The best travel books about Taiwan

John Grant Ross Author Of Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan, Past and Present
By John Grant Ross

The Books I Picked & Why

Formosa Moon

By Joshua Samuel Brown, Stephanie Huffman

Formosa Moon

Why this book?

Fun excursions around Taiwan told by the likable duo of Brown – a Taiwan long-timer and veteran travel writer – and Huffman, who is on her first trip to Asia. It’s a quirky travelogue packed with practical info, and with the pairing of new eyes and an old hand working beautifully. They both write with wit and affection for the country. Huffman’s observation that “Taiwan is never boring,” applies to the book. Memorable sections include a visit to the remote aboriginal village of Smangus, meeting various artists, an odd encounter with a fortune teller, and the auditory pleasures of living in “Dog Lane.” 


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Taiwanese Feet: My walk around Taiwan

By John Groot

Taiwanese Feet: My walk around Taiwan

Why this book?

A down-to-earth account of Canadian ex-pat John Groot’s circumnavigation, on foot and in stages, around the island’s entire 1,200 kilometers of coastline. Looking for a big adventure and also hoping to connect more deeply to the land and its people, he set off from his home in Danshui in late 2006. He walked on weekends and other days off, a total of 83 walking days spread out over eight years.

Groot’s epic trek is related with good humor, whether highlights like exploring the majestic East Coast, with its sea cliffs and soaring backdrop of mountains, or low points such as trudging through ugly west coast wastelands.


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Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts

By Jessica J. Lee

Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts

Why this book?

Canadian Jessica Lee comes to Taiwan to unravel some family history (her grandfather, a pilot with the Flying Tigers, was part of the exodus to the island following the Nationalists’ defeat in China). A nature writer, Lee also investigates Taiwan’s beautiful mountain areas. The result is a well-written but sometimes odd mix of a family story and Taiwan’s plants. The country’s remarkable flora has too long been ignored in English-language works so it’s good to have it showcased, and by a capable writer. Two Trees Make a Forest is one of the most highly praised Taiwan titles of recent years.


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Through Formosa: An Account of Japan's Island Colony

By Owen Rutter

Through Formosa: An Account of Japan's Island Colony

Why this book?

A delightful travelogue based on a brief trip Rutter made in the spring of 1921, from Kaohsiung up the west coast to Taipei. At that time, Taiwan was a Japanese colony and largely closed to tourists, and Through Formosa a rare glimpse. Rutter was an English colonial administrator and rubber planter in Borneo, so as well as typical travel descriptions of transport, accommodation, and sights, we also get informed opinions on matters such as how the Japanese colonial government was developing agriculture and trying to assimilate the aborigines. 


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The Real Taiwan and the Dutch: Traveling Notes from the Netherlands Representative

By Menno Goedhart, Cheryl Robbins

The Real Taiwan and the Dutch: Traveling Notes from the Netherlands Representative

Why this book?

An enjoyable read and a practical guide for those looking to explore Taiwan’s aboriginal cultures and the vestiges of Dutch rule on Taiwan in the seventeenth century. It’s a beautifully illustrated book containing hundreds of photographs and useful travel information. The focus is on getting off the beaten path, and the book details fascinating places not covered by other guidebooks, which is a testament to the two authors’ expert knowledge.


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