Tourist Attractions

Taiwan aims to tap the leisure travel market

By: Jamie Wetherbe

While Taiwan has long been known as an industrial mecca, the leaf-shaped island off the eastern coast of Asia is stepping into the tourism industry. With the goal to double the number of tourists to 5 million by 2008, Taiwan’s transportation system and tourism bureau are being updated.

In June 2005, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau launched a new Web site with up-to-date information about events and festivals, as well as a Taiwan Specialist Program aimed to gain interest from the U.S. travel industry.

While a formal training program will likely soon be in the works, for now, travel agencies and tour operators can register to have their business information included in an online directory available to potential clients surfing the site.

In addition, the Web site lists several packages from a night tour of Taipei, to day tours of Taroko National Park and Wulai Aboriginal Village with price and itinerary information.

While many Taiwan travelers opt to stay in the country’s capital, travel to the country’s southern cities will soon be more accessible. A high-speed rail system connecting Taipei to major cities along Taiwan’s west coast including Kaohsiung and Tainan is slated for completion before the year’s end, said Michael Khang, the director of the Taiwan Tourist office in New York.

Upon completion, clients will be able to travel from Taipei to Kaohsiung, one of the country’s southernmost cities, in about the same amount of time it takes to fly. The 90-minute trip will cost between $70 and $80, Khang said.

Southern Trails
Kaohsiung is the second-largest city in the country and a commercial harbor along the Taiwan Strait. Located south of the Tropic of Cancer, Kaohsiung is typically hot and sunny year-round.

Evenings in Kaohsiung are best enjoyed on the Love River. The river, which runs through the city, is lined by well-kept parks, gardens and walkways. The riverside area is also a venue for events like the Lantern Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and other performances, concerts and folk art festivals. Clients can pay $1.50 for a short boat ride along the Love. While touted as a romantic tour, the open-air boats carry about 30 people which doesn’t make for a very private experience.

Clients looking for retail therapy in Kaohsiung can head to the new Jyuejiang Shopping Area the largest seller of international goods in southern Taiwan with fashions from Tokyo, Paris, London, Milan and New York. At the Liu-Ho night market, clients can wander the many food stalls and shop for souvenirs.

Attractions in Greater Kaohsiung include the Chengcing Lake and Shoushan scenic areas and one of the world’s most important Buddhist centers. Foguangshan’s central feature is a golden statue of Buddha, measuring more than 130 feet, surrounded by 480 smaller Buddhas.

Traveling Tainan
A 90-minute drive from Kaohsiung, Tainan offers more historical sites than any other place in Taiwan, including several temples.

The Goddess of the Sea Temple, a 15-minute drive from Tainan, pays tribute to those who lived and died crossing the Taiwan Strait some 400 years ago. Visitors are welcome in the almost 70-year-old Taoist temple and can photograph and participate in local traditions.
Other temples around Tainan include the God of War Temple and the Great Queen of Heaven Temple both famed for their Chinese-style architecture.

While Taipei boasts the famed National Palace Museum, in Tainan history buffs can check out the Chi-Mei Museum, which offers one of the most prestigious private collections in the world. The museum, open to the public free of charge, displays Western art, musical instruments, arms and armor along with artifacts. Keeping with the country’s industrial emphasis, a technology-focused collection is in the works.


Chi-Mei Museum

Taiwan Tourism Bureau


Kaohsiung Ambassador Hotel
202 Min Sheng 2nd Rd.
Kaohsiung, Taiwan. R.O.C

The recently renovated Ambassador Hotel Kaohsiung is set near the city’s financial district and Love River. The 453-room hotel offers dining venues serving up Chinese and Western menus, a business center, an outdoor swimming pool and health club.

Room rates range from $135 for a Standard Single to $1,825 for the Presidential Suite.

Tayih Landis Tainan Hotel
661, sec 1, Shi Men Rd.
Tainan, 700, Taiwan

The five-star Tayih Landis offers a business center, a spa featuring a full-service salon with massage and aromatherapy services, as well as a fitness center and indoor pool. Dining options include several restaurants featuring Asian fare and the Lips Lounge Bar off the hotel lobby for smaller bites and after-dinner drinks.

Room rates range from $190 for a Superior Single to $1,500 for the Presidential Suite.

Insider’s Tip: Few locals speak English, especially in Taiwan’s southern areas. If clients need to cab it, tell them to carry a card from their hotel to show drivers the address.