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View Poll Results: Taiwan or Yunnan Province?
Taiwan 6 60.00%
Yunnan 4 40.00%
Voters: 10. You may not vote on this poll

 
 
Old 09-30-2012, 08:09 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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We might be visiting either one soon, just wondering for those who've been to both how they compare.

Both have spectacular scenery - it's hard to really compare since they're different, but both have towering peaks (I'd say Yunnan edges out in the mountains, valleys, gorges department), roaring rivers.etc, and different biomes. Taiwan of course has a varied coastline which is interesting.

For urban life Taipei probably beats Kunming. I'm not sure how Kunming is like but it seems like any large Chinese city.

Personally though I like the towns/cities of Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-La more because they have more history/look more quaint, while Taiwan has a shorter history apart from the aboriginal culture, which is interesting.

I'm more interested in Yunnan but my parents suggested Taiwan. I never thought much of visiting but it'd be interesting to see what it's like, since I've also been to the PRC.

If you've been, which did you prefer?

If you haven't, which would you rather visit?

 
Old 09-30-2012, 08:56 PM
 
Location: Macao
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I've been to both, and I like both.

Kunming isn't that big of a city, by the way. It's kind of just another Chinese city, but it's not just another big Chinese city. It's relatively small. I loved the climate there. Not a whole lot of urban excitement. Kunming is just a comfortable smallest Chinese city, that if I were forced to choose a retirement in China, I'd probably choose Kunming. It's relatively relaxed and peaceful by Chinese standards. Plus, again, the ideal climate.

Yunnan province is the greater gem with the Dali, Lijiang, etc. I visite both of those towns, and both quite interesting, and easy to spent time in.

Taiwan. I liked Taiwan too. I'd probably live/work in Taiwan over China anydays. Taiwan also has beaches and such.

For tourism, you can't really go wrong with either one. Somedays I'd say I'd rather go to Yunnan. But, at this particular moment, I'd rather go to Taiwan, if I had my choice right now. Mostly because mountains and beaches. Where Yunnan is inland. Both are good though.
 
Old 09-30-2012, 09:33 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiger Beer View Post
I've been to both, and I like both.

Kunming isn't that big of a city, by the way. It's kind of just another Chinese city, but it's not just another big Chinese city. It's relatively small. I loved the climate there. Not a whole lot of urban excitement. Kunming is just a comfortable smallest Chinese city, that if I were forced to choose a retirement in China, I'd probably choose Kunming. It's relatively relaxed and peaceful by Chinese standards. Plus, again, the ideal climate.

Yunnan province is the greater gem with the Dali, Lijiang, etc. I visite both of those towns, and both quite interesting, and easy to spent time in.

Taiwan. I liked Taiwan too. I'd probably live/work in Taiwan over China anydays. Taiwan also has beaches and such.

For tourism, you can't really go wrong with either one. Somedays I'd say I'd rather go to Yunnan. But, at this particular moment, I'd rather go to Taiwan, if I had my choice right now. Mostly because mountains and beaches. Where Yunnan is inland. Both are good though.
Yes like apples and oranges. How expensive/cheap was Taiwan compared to the PRC? Is it hard for someone who doesn't speak Mandarin to get around? Did you go to Yushan/Alishan? That's probably what most interests me about Taiwan.
 
Old 09-30-2012, 10:43 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
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Really tough call, Tri! I haven't been to Yunnan, but I've seen photos, and I've read about the minority cultures, which are utterly fascinating, and located amid breathtaking scenery. But food-wise, I'd have to say Taiwan, and beach-wise, also Taiwan. So I'm going to say they're tied.
 
Old 09-30-2012, 11:45 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
Really tough call, Tri! I haven't been to Yunnan, but I've seen photos, and I've read about the minority cultures, which are utterly fascinating, and located amid breathtaking scenery. But food-wise, I'd have to say Taiwan, and beach-wise, also Taiwan. So I'm going to say they're tied.
Yes the minority cultures would be interesting. I got a taste of it around Sapa, Vietnam, which is actually very close to the Chinese border with Yunnan. I know Yunnan is becoming more popular among budget travellers so I hope Dali.etc is not overrun with the some well commercialism where all the locals constantly swarm on you to sell you stuff. From previous experience in China, however, I'm pretty sure the touts will be pretty aggressive.

I'm curious to learn more about Taiwanese aborigines. I only started learning about them until recently. I know they're mostly assimilated now, but I'm sure there must be some authentic vestiges of their culture left in some of the mountain villages.

People say Taipei rivals Singapore for food but I would have to disagree, but then again I'm biased, since I see Taiwanese food as more Chinese while Singapore's is more diverse and has a vibrant local scene.
 
Old 10-01-2012, 12:13 AM
 
Location: State of Transition
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
I'm curious to learn more about Taiwanese aborigines. I only started learning about them until recently. I know they're mostly assimilated now, but I'm sure there must be some authentic vestiges of their culture left in some of the mountain villages.
Singapore food may be more diverse, but NOBODY does Chinese like the Taiwanese! Very interesting restaurants that specialize in vegetarian food--fake meat and fake fish dishes, made from tofu or taro root. Really good. All of it's good.

The aborigines on Orchid Island off the coast are not assimilated, being more isolated, and all. They managed to fight off the gov't's attempt to force them to abandon their traditional houses and move into cement houses. Orchid Island is the high point of any visit to Taiwan. Best time to go is during their New Year, when the college students come back from college on Formosa to visit their parents. Really friendly people, really nice. Very different from the Chinese. Orchid Island is walkable, but there's a broken-down bus that goes from one end of the island to the other. Riding it is a real adventure. DO NOT take the boat to get to the island! Take the plane. The seas are too rough for anyone but the aborigines to survive without extreme discomfort. Don't say you weren't warned.
 
Old 10-01-2012, 12:26 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,377,277 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
Singapore food may be more diverse, but NOBODY does Chinese like the Taiwanese! Very interesting restaurants that specialize in vegetarian food--fake meat and fake fish dishes, made from tofu or taro root. Really good. All of it's good.

The aborigines on Orchid Island off the coast are not assimilated, being more isolated, and all. They managed to fight off the gov't's attempt to force them to abandon their traditional houses and move into cement houses. Orchid Island is the high point of any visit to Taiwan. Best time to go is during their New Year, when the college students come back from college on Formosa to visit their parents. Really friendly people, really nice. Very different from the Chinese. Orchid Island is walkable, but there's a broken-down bus that goes from one end of the island to the other. Riding it is a real adventure. DO NOT take the boat to get to the island! Take the plane. The seas are too rough for anyone but the aborigines to survive without extreme discomfort. Don't say you weren't warned.
There's a few of those vegetarian restaurants here. The chicken could almost fool me, if you're not particular on taste it's a good alternative.

It sounds interesting, thanks for the tip, I will keep that in mind!
 
Old 10-01-2012, 01:12 AM
 
Location: Macao
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
Yes like apples and oranges. How expensive/cheap was Taiwan compared to the PRC? Is it hard for someone who doesn't speak Mandarin to get around? Did you go to Yushan/Alishan? That's probably what most interests me about Taiwan.
I don't speak Chinese, and it was easy for me to get around.

I didn't go to Yushan/Alishan. Probably easier to get around Taiwan though. I encountered plenty of people in China who had zero, zero, zero English abilities. That being said, there's always someone somewhere who can translate when in a serious pinch.
 
Old 10-01-2012, 01:15 AM
 
Location: Macao
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
People say Taipei rivals Singapore for food but I would have to disagree, but then again I'm biased, since I see Taiwanese food as more Chinese while Singapore's is more diverse and has a vibrant local scene.
I never heard Taipei food rivaling anyone. It's essentially Chinese.

Whereas Singaporean food is Chinese, Malay, and Indian!! Plus all the internationalism the city attracts on top of those three.

Maybe Taipei might be able to rival in Chinese food only category, maybe? But I"d think even Singapore would draw from a wider range of Chinese influences than Taipei.
 
Old 10-01-2012, 10:12 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
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To answer your direct questions:
Taiwan is more expensive and easier to get around. I don't know where English is more prevalant, but I would guess Taiwan. Ali Shan is nice, pretty, and peaceful, but certainly not the highlight of Taiwan. Dali is not overrun with foreigners, but it is full of domestic Chinese tourists and is 100% a tourist trap. Still fun though.
Taiwan's Chinese cuisine can't be beat. Taipei's food scene is like NYC's; There's lots of foreign influence from various trends/crazes that periodically sweep the city. I think the latest is either Thai, French, or Mexican.

Having been to both, I recommend Taiwan if you want a relaxing and cosmopolitan vacation. If you are looking for an aggravating adventure, then Yunnan is the place to go.

Yunnan Positives:
+ Marginally better scenery. In Lijiang and Shangri-La you feel like you're on the Tibetan steppe. The sky is a deep cobalt blue, prayer flags are fluttering, and the architecture of the preserved old towns looks the part. There aren't any spectacular mountains, but it is certainly the high country. The preserved old towns, especially the canals of Dali, are very nice, so long as you ignore the fact that 90% of the buildings are rebuilt trinket shops. I've forgotten; are Tiger Leaping Gorge and the Dragon's Backbone in Yunnan? If both are, then it's hands-down Yunnan for scenery.
+ Cheaper. If you can speak Mandarin or somehow manage to escape the tourist traps, you can live and tour cheaper in Yunnan. Be prepared to take some rickety local busses, sleep in some drafty shabby accomodations, and pay (5 yuan) to follow locals who will show you how to sneak around the guarded entrances to the old towns (50 yuan). Leading to the next positive:
+ Adventure. Taiwan is a lot safer, cleaner, and nicer than the PRC. That can be appealing to some and boring to others. Travel in China is always a (often obnoxious or even dangerous) adventure.
Negatives
- FAKE! Sorry, but we were the last Westerners to lay eyes on the 600-year old monestary in Shangri-La in 2009. As we watched, the authorities levelled the last remaining wall of the old monestary with a bulldozer. Don't worry though, there will be a bright shiny kitschy new one built in it's place by the time you arrive. Everything you will be directed toward as a tourist (even if you look/speak Chinese) is fake and caters to domestic tourists. Chinese (apparently) delight in faux replicas of cultural artefacts destroyed during (or after) the Cultural Revolution. So you'll see plenty of costumes and see plenty of Chinese-style kitsch, but unless you get REALLY deep into the backcountry (and watch out, because foreigners are \u{not} welcome to go poking around the hinterlands so close to the border with Tibet) it's hard to find anything that's not a zebra-painted donkey.
- Miserable. If you ditch the travel groups (recommended) and get stuck on an 18-hour K-train, travelling in China can be miserable. Likewise, even if you're being herded around on a tourist bus for 16 hours, which only stops 5 mins for photos and 17 hours, 55minutes for gift shops, this can be misery for a westerner used to an entirely different mode of vacation travel.
- Pollution/Scams. China is a developing nation and has all the associated problems. Some people hate them, some like the adventure and discomfort.
- US Citizens need a visa for China. There are places you are not allowed to go and many (of the cheaper) hotels will not accept foreigners unless you are good at talking your way in.

Taiwan Positives:
+ Awesome. Taipei is an amazing 24-hour city on par with Shanghai and Tokyo even though it is a smaller city. The night markets are not to be missed and second to none. The MRT, rail, and bus system will take you anywhere you want to go quickly and comfortably. Taxis are reasonable as well. If you want to drive yourself in a rental, well good luck. I do not recommend it in Taipei.
+ Beaches. Even in midwinter the southern beaches are warm and Kenting is a great party town with golden sand and it's own fun night market. There's lots of surfing on the North, East, and South coasts. The north coast gets chilly and rainy in the winter.
+ Mountains. Ali Shan is beautiful at sunset. I haven't seen it at sunrise. The forest is very peaceful for walking at twilight. Taroko Gorge is pretty amazing, as are the sea cliffs north of Hua Lien.
+Safety/Comfort. Taiwan is a developed nation. The Taiwanese are much more polite and friendly than mainlanders. Scams and violence are all but nonexistant. Lodging and transportation will be much more comfortable than in Yunnan.
+Food. The cuisine is much better and more varied in Taiwan, though the hottest hotpot I ever had was in Dali (and not Chongqing, surprisingly). Seafood is excellent anywhere you go.
Taiwan Negatives:
- The west coast scenery is not so spectacular. Most buildings are blocky steel-reinforced concrete because of earthquakes and typhoons. Safe, but not so asthetically pleasing. You will see traditional Japanese (occupation), Chinese, and Buddhist temple architecture, but it is less prevalant than in Yunnan. There are also LOTS of modern high-rises and skyscrapers.
- Traditional Chinese and native Taiwanese culture is preserved with less Kitsch than in the PRC, but there are vanishingly few places to see actual traditional practice, and not just practiced for tourists or in museums. High in the mountains waaaaay of the beaten path, maybe. You may need your own car.
- Make your own (non)-Adventure. Taiwan is safe and fun. I loved living there and I enjoy visiting. Most tourism is oriented toward locals or (the hordes of) visiting mainlanders. You're better off picking places to see and things to do from a travel guide, and then using the transportation networks to get there. If you want to be traipsing across rice paddies with a 50lb backpack and 3-day old underwear on and plan/dress for that; well, don't. You'll look like a moron; like backpacking through Berlin or Tokyo.
-City. You should spend at least 30% of your time in Taipei. If you hate big cities, maybe Try Yunnan. Kunming is barely worth stopping at, but the small towns around Dali are the highlight of that area.
-Pricey. Cheaper than Japan, more expensive than China. Goods and services cost about 30% of what they do in the US, but at least 150% of what they cost in China. If you need dental work, medicine, or want to get a checkup, I highly recommend getting it done for pennies on the dollar in Taiwan.
-Weather. Taipei has miserable weather. In the summer it's hot and muggy with severe thunderstorms. In winter it's chilly and damp with constant rain. Spring and fall are the time to visit. The rest of Formosa has [pretty] great weather year-round, making you wonder why they built Taipei where they did. Oh, and Typhoons.
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