Finally, Taiwan is visa-free for Filipinos. Although this policy is only on a nine-month trial period from 1 Nov 2017 until 31 July 2018, that’s still more than enough time for you to explore and see the immense beauty of this neighbouring country.
Now, you’ve booked your flights, and your passport is ready, but the problem is, you don’t even know where to begin. I understand. I’ve been there, and I’m here to help. Taiwan is apparently my most favourite country – I’ve been here three times already.
Aside from Taipei, which you have probably already included in your itinerary, I recommend that you explore other cities in Taiwan’s West Coast as well like Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung. Start off with these beautiful spots that are guaranteed to enliven your Instagram feed. Prepare your #OOTDs and cameras, and snap away!
1. Zhong She Guanguang Flower Market
The Zhong She Flower Market is my top favourite mainly because of the extremely beautiful flowers that blanket the vast area. This is by far the largest flower field I’ve ever seen in my life. There are sunflowers, tulips, lavenders and a lot more flower varieties I could not even name. It’s actually a flower market too, so you can buy some fresh flowers or seeds you might want to bring back home. Whatever season you decide to visit here, this flower paradise is always magical and truly a sight to behold!
How to get there: From Taichung Station, take a train to Houli Station. Then, take a taxi to Zhong She Flower Market. Alternatively, you may alight at Tai’an Station and walk back along Anmei Road to Highway 13.
Admission: NT$120 (~₱200)
2. Rainbow Village
This is such a happy place! The Rainbow Village is the brainchild of former soldier, Huang Yung-Fu. It used to be an early settlement for soldiers and was saved from being demolished because of Huang’s initiative to transform it into his own masterpiece. You may buy a postcard inside and have it personally signed by the man behind this creative genius.
How to get there: From Taichung Main Railway Station, take Bus #27, #29, #30 or #40 to Lingtung University. From there, walk to the south along Lingtung Road and you will see the village on the right. For more convenience, just take a taxi from Taichung Station.
3. Taichung Cultural and Creative Industries Park
It was already dark when I came here, so I only managed to take a photo of this wall that speaks it all! There are nightly activities at different corners of the creative park, and I’m glad I got the chance to immerse in Taichung’s thriving music and vibrant night scene right here.
How to get there: Just a 15-minute walk from Taichung Main Railway Station.
4. Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House
Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House is not entirely Instagram-worthy as it gets jam-packed, especially in the afternoon, but setting foot on the place where Taiwan’s pearl milk tea originated is more than enough reason to be here. Of course, you have to try the original pearl milk tea and you be the judge!
How to get there: From Taichung Main Railway Station, take Bus #27 and alight at Taichung Hospital. From there, walk towards Siwei Street where the store is located. You may also take Bus #305W and alight at Taichung City Hall. Then, walk towards Siwei Street. If you can find Bus #1, #21, #26, #99 #158 near your location, you may ride them as well and alight at Chung-Hsiao Elementary School. Then, walk towards Siwei Street. It should be around two blocks away.
Admission: Free, unless you want to buy something
5. Chimei Museum
This is a private museum established in 1992 by Shi Wen-long, a Taiwanese businessman and founder of Chi Mei Corporation. I only saw the museum from afar while riding the free shuttle from THSR Tainan Station. So if you have time, do drop by this majestic museum which houses a large collection of ancient weaponry, musical instruments, paintings, sculptures and antiques, among others.
How to get there: From THSR Tainan Station, take the free shuttle to Chimei Museum.
Admission: NT$200 (~₱340)
6. Ten Drum Rende Creative Park
This once abandoned sugar mill is now a creative park where the renowned percussion group, Ten Drum (十鼓) thrives. While every corner of Ten Drum Rende Creative Park is Instagram-worthy, from the outdoor area to the old factory and drum museum, what you should not miss here is the world-class performance of the Ten Drum group. I had the chance to witness it, and I must say that it was such a stellar, jaw-dropping, multi-sensory experience. You have to see it for yourself!
How to get there: From THSR Tainan Station, take the free shuttle to Chimei Museum. Ten Drum Rende Creative Park is just walking distance from Chimei Museum and Bao’an Train Station.
Admission: NT$100 (~₱170)
7. Blueprint Cultural & Creative Park
This feels like an open-air museum for me with the art installations, larger-than-life murals and old house structures that were beautifully restored with blueprint architectural style. It’s hard to miss this park as it sits at the centre of Tainan, along with many hotels and business establishments.
How to get there: From THSR Tainan Station, take the free shuttle to Tainan city proper and alight at Tayih Landis bus stop. From there, you should find the Blueprint Cultural & Creative Park within the same block.
8. Tainan Confucian Temple
Built in the mid-1660s, Tainan Confucian Temple, also known as Taiwan Confucian Temple, showcases old structures and halls that were once used by Confucian scholars. Confucian ceremonies are still being done here regularly and visitors must observe proper decorum while in the premises. The beautifully landscaped gardens as well as the temple complex make for a great photo backdrop.
How to get there: From Tainan Railway Station, transfer to Bus #2 to Confucius Temple bus stop.
Admission: Free at the grounds but if you want to go to the interior of the complex, entrance fee is NT$50 (~₱85)
9. Anping District
No trip to Tainan is ever complete without exploring Anping District, one of the oldest towns where Taiwan’s history blossomed. There are many Instagram-worthy spots in this historic district including the Anping Tree House, Tianhou Temple (pictured above), Fort Zeelandia and Anping Old Street where you can buy traditional items and various street food.
How to get there: From THSR Tainan Station, take the free shuttle to Tainan city proper and alight at Tayih Landis bus stop. Take shuttle #88 to Fort Zeelandia.
Admission: Anping Tree House: NT$50 (~₱85); Fort Zeelandia: NT$50 (~₱85)
10. Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
Opened to the public in December 2011, the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum in Kaohsiung’s Dashu District continues to attract Buddhist pilgrims all over the world because it houses one of the tooth relics of Sakyamuni Buddha. You don’t have to be a believer to enter this sacred place because it is open to all. Feel free to stroll around the area and strike your most Instagrammable pose, but do observe silence and proper behaviour. I noticed that unlike other temples or sacred places I’ve visited in other countries, this revered complex has no strict dress code – or so I thought. Still, I advise that you dress appropriately here.
How to get there: From Kaohsiung HSR Station or Zuoying Station, there is a bus stop right outside the station. Take Bus #8501 going to Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum.
11. E-DA World
Located near Kaohsiung’s scenic Quan-Yi Mountain, E-DA World is a huge tourism complex comprising of a Greek Aegean Sea-inspired theme park, an outlet mall, and some luxury hotels including the E-DA Royal Hotel (pictured above). I could say that this place has a happy theme park vibe perfect for the young and the young at heart.
How to get there: From Kaohsiung HSR Station or Zuoying Station, there is a bus stop right outside the station. Take Bus #8501 going to E-DA World.
Admission: Free unless you want to try the rides
12. Dashu Old Railway Bridge Wetland Park
If you would like to take a break from the city’s hustle and bustle, head over to Dashu Old Railway Bridge Wetland Park. Enjoy some peace and quiet as you stroll around the park, and don’t forget to strike a pose with the Dashu Old Railway Bridge as your background. And for those who want to try their hands at brick building, the Sanhe Tile Kiln, one of the surviving traditional brick kiln factories in Taiwan, is just within the area.
How to get there: Take a train to Jiuqutang Station. Then, take a taxi, bus, c-bike or walk for about 1.5km to Dashu Old Railway Bridge. Alternatively, buses 8010, 8010 Shuttle, Da Shu Qi Fu A Line and 07 A around Kaohsiung will take you to Dashu Old Railway Bridge.
13. Formosa Boulevard Station
The Formosa Boulevard Station in Kaohsiung’s Sinsing District proves that metro stations are not always mechanical and boring. The station’s Dome of Light, which is made up of over 4,000 glass panels, is a spectacular background for that striking Instagram photo. Do visit it at night to see its full grandeur. True to its name, the Formosa Boulevard Station is a real beauty you ought to see while in Kaohsiung.
How to get there: You can easily reach it via the Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). It is a transfer station between the Red Line and the Orange Line. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask the locals.
Admission: Free (of course!)
This list is, by all means, non-exhaustive. I only included the places that I had the chance to visit in Taiwan. So, if I missed your favourite spots, feel free to share them in the comments section.
Special thanks to Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines, Taiwan Tourism Bureau, and EVA Airways for making it possible for me to visit these Instagram-worthy spots in Taiwan. For a more comfortable, seamless trip to Taiwan, fly with EVA Airways – it operates direct flights from Manila to Taipei 3x daily.