Go beyond Taipei, PH tourists asked
TAIWAN—With Taiwan fast becoming a vacation destination, its tourism and tour officials have sounded an appeal to Filipinos: Don’t limit yourselves to Taipei.
The capital city offers many interesting things, but there are more wonders to visit beyond it, according to Jerry Chuang, director of press division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines (Teco).
“Taipei is not Taiwan,” said Chuang. “We are diversified. Other counties (provinces) have historical and cultural sites, nature, food and other destinations that would be very interesting to Filipinos.”
The number of Filipinos visiting Taiwan has risen since Nov. 1, 2017, when its government announced a visa-free policy for tourists staying for a maximum of 14 days. The policy has been extended until July 31, 2020.
In 2018, the number of Filipinos visiting Taiwan almost doubled at 419,105, from 290,784 in 2017.
Teco urged the Philippine government to reciprocate the visa-free policy by granting Taiwanese nationals the same privilege.
“It will surely strengthen the bilateral ties and mutually benefit our two countries,” Teco said.
From stargazing to shepherding
At Qingjing in Nantou county, visitors can stay in villas that offer a breathtaking mountain view and a perfect spot for stargazing. On a clear day, they can watch the sun rise from Mount Hehuan, which has an elevation of 3,417 meters.
They can experience shepherding or watch sheep-shearing shows at the Qingjing Farm. Or take a stroll on the 1.2-kilometer Skywalk hugging the cliffs while enjoying the sight of mountain ranges and valleys below.
Nantou is also home to the Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan’s largest body of water. It is popular for its biking path totaling 29 km around the lake and is touted to be one of the world’s most scenic bikeways.
Visitors can go on a boat cruise or visit the Wen Wu Temple at the lake’s northern bank or take the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, a cable car service connecting the lake with the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village.
The 40-hectare Shanlinxi Forest Ecological Resort Park in Zhushan township in Nantou is popular for forest trails with varying degrees of difficulty, waterfalls and suspension bridges.
From Nantou, tourists can proceed to Changhua county just two hours away by bus, and visit its museums, historical sites and monuments, as well as art and cultural centers.
One can feel Taiwan’s rich history and culture by taking a walking tour of the well-preserved Lukang Old Street, with its quaint alleys, shops, eateries and monuments. It is one of the oldest streets in Taiwan.
Ecotours and workshops
In Tianzhong township also in Changhua, tourists can visit the Motex Mask Creative House and learn how the different types of masks sold internationally are made. There are also DIY color activities and pearl milk tea workshops in other sites.
At the Magical Mushrooms Tribe, a mushroom farm in Puxin township in Changhua, visitors can learn about different mushroom varieties and how they are grown.
Taichung, the second most populous city next to Taipei, offers ecotours, farms, parks, bikeways, hot springs and delectable food.
Another memorable DIY workshop involves making pineapple cakes, among the most popular pasalubong (coming-home gifts) from Taiwan. The workshop is held at the Vigor Kobo Pineapple Cake factory, where tourists can also shop at its store.
A popular destination in Taichung is the Rainbow Village, a former military residential compound that has been transformed into an art village with houses painted in psychedelic colors.
Then there are Taiwan’s iconic night markets. The Fengjia Night Market in Taichung is one of its biggest and most popular, offering street food and drinks and endless blocks of shops.
In a tour organized by Everbright Travel & Tours Inc. and sponsored by the government units of Taichung, Changhua and Nantou, Taiwan Tourism Bureau, and Teco last May, Filipino journalists and tour operators enjoyed the sights of central Taiwan.
Chih-hsiu Hsiao, chief of the planning section of the Nantou tourism office, said many Filipino tourists were unaware of destinations outside Taipei.
“We want to encourage more tourists from the Philippines,” he said.
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