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Experiencing Taiwan’s beauty at its best
June 4, 2018, 2:50 pm

With legacies as varied as its adventure landscape and spirited traditions thriving alongside the cream of Asian sophistication, Taiwan is a continent on one green island.

Taipei: Taiwan’s capital city is home to some of the country's most impressive cultural treasures, both modern and historical. Chief among them is the National Palace Museum, which houses the most extraordinary collection of Chinese art anywhere in the world.

Taitung: Situated on Taiwan’s east coast where the Eurasian and Philippine Sea tectonic plates meet, it is home to an impressive geological landscape. Head to Siaoyeliou, a veritable sculpture park of rock formations molded by sea erosion, or cross Taitung's famous eight-arched bridge, built to resemble a dragon, to reach Sansiantai Island, a nature reserve offering exceptional views of sunrise and sunset.

Taroko Gorge: This 18km marble-walled gorge has been a popular walking and hiking destination since the 1930s. It began as coral deposits deep under the sea. Under pressure from geological forces, the coral was transformed into limestone and then marble, schists and gneiss. Five million years ago, as Taiwan was lifted from the sea by the collision of the Philippine and Eurasian plates, the gorge began to be formed. In essence, the upward thrust of hard rock, combined with the erosion of the soft layers from water and landslides, left towering canyon walls that are so narrow in places that you could play catch with someone on the other side.

Blue Tears: Every year from late spring to the end of summer, algae called dinoflagellates teem in the waters along the coast of the Matsu archipelago, and when disturbed by waves or paddles, they emit a surreal blue glow. 'Blue Tears', as they are called, have been spotted along all of Matsu's islets, including Dongyin, Nangan and Beigan. Usually the darker the sky, the calmer the sea, and the hotter the weather, the better your chances of spotting them.

Lalashan Forest Reserve: This 63.9 sq. km expanse of mixed forest holds one of the largest stands of ancient red hinoki cypress trees left in Taiwan. The most ancient of the ancients is over 2800 years old, but there are a hundred more that are not much younger. A 3.7km wooden boardwalk winds through the dense forest, and interpretative signs indicate the age, species, height and diameter of each giant.

Taiwan's Ninth National Park: Taiwan's latest national park covers 370 hectares and comprises of breathtakingly beautiful islets in the southern part of Penghu county and their surrounding waters. The four islands (of a total of a hundred islands in the entire county) – Dongji, Xiji, Dongyuping and Xiyuping – feature dramatic ocean basalts that take the form of columns, grottoes, sea stacks, sea cliffs and wave-sculpted platforms. You will see remnants of Fujian-style residences, some with Western architectural features, and stone garden walls that the early migrants built to protect their plots against the strong winds of these parts. 

Bao'an Temple: Recipient of a UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for both its restoration and its revival of temple rites and festivities, the Bao'an Temple is a must-visit when in Taipei. This exquisite structure is loaded with prime examples of the traditional decorative arts, and the yearly folk arts festival is a showcase of traditional performance arts.

National Palace Museum: Home to the world's largest and arguably finest collection of Chinese art, this vast collection covers treasures in painting, calligraphy, statuary, bronzes, lacquerware, ceramics, jade and religious objects. Some of the most popular items, such as the famous jade cabbage, are always on display. 

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