Rathi Sivasothy, Far East expert, recently visited Taiwan to explore not only Taipei, its vibrant capital, but also to discover some of the hidden gems away from the city. For a food and photography enthusiast, it was as much the breath-taking scenery, as the tapioca bubble tea that won her over.
Here she shares her four favourites from the trip.
Favourite Hotel – The Lalu, Sun Moon Lake
The Lalu is a beautiful boutique hotel located on the shores of Sun Moon Lake. It was once the official residence of the Japanese Crown Prince Hirohito and a holiday retreat for the former President Chiang Kai-Shek.
It offers complete luxury among the peace and tranquillity of the green landscapes and emerald waters of Taiwan’s largest lake. The hotel has stunning rooms with modern features and a private balcony with views over the lake or the courtyard. A great choice if you long to relax and unwind.
Top tip: after spending a day cruising the lake and visiting the local monasteries, take a swim in the 60-metre outdoor pool. Afterwards, relax at the Tea House and try their selection of savoury snacks with a cup of delicious Chinese tea.
Kenting National Park
Located on Hengchun Peninsula on the island’s south coast, Kenting was Taiwan’s first national park. With a variety of terrains, including limestone caves, low-lying hills and forests, along with year-round tropical weather, the park is perfect for hiking enthusiasts.
After a morning of hiking, visit one of the many beautiful beaches with their aqua blue sea and fine white sand and enjoy a well-deserved dip in the ocean.
Fo Guan Shan monastery is located near Kaohsiung. The Buddha museum (previously known as the Buddha Memorial Centre) built to house a Buddha's tooth relic, was completed in 2011 and includes various museums and exhibits. The original monastery, which has been in place since 1967, is located close by.
Fo Guang Shan is a large complex so set aside a whole day to explore it fully. Start your visit at the museum where you will find a large shopping centre, which houses the world’s first vegetarian Starbucks – or so I was told. However, once you get past the variety of shops, you find yourself on Buddha Avenue lined by eight Chinese-style seven-storey pagodas, which lead to a 36 metre-tall bronze statue of Amitabha Buddha. Immediately, a sudden calmness surrounds you.
As you explore the museum and various exhibits, you can discover more about the teachings of Fo Guang Shan. It is possible to request a private tour with a monastic, who will answer your questions and show you around. Cox & Kings can prebook this for you if you are planning to visit.
Favourite Food – Dumplings from Din Tai Fung
If you visit Taipei, make sure you go to Din Tai Fung – the Taipei 101 branch – for some delicious steamed dumplings and beef noodle soup. Be prepared to queue for at least 30 minutes to get a table, but I assure you the dumplings will be worth the wait. Make sure you try the prawn and pork dumplings in a spicy sauce, but be warned, they are very addictive!
Visit Taiwan on Cox & Kings’ escorted tour of the island. Alternatively, speak to one of our Far East experts about tailoring a private holiday to Taiwan.
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