Going Awesome Places Guide to Taiwan

Taiwan is attracting an increasing number of bloggers, travel journalists and other folks collectively known as influencers looking to experience its fair shores.

Influencers are a different breed than your average traveler. Sure, they’re attracted by the same Taiwan experiences: Vibrant cities, great cuisine, hikes in the mountains and hot springs, all that stuff. But theirs are most definitely working vacations.

In addition to experiencing, they’re also recording, taking photographs, taking notes, interacting with their followers over social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Sometimes they’re doing all this stuff simultaneously. So for a dedicated travel blogger, logistics are key.

Last autumn, MyTaiwanTour was involved in customizing Taiwan tours for a series of influencers who’d come as part of a program sponsored by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. All of the influencers had their own focuses. One was more interested in fashion, and another in art and culture. One blogger wound up going around the island and blogging almost entirely in Spanish.

Will of Going Awesome PlacesBut the final blogger, Will Tang of Going Awesome Places well…let’s just say that in addition to living up to his blogging handle, Will was also going for a more thorough experience.

In short, Will was looking to experience it all!

So we created for him and his wife a twelve-day fully customized tour encompassing the best of Taiwan.

To say the trip was a fully immersive cultural / sport / leisure Taiwan experience would be an understatement. Over twelve days, Will and his wife dined in Taipei, dug the art scene in Kaohsiung, Surfed in Kenting, Trekked Taroko, went Paragliding in Taitung…and this was just scratching the surface.

We got to spend some time with the couple as well, bringing them to night markets in Taipei, hot springs in Wulai and more. Bidding them farewell on their last day, we felt as if were were saying goodbye to folks that we’d really gotten used to having around. Our part in creating the Going Awesome Places Taiwan Experience was done.

Little did we know that Will’s work had only just begun.

A few weeks later, we received the Going Awesome Places newsletter, which pointed us over to Will’s insanely thorough and utterly informative 12 Days in Taiwan Travel Guide – Itinerary to Explore the Entire Island.

Part mini-Taiwan guide, part travelogue, what Will had done was no mere blog post, and in the days of uber-short tweets and mini-info bursts, frankly, we found the post refreshing (to say the least).

Will starts off with a general overview, the sort of thing which generally graces Taiwan travel guides:

 “Between the energy of the dynamic urban cities, bustling of the famed night markets, colourful culture, fascinating history, incredibly friendly people, and dramatic landscapes, you’ll be amazed at just how much awesome can be packed in this island.”

Before getting into serious pre-trip planning details, including visa issues, currency conversions, electrical outlets, getting your WIFI needs situated and so forth with his Pre-Trip guide.

When he lands in Taipei on day one, Will really hits the ground running. Literally, we think…by the time we met up with him on the first evening for dinner at the Jingmei Night Market, which he describes as

“…a little bit more local and off-the-beaten-path. I wanted a night market that wasn’t packed with tourists and I wanted to see where real locals ate. The streets weren’t overcrowded here, the food especially the octopus, fried sweet potato balls, sponge cake, and oyster omelette were all very good and noticeably cheaper than what you’d find in Shilin night market.  It’s not a large market but I quite enjoyed that it wasn’t overwhelming.”

Will was practically limping from having spent most of his first day hiking, exploring and otherwise running around Taipei.

Some of the ground Will covered on day one. (Photo courtesy Going Awesome Places)
Some of the ground Will covered on day one. (Photo courtesy Going Awesome Places)

Read about Will’s first day here

After spending the second day up north (a day that included a trip on our Jiufen and Pingxi Day Tour) the couple’s journey brought them into the mountains, where they spent two days exploring the culture, nature and hiking trails of Alishan. Will dedicated two days (and two chapters) to the experience, writing

“They say there are 5 wonder of Alishan but the most well-known of them all and the one that everyone goes crazy for is the sunrise. There’s good reason for it as it’s apparently ranked #16 in sunrises around the world. Now where that list comes from, I have no idea, but I heard it from the crazy local guy shouting to the crowd of sunrisers so it’s gotta be real right?

Now I can’t promise that you’ll see a sunrise there but what I can promise you is that the forest trails in the rest of recreational area are quite the magical experience especially when you get that moment by yourself and you feel that you can hear every pin drop.  Whether you’re watching the train run through what seems like an ancient track, you’re feeling puny standing beside giant trees that are actually ancient, or you feel like you’re in a scene lifted from the ancient forest of Mirkwood of the Woodland Realm.”

Hiking in Alishan (Photo courtesy Going Awesome Places)
Hiking in Alishan (Photo courtesy Going Awesome Places)

Going Awesome Places Alishan Experience begins here

After Alishan, the couple head to Kaohsiung, writing of Taiwan’s southern port city

“The southern city of Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s second-largest city is nothing like its bigger brother and that’s what makes it such a worthy destination.  Where Taipei feels packed in, aging, and sprawling, you immediate feel that there’s so much more breathing room here with its wider streets and modern urban landscapes of skyscrapers, airy cafes, gentrified spaces, bicycle lanes, and ferris wheels on the tops of malls. There are less people rushing around, less cars on the road, and fewer people to be seen.”

Before continuing on a narrative romp through the city’s burgeoning arts districts, it’s famous Dome of Lights, the Dragon Tiger Pagoda and a few other less-visited spots.

Kaohsiung Dome of Lights (Photo courtesy Going Awesome Places)
Kaohsiung Dome of Lights (Photo courtesy Going Awesome Places)

Check out Going Awesome Places Kaohsiung adventure in full at Artsy Urban Kaohsiung 

Also read: 5 things to do in Kaohsiung

So, just to recap: By night five, our intrepid blogger has already gotten into the nitty gritty details of getting to and around Taiwan, explored two of our major cities, visited Jiufen and Pingxi, and, just for good measure, done some hiking in Alishan!

Over the second half of the adventure, the couple would experience surfing in Kenting:

“We had grand visions of riding surf like pros in Kenting but as we got down to the beach and received instructions for where we needed to paddle to, it quickly became apparent that we were in way over our heads. With a no-fear mentality, we still jumped into the water with our boards and made it out to where we needed to be but the waves were simply too large for us and we floundered like poor helpless fish. The paddle back to shore was even more difficult as the waves were pushing us into the rocky shore as we tried to maneuver around. I ended up being smacked on the head with my board and my wife in the shin.”

Paragliding in Taiwan (Photo courtesy Going Awesome Places)
Paragliding in Taiwan (Photo courtesy Going Awesome Places)

Bicycling and Paragliding in Taitung…while still managing to squeeze in an insanely cool two-day hike through Taroko Gorge, about which Will writes:

“The best part of the day was when we finally made it to the Shakadang Trail after 3.5 hours of downhill punishment.  I remember holding up my arms in the air and shouting “WE DID IT!!!” in relief.

Along this famous trail is where we got our first glimpse of the beauty that Taroko National Park is known for – naturally carved out canyons where turquoise water pass through rock overhangs and multi-coloured marble boulders.  Along the way, there’s also a small Truku tribe market place where we devoured the best sausage of the entire trip.”

Continue reading: Going Awesome Places Taroko Hiking Adventure 

One of the things we liked the most about the post is that, in true travel writer tradition, Will presents the crunchy alongside the smooth.

About a resort that didn’t live up to his expectations, Will writes:

“I honestly have mixed feelings about this “resort”. In seeing the name of the property, you’d expect that they’d have a full-fledged indigenous cultural experience available for guests but upon arrival, all we got from the receptionist was a feeling of “there might be a performance tonight…maybe?”

And about a rather pretty looking (but apparently meh tasting) ice cream, Will writes:

“If you’re looking for Instagrammable ice cream, this is the place but when it comes to how it actually tasted, I don’t know if I’d be able to recommend it.”

Visually stunning Ice Cream (Photo courtesy Going Awesome Places)
Visually stunning Ice Cream (Photo courtesy Going Awesome Places)

Another thing any serious traveler (blogger or otherwise) will appreciate is the amount of detail Will has put into the post, listing not just the experiences he and his wife had, but the steps he took to make them happen. Will also takes the time to mention alternative spots and activities that they were unable to hit due to time constraints, mentioning them so that the reader gets a good idea of the myriad experiences offered in each particular area.

The excerpts and images in this post are merely the tip of the iceberg of what the full post has to offer, so check out 12 Days in Taiwan Travel Guide – Itinerary to Explore the Entire Island in its full authoritative glory.

Goodbye, Will. Come back soon! (Photo courtesy Going Awesome Places)
Goodbye, Will. Come back soon! (Photo courtesy Going Awesome Places)

Interested in exploring Taiwan?  Let us help you custom design a tour of your own!
More Taiwan travel tips:

Driving in Taiwan: What Every Visitor Needs to Know
Taiwan Travel Tips – Read Before You Go
Do in Taiwan as the Taiwanese do! Seven Taiwan Taboos worth knowing about