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Distinctive coastal ecologies await at the North Coast and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area and Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area; rugged seaside cliffs at the East Coast National Scenic Area; and country idylls at the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area. Scenic lagoons and rich waterfowl resources can be found at the Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area and Southwest Coast National Scenic Area in southwest Taiwan. At the Siraya National Scenic Area, you can explore the homeland of the Pingpu aboriginal tribe, while the rich culture of the Rukai aboriginal people is alive and well at the Maolin National Scenic Area, also home to a rich butterfly ecology and stunning scenic sites. At Alishan National Scenic Area, home to the Tsou aboriginal tribe, experience the beauty of the sunrise views and cloud formations at the roof of the world. The lakeside scenery at Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area, hawks of Baguashan, fruit of Lishan, and Daoism and Buddhism retreat at Shihtoushan further present the cultural and natural diversity of Taiwan.
Other discoveries await on the outlying islands of Taiwan, from the distinctive terrain of the Penghu Islands to the sea-eroded rock formations and eastern Fujian culture and stone houses on Matsu in the Taiwan Strait, to the natural beauty of the remote Orchid Island and Green Island in the southeast Pacific.
Rocky and unforgiving in several places, Taiwan's North Coast also boasts fine sandy beaches and stunning vistas. Inland, typically it is rugged and precipitously steep, but there are also hot springs, rushing rivers, and several waterfalls. Unfriendly to farmers and often hazardous to seafarers, this landscape is certainly dramatic - and, for that reason, very attractive to tourists.
The North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area encompasses two separate sections of North Taiwan's New Taipei City. The larger part consists of the seashore, part of the ocean, and a strip of land either side of Fuguei Cape, Taiwan's northernmost point. The smaller part of the Scenic Area is centered on the 616-meter-high mountain called Guanyinshan.
If you fly into Taipei international airport, or take a domestic flight from the south of the island to the capital, you may well see Guanyinshan before landing. An eighteen-peaked expanse of rock and greenery, crisscrossed by hiking paths and dotted by Buddhist and folk shrines, this massif stands like a sentinel looking over the mouth of the Tamsui River.
Whether you're seeking a bleak, deserted strip of shore, the sun beating down on a sandy beach, or history, culture and good food, you'll find it in the North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area.
The Northeast Coast National Scenic Area is located in the northeast corner of Taiwan, stretching 102.5 kilometers from Nanya District in New Taipei City to the south cape of Neibi Beach in Su-ao Township. It encompasses 17,421 hectares of land and sea.
This scenic area is noted for its numerous capes and bays backed by green mountains. Its attractions include spectacular rock formations, unique sea-eroded landforms, beaches of fine golden sand, a rich diversity of marine life, and an unspoiled cultural heritage. It is a multipurpose tourist destination that serves the dual functions of a fascinating natural classroom and an enchanting coastal playground. The Tourism Bureau established the Northeast Coast National Scenic Area Administration in 1984, charging it with the development and management of the area's tourism resources as well as the preservation of its environment. In addition to developing areas of outstanding scenic beauty as tourist items, the Tourism Bureau has also established nature preserves here, both on land and at sea, in order to sustain forever the ecological vitality of the Northeast Coast.
The Northeast Coast National Scenic Area, which runs from Juifang south to Beigangkou in Yilan County, is noted for its natural beauty: reefs, rivers, terraced rice paddies, rolling green hills, lighthouses, and two of Taiwan's best beaches. Recreational opportunities include camping, rock climbing, hiking along a 200-year-old footpath, and water sports, such as swimming, surfing, wind surfing, jet skiing, boating, snorkeling and scuba diving.
This majestic mountain was given the name Mt. Shihtou or Lion's Head Mountain because of its northern part's resemblance to a lion's head. It is 496 meters high and is part of the foothills of Mt.Luchang. Its abundant vegetation, old trees, and temples make Lion's Head Mountain an attractive and interesting travel destination. The oldest of these temples is ShryandungYuanguang Temple built in 1894. It is a popular destination for worshippers who can also enjoy the mild winter and cool summer weather of the region.
Ever since the late Qing Dynasty, the temples and caves of Lion's Head Mountain and Mt. Wujhih have been so famous that they were listed among the 12 most enchanting scenes in Taiwan. This scenic area encompasses the townships of Beipu, Emei, and Jhudong in Hsinchu County and the townships of Sanwan and Nanjhuang in Miaoli County. Located between the Provincial Highway No. 3 road system and the Shei-Pa National Park system, this region covers an area of 24,221 hectares and is rich in natural (cold springs, forest and lakes) and ecological resources as well as notable cultural attractions, including temples and historical artifacts of the Hakka people and the aboriginals (the Atayal and Saisiat tribes). Since its establishment in 2001, the Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area Administration has worked to develop a high-quality tourist region focusing on nativism, education, ecology, and sustainability. Some of the promotional events for tourism development to date include lifestyle and historical tours; exploration of the traditional culture of the Hakka people; discovery of the mysteries of the Saisiat Tribes; Sacrifice to the Short Spirits; a river ecology tour; a tour of the natural habitats of insects; and a tour of mining and unique industries.
The Sun Moon Lake, located in the middle of Taiwan, with an elevation of 748 meters above sea level, is the only natural big lake in Taiwan. The southern part of La Lu Island is shaped like a new moon, and the northern part is shaped like a sun; hence the name Sun Moon Lake.
Scenic resources the most famous sights around Sun Moon Lake are the Itashao, Lalu Island, the Syuentzang Temple, the Tsen Pagoda, the Wenwu Temple and so on. The natural forests bordering these roads are good places for bird watching. There are a lot of birds that live on the mid-elevation, such as the Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Grap-throated Minivet, Formosan Yuhina, Gray Tree Pie, Bamboo Partridge, Chinese Bulbul, Muller's Barbet, and the Black Bulbul. Colonies of Black-crowned Night herons and Egretta garzettas, and birds such as the common kingfisher and the Green-winged Teal can be seen at the Dajhuhu water reservation, situated around the water gate. Besides these birds, fish, insects and wild vegetables are flourishing in the region as well. These are all natural resources of the Sun Moon Lake region.
The Shao Clan is the earliest clan that lived in the Sun Moon Lake region. The Harvest Festival, Sowing Festival and their special handicraft fair every year, as well as their articles have helped to preserve the particular culture of the Sun Moon Lake region.
Construction of the Alishan Forest Railway was commenced in 1899 by the Japanese. Intended to transport logs down the mountain, it has a 762mm gauge, a gradient of 6.25%, and a minimum turning radius of 40 meters. Traffic was opened on the 66.6-kilometer stretch between Chiai and Erwanping in 1912, and was extended up Alishan to a full length of 71.4 kilometers in 1914. The railway climbs from 30 meters above sea level to 2,216 meters, has 49 tunnels and 77 bridges, and passes through a cross-section of climates and terrain types.
From Chiayi, the railway travels along relatively flat terrain for 14.2 kilometers before beginning the long climb, corkscrewing around Mt. Duli, climbing 200 meters over a distance of five kilometers. The railway then travels on to Pingjena Station. From here it zigzags up the mountain, reversing direction at each new section of line as it gradually ascends Alishan.
Intended to transport logs and carry supplies, the railway has now become an integral part of the Alishan recreation facilities. After the Alishan Express was established in 1984 (requiring 3 hours and 15 minutes for the complete journey), some of the carriages of the original trains were converted into hotel accommodation. A number of locomotives are also on display at the Old Railway Display Area located near Jauping Railway Station.
In contrast to the northern and eastern coastlines, which are characterized by steep cliffs and rugged mountains, the western coast of Taiwan is largely flat. The stretch of coast from Taipei in the north to Kaohsiung in the south is heavily industrialized, but there are a number of areas that serve as natural habitats for wildlife including migratory birds and other coastal dwellers. In order to protect these precious habitats and to create a recreational area for visitors at the same time, a new national scenic area was established in the end of 2003, which is administered by the ROC Tourism Bureau. The Southwest Coast National Scenic Area, which includes the coastal areas of Yunlin, Chiayi, and Tainan counties, is known for its sandbanks, marshes, river deltas, and wetlands, which are home to a large number of endemic bird species and serve as a resting place for many migratory birds during the winter. Besides its ecological value, this new scenic area also has a lot of other attractions, such as the traditional production of salt from seawater, the local fishing industry, old temples and other historic sites that make a trip worthwhile.
The Maolin Scenic Area covers the districts of Maolin and Liugui in Kaohsiung City, as well as parts of the administrative areas of Sandimen Township in Pingtung County. The Maolin Scenic Area has many scenic spots, such as the Baolai Hot Spring, Forever Young Hot Spring, Duona Hot Spring, Eighteen Monks Mountain, Meiyagu Fall, Dragon Head Mountain, and Maolin Valley. Scenic resources Near the Eighteen Monks Mountain Reservation Area and the Meiya Valley, tourists can often see Formosan Macaque, squirrels, Varicorhinus barbatulus, and Taiwan blue magpies. All of them are precious resources in the Maolin Scenic Area. The state-owned forest in this area is another natural feature. The artistic side of the Maolin Scenic Area includes tunnels, temples, suspension bridges and aborigine cultures. Maolin, Wanshan, and Duona in Maolin Districts are reserved for aborigines. It is the home of the Lukai Tribe. The Lukai Tribe is famous for its slate houses. At present about 30 slate houses are being preserved in the Duona village of the Maolin District, making it the largest collection of preserved slate houses in Taiwan. The Liugui Tunnel, consisting of six parts, is the only highway tunnel in southern Taiwan. Because of its views, the Liugui Tunnel has become a famous scenic spot. The Maolin Scenic Area has beautiful scenery and a lot of well-known Buddhist temples, such as the Miaotong and Miaocueng temples. The Maolin Scenic Area has many suspension bridges, the Duona Suspension Bridge being famous for its length.
This area has been called "a land of milk honey". Traveling down Provincial Highway No.9, all you see on both sides are green farm fields stretching to the mountains. The national scenic area stretches from Mugua River in Hualien to the north to Taitung City and covers a total of 138,386 hectares, encompasses mountains, valleys, and hot springs, together with fields of rice, daylilies, pomelos, tea, and sugar apples in rich abundance. Berms crisscross the land, dividing it into fields; waves of rice billow as cows graze in pastures and fish and shrimp cavort in the streams. The contentment-filled inhabitants are warmly hospital in their rustic way, and the stream beds are littered with precious stones. Truly, this is a paradise on earth.
The valley is home to four of Taiwan's indigenous tribes: the Amis, Atayal, Bunun, and Puyuma. Aboriginal culture is among the most important and most representative of the East Rift Valley's precious resources.
The Siraya National Scenic Area is a major farm produce area. A large variety of fruits and other products grow year-round, making the Siraya National Scenic Area true to its name of "A Land of Abundance". In recent years, under governmental direction, the agricultural products of all counties and towns have been integrated, promoting local special products in each area, "one specialty for each village or town". Each of the 15 townships and villages in Siraya has its own special product, allowing them to promote significant tourism resources for the area. This "Touring Siraya" website introduces the five major recreation systems in the area: the Guanzihling Recreational System, the Zengwen Recreational System, the Wushantou Recreational System, the Zoujhen Recreational System and the Hutoupi Recreational System, each with their own tourist information and cultural specialties. The Siraya National Scenic Area's special tourism features are provided, along with information on accommodation, transportation, maps, etc.
Dapeng Bay covers the two designated scenic areas of Dapeng Bay and Liuqiu. The northern boundary of Dapeng Bay is the Provincial Highway 17 and the Ping 63 County Road. The eastern and western boundaries are Linbien and Xinggou in Donggang Township respectively. To the south, there is a 600-meter sea area starting from the high tide mark of the coastal line. The main features of Dapeng Bay include the Qingzhou Rest Area. In this region, there is a famous boat festival of the Donglueng Temple in Donggang. Tourists can also enjoy the beautiful submarine scenery on Liuqiu Island.
Dapeng Bay is the largest inner bay in Taiwan, providing rich resources of sea animals and plants in this region. Redwoods and sea eggplants are growing by the sea; Ipomoea pes-caprae, Excoecaria agallocha, and Clerodendron inerme are all very famous. The animals in the Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area are mainly birds, fish and mollusks. There are about 95 kinds of birds, including migratory birds. Fish include groupers, and other sea animals include a special kind of tide-waving crabs on the wetlands.
Liuqiu Island is the only coral island found among the 14 islands around Taiwan. It is famous for three features: the best location for watching sunsets, the largest variety of corals, and the entire island as a coral reef. The whole island is full of strange rocks and reveals many beautiful ocean landscapes.
The East Coast National Scenic Area, known as "Taiwan's last unspoiled land", stretches 170 kilometers down the east coast of the island from the mouth of the Hualien River in the north to Shiauyeliou (Little Yeliou) in the south. To the east it is bounded by the Pacific Ocean; to the west rises the Coastal Mountain Range. The land here consists of volcanic rock, classic rock from deep beneath the sea, and shale that has been pushed upward- and is still being pushed upward- by tectonic action. Weathering, erosion, and accumulation have produced a wide range of landforms here, including coastal terraces, sand and pebble beaches, shoreline reefs, inshore islands, and capes along with sea-eroded platforms, trenches, and caves. This varied topography provides habitat for a rich diversity of flora and fauna.
The East Coast is the primary homeland of the Amis aboriginal tribe. Amis villages' dot the coastline and the harvest festivals that they hold in July and August every year offer visitors an opportunity to gain insights into the culture of this unique people. Before the Amis settled here there were prehistoric peoples who came and went, leaving a rich store of artifacts and ancient sites that can still be seen today. Among the more modern cultural features of the coastline are enchanting temples, churches, and quaint fishing villages. This rich store of natural and cultural assets prompted the Tourism Bureau to establish the East Coast National Scenic Area in 1988, and to engage in the active development of the leisure resources here.
All of the islands in Penghu have a similar terrain, and most of them are flat. Clear seawater, pure beaches and beautiful skies make Penghu a favorite ocean resort area. Both Kuroshio tributary current (during summer) and Mainland China's coastal current (during winter) pass through the Penghu sea territory. Because of this the marine life in this area is very rich, making Penghu an outstanding classroom for marine biology.
During the migration season, all kinds of birds pass through this area. Tourists can often see beautiful views of hunting seagulls, and the 200-plus different bird species here. This makes Penghu an excellent location for bird watching. Tourists can also came to Penghu for fishing and snorkeling; they can take boats and travel around the neighboring islands to enjoy the sea views and savor a wonderful vacation at sea.
Named after the goddess" Matsu", Matsu Archipelago is located northwestward by west in Taiwan Strait, which is the very water Matsu had saved many sailors' lives. Matsu is subordinate to Lienchian County of Fuchien Province, facing the river mouths of Minchiang (Min River), Lienchiang (Lien River), and Luoyuan Bay. Four villages and five islands, including Nangang (Southern Rod), Beigang (Northen Rod), Juguang, Dungyin, are the components of Matsu, which is the north-most front of Taiwan-Penghu-Kinmen-Matsu free zone, scarcely holding a stream away from Mainland China.
Besides, numerous scenes---natural, cultural, or of fortifications---are found on these islands. For example, Iron Blockhouse in Nangang Shiang, Beihai (North Sea) Tunnel, Tienhou Temple in Matsu, Yuntai Mountain, the aboriginal tribe at Qinbi of Nangang, Banli and the golden beach at Tangqi, Dongchuan (Dongju) Light House in Juguang Shiang, Stone Carvings of Dapu around Huaigu Temple, Dungyung (Dungyin) Light House in Dongyin Shiang, Lienuyikang (the Justice Hole of a female martyr), Yixiantian, Yianxiuchaoyin (the sound of tides) and so on. Moreover, rare plants like red spider lily, bean pear, charming coast lines, migratory birds in transit, and all those customs, language, livelihood, architecture transplanted from north Fuchien, had reinforced the unique while fascinating atmosphere of Matsu, where is definitely worth a visit.