Taiwan has long been famous for Taroko National Park, the National Palace Museum, Taipei 101, and many breath-taking landscapes. Besides these popular attractions, what people do not know is that due to the diversity of Taiwan’s ethnic groups, each small town of Taiwan has its own unique and charming culture. A few months ago, Taiwan Tourism held a contest whereby locals and other “undercover experts” voted for Taiwan’s top 10 small tourist towns.
There are several towns with special characteristics that are worth mentioning. Meinong in Kaohsiung, a sweet town that is filled with Hakka culture, Lukang in Changhua, famous for the grand Mazu temple, Jiji in Nantou, known for its railway culture, Rueifang in New Taipei City, an old mine that oversees the northern coast of Taiwan, and Jiaosi in Yilan, famous for its hot springs and very unusual cold springs nearby. By including in your travel itinerary some of Taiwan’s beautiful towns, you can experience a broader perspective of Taiwan’s incredible beauty.
1. Dajia, Taichung
How influential can religion be? Dajia is the place you will find the answer. Every spring, the Mazu pilgrimage festival (March 23- April
1), the biggest religious festival in Taiwan, is held in Dajia. Thousands of worshippers on foot, follow the statue of Mazu across the city.
The practice of praying for blessings from Goddess Mazu and making pilgrimages lasts seven days and eight nights.
2. Daxi, Taoyuan
Located near Taipei City, Daxi Old Street is one of the most attractive streets in Taiwan. Walking along the street, you will be surrounded by houses featuring Japanese baroque style architecture with washed stone. The delicate buildings, along with Daxi’s multifarious traditional cuisines make this town unique and adorable.
3. Beitou, Taipei City
Known as the secret paradise of Taipei City, Beitou is valued for its hot springs. Beitou Public Library was also listed as one of the top 25 most beautiful public libraries in the world. Charming spots and hot springs supported by a rapid and convenient public transit system straight from Taipei Station, Beitou is definitely one place you don’t want to miss.
4. Anping, Tainan
Built by the Dutch in 1653, and defeated by the Kingdom of Tungning, Anping Fort makes for a historically rich part of Taiwan. Besides this, Anping is also famous for its traditional cuisine such as fried shrimp roll and dessert curd. Be sure to loosen your belt a notch or two, the food is irresistible (and worth the weight gain!).
5. Jincheng, Kinmen
Jincheng is a small and peaceful township on the southwestern corner of the island of Kinmen. Characterized by western-style houses and Min-style architecture, Jincheng is a major importing and exporting hub.
6. Meinong , Kaohsiung
Meinong is the hometown of world-famous paper umbrellas. According to Hakka custom, paper umbrellas, which open into a circle, are symbolic of unity and represent family members gathering. Recently, the paper umbrella has come to be considered as an art form. Besides the Hakka culture, delicious foods and paper umbrellas, handmade pottery has also grown into a major business. Yong-An Old Street is a place you shouldn’t miss. In its early days, a lot of traditional houses were built there, thus, the street is rich in culture.
7. Jiji, Nantou
Jiji is located on the north side of the Zhuoshui River. It is the smallest district in Taiwan. Jiji has become one of the hottest tourist attractions in recent years because of the promotion of its tourist train. Along the Jiji railway, there are ancient buildings surrounded by beautiful scenery.
8. Jiaosi, Yilan
Jiaosi Hot Springs won their fame early on in the Cing Dynasty, when the springs went by the name “Tangwei Hot Springs”, and was selected by Wu, Jhu-Fan, the Cing Dynasty Kavalan Magistrate, to be one of the “8 most scenic spots in Yilan”. The Jiaosi Hot Springs are of the odorless, colorless, carbonic type. The hot spring water contains numerous minerals and flows all year round.
9. Lukang, Changhua
Lukang, Changhua County is located in the center of Taiwan. Its scenic views of mountains and historical architecture make Changhua County an attractive place to visit and is well known for its local foods. The Lukang Folk Arts Museum was established in 1973. The museum holds more than 6,000 articles mostly dating from the mid-Ching dynasty to the early years of the Republic. Fascinating household, travel, and recreational items, as well as religious implements and celebratory artifacts are on display.
10. Jiufen, New Taipei City
Jiufen used to be the center of gold mining in northern Taiwan. The village is next to the mountain and faces the sea. The village was once regarded as the gold city of Asia and called “Little Shanghai” or “Little Hong Kong”. Today, Jiufen is only whispering its golden past. There are many unique teahouses in Jiufen (Jioufen). These teahouses are good places to take a break during your visit to this mountain village. There’s also the beautiful ocean view of the Keelung outer sea. The most prosperous shopping district is Jiufen (Jioufen) Old Street. It goes through most of the village. Along the street there are shops selling the most famous country snacks of Jiufen, yam dish and various local dishes. Your trip to Jiufen will be full of fun and delight. There are accommodations available, many provided by local residents. If you are not in a hurry, you may want to pick a nice inn and stay to see the bright stars in the nightime sky, and the fishing lights twinkling in harbor. With this list, you are sure to see the very best that Taiwan has to offer!