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Never on the worldwide traveler's radar, Taiwan is finally being recognized as one of the world's most underrated destinations. Think that's a writer's cliché? Well, consider that Taiwan's Palace Museum holds the greatest collection of Chinese art. Or that its hot spring resources are rated among the world's top fifteen. Or that its Purple Butterfly Valley is considered second only to Mexico's Monarch Butterfly Valley. Taiwan is 394 km (245 miles) long and 144 km (89 miles) wide, but almost 4000 meters (13,123 feet) in the center: one can drive from tropical beaches to chilly alpine meadows in a few hours. The hikers and mountain bikers ...

Never on the worldwide traveler's radar, Taiwan is finally being recognized as one of the world's most underrated destinations. Think that's a writer's cliché? Well, consider that Taiwan's Palace Museum holds the greatest collection of Chinese art. Or that its hot spring resources are rated among the world's top fifteen. Or that its Purple Butterfly Valley is considered second only to Mexico's Monarch Butterfly Valley. Taiwan is 394 km (245 miles) long and 144 km (89 miles) wide, but almost 4000 meters (13,123 feet) in the center: one can drive from tropical beaches to chilly alpine meadows in a few hours. The hikers and mountain bikers who have made it here rave about the beauty of the land and the quality of the trails. Though obviously stemming from Chinese, Taiwanese culture has taken a very different route in the past 100 years and nowhere is this more apparent than in religion - the island's thousands of temples are lively centers of faith. For the ultimate display don't miss the annual eight-day Matsu pilgrimage, now recognized as one of the world's great religious festivals. One area where Chinese culture is still strong in Taiwan is in the food. High quality regional Chinese dishes, in addition to more local creations, are easy to find. And the tropical fruits, especially mangoes, pineapples and lychees, are addictive! Three percent of the population of Taiwan is aboriginal and it's worthwhile planning a visit to coincide with a tribal festival such as the Yami Flying Fish Festival in spring, or the Ami Harvest Festival in summer.

Robert Kelly
About the Expert

Robert Kelly is the two-time author of the Lonely Planet Taiwan guide, and coauthor of Tibet and China. He has lived in Taiwan for the past 12 years.

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Robert Kelly for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Taiwan is an island in the Pacific Ocean, 74.6 mi off the coast of Mainland China
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese
  • Currency: Taiwan Dollar
  • Research: Wikitravel | Taiwan
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight