Adventure Travel in Taiwan

Matt Gibson paddling a boat in Taiwan

In this interview, one of my best friends in the travel blogging world, Matt Gibson, takes time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions regarding adventure travel in Taiwan.  I’m sure his answers will inspire you to visit Formosa for an adventure of your own!

Q1) What are some adventure sports activities one could consider pursuing in Taiwan?

There are tons out outdoors activities in Taiwan. River tracing there is great. The surfing is also very good. There’s also mountain biking, hiking, snorkelling, and scuba diving. The windsurfing on Penghu, a small island in the Taiwan Strait, is said to be some of the best in the world.

Q2) What are your favorite off the beaten path destinations for outdoor activities?

I love the Philippines. It’s an exceptional country for both travel and outdoors activities. Most of the country has few tourists, so travel there feels authentic and exciting. They have excellent diving, several volcanoes to climb, as well as epic surf.

Q3) Where are some of the best places to go hiking in Taiwan?

Jade Mountain, which is said to be the tallest mountain in East Asia, is a great hike. Snow Mountain is also incredible. The most accessible, and some of the most beautiful, hikes, however, are in Taroko Gorge. This one was incredible.

Matt Gibson Paragliding

Q4) What location outside of Taipei and other major cities would offer great opportunities for adventure sports?

Yamingshan Park near Taipei is gorgeous. So is the Yehliu Geographic Park (watch my website for a photoessay that I’ll be posting soon), which is filled with incredible rock formations. You can also surf in Jingshan, a village less than an hour from Taipei. The hills around Taipei are also fantastic for mountain biking.

Q5) What kind of employment opportunities exist in Taiwan for expats looking to stay long-term?

English teaching is the most common and lucrative form of employment. Many expats also work as writers, editors, and models.

Matt Gibson surfing in Taiwan

Q6) If an adventurous backpacker only had one week to explore Taiwan what are some must see places and activities for them to pursue?

I recently helped to design an itinerary for a visiting journalist who was to visit for one week. I suggested Taroko Gorge, Yehliu Geographic Park, Tainan (the old capital and oldest city), Guanzling Mud Hotsprings, and Xiao Liuchiu.

Q7) This is slightly off topic but what about those with adventurous taste buds? What kind of street food could they try in Taiwan?

If you want adventurous food, Taiwan is a great place. Stinky tofu is a challenge for anyone. I think the name says it all. Pig’s blood cake (deep fried on a stick) is also surprisingly tasty, although frightening. Pig brain soup is also a good one. From what I understand, you can also drink snake blood in Taipei’s snake alley.

Q8) Finally, do you have any general travel tips for somebody visiting Taiwan for the first time?

Be prepared to use a lot of hand gestures. Although more and more people there are learning English, there are many places where people won’t be able to understand you and the signs will all be written in Chinese. This can make things difficult, but the friendliness and helpfulness of the Taiwanese more than compensates for it.

A portrait of Matt Gibson

Bio: Matt Gibson is an adventure travel writer, photographer, and blogger. He used to live in Taiwan, but he now lives on the road. Learn more about him at http://www.matt-gibson.org

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurence July 29, 2012 at 10:05 am

Taiwan sounds like it has a lot to offer the adventure traveller!

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Nomadic Samuel August 7, 2012 at 5:16 am

I was surprised to find as many adventure activities in Taiwan even though I was there for just a short visit.

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Angela July 29, 2012 at 10:59 am

Haven’t made it to Taiwan during the year I spent in China, I have many regrets from my time in Asia. The continent is so big I need to go back more often ;)

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Nomadic Samuel August 7, 2012 at 5:17 am

It sure is massive Angela! I’ve done two big trips in Asia and I feel as though I’ve just scratched the surface.

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Zoë Dawes July 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Enjoyed the interview with Matt – always good to read what other travel writers recommend. I briefly visited Taiwan when I lived in Hong Kong many years ago – must admit the cuisine didn’t do it for me then! This article would tempt me back for the sights if not the food ;-) Boracay beach in the Philippines was one of my fav beaches anywhere – hope it’s still unspoilt.

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Nomadic Samuel August 7, 2012 at 5:18 am

When I was in Taiwan I didn’t eat at many restaurants but I found the night markets to be really good for street food.

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Mike July 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I would highly recommend the National Palace Museum. You cannot physically see it all in a day and some of the art is incredible. I saw a three piece round carved ivory set of globes, that represented three generations and had to be viewed through a microscope! Unbelievable. Safe Travels !!!

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Nomadic Samuel August 7, 2012 at 5:19 am

That does sound incredible!

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Laurel July 30, 2012 at 9:39 am

I would never have thought about Taiwan for hiking and had no idea that the highest mountain in Asia was in Taiwan.

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Nomadic Samuel August 7, 2012 at 5:19 am

I never thought Taiwan would be a hiking destination until I travelled there last spring. It’s a gorgeous country.

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Jarmo July 30, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I think Taiwan is the one country I want to next visit in Asia that I haven’t been to yet. Everybody who has been there keeps going about how amazing it is. That and South Korea.

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Nomadic Samuel August 7, 2012 at 5:19 am

Both countries have a lot to offer! Hope you get to go soon Jarmo!

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Brock - Backpack With Brock July 30, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Hiking in Taiwan sounds excellent!

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Nomadic Samuel August 7, 2012 at 5:20 am

It sure does!

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Zoe French August 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Taiwan sounds great! I have a friend who lives there but had no idea there was so much for an outdoor enthusiast to explore!

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Nomadic Samuel August 7, 2012 at 5:20 am

I didn’t either until I arrived.

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Christine August 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Thanks for sharing this. I was not aware that Taiwan has so much to offer for outdoor enthusiasts.

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Nomadic Samuel August 7, 2012 at 5:20 am

I think it has surprised many people!

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Michael@Cheap Car Hire Italy August 14, 2012 at 11:57 am

Adventure is in my blood. I always try to find out the place for adventure. I generally enjoy my vacation doing adventurous activities. I am wondering that Taiwan is also famous for adventurous activities. I will definitely try to visit Taiwan during my next vacation. Anyways thanks for sharing this useful information.

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Turtle August 20, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Great tips! All the outdoor stuff sounds great. Would you recommend spending much time in the cities, though?

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Lori September 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Interesting interview – and great tips and shares from Matt :)

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Daddy January 2, 2013 at 5:34 pm

The National Palace Museum is a must see for anyone who likes artwork. I went there and its unbelievable. The art work is just incredible!

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Stephen March 12, 2014 at 12:25 am

Oh Taiwan! So much adventure to be had! Amazing, just gained a few spots on the ol’ bucket list!

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Samuel Jeffery March 13, 2014 at 11:34 am

Thanks Stephen! It’s an under-rated country to visit IMO :)

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