Taiwan offers a taste of the unexpected in Asia with an abundance of breathtaking scenery perfect for adventurous types to explore tropical rainforests rich with wildlife, or climb snow-capped peaks, before tasting some of the finest cuisine in the region.

Taiwan is an island with a difference. For centuries known as Formosa, named by the Portuguese as the former colonial power, it offers an array of contrasts from wildlife-rich tropical jungle, soaring, snowy peaks, deep marble gorges, endless sandy beaches, serene fishing villages, virgin coral reefs and utterly breathtaking landscapes.

Taiwan offers every outdoor activity under the sun, from hiking across majestic mountain ranges to long distance cycling on tailor-made trails beside the Pacific ocean. Many such activities are within easy reach of the capital, Taipei, including Yangmingshan National Park to the north which has some rugged volcanic scenery offering great hiking opportunities. The further you are prepared to travel, the more you’ll find to do in terms of outdoor adventure. There are ancient, remote temples to explore, bubbling white water rivers to raft and indigenous tribes with whom you can stay for a truly immersive experience.

The capital city Taipei is one of the main financial hubs in all of Asia. Its skyscape is something to behold, surrounded by mountains and in the heart of the city some eye-wateringly tall towers, including Taipei 101, once the tallest building in the world. Head to the observation platform at the top for a spectacular view and don’t forget to try the restaurant which has not only the best view in the city but a superb range of delicious dumplings to boot.

With the affluence introduced by the thriving financial industry comes a world-class cultural offering, especially when it comes to food. Wherever you go you’ll find fantastic things to eat. Taiwan has every type of Chinese cuisine plus a whole host of local specialities such as Taipei beef noodles and Tainan milkfish. The city’s enticing night markets are where you’ll find delicious snacks like shrimp rolls and barbecued wild boar, all to be washed down with the new wave of craft beers or freshly-squeezed tropical juices. You might be surprised, and delighted, to find really good gourmet coffee, premium oriental teas and even luxurious hot chocolate here.

Taiwan’s most ancient city is Tainan, pretty and on a far smaller than Taipei, offers some engaging architecture and art galleries. There are old Dutch merchant houses, built in the 17th century, which have been converted into small museums and atmospheric hotels. The Five Canals area was once the trading centre of the Dutch rulers and has been developed sympathetically into an artisan quarter with many cafes, galleries and shops. Nature, and train, lovers should take a slow, scenic ride on the Alishan Express which climbs up the peaks and through the cherry tree forests and tea plantations of the Alishan National Park. The renowned local oolong tea can be enjoyed at one of the delightful tea houses served in a traditional clay tea set. Go and see Taiwan before the rest of the world discovers it!

Taiwan may not be as popular a destination as Hong Kong or the People’s Republic, but its culturally rich cities and arresting natural beauty will captivate the world’s travellers.

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