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The Diary of a Karate Kid

Shaolin Students

My interest in martial arts was always radiant. I remember when I was a kid, I always looked up to idols like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li. I used to love their movies and aspired to be as good as they were. I began my martial arts studies when I was four years old, but I was never serious about the sport. Karate classes became more like playtime with my friends instead of learning. It wasn’t until I was in the seventh grade when I became more serious about training to become like my idols. I would stay at my local dojos for extra classes because I was eager to learn more. I even received a black belt from the local schools, but it wasn’t enough. I still wanted to learn more.
So, the summer after my freshman year of high school, my parents sent me to China.

The Shaolin Temple

I landed in a small city in the Henan province named DengFeng. It is home to the famous Shaolin Temple, where monks train in the traditional martial arts, Gong Fu. Not familiar with the term? You are probably more familiar with the term Kung Fu, which is the westernized form of the Chinese pronunciation Gong Fu.
diary-shaolinThe Shaolin Temple is a monastery located in the mountains of Dengfeng. It is a place where traditional Buddhist monks would go and practice martial arts. The temple is rich in history as it has been through many wars and has been rebuilt numerous times. There is a story behind almost everything there. Some of my personal favorites include the room where monks would stomp the ground to create dents as they trained, the tree where monks would train finger strength by punching the trunk with one finger, and the bathrooms just because they were mere buckets.
On tour, we had the chance to walk on a prestigious path where only the grandmaster—or ShiFu—would walk. It was a great experience to see the strict disciplines that monks in training would follow. The Shaolin Temple has also been featured in several Chinese films; several martial arts celebrities have crossed its paths. Most notably, Jet Li filmed a movie here that increased the temple’s popularity. It was really cool to walk in a movie set! In addition to the temple itself, there were several other attractions. One of the most interesting attractions was the Pagoda Forest. It is a collection of tombs for the different monks that have passed and is structured to exhibit a monk’s status before passing. The higher the tower, the higher a monk’s ranking was.
After the tour, we went to watch a Gong Fu performance. The purpose of the performance was to showcase an introduction of Shaolin Gong Fu. It introduced the various “Quan” or forms that are native Shaolin Gong Fu, the weapons used, and the applications of the movements in combat. The fun thing about the performance was that they picked audience members at random to come on stage to learn some of the movements. I remember sitting there practically jumping out of my seat because I really wanted to try! Sadly, they didn’t pick me.

Tagou School of WuShu

After the tour, we went to tour the most notorious martial arts school in China. The Tagou School of WuShu is a boarding school for martial arts as well as an educational institution. This school has produced many of China’s most well-known fighters and performers. They have students attend national competitions and even students who competed in the Olympics. Fun fact, Jackie Chan performed with one of the performance teams from this school. How cool is that? At first glance, I got ridiculously excited because I saw my favorite movie scene in real life—hundreds of students practicing martial arts in sync. It was the highlight of my life to find out that it was not just a scene in a movie. My mom told me that this is where I would be staying for the summer, and I couldn’t have been happier.
diary-tagou-school-viewThe school is gigantic. It’s so big that they had to split the school into two separate campuses. They have the old campus located next to the Shaolin Temple and the new campus at the foot of the mountain near the city of DengFeng. I chose to stay at the old school near the Shaolin because I loved the mountains, and it sounded way cooler to train in the mountains versus the city.
Students of Tagou School of WuShu come from all over the world to study there. Some native Chinese students even use the school for their primary education as well. The school offers intense training sessions and education levels from kindergarten to high school. It was completely different than what I was used to in the states. The students have a crazy training schedule. The students started the day at 5 a.m. and were not done training until almost 10 p.m., six nights a week. I thought that was insane coming from the U.S. where I take an hour-long class three days a week.

Lifestyle as a student of Tagou

Before I agreed to start summer school at Tagou, I honestly did not know what to expect. I thought it was going to be a summer camp-like experience, but it was more of a culture shock and a humbling experience. Before becoming a student, I never realized how privileged I was to be living in the states where we have access to machines that help accomplish chores or technology for entertainment. There was a lot that I had to get used to as a student. My body had to get used to a new diet; my brain had to learn how to cope with limited to no internet. I also had to become less lazy and actually do chores by hand.
diary-canteen-foodI remember my first year going; my diet consisted of eggs and bananas for the first few weeks because I was not used to the food in the cafeteria for the students. I don’t remember what about it made me so sick, but my body eventually adjusted to it, and I was fine by the end of the summer. I was not used to the way you had to grab food. There was not an orderly line to the different chefs. It was a fight to who can swipe their card first to get their canteen full of food. Yes, you read that correctly: a canteen. We did not have bowls or plates to gather our food; we had to stuff a canteen full to carry food. Of course, you could go back and get seconds, but that costed more money, and you would probably have to shove your way back to the front of the food line.
As a millennial, I live on the internet. I love surfing the web to see what the latest trends are, watching YouTube videos, and seeing what my friends are up to on social media. Having limited to no internet killed me. It was already annoying that China blocked a lot of sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Google, but you are able to get around that with a VPN. The thing that was troublesome was that, since we were in the mountains, internet from the town was not that great. Often, the internet would go out in my room and I couldn’t do the things that I wanted to do. Honestly, though, it was the best thing that happened to me. It forced me to get out of my room to explore the campus, talk to some of the locals, and hang out with my classmates. I learned so much about the diary-laundrydifferent cultures in my international group and I learned fun games that the locals play to entertain themselves! My favorite game that I learned was called “Duel the Landlord” and it was a very competitive game once you got the hang of it.
After my first couple of weeks there, I remember struggling to find clothes since I burned through most of my clothes. I was asking around trying to find the closest washing machine or laundry mat just to find out that there wasn’t one. I was challenged to actually wash my clothes by hand. I was not happy about this. I am so used to throwing everything in a washing machine and calling it a day. Additionally, there were no dryers either, so I had to wring the clothes out and let them air dry. It was not a fun thing to do, but it became a part of my daily routine that I got used to.
The one thing that I got used to quickly was the training regiment. I was sore for the first couple of weeks. The workouts were really intense, but I learned a lot from the coaches. The coaches are very strict and everything we did had to be perfect.
Honestly, it was tough. It is not made for everyone, but I’m more than grateful that I had this experience. After the first year, I went back four more times to relive the experience. It’s something that I hope I get the chance to do every summer.

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Feast your way through Singapore’s Hawker Centers!

Feast Through Singapore

If you are a dedicated foodie, Hawker Centers are the go-to place for you. Hawker Centers are one of Singapore’s most famous dining styles. At these bustline food courts, dozens of stalls serve a variety of tasty, inexpensive foods, ranging from the well known Nasi Padang, originally imported from Indonesia, to Singaporean fish head curry. No matter what you are craving, you can probably find it at one of the following Singapore Hawker Centers:

The Chinatown Complex Food Centre

The biggest, busiest, and (arguably) most famous hawker center in Singapore just might be the Chinatown Complex Food Centre. As the name suggests, this hawker center focuses on all things Chinese, from chili crab and chicken wings to Hokkien mee and bak kut teh. A variety of well-known food stalls are ready and waiting to fulfill your foodie dreams, including the China La Mian Xiao Long Bao, which specializes in steamed dumplings (which is what xiao long bao means in Chinese), Hai Sing Ah Balling (which serves Teochew style dumplings), and Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice (which is known for, of course, its various clay pot rice dishes).

The Hong Lim Market Food Centre

This 100-stall-large hawker center was first built in 1978 in the Chinatown area. Some of the more famous stalls include the Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa, which was featured in a Michelin Guide, and Ah Heng Curry, which serves curry bowls with optional toppings such as taupok, fishcake, or boneless Hainanese chicken fillet. If you’re craving bak chor mee (minced pork noodles) or bak kut teh (pork bone soup), this is a great place to get your fix.

The Old Airport Road Hawker Centre

According to a 2010 survey, thousands of food lovers voted the Old Airport Road Food Center as their favorite Singaporean hawker center. And it’s no wonder why: this hawker center, which once served as the site of Singapore’s first civil airport (Kallang Airport) and only transformed into a food center in 1973 after Singapore’s International Airport opened in Paya Lebar.
The Old Airport Road Hawker Centre boasts over 150 food stalls many of which have their loyal fans. Some recommended hawker stalls include:

  • Dong Ji Fried Kway Teow, a stall so popular that lunchtime usually features long lines of people waiting for their plate of fried char kway teow. These spicy eggy noodles are certainly a huge hit!
  • Toast Hut: Don’t forget to try Singapore’s signature kaya toast. The owner of this stall, Melvin Soh, started working in the kaya toast business when he was only 17 years old, and Toast Hut has been around now for over a decade. For breakfast, order some kaya toast and home-brewed coffee. For lunch, fresh sandwiches made with kaya toast and blended ice coffee will hit the spot.
  • Unkai Japanese Cuisine: Singapore is known for culture blending, so is it any surprise that you can find some of the best classic Japanese udon, soba, and tempura seafood at one of the best hawker centers in the city?

The Tiong Bahru Food Centre

The Tiong Bahru hawker center is one of Singapore’s oldest markets. Located in a neighborhood that meshes old and new, the Tiong Bahru Food Centre is well known for its cafes and delicious hawker foods, from the thin and savory Min Nan Prawn Noodles (great for breakfast or lunch!) to Lee Hong Kee Roast Meat, featuring fatty char siew rice and crispy roast meat for the meat lover in your life.
Some of the newer additions to this beloved hawker centre include the Tiong Bahru Bakery, known for their flaky croissants and artisanal baked goods; Plain Villa, which features fluffy cupcakes, monthly specials, and even children’s workshops; and Forty Hands, a hipster coffee business that uses green coffee beans sourced internationally and roasted locally, paired with a variety of foods including falafel–yes, falafel.

Geylang Serai Food Centre

To get your fix of authentic Malay food, check out Geylang Serai, one of the biggest Malay enclaves in Singapore. Looking for Nasi Biryani? Look no more. The Haji Mohd Yussof Warong Nasi is here for you. Craving putu piring? The famous 24-hour Haig Road Putu Piring stall sells five pieces for $2. If you want nasi padang, the Hajjah Mona Nasi Padang stall is ready to serve, and don’t forget to get your satay at Alhambra satay. Everything is sedap! (That’s “delicious” in Malay)
If you want to better understand the local Malay culture, check out also the Geylang Serai market with its Malay style Minangkabau roof design which is frequented mostly by Malay and Indian Muslims living in Singapore.

Chomp Chomp Food Centre

Although smaller in size than some of the other hawker centers, the Chomp Chomp Food Centre is packed night after night and ready to serve up a feast. If you’re interested in chowing down on some oyster omelets, fried carrot cakes, chicken satay, or Hokkien mee, this is a fantastic place to satisfy your hungry tummy. Ah, Hock Fried Hokkien Mee is one of the more popular stalls, with lines that last up to 45 minutes long. And no wonder, as the owner fries the noodles in prawn-and-pork-bone broth until the aromatic dish is placed before you–perfect with a dab of chili sauce! And don’t forget Stay Bee Hoon which sells both satay bee hoon noodles with satay peanut gravy and Hainanese beef noodles.
Hawker centres are the heart of Singaporean food culture, and since Singaporeans love food so much, one could argue that they are the heart of Singapore itself. Certainly, you can’t visit Singapore without visiting a handful of them for yourself. Visit one, two, or all of the hawker centres listed above to create delicious memories that will last a lifetime!

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The Foodie’s Guide to the 5 Best Bangkok Restaurants

Feast Through Bangkok

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is particularly well known for a diversity of foods and restaurants that are sure to satisfy any food-loving nomad. From soft shell crab curry to giant crab omelets, home-cooked Thai curry to halal street food rotis, you can eat just about anything your heart desires in this capital of the Land of Smiles.
But of course, you are wondering: what are the best restaurants in Bangkok that you should plan to visit when you arrive? Whether you are looking for Why not give these ten eateries a try?
Let’s dive right in!

1) Paste Restaurant at Gaysorn

Looking for Michelin Starred Thai cuisine? You can’t go wrong with Paste Bangkok, located in the heart of Sayam, in Bangkok.
Situated adjacent to the Intercontinental Hotel, Paste has won a Michelin Star for two years in a row, and specializes in heirloom Thai cuisine and was rated one of Asia’s 50 best restaurants in 2018. Chefs and owners Bongkoch “Bee” Satongun (who was awarded best female chef in Asia in 2018) and her husband Jason Bailey has studied Thai cuisine for years, rediscovering old recipes and techniques to present to their diners.
What kind of mouthwatering dishes can you discover at Paste Bangkok? How about a live lobster salad with buzz button flowers and crispy local seaweed, drizzled with kaffir lime juice and mandarin juice for starters?
For the main dish, perhaps consider trying the shallow fried rainbow trout with an herbal chili dressing garnished with snake fruit and finely shredded white turmeric and crispy shoestring pork skin. Or try their Southern Thai curry with salt brined chicken, with lemongrass, coconut milk-based curry sauce, and crispy shallots. Either way, you will probably leave this restaurant a few belt buckles looser and a lot happier!

2) Sorn

Interested in a 22-course luxury Southern Thai feast? Sorn is a Michelin award winner dreamt up by chefs Khun Ice and Yod, focusing on long lost recipes and local cuisine and located in a reconstructed old house. Sorn sources its ingredients sustainably from local farmers and fisherman and revels in slow-cooked dishes, including double-boiled soup and rice cooked in clay pots and smoked over a charcoal fire.
What kind of food experiences can you expect at this high-end Thai restaurant? Try their 22-course meal including small bites like cashew nut relish, sand mole crabs, raw lobster, and lobster claw curry on a grilled cracker. Further along, you will be treated to a colorful rice salad, grilled beef (served on your personal portable grill), yellow curry (from turmeric and chili), and squid with stink beans.

3) Soei Restaurant

For a more casual dining experience, try the Soei Restaurant located near the Sam Sen railroad station in the Dusit district of Bangkok. Chef and owner P’Soei, a former ballplayer and coach, decorates his restaurant with trophies and framed pictures of sports teams. His life in the food industry began when teammates would come over to his place after games and practices, and he would cook for them.
Chef P’Soei personally oversees every single dish served at the restaurant, from the Yam woon sen noodle dish (sour and spicy glass noodles, meat, and Thai vegetables) to the Kaem pla too tod (deep fried Indian mackerel cheeks garnished with crispy garlic and chili sauce). And don’t forget the tom yum soup! The flavorful version of this popular Thai herbal soup served at Soei includes kra pao holy basil, chilies, and fish.
Best of all, after having a delicious meal at Soei, feel free to enjoy the local sights, including the Victory Monument, Ratchawat Market, and Sriyan Market nearby.

4) The Dining Room at the House on Sathorn

Want to try some innovative Turkish cuisine while you are enjoying your stay in Bangkok? Well, you can do exactly that at The Dining Room. One of the most prestigious restaurants in Bangkok, The Dining Room is located in a building with a fascinating history as rich as the food served there. The House on Sathorn was originally built in 1889 by a Chinese businessman, and later became an embassy for Russia, and is now part of a hotel.
Chef Fatih Tutak has international experience as a chef working in China, Japan, Denmark, Hongkong, and, of course, Thailand. He aims to feed the mind and soul of each diner first, before the stomach, and the food served at The Dining Room is not just delicious to taste but beautiful visually as well.
Some of the possible recipes you may have the honor of trying at The Dining Room include torched beef tenderloin with fried mussels on an edible shell, white asparagus with a fava bean sauce, vegetarian Turkish pasta with brown butter and tomato sauce, mushroom-stuffed baby squid and charcoal-grilled dry-aged quail with bone and grape juice. And for dessert, you might get to sample the strawberry snow in an ice bowl and creamy cheese helva with pistachios. And of course, you can’t leave without a cup of rich Turkish coffee!
You will probably never see Turkish cuisine the same way after your experience at The Dining Room.

5) Restaurant Sühring

Another fierce contender on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, Restaurant Sühring is the brainchild of twin brothers and chefs, Thomas and Mathias, with the goal of showcasing the best of modern German food combined with contemporary Central European influences, inspired by the twins’ childhood memories, family recipes, and traveling experience.
Some of the dishes you’ll want to try at Restaurant Sühring include appetizers such as the cured salmon with salmon roe and dill, pork sausage with curry and beer, and foie gras mousse. Follow that up with mashed potatoes and eel, sourdough bread with pork lard pate, crayfish with herbs, edible flowers, and crayfish butter, roasted aged Hungarian duck, Spatzle pasta, and of course their signature roast pork knuckle, which is served on a wooden platter with a knife to be carved right in front of you.
If you’ve ever wanted to try German food in Bangkok, this is the place to go.
Bangkok is a dream come true for the foodie and restaurant lover. Only in this capital city are visitors able to try casual and high-end Thai cuisine, as well as European and Middle Eastern cuisine upgraded and given a distinctly Thai touch. Are you ready to plan your trip to Thailand now?

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Why Galle, Sri Lanka Should Be Your Next Stop in Asia

Travel to Galle Sri-Lanka

Galle is a small colonial settlement recognized for its historical importance, yet it increasingly embraces the modern and the new. Visitors are enchanted by the Mediterranean-style atmosphere easily enjoyed without the crowds. Galle is an underrated gem for wanderers who want to take a step back in time without sacrificing the contemporary comforts of everyday travel.

History vs. Modern

Galle was a vital trading post and a busy maritime port for over 200 years. It was a protected harbor where trade between the east and west thrived. Its rich history of invasions and occupations left behind a cultural texture unique, colorful, and one-of-a-kind. The city consists of an old part, and a new part and both are worthy of exploration. The Galle Fort in the old town stands as a living monument to its history, and it is within its walls visitors and locals alike are most enthralled.
There is no better way to absorb the quintessential culture and characteristics of the city than to book your stay at the Galle Fort Hotel. It is an eccentric tribute to the colorful fiber of the Galle community. The grand Dutch mansion’s many incarnations throughout the years give it a multi-layered ambiance you won’t find in any other boutique hotel. The venue maintains much of its architectural integrity while offering award-winning accommodations. You will love relaxing in the frangipani-scented courtyard where poets and dreamers have often been inspired.

Asian vs. European

Galle is a seamless blending of both Asian and European influence noticeable in its iconic buildings decorated with street art and in its eclectic cuisine available in quirky cafes. The colonial presence of the Portuguese in the 15th-century and later occupation by the Dutch were never fully replaced by Asian culture. The result is a wonderful fusion of tradition and sophistication nurtured by a melting pot of artists, innovators, and other creatives who call Galle home. The brightly-painted tuk-tuks still line the streets, yet galleries and shops along the medieval-style pathways are there too.
Most of the restaurants in Galle are quaint and cozy havens filled with the aromas of native spices and seasonings. Visitors can experience local foods at Lucky Fort Restaurant known for its aromatic rice and curries or step it up at the Fortaleza for Sri Lankan fare with a Singaporean twist. You might want to try the Pedlar’s Inn housed in a former British post office. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a friendly cafe-style environment. Moroccan, Chinese, Italian, and French eateries in Galle town give you the opportunity for fine dining around the world.

Shopping vs. Browsing

Galle is a treasure trove of jazzy small shops and those travelers who seek souvenirs will not be disappointed. The new part of the city is home to several malls, yet it is in the old town shoppers find their gems. Koccorikois a motley den of quality handicraft items, the shelves packed with the unusual and the bright. It’s the perfect stop for one-of-a-kind handmade clothes or curious. The spices of Sri Lanka are unique and celebrated around the world. You can just follow your nose in the Galle Fort to Chilli Dragon Spice Shop for the best of fresh cinnamon and curry seasonings. Don’t forget to try some tea while you are there.
Galle is also the ideal destination for travelers who would rather see the sights and soak in the local culture. A visit to the Historical Mansion Museum is a must for an imaginative excursion into the olden days of Galle. The museum contains a vast collection of artifacts including coins, stamps, and odd antiques. Art lovers can browse through the maze of rooms in Sithuvili Gallery where the work of local artists and traditional mask-makers surprise you around every corner. The life-sized art installations and sculptures will blow you away.

Relaxation vs. Activity

Different people travel for different reasons. Some just want to get away and relax; others are seeking out exciting adventures. Galle can accommodate both. Templeberg Villasis a serene getaway tucked discretely on a coconut plantation just minutes from Galle Fort. It is the ultimate retreat with lush gardens and breezy verandas where butterflies lazily flitter and curious monkeys play. The pristine beaches are only a short tuk-tuk ride away. The friendly service and meticulously prepared food will make you feel like you are at grandma’s house instead of a hotel.
Outdoor activities are plentiful in Galle especially if it involves water. You can discover a completely uncommon underwater world in Unawatuna at the Pearl Divers and Water Sports Centre. Certified and experienced divers guide you on an unforgettable diving excursion you will be talking about for years to come. Those who prefer to stay on dry land can take a guided bicycle tour through Galle’s paddy fields, cinnamon plantations, and bird sanctuaries with Idle Bikes. More challenging and invigorating trails are available for the fit and energetic. It’s a great way to explore the countryside.
Sri Lanka is sometimes referred to as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” and it is easy to see why. It is a lush oasis rich in fauna and flora. Galle is no exception offering a pleasant combination of forest, beaches, and cultural interests. The district is home to Sri Lanka’s unique tradition of stilt fishing and, if you are lucky, you might get to see fisherman on tall stilts casting their lines in the shallow waters. It is a sight you will not easily forget. After a morning of sightseeing or shopping, you can settle in at the Owl and the Pussycat for a cool drink and a fabulous lunch.
A visit to Galle would not be complete without experiencing the nearby Virgin White Tea Factory. The sprawling working plantation produces high-quality white teas treasured for its anti-oxidant content and said to be some of the best in the world. Visitors are given a rare view of the tea harvesting process by an expert resident planter. The tour ends with a tea-tasting and a slice of chocolate cake! It doesn’t get much better than that. Galle is Sri Lanka’s best-kept secret on its southern coast, and you will be glad you chose to wander there.

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The Foodie’s Guide to Taiwan’s Can’t-Miss Night Markets

Feast Through Taiwan

This unique little island, given the nickname “Ilha Formosa” (the Beautiful Island) by 16th-century Portuguese settlers, abounds with delicious traditional dishes brought over by mainland Chinese immigrants in the 20th century, influenced by native aboriginal culture, as well as Japanese and other international cuisines.
The best way to sample the cuisine, of course, is to visit Taiwan’s ubiquitous night markets. When the sun goes down, the streets of most major cities light up with the hustle and bustle of vendors hawking their wares and food stands to spill fragrant scents onto crowds of locals and tourists looking for a good deal or a bite to eat.
Whether you are looking for local specialties like chewy oyster pancakes and the infamous stinky tofu, or the Taiwanese version of crunchy large fried chicken or ice cream wrapped in a crepe, you can find all of this and more at any of the following night markets below.

Northern Taiwan

Shilin Night Market, Taipei

Arguably the largest and most famous night market in the entire island, Shilin Night Market is located conveniently next to the MRT Jiantan Station and attracts hundreds of tourists and locals every night. The market features general merchandise and local cuisine, with a Night Market Food Court located along the western edge.  Feast on the reasonably priced fried chicken stake, bubble tea (which was originally invented in Taiwan!), and, of course, don’t forget to give the famous stinky tofu a try!
If you come early to the night market, feel free to take a look at the Martyrs’ Shrine nearby, built to honor fallen Kuomingtang soldiers after the Chinese Civil War.

Raohe Night Market, Taipei

Another major hot spot, particularly for tourists and visitors, is the Raohe Night Market, one of the oldest night markets in the capital city. This 600-meter single pedestrian path in the Songshan District is lined with cozy shops and stalls, carnival games, and fascinating late-night foods and snacks.
Easily accessible from the MRT, the entrance of the night market is located right next to the Songshan temple and is conveniently situated beside a clothing outlet in Wufenpu and the Taipei New Horizon Shopping Complex. For an unforgettable night, shop to your heart’s content at the clothing outlet or shopping center, and then fill your belly with the well-known pork pepper buns, giant grilled squid, mochi, and of course Taiwan’s signature beef noodle soup!

Miaokou Night Market, Keelung

Located seven minutes away (on foot) from the Keelung train station, the Keelung (pronounced “Jeelong”) night market is one of the most famous night markets in the country. Known for its seafood, visitors to the Keelung night market will be able to enjoy the fresh sea breeze as they stroll along the boardwalk beside the water and enjoy the sight of large ships docked at the harbor.
The night market wraps around a local temple in the center of the city and is particularly well known for its lush seafood. From milk crab and stir-fried king crab legs to its barbecue squid and cuttlefish, Keelung night market is a definite must-visit for the seafoodie visitor!

Central Taiwan

Feng Chia Night Market, Taichung

This night market/shopping town located within walking distance of Feng Chia University offers not only delicious foods and fashionable clothing for sale, but Taichung is also known for selling the cheapest, most fashionable mobile phones.
Comprised of one street, Feng Chia night market offers cheap and delicious and unforgettable foods and a friendly atmosphere–a true sensory feast for both eyes and tongue. Moreover, visitors are encouraged to rent an iBike (an iBike station is located at the main intersection of the Feng Chia road) and travel green through the area.
If you’re looking for churros, scallion pancakes, sweet potato balls or pork-stuffed rice-sausages, this is the night market for you!

Zhongxiao Night Market, Taichung

The Zhongxiao night market was historically the late-night snack center of choice during the Japanese colonial period. It was here that locals feasted on grilled duck, oyster vermicelli, and all sorts of seafood. It was also here where the Ding Wang Spicy Hot Pot originated.
Zhongxiao is well known for its delicious food. Located next to the Third Market, Zhongxiao opens as the Third Market closes (around 4 pm). Some of its must-try dishes include bamboo rice, sugarcane juice, and, of course, Zhongxiao BBQ.

Tunghai Night Market, Taichung

This upscale commercial district located in Taichung, Taiwan features not only a university (Tunghai University) but also a fixed store night market. Different from traditional open-air street markets, Tunghai night market is hugely popular with students, staff, and professors from nearby Tunghai U, and also features a melting pot of fusion cuisines and brand-name clothing.
Perfect for the foodie-shopper, Tunghai Night Market offers an array of irresistible snacks, from chicken steak burgers and steamed meatballs to braised dishes and chicken feet gelatin!

Southern Taiwan

Rui Feng Night Market, Kaohsiung

This grid-shaped market is considered one of the busiest and most popular night markets in Kaohsiung. Located in the Zuoying district, Rui Feng is open Tuesday nights and Thursday through Sunday nights from 6:30. With a two-decade-long history, this L-shaped market offers late-night snacks, entertainment, and shopping. Due to its location, most Ruifeng local visitors are students and office workers, and it sports a variety of low-cost dishes to appeal to guests.
Some of Ruifeng’s most famous dishes include Wanguo steak teppanyaki, brown sugar bubble tea, papaya milk tea, and Mongolian barbecue.

Ling Ya Night Market, Kaohsiung

Located in Taiwan’s largest southern city, the Ling Ya night market is a favorite among the locals. Designed for the focused , the Ling Ya night market solely features food stalls, including such delectable options as squid and eel noodles, Taiwanese salt and pepper (deep fried) chicken, braised pork rice, and white sugar cake.
This market is easy to navigate because the stalls are arranged neatly in two rows, so you will never have to fear getting turned around in large crowds or maze-like winding streets.
As a bonus: because more folks in the southern part of Taiwan speak Taiwanese (in addition to Mandarin), you can take the opportunity to practice sharpening your Taiwanese skills as you order food from the local vendors. (“Ji Koh?” means “How much?”)
No matter where you go in Taiwan, you are sure to have an unlimited number of choices of delicious foods to try. But to soak in the excitement and flavor of Taiwan, unfiltered, make sure you spend some time wandering through its iconic night markets. Wishing you an unforgettable food-lover’s adventure in the Beautiful Island!

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The Best Places to Eat in the Maldives

Feast Through Maldives

Here are several establishments you should visit during your stay in the Maldives.

Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

The Ithaa Undersea Restaurant offers a unique, high-end dining experience that you’ll never forget. The restaurant claims it is the first all-glass undersea restaurant in the world with 180-degree panoramic views of the ocean. Located 16 feet below sea level, the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is connected to the Conrad Hilton Rangali Island resort in the South Ari Atoll. The restaurant was named Ithaa because it means “mother of pearl” in the country’s native language of Dhivehi. The restaurant was crowned the “Most Beautiful Restaurant in the World” by New York Daily News in 2014.
The upscale restaurant specializes in contemporary European cuisine and serves four-course lunches and six-course dinners. Guests rave about their reef lobster stuffed with calamarata pasta and lemongrass veloute sauce entrée. You should also order the coconut crusted légine which is served with steamed sea beans, curry bisque, and spicy sea snails.
The setting provides a very cozy and intimate atmosphere, so this is perfect if you are traveling to the Maldives with a loved one. Be advised that the restaurant has a strict dress code so please wear slacks and a button-down shirt or a nice dress if you would like to be seated. Overall, the best part about dining at the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is that you can watch sharks, dolphins, sea turtles and other fish swimming nearby while you eat.

Shell Beans

If you are looking for a casual yet trendy café, you should visit Shell Beans. The café has been operating for over a decade and has two locations on both sides of Malé island that attracts tourists and locals alike.
Shell Beans serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner so you can easily grab a cup of coffee or a quick meal before you go snorkeling or hop on a jet ski. Their large menu selection includes both traditional Maldivian food and international cuisine.
The café’s signature dishes include the Mediterranean beef stew and Chinese Chicken fried rice. If you’re homesick, you can order their classic American pancakes, chicken quesadillas, pasta, and pizza. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can get the Taste of Maldives for breakfast, which includes two eggs with fish and a fresh fruit platter. And if you’re in a rush, you can always place an order through the Shell Beans mobile phone app and pick it up when you arrive.

Subsix

Subsix is another restaurant known for its breathtaking underwater views. The gourmet restaurant is located 19 feet below sea level on the private island of Niyama. Subsix is very secluded, so much so that you need to charter a speedboat if you want to dine there! Once your boat reaches the restaurant’s landing, you will need to walk down a three-tier staircase to enter the subaquatic restaurant.
You will be impressed as soon as you step inside. The circular shaped dining room has the floor to ceiling windows provides a stunning panoramic view of the ocean, giving you the perfect opportunity to gaze at brightly colored fish, turtles, and eels while you enjoy a gourmet meal. From the sophisticated black color scheme to the capiz shells hanging from the ceiling and the furniture made to resemble sea urchins, Subsix is a sight to behold.
They are revered for their Spiny Lobster Medallion appetizer dish, which includes lobster cromesqui flavored with watermelon and drizzled in a balsamic glaze. Another meal that received rave reviews is their poached salmon with butter, chorizo, crushed potatoes, coconut, and tamarind coulis. Subsix also makes homemade ice cream, parfait, and other dessert treats. The restaurant also hosts an “Underwater Glow Party” every Wednesday and Saturday for guests.

Jazz Café

Another casual dining option in the Maldives is the Jazz Café. According to the locals, the owners of the restaurant were inspired by the famous American music genre and wanted to recreate the spirit of New Orleans by giving the café a jazz theme. The café serves as a cultural hub and is a popular hangout for local Maldivians and tourists due to its live jazz musical performances every week. They also have frequent open mic nights if you’re feeling brave and want to perform.
As soon as you enter you’ll be impressed with the café’s classic European style decor. Jazz Café serves international cuisine from New Zealand and Thailand as well as traditional Maldivian meals. Their breakfast, lunch and dinner menus include everything from hamburgers and French fries to lasagna and other types of pasta. They also have different flavors of smoothies and gelato for dessert!
The Jazz café is the ideal place to sit back and relax with your loved ones while listening to a live jazz band. You can either have a seat at their wooden tables in the main area or venture upstairs if you would like to look out over the city of Malé.
If you want a tranquil vacation, you should consider traveling to the Maldives. Tuna, spicy fried fish, lobster, and other seafood are a staple ingredient of Maldives cuisine. However, you can easily try international cuisine if you don’t like seafood. Luckily, there are many different types of restaurants available that can fit a wide variety of tastes and price points. As you just learned, you can eat comfort food in a small cafe and chat with the locals, or you can go to an exclusive underwater restaurant for a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience. The options are endless in the Maldives! Before you pack your bags, remember not to bring any alcohol. The Maldives is a Muslim nation where alcohol is banned for locals. Most of the resorts offer alcohol to its guests, but the government will confiscate it if you try to enter or leave the country with it.

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Visit These Tibetan Monasteries On Your Next Trip To China

China is home to a rich and multi-layered culture textured with breathtaking vistas and complex intricacies. One of the most intriguing areas of the country is the often romanticized and always mysterious region of Tibet. It conjures up images of a deeply spiritual mountain land where robed monks keep vigil, and a higher uncomprehensible consciousness exists. The beautiful monasteries of Tibet uplift the travelers who dare to seek them out. It is a journey well worth taking. You can visit these spectacular Tibetan monasteries on your next trip to China for a one-of-a-kind experience.

Ganden Monastery

Ganden Monastery lies on the southern banks of the Lhasa River and is one of the earliest monasteries built in Tibet. Its towering location on Wangbur Mountain offers visitors a panoramic view of Lhasa Valley and the Shannon countryside. Ganden is the primary monastery in the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism and remains an important example of Gelugpa tradition. The architectural integrity of the monastery’s buildings and cultural centers are intact and, in themselves, well worth exploring.
The many chapels, shrines, and pagodas are adorned with colorful murals with historical relics remaining inside. You will want to wear your walking shoes and take advantage of the one hour Kora monastery tour. It is a steep slow walk around the grounds rewarded by the sight of prayer flags blowing in the wind and the sound of chanting monks at prayer. Your camera will get a workout trying to capture the spectacular scenery around every corner and the unique cultural symbols encountered along the way.
You can stop for lunch at the Ganden Monastery Restaurant after the tour where they offer both vegetarian and non-vegetarian choices. The Ganden monks grow a special herb called Ganden Khempa which is blessed by the monks and made into incense available for purchase as a souvenir. It is believed this natural product possesses a variety of health benefits when burned. You can get a peaceful night’s sleep once the day is through at the posh St. Regis Resort in nearby Lhasa.

Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple is the oldest and holiest of all the monasteries in Tibet. It sits in the heart of old town Lhasa drawing pilgrims and scholars from all over the world to its architecture and the secrets within. Jokhang Temple’s history is colored with fantastical legends adding romance and intrigue to its majesty. The original temples were built over 1400 years ago by King Songtsen Gampo to house the statues of Buddha gifted to him as a dowry from his new wives.
There is much to see and appreciate at Jokhang Temple including the incredible life-sized statue of Shakyamuni, a brilliant-colored icon of Buddhist imagery. As you make your way among the labyrinth of small chapels in the monastery complex, you will be mesmerized by the hundreds of Buddha statues surrounded by votive candles. It is an atmospheric, moody experience and one you will likely not forget. Climb the steps to the golden rooftop, and you can overlook the square where pilgrims gather below in ceremonial worship.
The multicultural streets of Lhasa are bursting with vibrant eateries, the spicy aromas sure to entice you in after a day visiting the temples. You might want to try the Tibetan Family Kitchen for local cuisines including momo dumplings and sweet rice. The friendly staff speak English and are happy to treat you like family. You can relax later at the Zhaxi Quta Style Hotel with its classic, spacious rooms, free buffet breakfast, and WiFi. The hotel is centrally located and in walking distance to many of Lhasa’s attractions.

Potala Palace

Potala Palace has been the renowned winter residence of the Dalai Lama since the 7th-century and still stands as a symbol of traditional Buddhism. This castle-like structure reaches over 12,000 feet above the town! The palace is a Tibetan architectural wonder with golden roofs visible from miles away and a regal presence even among the other monasteries. It is an iconic tribute and mecca to practicing Buddhists from all over the globe, and many devotional events are held there each year.
The interior of Potala Palace is a rich combination of decorative stone and wood with exquisite carvings as well as artwork depicting Tibetan history. There are more than a thousand rooms showcasing a variety of murals, painted scrolls, and statues made of jewels and gold. Photographers can ascend the winding path up Chakpori Hill beside Potala Palace for a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape and a rare opportunity to capture an image of the palace as the sun rises or sets. The resulting photos will be worthy of hanging on your wall.
Once you have had your fill of all that wonder, you can wander down Lhasa’s Bakuo Street until you come upon another of its landmarks, the Makye Ame Restaurant. Its bright yellow facade will draw you in, and you will be greeted by a homey atmosphere and live Tibetan music. You can sip on freshly-brewed local barley wine while enjoying a feast of leafy greens and yak-inspired main courses. The Four Points by Sheraton Hotel is the perfect place to reflect on your day and rest in luxurious comfort and tranquility.

Considerations

Tourism in Tibet is strictly regulated, and foreign travelers are required to arrange their visit to the monasteries through a tour company. There are many reputable tour operators to choose from including WildJunket, a young-at-heart guide company for adventurous travel. Additionally, Tibet is known as the “roof of the world” because of its high altitude so some visitors might require a day or two to adapt to the change.
Visitors are not allowed to take photographs inside shrines and chapels or of people without asking for permission. Much of the food will be unfamiliar, and goat and yak meat are commonly on the menu though vegetarian dishes are delicious and plentiful. Tibet is an ancient, exotic land and one of China’s most remarkable destinations. You just might have the time of your life!

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5 Reasons Why Dubai is More than Just a Business Destination

“Dubai is a city of world records. It has the largest man-made island, the largest indoor amusement park, the largest building in the world, 163 stories to the top. Now it’s aiming for its most audacious ambition: The booming desert city that a decade ago had the world’s largest environmental footprint wants to become, by the year 2050, the most sustainable city on Earth.”
– Daniel Stone, National Geographic
It is no secret that Dubai has become one of the top meeting destinations for the world’s leading businesses. However, Dubai has become much more than a choice location for professional meetings, trade shows, and expos. In 2017, nearly 16 million people visited Dubai, a figure which includes business professionals and leisure travelers alike. This record-breaking tourism has positioned the city as one of the top travel destinations in the world for all types of travelers. Below are five reasons why Dubai has become so much more than a business destination for vacationers and travel aficionados.

1) Enjoy a view from the world’s tallest building

Dubai is home to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. People travel from all corners of the map to enjoy a breathtaking view from the Burj Khalifa. With over 160 floors, the building has two main observation decks, which are located on the 125th and 148th floors. You can purchase your tickets upon arrival or save money and time by booking them online in advance. During your visit, you can have refreshments at the SKY Lounge and participate in a variety of interactive activities available to guests. Following your visit to the top of the Burj, you can relax and watch a captivating water performance held at the Dubai Fountain. Shows are free of charge for onlookers, who often gather outdoors to have dinner and watch the show from a table at one of the many fountain-side restaurants at the Dubai Mall.

2) Snow ski in the desert

Located within the confines of Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai is one of the only desert-based ski resorts in the world. With an indoor ski area totaling 22,500 square meters, Ski Dubai boasts a 25-story high mountain with five slopes of varying difficulty. The resort opened in 2005 and featured the world’s first indoor black diamond run. Skis, jackets, and equipment are provided with your ticket, or you can bring your equipment if you wish. If you grow chilly or are ready to switch gears, you can simply exit the resort and spend the remainder of your day shopping in the Mall of the Emirates. With over 700 stores and services, the Mall of the Emirates is among the largest malls in the world.

3) Ride a Camel!

Dubai is famous for its camel racing and even has a television station devoted exclusively to camels and racing. The camel plays such a key role in Dubai’s rich heritage that Dubai is now home to the largest, most impressive camel hospital in the world – the $40 million AED Dubai Camel Hospital in Marmoun. While taking part in an official camel race might be tricky, you can enjoy a leisurely ride on a camel on one of Dubai’s beautiful beaches or even arrange a full day desert safari that features a camel ride and professionally guided tour of Dubai’s desert terrain. Safaris typically begin during the middle of the day and end with a dinner that features local cuisine and entertainment. If you do not have several hours available for a safari, you can enjoy a short camel ride on Jumeirah Beach.

4) Book a room at the famous Burj Al Arab

“Shaped like the sail of an Arabian dhow ship and built for $1 billion, the hotel is full of extravagances like a Rolls-Royce chauffeur, a 14-piece set of Hermès toiletries, personal butlers — Burj says the staff-to-guest ratio is 6:1—and 24-karat gold everything.”
– Harrison Jacobs, Business Insider
Shaped like a beautiful sailboat, the Burj Al Arab is one of the world’s most luxurious hotels. The hotel was built in 1998 to accommodate the world’s most discerning guests. From marble staircases to 24-karat gold furnishings to private butlers, Burj Al Arab offers an unforgettable experience to guests. If you cannot afford to part with $1,500 for a night’s accommodations, you can make reservations to dine at the hotel’s famous Al Mahara restaurant. With its underwater theme, the restaurant features spectacular sights and seafood dishes prepared by award-winning chefs. The wall to ceiling aquarium in the restaurant provides a fascinating environment to enjoy a five-star dining experience.

5) Check out Dubai’s Most Famous Souks

Dubai is internationally known for its awe-inspiring souks. Commonly known in America as marketplaces or bazaars, souks are often located in outdoor areas and are often the heartbeat of the neighborhoods where they are located. Among Dubai’s most impressive souks are the Gold Souk, the Spice Souk, and the Textile Souk. Each of these souks is located in a different region of Dubai, enabling visitors to become familiar with some of Dubai’s local neighborhoods. If you plan to visit one or more of Dubai’s souks, be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as it is easy for visitors to spend the better part of a day at one souk alone. Also, be prepared to negotiate with vendors, many of whom welcome the opportunity to engage with prospective overseas buyers. Finally, plan to bring a spacious bag, as you will likely run across many local treasures and souvenirs that are hand-crafted by the area’s most talented artists, craftsmen, and chefs.
Dubai is more than just a convenient meeting location for the world’s top leaders and executives. Dubai is an award-winning destination for business professionals and leisure travelers alike. From breathtaking views to innovative fairs to stellar shopping, it is no surprise that more people are traveling to Dubai than ever. And with a first-class international airport, Dubai is easily accessible for prospective visitors in virtually every region of the world.

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The Top 5 Festivals in Nepal

What comes to your mind when you think of Nepal? If you are like most people, you probably envision beautiful scenic landscapes, sacred religious temples, and brightly colored handmade goods. Nepal is also famous for its fun and vibrant festivals. If you are thinking about visiting the country soon, you should try to experience at least one event before you hop on a flight to go back home. Just remember to run errands, stock up on groceries, and do other important tasks before the festivals start, since some of the local businesses may close during the events. Below you can find more information about the five best festivals in Nepal.

The Holi Festival – March

Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors, is considered one of the most popular festivals in Nepal and marks the arrival of spring. The week-long event is primarily celebrated in the Hindu community since it symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.
The Holi festival celebrates the death of Holika, a person who tried to kill Lord Vishnu’s loyal follower Prahlada. According to an Indian religious story called Mahabharata, Holika was the sister of King Hiranyakashipu. The king was jealous and only wanted the townspeople to worship him and not Lord Vishnu. Despite his threats and intimidation, Prahlada refused to stop worshipping Lord Vishnu. In a fit of rage, King Hiranyakashipu ordered his sister to burn Holika to death for his defiance. However, Lord Vishnu protected Prahlada and allowed him to survive the fire while Holika burned to death. Once the townspeople found out about the miraculous event, they threw water and colored powder on Prahlada to bless him and denounce evil.
To this day, crowds of people honor the memory of during Holi by splashing water and throwing colored powder everywhere to bestow blessings on each other. If you want to experience the Holi festival in person, try to wear light colored clothes so you can easily see the vibrant colors.

The Buddha Jayanti Festival – April

Both the Buddhist and Hindu community participate in the Buddha Jayanti festival. The April event is supposed to commemorate the life and death of Lord Buddha, who was born on the Western plains of Nepal in a town called Lumbini. Buddhists from all over the world come to join the procession and show their respect for Lord Buddha.
The temples and monasteries in Lumbini open their doors during the Buddha Jayanti festival so people can come inside and pray or give an offering. Many people bring flowers, scarves, and candles to place on or near different statues of Buddha. You may also be able to hear the echoes of monks chanting ceremonial prayers and beating drums while you walk through the streets. Sermons promoting world peace and compassion are also commonplace during the Buddha Jayanti festival.

The Indra Jatra Festival – September

Indra Jatra is an extravagant annual street festival that is meant to give honor and thanks to the god of rain Indra. Both Hindus and Buddhists come together to celebrate the occasion for eight days in September.
The Indra Jatra festival is usually only observed in the capital city of Kathmandu. Many people flock to the city so they can see masked performers called Lakhay tell the story of how Indra came to Earth using interpretive dance. Spectators can also enjoy a parade of chariots and dance around ceremonial poles. Every year, the Hindu priests choose one young village girl to represent the spirit of Kumari during the festival. If you’re lucky, you may be able to see her riding in one of the main chariots as the Living Goddess Kumari.

The Dashain Festival – September and October

Dashain is considered to be one of the most important and longest Hindu festivals in Nepal. The event commemorates the victory of good over evil and usually lasts around 15 days. The celebration occurs between September and October and ends on the day of the full moon.
The locals usually perform many rituals (including animal sacrifice) during the festival. If you go, you’ll probably notice the villagers building a large tent-like structure with bamboo and rope. Once the base is secure, they’ll attach a home-made swing inside of it and take turns riding it. It’s also not unusual to see hundreds of colorful kites in the sky since there are multiple kite competitions over the two weeks. If you didn’t get the opportunity to swing with the locals, you can always purchase a kite from a local vendor and enter one of the competitions if you want to participate.
A common Dashain ritual is to tidy up the house so that the goddesses will be tempted to visit and bestow prosperity and good wealth onto the family. Another is to offer several gifts like animals and other food products to the goddess Durga. It’s customary for the older generation to place a mixture of rice, yogurt, and red vermillion on the foreheads of children to give them their blessings at the end of Dashain. Overall, the annual tradition is a time for everyone to feast on delicious food, open presents and spend lots of time with loved ones.

The Tihar Festival – October and November

Another festival you should try to see while visiting Nepal is the Festival of Lights or Tihar. The Tihar festival is meant to pay homage to Yama, the God of Death and Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth. Similar to the Indian festival of Diwali, the event is celebrated during October and November and can last up to five days. Each day has different rituals and traditions.
In contrast to the wild and colorful celebration of Holi, the Festival of Lights is a time for people to sit down and reflect on the past year and what they’d like to accomplish in the next. It also marks the end of the lunar calendar. Tihar is a time of prayer and spiritual renewal to the Nepalese community. Many families come together over the holiday to eat large meals and exchange gifts with each other. People also use decorative candles and lanterns to celebrate the occasion since it serves as a visual symbol of how the light will always triumph over the darkness. If you look up into the sky, you may also be able to see colorful lanterns and fireworks that are supposed to help usher in a prosperous and healthy new year.
This list of popular festivals merely scratches the surface of what Nepal has to offer. There are a variety of national and regional festivals every month dedicated to different deities and special occasions that you can explore during your time there.

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Romantic Taiwanese Getaways for Nature Lovers

Nature Lovers

This little island nation was nicknamed “the Beautiful Island” by the Portuguese for a reason. It is full of verdant forests, charming seascapes, and some of the friendliest locals in the world. Taiwan is the perfect place for a romantic getaway, and here are some of the best locations in particular:

Hualien, Taiwan

This lovely coastal city located in Northeastern Taiwan has an unhurried mountain town feel, perfect for long, lingering walks and meaningful memories. The Taroko National Park, a 92,000-hectare national park is one of Taiwan’s nine national parks, featuring all-natural mountains, gorges, rivers, and cliffs. You can take a guided day tour of the Taroko Gorge, or make your own way through the winding mountain paths or alongside the rocky Qixingtan Beach.
In addition, Hualien also features a Cultural and Creative Industries Park–former industrial spaces that have been converted into art venues including art exhibits and craft shops. If you come at the right time, you can be treated to street performers and music shows as well! There are even opportunities to go whale and dolphin watching in Hualien, with a high likelihood of successful sightings, particularly between April and October.
And don’t forget the food: for an authentic Taiwanese night market experience, check out Dongdamen Night Market, located on Zhongshan road and open from 5:30 to 11:30 pm, daily. This subsection of a larger bazaar and events area is home to three main market lanes, including Futing Market (featuring Taiwanese food), another street representing mainland Chinese dishes, and Aboriginal street, a lane filled with local vendors offering aboriginal style snacks and gifts. Hualien is the perfect romantic vacation spot for nature-loving foodie couples from anywhere around the world.

Tamshui, Taipei

If you prefer a more citified feel for your love story, remember to check out Tamshui, Taipei–known for its famous Lover’s Bridge which lights up at night as live musicians serenade diners at the local restaurants along the river. Located near Tamkang University, Tamshui is a beloved spot for college-aged lovers and is a top dating spot for university students and visitors alike.
Even during the day, couples can rent bikes and ride along the peaceful coast, perhaps stopping in to visit Fort San Domingo (one of the oldest European style buildings in Taiwan) or Tamshui Old Street (full of delicious foods like the iconic fish balls and Ah Gei) for an unforgettable date.

Pingxi Sky Lanterns, Taipei

Have you ever wanted to release your own burning lantern into the night sky as a declaration of your love? After Disney released Tangled in 2010, viewers everywhere have swooned at the romantic scene where Rapunzel and Flynn sing to each other as floating lanterns glow like stars in the inky night air.
Pingxi (also known as Shi Fen) was literally awarded the “most romantic place in Taiwan” in 2014, made famous by the movie “You Are the Apple of My Eye” which also featured a romantic scene involving the releasing of a sky lantern.
If experiencing a sky lantern has always been your dream, you need dream no longer: Visitors to Pingxi are given the opportunity to decorate and release their own sky lanterns, as well as stroll along the rustic railway, hand in hand, or explore the Pingxi Old Street–a street built into a hill with a train track going overhead.
If you are looking for a memorable place and activity to declare your love to your significant other, or even pop the question, you can’t go wrong with Pingxi and its famous sky lanterns! During Chinese New Years, particularly, tourists are invited to release a Chinese lantern into the sky.

Brown Boulevard, Taitung

This picturesque path located in the center of the island nation is perfect for a romantic lovers’ bike ride. Featuring a wide expanse of green rice fields, only one solitary tree, and zero telephone poles, Brown Boulevard has long been considered an ideal backdrop for wedding photography or just a relaxing location to travel through, hand in hand. Made famous because of a Mr. Brown Coffee commercial, this verdant paradise road is nestled in the rustic Chishang township of Taitung County and is closed to non-agricultural vehicles, making it safe and peaceful–perfect for exploring and enjoying.

Penghu Islands

If you love aquatics, consider bringing your beloved to Penghu, a group of islands and islets located off the west coast of Chiayi County. And if you and your loved one appreciate history, check out the Penghu Living Museum, which offers insights into centuries of Penghu culture, from religious beliefs to child-rearing practices.
Qimei’s most arresting feature is a double heart of stacked stones, an ancient but well-preserved fish trap located in the deep green-blue ocean and visible from the sky above. It is often said to represent eternal love and is the perfect backdrop to a romantic picnic, wedding proposal, or wedding photo shoot.

Yang Ming Shan, Taipei

Yang Ming Shan is an epic vantage point from which to view Taipei’s sparkling night scenery: the Yang Ming Shan National Park features a hidden volcano and is particularly beautiful during flower season, with sakura blossoms in full bloom.
There are also numerous restaurants with spectacular views located near Yangmingshan national park, including The Peak, which offers private seats for couples and a large menu with many selections; Back Garden, a Mediterranean-Bali themed outdoor restaurant, and Sleepless, the iconic spot for couples in love since 1986. Any and all of these elegant restaurants provide the perfect place to enjoy a delicious meal after a day of hiking and exploring, and a time to talk about matters of the heart.
No matter where you go in Taiwan, an emerald land full of unspoiled nature and unique adventures, you will be sure to make one-of-a-kind memories with your significant other by your side. The most important thing is to enjoy each other and the land, and remember that, in the words of the great Charles Schulz: “in life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with.”