3 day trip destinations in Taiwan that’ll take you off road

3 day trip destinations in Taiwan that’ll take you off road

One for the bucket list

Text: Angelyn Kwek

Break out the maps and your GPS — it’s time to venture out of Taipei city for lesser known pastures

It's an open secret that most Singaporeans have an ongoing love affair with Taiwan, what with the stellar shopping and eats to be had — two SG-approved pastimes we totally excel at. Plus if you've booked yourself into a residence room at the Regent Taipei as your home away from home, your vacay is pretty much set. We're talking round-the-clock service at the exclusive Tai Pan Lounge, an award-winning spa — that played host to Scarlett Johansson for a scene in Lucy — a smorgasbord of international cuisines to satisfy even the pickiest eaters and two whole floors of in-house shopping that stock the biggest designer names.

With so much laid out at your feet, you're probably thinking "I'm not leaving the comfort of my very modern and luxurious hotel, thank you very much", but there really is something to be said for going off the beaten track and experiencing a side of Taiwan that isn't rolling in commercialisation. In a rare moment of respite, Buro unplugged from the digital world (well, mostly) and went adventuring in three less-trodden locales that gave a new perspective on sightseeing goals. Here are three day trip itineraries you ought to make room for the next time you embark on your yearly pilgrimage to Taiwan.

Hualien County, Taiwan

Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

What to see: Listed on the Michelin Green Guide as one of the world's most awe-inspiring, must-see sites, Taroko Gorge at the Taroko National Park is a hiker's dream. You get a bit of everything: Lush verdant foliage, rushing waterfalls, amazing craggy mountains as far as the eye can see with peaks that vanish into the misty ether — and all backdropped by the endless sky. We kid you not when we say the view is so breathtaking, you literally stop inhaling in order to gape at and take in the picturesque enormity that is thousands of years of erosion-carved marble rock. Dotted with sightseeing trails, the most famous of which are the Shakadang Trail that winds along the gorge's crystal clear Liwu River as well as landmarks such as the Eternal Spring Shrine, this is a tucked-away pocket of untamed wilderness that will immerse you in Mother Nature like your city-loving self has never experienced before. Also, amazeballs latergrams.

Where to stay: Silks Place Taroko, No.18 Tian Hsyang Road, Shiou Lin Village, Hualien County

How to get there: Take a train from Taipei Bus Terminal for a two-hour trip out of the city to Hualien, and hop on a charter cab or bus up into the hills. Alternatively, Silks Place Taroko also provides shuttle transportation for its guests, available on request.

Book your stay here.

Yilan County, Taiwan

Jiaoxi hot springs town, Taiwan

What to see: A quiet Taiwanese town that boasts a bevy of hot springs, Jiaoxi's mineral waters — nicknamed the 'beauty spring' for its complexion-enhancing benefits — totally holds its own against those chi chi Hokkaido resorts you have to get on the shortlist for if you're hoping to even dip your pinkie toe. There are also free foot pools scattered throughout the town for a soak session or two whenever your soles need a pick-me-up while you're exploring the local streets and food markets. And if you fancy a day trip within a day trip, take some time out and jump on a ferry to the scenic Turtle Island off the coast of Jiaoxi where whale-watching is the order of the day. Though in our opinion, the ultimate way to maximise your time is to check into Wellsprings by Silks, a cosy Japanese-inspired hotel that sprung up only a little over a year ago. Why, you ask? Because every room comes outfitted with a private outdoor mini spring (yes, you read that right), so you can steep in your very own "beauty bath" and feel that stress melt away. Let's put it this way: If Netflix and chill were a place, this would be it.

Where to stay: Wellsprings by Silks, No. 67, Wenquan Rd., Jiaoxi Township, Yilan County

How to get there: Easily accessed by Taiwan's rail system, a 90-minute train ride from the Taipei Bus Terminal will deposit you right at Jiaoxi's door.

Book your stay here.

Yilan County, Taiwan

Yilan city, Taiwan

What to see: It would be remiss not to travel a short distance down to Yilan city proper post-hot springs to fully experience the county's cultural ambience. The birthplace of Taiwanese opera with a thriving spiritual core — as evidenced by a traditional temple paying homage to the saint of harvest in downtown Yilan — this up-and-coming tourist location is rich in historical sites. Specially planned bus and walking routes let you hit up each heritage spot, one of which is a former watch tower and jailhouse established by the Japanese during Taiwan's colonial days in the late 1800s, now transformed into a brasserie that still retains majority of its original moulding. History lessons aside, Yilan is famed for its duck dishes cultivated from the Cherry Valley breed of ducks, celebrated for its well-marbled meat. And the best place to sample this delicacy is with a lavish 12-course roasted duck feast at the Red Lantern restaurant housed inside the integrated lifestyle duplex that is Silks Place Yilan — the perfect accompaniment to an eat-plus-sightsee day trip itinerary before you shuttle back to Taipei.

Where to stay: Silks Place Yilan, 36, Minquan Rd., Sec. 2, Yilan City, Taiwan

How to get there: If you're coming down from Jiaoxi, a cab ride is your best bet. Those departing from Taipei can board a 90-minute train ride from Taipei Bus Terminal.

Book your stay here.