When you think of Taiwan, images of Christmas trees and the sound of jingle bells are not things that immediately spring to mind. To many, the mention of Christmas conjures thoughts of Santa Claus, snowmen and chestnuts roasting on an open fire – not things you’d usually associate with life on a subtropical island. While the weather in December is colder than usual – in the north, at least – it can be tough for foreign visitors and locals who have celebrated the holidays overseas to get into the Christmas spirit. (Read more: Christmas in Taiwan)
However, Christmas in Taiwan not quite being what you’re used to isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We think you should embrace it. Celebrate Taiwanese style! No, that doesn’t mean setting off fireworks or burning incense at your local temple. We’re talking about putting a local twist on things. Here are five things you can do this December to feel truly Christmassy in Taiwan.
Christmas Dinner with a Difference
Move over turkey, stuffing and Brussel sprouts. Head to Hualien and enjoy a farm-to-table dinner prepared by indigenous Taiwanese people using local ingredients. Dine on the food the local Amis people are famous for, including locally grown seasonal vegetables, roasted dove and, if you’re lucky, a special dish caught and prepared by the head of the tribe that day. (You might also like: 3 day Taroko Gorge and East Origins Tour)
Check Out the Christmas Lights and Decorations Across Taipei
While the Taiwanese don’t officially celebrate Christmas, it doesn’t stop people putting up decorations and lights – especially in capital city Taipei. Head to Taipei 101 for your Christmas lights fix and into the shopping mall to enjoy all kinds of special decorations, including a miniature Ferris wheel. If 101 isn’t enough, it’s also worth visiting the huge tree at Xinyi Xintiandi and the impressive lights at Zhongshan’s Xianxing Park.
Warm up with Some Local Whisky
Did you know Taiwan is famous for whisky? Well… you do now! Kavalan whisky is proudly Taiwanese and you can visit the distillery in Yilan County to find out all about how the island’s subtropical environment accelerates the spirit’s aging process. So, ditch your usual holiday tipple and hop on a Kavalan Distillery tour as part of your visit to the East Coast. Cheers!
Put Your Feet up
All that Christmas shopping got your feet tired? Take the weight off with an authentic Taiwanese foot massage . Also known as foot reflexology, the treatment has several health benefits such as improving liver function, controlling blood pressure and assisting with better sleep. In Taiwan, foot massages can come as part of full body massages, while a run-of-the-mill foot massage usually also includes a bit of back treatment as well as a nice hot cup of tea. (Read more: Five Best Places to Get a Foot Massage in Taipei)
Fill Your Cup
You’re probably already aware that Taiwan is well-known for its tea, but we’re also partial to a good cup of coffee here too. Visit a coffee farm along the eastern coast and roast your own beans with indigenous farmers to make the freshest cup of coffee possible. You’ll never want to go back to Starbucks ever again. (Read Also: The Taiwan Scene Guide to Taiwanese Tea)
Want to experience Christmas in Taiwan? Head over to the MyTaiwanTour website and take advantage of the limited-time-only winter deals to experience the trip of a lifetime and bag yourself a complimentary foot massage. Tis the season, after all. Merry Christmas!