Is Taiwan on your list of destinations to visit? The Muslim friendly country is home to a selection of natural parks, temples, shrines, breathtaking scenery, delicious halal food, and a history overflowing with Taiwan’s culture. What many people may not know, is there’s more to Taiwan than their hi-tech mass production and vibrant cities. In fact, there are plenty of small villages, hidden paths, and national parks, offering a completely different experience than what Taiwan is popularly known for.
Travelling with the family? Not a problem! Embarking on an adventure as a solo traveller? It’ll be just as fun! Even if you and your partner are on your halal honeymoon, Taiwan is for everyone. Whether you’re looking to enjoy the modern side of halal-friendly Taiwan, visit the various tribes, or take a trip down memory lane and unearth their history, Taiwan has so much more to offer, that we couldn’t let you go without pointing out these 8 captivating tourist attractions!
Overseen by Taiwan’s Chinese Muslim Association (CMA), Taiwan currently has at least 324 certified Halal restaurants located all over the country. For a country so small, that is incredible! All of these restaurants have a certificate to prove their Halal status and is usually displayed at the entrance. The annual Halal Taiwan Expo event just shows how far Taiwan has invested in the Muslim economy. Check out the Taiwan Halal Integrity Development Association for more detailed information.
There are also a growing number of Muslim friendly hotels, that provide in-room amenities such as handwashers, prayer rooms and qiblah direction. Check out Rihaala.com to search for hotels in Taiwan for your next trip.
Sun Moon Lake – Taiwan’s Largest Body of Water
Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of water in halal friendly Taiwan. The area around the lake is home to the Thao tribe, one of aboriginal tribes of Taiwan. The Lake surrounds a tiny island called Lalu, with the east side of the lake resembling a sun while the west side resembles a moon, hence the name.
Sun Moon Lake is located 748 metres above sea level and is 27 metres deep with a surface area of approximately 7.93 km2. The area surrounding the lake has many trails for hiking making it perfect for those looking for an adventurous halal holiday. The lake and its surrounding countryside has been designated as one of the thirteen national scenic areas in Taiwan, proving it’s a place not to miss.
During the Japanese occupation period there were two temples on the banks of the lake of Sun Moon: Longfeng Temple in Shueishe Village and Yihua Hall in what is now Yitashao. When the Japanese built their hydroelectric power plants, the water levels rose, and the temples had to be removed. The Japanese electric company paid compensation, and the temple managers decided to combine their resources and build a single new temple at Songboling, on the northern shore of the lake. The result was today’s Wenwu Temple.
The architecture of the temple has the palace style of northern China. It is a large and imposing structure, with three separate halls. On the second ﬂoor of the front hall is a shrine devoted to the First Ancestor Kaiji and the God of Literature; the central hall is devoted to Guan Gong, the God of War, and the warrior-god Yue Fei; the rear hall is dedicated to Confucius. This is the only Confucius Temple in Taiwan that keeps its central door open.
Alishan National Park – The Very Best Of Nature In Taiwan
Alishan National Scenic Area is located in central Taiwan and is a breathtaking destination. It’s dominated by the Alishan Mountains, which feature cloud-ringed peaks and green valleys. The area is home to Tsou aboriginal villages, known for its tea production, something you won’t want to go home without trying!
A narrow-gauge train which is part of the Alishan Forest Railway, runs through high-altitude forests making it not only breathtaking but a once in a lifetime experience for Muslim travellers. There is also the Giant Tree Plank Trail boardwalk to experience which winds past huge cypress trees, including the fallen Alishan Sacred Tree.
It’s good to keep in mind that the Alishan National Scenic Area is protected. Because of this, all vehicles need to be parked outside the zone. If you plan on staying the night at Alishan National Park, you hotel’s bus would pick you up from outside and ferry you in. Various different packages are available, but we’ve been tipped off that it’s worthwhile getting an all inclusive package, dinner included, due to the delicious selection of halal food.
Tainan – The Old Capital Of Taiwan
Tainan, a city on Taiwan’s southwest coast, was the island’s capital from 1683–1887 under the Qing dynasty. Today it’s known for its centuries-old fortresses and temples. One of its most famous sites is Chihkan Tower, an 18th-century Chinese complex with gardens, intricately carved towers and a temple erected on the foundations of Fort Provintia, a Dutch outpost dating to the mid-1600s.
A must visit in Tainan is the Confucius Temple. The Tainan Confucius Temple, with its three and a half century old history was the ﬁrst Confucius Temple constructed in Taiwan (of which there are now many) and is considered to be the ﬁrst real “school” in Taiwan. The temple today serves as a popular tourist attraction and is an important historical site where ancient tradition is both practiced and preserved for the future generations.
The current look and layout of the temple comes from the 1917 renovations done during the Japanese era, though many of the structures are much older. At the heart of temple is the main hall, known as Dacheng Hall – its roof dates back to the early 1700’s. It is surrounded by an enclosure of halls that connect to the greater temple grounds through Dacheng Gate. In front of Dacheng Gate is the main courtyard. Here, in addition to Banyan trees and open ground, you’ll ﬁnd two ceremonial gates known as the Li Gate and the Yi Path which symbolizes the main disciplines of Confucianism.
Fun Fact: Taiwanese consider banyan, willow and mulberry trees as inauspicious. These trees are never planted in one’s backyard as they are considered to be the abode of the ghosts. However, it’s OK for them to be in and around temple premises.
In front of the central courtyard is the Pan Pond, a semi- circular stone pond that was also a site of ceremonial rituals. Next to Dacheng Hall is the Hall of Ediﬁcation, or Minglun Hall, where you can ﬁnd Confucian text displayed in beautiful calligraphy. Tucked in the corner behind Minglun Hall is the Wen Chang Pavilion, built in 1886 and very recently restored. This is a three story pavilion dedicated to the literature deity, Wen Chang.
Chihkan Tower is another must visit while in Tainan. Built by the Dutch in 1653, the Tower was once known as “Fort Provintia” and the Han People also called it “Chihkan Tower” or the “Red Haired Tower.” The Tower’s walls, made of red bricks, are adhered by a specially designed cement mixture, made of sticky rice, sugared water and oyster shell; thereby, making it withstand the test of time.
Fun Fact: When there are examinations, students often come to the Chihkan Tower and pray Kuei Xin Ye, the god who guards students, for good grades. The pen held in Kuei Xin Ye’s hand was therefore often stolen!
Kaohsiung – Your City Break Getaway In Taiwan
If you’re looking for the city life, Kaosiung is for you! Halal friendly Kaohsiung is a massive port city in southern Taiwan. It is home to many skyscrapers, such as the 248 metre tall Tuntex Sky Tower, and is popular for its diversity of parks. Its focal point is the Love River, with walking paths and cafes along its banks, and cruise boats navigating its waters. Shopping options range from high-end malls to the Liuhe and Ruifeng night markets making it a shoppers paradise whether you’re looking to save or splurge!
It’s a 90-minute drive from Tainan to Kohsiung, with both sides of the road featuring factories manufacturing a variety of products, mainly hi-tech products. If you drive from Taipei airport to Sun Moon Lake, you’ll notice the same sort of scenery; proof that Taiwan is indeed the largest producer of hi-tech components.
The night market in Kaohsiung is a sea-food lovers’ paradise interspaced by souvenir shops and massage parlours, the perfect place to roam around on a full stomach before calling it a night. One of the most famous attractions of Kaohsiung is the Lotus Pond, located on the east side of Zouying district. The lotus ﬂowers bloom, in abundance, every summer, thus the name “Lotus Pond.” The pond is surrounded by willow trees, in an area of 75 hectares, and is home to many temples and shrines, one being the Old Confucius Temple.
The Old Confucius Temple was originally built in 1684 and has a circumference of up to 122 meters. However, during the Japanese colonial period, and due to lack of maintenance, the only part left of the original structure was the Chong Sheng Shrine. The new Confucius Temple was located in northwest corner of Lotus Pond; then, it was relocated and rebuilt in 1977, located in North Shore of Lotus Pond.
Fun Fact: There are Dragon and Tiger Pagodas that are 7-story each and stand up on the lake. The pagodas have their own dragon and tiger statues, and it is said that by entering through the dragon’s mouth and coming out from the tiger’s mouth, is auspicious and believed to take away all sins.
Taitung – The Best Of History In Taiwan
Taitung City is on the southeast coast of Taiwan. It’s known for Peinan Cultural Park, the site of a number of buried Neolithic slate cofﬁns ﬁrst excavated in the 1980s. Examples of relics recovered from the site, including pottery and jade stones, are displayed at the National Museum of Prehistory. In the wooded Taitung Forest Park are birds and butterﬂies, and footpaths wind past several lakes.
When visiting Taitung, you’ll want to stop by the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum. Previously known as the Buddha Memorial Center, it is a Mahayana Buddhist cultural, religious and educational museum. The museum is afﬁliated with Fo Guang Shan, one of Taiwan’s largest Buddhist organisations. The museum houses one of the tooth relics of Sakyamuni Buddha, the founder of the Buddhist faith. Construction of the museum began in 2008, and the museum was opened to the public in December 2011.
Fun Fact: Taiwan has 16 tribes!
Taroko National Park – A Combination of Taiwan’s History And Nature
Taroko National Park is one of the nine national parks in Taiwan and was named after the Taroko Gorge, the landmark gorge of the park carved by the Liwu River. The park was originally established as the Tsugitaka- Taroko National Park by the Governor-General of Taiwan on 12 December 1937 when Taiwan was part of the Empire of Japan. After the Empire of Japan’s defeat in World War II, the Republic of China took over Taiwan in consequence. The ROC government subsequently abolished the park on 15 August 1945. It was not until 28 November 1986 that the park was reestablished.
For those looking for a picture perfect view, a trip to Hualien is worth the drive. Just 40 minutes out, you’ll come across a beautiful park on the shores of the Paciﬁc Ocean. The location is made for a beautiful photo stop, one you won’t want to miss before checking out Sanxiantai, the location of lava rocks, pebble beach and the famous Foot Bridge.
Sanxiantai is located in the north of Chenggong Township in Taitung County. It is composed of offshore islands and coral reefs. Odd-shaped rocks are everywhere on the islands, including three huge rocks which have spawned legends about three Chinese saints: Lyu-Dongbin, Li-Tieguai and He-Xiangu. These 3 saints once boarded on the island, hence the name Three Saints Island.
Fun Fact: Sanxiantai is a geological rock that turned out to be a headland. Gradual erosion cut the neck that connected the mainland to the main island thus became the offshore islands.
Yehliu Geo Park – Home To Some Of Taiwan’s Must Breathtaking Rock Formations
Yehliu Geological Park resides within a cape 1.7 km long and is home to some of the most famous eroded rock formations in the world. Due to the rather soft limestone composition of the rock layers, this area is prone to erosion from a combination of sea water, waves and wind forces. The constant effect of these factors over time has resulted in a geological landscape that seems to be out of this world.
Both a museum and scenic attraction, the Geo Park offers extensive information on the natural geological processes that created these rock formations. Many formations have been given names representing their shapes, such as the “Mushroom Rocks”, “Sea Candles”, and “Fairy Shoe”. The most iconic rock is the “Queen’s Head”, which, true to any noble monarch, only reveals its majesty when viewed from the proper angle. Due to the constant erosion caused by wind and waves, the rock formations are in a delicate state of transformation. What can be seen today may not be the same years ahead.
Fun Fact: When in Taiwan, consider it a ritual to release a sky lantern. An hour’s drive from Yehliu Geological Park you’ll come across Shin Fen village, a place popular for their sky lanterns.
Along the railway track that bisects Shin Fen village are a selection of shops that sell paper lanterns. Once you have chosen the colour of your lantern (every colour has a meaning… for love, health, friendship, etc.) you are given a marker to scribble on the 4 sides of the lantern. You then hold the lantern, ignite the burner, and release.
Taipei – Taiwan’s Capital
Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is a modern metropolis with Japanese colonial lanes, busy shopping streets and contemporary buildings. The skyline is crowned by the 509 metre tall, bamboo-shaped Taipei 101 skyscraper and the city dots with upscale shops, lively street-food and bustling night markets. The Greater Taipei metropolitan area, which encompasses the central Taipei City along with the surrounding New Taipei City and Keelung, represents the largest urban cluster in Taiwan with nearly 7 million people. Taipei serves as the island’s ﬁnancial, cultural and governmental centre.
Some of Taipei’s must visits include the National Palace Museum, the famous Taipei 101 skyscraper, Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the Longshan Temple and the Shilin night market.
National Palace Museum: Due to the Sino-Japanese War, the Nationalist Government took artifacts from Beijing so they wouldn’t be harmed. After the war ended, the Chinese civil war continued and thus the Kuomintang shipped them to Taiwan. Needless to say, the Communists weren’t very happy about this, but this way the treasures were probably saved from destruction in the Cultural Revolution — and the museum today has what is quite possibly the best collection of Chinese art in the world.
Taipei 101: Ofﬁcially known as the Taipei International Financial Center, this 101-ﬂoor, 508-meter high skyscraper is in the Xinyi District of Taipei and is the ninth tallest skyscraper in the world. The tower is rich in symbolism; it was designed to resemble bamboo rising from the earth, a plant recognized in Asian cultures for its fast growth and ﬂexibility, both of which are ideal characteristics for a ﬁnancial building. The building is also divided into eight distinct sections, with eight being a number associated with prosperity in Chinese culture.
Fun Fact: Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building from 2004 to 2010. It also boasts the world’s second fastest elevators, which will zip visitors up to the 89th-ﬂoor observation deck in just 37 seconds.
The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is the famous symbol of both Taipei and the Republic of China. It is here that the nation’s ﬂag is raised every morning, and the huge court yard in front of the memorial serves as a place for both national celebrations as well as a platform to voice one’s disapproval of the government. The memorial consists of a large bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek, watched over by two motionless honor guards who are replaced every hour in a riﬂe twirling ceremony. Downstairs, there is a museum of Chiang’s life, complete with his sedans and uniformS.
The Longshan temple is where countless generations of Taipei citizens have come to pray and seek guidance at times of trouble. As the temple is dedicated to Guanyin (the Buddhist representation of compassion) it is ofﬁcially deﬁned as Buddhist. The area around Longshan Temple, Wanhua, is one of the original districts of Taipei. While much of the traditional architecture has been lost, the area still maintains a traditional feel.
Looking for the best spots to enjoy halal food in Taiwan? Check out this video and discover what Muslim street food (and where!) you won’t want to miss!