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Travel Guide for the 2009 New Year Holiday — Taiwan North

The Lunar New Year Holiday will begin on Jan. 24. This year there will be up to nine days for camera-wielding tourists and their families to take either a long or short trip around the island.

So far, almost all tourism—related businesses, such as transportation companies, hotels, recreational areas and scenic parks are already prepared to accommodate the influx of visitors.

Whether taking public transportation or driving a car or motorcycle, visitors will have to overcome the traffic issue before reaching their destination as traffic jams during this period of the year are inevitable.

Also, travelers must be sure to reconfirm their hotel rooms. Most major hotels are already fully booked. An alternative is to try and find a home stay near your desired destination.

Here are some recommended scenic areas around the island to go.

Taipei Area

■ The 2009 Lunar New Year Street Bazaar in a bustling west Taipei district is one favorite traditional attraction, open every night for the holidays until at least midnight.

Locals throng every year to this snack festival to buy and sample delicacies of all kinds for the Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 26. Find bargains on specialty foods and join in special folk arts activities while catching a glimpse of the neighborhood's century-old architecture.

The landmark marketplace's best-known spots are Dihua Street, arguably the most popular locale in the city for Lunar New Year shopping; Huayin Street, known for its stores selling leather accessories and high-quality clothing; and Ningxia Night Market, a bustling place with popular local street cuisines and tasty delicacies.

■ The 2009 Taipei Lantern Festival (http://english.taipei.gov.tw/) will open Feb. 6 and last for 10 days in the plaza of the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, featuring lanterns decorated with oxen images to greet the Year of the Ox. In addition to ox-themed creations, there will be an area of lanterns highlighting the Deaflympics, a major international sporting event that Taipei will host in September this year.

The annual event will also include a second display of visual arts on a wall of City Hall created with multicolored beams from two giant projectors.

■ With cooler temperatures, what springs to mind is Beitou's hot springs. A few minutes' walk from the Beitou MRT station, past the eye-catching architecture of the Beitou Public Library, toward the Beitou Hot Springs Museum. After learning about the area's history, it would be simply remiss not to catch a soak at one of the famed hot springs resorts in the area.

■ The small town of Jioufen became famous as the setting of such classic films as “City of Sadness” and “The Story of a Bride.” In recent years, the town has gained even more in popularity, partially due to its picturesque beauty, but also because of its rich history. Visitors to Jioufen love its traditional teahouses and aficionados will have a hard time choosing the best brew.

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 Travel Guide for the 2009 New Year Holiday — Taiwan North 
The Beitou Hot Springs Museum, with its European-influenced style architecture, was built during the Japanese colonial era. (The China Post file photo)

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