Wude Martial Arts Center (36 Dengshan Street, Gushan District, Kaohsiung City) — is a tall and magnificent Japanese-design brick building located across from Gushan Elementary School in Kaohsiung. During Taiwan’s Japanese occupation era, martial arts halls were built in major cities to promote traditional Japanese martial arts. They were used as places for training and competing.
Currently, Wude Hall offers visitors a view into Japanese culture through four main means: instructional performances, experience learning, a performance hall, and cultural studies, all of which revolve around Japanese martial arts, tea ceremonies, flower arranging, and calligraphy. Admission free. Hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (Tuesday – Sunday) (closed on Monday).
Thermal Valley (Zhingshan Road, Beitou District, Taipei) — Located beside Beitou Hot Spring Park, Thermal Valley is one of the sources supplying the area’s hot springs. The sulfuric steam that blankets the valley year-round gives the valley a frightening quality, giving rise to nicknames like “Ghost Lake.” The springs here have the highest temperatures of any in the Datunshan volcano group. With its surreal sulfuric atmosphere, it’s no wonder Thermal Valley was considered one of the “12 great sights of Taiwan” during the Period of Japanese Occupation.
The “Beitou rocks” (aka Hokutolite or Anglesobarite) in Thermal Valley contain the radioactive element radium. Out of the many thousands of minerals existing in the world, they are the only ones named after a place in Taiwan, and can be found in only two places: Beitou and Tamagawa, Japan. In recent years, the “Beitou Rock Conservation Area” has been established to ensure the protection of these natural rarities. Thus, when visiting Thermal Valley, you not only get to experience “hell” but also gain insight into some rare radioactive rocks!
Water temperature in Thermal Valley’s hot springs ranges from 80-100℃. The sodium carbonate springs tend to be corrosive, and have come to be known as “Green sulfur springs” and “Sulfur heads.” Visitors used to boil eggs in the hot springs, but the practice has since been prohibited—not only to protect the water quality but to keep tourists from falling in and boiling themselves!
Taipei Zoo (Section 2, Xinguang Road, Taipei) — the Taipei Zoo is one of the ten largest municipal zoos in the world and the largest in Southeast Asia. As the zoo is home to more than 400 animal species, rest assured there’s plenty to see! The zoo includes 7 indoor exhibits, each with different themes. At the Insectarium you’ll meet several butterfly species unique to Taiwan. Next, you won’t want to miss the hugely popular Koala House and Penguin House. There are also two giant pandas from China. These animals are the Zoo’s resident celebrities, so be sure to check them out!
Apart from the indoor exhibits, the Taipei Zoo also features 8 outdoor exhibit areas. The latter are divided according to geographical environment, and possess educational value both as exhibits and ecological environments. The “Children’s Zoo,” “Formosan Animal Area,” and “African Animal Area” are the most popular, according to Internet voting. The Formosan Animal Area includes endemic species like Formosan sika deer, Taiwan macaque, and Swinhoe’s pheasant.
Admission: NT$60 (adult), NT$30 (children under 18 years and students). Free for pre-school children and the disabled. Hours: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (daily)(closed on Chinese New Year’s Eve). Note: indoor exhibits are closed on Mondays. See the zoo website for more info: http://english.zoo.gov.taipei/
Taipei Eye (No. 113, Section 2, Zhongshan N. Rd., Taipei) — Taipei Eye is a performing troupe showcasing traditional theater. Various performances in Chinese, English and Japanese are scheduled every week. Theater goers can watch the actors put on makeup before each show.
The approximately ninety minutes of performances will provide the foreigners in Taiwan with an abundance of visual, sound, touch, smell, and even taste experiences. The show includes the folklores and the local skills, the folk music (South tube, North tube, Eight Sounds etc..), the aboriginal dance and music, the Chu-Yi ( Ping Tan etc. the story telling accompanied by music), and the traditional opera (including Taiwanese folk opera, Peking opera improved by new scenes of dances and martial arts, Kun opera, Li-Yuan opera, Kau-Jia opera, and puppet fun etc. ). Tickets prices are NT$550 per person (for performances on Monday, Wednesday and Friday), and NT$880 (Saturday). See Taipei Eye’s website for details: www.taipeieye.com
Taipei Children’s Amusement Park (No. 55, Section 5, Chengde Rd, Shilin District, Taipei) — built by the Taipei City Government, this is a family theme amusement park in the Taipei metropolitan area — with 13 rides, including the brand new Ferris Wheel, Bumper Cars, Ocean Carousel (musical carriage), Dancing Fly (dragon boat), Wave Swinger, Monorail and Spinning Tea Cups, Roller Coaster, Crazy Bus, Drop Tower, Pirate Ship, Telecombat and Spinning Chairs.
There is also a children’s theatre operated by the IF Kids Theatre Company, where an exciting program of skits and shows is staged during weekends and holidays. With an indoor car park for cars and scooters, and an indoor play area for families, a playground of buoy balls and slot machines, visitors can enjoy themselves in the amusement park, rain or shine. See the amusement park’s website for more info: http://english.tcap.taipei/
Taipei 101 — considered as the world’s tallest building from 2004 to 2010, Taipei 101 is a must-see site in Taiwan. The tower has served as an icon of modern Taiwan ever since its opening. It is composed of 101 floors above ground and 5 floors underground. A multi-level shopping mall adjoining the tower houses hundreds of stores, restaurants and clubs. For NT$ 500, tourists can go to the 89th to 91st floor to get a 360-degree view of Taipei.
Puppetry Art Center of Taipei (2F, No. 99, Sec. 5, Civic Blvd., Songshan District, Taipei) – this place was born from a passion with puppetry. In 1998, Paul Lin, chairman of the Taiyuan Arts and Culture Foundation, donated space to house the center. After careful planning by the Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs, the center was finally opened to provide a home for the preservation of puppetry culture. Located near the Living Mall, the center presents its traditional subject matter in a thoroughly modern setting. In addition to displays, the center arranges puppet shows and organizes fun and educational puppetry classes.
Admission: NT$50 (adult), NT$40 (students, military, police, and retired civil servants & teachers), free for seniors, disabled, unemployed and children under 3 years. Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (daily)(closed on Mondays). See the art center’s website for more info: http://www.pact.org.tw
Penghu (beaches) – this is one of a chain of islands (of the same name) located off the coast of Taiwan. Four of the 64 Penghu Islands are connected by bridges, forming a horseshoe in the Taiwan Strait.
Unlike the Taiwanese mainland, Penghu’s geography has lent itself to the development of flourishing beaches, thanks to the intense wind that the islands experience in the spring and winter. These are commonly held to be the finest beaches in all of Taiwan, with glistening white sand, coral reefs and transparent water. The heavy winds draw surfers and windsurfers from around the world.
Of Penghu’s beaches, the most popular is Shanshui beach near Makung, which has popular white sand areas. Further exploration reveals beaches made up of shells and your standard-issue off-white sand. Aimen is Penghu’s longest beach. Neian is popular for its shallow water. One can walk up to 300 meters away from the shore and the water only goes up to your chest. Neian is also a favorite spot for beach volleyball.
Note – ferry boat service to Penghu: transportation via the sea includes several services from ports in central and southern Taiwan to Penghu. A one-way trip takes about 4 hours. Services will be adjusted according to season and climate, enquire before departure. Lightweight Boats do not sail daily; they would often stop services when the weather is bad or during winter. In winter, only Taihwa Boat is in operation. For more details, please contact Magong Office, Port of Kaohsiung, at: +886 06 927 2303 or www.twport.com.tw/en/
National Radio Museum (74, Minquan Rd., Liaoding Village, Minxiong Township, Chiayi County) – located one hour (76 km) north of Tainan City, this unique museum immerses visitors in the world of radio broadcasting. Built during the Japanese occupation period in 1938, this site originally existed to inhibit Taiwanese from receiving radio broadcasts from Nanjing. In 1999, it was transformed into the National Radio Museum and opened to the public to reveal the secrets of the national radio station.
It’s currently divided into three areas: Transparent Broadcast Room: Open for live public broadcasting practice, where visitors can experience the fun of broadcasting; Live Antique Transmitter Room: The world’s only live antique transmitter allows visitors to see what it’s like to operate a broadcasting company; and Special Exhibition Room: Special exhibitions include topics such as broadcasting equipment and instruments.
Admission: NT$20 (general). Hours: 9:00 am – 11:00 am; 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm (Tuesday – Friday) (weekends by appointment) (closed on Mondays).
Lion Head Mountain – located 80 km. southwest of Taipei, Lion Head Mountain (a.k.a. Shitoushan or Shishan) has been a sacred spot for Buddhists since the Ching Dynasty, and is a favorite countryside escape for thousands, who flock during the weekends from Taipei and beyond. During the week, however, it retains much more of its classic secluded Buddhist retreat feel, and is a far cry from the bustling streets of Taipei.
Over the centuries the mountain has since grown into a network of Buddhist and Taoist temples, ranging from large and elaborate to humble Buddhist nunneries. Many are built into natural caves. But Lion Head Mountain is more than Buddhism and temples: the scenery makes for a great day’s hike, or better still a weekend getaway from Hsinchu or Taipei.But it’s perhaps not the place for one with a spider (or other insect) phobia.