Tourism in Taiwan

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Northern Taiwan

I lived in Taipei for twenty years. Despite its heavy traffic and pollution, Taipei is still a lovely city. Taipei has so many faces. You can go to see a marvelous concert and drama in the National Concert Hall and National Theater. You can spend a whole day at the National Palace Museum, the world's largest collection of Chinese art treasures. It represents over five millions of Chinese culture.

Taipei never sleeps. It is glamorous at night and provides pleasure seekers various choices. The entertainment choices include a great dinner, shopping, night markets, tea houses, movie theaters, KTV and MTV.

MTV is a place where one can rent and view recorded movies in privacy and comfort. KTV is patterned after the Japanese Karaoke bars. It offers rooms with TV screens, music videotapes, stereo gear, and microphones. Singing-lovers can spend all night singing at KTV.
You can always bargain and buy something with a little money at the night markets. You can also enjoy many kinds of delicious snacks.

Snake Alley is a well-known night market in Taiwan. You can see skilled snake handlers playing with real snakes there. You can also order snake soup and bile for a inexpensive fee. Chinese people think snake meat acts as an aphrodisiac.

Snake Alley is also known for prostitution. Legal brothels were locate on some streets close to Snake Alley. Now, prostitution is not legal in Taiwan.

Central Taiwan

Central Taiwan displays a wide range of the island's beauty -- mountains, rivers, forests and cities. Taichung, which means "central Taiwan," is the third largest city in Taiwan. Taichung itself is not an attractive tour site, but it is a major jumping--off point into the nearby mountainous area.

The Central Cross-Island Highway is one of Asia's most beautiful mountain roads. It runs from outside Taichung through Taroko National Park to the east coast. The route offers visitors with cloud-filled valleys, mist-shrouded peaks, starry skies, beautiful sunrises, delightful forest walks, and hot springs.

Mt. Jade is Northeast Asia's highest peak. It got its name because it looks like a piece of white jade when covered with snow. Yushan National Park is Taiwan's largest national park among its five.

Southern Taiwan

Tainan, a southern Taiwan city, is the island's oldest. It is filled with gates, memorial arches, remnants of forts, and temples from up to 300 years ago. It was Taiwan's capital from 1663-1885. The Dutch set up their capital and military headquarters in Tainan in 1624. Cheng Chengkung, a Ming Dynasty loyalist, fled to Taiwan to escape Ch'ing's army in 1661. Cheng expelled the Dutch from Tainan in 1661. He maintained his Ming loyalty in Taiwan, with his headquarters in Tainan until 1682.

There are more than 200 temples in Tainan, including the largest temple in East Asia. Today, Tainan is the forth largest city in Taiwan.

Kaohsiung is the second largest city after Taipei. About two hours from Kaohsiung is Kenting National Park, Taiwan's first establisyed national park. The park offers shorelines with interesting coral and rock formations, and Taiwan's best beaches. With white sand beaches, tropical forests, and warm weather in the winter, Kenting is always packed with tourists.

Eastern Taiwan

Located at the eastern end of the Central Cross-Island Highway is the largest city on the east coast, Hualien, known for performances by the aborigines. An annual aborigine harvest festival, possibly the largest regular aborigine gathering, is held there in late August or early September.

The eastern side of Taiwan has one of the most beautiful attractions in Taiwan -- Taroko Gorge. This fantastic canyon, with a rushing river surrounded by sheer cliffs, is regarded as Taiwan's top scenic tourism spot. The highway running throughout the gorge is carved from the sheer cliffs at a cost of more than $10 million, and hundreds of lives. Huge mineral deposits were discovered during construction of the road. Certain interests proposed to mine it. After much debate, the government decided to preserve this area and design a national park there.

Despite pressure to industrialize and develop the eastern area, the local government thinks keeping the natural beauty is more important than modernization.