KAOHSIUNG (Taiwan News) -- The whole world rejoiced earlier this week and Thai Navy Seals and an international rescue team successfully extracted the Wild Boars football team and their coach from a cave in Thailand where they had been trapped by rising water.
The rescue effort was a testament to how international teams can work together successfully, and everyone emerge with credit. In fact, the only thing that has received bad press as a result of the incident was the cave itself. Because it would be a great shame if the freak circumstances that led to these boys and their coach being trapped were to stop others heading out to explore caves.
Caves are amazing and unique places which offer excitement and mystery, as well as providing a habitat for many rare insects, bats, and other wildlife. They can also breathtakingly beautiful as well boasting stalactites, stalagmites, and other fascinating geological formations.
Many people think that Taiwan doesn't have too many caves, and the word cave is often used to describe cliff arches and other such phenomena. But actually, there are quite a lot of caves here, many of which are easily accessible and well worth exploring. In this guide, we have compiled a list of our favorites. Have we missed any out? If so, why not tell us all about them on our Facebook or Twitter pages.
1. Baxian Caves – 八仙洞
(Image Credit: Wikimedia)
The Baxian Cave complex in northern Taitung County is a popular tourist stop on the East Coast Highway. It consists of a series of eleven caves which contain prehistoric relics, which provides some of the earliest evidence of Palaeolithic culture in Taiwan, dated back as far as 30,000 years. The site is fully equipped with visitor’s centers and a museum which tells visitors about how the caves were formed and everything there is to know about the relics. The site is easily accessible and offers splendid panoramic views across the Pacific Ocean too.
2. Guanxi Bat Cave - 關西蝙蝠洞
(Image Credit: Pixabay)
Many of Taiwan’s caves are home to bat colonies, some quite rare. Perhaps the best-known of these is the Guanxi Bat Cave in Hsinchu County. The entrance to this cave is currently inaccessible, but there is another entry point a little further along the trail, which is actually marked as the exit. You will need flashlights and have to climb up and down fixed rope ladders inside, but the reward is a series of quite large chambers which are home to a huge number of bats.
3.Sanmin Bat Cave - 三民蝙蝠洞
(Image Credit: YouTube user - Tony Huang)
Sanmin Bat Cave is situated in the Fuxing District of Taoyuan and while it does feature a beautiful little waterfall, it doesn't actually appear to have any bats anymore. The impact of humans is likely to have scared them away and while the Sanmin Bat Cave is a wonderful natural feature, the presence of faux-log picnic tables and fences does impact on its beauty a little. The cave itself is a big one, around 20 meters high and 50 meters across. Some say the mouth of the cave is shaped a bit like Taiwan. Maybe if you squint a little! While there is a parking lot, this cave doesn’t attract too many visitors meaning it is usually a very tranquil and quiet place to visit. To get there, you will have to traverse a narrow and rather overgrown trail, but it is not too challenging for most people.
4. Water Curtain Cave – Taroko Gorge - 水簾洞
Situated at the end of the popular Biyang Trail, Taroko’s Water Curtain Cave is well worth the 2.2km walk. This 100m long cave contains various natural cracks and fissures in its roof through which water frequently falls. The water is oozing out of the rocks meaning it is perfectly clean and clear, but visitors can expect to get wet! It could be argued that this is more of a tunnel than a cave, but it is still one of Taiwan’s most unique underground experiences. The Water Curtain Cave is sometimes shut if there is a risk of rockfalls in the area, so best to check before heading there for a visit.
5. Moon Cave (月洞)
(Image Credit - YouTube user - Johnson Liao)
Located in Hualien County, Moon Cave is a flooded cavern where the water levels are believed to rise and fall depending on the phase of the moon. It is said that no-one really knows where the water in the cave comes from or goes to. Visitors have to take a tour on narrow boats punted by guides. The reward is an adventure through beautiful cool caves boasting numerous stalactites and a fair few bats as well.
6. Kenting Caves
(Image Credit: recreation.forest.gov.tw)
There is a lot more to Kenting than just beaches and an overpriced night market. Among the many natural wonders in Kenting National Park are two fascinating caves. The Fairy Cave in Kenting National Park is thought to be the largest stalactite cave in the country. Visitors can walk through this huge cavern and enjoy the fascinating rock formations. Meanwhile, the nearby Silver Dragon Cave is much narrower and smaller, but no less beautiful, featuring impressive white flowstone formations along the majority of its walls.
7.Penghu Blue Cave - 澎湖藍洞
Penghu’s Blue Cave is located on the uninhabited Xiji Islet in the South Penghu Marine National Park. This unique cave features Penghu’s trademark basalt columns inside a cave. But these are lit up in a stunning blue light which is created by a large opening in the rocky ceiling which reflects on the seawater to create a magical spectacle. Dangerous currents and rockfalls in the area mean that the Blue Cave is currently unsafe to visit. But many boat tours will stop outside the cave to offer visitors a glimpse inside what is perhaps Taiwan’s most unique and beautiful cave.