Hop on a high-speed (186 miles an hour) bullet train in Taipei to zip across western Taiwan’s valleys, plains, and Central Mountain Range foothills. The Taiwan High Speed Rail western route winds through 48 tunnels and over 152 miles of elevated rail from Taipei south to Kaohsiung. The southernmost rail stop serves as the gateway to tropical Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, Kenting National Park, and Maolin National Scenic Area, home to four indigenous groups – the Rukai, Paiwan, Bunun, and Tsou. A roundtrip western bullet train loop from Taipei and back is an easy day trip, getting travellers back in time to sample crispy salt and pepper chicken or mini soup dumplings at the city’s famous night markets. For a longer train tour, stay overnight at urban station stops like Banciao, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi, and Tainan.
From 23 February to 10 March, the neighbourhood surrounding the Hsinchu High Speed Rail Station hosts the 2013 Taiwan Lantern Festival. During each night of the festival, thousands of soaring and animated lanterns illuminate the night skies of northern Taiwan’s oldest city.