Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of water in Taiwan

From ancient Chinese artwork and majestic natural wonders to dumplings on the footpath and a view from 508 metres up, there are so many reasons to visit Taiwan. Andrew Starc gives you five of the best.

World famous signature dumpling

Taiwan is a gourmet’s delight offering a tantalising mix of Chinese and Japanese cuisine, and there’s no restaurant more famous on the island than The Ding Tai Fung in Taipei. Entering into its L-shaped dining floor, you’ll be immediately confronted by the sight of the kitchen crew, feverishly preparing dumplings behind a glass partition, while a team of waitresses busily attend to patrons indulging in the freshly prepared signature dish.

The menu at Ding Tai Fung has about 70 dishes to choose from. The dumplings here are light, juicy, tasty and affordable. A good meal will set you back about $T300, or about $A12.50.

Taipei 101 Tower

With appetites nourished, a visit to the nearby Taipei 101 tower, the tallest in the world at 508 meters tall, is the perfect after-lunch activity – unless you’re scared of heights. On the 89th floor, there is a Skydeck that gives views of the city in all directions. If you’re feeling adventurous you can climb the stairs to the outdoor deck on the 91st floor, which is as far as tourists can go up the 101-story building.

The trip to the 89th floor of Taipei 101 costs $T350 for adults (about $A14.60) and $T320 for children (about $13.30). There is an extra cost of about $A10 for visitors who want to climb to the 91st-floor outdoor deck.

National Palace Museum

Any visitor to Taipei should make a stop to the National Palace Museum, home to a captivating collection of more than 650,000 works of ancient Chinese art. The collection showcases a dazzling display of calligraphy, bronzeware, ceramics, paintings, jade, carvings, coins, enamelware and nearly 180,000 rare books. The highlights are the ancient ceramics and jade carvings. The intricacies of many of the carvings are startling. A stand-out is “Jade Mountain Villa”, a miniaturised mountain scene carved into a piece of jade. The ornate carving contains a stream, a valley, many trees, steps, and two pavilions on the side of the mountain.

Sun Moon Lake

The picturesque Sun Moon Lake in the center of Taiwan, just a few hours’ drive south of Taipei. The eastern side of the lake resembles the shape of the sun, while the western side is said to resemble a crescent moon, while its beautiful still waters are surrounded by forested mountain peaks. the crescent moon, hence the name.

Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of water in Taiwan

During colonial times, the Japanese built a hydroelectric power station in the region. This activity, which included building irrigation channels to funnel water into the lake, approximately doubled the size of Sun Moon Lake.

Overlooking the lake on the peak of Cinglong Mountain is the Cihen Pagoda. Construction of the nine-storey pagoda was ordered by the late Taiwanese leader, Chiang Kai-shek. The top floor is 1000 metres above sea level, giving visitors 360-degree views of the lake and surrounding countryside. Chiang Kai-shek apparently spent a lot of time at Sun Moon Lake and still seems revered by the locals.

Taroko Gorge

For visitors to Taroko Gorge, a marble valley with its walls peaking at over 1,000m high, a walk along the “Tunnel of Nine Turns” is a must. It allows great views of white waterfalls on the far side of the river, and the river’s stunning marble banks.

Because of the continuous tectonic movement of this area, cliffs faults and creases in the marble surface are very common. As the river flows through the gorge, it forms V-shaped valleys and precipitous cliffs, on which beautiful stone patterns can clearly be seen. In some places, the stone walls of the valley stand so close together that they only allow a thin line of sunlight through to the floor of the gorge. Waterfalls cascade off the cliffs, and trees cling to their vertical surfaces. The majestic scene is like that of a poetic
Chinese brush painting.

In some places the marble is pure white; in others pure grey; and everywhere else many shades in between. The walk is a 1.9-kilometre stretch of the old highway that is now closed to cars, so it’s a great way for visitors to pause and take their time while admiring the gorge. The Gorge is one of the natural wonders of Asua and should not be missed.