Taiwan is an island in eastern Asia. Its closest neighbors include Japan, China, and the Philippines. Taiwan has a population of about 23 million people.
In 2019, Taiwan received nearly 12 million international tourists. That’s a lot of visitors for a small country!
Check out these great resources for experiencing Taiwan from home including virtual tours, recipes, movies, books, and more!
5 Great Virtual Tours in Taiwan
There are so many awesome things to see (and do) in Taiwan. Check out these 5 virtual tours you can take from the comfort of your laptop.
Best Overall: Taiwan Special (from The BBC Travel Show)
When people think of Taiwan, they often think exclusively of Taipei. However, Taiwan has a lot to offer outside the capital city. This video visits Tainan (the ancient capital of Taiwan), Kaoshiung (a city in the south), and Pingxi (a small town in New Taipei).
Best for Museum Lovers: National Palace Museum
The National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan is home to over 600,000 art objects. It’s the world’s largest collection of Chinese art treasures and it covers nearly 5,000 years.
The National Palace Museum offers a virtual VR tour through the Palace Museum on their website.
Best for Art Lovers: Fubon Art Foundation
The Fubon Art Foundation is dedicated to making art more accessible to the public. Since it’s establishment in 1997, the Fubon Art Foundation has worked with more than 500 contemporary visual artists.
Google Arts & Culture offers a deep look into past exhibits.
Best for a View: Taipei 101 Tour
Taipei 101 is an iconic landmark in Taiwan. It was the once the tallest building in the world (but not anymore) and is still (noticeably) the tallest building in Taipei.
The Taipei 101 website has a cool interactive “what you can see from the observation deck” feature. However, it’s kind of basic. This video walking through the building feels a lot more like, “I’m there!”
Best for Animal Lovers: Formosan Black Bear
The Formosan black bear (a subspecies of the Asiatic black bear) lives in the mountainous forests in eastern Taiwan. It’s the largest mammal (and only bear) in the country.
Recent estimates suggest there are only 200-600 Formosan black bears remaining. They’ve been listed as an endangered species since 1989.
You can see the Formosan black bear (and other Formosan animals) at the Taipei Zoo. The video below is about a young Formosan black bear that wildlife officials are preparing to release into the wild.
5 Delicious Recipes from Taiwan
You can taste Taiwan at home with these 5 delicious (and not overly complex) recipes.
Tapioca Pearls & Bubble Tea Recipe
Bubble Tea (aka Boba or Pearl Milk Tea) is everywhere in Taiwan. EVERYWHERE. Making your own tapioca pearls is the hardest part of this recipe, but if you’re a bubble tea fan it’s totally worth it.
Contrary to its name, bubble tea doesn’t always contain tea. There are a million different bubble tea options. The original recipe is black tea, milk, sugar, and tapioca pearls.
Pro Tip: Turn on the Closed Captions for this video.
Scallion Pancakes Recipe
What makes a scallion pancake different from any other? It’s all in the roll.
Scallion Pancakes are a popular street food all over Taiwan. Give them a try at home with this recipe.
Bao (Steamed Buns) Recipe
Bao are a type of steamed buns (closely related to the dumpling). If you’re going to try making Bao at home, I strongly suggest making the fold-over type that you can put anything in. Try this recipe for Bao from Seonkyoung Longest (she also has a great recipe for Pork Belly that would go perfectly inside).
Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup Recipe
Beef Noodle Soup is a Taiwanese staple. There’s no “one” recipe. Every city/family/restaurant will have their own.
This recipe isn’t hard but it does use a lot of ingredients. It’s totally worth it though. Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup is a delicious meal.
Coffin Bread Recipe
Coffin Bread is one of those things you come across at a night market that just blows your mind. It’s like the ultimate comfort food.
Coffin Bread is basically stew or chowder in a deep-fried bread bowl.
5 Best Movies Filmed in Taiwan
Get a glimpse of Taiwan watching one of these five popular movies that were filmed there.
Best Taiwanese Movie Choice
A Taiwanese high school baseball team travels to Japan in 1931 to compete in a national tournament.
Run Time: 3h 4m
Rated: not rated
Life of Pi
Best for Adventure Lovers
A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger.
Run Time: 2h 6m
Best for Action Lovers
A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.
Lucy was filmed in Taipei, Paris, and New York City.
Run Time: 1h 29m
Best for Drama Lovers
In the 17th century, two Portuguese Jesuit priests travel to Japan in an attempt to locate their mentor, who is rumored to have committed apostasy, and to propagate Catholicism.
Silence is set in Nagasaki, Japan. However, it was filmed in Taipei, Taichung and Hualien County, Taiwan.
Run Time: 2h 41m
Best for Suspense Lovers
An FBI Agent pairs with a troubled Taiwan cop to hunt for a serial killer who’s embedding a mysterious fungus in the brains of victims.
Double Vision was filmed in Taiwan and Australia.
Run Time: 1h 53m
5 Best Books Set in Taiwan
I love to read! Check out these 5 books that are set in Taiwan.
Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan
Best for Historical Fiction Readers
February 28, 1947: Trapped inside the family home amid an uprising that has rocked Taipei, Dr. Tsai delivers his youngest daughter, the unnamed narrator of Green Island, just after midnight as the city is plunged into martial law. In the following weeks, as the Chinese Nationalists act to crush the opposition, Dr. Tsai becomes one of the many thousands of people dragged away from their families and thrown into prison. His return, after more than a decade, is marked by alienation from his loved ones and paranoia among his community—conflicts that loom over the growing bond he forms with his youngest daughter. Years later, this troubled past follows her to the United States, where, as a mother and a wife, she too is forced to decide between what is right and what might save her family—the same choice she witnessed her father make many years before.
A Pail of Oysters by Vern Sneider
Best for Readers of Banned/Controversial Books
A Pail of Oysters tells the moving story of nineteen-year-old villager Li Liu and his quest to recover his family’s stolen kitchen god. Li Liu’s fate becomes entwined with that of American journalist Ralph Barton, who, in trying to report honestly about KMT rule of the island, investigates the situation beyond the propaganda, learns of a massacre, and is drawn into the world of the Formosan underground.
Taiwan Tales by 8 Authors
Best for Short Story Readers
More than merely stepping through the streets and trails of a land, the narrated word allows one to learn about ideas, sense passions and glimpse dreams of a place and its people. Here are eight short stories about Taiwan: an island, a manufacturing powerhouse, a nation of Buddhism and Capitalism, a land straddling a geographical ring of fire as well as a political one, a country colored by both ancient traditions and high-tech modernity. Written by authors who have called Taiwan home, each tale offers an absorbing perspective on this unique country.
(As of April 2020, Taiwan Tales is available on Kindle Unlimited)
Ghost Month by Ed Lin
Best for Crime Readers
August is Ghost Month in Taiwan—a time to commemorate the dead: burn incense, visit shrines, commemorate ancestors, and avoid unlucky situations, large purchases, and bodies of water. Jing-nan, a young man who runs a food stand in a bustling Taipei night market, doesn’t consider himself superstitious, but this August is going to haunt him no matter what he does.
He is shocked to the core when he learns his ex-girlfriend from high school has been murdered. She was found scantily clad and shot in the chest on the side of a highway where she was selling betel nuts to passing truck drivers. Beyond his harrowing grief for this lost love of his life, Jing-nan is also confused by the news: “betel nut beauties” are usually women in the most desperate of circumstances; the job is almost as taboo as prostitution. But Julia Huang had been the valedictorian of their high school, and the last time Jing-nan spoke to her she was enrolled in NYU’s honor program, far away in New York.
The facts don’t add up. Julia’s parents don’t think so, either, and the police seem to have closed the case without asking any questions. The Huangs beg Jing-nan if he can do some investigating on his own—reconnect with old classmates, see if he can learn anything about Julia’s life that she might have kept from them. Reluctantly, he agrees, for Julia’s sake; but nothing can prepare him for what he learns, or how it will change his life.
The Foreigner by Francie Lin
Best for Thriller Readers
Emerson Chang is a mild mannered bachelor on the cusp of forty, a financial analyst in a neatly pressed suit, a child of Taiwanese immigrants who doesn’t speak a word of Chinese, and, well, a virgin. His only real family is his mother, whose subtle manipulations have kept him close–all in the name of preserving an obscure idea of family and culture.
But when his mother suddenly dies, Emerson sets out for Taipei to scatter her ashes, and to convey a surprising inheritance to his younger brother, Little P. Now enmeshed in the Taiwanese criminal underworld, Little P seems to be running some very shady business out of his uncle’s karaoke bar, and he conceals a secret–a crime that has not only severed him from his family, but may have annihilated his conscience. Hoping to appease both the living and the dead, Emerson isn’t about to give up the inheritance until he uncovers Little P’s past, and saves what is left of his family.
5+ Other Taiwan-Inspired Ideas
If the above virtual tours, recipes, movies, and books aren’t enough to make you feel like you’ve experienced Taiwan, try one of these ideas.
Introduce Yourself In Mandarin
The language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese. For the writing system, they use the traditional characters.
You don’t have to learn the entire Mandarin language (although, props to you if you do), but you can have some fun learning something simple. In this video by Katrina Leee, you’ll learn how to introduce yourself.
Mahjong is a popular game in Taiwan. Traditional mahjong is a bit different than the game you may have played on a computer (no jokers, uses dice, etc).
If you’re ready to play some mahjong, check out this popular, portable, and durable set.
A 4D Taiwan Puzzle
Spend an afternoon (or four) putting together this awesome 4D Puzzle of Taiwan. You’ll create a 4D map of Taiwan with famous landmarks.
Send Postcards of Taiwan
I know what you’re thinking, you didn’t really travel. But that’s no reason not to send a postcard!
People love getting mail! Tell them about your great Taiwan at Home activities.
Enjoy Taiwanese Snacks
If you’re going to watch a movie set in Taiwan, you’re going to need snacks. Make them Taiwanese snacks!
Even if you’re not going to watch a movie, these snacks are still a great choice.
Tapioca Pearls (for Boba)
If you don’t want to make (or fail spectacularly at making, no judgement) your own tapioca pearls in the recipe above, I can’t blame you. But don’t despair, you can still taste the deliciousness of Bubble Tea at home by purchasing these already made Tapioca Pearls!
Visit Taiwan from Home Today!
What did you enjoy about Taiwan (in person or from the comfort of your home)? Let me know in the comments below!
Want more travel at home ideas? Check out Travel to PRAGUE from Home (by food, movies, virtual tours, & more) next
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