It’s not hard to see why Taiwan was known for centuries by the nickname 'Ilha Formosa' (Beautiful Isle) – everywhere you look you’ll find a gorgeous landscape of mountains, luxuriant tropical forests, volcanic structures, deep gorges or wave-battered sea cliffs. Taiwan has nine national parks, some of which are featured below, each encompassing and preserving the different elements of the island’s diverse and magnificent geography.
Encompassing sea cliffs and soaring peaks, Taroko is home to a huge diversity of geographical features and habitats, sheltering a huge range of plant and animal species. The Liwu River slices through the park to the sea, rushing through gorges and tumbling crystal clear down waterfalls. The Taroko Gorge is the river’s masterpiece and is widely considered a scenic wonder, 18 kilometres of towering marble cliffs and lush vegetation. There are a number of easy hikes through the gorge itself, and plenty of more challenging options throughout the park.
Arguably Taiwan’s most scenic spot, Sun Moon Lake sits amongst forest cloaked mountains at the heart of the island. An area of abundant natural beauty, a visit to the lake provides a tranquil and idyllic escape from the city. Circumnavigate the sparkling emerald waters to find peaceful temples and pavilions perched on its grassy shores, voyage out on the waters to find a vantage point from which to savour your surroundings or fly above the lake in the cable car to view it in all its glory.
Occupying almost the whole of the Hengchun Peninsula in Taiwan’s south, Kenting National Park offers a huge range of water-based activities such as swimming, snorkelling, surfing and diving. The park consists of a range of landscapes – low mountains, rolling hills, cliffs and deserts, all fringed by excellent beaches and helped along with a balmy tropical climate. Plenty of wildlife call the park home, 310 species of bird have been recorded here, and the corals below the surface of the sea are second to none. Whilst there are some developed, lively spots within the park, most of it is still wonderfully deserted.
On the edge of Taipei the landscape rises up into rolling grass-covered hills and forest-covered mountains. The area was formed by volcanoes and is dotted with dormant volcanic peaks and bubbling hot springs – there are plenty of resorts where you can while away the day relaxing in the sulphur-rich waters. As well as being scenically beautiful there are also a few important historic sights to visit, Chiang Kai Shek’s house for one, which is easily accessible by road if you don’t fancy tackling the park by foot.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.