Make the most of Chinese New Year in Taiwan
How to ring in the year of the rooster as a tourist.
There's no better place to celebrate the Chinese New Year than Taiwan, but if you're planning on taking a minibreak during the six-day holiday, you might want to do a bit more than admire the lanterns and fireworks. A lot of shops and tourist attractions are closed for the whole week - and those left open will be busier than ever - but there are plenty of other ways to make the most of the island during the festivities.
With so many local services shutting down (at least for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day), it's important to know how to get around if you still want to explore Taiwan. The MRT covers most districts in the city and runs on ‘holiday mode’ during the New Year period – with extra trains laid on to avoid overcrowding. For travelling further afield, take the THSR (Taiwan High Speed Rail) to reach Kaohsiung, Taichung and beyond – all operational (if a lot busier) during Golden Week.
If you're a tourist in Taiwan between January 27th and February 4th, you might find that a lot of restaurants are closed as people head home for family meals instead of eating out - but that doesn't mean you have to go hungry. A visit to a night market is a must for any Taiwan visit, and they're especially lively around New Year. Head to Shihlin market (opposite Ming Chuan university) and try one of everything. Egg pudding straight from the shell, taro balls, oyster omelets, pearl milk tea and a whole lot more.
Get back to nature.
If you'd rather escape the festivities in the city altogether, head inland to the mountains to discover a very different side to the island. The picnic spots around Sun Moon Lake and the many hot spring resorts (Beitou, Yangming or Wulai, for example) will probably be packed during the holidays, but you'll find more space on the slopes of Mt KeeLung or, at the other extreme, on the colored sands of the Yin-yang Sea.
Taiwan's interior is famous for its gold and copper mines, and you can easily spend a whole day at visitor centers like the one at Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park in Xinbei. If you're staying over the New Year holiday though, most mines and attractions will likely be closed. Keep your head above ground instead and check out Golden Falls instead – located just outside the Ecological Park, the minerals in the surrounding rocks have created a spectacular natural phenomenon that feeds the Yin-yang with sparkling water.
Enjoy the view.
If you're planning a trip to Taiwan during the Chinese New Year holiday, you're probably hoping to see at least a few fireworks and lanterns. But if you don't have friends or family in the city, it's hard to know where the best place to see them might be. If you want to take it all in at once, head up to Maokong in the Wenshan District for the best view of the skyline and some of the finest teahouses in the city. If coffee's more your thing, visit the Starbucks in the 101 Mall - officially the highest in the world, and the best way of getting a view from a downtown skyscraper without paying for it!
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