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A hidden treasure in Asia ... TAIWAN

1er mars 2018 - Par Marie-Josée Turcotte

The capital and its iconic 101 Taipei tower

There was a time when this Asian country was primarily associated with its toys and other objects "Made in Taiwan." But times have changed and this Pacific island, somewhat shunned by tourism, is an exotic - and safe destination - which has a lot to offer visitors.

Taipei, the modern

Any trip to Taiwan begins with a visit to its capital, Taipei ; a metropolis both ultra-modern and attached to its traditions and its rich history marked by wars. Taiwan is today a sovereign Republic of China, but unlike China, it advocates democracy. This is what makes that beyond foreign culture, we feel in Taipei a little like a large ultra-organized American city ... but on the other side of the planet. Surprisingly peaceful for a city of this density, it allows one to especially appreciate the kindness of the Taiwanese : another reason to choose this country which is distinguished by its courtesy and its innate sense of welcome.

To-Do in Taipei

/ Among the main attractions of the city : the famous skyscraper Taipei 101. From the top of its observatory, where you can admire the impressive seismic structure, the city is unveiled in its full extent, while its ground floor is home to luxury boutiques. It is also at the foot of this tower, the 8th highest in the world, that is the legendary restaurant Din Tai Fung, which makes in front of your eyes delicious Chinese ravioli (xiaolongbao). Although the establishment has more than 100 branches in the world (but unfortunately none in Canada), it is in Taiwan that everything began.

/ The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, a national monument erected in memory of Taiwan’s democratic state, is also worth a visit, if only to walk around its gardens and witness the changing of the guard.

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The gardens of the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial

/ Finally, it is impossible to visit Taipei without experiencing the excitement of a night market. That of Shilin allowed us to wander through its narrow streets, through its displays of local products and exotic fruits with vibrant colors. Unfortunately, we could not bring ourselves to taste the famous stinky tofu that is famous in these markets. We were rather seduced by the grilled octopus whose fragrance is much more pleasant, especially accompanied by the local beer, the excellent Taiwan Beer.

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Shilin Night Market © taiwan.net.tw

Sun Moon Lake : the sun, the moon ... and the holy peace

After the excitement of the city, the charm of the countryside ! It is about three hours drive from Taipei (much faster by TGV) that we discovered the romantic side of Taiwan. Sun Moon is not only the largest inland lake on the island, but it is the undisputed cozy nest of newlyweds on honeymoon. Encircled by majestic mountains, Sun Moon Lake is also famous for its wooden walk around the lake ; it is also one of the 10 most beautiful bike paths in the world.

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The 30-kilometer walk of Sun Moon Lake. © sunmoonlake.gov.tw
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To-Do at Sun Moon Lake

/ A visit to the imposing Wenwu Temple, dedicated to the Chinese philosopher Confucius, is a must ! The view of the lake is sublime at all levels - and there are more of them than it seems. Take the opportunity to light a lantern !

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Wenwu Temple on the edge of the lake

/ The boat tour, with stops at Xuanguang Temple, as well as the vertiginous cable car ride, with optional glass floor, all the more allow you to admire the striking beauty of the surrounding nature from different angles. Sun Moon Lake Gondola also provides access to the cultural village of the Formosa aborigines, an ethnic group fighting for the survival of its culture. The village has a lush garden and a surprising amusement park.

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The Sun Moon Lake cable car © sunmoonlake.gov.tw

/ Finally, you can not go to Sun Moon Lake without stopping at a black tea plantation. The Hugosum Black Tea Garden has allowed us to learn a lot about the art of producing these Taiwanese teas known throughout the world for their quality. We left with our own concoction.


Some useful information :

/ Two useful references : taiwantourisme.com / sunmoonlake.gov.tw

/ We strongly recommend you to fly on the wings of Eva Air, an airline that, like the Taiwanese, offers a courteous and attentive service. Direct flight from Toronto. evaair.com

/ In Taipei, we stayed at the Far Eastern Plaza Hotel in Shangri-La. Service and impeccable quality. Special mentions to the extraordinary view of the city and the heated pool and spa located on the roof. shangri-la.com

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