Taiwan: The Beautiful Island10 days & 9 nights, Escorted Discovery Group
Escorted Discovery Group
Taipei, Taroko Gorge, Sun Moon Lake, Alishan & Fo Guang Shan
Early Portuguese sailors named Taiwan Ilha Formosa, meaning 'beautiful island', due to the breathtaking scenery, which still impresses modern visitors today. The energetic capital, Taipei, is home to possibly the best collection of Chinese artefacts in the world, while Tainan showcases Taiwanese architecture. The countryside is perhaps the biggest surprise, with deep gorges, snow-capped mountains, hot springs and tea plantations.
Day 1Arrive Taipei
You will be met and taken to your hotel.The Landis Taipei Hotel - 2 Nights (D)
This evening there will be a welcome dinner at local restaurant.
Early this morning you will visit the National Palace Museum, with its antique collection amounting to nearly 700,000 pieces whose age range almost covers the entire 5,000 year old Chinese history. It is regarded as the best collection of Chinese art and antiques in the world. The collection was brought to Taiwan by the Koumintang forces in 1949 and therefore when ancient treasures on mainland China suffered the ravages of the Cultural Revolution, the collection in Taipei remained intact.
After lunch near the museum, continue to the Martyrs' Shrine, resting on the slopes of the Chingshan Mountain and overlooking the Keelung River. The shrine was built in a grand and magnificent architectural style and it commemorates the 330,000 men who sacrificed their lives to the revolution before the establishment of the Republic of China and who fell during the Sino-Japanese war and the Chinese Civil war. There is an elaborate daily changing of the guard ceremony every hour.
Continue to the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (formerly the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall). Constructed in memory of the former president of the Republic of China, it is located in the heart of Taipei City and is one of the city's major landmarks. Finish with a visit to the Longshan Temple which was built in 1738 by settlers from Fujian Province, China. The temple served as a place of worship and gathering for the Chinese settlers. The temple has in the past been destroyed either in full or in part by numerous earthquakes and fires.
Optional excursion: Chinese Opera performance (payable locally)The Landis Taipei Hotel (B, L)
This evening there is the chance to visit the Taipei Eye performing arts center, and experience Chinese Opera. Performances last approximately 90 minutes and encompass various art forms, including folk music, martial arts, song and dance. Saturday performances also include an acrobatics show.
Day 3Yilan - Taroko
Drive from Taipei to Taroko National Park, traversing the hilly tea estates of Yilan, famous for the Yulan and Susin varieties produced there. En route, a stop will be made at a tea estate and tea house. Total journey time is approximately 5 hours, including stops.Silks Place - 2 Nights (B)
Note: Subject to local weather conditions, the journey to Taroko may need to be taken by train instead.
Day 4Taroko Gorge
Taroko Gorge and its surrounding area are well-known for the abundant supply of marble, leading to its nickname, "The Marble Gorge". The rock now seen in Taroko began over 200 million years ago as sediment on the bottom of the ocean. It is one of Taiwan's most famous tourist attractions. The gorge is a gaping rift in the mountains, carved into the marble by the erosive power of the Liwu River, with shear cliffs rising up from the riverbed. Highlights include the Eternal Spring Shrine, Swallow grotto and the Siangde Temple.Silks Place (B)
Afterwards, there is the chance to take a walk on the Shakadang Trail (approximately 1 hour), or return to your hotel.
Day 5To Sun Moon Lake
Drive from Taroko National Park to Sun Moon Lake, a journey of approximately 80 miles and taking up to 4 hours.The Lalu - 2 Nights (B)
Day 6Sun Moon Lake
This morning you will be taken to see some of the highlights of the Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area, including a visit to Wenwu Temple. This is the largest temple in the area and is where people come to worship Confucius and the martial gods, Guan Gong and Yue Fei. Your tour will also give you an opportunity to take in the natural beauty of the blue waters of the lake, set against a backdrop of picturesque mountains.
The rest of the day is at leisure. At the Lalu hotel you can visit the Lalu Memorial Hall on the right side of the main entrance, which was built in 1901 and first used as an official guest house during the Japanese occupation. You can also walk on the Hanbi Hiking Trail, a 1 mile track that winds its way through Lalu Peninsula. Alternatively, relax at the Lake View Chinese restaurant and enjoy the scenery, or visit the luxury Lalu Spa where a range of treatments are on offer (payable locally).The Lalu (B)
Day 7To Alishan
Drive from Sun Moon Lake to Alishan, a journey of 90 miles and taking up to 3 hours.Alishan House - 1 Night (B, D)
Take a guided walk in the Alishan Forest Park with its lovely scenery of waterfalls, villages and diverse flora. Dominating the plant life is the giant Taiwanese red cypress, some more than 2,000 years old. Logging was once the main industry of the area, but much of the old growth forest remains, and today logging has been replaced by tea plantations as the main form of agriculture. The walk today will take approximately 2 hours.
Day 8Tainan Fo Guang Shan monastery
Optional excursion: Dawn ride on the Alishan Forest RailwayFo Guang Shan Monastery - 1 Night (B, D)
Rise very early this morning, at approximately 4:00 am, in time to catch the 4:30 am departure on the Alishan Forest Railway to see the sun rise over the mountains (subject to weather and cloud conditions). The narrow-gauge lines of the Alishan Forest Railway were originally constructed by the Japanese colonial government in 1912 to facilitate the logging of the Taiwanese red cypress and other woods of Alishan. It is recommended you take a warm jacket for this excursion as it can be extremely cold at the summit in the early morning.
Drive from Alishan to Fo Guang Shan, a journey of approximately 91 miles and taking up to 3 hours, excluding stops.
Leaving Alishan, a stop will be made at the old mountain village of Fenchifu, before continuing to Tainan.
On arrival in Tainan you will begin a tour of the city's most famous sights. Your guide will first take you to the Chinese styled Chihkan Towers, built during the Qing dynasty on the site of the former 17th-century Dutch fortress Proventia. Continue to the Confucius Temple, the first educational institution on the island. First built in 1665, the building has since been restored several times, but maintains a classic style of architecture. Inside the temple there is a display of ancient costumes and musical instruments used in the annual ceremony to mark Confucius' birthday. Visit the 17th century Fort Anping, originally named Fort Zeelandia, the first Dutch fortress built on the island. End with a walk on Shennong Street (or Beishi Street), lined with well-preserved historic buildings that are used as small shops, bars, art galleries and private houses.
After the tour of Tainan, drive to Fo Guang Shan.
Day 9Kaohsiung - Meinong - Taipei
Optional excursion: Early morning prayersThe Landis Taipei Hotel - 1 Night (B)
Early this morning you may wish to participate in the morning prayers. The prayers start at 5:40 am and last for 1 hour, and are followed by breakfast with the monks and nuns, if you so wish. There is a method to eating your breakfast, so it is recommended that you follow the example of the monk or nun who is taking care of you. Novice monks and nuns serve food on your plate and whatever is put on your plates must be finished but you can say no to a helping if you know you will not finish. After breakfast, you are encouraged to join the novices for an exercise session, a form of Tai Chi followed by meditation.
Drive from Fo Guang Shan to Kaohsiung train station, a journey of approximately 23 miles and taking up to 1 hour, excluding stops.
Stops will be made at Meinong village, famous for its production of oil-paper umbrellas, and at the Former British Consulate at Takao in the west of Kaohsiung city, from where there are views of Xiziwan Bay and Port of Kaohsiung.
Take the train from Kaohsiung to Taipei.
Upon arrival, you will be met and taken to your hotel.
Day 10Depart Taipei
You will be collected at your hotel and taken to the airport.(B)