Tai'an 泰安 is so far the smallest village I have ever seen in Taiwan. It's located in Miaoli County 苗栗縣, about 30min away from Miaoli City by car, in a small and long valley, an area known for being the home of Taiwan's Atayal people. My wife and I together with her family went on a short trip to this beautiful region. We decided to visit this tiny village, famous for hot springs and tofu, out of curiosity. I had not heard of Tai'an before, but now it's definitely a place I will remember. Why is that so, read further below.
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Tai'an is truly a tiny village, a micro village. There are three small lanes, few tofu shops and that's it! If you ever decide to go here and wonder, why you came all the way from the civilization to this small village at the end of the world, don't say I haven't warned ya! I think the best reason to visit Tai'an is to go to one of their famous hot spring hotels, but more about that later. If you just come, because you've read about a famous "Tofu Old Street", you made a big mistake. I think on the way to the onsen, you can make a short stopover and try the tofu, if you must. But if you don't, you won't miss a lot...
Let me show you some photos of Tai'an from May, 2011:
The funny thing was, when we arrived here and all tables were occupied and people were munching the tofu, many of them turned to us (and me), while trying to chew the hot tofu. Their mouths were half open and I thought the image was very comical. Of course 15 min later I was like them, haha.
This is what we ordered:
We paid 380 all together (we ordered 2 soups), we were 5 people. We got full, but most of us felt the food is too expensive and just very average. Everybody liked the fried tofu balls the most. If you must try the tofu here, don't expect too much.
As soon as we finished the meal, we decided to go back.
This is Onsen Papawaqa, one of the most famous (and expensive) hot spring resorts in Taiwan. I heard that staying overnight costs over 5000 NTD (120 Eur). Click on pic for more (courtesy of the resort).
If you come Taipei to Tai'an, you will feel like you came to another country. The time stands still here, nothing is going on in this village. All you'll see is tourists trying to eat the hot tofu and chewing it with open mouths. I think it's definitely one of the highlights here. For more action it's better to visit one of the hot springs, if you know what I mean. Anyway, I will return to this area, I really love the nature. If you work 12h a day in Taipei, Tai'an feels like heaven (with a smell of tofu, though...). Read about the same trip in Chinese>>