Author Archive | Steven Crook

Kaohsiung Gupoliao Zhuang House

Kaohsiung Named Among World’s Best Cities to Visit

Citizens of Kaohsiung were delighted last month to learn their fine metropolis has been named by Lonely Planet (LP) the fifth best city in the world to visit in 2018. Even before that announcement, an article published on LP’s website during the summer made it clear that the guidebook giant was falling for Kaohsiung in […]

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Visa Requirements for Taiwan

Do I Need a Visa For Taiwan?

The answer is almost certainly ‘no’ if you come from North America or Europe, and you’ve no plans to work or study. According to the website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, part of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, citizens of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the […]

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Mountain mists are common around Wutai.

Highlights of Indigenous Taiwan, Part 3

  In Part 1 of this three-parter on Taiwan’s most engrossing aboriginal districts, we looked at Wulai near Taipei. Part 2 focused on communities in East Taiwan. For Part 3, we’re going to the far south of the island. Alishan is the best known indigenous township in Taiwan’s southern half, but certainly not the only […]

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An Amis lady in Hualien County

Highlights of Indigenous Taiwan, Part 2

Like the Native Americans, in the not-so-distant past, male members of Taiwan’s aboriginal tribes won respect by developing the physical skills and strength that made them efficient hunters and brave warriors. In recent decades, such traditions have led to considerable success in the world of sport. A disproportionate number of Taiwan’s leading baseball players and […]

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Indigenous Taiwan

Highlights of Indigenous Taiwan, Part 1

  Taiwan used to be part of China, and most Taiwanese trace their ancestry to the mainland Chinese provinces of Fujian or Guangdong. Yet one facet of Taiwan making it quite different to China is the presence of indigenous ethnic minorities which  speak Austronesian languages utterly unlike Mandarin. The 2.4% of the population classified as […]

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Taiwan Punk Novelist

Taiwan’s First Punk Novel?

Recognizing that the ‘economic miracle’ based on manufacturing has run its course, Taiwan’s government is trying to boost the island’s cultural and creative industries. Because innovation can bring both social and economic benefits, the authorities have made both money and physical space available to creative types. In many cases, government-supported cultural/creative hubs are in fact […]

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Taiwanese Waterfall - Taiwan's Rivers

Taiwan’s Rivers

Taiwan is very mountainous and gets plenty of rain, so it’s no surprise the island is cleaved with short, fast rivers. The longest waterway is the 186 km-long Zhuoshui (the name means ‘turbid water’). Only four other rivers are more than 100 km in length. For centuries these waterways hindered north-south journeys. Few permanent bridges […]

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Hog Island - Pork Cuisine in Taiwan

Adore Pork? You’ll Love Taiwan

Taiwan has been called a ‘hog island’ and for good reason. In places like Pingtung County, the density of pig farms far exceeds that of anywhere in North America or Europe. Because local consumers prefer fresh to frozen meat, the sight of swine being trucked to market isn’t unusual. As recently as the late 1960s […]

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Cash, Changing Money & Credit Cards in Taiwan

Cash, Changing Money and Credit Cards in Taiwan

Taiwan’s economy is still largely based on cash transactions, especially when compared to places like Australia and South Korea, so visitors should always carry a decent amount of paper currency. The good news is that almost every business can provide change if you pay for a small item with a NT$1,000 note, so there’s no […]

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Get a foot massage in Taiwan

Foot Massage Pushes all the Right Buttons

An ancient form of therapy enjoying a second wind, foot massage has been around for over 2,000 years old. What’s also called foot reflexology is described in classical medical texts, yet fits in well with modern concepts like ‘slow travel’ and ‘slow living’ (ideas better known in Taiwan as LOHAS, an acronym you may well […]

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Inaccessible Road 159

Accessing the best of Alishan

The high-altitude resort of Alishan has long been one of Taiwan’s most popular tourist destinations, thanks to an alluring blend of mountain scenery, pristine forests, indigenous culture and temperatures appreciably lower than the 30-plus degrees Celsius often experienced on the lowlands. For some, the narrow-gauge railway that climbs from 30 m (98 ft) above sea […]

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Visit Taiwan during spring

Visiting Taiwan in Spring, Part 2

Tainan and Lugang are often described as Taiwan’s foremost ‘bastions of tradition’, and both are well worth visiting. However, if work or family commitments keep you close to Taipei during the spring, it’s still possible to immerse yourself in the customs and rites that dominated this society before its recent industrialisation. The best place to […]

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Visiting Taiwan in Spring

Visiting Taiwan in Spring, Part 1

Springtime visitors to Taiwan are guaranteed both warm, sunny weather and a number of lively festivals. In Taipei, daytime temperatures are typically 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit) in March. By the following month, it’s already 23 to 29 degrees Celsius (73 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit) in Kaohsiung. It’s no wonder city parks and the […]

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Taiwanese Hamburger

The Taiwanese Hamburger Goes Global

What English-speakers often call a ‘Taiwanese hamburger’ is known to Taiwanese people as guabao or ho-ka-ti (‘tiger bites pig’ in local dialect). This hearty snack of dark brown meat inside a snow-white steamed bun is near the top of many visitors’ ‘must-eat’ lists. Like several other Taiwanese dishes, the local hamburger doesn’t just give culinary […]

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Sales Tax Refunds in Taiwan

Getting a Sales-Tax Refund in Taiwan

Foreign citizens visiting Taiwan can take advantage of the government’s sales-tax (VAT) refund system if they spend more than NTD3,000 in a single day at any participating shop no more than 30 days before leaving the country. Taiwan’s VAT rate is a mere 5% but on big-ticket items the savings could be significant. It makes […]

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Hakka Fighters Uniform

South Taiwan’s Hakka Strongholds, Part 2

These days, Taiwan is one of the safest places in the world for tourists and expatriates. But it wasn’t always so peaceful. Uprising were frequent, while settlers battled indigenous people for control of the best land. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Taiwan was rocked by a series of rebellions, and because there […]

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Hakka Architecture in Taiwan

South Taiwan’s Hakka Strongholds, Part 1

Taiwan’s southern half is a stronghold of Taiwanese Holo culture, and it’s where you’ll find the ancient former capital, Tainan, as well as Kaohsiung, a modern city. At the same time, the south has intriguing pockets of Hakka culture and tradition. The Hakka are Taiwan’s largest ethnic minority. For the last several decades, Taiwan’s demographics […]

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taiwan-fish-market

Bonding Over Coffee: An American Inspired by Life of Taiwan

When a chance to travel almost anywhere in world landed on her lap, Maretta Delacruz didn’t hesitate to choose Taiwan. ‘Why Taiwan? Taiwan is a melting pot of Asia/Pacific Islands, with strong influences from mainland China, Japan and aboriginal cultures. From Taipei to the south, this little island is known for an amazing variety of […]

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Traditional Shop in Taiwan

Shopping for tradition in Taiwan

International brands are every bit as popular in Taiwan as they are in the West, yet wander around any of Taiwan’s cities and you’re sure to come across photogenic shops selling products which hark back to an era before mass marketing and containerisation. In many old neighbourhoods there are businesses which specialise in rice. In […]

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joshua-samuel-brown-3

Joshua Samuel Brown: Lonely Planet Author

American travel writer Joshua Samuel Brown has covered places as far away as Belize and Singapore for Lonely Planet, but Taiwan has long held a special place in his heart. He’ll be heading back to Taiwan in January 2017 to begin work on his fourteenth book, a hybrid travelogue/guidebook titled Formosa Moon for Things Asian […]

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