Interesting Cities to Visit in Taiwan
Taipei is the capital city of Taiwan and is home to Asia’s second-biggest Pride celebration: Taipei Pride. In 2018 an estimated 130,000 people marched through the streets of Taipei. The capital city is located in the northern part of the island. Taipei has the nickname ‘San Francisco of the East’ for its welcoming character. Ximending is the area to hang out, as it’s the gayborhood. You’ll find many gay bars at the square behind The Red House, and the area of ShiDa night market is the go-to place for lesbians.
NEW TAIPEI CITY
Formerly Taipei County, New Taipei City feels less like a city. It’s the surrounding area of Taipei and has its own mayor. Popular places to visit in New Taipei City are:
- Shifen: home to Shifen waterfall and where Taiwanese celebrate the annual Pingxi lantern festival.
- Houtong Cat village: on the Pingxi train line, you can stop by Houtong. This village is home to many (hundreds!) cats, which is where it got its nickname.
- Jiufen: a small mountain village once built by the Japanese, with Jiufen Old Street as the most popular attraction.
Taiwan’s third-largest city doesn’t have a vibrant LGBTQ+ scene like Taipei but still offers a lot for LGBTQ+ travelers. This city has one special highlight: a rainbow village! Veteran Huang Yung-Fu painted this small village in all colors of the rainbow. This was his way of protecting his home, which was about to be demolished by the government. Huang, also known as “rainbow grandpa,” started painting in 2008, at age 86, and hasn’t stopped since. You can still meet him when you visit; he says he will paint even when he’s 100 years old
Experiencing Taiwanese Food
Taiwanese cuisine knows many influences from Japanese and Chinese cuisine and many from specific (southern) Chinese regions. One of Taiwan’s specialties is soup dumpling, Xiao Long Bao. These aren’t just dumplings, because their skin is really thin and filled with tasty broth and meat, fish and/or vegetables. The original Xiao Long Bao comes from Shanghai, but the Taiwanese have perfected the recipe. The top restaurant to eat the best soup dumplings is Din Tai Fung. The original restaurant is located on Xinyi Road in Taipei. Another dish you must try is Taiwanese beef noodle soup! If you like eating street food, stinky tofu is a must-try. It’s a strong-smelling fermented tofu, which you can find in night markets or food stalls on the streets. Another world-famous thing you can’t miss in Taiwan: bubble tea. Since its invention in the 1980s, it has become increasingly popular and you can now find it all over the world. It’s a tea-based drink with milk, sugar (optional) and chewy tapioca pearls.
Tips and Safety Considerations for LGBTQ+ Visitors to Taiwan
As an LGBTQ+ traveller, you will feel very welcome in Taiwan. It’s one of the most progressive countries in Asia for LGBTQ+ people both in legislation as in public opinion. Like all countries around the world, the older and more traditional generation still struggles to understand the LGBTQ+ community. And over the last years, leading up to same-sex marriage legalization, more radical right-wing religious groups became active. Nevertheless, anti-gay violence is rare in Taiwan and LGBTQ+ locals feel comfortable living out and proud. On the streets, you will notice Taiwanese, in general, rarely show public displays of affection. Relationships are considered ‘private’ in traditional Taiwanese culture, but the younger generation likes living more openly. Especially in the bigger cities, you can find same-sex couples walking hand in hand.
LGBTQ+ Travel Tips for Taiwan
For the best LGBTQ+ scene, Taipei is the best city, but there are smaller LGBTQ+ scenes in other cities too. There are a few LGBTQ+ events that are worth planning a trip to Taiwan for:
- Taiwan Pride is the biggest gay Pride in Asia, behind Tel Aviv, Israel. This Pride has been celebrated annually since 2003 and takes place in October.
- Kaohsiung Gay Pride Parade is another, smaller, gay pride held yearly in the city of Kaohsiung.
- Taiwan International Queer Film Festival (TIQFF) is the only LGBTQ+ film festival in Asia. The festival takes place each fall, across the cities of Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taichung.
We’re Roxanne and Maartje, a Dutch lesbian travel couple, traveling all over the world since March 2017. The first continent we conquered stole our hearts, which is why we’ve spent most of our time traveling through Asia. We don’t shy away from non-LGBTQ+ friendly countries but also celebrate places where we can truly be ourselves. Our biggest belief is that travel is for everyone and we’re determined to showcase the magic the world has to offer. By creating our own story, our own fairy tale, we inspire other LGBTQ+ travelers to do the same. And besides writing about just travel, the ladies also write about lesbian lifestyle topics, including lesbian movies and more.
Featured image by @onceuponajrny