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From Kaohsiung to Taipei and everything in between - explore the beauty and soul of Taiwan

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 — Visiting Taiwan is a gastronomic journey.

Known for its beef noodles, teas, pineapple cakes and more recently the bubble tea phenomenon, the self-governed island also holds a variety of wondrous cultures and sights.

Layers of hilly mountains and coastal plains and modern cities with tall skyscrapers and night markets blend well with its nature reserves.

A visit by Malay Mail takes a closer look at the places, cultures and attractions from Kaohsiung to Taipei and much more in between.

The Port City of Kaohsiung

 A breathtaking view from the Kaohsiung Lighthouse in Cijin where you can take in the view of Kaohsiung city centre and the Taiwan Strait. — Picture by Arif Zikri 
A breathtaking view from the Kaohsiung Lighthouse in Cijin where you can take in the view of Kaohsiung city centre and the Taiwan Strait. — Picture by Arif Zikri

A breathtaking view from the Kaohsiung Lighthouse in Cijin where you can take in the view of Kaohsiung city centre and the Taiwan Strait. — Picture by Arif Zikri

Located in southern part of Taiwan, Kaohsiung is the second largest city of the island and has the largest port with heavy industry being its main focus.

Despite industrialisation, the city of Kaohsiung isn’t filled with factories and warehouses but instead is a vibrant area compact with shopping districts, music and art centres, religious sites and housing apartments as well as piers.

The Kaohsiung Pier 2 Art Centre offers modern art with an open art space weaving between old warehouses dated from the 1970’s which have been transformed and filled with colourful murals and modern sculptures by local artists.

It is located just across the Great Harbor Bridge — one of the most iconic landmarks in Kaohsiung and is easily accessible via the Kaohsiung LRT and MRT lines.

Visit the night markets, one of Taiwan’s most famous offerings where there’s at least one in almost every district in Kaohsiung, with the Liuhe Tourist Night Market a must visit especially if you’re in a peckish mood.

Running about three blocks straight in the Xinxing district, the Liuhe night market offers a variety of seafood dishes and snacks including giant squid, lobsters and crabs as well as other Taiwanese street food delights such as scallion pancakes and steamed dumplings.

While at it, don’t forget to take a stroll along the nearby Love River afterwards to burn off those calories after while soaking in the cityscape of Kaohsiung.

The Liuhe Tourist Night Market is one of the must visit places in Kaohsiung, especially if you're feeling peckish. — Picture by Arif Zikri 
The Liuhe Tourist Night Market is one of the must visit places in Kaohsiung, especially if you're feeling peckish. — Picture by Arif Zikri

The Liuhe Tourist Night Market is one of the must visit places in Kaohsiung, especially if you're feeling peckish. — Picture by Arif Zikri

Around 30 minutes away from Kaohsiung city centre, is the port island of Cijin and it's one of the go-to spots to get away from the bustling city streets to enjoy a sunny day by the beach.

Cijin Beach holds its own attractions; the homeground for numerous festivals such as the Cijin kite festival and the black sand festival.

On a normal day, it offers sightseeing activities around the area.

This includes walking through the Cijin Star Tunnel which used to be a military tunnel during the Japanese colonial era, but has since been decorated with glow in the dark paintings and colourful light installations.

There’s also the Kaohsiung Lighthouse which has stood tall on Cihou mountain since 1918.

Although it’ll take around a 10 to 15 minute hike through stairs, visitors are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Taiwan strait and Kaohsiung city.

There are a few ways to reach Cijin — via a 10-minute ferry ride from the Kaohsiung Port Warehouse No.2 or using land transport where you’ll go through the enormous port of Kaohsiung and the Kaohsiung cross harbour tunnel, an underwater tunnel built in the 1980s.

Tainan City and Miaoli County

Shennong Street in Tainan City is a known creative hub. — Picture by Arif Zikri 
Shennong Street in Tainan City is a known creative hub. — Picture by Arif Zikri

Shennong Street in Tainan City is a known creative hub. — Picture by Arif Zikri

It will take approximately four hours by vehicle to reach Taipei from Kaohsiung, and you will pass several districts before reaching the capital of Taiwan, amongst them Tainan City and Miaoli County.

Tainan City holds historical significance in Taiwan as it was the first capital and birthplace of Taiwan.

There are over 500 temples spread across the municipality along with historical and cultural sites such as the Confucius Temple, The Anping Old Fort, the Eternal Fortress as well as the Koxinga Shrine.

There is also the Chimei Museum, a western art museum founded by the late philanthropist Shi Wen-Long which houses around 400 exhibition items including 13th to 20th century paintings, musical instruments, arms and armours and fossils.

The museum hosts various events including contemporary art exhibitions as well as orchestral performances.

Shennong Street, known as one of the creative hubs in Tainan City is also one of the places worth visiting where its uniquely narrow street is filled with shops on both sides selling handcrafted items from stationeries to clothes.

A Hakka village where you can buy fresh produce grown from their backyard farms as part of the Miaoli Old Mountain Line Rail Bike stop. — Picture by Arif Zikri 
A Hakka village where you can buy fresh produce grown from their backyard farms as part of the Miaoli Old Mountain Line Rail Bike stop. — Picture by Arif Zikri

A Hakka village where you can buy fresh produce grown from their backyard farms as part of the Miaoli Old Mountain Line Rail Bike stop. — Picture by Arif Zikri

Just a couple hours away from the cityscape of Tainan lies Miaoli County- a mountainous spot known for its hot springs, wood sculpture cultures, Hakka food as well as the annual Tung Flower Blossom Festival every April and May.

The Miaoli Old Mountain Line Rail Bike offers visitors a perfect overview of the county including the beautiful Mount Huoyan as well as the Liyutan Reservoir via a 70 to 80 minute electric rail bike ride.

Visitors will pass along the historical remains of Longteng Bridge which collapsed due to an earthquake back in 1935.

The Miaoli Old Mountain Line Rail Bike will also stop at a nearby Hakka village along its track where visitors can shop fresh fruits and vegetables from strawberries to ground peanuts and teas grown from backyard farms.

Finally Taipei: The Heart of Taiwan

Alleys at the Shilin Night Market might lead you to find more shops filled with fun-fair-like activities. — Picture by Arif Zikri 
Alleys at the Shilin Night Market might lead you to find more shops filled with fun-fair-like activities. — Picture by Arif Zikri

Alleys at the Shilin Night Market might lead you to find more shops filled with fun-fair-like activities. — Picture by Arif Zikri

There’s plenty to go about in the capital city of Taiwan- from large night markets and premium shopping districts to entertainment hubs and ecological parks.

For those looking to shop until they drop, the Shilin Night Market is the way to go as it is one of the largest night markets in Taipei jam packed with around 500 stalls and stores selling food, fashion items, souvenirs as well as collectables.

The Ximending Pedestrian Zone, although not as big as Shilin, is surrounded by shoplots and eateries while street performances happen at the centre of the pedestrian zone.

Taipei 101 is definitely not to be missed as it’s not just one of the tallest buildings in the world, but also home to a variety of luxurious designer brands.

Pineapple cake is one of the famous Taiwanese pastries and often the best gift to bring home and you can find out exactly how they were made via the Vigor Kobo Pineapple Cake Museum tour and yes, they do have milk sun cakes too.

The Jellyfish Healing Room at the Taoyuan Xpark. — Picture by Arif Zikri 
The Jellyfish Healing Room at the Taoyuan Xpark. — Picture by Arif Zikri

The Jellyfish Healing Room at the Taoyuan Xpark. — Picture by Arif Zikri

The Taoyuan Xpark located near the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is considered one of the largest aquariums in Taoyuan and is filled with marine life such as seals, penguins as well as coral reefs.

The main highlight of the park is their Jellyfish Healing room, a room filled with glass tubes full of jellyfish accompanied by soothing music.

There’s also a scheduled live animal show at the end of the tour taking place at their outdoor theatre.