If you choose Taiwan as your destination for teaching English, there will be plenty of opportunity to explore, no matter which city or town you're based in.
Given that Taiwan is relatively small in size and most of the island has convenient transportation, it should be very easy for you to take weekend trips and getaways. Even if you only have a one year contract, chances are you'll be able to see a good portion of the land known as "Beautiful Island" (Formosa).
This article is going to take a look at the top 5 weekend getaways in Taiwan.
1. Sun Moon Lake, Nantou
Situated in the centre of Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake is easily one of the most visited places in the country. It's increasingly popular with Chinese tourists too, but despite the boom in visitor numbers, it has managed to maintain its idyllic scenery.
Taking a boat trip on the lake, cycling around it, or simply enjoying a dinner by its side is not to be missed.
2. Taroko Gorge, Hualien
Another of the most famous destinations in Taiwan, Taroko Gorge is breathtaking in its vastness. You could spend a whole week exploring its various caves, mountain tops or waterfalls, but a weekend would still be enough to take a tour through some of the excellent scenery on offer.
As Hualien itself was relatively cut off from the rest of the island up until the last hundred years or so (and even now is less accessible than the west coast), it retains a charm and pace of life that reminds people of earlier times.
Any trip to Taiwan, even for just a month, should try to include a visit to Taroko.
For those living in the north, YiLan can be reached in as short as 40 minutes, and a lot of people take day trips to the beach from Taipei. For those who want to explore more, or visit from the south, there's enough to see and do to occupy a whole 2 or 3 day weekend.
Activities in Yilan involve whale watching, surfing, or for those who prefer relaxing, there are plenty of beautiful beaches and laid back towns to explore as well.
4. The Major Cities
Wherever you're living, it's well worth visiting the major cities at some point. Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung, and Tainan are the most accessible, thanks to the High Speed Rail, but Taidong is worth visiting too.
Each city has its own attractions, and there are more than enough things to do in each city to keep you occupied for a weekend.
Most of Taiwan's 286 mountains are worth a visit, but Alishan is among the most famous. Alishan itself is a large nature reserve and has multiple peaks. Hikers, mountain climbers, and regular tourists are drawn to the beautiful scenery.
Whether you're waking up at the crack of dawn to watch the sunrise, hiking among some incredibly tall trees, or enjoying the best tea in Taiwan (Alishan High Mountain Tea), there is once again, plenty to do.
Make sure to take a jacket with you, even in the summer.
A Good Starting Point
This list barely scratches the surface of the things to do in Taiwan. Daytrips, weekend getaways, or longer mini-tours are in abundance, and are usually pretty cheap.
More and more tour operators are putting on English services as well, which makes it very convenient, even for newcomers with limited Chinese.