Religion in Taiwan is bursting at the seams with fascinating beliefs, tribes and aboriginal peoples. There is no single, universal religion in Taiwan; rather, a complex array of belief systems exists on this tiny island nation. While exploring, you can easily squeeze in a few key destinations that will give you a greater understanding of its religious customs and schools of thought. Peruse the following list of prime attractions and events; each one will put you a little close to understanding religion in Taiwan.

Dharma Drum Mountain - Building II Photo by lhongchou via Flickr Creative Commons

Spend a Day at the Dharma Drum Mountain for Buddhist Education

Taipei is more than just the capital of Taiwan; it is also ground zero for many of its most important religious institutions. Buddhism is favored heavily in this country, so it pays to get a better understanding of the popular Eastern religion. A visit to the Dharma Drum Mountain for Buddhist Education located in Taipei, can enlighten you about spiritual practices.

IMG_7748 Photo by Raphael GUILLET via Flickr Creative Commons

Experience the Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage Procession

If you opt to visit Taiwan in April, you’re in luck: The annual Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage Procession takes place during that month. One of the major three religious festivals in the world, the procession celebrates the birthday of Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea and one of the most revered deities in the country. Nearly 900 temples are dedicated to her and several processions occur throughout Taiwan to celebrate. The most important begins at Mazu’s Zhenlan Temple in Dajia; and happens during the third lunar month. Thousands of people participate in the event, making it a truly unforgettable experience - and one that you definitely don’t want to miss!

The temple of Mazu Photo by Yuxuan Wang via Flickr Creative Commons

Celebrate at the Beigan Xingang Mazu Pilgrimage

Beigan is another popular location for Mazu pilgrimage events. The excitement in the air during this festival is truly indescribable; brightly colored decorations and music engulf you. Participating in the pilgrimage is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the religious culture of this unique country.

Three buddhas Photo by Craig Loftus via Flickr Creative Commons

Explore the Largest Monastery in Taiwan

There are hundreds of monasteries in Taiwan, the largest being Fo Guang Shan in Kaohsiung, it An integral part of religion in Taiwan since 1967, tour the site for an insightful look into Buddhist teachings. If you only have time to visit one monastery while you are in Taiwan, Fo Guang Shan is a natural choice.

yangshui beehive fireworks Photo by Steve via Flickr Creative Commons

Experience the Yanshui Beehive Rockets Festival

In most places, getting hit by a firework would be considered bad luck. At the annual Yanshui Beehive Rockets Festival, the opposite is true. Beehive rockets are large structures that are built entirely out of bottle rockets. They are all lit en masse, producing a startling and dangerous, but beautiful phenomenon. Each year, many people are hit with lit firecrackers and end up in the hospital. If you decide to attend the festival, which takes place in Yanshui, make sure to keep your distance from the beehive rockets. As long as you stay back, you can enjoy the hectic fun of this one of a kind festival.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival 2014 in Taiwan Photo by Jirka Matousek via Flickr Creative Commons

Make a Wish at the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

For most of the year, the sleepy mountain village of Pingxi doesn’t get a whole lot of attention. During the end of February and the beginning of March, though, thousands of people flock there to participate in the Sky Lantern Festival. If you’re in Taiwan at that time, try to visit Pingxi to take in the novelty of thousands of lanterns that light up the sky - you won’t soon forget it.

Tzu Chi Photo by 白士 李 via Flickr Creative Commons

Discover Buddhism and Tzuchi at Jing-Si Jing She

Make your way over to Hualien to visit Jing-Si Jing She, a unique place where you can learn more about the Taiwanese religions Tzuchi and Buddhism. Literally translating to “saving the world through religion,” it is located in an idyllic and scenic area and history museum where you can immerse yourself in the majesty of nature.

Putuoshan Ningbo Tiantai Shan May 2005 (15) Photo by Jack Parkinson via Flickr Creative Commons

Learn About Yi Guan Dao at Shenwei Tiantai Mountain

Few Westerners know much about Yi Guan Dao, a new religious movement that incorporates elements from Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese Buddhism. Taiwan is home to Shenwei Tiantai Mountain, the largest Yi Guan Dao practice center in Southeast Asia. Visit this popular location to discover why Yi Guan Dao is so immensely popular in Taiwan.