Tradition meets modernity
Formerly a territory of Imperial China, ruled by an independent government since 1949, Taiwan was viewed for many years only in terms of its economic power, embodying the image of a highly competitive Asian “dragon.” A veritable concentrate of Asian culture, the island has nonetheless forged its own identity as a model of contemporary-minded society. Its bustling capital, Taipei, is an ultramodern urban tapestry of glass and steel. Rising 509 meters (1,670 feet) above the skyline, the Taipei 101 Tower, the world’s third tallest building, lights up in a different color every evening. From the observation deck on the 89th floor, the view extends all the way to the mountains that ring this sprawling, ever-animated metropolis.
In the volcanic valleys beyond, just a few kilometers from the busy city streets, mist-shrouded waterfalls, narrow gorges, terraced rice paddies and steamy hot springs give this oblong, mountainous island landscapes that seem far removed from its modern urban ideal, uniting all the symbols of nature and Asian savoir-vivre. In Beitou, to the north, and Xinbei to the south, spring water bubbles forth from the rock at temperatures sometimes approaching the boiling point. Its soothing, beneficial properties can be enjoyed in public baths or private cabins.
After all, even while looking constantly to the future, Taiwan does not neglect its ancestral customs. At Sun Moon Lake near Taichung, Chinese and Taiwanese aboriginal traditions coexist in harmony. Surrounded by mountains covered with bamboo groves and cherry trees, its clear waters protect the sacred island of Lalu, which is accessible only to descendants of the Thao tribe, who populated the region before the arrival of the Chinese. From the lakeshore, 365 steps lead up to a gate guarded by a pair of scarlet-colored lions. Behind it stands Wen Wu, a Chinese temple devoted to both Guan Gong, the god of war, and the immortal sage Confucius. Once again, and always, a land of contrasts…
Restaurant in town. Le Moût is a highlight of Taiwan’s gastronomic scene. Situated in the heart of bustling Taichung, the restaurant has garnered international praise since launching. The name Le Moût derives from the French word for the process of fermenting grape juice, a simple substance, into a fine and complex wine. Similarly, young emblematic Chef Lanshu Chen takes simple ingredients and transforms them into sophisticated, unexpected dishes. Presented in an exquisite French and elegant manner, the flavours are inspired by local produce and memory of the land; it is her “cuisine de terroir”. The interiors pair antique chandeliers, sleek modern mirrors and rich velvet upholstered seats. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in town. It has been more than a century since the first hot springs hotel opened in Taiwan, and it became a destination thanks to the healing properties of the water. Villa 32 builds on this tradition and enhances it further by drawing on the delights of nature that surround it. Located in Beitou, tucked away between impressive mountains in a geothermal valley, this spacious villa has only five rooms – each with its own hot springs tub. Ming-Hong Chiu has succeeded in crafting a delicate and relaxing atmosphere by artfully combining the surrounding natural elements: water, wood, trees and stone, in the midst of lush vegetation covered in mist from the hot springs. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant beside a river. Blending into the surroundings, listening to the sounds of water, you are carried away by the life-enhancing hot spring. In the mountains, within one-hour travel from Taipei, this dream becomes a reality. Enjoy the views of forests and crystalline river water from the hotel and you may see how the nature expresses her beauty. The building is part of the mountain and inside, a blend of Taiwan aboriginal life style and autochthonous inspiration stands out. The private bathhouses allow guests to enjoy the spring water while gazing out over the peaceful river, and the aromatherapy treatments provide relaxation. The cuisine served in the two restaurants is up to the standards of any discerning gourmet. ... Learn moreless