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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > January 2017 > TAIWAN

TAIWAN

Often overshadowed by its larger Asian neighbours, this Switzerland-sized island is ripe for discovery: Taipei is a city comfortably in the throes of reinvention, while trips beyond lead to the neck-craning wonder of Taroko Gorge, the traditional pursuits of Tainan, and southern Kenting with its beach-and-jungle vibe.

@RGouldingTravel

Taipei 101 dominates the twilight view from Elephant Mountain in the east of Taipei
PHOTOGRAPHS MATT MUNRO

Plan your trip

1 Start your trip by getting to grips with the futuristic design start-ups and landmark towers of the capital city Taipei (p48).

2 Next head along the coast and inland to Taroko Gorge, home to both magnificent waterfalls and Taiwanese aboriginal culture (p50).

3 Tainan was the first city to be founded in Taiwan: spend a couple of days exploring its many temples and teahouses (p52).

4 Finish your trip on the beach with a coconut to sip from. Kenting is where the locals go to relax at the island’s southern tip (p54).

MAP ILLUSTRATION: ALEX VERHILLE. PHOTOGRAPHS: BRENT HOFACKER/ALAMY, MOVIESTORE COLLECTION LTD/ALAMY, MATT MUNRO, YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

HOW TO GET THERE

EVA Air flies from London Heathrow to Taipei Taoyuan International Airport with a one-hour stop in Bangkok (from £515; evaair.com). Other airlines flying from the UK, including Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Thai and Turkish Airlines, and involve a change of plane (from £470; turkishairlines.com). The inner-urban Songshan airport is used by domestic and short-haul flights only.

HOW TO GET AROUND

Most visitors to Taiwan use a combination of trains, buses and taxis to get around. Spacious, streamlined High-Speed Rail trains run from Taipei to the Kaohsiung suburb of Zuoying in as little as 1h35min (from £40 one-way; thsrc.com.tw). Local trains complete the loop round the island’s east coast (railway.gov.tw). A wide network of tourist shuttle buses covers the gaps between train stations and major attractions (taiwantrip.com.tw). The Kenting Express Line, for example, runs from Zuoying HSR station to Kenting (£10; 2¼ hours). Few visitors rent cars for their stay, although Taiwan’s highway network is good and English-language road signs are widespread. Scooter rentals, though, are particularly popular in Kenting. Taiwan has fallen for cycling in a big way in the last decade, and rental shops are widespread.

When navigating addresses, be aware that different systems used to transliterate Chinese characters over the years have often left a variety of spellings for the same location: Taipei’s Zhongxiao Road, for example, could also be written as Jhongsiao or Chunghsiao.

HOW LONG TO SPEND

This itinerary can be covered in eight days (including a day in Taipei to get through jetlag) but a longer trip of up to two weeks would allow more time to explore, or to add in extra stops, such as Sun Moon Lake in the central mountains. For extended stays, consider a short flight over to one of Taiwan’s offshore islands, such as the Penghu Archipelago or tropical Lanyu.

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About Lonely Planet Traveller (UK)

In the Jnuary 2017 issue... It’s time to choose whether to embrace the winter or escape it – and we’ve got a list of great hotels around the world for either option. Among our features this month is a Great Escape to Taiwan, where it never really gets cold; a trip to the west of Iceland to discover this land of sagas; a Perfect Weekend in Riga – Latvia’s charmer of a capital; a snowshoe walk up to an age-old refuge on Switzerland’s Great St Bernard Pass; and much more
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