To experience a country, you need to interact with its people.
Centuries of tumultuous occupations have left many diverse impressions on Taiwan and its populace. This is part of the reason Taipei was designated World Design Capital of 2016 — local indigenous crafts, Japanese architecture, highly intricate Taoist temples, modern minimalism, and many diverse Chinese cultures elements contribute to the plurality of textures on this 400-mile long island. We almost forgot to mention Taipei’s funky contemporary art and a vibrant underground music scene. As for cultural festivals, Taiwan’s cultural plurality ensures there is never a dull time of year as festivities are held year round to celebrate various gods and beliefs. How about a two-day-long fireworks display? Or perhaps attending the annual nine-day Mazu Pilgrimage in which thousands of followers accompany the Goddess Mazu as she is carried through various temples on the west coast?
“lí chia̍h pá bōe” - Have you eaten yet? (Taiwanese Hokkien greeting)
Taiwanese language history begins with the Taiwanese indigenous peoples, who are estimated to have been living on Taiwan for 5,500 years before Han immigration began in the 17th century. Of the indigenous languages that still remain, Amis, Atayal, Paiwan, and Bunan are the most popular and might be encountered on a trip outside of the urban areas. Indigenous languages are only spoken by about 1.4% of the population and most are considered endangered or moribund. Of the 200,000 Amis peoples in Taiwan, less than 10,000 speak Amis as their first language. Hakka, spoken by about 6.6% of the population, is the second rarest national language and can mostly be heard in mountain villages outside the cities of Hsinchu, Taoyuan, and Miaoli.
Ironically, the one language that seems to inspire a sense of camaraderie, Taiwanese (Hokkien), is by contrast not a national language. Nearly universally spoken by the elder population, it is the most prevalent language that has survived multiple periods of colonisation. Taiwanese Hokkien is spoken by 81.9% of the population, and is just slightly less common than Mandarin Chinese, which is spoken by 83.5% population and the primary national language.
Food is what brings people here together, and with so many options, your taste buds will always be looking for the next dish.
Taiwan is home to world-class fine dining, local delicacies, and most importantly, a unique fusion of flavours. The Taiwanese love fresh produce and incorporate it into their dishes without reserve. From savory street snacks and shaved ice desserts, to bountiful fresh seafood, noodles and dumplings at family-style restaurants where places are meant to be shared by all diners, Taiwan is a culinary jackpot. It is also famous for its high altitude green teas, internationally acclaimed peaty whiskies, indigenous millet wines, and infamous high-alcohol-content Kaoliang spirits made from sorghum. We promise you will not leave Taiwan with any culinary regrets, and the diversity of flavours will most likely stay with you for a long time.
“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.”
Taiwan is one of the top three most religiously diverse countries in the world. The major affiliations include: a broad spectrum of Buddhist sects (35%), folk-religion infused Taoism (33%), and irreligion (19%). Further diversity comes from Chinese folk religion (most popular being Yiguandao), remnants of Shinto shrines from the Japanese colonial era, and even traditional animistic ethnic religions of the indigenous peoples. Temples, which vary in purpose and God worshipped, can be found everywhere from narrow spaces between apartment complexes to at the end of high mountain forestry roads. From the grandiose multi-temple complex at Foguangshan in Gaoxiong (Kaohsiung) to the smallest of Land God shrines in uninhabited areas, Taiwan is in a sense, a very spiritual nation.
It’s our culture and traditions that defines us.
Taiwan a country with a deep complex religious history that has incorporated and supported beliefs that are now part of its cultural framework. Folklore festivals, agricultural celebrations, god and deity parades, to western themed seasonal holidays. Rather than dodging bottle rockets, stand in front of a wall of 100,000 as they "bang" the bad luck from your being. Watch priests burn a full scale hand made wooden boat sitting on a sea of paper money to send the evil spirits away. Watch believers self harm their bodies while being possessed by spiritual demon catchers who are hunting bad spirits and return them to hell. At the core of all these events is a strong belief of individuals participating to preserve their culture and beliefs through celebration and sacrifice.
Hippies, Punks, and Mods. Temples, Skyscrapers, and Soviet-style apartments.
Urban development and culture are prominent in cities along Taiwan’s west coast. Here modern multi-story shopping malls featuring international brands stand adjacent to the lush tropical vegetation of city parks. Memorial halls and museums form the backbone of cultural attractions while numerous temples big and small and the occasional solitary shrine break up the urban landscape. Rising demand for quality luxury goods from Japan, Europe and America has inspired a new generation of shop owners to operate trendy multi-brand select shops, that as a result of spacial constraints, often end up manifesting as tiny hole-in-the-wall boutiques.
Don’t underestimate a culture that doesn’t sleep.
Nightlife, more prevalent on the west coast, features a mixture of local and international options. World-class clubbing, live music events, and intimate acoustic or experimental electronic performances occur on a weekly basis and take place in modern live houses and trendy cafes. A competitive craft beer scene has arisen and locally brewed craft beers can even be found in convenience stores alongside the ubiquitous and comparatively light Taiwan Beer. Walk through the streets at night on a local god’s birthday and you might also be lucky enough to encounter a temple celebration of neon-clad parade floats.
A self-described country of “convenience”.
In addition to their being a 7-11 (or two) on every corner, there is also fully developed mass rapid transit that reaches most of the urbanized island. A modern circular train system that circumnavigates the island in under 12 hours forms the backbone of intercity transit and coast-to-coast travel. For trips along the west coast, a high-speed rail can reduce the trip from Taipei in the North to Gaoxiong in the South to just over 2 hours. And, for those who prefer to travel overnight, many companies operate lazy-boy outfitted intercity buses over a great variety of routes most of which operate 24-hours a day. Most train stations also feature scooter rental shops which offer single-day and multi-day rentals at affordable prices. For those with international motorcycle licenses, a wide variety of imported 125cc-250cc bikes can be rented and motorcycle tours, while expensive could be arranged.
Living on the border of the Eurasian and Philippine Sea plates.
The mountains of Taiwan shelter many secrets: a near infinite number of waterfalls, most of which are undocumented, dozens of natural hot springs outcrops, and even mysterious 500+ year old austronesian petroglyphs (Wanshan Petroglyphs). Networks of ancient communications roads traverse the central mountain range, some but not all of which have been developed into modern cross-island highways or official hiking trails.
The central mountain range, which is composed of three subranges, divides the rolling plains of the west coast, which are home to 90% of the islands population, from the precipitous gorges and narrow canyons of the east coast.
The coastal mountain range, which receives less visitors and features more difficult hiking, is made up predominantly of comparatively softer and more erosion prone sandstone and shale. Running along the east coast of Taiwan from Hualien to Taidong, it separates the East-Rift Valley from the Pacific Ocean. Its highest peak, Xingang Mountain, still reaches an impressive elevation of 1,682 meters.
The only thing more beautiful than the mountains, are the rivers between them.
Unique in their remarkably steep grades, most rivers gain 2000-3000 meters of elevation in less than 50 kilometers. With over 129 independent draining systems, and many more individual tributaries, the Taiwanese river and gorge system is a beautiful playground which could not be explored completely in a lifetime.
Due to a great disparity in rainfall between wet and dry seasons -- in certain areas rainfall in the dry season could be a hundred times less if not a thousand times less than that of the wet season -- Taiwan’s rivers exhibit both perennial and intermittent qualities. This allows for canyon exploration and canyon hot spring excursions in the dry winter months when the water levels recede and make rivers passable.
Step back away from the hustle of the city and revert back to a pre-industrial pace of life
The small islands that surround Taiwan (Peng-hu, Little Liu-qiu, Green Island, Orchid Island) offer an escape from the encroachment of modernity. Explore fishing villages. Escape light pollution. Interact with local indigenous tribes and have the ultimate serene escape. The island experiences we offer focus on taking a step back and slowing down. Experiences are rooted in nature and infused with local culture. Enjoy local seafood dinners, snorkel or dive underwater passages, scooter coastal roads and star gazing.
A place of unexpected discoveries and stark contrasts.
Taiwan is a photographer’s playground with diverse textures, cultural plurality, a multitude of mountain ranges, deep oceans and the quirks of everyday life. This beautiful island has a rich mixture of ancient cultures and traditions, while at the same time being on the cutting edge of science and technology. It is a place where relationships and hospitality are held in high esteem, yet its people are some of the toughest and most successful entrepreneurs on the world stage. Tiled and decorated temples are now overshadowed by tall buildings of glass and steel. In winter a coat of snow covers the forest-clad mountains of the interior, contrasting with the sub-tropical climate of the western coastal plains. To the east, the submarine tectonic plate boundaries plunge down as deep as the mountains are high. This is a country that rewards those who take the time to discover the treasures of everyday life, and we can guide you in using your photographic skills to share these experiences.
The mountains are constant and we are just visitors.
Taiwan is home to 260 peaks taller than 3000m. Taiwanese mountaineers have compiled a list of the 100 most prominent 3000m peaks referred to as 百岳 (Bai-yue). While some locals make it a goal to collect as many peaks as possible in their lifetime, one would be wise not to overlook the rest of the sub-3000 meter peaks in Taiwan, which as not necessary less rugged nor less beautiful. The mountains reward those who dare attempt to summit their peaks with breath taking views accented by wild scenes of rugged rock and twisted forests. Ancient aboriginal hunters, Japanese lumber workers, American soldiers on the march – the tales of those who pioneered these trails are sometimes whispered and listened to by the newest visitor, whose eyes and soul are transfixed by the mountain.
Certified AMGA Rock Climbing Instructors
The golden sandstone and metamorphic quartzite rise above the north east coast of Taiwan creating this paradise for rock climbers. With more than 700 sports and trad routes and multi pitch right above the ocean, climbers are treated with a wide variety of climbing. Suitable for all age groups and climbing ability rock climbing will change your outdoor experience in Taiwan. Let certified AMGA instructors take you to the best spots in this paradise and have a safe fun day out!
3,275M climb over 85KM
Whether it’s a gentle cruise around the island on well-preserved bike paths, cycling up to the top of an active volcano, or challenging yourself to reach the summit of the world’s toughest rideable mountain, Taiwan offers it all and more. With strong from both national and local governments, cycling in Taiwan has become increasingly more popular in the past decade, and an excellent transportation infrastructure that means that traveling with bicycles has become as stress free as possible. Taiwan features multiple climbs over 50km and is also home to the famous Taiwan KOM Challenge, a route that starts at sea level and, over a gloriously beautiful 85km ascends to 3,275m and the midpoint of Taiwan’s central mountain range. As a cycling destination, Taiwan’s ‘hidden gem’ era is definitely nearing its end as the island is being seen as a bucket-list destination.
A tropical island with 1,139 km of coastline to explore is a diver's paradise!
From a day trip to the coast or a longer visit to one of our beautiful southern islands the waters of Taiwan are abundant. The oceans around Taiwan are home to jaw-dropping reefs, amazing macro life, hammer head sharks, sea turtles and an abundance of underwater species awaiting discovery. With the options for drift diving, boat dives, shore entry, wrecks, and night dives. We can guarantee a uniquely diverse underwater experience. The diving culture of Taiwan is well established and growing, with such ease and access to its coast lines. Spend your days diving and returning to the city to continue your adventures or enjoy the island life and listen to the sway of the ocean while planing the next shore entry point. If you have not consider Taiwan as a diving destination then time to rethink your next holiday.
“Standing in a damp circular cavern surrounded by 40-meter walls of grippy contoured marble, your eyes focus on the waterfall of equal height, essentially the unclimbable ‘upstream’ of the tributary that you just ascended, that gently tumbles and cascades into the shallow pool just meters in front of you. The only entrance or exit to this cavern lies behind you: a rugged 10-meter waterfall that you just climbed by yourself.”
Taiwan is one of the most ruggedly mountainous countries in the world.
Experience the undisturbed serenity of the inner river canyons of Taiwan. There is nothing better in the summer than river tracing — taking relief from the blistering heat by jumping in cool turquoise runoff that has just flowed down from the 2000-meter peaks directly above you. Even without you, this is where we spend out summers. Come join us.
Discovering new depths of Taiwan canyon’s.
Canyoneering is the western version of river tracing. Before there were roads leading up certain canyons in Taiwan, one of the most logical ways to explore a canyon was by following the river at the bottom. This technique originated with Japanese scouts and was eventually used to establish hydroelectric power in Taiwan. Today, there is a vast network of forestry roads and industry roads that carve deep into the mountains of Taiwan that allows for traditional canyoneering where one travels downstream from the start point. We are working with Taiwan’s leading Canyoneering association to provide you with the best experience possible.
The first step in creating your custom itinerary is getting in touch with us via the form below. We will then contact you with our ideas.