Don’t go to Taiwan: Behind the Scenes

Viral video Don’t go to Taiwan made by Tolt around the world blew up recently on social media and hit two million views within just two weeks. We now all know that Taiwan has nothing but buildings and factories and the nature here is completely lifeless. We have no cultural diversity whatsoever and everything is as humdrum as can be. If you still don’t know what we’re talking about, spend three minutes to watch it for yourself below.

Now you know that the heart of Asia is nothing but enchanting, we guess you want to know where all the scenes in the video took place? Taiwan Scene got exclusive behind the scenes photos and access to the shooting. It took YouTubers Benjamin and Mehdi seven days to have a round-Taiwan tour with MyTaiwanTour to complete the filming back in May of this year. Here are all the details of their trip.

Day 1: Classic Taipei Tour

Day 1 was a fast-paced tour accompanied by travel consultant Casper from MyTaiwanTour. The two YouTubers arrived in the early morning at Taoyuan Airport and started their shooting at Longshan Temple. Lunch at the Taipei 101 branch of Din Tai Fung is another notable highlight you can see at the 1:45 point of the video. (Read more: Taiwan’s Top 10 Soup Dumplings)

In the afternoon, they hiked up Elephant Mountain to shoot the best view of Taipei city – and the tour did not stop there. According to Casper, despite their jetlag, they wanted to experience a taste of classic nightlife – shrimp fishing. You can see their catch at 2:29.

Looking for some fun things to do at night in Taipei? Try Shrimp fishing! (Image source: MyTaiwanTour)

Day 2: A Day in Taroko

Day 2 was an intensive day for our two travelers. They woke up super early in the morning to catch a 6:44am train from Taipei Main Station. After a two-and-a-half-hour train ride, they arrived in Hualien, where their tour guide Gordon picked them up to start their tour.

The first thing they did in Hualien was the Zuilu Old Trail (錐麓古道) in Taroko National Park. A trail with more than a hundred years of history, it became just two clips of two-second footage in the video (1:23-1:24 and 1:29-1:30). But to film that stunning cliff, it took them four hours to hike the trail. We couldn’t blame them for spending so much time there. If you were there yourself, you would too. (You might also like: Take a hike: the best hiking trails in Taiwan)

It took 4 hours to hike in Zuilu Old Trail and it absolutely worth it. (Image source: MyTaiwanTour)

After the challenging hike, they also made several stops in Taroko National Park, including Evergreen Shrine (長春祠) and Swallow Grotto (燕子口), before ending the long day with some well deserved sleep in Hualien city. 

Day 3: Road Trip on the East Coast

Continuing south, Day 3 of the YouTubers’ tour was a scenic road trip on the east coast. After passing by KingKong Avenue (金剛大道) in Changbin (長濱), they made it to the Sanxiantai bridge (三仙台) in Chenggong (成功) to shoot the cool time-lapse footage seen at 1:20. At Chenggong Fish Harbor, a short drive from Sanxiantai, they got to have a closer look at the east coast’s biggest fishing port holding the opening bids for the day’s catch (3:04-3:06). You can tell the port must be thriving from the fishermen’s big smiles at 2:32 and 2:34.

Chenggong Fish Harbor in Taitung is the biggest port on the east coast of Taiwan (Image source: MyTaiwanTour)

Donghe was definitely another fun stop as it’s a place well-known as a habitat of wild Formosan macaque. Gordon brought Benjamin and Mehdi to Dengxian bridge (登仙橋) – the best location to see macaque in Donghe. They aren’t afraid of getting up close and personal!

Wild Formosan macaque has no fear of human and can be commonly seen at Dengxian bridge in Taitung (Image source: MyTaiwanTour)

Before they ended the tour, Gordon also took them to Torik Visitor Center, a place that wasn’t on their original itinerary. Check out 1:39 of the video, they were lucky enough to run into a traditional indigenous music show. (Read Also: Beauty in the east: five days on Taiwan’s east coast)

A traditional indigenous music show was performed outdoor at Torik Visitor Center when the YouTubers visited. (Image source: MyTaiwanTour)

Day 4: Southern Taiwan – Kaohsiung and Tainan

After a one-night stay in the hot spring hotel in Chihpen (知本), the team headed to Kaohsiung and Taiwan’s must-visit Lotus Pond. “They were so fascinated by the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas,” Gordon shared. “They even asked if we can go back to shoot again when we left Kaohsiung.” The love is reflected in the video as Lotus Pond shows up at least four times. Can you spot it? (Read more: Visiting Kaohsiung, Southern Taiwan’s Largest City)

Lotus Pond showed up in Don’t go to Taiwan for more than 4 times! (Image source: MyTaiwanTour)

After Kaohsiung, they rushed to Tainan’s Ten Drum Cultural Park at 3pm for its live traditional drumming show, which usually forbids any photography or videography. But an exception was made for them so that all of us can have a sneak peek of the show at the 3:14 mark.

Live show at Tainan Ten Drum Cultural Park (Image source: MyTaiwanTour)

Tainan is also known as the cradle of food in Taiwan. Most of the food-related scenes, especially those close-ups of street food starting from 1:47, are shot in Dadong night market (大東夜市). They also had a special dinner in front of a local temple, where frog soup was served. Yes, frog soup. Frog soup that Benjamin skipped and Mehdi tried (even if it was just one sip).

When visiting Tainan, try to having an outdoor dinner in front of a temple (and have frog soup too!). (Image source: MyTaiwanTour)

Day 5: Alishan Adventure

The destination of Day 5 was Alishan Scenic Area. It started with a morning train ride from Chiayi to Fengquihu on the Alishan Forest Railway. The day also involved some hiking along the recreational trails, seeing the thousand-year-old giant trees in the forest, and an excursion to a bamboo forest on the Mihu Trail (迷糊步道), which are at 0:36-40 and 0:52-53 of the video.

Alishan is the best spot to shoot the beautiful sunlight in the forest. (Image source: MyTaiwanTour)

The intro of the video (0:00-0:04), where Benjamin opens a round shaped wooden door with shining lights bursting out of it, was also shot in Alishan. They made an unplanned stop at Ciyun Temple (慈雲寺) and spotted this perfect site for shooting.

Ciyun Temple in Alishan became a fancy intro clip in Don’t go to Taiwan (Image source:MyTaiwanTour)

They stayed overnight in Alishan at a local guest house, A Jiang Home, owned by a tea/coffee addict.They were welcomed with the best local tea and the two cute kittens that you saw in the video at 3:10. (Read more: Alishan: Where the Sun Starts Its Day – A Journey into High-Mountain Alishan National Scenic Area)

Having fun with cute kittens in A Jiang Home (image source: MyTaiwanTour)

Day 6: Mid-island Trip

The trip continued in Alishan on Day 6. As Alishan is one of the most famous places to grow tea in Taiwan, the two did not miss out on an authentic tea tour. The breath-taking tea plantation view was shot at MingFang Tea plantation (明芳茶園). The time they chose to visit Alishan couldn’t have been better, as May has the perfect weather to harvest tea leaves (3:07-3:09).  (You might also like: The Taiwan Scene Guide to Taiwanese Tea)

Weather in May was perfect for shooting tea leaves harvest. (Image source: MyTaiwanTour)

The tour was headed to Lugang in the afternoon.Sundays are busy for this historical town, with Taiwanese folk parades taking place in front of temples. “Benjamin wanted to have the best shot from a higher location so we randomly asked a local family whether we can go to their rooftop for shooting, and they said yes without thinking!” said Gordon.

Benjamin went to a local family’s rooftop to shoot temple and parade in Lugang (image source: MyTaiwanTour)

The grand ending, with the big title “Don’t go to Taiwan” on the screen at 2:25, was shot at a craft shop/tea house in Lugang, whose owner is a local fan-drawing artist who drew a fan for them during their visit.

A local artist drew a fan for the YouTubers when they tour in Lugang. (image source: MyTaiwanTour)

Day 7: North Coast in Yehliu and Jiufen

The last day of the tour started with a quick ride on the HSR (High-Speed Railway) from Taichung to Taipei. They met with Casper again and went to the haunted Wanli UFO Village, which is shown at 2:07-2:16 in the video. After Gordon drove back to Taipei, they met again on the north coast to visit Yehliu Geopark and Jiufen mountain village before they took off to the airport.  (Read Also: Around the Northern Tip)

Gordon and Casper were the tour guide and the travel consultant of Don’t go to Taiwan’s team. (Image source: MyTaiwanTour)

How To Customize Your Own Tour?

For this specific tour, it started from a simple inquiry with MyTaiwanTour back in March and took about five to six weeks for Casper to plan, communicate and do all the necessary preparations in advance.

Are you planning your trip to Taiwan? Don’t come. The heart of Asia will enchant you.