Honestly, I would never have thought of spending a vacation in Taiwan if I hadn’t had to go there for professional reasons. Except for the made in Taiwan and a vague memory of Chiang Kai-Shek in a history book, it didn’t ring a bell. But, since I had to go, I might as well extend the stay and, why not? take my children there.
A tourism that is still underdeveloped?
First impression: tourism, at least Western tourism, is non-existent. In two weeks, we will almost exclusively meet Asians (including Japanese). However, at the tourist office, I am told that the island is well frequented by Europeans, and not only for business trips. There are quite a few French people (36,000 in 2014).
So there are probably a lot of tourists but, outside Taipei, I didn’t see them. Moreover, if you are blond with blue eyes (like my son), it is not out of the question that you could be offered a seat on the subway.
And that’s the second impression: if they don’t always speak English, the Taiwanese are always considerate, ready to provide information or help. I will not forget this lady who got off her bike to walk with us in the rain for an hour to help us find the hot springs we were looking for in vain in the hills of the (beautiful) Yangmingshan National Park. And since she didn’t speak a word of English, she was taped to the phone with her daughter who was doing the translation.
The absence of mass tourism is good
No queues (except in Taipei 101), no crazy prices or difficulties in finding accommodation: the absence of mass tourism is good. To find accommodation, we improvised for 15 days, without ever struggling. Another advantage: moving around Taiwan is very easy. A change of scenery is guaranteed: the metro is clean and fast, the taxis are smiling and their fares are reasonable.
In fact, at no time, ever, did I feel like I was being taken for a tourist from whom you have to get the maximum amount of money by selling him something he doesn’t need. On holiday, serenity is a priceless comfort. It was 15 days of absolute tranquility. To book a driver from taoyuan airport to Taipei, click on this link.
Temples. Beautiful. Everywhere.
That’s good: there’s a lot to see. Probably the effect made in Taiwan, I expected to see factories every 100 meters. There are certainly some of them, but you don’t have to do industrial tourism. For my part, I prefer the historical heritage. Make sure you have good shoes.
The National Palace Museum, the Taiwanese Louvre, houses a splendid collection of paintings, ceramics, calligraphy… Nearly 700,000 pieces that arrived in part in Chiang Kai-Shek’s suitcases when he had to leave the continent. A coincidence in history that makes it the most beautiful collection of Chinese art in the world.
Another pleasure for the eyes: the temples. There are quantities, which can be visited in an hour or three minutes, depending on their size or interest. May I write a little sacrilege? I preferred the temples of Taiwan to the Forbidden City of Beijing. If only because it is possible to visit them by taking the time to stroll, without having to make a place for yourself in a cloud of mobile phones crowded together to take the same picture. And that they are “alive”: one morning, at the temple of Lungshan, we spent a good hour listening to little old people playing music (in fact, they served us tea to prevent us from leaving).