Cuisine and restaurants in Taiwan
Taiwanese dishes are low-fat, moderately spiced, made mainly from seafood and vegetables. Noteworthy fish soup “xianyu”, fried eel “ninpo”, jellyfish salad. The most popular side dishes are bamboo shoots, sweet potatoes, potatoes and cabbage. The signature meat dish is Taiwanese steak, served straight from the fire with carrots, noodles and grains. The best poultry dishes are jisitanmian soup and fried chicken sanpeiji, arranged in three separate pots with different sauces. Pork is cooked with seafood pasta, vermicelli and herbs. Many Taiwanese desserts are considered cult: for example, “moon” cookies are baked for the Moon Festival, and “turtle” cakes are baked for birthdays.
Recently, Western-style cafes and restaurants have opened up everywhere in Taiwan. Eateries with Asian cuisine are widespread: Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese. Especially popular are places with a barbecue, where you can fry seafood, meat and vegetables yourself. For authentic dishes, it is better to go to Shenkeng, which is proud of dozens of types of tofu, for exotic dishes – to Danshui with outlandish seafood.
The menu in English is a rarity, but visual illustrations help to cope with the choice of dishes.
The most original restaurant in Taiwan is Carton King Cafe in Taichung. Absolutely everything – walls, tables, chairs and even dishes – is made of cardboard, but the food is still real.
The cheapest way to eat is at night markets: fried squid on a stick will cost 10-30 TWD, a whole plate of crispy shrimp – 100 TWD. Another budget option is food courts in shopping centers: a complex of several dishes costs from 60 TWD. The average price of lunch in a cafe is 100 TWD per person. For dinner in a restaurant, you have to pay from 700 TWD per person.
Entertainment and attractions
Museums, temples, reserves and other attractions are located throughout the island. Acquaintance with Taiwan is worth starting with Taipei. Topping the must-si list is the National Palace Museum (website in English), which has a collection of unique pieces of Chinese art such as paintings, jasper, bronze and jade exhibits. The second most popular attraction of the capital is the Chiang Kai-shek memorial with a whole complex of buildings in the traditional oriental style and a picturesque park.
Longshan Temple (website in English) was built in 1738 and completely destroyed during the Japanese bombardment. Everything had to be restored, except for the miraculously preserved statue of the goddess Guanyin, the patroness of local residents. Less famous, but no less impressive, is the Guandu Temple, built in 1661 in honor of the sea goddess Matsu.
After seeing Taipei, head to Taichung to walk around the famous Sun and Moon Lake (website in English). It is located at an altitude of 2650 m, in the vicinity there is a zoo, a temple of the god of war Wenwu and an ethnographic village of the Shao people, where you can dance a ritual dance with the natives and buy original souvenirs.
Not far from the town of Hualien is the Taroko nature reserve with granite and marble rocks, hidden gorges, tunnels, bridges and lush vegetation. Another place with amazing nature is the Alishan Mountains with majestic peaks, rivers, lakes and waterfalls.
The pride of Alishan Park is a 3000-year-old cherry tree 52 m high and 23 m in diameter.
The main tourist attractions of Kaohsiung are the Sanfengong temples with gilded altars and Wen temples with luxurious frescoes and inlaid dragon statues. In the vicinity of the city is Mount Shoushan, the slopes of which are richly built up with temples and terraces. At the foot of Foguangshan, a monastery and the largest center for the study of Buddhism in East Asia has been erected (website in English). The heart of the complex of 4 temples is a 120-meter gilded Buddha statue.
7 things to do in Taiwan
- Admire Chinese paintings at the National Palace Museum
- Participate in the ritual dances of the Shao natives on the shores of the lake of the Sun and the Moon.
- Try to embrace the immensity by hugging a 3,000-year-old tree in Alishan Nature Reserve.
- Compare the flavors of Sanpeiji fried chicken with three different sauces.
- Try Oriental Beauty tea and appreciate the efforts of Taiwanese cicadas.
- Bargain the best discount at any of the night markets.
- Meet the symbol of the emerging Sino-Taiwanese friendship – a pair of pandas at the Taipei Zoo.
Taiwan for kids
Children of all ages will enjoy walking through Leofu Park in Guanxi Town (website in English). It is divided into 4 zones: “Wild West”, “Arab Kingdom”, “African Safari” and “Pacific Ocean”. The first is built in the style of a mining town somewhere in Arizona, the second is home to famous characters from Eastern fairy tales: Ali Baba, Aladdin, sultans and robbers. In the Pacific zone, you can go on an exciting journey in search of treasures, and in the African zone, you can watch wild animals from the window of a tourist train.
In Taipei, it is worth going to the zoo (website in English), the symbol of which is two funny pandas. Rare animals and birds from different parts of Asia, Australia and Africa live here: Himalayan bears, pangolins, fruit bats, camels, antelopes, elephants, rhinos, emus and kangaroos.
The pandas at the Taipei Zoo are named Tuan-Tuan and Yuan-Yuan. The choice of names is not accidental: “tuanyuan” in Chinese means “family reunion”. Animals donated to Taiwan by China as a sign of improved relations between the countries.
Weather in Taiwan
The best time to visit Taiwan is from the end of September to April-May, in the summer it is hot here. If you travel during the Chinese New Year, you need to be prepared in advance for the fact that during this period the prices are very high, very noisy, there may be problems with tickets and free places in hotels. The end of April-May is the rainy season. See CITYPOPULATIONREVIEW for weather information.