Until more recent times Taiwan was a faint blip on most travelers' radars, often overshadowed by its Asian neighbors, Japan, China, Korea and the Philippines. Few realized that it's more than just the land of electronic exports and bicycle parts. Perched on edge of the pacific this small island has been quietly awaiting discovery, ready to unveil its secrets to the intrepid traveler.
Now, as it gains popularity, travelers discovered that beyond the azure coastline, Taiwan is home to excellent hiking trails, surf beaches, lush jungles, hot springs, and some of the best cycling infrastructure in Asia.
In this blog post, we're taking a little glimpse into nine things you did not know about Taiwan.
[Pictured by Guinness World Records]
1.Taiwan holds the Guinness World Record for the world's longest lasting rainbow.
Imagine a rainbow so long that you could binge-watch five episodes of your favorite TV show and cook dinner, and it's still there. In Taipei City, on November 30, 2018, scientists at Chinese Cultural University recorded the longest rainbow ever. It wasn't your ordinary quick glimpse; it lasted a whopping 8 hours and 58 minutes.
To put this record into perspective, the average rainbow lasts for less than an hour.
2.Taiwan has the world's highest concentration of tall mountains on an island.
Taiwan is a place where you're never far from the rugged beauty of soaring peaks, even if you live in the heart of a bustling city like Taipei.
Taiwan proudly boasts 268 peaks above 3000 meters. By comparison, Hawaii has just 3, Honshu has 19, and Colorado has 119. And the crown jewel? That's Yushan (Jade Mountain), Taiwan's tallest mountain.
3.Taiwan has a “Grand Canyon” of its own called the Taroko Gorge.
Taroko Gorge, a place of ethereal beauty, is a natural masterpiece etched by time itself. The gorge is a spectacle of towering marble cliffs, lush forests, and a river that has patiently sculpted this wonder for millions of years.
In the 1950s, Taiwan was facing a pressing need for improved transportation. The answer was clear: build a road through Taroko Gorge and connect the island's eastern and western regions. It was an ambitious endeavor, but one that would open up new opportunities and transform the region.
This geological marvel has become a treacherous labyrinth for the laborers tasked with chiseling out the road. The conditions were unforgiving, the terrain brutal, and the work arduous.
The construction of the road through Taroko Gorge claimed a heavy toll. 212 people lost their lives in this daring venture, and today the Gorge's top attraction is a beautiful shrine dedicated to those people, called Eternal Spring Shrine.
4.Taiwan is home to 16 officially recognized indigenous tribes.
In Taiwan's cultural landscape, diversity knows no bounds. Currently, the island proudly recognizes 16 official indigenous tribes: Amis, Atayal, Paiwan, Bunun, Puyuma, Rukai, Tsou, Saisiyat, Yami, Thao, Kavalan, Truku, Sakizaya, Sediq, Hla'alua, and Kanakanavu.
Each of these tribes is a treasure chest of unique traditions and heritage, offering a distinct culture, language, customs, and social structure that's entirely their own. It's like having 16 mini worlds within one island, each with its own ways of life.
These indigenous communities have endured for centuries, preserving their identities and passing them down through generations. They are a testament to Taiwan's remarkable diversity, reflecting a nation that celebrates not only its unity but also the rich fabric of its individual threads.
5.White as the color of death.
You might have heard about the significance of the color red as a symbol of good luck in Taiwan, but have you heard that the traditional color for direct family members at funerals is white, not black?
It's a symbolic choice that says a lot about Taiwanese culture. When you pass a funeral or a house in mourning, you'll see people looking the other way or avoiding the area altogether. It's not superstition; it's a mark of respect. This practice is designed to keep the spirit of the deceased from entering their body.
Interestingly, even though white is associated with death, brides still wear white wedding dresses in Taiwan. This comes down to the influence of popular Western culture; traditionally, the color for wedding dresses was red, a hue symbolizing good fortune.
6.Taiwan has the highest recycling rate in the world.
What if I told you that garbage trucks in Taiwan are not just mundane collection vehicles but could pass for ice cream trucks with their melodious tunes? Like clockwork, these musical trucks hit the streets, and when you hear the familiar notes of "Für Elise" ringing out from blocks away, you'll know it's time to run downstairs and take out the trash.
But this melodic trash collection is a relatively new addition. Taiwan was once known as Garbage Island, but today its recycling program is a global phenomenon.
Taiwan boasts a remarkable 55% recycling rate, making it a world leader in waste management.
7.Taiwan is known as the Kingdom of Fruits.
Welcome to the land of the sweet and juicy – Taiwan, also known as the Kingdom of Fruits.
There are more than 30 varieties of fruit cultivated in Taiwan. It's as if the climate and rich soil here have a special touch, turning this island into a fruit lover's dream come true. Stroll through a fresh food market and you'll be greeted by a brilliant array of colorful fruits.
From the crisp and refreshing wax apple, the exotic allure of the dragon fruit to the rich and tangy persimmon, Taiwan's fruit scene is a paradise for your taste buds.
8.Taiwain boasts more than 100 hot springs.
Taiwan is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a horseshoe-shaped zone known for seismic activity. It’s position in this fiery ring means that it's home to many hot springs that steam with water warmed by the Earth's interior. These hot springs aren't just a natural marvel; they're a soothing escape, especially after a rewarding bike ride.
And within this geothermal wonderland, you'll be treated to over 100 hot springs scattered across the island.
9.Taiwan is dubbed ‘The Bicycle Kingdom’.
In Taiwan, cycling isn't just a means of transportation; it's a way of life. With incredible cycling infrastructure, locals, from dedicated enthusiasts to casual riders, share a passion for pedaling, fostering connections that transcend language barriers.
Taiwan's commitment to cycling is exemplified by an ambitious plan to triple the bike lane network within a decade, backed by the world's largest bike manufacturer, Giant, which exports billions of dollars' worth of bikes.
Experience Taiwan's Wonders with Grasshopper Adventures
Taiwan's splendor is best experienced up close and personal, and there's no better way to do so than with a Grasshopper Adventures bike tour. As you embark on our meticulously crafted tours, you'll find yourself delving into the heart of the island's marvels, from the breathtaking Taroko Gorge to the vibrant indigenous cultures. With the guidance of our expert local leaders, you'll uncover the hidden gems and fascinating stories that make Taiwan a truly unique destination.