The summer is Taiwan's wet season. In Taipei, almost two thirds of each year's rain falls between May and September. In the south, the difference between the wet and dry seasons is even more pronounced. Tourists who visit during the hotter months may not be able to explore the mountains, as road closures due to landslides are common (see the photo accompanying this post for a typical Taiwan rockslide), and heat may drive them indoors. How best, then, can summertime visitors use their time?
Good answers include temples and museums. Taiwan has an incredible number of both, thanks to a lively religious culture and governments that have shown great willingness to invest in museums which entertain and educate. While gloomy conditions may frustrate photographers' efforts to capture the beauty of shrine roofs, there's so much art and detail inside major shrines - not to mention all sorts of human activity - that they're a top choice whatever the weather. If you stumble across a place of worship that's in the midst of renovation, do take a closer look, as the way in which wooden panels and beams are replaced and paintings retouched is fascinating. The photo here shows a renovation artist working in Tainan's Temple of the Navigation Superintendent.
Taiwan's best-known museums, including all five mentioned in this article, are government run. However, wealthy individuals and non-profit foundations are behind some worthwhile public collections, such as one in Dajia that'll appeal to those curious about the Mazu cult.
The Central Weather Bureau's bilingual website has clear and useful forecasts which are very useful when planning travel around Taiwan. The site also has reports of seismic activity and rainfall statistics - several places in Kaohsiung received more than 150mm of rain yesterday!