or speak Chinese to make the most of this however Otherwise you ll have to rely on a handful of English language newspapers magazines and websites for news and information Newspapers For English language news on Taiwan and the rest of the world there are three daily newspapers all of which have online editions the China Post w www chinapost com tw the Taipei Times w www taipeitimes com and Taiwan News w www etaiwannews com The writing and editing standards of these papers are fairly high and some of the domestic coverage can be quite incisive however international news is largely restricted to wire copy All three have weekend entertainment listings and can be bought at bookshops convenience stores kiosks and business class hotels For more in depth international news and business coverage newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal Asia the Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune can be found in five star hotels and some news kiosks in Taipei Radio and television There are more than 150 radio broadcasting companies in Taiwan with regular domestic programming by medium wave AM and VHF FM stations in Mandarin and other Chinese dialects chiefly Taiwanese and Hakka The only English language radio station International Community Radio Taipei ICRT w www icrt com tw broadcasts 24 hours a day at 100 7 MHz FM in northern and southern Taiwan and 100 1 MHz FM in central Taiwan Its broadcasts include a mix of Western pop music news headlines talk

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/taiwan/media/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Festivals and public holidays | About Taiwan | Rough Guides
    Heaven s Birthday Lunar March 3 Pays respect to the controller of the elements particularly fire Worshipped at some four hundred temples throughout Taiwan April Tomb Sweeping Day qīngmíng April 5 P Families visit cemeteries to clean graves of relatives and pay respects to their ancestors In Taiwan it s celebrated on the anniversary of Chiang Kai shek s death Grave cakes are offered and paper money is burnt Baosheng Dadi s Birthday Lunar March 15 Marks the birthday of Baosheng Dadi the Great Emperor who Preserves Life Biggest celebration is held in Xuejia north of Tainan April May Bunun Ear shooting Festival Most important celebration of the Bunun tribe traditionally a test of archery skills to mark the coming of age of the tribe s males Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage This eight day seven night pilgrimage comprises one of the world s biggest religious festivals with worshippers parading a caravan containing one of the island s most revered Mazu deities around a circuit before returning it to its mother temple in Dajia Always preceding Mazu s birthday celebration the pilgrimage is part of the month long Dajia Mazu Culture Festival Mazu s Birthday Lunar March 23 One of Taiwan s most important folk festivals celebrating the birthday of Mazu goddess of the sea the island s most popular folk deity Mazu deities are returned to their mother temples on this day to be blessed and increase their spiritual powers The liveliest celebrations are held at Dajia s Zhenlan Temple Beigang s Chaotian Temple and Lugang s Tianhou Temple May Labour Day May 1 P Celebrates workers rights and the eight hour workday in line with international convention May June Cleansing Buddha Festival Lunar April 8 Celebrates the birth of Buddha in accordance with the Mahayana school Worshippers flock to Buddhist temples island wide with monasteries such as Chung Tai Chan Foguangshan and Dharma Drum hosting legions of devotees Tainan City God Birthday Lunar April 20 Main festivities are held at the venerated Tainan City God Temple Dragon Boat Festival duānwŭ jié Lunar May 5 P One of the three major Chinese holidays featuring dragon boat races held in honour of the poet Qu Yuan who according to legend drowned himself in protest after being slandered by envious officials on this date in 280 BC Races are held in most major cities with waterways including international races in Taipei Lugang and Keelung but the most distinctly Taiwanese are the aboriginal style races held in Erlong near the east coast hot springs resort of Jiaoxi June Taipei City God Birthday Lunar May 13 Includes fireworks elaborate dances by temple guardians and a lavish parade in which the deity is carried around the streets surrounding Taipei s City God Temple July August Guan Di s Birthday Lunar June 24 Honours one of Taiwan s most admired deities the red faced patron of chivalrous warriors misleadingly known as the god of war Ceremonies held island wide but Taipei s Xingtian Temple hosts the biggest

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/asia/taiwan/festivals-public-holidays/ (2016-02-16)
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