lha Formosa – Beautiful Island.This is what a group of Portuguese sailors, said to have been the first Westerners to lay eyes on the island, uttered upon seeing Taiwan for the first time. We imagine they must have been pretty enamoured. While not every Westerner has the same love-at-first-sight reaction to Taiwan, our Portuguese seafaring friends were just the first of many. With the lush mountains of Wulai, pulsating cities like Taipei, the stunning basalt cliffs of Penghu , excellent hiking in Taroko Gorge, not to mention some of the world’s best hot springs , Taiwan cuts a figure as one of the most diverse destinations in Asia.
In the first decade of the 21st century, Taiwan is increasingly drawing travellers of all stripes: from spiritual seekers looking to experience the island’s religious heritage to gourmands in search of the perfect night-market meal to computer geeks scanning the horizon for the latest high-tech gadgets. Taiwan offers visitors a hypermodern skin, an ancient Chinese skeleton and an aboriginal soul. And more than that, Taiwan has some of the world’s warmest people, affable to a fault and so filled with renqing wei ( which, roughly translated, means ‘personal affection’) that few who come to Taiwan a stranger leave that way.
If you were only planning to spend a week in Taiwan, it’s time to think again.