Taiwan is a fascinating country, with a culture that matches its geographical location, somewhere between China and Japan. The food is a spin on southern Chinese, with delicious dumplings and other delights, and there’s a Japanese influence too, seen in its architecture and love of quirky Japanese cartoon characters, and the Taiwanese’ well-mannered and helpful nature. Some things however, are uniquely Taiwanese – and you won’t experience them anywhere else in the world.
1. King of Carton, Taichung. Stroll past zebras, giraffes, elephants and toucans, as well as windmills, Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower, all made from paper, before dining in a restaurant also made of paper – even your chair and the pot that you cook your Shabu Shabu-style veggies and meat in!
2. Robot Factory, Taoyan. Learn how robots are made at the Robot Factory in Taoyan. Not only do you get to learn the history (and future) of robots at this interactive museum, you also get to control them and play with them.
3. Lotus Wake Park, Kaohsiung. Take the wakeboard course around man-made Lotus Lake, which is surrounded by colourful temples, each dedicated to different gods to balance the lake’s Feng Shui.
4. Lihapo Land, Taichung. Get that adrenalin pumping on the freaky broken track rollercoaster here – the track tips over 90 degrees and leaves you hanging there before freefalling to meet the next track that loops a few loops. There are plenty of other thrill rides to enjoy here too, as well as an adjacent water park.
5. Taroko Park, Kaohsiung. Go racing on the only Suzuka go-kart racetrack outside Japan – it feels like Formula One, if only for 15 minutes. Inside the complex there are all sorts of indoor sports to try out as well, including basketball, mini golf and baseball.
6. Leofoo Safari & Theme Park, Taipei. Hand-feed King Julian, the lemur, and his mates at this open-plan zoo on the outskirts of Taipei. The complex also includes a theme park and water park, so you’ll need a full day to explore.
7. Rainbow Village, Taichung. This painted village is one of the last of Chiang Kai Shek’s veteran housing projects, saved from demolition by its determined owner, who taught himself to paint and turned it into a tourist attraction.
8. Modern Toilet. Yep, in Taipei’s Xi Men shopping district you’ll find a three-storey eatery where you can eat lunch from a toilet bowl. It’s actually been here for over 10 years – proof that gimmicks work? Well maybe that, and also, the food’s actually pretty good. Try the Thai green curry, served in a baby blue toilet bowl, or the chocolate icecream shaped like a…
9. Taipei 101. Check out the view from the top of Taipei 101 – once the tallest building in the world, with the fastest elevator, and learn about the 660-tonne dampier that keeps the tower safe in high winds.
10. Quirky Accommodation. Stay in a hotel where you can slide to reception. Taiwan has plenty of quirky boutique hotels and at The Red Dot Hotel you can skip the elevator and slide down two storeys to reception on your way out to explore the city.