Must See Taiwan

Blog posts from must-see destinations all over Taiwan.

The Four Beast Mountains – Yongchun

My series of blog posts on hiking The Four Beast Mountains has become one of my most popular series since I’ve started blogging.  Now that spring is back upon us, I’ve noticed that those posts are getting more and more hits.  I can only guess that everyone is looking to get get some exercise!

So here’s a new post.  It’s going to be mostly just pictures, but they are all from an area that I glossed over in the last three posts.

The general Yongchun area consists of two high schools, a small military base, several temples, and a few apartment building neighborhoods.  The entire basin of this area (roughly 600m x 100m) was a shallow lake just a hundred years ago or so.

Promise King

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Longshan Temple 龍山寺

Longshan Temple 龍山寺 (aka Lungshan and Mengjia 艋舺龍山寺) is the oldest and most well-known temple in all of Taiwan.  What’s truly wonderful about it, is that despite being a major tourist destination, Longshan Temple retains it’s charm and genuineness by remaining a place of daily worship.  The area around Longshan can be quite interesting as well, and features traditional markets, calligraphers, traditional medicine shops, fortune tellers, and a place called Snake Alley.  All these reasons and more are why Longshan Temple is on my list of must see places in Taipei.

Crowded on Chinese New Year

Throngs of Buddhists and Daoists pack Longshan Temple in Taipei on Chinese Lunar New Year 2007.

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Yehliu GeoPark and Other Coastal Geology

Yehliu GeoPark (野柳地質公園) is a popular stop on the Taiwan tourist circuit.  It’s an interesting set of geological formations found in a small park about 20 minutes north of Keelung, Taiwan.  Truth be told, the entire length of eastern Taiwan is an interesting set of geological formations, but here you can find them all in one small area with a coffee and souvenir shop.  If you’re only in Taiwan for a short time, or don’t have any transportation of your own, this it the place to go to be awed by Mother Nature’s artistic side.

Yehliu Taiwan

An overview of the most popular area of Yehliu GeoPark.

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Must See Taiwan – Shiding and Shenkeng

Shiding (石碇) and Shenkeng (深坑) are two small towns found just to the east of Taipei, Taiwan.  They’re both withing 3o minutes of Taipei’s  convenient MRT system and together, they make for a great day trip out of the city.

Shiding (石碇)

Shiding is a simple mountain village located at the convergence of two small mountain streams.  It’s got an old-time Taiwan feel to it, and in fact has many stores that are over a century old.  It also has two very clean, fish-filled streams that come from virgin forests high above, in the nearby mountains.

Tree roots overgrowing an old doorway in Taiwan

Doorways don't get much cooler than this.

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Must See Taiwan – Jiufen 九份

JiuFen (Jeoufen), Taiwan (台灣九份) is a popular destination about an hour east of Taipei.  It’s popular with tourists and locals alike, but has a certain charm to it that can’t be missed.

I recently visited Jiufen for an evening and had a great time wandering around.  I wasn’t planning on writing a full blog post about it, but I left with some fun photos that I thought I might share…

Jeoufen Taiwan Old Street at Night

Jioufen Old Street, as seen at night after the tourists have left.

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Must See Taipei – The Jade and Flower Markets (建國假日玉花市)

The Taipei Jianguo Jade and Flower Markets (建國假日玉花市) are a must-see for anyone in Taiwan.  Located next to each other on Jianguo South Road, the two markets stretch for nearly a kilometer (1/2 a mile) under the elevated highway.  They are only open on weekends and can make for a wonderful escape from Taipei’s often dreary rain.  But even on a sunny day, the Jade and Flower Markets (along with the adjacent Daan Forest Park) make for a nice afternoon walk for tourists and locals alike.

a giant lily blossom for sale at the Taipei Jianguo Flower Market

A big, beautiful lily for sale at the Taipei Flower Market.

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Hiking the Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山) – Elephant Mountain (象山)

Elephant Mountain (象山) is the most famous of the “Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山)” of Taipei, Taiwan and the most easily accessible.  It’s the third and last article in my series about hiking the Four Beasts MountainsPart one is on 9-5 Peak (Jiuwufeng – 九五峯), and part two is on Tiger Mountain (虎山).

Elephant Mountain is the most popular of the mountains for a good reason.  Being the closest to the city not only means easy access, but it means stunning views of Taipei, especially Taipei 101.

Taipei City and Taipei 101 as seen from Elephant Mountain

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Hiking the Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山) – Tiger Mountain (虎山)

Tiger Mountain(虎山) is the second subject of three in this series of articles on hiking Taipei, Taiwan’s Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山).

Tiger Mountain is the most northern of the Four Beasts Mountains and the easiest to get to.  It’s not the easiest to find (that would be Elephant Mountain) but if you have transportation, it’s an easy walk along a well kept, level trail.

All along the trail are stunning views of Taipei 101, Taipei City, and Nangang.

Taiwans Tower of Babel   Viewed from Tiger Mountain.

"Taiwan's Tower of Babel" Viewed from Tiger Mountain.

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Hiking the Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山) – 9-5 Peak (九五峯)

One of my all time favorite hikes/photography locations in Taiwan is The Four Beast Mountains (四獸山) area.  Located within Taipei City limits, these trails are an easy escape from busy city life and have amazing panoramic views of Taipei City and Taipei 101.

The trail system includes Tiger (虎山), Elephant (象山), Leopard (豹山) and Lion (獅山) Mountains and is very easily reached from the Taipei MRT system.  In fact, the base of Taipei 101 is only a 15 minute walk from the Elephant Mountain trail head.

If that’s not enough, many of the trails are lighted, 24 hours a day!

The view of Taipei from 9-5 Peak is unrivaled.

The view of Taipei from 9-5 Peak is unrivaled.

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Keelung, Taiwan 台灣基隆市

Keelung, Taiwan 台灣基隆 is an interesting port city about 30 km east of Taipei.  I had the chance to visit it while on assignment for a magazine and though I’d share some of the highlights.

Even though it’s nicknamed the rainy port (雨港) and I’ve heard that it’s the second rainiest city in the world, I had an absolutely beautiful day there.

The very crowded Miaokou Night Market (廟口夜市) is full of local favorites.

The very crowded Miaokou Night Market (廟口夜市) is full of local favorites.

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Kaohsiung, Taiwan 台灣高雄

My last travel photography post on Lotus Lake in Kaohsiung, Taiwan 台灣高雄 got a lot of hits, so I thought I’d share some more.  These are from a weekend I spent in the southern Taiwanese city shooting for Cathay Pacific/Dragon Air’s in-flight magazine “Silkroad” last Spring.

I had a long list of places to visit including Liuhu Night Market (六合夜市), Central Park and the new KMRT subway system, Urban Spotlight (城市光廊), Love River (愛河), The Matsu (媽祖) Temple and some other attractions on Cijin Island (旗津區).

I have a great time every time I go down there and often try to convince myself to move there for good.  It’s definitely an up-and-coming city whose image and economy should be boosted by this summer’s World Games.

Cijin Island (旗津區) is a very nice beach area that is actually a barrier island to the very busy Port of Kaohsiung.  You can take the ferry (旗津渡輪) for about 33 US cents or drive through a tunnel at the south end.  On the Island, you’ll find a nice beach, a night market renowned for its fresh seafood, and an interesting Matsu Temple.

Matsu Temple is located in the middle of the night market on Cijin Island.

Matsu Temple is located in the middle of the night market on Cijin Island.

Matsu Temple is located in the middle of the night market on Cijin Island.

Matsu Temple is located in the middle of the night market on Cijin Island.

More on travel photography from Kaohsiung, Taiwan after the jump…

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Lotus Lake, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Lotus Lake is a beautiful area to explore in Kaohsiung City, southern Taiwan (台灣高雄蓮池潭).  I had an opportunity to spend the afternoon there just before Chinese New Year, 2009.

The lake is man made and a popular tourist destination.  It has many temples and pagodas, including the Spring and Autumn Pavilions (春秋閣), the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas (龍虎塔), and the Confucian Temple (孔廟).  It can be walked around in half a day while still seeing all the sights.

I was unable to find much information on most attractions around the lake, but I’ve provided what I know.

The zigzaging entrance way to the Dragon Tiger Towers in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

The zigzaging entrance way to the Dragon Tiger Towers in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

More from Lotus Lake, Kaohsiung after the jump…

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Tainan, Taiwan 台南台灣

Tainan, Taiwan (台南台灣) is a beautiful city in southern Taiwan.  It one of Taiwan’s favorites as it has a nice climate and warm people.  It’s also full of historical sites.

It’s the only one of Taiwan’s big cities that I’ve never visited so I thought I make a visit during the Chinese New Year break.  I only spent about a day there but got to see most of the major sites and thought I’d share a few of the pictures:

Taiwan was once governed by the Dutch.  They built several forts in Tainan to help control the occasional uprisings.  Chihkan Tower 赤崁樓 (Fort Provintia) was built in 1653 and traded rulers hands several times over the centuries before being recently restored.

Taiwan was once governed by the Dutch. They built several forts in Tainan to help control the occasional uprisings. Chihkan Tower 赤崁樓 (Fort Provintia) was built in 1653 and traded rulers hands several times over the centuries before being recently restored.

More from Tainan photography after the jump…

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