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12 Days in Taiwan Travel Guide – Itinerary to Explore the Entire Island

Last Updated February 22, 2023 William Tang

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Taiwan is known by many names but perhaps the most memorable one is Formosa .  Now that sounds a bit odd but it was in fact coined by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century.  Ilha Formosa   directly translates to “Beautiful Island” and they sure got it right.

Between the energy of the dynamic urban cities, bustling of the famed night markets, colourful culture, fascinating history, incredibly friendly people, and dramatic landscapes, you’ll be amazed at just how much awesome can be packed in this island.

This 12 day Taiwan itinerary (just short of two weeks) follows our journey around the entire island and is geared towards those that have the curiosity of a tiger and the adventurous courage of a dragon.  Now I will say it is a trip that required a bit of stamina to keep up but for the limited time we were there, I’m so glad we were able to see and do all the things we did.  That said, feel free to mix and match as you craft own trip as I know many of you are looking for a Taiwan 7 day itinerary.  As with all of our trip guides, I like providing as much detail as possible to make your planning that much easier.

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Table of Contents

  • Pre-Trip Guide
  • Day 1 – Hitting The Ground Running in Taipei
  • Day 2 – Spirited Away
  • Day 3 – Winding Up To Alishan
  • Day 4 – The Almost Sunrise
  • Day 5 – Artsy Urban Kaohsiung
  • Day 6 – The Surf Challenge
  • Day 7 – Fly With The Wind
  • Day 8 – Ridin’ in Taitung
  • Day 9 – Taroko Tribe In The Mountains
  • Day 10 – Shakadang Is My New Favourite Word
  • Day 11 – Tai Chi, Hot Springs and Shrimps
  • Day 12 – Mad Dash for Pineapple Pastry
  • Where to Stay

12 Day Taiwan Itinerary Pre-Trip Guide

12 day taiwan itinerary trip planning guide

Taiwan currency is the New Taiwan Dollar ($NT).  TWD is also another symbol that is used.

  • Mental math for North Americans:  To convert things quickly in your head, cut one zero and we divided by 3.  This brings it closer to USD.  For CAD, you just “add a little”.
  • Quick reference print outs:  Oanda’s fxCheatSheet  is pretty handy.
  • App: For iOS users, I recommend the free app xCurrency .

Taiwan uses the exact same electrical standard as North America:  110V/60Hz AC.

taiwan travel videos

Best Time To Visit

Taiwan goes through a full four seasons however they are less pronounced and they lean towards the humid subtropical climate.  It’s all personal preference but the best time to go would be either in late spring (April to May) or autumn (November) for a great blend of comfortable temperatures and smaller crowds.  Also keep in mind that temperatures will vary depending on where you are in the country which means it’ll be much warmer in the south vs. Taipei vs. in the mountains.

  • Spring (March – May): Very mild and pleasant where only long sleeve is required [Average 15ºC to 27ºC]
  • Summer (June – September):  Very hot and humid with chances of rain as well.  Keep in mind that this is typhoon season as well [Average 24ºC to 31ºC]
  • Autumn (October – November): Begins to cool down but is still very comfortable [Average 18ºC to 30ºC]
  • Winter (December – February):  Jacket season where it can get foggy due to northeasterly winds from Siberia [Average 13ºC to 19ºC]

taiwan temperature averages in 12 day taiwan itinerary

How To Fly To Taiwan

Flights to Taiwan will vary drastically depending on where you’re flying from.  If you’re coming from Asia, there are a number of low cost carriers to choose from including AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, and Scoot.  For the rest of the world, the two big national airlines to look out for are China Airlines (SkyTeam) and EVA Air (Star Alliance).

The primary international airport is Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) and for most international travellers, that is where you will want to land.  What you may not realize though is that there are alternative airports that you can use to jump to different parts of the country or directly fly into.  The two other international airports can be found at Kaohsiung (KHH) and Taichung (RMQ).  Another popular airport that you might want to try to search if you’re coming from other parts of Asia is Taipei Songshan Airport in Taipei (TSA).

I had the opportunity to fly EVA Air both direct from Vancouver and Toronto and had a fabulous experience with them.  Including a quirky interpretive dance safety video, pre-boarding complimentary tea, some of the best food I’ve had on the plane, and great service.

Where To Stay

There are so many choices for hotels in Taiwan that range from budget to mid-range and luxury.  In Taipei, you’ll find the big international brands but across the country, don’t be afraid to book local branded properties.  In this 12 day itinerary, you’ll see that we’ve chosen reasonably priced 4 star properties that all managed to impress.

Since you’ll be on the move quite a bit on this itinerary, homestays traditionally may not be a good option but if you can find one that only requires a minimum of 2 nights, you could swing it.

For where to stay in Taipei , make sure to read the neighbourhood guide to find out the best properties you can stay at

For the whole island, look on Booking.com for the best prices.

How to Get Around

Unless you’re travelling to one of the smaller islands of Taiwan (i.e. Penghu or Xiao Liu Qiu), your best bet is to take advantage of the excellent land transportation options that are available.

The best way to cover large distances along the west coast of the island is the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR/HSR) which is equivalent to Japan’s bullet train.  At a top speed of 300 km/h, you can get from Taipei to Kaohsiung in just over 1.5 hours.  In cities and towns that aren’t covered by THSR/HSR, there are traditional trains covered by the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA).

In the big cities such as Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Taichung, you have an extensive and efficient subway network which is also called the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system.

There are always buses  to fall back on. In the cities, I’d recommend using them only if you know the route and schedule.  That being said, if you’re going to be doing places like Alishan, Kenting, and Taitung, you’re going to need to familiarize yourself with what’s called the  Taiwan Tourist Shuttle .  These are buses created in coordination with the tourism bureau to make it easier for travellers to get to popular sightseeing destinations.  They’re typically more conveniently marked with English which makes things easier.

Taxis are easy to hail in the big cities and if not you can always get your hotel to call one for you.  Expect this to be your most expensive mode of transportation.

Scooters are often the preferred way of getting around in places like Kenting not to mention the most fun.  Roads aren’t crazy hectic like in Thailand so it’s quite safe.  What you need to know though is that they require local motorcycle licenses to drive motorized scooters.  Electric scooters are much easier to rent as long as you’ve done it before.  If you haven’t, they might reject you or you’ll be required to do a small lesson like we did.  If you continue reading the itinerary portion of this guide, you’ll learn why you really need one to get around.

Car rentals are another way to get around that often doesn’t get much attention.  Make sure you book in advance and do your research in advanced as English will be at a minimum when engaging with car rental companies and driving directions.  Make sure you have your international drivers license.

Lastly, I’d like to mention private drivers as this is another popular way to see the country.  These are typically taxi drivers that have their own side business.  I never had a chance to book one but did run across a cabbie that told us about his services and read about quite a number of them on TripAdvisor forums .  The beauty of this is that you can create your own itinerary and do it in the comfort of a private vehicle, skipping complicated commutes, and saving time as well.  It may be hard to find English-speaking drivers but I’m sure they’re out there.  This is best used for day trips such as up to Yehliu Geopark, Danshui, Jiufen, etc.

 Tips: 

All the types of contactless IC cards you can find in Taiwan

  • What’s confusing in Taiwan is that there are multiple types of contactless cards (EasyCard, icash 2.0, and iPass).  I’m not going to pretend to be able to explain differences between them but the one that you want to get is EasyCard as it’s the most widely accepted around the country for most local transit (MRT and buses) and stores.  You can buy them at MRT stations but convenient stores like 7-11 and Family Mart sell them too.  Warning:  7-11 will try to sell you on their icash cards but make sure you get EasyCard (don’t make the same mistake that I made).  The beauty of the EasyCard is that all credit can be refunded at MRT stations whereas it is not easy/impossible with the other cards.
  • In Taipei, there is also something called the Taipei Pass that you can consider where you can get unlimited rides for the number of days that you purchase.  Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it as the EasyCard is just more hassle free and keeps things flexible.
  • Uber is available but isn’t worth it if your ride is less than $NT 35 or if surge pricing is on but on longer rides they can be marginally cheaper.  They’re operating in a restricted mode in Taipei only where cars can only drive for Uber if the car is rented from a specific company.  You’ll also find that most regular cabs don’t take rechargeable cards nor credit cards so expect to pay cash.
  • While Google is pretty good at providing schedules and directions for public transportation especially in Taipei, I’d recommend getting a local to help you when possible especially when it comes to buses.

Do I Need A Visa?

There are a number of visa regulations that depend on your nationality.  For most of you, the good news here is that you will most likely be visa exempt or you’ll be able to purchase a visa on arrival, eVisa, or an Online Travel Authorization Certificate.  Your best is to get most up-to-date information on visas for Taiwan .

If you’re coming from one of the 60 countries that don’t require a visa, you’re in luck.  As a Canadian, all I needed was a passport that was not expiring in the next 6 months, and I was granted a 90 day stay by the customs official after landing at the airport.  I didn’t have to visit the visa on arrival desk or anything – just walk right to the customs counters.

Wifi, Data, and Must Download Apps

The most important question is whether you should get a SIM card or a personal hotspot.  This comes down to whether you’ll be making calls or not and the answer will most likely be that all you care about is data.  If that is the case, you’re going to want to pick up a personal hotspot (pocket wifi) .   Taiwan’s rates are so cheap for unlimited use and the great thing about it is that you can share wifi with everyone in your group.

I reserved my device from a Chinese site called APTG that rents out WiFun and as unlimited data usage for $NT 100 per day (~$3.36 USD).  What I like about them is that you can actually get them to deliver it to your hotel ($NT 180 fee).  You just might need someone local to help you out.

If that’s a little complicated, there are also device rental shops right outside of arrivals at TPE.  The one I remember seeing is Unite Traveler (find them here ).

Before you leave home, here are a few apps that you should download to make your life on the road easier.

  • TP Metro – Lightweight app by rGuide that has a map of the Taipei MTR for quick reference.
  • Skype – This will be even more critical if you’re going with the personal hotspot option.  The few times we had to make calls, having credit with Skype definitely came in handy.
  • Google Maps – The offline feature of Google Maps is helpful as a backup if the wifi dies (dead zone or out of battery).

Luggage Storage Solution

One of the things I love about Asia and Taiwan in particular is how good they are with their luggage storage options.  This is super handy when you’ve got that awkward in between time from the point you check out into your hotel in the morning and you have to catch a train or bus to somewhere else but still want to explore without lugging it around.  That’s when those lockers really come in handy.

The traditional solution – The standard way to do this is to go to find a locker in a train station where there are usually large clusters of multi-sized lockers.  They’re not expensive and for instance Zuoying in Kaohsiung only cost $NT 50 for 3 hours.  You just have to remember to have cash on hand.  The challenge though is that if you’re not near the obvious places for lockers, it’s a bit of challenge to figure out where you can go.  The other thing to consider is size.  There’s no way of knowing whether the large lockers are available and what if you need somewhere to store something in a fridge?

The Airbnb of lockers – That’s where Lalalocker comes in.  Instead of hunting an elusive locker, all you have to do is check their platform to see what lockers are available in your area.  All you have to do is book your locker, show up, drop off your stuff, and pick it up when you need it.  It’s all part of the share economy where you’ll find locker locations anywhere from restaurants, stores, and hotels.  It’s completely safe, and the price is a flat rate of $NT 150 for large luggage and $NT 70 for small luggage for the whole day.

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What To Prepare

This really depends on what time of year you’re planning your Taiwan itinerary and I won’t list out everything we brought but I would recommend you read my previous packing lists for trips to Ireland , South Africa , Ethiopia , and Peru .

For Taiwan specifically, here are a few must-haves that you’ll want to pack and things to consider to make your life easier on the road:

  • Power bank – A high capacity power bank such as Anker’s 20,100 mAh , is a must-have in my mind considering the fact that your phone will be your lifeline for on-the-fly translations, maps, transit, and last-minute searches.  The personal hotspot devices drain battery like crazy so you’ll need to charge them halfway through the day.
  • Waterproof jacket – You never know when it’s going to rain and I sure was glad to have something like the Columbia’s OutDry gear with me.
  • Booking your train tickets ahead of time – It was truly a blessing for us to have MyTaiwanTour help with reserving of all the main trains that could be booked based on our itinerary.

The 12 day Taiwan itinerary

This is how our 12 days looked like during our trip to Taiwan.  With this day by day breakdown, you’ll get a clear picture of everything that we did and all the spots that we hit up.  Where I can, I also provide personal travel tips (signified by ) so look out for those.

Interactive Map

>> Day 1 – Hit The Ground Running In Taipei <<

Views of Taipei 101 from Xiangshan Elephant MOuntain

The perfect way to start your trip and get over your jetlag is to arrive in the heart of Taiwan and start wandering.  Go and take in Taipei’s iconic landmarks, feed your hunger at the bustling night markets, and jump right into the colourful culture.

With limited number of days in Taipei, you’ll want to make it count and pick the places that interest you to help decide what you’d like to focus on.  You won’t be able to do everything but remember that you’ll have the rest of your trip to make up for it.

For me, since I had been to Taipei before, my focus was on places I hadn’t been to which meant cutting out a lot of the highlights that other guides will take you to (i.e. Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, National Palace Museum, Taipei 101, and Longshan Temple).  What you’ll see below are all the places we managed to hit up in the first day before there was nothing left in the tank.  The focus for the day was primarily food and also getting set up with things like the pocket wifi and EasyCard.

★  Elephant Mountain

Stairs of Elephant Mountain Xiangshan

The views from Elephant Mountain or Xiangshan are arguable the best in the city and very easy to get to as long as you have it mapped out ahead of time.  The path to it will seem a little obscure but once you come out of the subway, you’ll no doubt see other tourists making their way there.

The hike itself isn’t particularly long but I would recommend preparing yourself for some serious stair-master.  The ascent is a sheer 20 minute climb but thankfully there are lots of places to stop, benches to rest, and great views from the forest.

Elephant Mountain is but one of the peaks in a collection of trails that make up the Four Beasts Mountains.  That said, if you’re like me and primarily interested in that epic shot of downtown Taipei, just focus on hiking straight up until you reach the Six Giant Rocks to get those iconic photos of you on the rock.  There’s also big platform below the final steps up that is great for views.

Detailed Xiangshan Elephant Mountain Trail Map

TIPS: Sunset is the best time to go as you get the insane explosion of colours if the weather cooperates and past sunset you get the night skyline as well.

WHERE TO EAT

Yongkang Beef Noodle

★ LUNCH: Yongkang Beef Noodle It would be a mistake not to try Taiwan’s famous beef noodle soup.  When I arrived, there was a modest line outside the restaurant but turnover is relatively quick here and I was seated within 10 minutes.  I ordered the non-spicy version of the beef noodles and spare ribs, both of which were PHENOMENAL.  The beef was perfectly cooked in juiciness and fat.  The noodles had also just the right amount of bounce.  #believethehype

Smoothie House on Yongkang Street

★ SNACK: Smoothie House You can’t miss this when you walk along the famed Yongkang street.  This big yellow building at the corner is home to the mango shaved ice that CNN made famous (or at least that’s what the signs tell me).  I ordered the mango shaved ice and it was oh-so heavenly.  The shavings from the block of mango ice fluff onto a mountain which translates to a wonderfully light and melt-in-your-mouth taste that you can only equate to eating fresh snow off the ground.  If that wasn’t enough mango, you get real mangoes drizzled with mango sauce and then panna cotta to top it off.

TIPS: There’s not a whole lot of seating on the ground floor but what isn’t obvious is that there’s inside seating upstairs.

Jing Mei Night Market Skewers

★ DINNER: Jing Mei Market In search of something a little bit more local and off-the-beaten-path, I was recommended to this night market in the southern part of Taipei.  I wanted a night market that wasn’t packed with tourists and I wanted to see where real locals ate.  I found it in this night market.  The streets weren’t overcrowded here, the food especially the octopus, fried sweet potato balls, sponge cake, and oyster omelette were all very good and noticeably cheaper than what you’d find in Shilin night market.  It’s not a large market but I quite enjoyed that it wasn’t overwhelming.

WHERE TO STAY

★  The Sonnien Hotel  (2 nights)

Sonnien Hotel Room

We couldn’t have asked for a better hotel to start the trip.  Modern, clean, and the most fluffy of beds, it was just the right size and conveniently located.

Walking distance to Yongkang Street and equidistant from Daan Park station on the Red line and Zhongxiao Xinsheng on the Blue/Yellow line, we had no trouble getting to everywhere we wanted to go our first two nights in Taipei.

Sonnien Hotel Taipei Outdoor Entrance

The buffet breakfast included with our stay was also fabulous with everything from hot dishes like noodles, stir-friend vegetables, dim sum, salad, congee, and miso soup.  It was so good that I often regretted eating so much because there was so much other food to eat throughout the day!

TIPS: If you arrive super early in the morning like we did, I actually booked an extra night’s hotel so we wouldn’t be forced to hit the road right away.  Instead, the room was ready for us and I was able to take a nap.

CHECK RATES

Save money on your trip to Taiwan

I travelled through Taiwan primarily through the help of a local company on the ground called MyTaiwanTour .  They were the ones that booked my train tickets and hotels which made my life so much easier . They are an operator based out of Taipei and specialize in custom-tailored solutions and English-based packaged tours around Taiwan.  I highly recommend them!

Save 5% on tours with MyTaiwanTour by using code  WILL19.

>> Day 2 – Spirited Away <<

Famous Miyazaki Spirited Away Inspiration In Juifen

After a day getting your fill of a few of Taipei’s highlights, it’s time to shake things up and head north.  What’s there you ask?  If you’ve ever wanted to launch your own sky lantern, explore the remains of a Japanese gold mine, and walk through streets that inspired Miyazaki’s classic “Spirited Away”, you’re in for a treat.  And yes, you get to do ALL of that in a day.

  A post shared by Will ✈🌐 GoingAwesomePlaces (@goingawesomeplaces) on Dec 5, 2017 at 2:58pm PST

★ Jiufen and Pingxi Day Tour with MyTaiwanTour

Golden Waterfalls Near Jinguashi

One of the things I love about Taiwan is that it isn’t very hard to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and get a big dose of charm, history, and culture in the northern towns.  Choosing MyTaiwanTour was a no-brainer as they made it really easy to book online and is the English speaking tour that we were looking for.

In our spacious van, our group of 7 spent the day exploring these spots:

  • Jinguashi Mines :  Coming into Taiwan, I had little knowledge of its Japanese occupation past and this was my introduction to what is fascinating history.  Front and centre in the Shuinandong area are the remains of a very serious mining operation as you get to see from afar and close up the abandoned buildings, funicular, tunnels, and land-based smoke stacks.
  • Golden Waterfalls :  Located just a bit further up from the mines, watch the water tumble down what really does look like a gold-laden waterfall.
  • Jiufen :  Once a prosperous gold mining town, Jiufen is now a popular tourist destination known for being the inspiration of Myazaki’s “Spirited Away”.  Spend just a few minutes here and you can see why it has that enchanted quality to it.  Adorned with strings of red lanterns, old tea houses, and streets lined with delicious local treats, we were let loose here for lunch.  My only regret is that it we easily could’ve spent more time getting lost in its maze of alleyways.
  • Shifen Old Street in Pingxi : If you’ve ever wanted to get the FULL experience of building a giant sky lantern from scratch, write your own wishes, and launch them to the heavens, consider your dreams fulfilled.  What makes this even more picture perfect is that you get to do this in a small town while standing in between live running train track.

We came out of the tour with a better appreciation for Taiwan’s history, our tummies filled, and our wishes delivered.  I would highly recommend this day trip as it’s one that would be very difficult to do on your own and I very much enjoyed the service of our guide and driver, Summer and Tom.

Sweet Potato, Taro and Green Tea Balls in Juifen

★ LUNCH: Jiufen Sure, Jiufen does get insanely packed with tourists, but we we didn’t let it bother us too much because we were hungry hippos on a mission.  Our guide, Summer, gave us a few tips on what to look out for and then we were unleashed!

Here is what we picked up along the way ( for our favs):

  • Stinky tofu
  •  Sweet glutinous balls
  • Mochi on a stick
  • A-Zhu peanut ice cream roll (九份阿珠雪在燒)
  • Taiwanese meatball

Total damage?  $325 TWD which is equivalent to a $11 USD lunch for two.  DEAL!

★ DINNER: Shilin Night Market

All Kinds of Sausage at Shilin Night Market

This is perhaps Taiwan’s most famous and largest night market and with its grid of streets lined with a variety of traditional, western, and local cuisines and merchandise.  It’s very much a choose-your-adventure kind of experience where you’ll start off in one corner of the market and slowly make your way to the other side.  Just make sure to come with an empty stomach.

MyTaiwanTour was kind enough to give us the option for drop-off after our day trip and mentioned Shilin Night Market as an option.  We jumped on the opportunity because it is a bit of a distance from the Taiwan core and you really can’t say no.

TIPS:  Make sure to try fried pork buns, bubble tea, wild boar sausage, and octopus.  Beyond food, I highly recommend dropping a few coins on any one of the claw game booths, try your hand at one of the carnival games and the underground floor that is part of the covered section of Shilin.

>> Day 3 – Winding Up In Alishan <<

Watching Clouds Roll Over Trees At Alishan Observation Deck

Alishan is one of Taiwan’s most visited national park and for good reason.  Located way up above the clouds, it’s here that you’ll find the most magnificent terrain of giant red cypress trees that are more than 2,000 years old, Rivendell-like hiking trails, and trains from a different era.  This region is also well-known for its tea because it is grown at such high altitude.

The tricky thing about Alishan though is that it’s quite the journey to get there and one that isn’t necessarily the most clear when it comes to English instructions.  When constructing your itinerary, you’ll also quickly realize that you easily need to account for 2 days to make it work.  As a result, this day is dedicated to getting to Alishan which is quite the adventure on its own.

HOW TO GET THERE

There’s so much information about this that it really deserves its own dedicated article so make sure you read the full guide on everything you need to know about Alishan .

Alishan Forest Railway Museum

Since we elected to take the bus up to Alishan, we could have easily bypassed the small town of Fenqihu but I’m sure glad we didn’t.

Fenqihu is an old town that used to be a legitimate refuelling stop for the trains heading their way up to Alishan for what used to be a lumbering operation.   Today, it is mainly a rest stop for travellers that want to see the fascinating railway museum, the old street which features food specialities, similar to that of Jiufen, and most importantly their famous ‘Fenqihu bento box’.

TIPS:  There are lockers at the train station for $NT 30 for 3 hours which is perfect for your refuelling stop.

★ Sunset from Alishan House

Sunset from Alishan House Observation Deck

Psst…I’ll let you in on a secret.  The sunsets from Alishan House are just incredible.  Now I probably shouldn’t be telling you this but whether you stay there or not, I would recommend sneaking inside and going up to the 8th floor observation deck .  If you’re lucky, you’ll see the sea of cloud that Alishan is known for.

I ended up showing up here towards the end of the sunrise because I wasn’t sure if the rain would dissipate but when I got there it did.  I had a mind-blowing 20 minutes filming a timelapse of the waves of clouds climbing the mountainside.

★ LUNCH: Fenqihu Bento Box Place

Fenqihu Bento Box Man

There’s probably a more proper name for this place but when you get to Fengqihu, everyone will know what you’re talking about and if not, just follow the posters of the bento box to a 7/11 along the main street.  You can either take a bento box to go for $NT 100 or eat in for $NT 120 for the authentic metal container experience.

Fengqhu Classic Bento Boxes On Way To Alishan

The epitome of Taiwanese comfort food, it comes with a bed of rice with a pork chop, drumstick, tea egg, and a mix of fresh and preserved vegetables.  It was the perfect lunch, so much so that we started with one and ended up with two for the both of us.  If you decide to eat in, you can also have their mushroom and bamboo shoot soup.

TIPS:  If you’re looking for a unique souvenir, you can buy a metal bento containers for $NT 300 (includes the meal).  We were thinking about picking one up but they couldn’t confirm whether it was oven safe or not.

★ DINNER: Room Service at Alishan House

The truth is we were exhausted by the time we got to our hotel and it just seemed like too much work to take a shuttle back down to the train station where there were a number of local restaurants.  The restaurant at the hotel was also a little expensive for our tastes since it was a buffet ($NT 900 if I remember correctly).

If you’re curious, we ended up ordering fried rice and noodles from Alishan House’s room service but if we had a little bit more energy, I’m sure we could’ve had a better meal at the entrance to the park and near the visitor centre.

★ Alishan House

Alishan House Lobby

I’m not sure if I’d recommend staying anywhere else if you come to Alishan.  It’s one of the few properties that is inside the Alishan Forest Recreation Area and is most definitely the nicest.  For quite a reasonable nightly rate, you get a number of bonuses and conveniences that more than make up for the cost.

  • Massive room that you can tell was recently renovated, has a huge bathroom, and complete with fireplace and balcony
  • Hiking trails in the park start right from the hotel which means you don’t need to purchase additional train tickets from the Alishan station to Zhaoping station
  • Complimentary shuttle service to and from the train station
  • Convenience of purchasing sunrise train ticket from the front desk
  • Willing to hold bags for you as you explore the next day
  • The most decadent of breakfast buffets
  • The observation deck is just awesome

A nice bonus is that each room comes with a single-serving of the region’s famous Alishan tea.

>> Day 4 – The Almost Sunrise <<

Hiking Alishan Forest Trail

They say there are 5 wonder of Alishan but the most well-known of them all and the one that everyone goes crazy for is the sunrise.  There’s good reason for it as it’s apparently ranked #16 in sunrises around the world.  Now where that list comes from, I have no idea, but I heard it from the crazy local guy shouting to the crowd of sunrisers so it’s gotta be real right?

Alishan Sunrise Commentary Guy

Now I can’t promise that you’ll see a sunrise there but what I can promise you is that the forest trails in the rest of recreational area are quite the magical experience especially when you get that moment by yourself and you feel that you can hear every pin drop.  Whether you’re watching the train run through what seems like an ancient track, you’re feeling puny standing beside giant trees that are actually ancient, or you feel like you’re in a scene lifted from the ancient forest of Mirkwood of the Woodland Realm 🤓.

Now what are the rest of the wonders of Alishan?  There’s the sunset, forest train, forest trains and cloud sea.  What I love about Alishan is that it’s not overwhelmingly large and with one day, you can easily see all the wonders and not feel like you missed out on anything else.

HOW TO GET TO THERE

For a detailed account of how the sunrise works, how to get back down to Chiayi, make sure you read the full Alishan Guide .

★ Alishan Sunrise

As Close To A Sunrise From Chusan in Alishan

I have no doubt that when you can actually see a sunrise, the view is quite glorious.  We weren’t quite lucky enough due to the time of the year but that’s kind of how it goes!  That said, I do consider ourselves lucky that it wasn’t a total wash when it came to the views as the sky opened a few times and we also saw the forming and flowing of clouds in the valley beneath us.

The sunrise itself isn’t on any peak called Alishan but in fact an adjacent mountain called Chusan.  That is why you have to take a separate train from Alishan to Chusan station so you can rise up to an elevation of 2407 meters to look at the surrounding mountain range.

If you get hungry up there, there are a line of stalls that open specifically for the sunrise.  The food may not be very good but it’ll help tide things over until breakfast.

TIPS:   The sunrise position changes throughout the year.  In the winter time, the sun comes up towards to the right side and in the summer, it’s more towards the left side so pick a spot accordingly.

TIPS:   Tripods are allowed but just note that you’ll be jockeying with other people for space so be careful.  Also, you’ll notice that there’s a single tree near the middle and beyond the fence that will make it challenging how you want to frame your shot (to have the tree in your shot or not).  I started with a wide angle lens but eventually went for a longer lens to capture the detail in the clouds.  Just be prepared to adapt to the changing weather conditions.

★ Alishan Forest Trails

Amongst Giants in Alishan

Beyond the sunrise, there’s a magical network of trails in the National Forest Recreation Area to be discovered where ancient trees stand tall and a narrow-gauge train runs through.  You’ll catch yourself wanting to take photos from every angle here as it’s photogenic everywhere you walk through.

For the full details of how we broke down our day between sunrise and hiking the Alishan forest trails, make sure to read Everything You Need To Know About Alishan .

In retrospect, coming to Taiwan in December and during low season worked out quite well for us in that it never felt like there were an immense number of people which was one of my biggest worries in reading about everyone else’s experiences.  The train ride up to Chusan wasn’t ridiculously packed, the trails were never lined with tourists, and the buses to and from the park were never full.  Now if you came during high season, I’m sure the experience would be a little different.

What we missed:  Giant Tree of Mt. Shuishan and extended hiking trails like the one up to Tashan

Besides the breakfast at Alishan House, we didn’t actually end up having a proper meal the rest of the day.  We just had a bunch of snacks that we had accumulated from the trip so far and things we picked up at 7-11 or Sushi Express takeout we grabbed at the Chiayi THSR station.

By the time we got to our hotel in Kaohsiung, we were both too lazy and tired to head back out.

★ Hoya Resort Hotel

Hoya Resort Kaohsiung Breakfast Buffet

This is a practically brand new hotel in Kaohsiung which was a nice surprise because the room was modernly decorated, very spacious, clean, and comfortable.  It’s also neighbour to the Kaisyuan and Jin-Zuan Night Market which is key because the truth is that it’s a little bit far from the centre of the city.  Just note that Kaisyuan is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Jin-Zuan is only open on the weekend.

I usually don’t complain too much about location but once you’re off the subway, there’s quite a long walk without a true sidewalk to get to the hotel or you have to hail a cab which isn’t very convenient.  As a result, we didn’t end up going back out the night we arrived.  My recommendation would be to find a hotel closer to the Zuoying THSR station or Formosa Boulevard Station (where you’ll find Dome of Light) to avoid the long commute especially if you’er only staying the one night.

>> Day 5 – Artsy Urban Kaohsiung <<

Dragon Entrance Of the Twin Pagodas in Kaohsiung

The southern city of Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s second-largest city is nothing like its bigger brother and that’s what makes it such a worthy destination.  Where Taipei feels packed in, aging, and sprawling, you immediate feel that there’s so much more breathing room here with its wider streets and modern urban landscapes of skyscrapers, airy cafes, gentrified spaces, bicycle lanes, and ferris wheels on the tops of malls.  There are less people rushing around, less cars on the road, and fewer people to be seen.

The biggest surprise of all was perhaps the vision the city had in converting a once-thriving industrial port into a hub of art, design, and entertainment.  With its graffiti, art installations, galleries, trendy cafes, and boutiques, it’s the perfect place to wander.  We kept making more and more discoveries here that what was supposed to be an hour-long stop turned out to be our whole afternoon.

This is your only day to explore the city before catching a shuttle bus down to Kenting so make the most of it!

★ Tiger and Dragon Pagodas

Tiger and Dragon Pagodas in Kaohsiung

Feel down on your luck and looking for a way to turn things around?  Look no further than this beautiful twin pagoda.

Run into the dragon’s mouth and out of the tiger’s mouth, said no one…ever!  This little superstition has had locals and tourists alike running through to reverse one’s fortune for centuries.  Now whether you believe in luck or not, you’ll still be impressed with the extraordinary detail of the largest paper mache dragon and tiger you’ll ever see.

Climb up one of the pagodas to get a great view of Lotus Lake and the number of other pavilions that line the shore.

TIPS:   This is surprisingly difficult to get to mainly because it’s not on the subway line.  To save time, I would suggest taking the cab there.  We ended up commuting it and learned through a bit of trial and error that from Zuoying THSR station that you have to take the TRA train one stop south to Zuoying Station (I know, not confusing at all).  This is where the kindness of locals came in .

★ Pier 2 Art District

Pier 2 Art District

No one would’ve guessed that abandoned warehouses in Kaohsiung’s harbour would be the perfect spot for a quirky arts hub.  What they’ve done is truly remarkable by bringing in local artists to completely revitalize an area to become a fresh urban space to spark commerce, tourism, and creativity.

Get your camera ready and strike a pose because you’re going to have a ball roaming through the vibrant spirit of my favourite spot in the city.

TIPS:   If you keep going further down on Pier 2, eventually you’ll find SunnyHills which is a famous pineapple pastry shop in Taiwan.  Go inside and you’ll be offered tea and a sample of their cake.  It’s all free!

★ Dome of Light

Dome of Light in Formosa Boulevard Station in Kaohsiung

Located in the Formosa Boulevard Station, the main interchange stop on the MRT, this glorious display of coloured glass is something that will make anyone stop and stare for those passing through.  What’s impressive about it is the scale of the public installation and how it feels like it belongs more in a Las Vegas casino than a subway station.  When you come here, make sure to see if you can spot the four themes of Water, Earth, Light, and Fire.

What we missed:  Cijin Island, Love River, and Ruifong Night Market 

WHERE TO EAT ★ LUNCH: Gang Yuan Beef Noodles

Gang Yuan Beef Noodles Full Menu

You can’t have enough beef noodles.  That is a fact.  Being in a new city, we wanted to try another favourite and were not disappointed. As far as beef noodles go, the noodles are perfectly cooked with the right amount of bounce, and the beef, a remarkable balance of fat, juicy, and tenderness.  Now if I were a judge, I’d say Yongkang Beef Noodle has the slight edge for the soup base and impossibly tender pieces of beef.

The menu is pretty easy to understand here as there aren’t many choices and as a bonus, since they do get many international visitors, they also have an English menu right up at the counter.

★ SNACK:  buonopops

buonopops Ice Cream in Kaohsiung

If you’re looking for Instagrammable ice cream, this is the place but when it comes to how it actually tasted, I don’t know if I’d be able to recommend it.

★ DINNER:  A-Fei Restaurant

Seafood Stirfry Dish At Afei's Restuarant

By the time we reached Kenting, it was quite late and so it was perfect that our hotel for the night also had its own restaurant downstairs.  This was in fact the first time on our trip we had a sit-down dinner.

We ordered fresh seafood paired with stir-fried vegetables, rice, and beer with live music in the background which made for the perfect end to our day.  A-Fei even came by to say hello and chat which was a nice welcoming touch.

Where To Buy Bus Tickets To Kenting From Kaohsiu g

Luckily, getting to Kenting is pretty straightforward.  When you’re at the Zuoying THSR station, look for a special booth that sells shuttle bus tickets to Kenting on your way down to metro station.  The good thing about this shuttle is that it is quite frequent (practically every 30 minutes from 8:30AM to 7:10PM).

There are two ways you can pay.

  • Discounted roundtrip tickets – $NT 600 which has an open ended return date
  • Pay with EasyCard – This is already discounted but you’d have to pay the amount of fare required for each leg you make.

If you’re desperate or missed the last bus, there is always the sketchy local people standing at the bus stop offering people direct rides to Kenting.

TIPS:   The roundtrip ticket is a pretty solid deal and definitely cheaper than paying through EasyCard.  The only downside is that you can’t use your EasyCard credit to pay.

TIPS:   If you have a luggage situation for your day trip exploring Kaohsiung, you can either leave your luggage at your hotel if it’s central enough or you can use the super convenient luggage lockers at the Zuoying THSR station.  It only costs $NT 50 for 3 hours (little more than $1.50 USD).

★ A-Fei Surf Inn (2 nights)

A-Fei Surf Inn Kenting Room

This was probably our big surprise hotel stay of the entire trip and I say that in a good way.  Locals and travellers make their way to Kenting because they want to do one of three things:  surf, beach, and party.  A-Fei ticks off all of those boxes.

We were kind of dropped into this world of A-Fei that pretty much offers everything you would want or need.  Want to go surfing?  He’s got the gear, the transportation, and instructors.  Want to go to the beach?  Nanwan Beach is right across the street.  Want to eat?  Breakfast is covered, and they’ve got fresh seafood cooked to order for lunch and dinner.  Want to party?  They have live music every night and a super friendly owner in A-Fei himself that loves hanging out with his customers.

I haven’t even mentioned our room yet which is uniquely decorated with an eclectic yet appropriate mix of memorabilia from west coast surfing USA, wood carvings from Bali, and decor reminiscent of Hawaii.  It’s a distinct hotel room that gives homage to the great surfing capitals of the world and has a chill vibe that made us feel at home.

>> Day 6 – The Surf Challenge <<

Loading Up A-Fei's Surfing Van

Kenting occupies the most southern part of Taiwan and is the country’s very own beach vacation destination with long stretches of sand, big waves, turquoise waters, rugged high cliffs, and low hilly terraces.  Locals and travellers alike come to Kenting to escape and experience the outdoors in a carefree way.  With the humidity and temperatures up a notch, there’s plenty of activities to do.

For us, it was the first time we were able to shed our rain jackets and long sleeves and were able to trade them in for shorts and flip flops – a much welcome change to our fast-paced schedule.  In Kenting, we made the best of it with our mix of water and land-based fun.

★ Surfing with A-Fei Surfing

Staying at A-Fei’s was intentional in that we knew we wanted to go surfing in Taiwan at some point in time.  Kenting is the perfect place to do it we learned in the winter as the wind was coming in from a northeasterly direction which meant that Taitung would be too strong, leaving Kenting more favourable for beginners.

We let A-Fei and his team know that we wanted to surf the night before and we were pretty much all set to go after breakfast the next morning.  Practically everyone staying at A-Fei’s was surfing so we all got together at 9AM, grabbed our gear (rashgaurd, boots, wetsuit and board), and proceeded to load up a classic Volkswagen T40 hippie van.

Jialeshui Beach in Kenting

Since the waves weren’t looking great across the street at Nanwan Beach, A-Fei decided that we would attempt the beach at Jialeshui which is also where he has his other surf shop and guesthouse (Nanu).  We got dressed at the Nanu shop and went down to the beach.

We had grand visions of riding surf like pros in Kenting but as we got down to the beach and received instructions for where we needed to paddle to, it quickly became apparent that we were in way over our heads.  With a no-fear mentality, we still jumped into the water with our boards and made it out to where we needed to be but the waves were simply too large for us and we floundered like poor helpless fish.  The paddle back to shore was even more difficult as the waves were pushing us into the rocky shore as we tried to maneuver around.  I ended up being smacked on the head with my board and my wife in the shin.

A-Fei Surfing Skills

Overall, I thought the surfing operation was run quite smoothly end to end where as a group we got transport to the beach, had a place to store our clothes at the Nanu shop, could rinse off, and be driven back to Nanwan.  From the beach, I could see that the others were able to rock some serious surf.  You just kind of needed to know what you were doing.

Cost:  $NT 700 for gear rental (board, booties, and wetsuit)

TIPS:   If you’re a beginner like us but have done a few lessons already, let them know that you want to do the beginner surf or tag along one of the introductory lessons.  This way you only have to pay for rental but still be within sights of an introduction instructor.

★ Scooter Adventures

Riding A Scooter in Kenting

The best part about Kenting isn’t necessarily any specific beaches or sights but it’s the chance to live like a local and drive the most popular form of transportation.  You see scooters all over Taiwan but in the big city it’s a little overwhelming so when you get the chance to do it in the tropical south, you have to jump on the opportunity.

What we soon learned though is:

  • Beyond the fun factor, you kind of need a scooter in Kenting because there isn’t much of public transit there
  • It’s not very easy to rent a scooter as a foreigner – gas powered scooters require a special Taiwan license and battery powered scooters require experience

A-Fei suggested a nearby scooter shop which we visited but when they asked if we had ridden a scooter.  I replied honestly “no”.  Initially, they said it would be too dangerous for us but then called his boss and said that he would give us a lesson in their other store.

We got picked up and driven to their main store.  The lesson itself was pretty simple but I’m glad that they spent the time to teach me how to drive it, do things like make turns on streets, and what not to do.  They even watched me drive up and down the street.  Once we got the go-ahead, we signed some basic papers and we were on our way.

At this point it was already past 3PM so she charged us half a day’s rental for $NT 500 including the discount since we were guests of A-Fei’s.  The nice part is that they said we could return it anytime in the night since they live upstairs and that they’d be able to give us a ride back to our hotel.

Sail Rock Kenting By The Beach

We didn’t have too much time to explore all of Kenting on a scooter but did manage to hit up Sail Rock and Eluanbi Lighthouse before turning back around to do the night market.

TIPS:   Kenting is honestly hard to enjoy without a scooter or your own transportation simply because there isn’t much in the way of frequent-enough public transit.  Without a scooter, you’re more or less stuck in whatever part of town you’re in.

What we missed:  If we had more time, we would have loved to have done a full loop around Kenting and make more stops along the way.  ATV-ing was another popular Kenting activity that would’ve been fun to do.  

★ LUNCH: A-Fei Restaurant

A-Fei's Restaurant For Lunch

A-Fei convinced us to have lunch at his restaurant downstairs which actually worked out quite well since our room is right above the restaurant.  Throughout the morning, he was telling us about his awesome pork and lamb dishes so we couldn’t refuse.

A-Fei hustles hard but he wasn’t kidding about how fresh and tasty his food is.  If you’re staying at A-Fei’s, it’s definitely a good idea to have at least one main meal there.

★ DINNER:  Kenting Night Market

The lively Kenting Night Market

There’s no livelier place in Kenting than the night market along the main downtown drag.  What’s incredible about it is that it’s the main artery through the town with regular car traffic passing back and forth but amidst it all are portable carts that get rolled in and massive crowds fill in once the sun goes down.

As far as the food goes, it’s a lot of the standard fare that you’re going to expect to see at any night market.  We had an assortment of pastry, fresh coconut, green onion cake, “sausage in a sausage”, bubble tea, and ice cream to round out our meal for the night.  There wasn’t anything unique per-say but it was a fun way to cap off our day and having our finger on the pulse of the town.

>> Day 7 – Fly With The Wind <<

Getting Ready To Take Flight Paragliding in Luye Gaotai

Continuing along the coastline, arrive in the city of Taitung.  On the onset, it may not feel remarkable as a destination on its own but stay a few days and you’ll slowly be able to unravel adventure, ecological, cultural and culinary gems that have led to it being dubbed as “garden of Taiwan”.

After a half day commute from Kenting to Taitung, we settle into our hotel for the night but the biggest surprise was to come.  I had read that paragliding was a popular activity in the region.  Having been yearning to do it for years now, I knew that I had to pounce on this opportunity.  With a contact I found online, we called to find out what the situation was.  Through my broken Mandarin, I learned that the winds were starting to change and that if we wanted to do it, it had to be that day.  We immediately packed our things and hauled ass out of there.

The paragliding experience was a dream come true for us.  Soaring through the sky with our feet dangling over the expansive farmland below and surrounded by the vastness of mountains and valleys, my fear of heights was immediately dashed.  The crazy thing is that I got to do it twice too.

Getting to Taitung

From Kenting, you have to take the shuttle bus back towards Kaohsiung but get off a little earlier in a place called Fangliao.  It’s here where you catch the local train that will take you straight into Taitung.

Getting to Luye Gaotai

Waiting for the tourist shuttle bus would have taken too long and so we got our hotel to hail a cab for us.  It cost us $NT 700 (~$24 USD) but we managed to get to paragliding spot by 3PM.

Getting Back to Taitung From Luye Gaotai

East Rift Valley Tourist Shuttle Bus

This was a bit of an unexpected adventure for us.  We knew from our printed bus schedules that there was one last tourist shuttle bus at 5:10PM.  We started our way down when we learned that there was a cheaper way back to Taitung via a train from Luye.  We got to the train station at 5:27PM but we soon learned that we had to wait until 6:40PM which gave us time to grab a spontaneous dinner with our new Taiwanese friend.  In retrospect we should’ve just stayed on the bus because we would’ve gotten back in the city by 6:30PM.

★ Soaring Paragliding (翱翔飛行傘)

Soar Paragliding Canopy Near Taitung

The two places I knew we could do paragliding in Taiwan was near Taitung and Hualien.  With two days in Taitung, I knew that this was the best spot to do it and it worked out fabulously for us.  Perched up on a giant hillside, Luye Gaotai is the perfect place for paragliding with its cliff that overlooks a chessboard of farmland.

For the full experience, read more about it .

Cost: 

  • $NT 2500 for a minimum 10 minutes or $1800 for 5 minutes ($60 – $84 USD)
  • $NT 400 to rent an action cam (GoPro extendable stick free to rent if you bring your own device)
  • Phone:  Mr. Chen +886-956 377 533
  • Website:   Facebook Page

TIPS:   If you look online, you will no doubt find activity aggregators selling packages for paragliding but the truth is, there’s only one operator in the Luye Gaotai area and it’s Soaring Paragliding.  Also advisable to call a day before you get to Taitung to find out what the weather conditions are like.  It helps to speak Mandarin but with how friendly they are there, I’m sure you’ll be fine with English.

TIPS:   Make sure to bring your passport for registration purposes.

★ DINNER: Fried Chicken and Tofu

Taiwanese Fried Chicken and Tofu

Another on-the-fly meal we had as a result of our transit improvising.  With the help of our local friend that we met along the way, he pointed out a popular fried chicken spot along the main street of Luye which turned out to be quite amazing.  The chicken was fried to perfection in that Taiwanese popcorn chicken flavour tossed with salt and pepper.  Equally as incredible was the fried tofu which was probably an even more of a surprise of the night.

★ MATA Indigenous Cultural Resort

MATA Indigenous Cultural Resort Entrance

I honestly have mixed feelings about this “resort”.  In seeing the name of the property, you’d expect that they’d have a full-fledged indigenous cultural experience available for guests but upon arrival, all we got from the receptionist was a feeling of “there might be a performance tonight…maybe?”

The property itself is beautifully built with a giant replica of a wooden boat used by one of the tribes and other various artifacts on display.  Outside, there’s also a large field that I can only presume is used as a stage for performances but perhaps it’s only used during high season or if there are large tour groups.

On one hand, I loved the hotel for its clean and spacious room, and amazing breakfast but couldn’t help feel shafted that we got absolutely no culture other than the visuals and CD that was played in the lobby.

TIPS:   Bike rentals are free for 3 hours but if you want to take it out for longer just let them know.  If they’re not busy, it shouldn’t be an issue.

>> Day 8 – Ridin’ in Taitung <<

Riding Bicycles in Taitung

Taitung is truly a remarkable stop along the journey around Taiwan as it faces the sea, is set against mountains and is rich in aboriginal heritage.  In fact, the city and its surroundings boasts the most prehistoric sites in Taiwan, which means there are many natural offerings and cultural centres that explore the long history of indigenous people.

While we would have liked to have visited one of these cultural centres, our schedule and timing meant that it wasn’t possible.  As a result, we decided to take our free bike rentals from the hotel and explore the city on two wheels.  This turned out to be a lot of fun, being able to leisurely weave through public spaces, parks, and the downtown area.  The best part of the day turned out to be the food.

TIPS:   Cultural centres are closed on Mondays so if you hope to visit them, schedule around this.

★ Taitung  Forest Park & Seashore Park

Taitung Forest Park Tunnel

These two parks are perfectly designed for the bicycle.  With its expansive network, you’re free to wind through the park and experience Taitung’s laid back lifestyle and clean ocean air.  The most surprising parts here are certainly the undeveloped rocky seashore which has quite the unique view, an enormous man-made lake that is popular for swimmers and rowers, and birds nest-like lookout platform.

Entrance fee:  $NT 30 for the Forest Park

TIPS:   If your hotel doesn’t have bike rentals, the forest park has bikes for rent for $NT 100 for 3 hours.

★ Old Taitung Railway Station

Exploring Old Taitung Train Station

In the centre of the city is the old train station that used to run through.  It’s an open-air museum/art village with the remains of an old train that you can climb into, and a repair terminal complete with the remains of signal lights.  In the surrounding space, you’ll also see the development of new art spaces that are just in the final stages of building.

What we missed:  Sights along the East Coast Line: Xiauyeliu Scenic Area(小野柳), Jialulan(加路蘭) Donghe Steamed Buns(東河包子), Amis Folk Center(阿美民俗中心), and Sanxiantai(三仙台遊憩區).  

★ LUNCH:  Rong Shu Xia Rice Noodles (榕樹下米苔目)

Rong Shu Xia Rice Noodles Bowl

This restaurant is highly recommended in Taitung and with good reason.  Along one of the main drags of the city, this place is hard to miss with its long lines that wind out from the restaurant.  What makes this place special is its rice noodles which have the thickness of udon and freshness of hand-pulled noodles.  They’re also special in that they’re very short and in an elongated teardrop shape.

Rong Shu Xia Rice Noodles Storefront

The ordering process is a bit different than what you might be used to but essentially while in line, you have to fill out a piece of paper.  You also need to have a table number by the time you order so if you can, get your partner to grab a seat somewhere first.  Drinks are also pre-made so after you order you grab them from the person working by the refrigerator.  Sounds complicated I know but you’ll figure it out eventually.  They also have English menus so ask for that if you don’t get one right away.

Other must-try items are the local pork with vegetables (side dishes behind the glass display) and the pineapple iced tea.

★ SNACK:  Chen’s Mochi

Chen's Mochi Sesame Flavour

If there’s a king of mochi, I think I’ve found it.  Look through the glass window and watch the mochi masters knead fresh sticky rice flour and roll them into balls to the eventual final product.  They serve up the most delicious of sticky rice desserts with my favourite fillings including black sesame, peanut, and red bean.

TIPS:   If you miss Chen’s in Taitung, don’t worry because there’s always Hualien which is also well-known for mochi.

★ DINNER:  Dongdamen Night Market

Dongdamen Night Market Gate in Hualien

This was perhaps the most disappointing of night markets.  Ironically it was probably the most organized, with the night market on a dedicated plot of land, wide streets, and permanent stalls.  To me, it lacked the grunginess of night markets, character, and a little bit of the chaos.   We also showed up late in the night which meant the streets weren’t very busy.  Personally, I think I prefer large crowds at night markets because it also means there’s quick turnover of food and nothing sits for too long.

Where we actually wanted to go was  Dai’s Dumpling but when we got there, it was closed for the holidays.

★ Azure Hotel

Inside A Azure Hotel Room in Hualien

The check-in process was very smooth, and the room was 4 to 5-star calibre.  What made this hotel a great to place to stay was the fact that it is on the main street that runs through Hualien which means everything is walking distance.  And then there’s the breakfast buffet which is as good as any other that you’ll see in Taiwan except it also has its own DIY noodle bar – the cherry on top!

Since we knew we were going to do a two day hike through Taroko, we spent the evening re-organizing our packs to only carry the essentials.  For everything else, we stuffed another backpack to leave behind.  The hotel was great in allowing us store this bag for an extra night.

TIPS:   To get to the hotel from the train station, there’s no easy way with the bus so hop on a cab once you arrive in Hualien.

>> Day 9 – Taroko Tribe In The Mountains <<

View From Truku Tribe B&B

Taroko, in the local Truku aboriginal language, means “magnificent and beautiful”.  When you set your eyes on mountainous landscape, bio-diverse vegetation, turquoise rivers, and marble-walled canyons, you’ll see why this is one of Asia’s top scenic wonder.

There are magic places in the world.  This is one of them.

While many travellers take one of the stream of tour buses that come through the main gate and jam all the sights in a day, we wanted to do something a little more unconventional. Everyone’s seen photos of the 18km stretch of Taroko Gorge that make it to postcards but few have seen it from the point of view of the indigenous tribes that still live in the tranquility of the mountains.  With our 2 day trek up to the villages of Datong and Dali, there was the promise of us being able to dig deep into local culture and take in a slice off nature that travellers rarely ever see.

★ 2-Day Guided Hiking Tour 

Hiking Up Dekalun Trail in Taroko National Park

If your goal in Taroko National Park is to hike through challenging terrain, interact with indigenous tribe members, and take in incredible mountain scenery way above the clouds, this is the activity for you. It is by no means easy, so my word of caution is that if you want to do this trek, you need to be physically fit and have some experience with long hikes with long portions of uphill and downhill.

The hike doesn’t have a specific name that you can look for but what it is a chaining of several trails that ultimately take you up to the villages of Dali and Datong before you descend back down to the end of the Shakadang Trail.

Eating Lunch Outside Church In Dali Village

Your first day in Taroko consists stair climbing along Dekalung Trail, a visit to Dali Village, before meandering through the side of the mountain along an old logging road.  All of this leads to the arrival of a B&B built by a local Truku tribe member, named Dadao.  With diminishing sunlight, you’ll be able to look out into the nearby mountain peaks, mystical clouds, and Datong village below.

After settling in and showering (yes there is running water!), your host cooks a fabulous dinner.

Fresh Salmon For Dinner In Tribal B&B In Taroko

My favourite part was sitting around of the campfire and having simple conversation with the guide translating for us while sipping on a cup of hot tea and listening to the crackle of the firewood.

Hiking Trails:  Dekalung Trail -> Dali Trail ->  Shakadang Logging Road

  • This tour was booked through MyTaiwanTour and the details are as follows:
  • Hiking permits
  • Transportation (pick up and drop off)
  • 1 night accommodation at the tribe B&B
  • Dinner and breakfast
  • Travel insurance

Cost:  

  • 1 person: $NT 22,600
  • 2 people total: $NT 24,800
  • 3 people total: $NT 27,000
  • 4 people total: $NT 28,700

TIPS:  Your guide picks you up and will park at the national park overnight.  This means that you don’t actually need to store your bags at your hotel.

★ LUNCH:  7-11 Food

Before heading into Taroko National Park, we made a stop at a 7-Eleven and picked up additional supplies for our trek.  We stocked up on water and also a few onigiri (Japanese rice triangles) which is perfect hiking food.  Plus we had extra mochis from Chen’s.

★ DINNER:  Cooked by Ah-Ma 

Photo With Ah-Ma at Dadong's B&B in Taroko

I don’t know if we were just ridiculously hungry but our 7-course meal hit all the right spots.  With fresh supplies brought from the city, Ah-ma cooked an assortment of salmon, chicken, fresh vegetables, tofu, and soup that was clearly too much for the 4 of us.  What amazed me was how she was able to cook such delicious dishes even with the limited amount of supplies, equipment, and appliances.

★ Truku Tribe B&B

taiwan travel videos

Considering you’re high up in the mountains and away from civilization, it’s a marvel that a house of concrete, wood, and corrugated metal sheets could even exist.  I had pretty low expectations of the B&B before coming but was surprised to learn that they had running water, hot water tank, a proper toilet, electricity for lights, and propane for cooking.  To top that, the dorm rooms are fashioned similar to Japanese ryokans with clean laminate flooring, sliding doors and furnished with mats, blankets, and pillows.  Sure it’s not a 4-star hotel but more important to me was the hospitality of the host and that surprised us with the luxury of shower and toilets.challenging

To temper your expectations, you have to understand that the B&B is a structure built by Dadao himself for the express purpose of being able to host hikers.  This means that this isn’t a representation of what a real village home is like.  The other thing is that this home is perched high up in the mountains away from any other villagers so you’re also not going to be amongst a community of Truku families.

>> Day 10 – Shakadang Is My New Favourite Word <<

Views From The Shakadang Trail in Taroko

This day is about contrasts.  The views you get at the top of the mountain dramatically change as you make your way back down to the blue-green Shakadang river which is filled with large perfectly-round boulders, and jagged walls of marble.

You’ll feel pretty gross by the end of it all but when you finally get back to Taipei, that shower you take will be the best thing ever.

★ 2-Day Guided Hiking Tour

Jungle Like Hiking In Taroko

The second day of hiking is possibly even more challenging than the first because a section of the hike takes you through a trail that has typhoon damage.  On top of the on and off rain, and muddy conditions we had, there are a number of natural and man-made obstacles you’ll need to ninja through.  None of it is particularly dangerous but you’ll want to make sure you watch your step.  I came out of it with my legs completely shot and feeling wobbly every time I stopped for a break.

Steps To Climb Coming Down The Mountain in Taroko

The best part of the day was when we finally made it to the Shakadang Trail after 3.5 hours of downhill punishment.  I remember holding up my arms in the air and shouting “WE DID IT!!!” in relief.

Along this famous trail is where we got our first glimpse of the beauty that Taroko National Park is known for – naturally carved out canyons where turquoise water pass through rock overhangs and multi-coloured marble boulders.  Along the way, there’s also a small Truku tribe market place where we devoured the best sausage of the entire trip.

Highlights of what you’ll see:

  • Liwu mountain peak with views of the ocean on the other side
  • Datong Village
  • Dramatically changing scenery as you make your way down
  • Shakadang Trail

Hiking Trails:  Datong Village Trail -> Tongli Trail -> Trail down to Sanjianwu -> Shakadang Trail

TIPS:   The mountain is always 2-3 degrees cooler than at ground level so make sure you prepare your layers when packing for a trek like this one.  You also never know when you might get hit with rain so you’ll also want to pack the appropriate waterproof gear which at a minimum should include a jacket, waterproof shoes, and rain cover for your bag.

★ Ximending Youth Shopping District

With its abundance of bright lights, shops lining the maze of streets, trendy shopping, and a nightlife, it’s no wonder that it’s been called the “Harajuku” of Taipei.  Unlike a traditional night market, there’s more than food here which makes it a great place to wander.

★ BREAKFAST:  Tribe Breakfast

Tribal Breakfast In The Mountains of Taroko

Ah-Ma cooked another great meal for us that was way more food than we could finish.  It was all the energy we needed to last until dinner as we had quite the catchup we needed to do on our way down.

★ SNACK:  Shakadang Trail Sausage

Whether you do the Shakadang Trail on your own or as part of a trek, you MUST stop at this stall for these home-made sausages.  With a magical mix of ginger, honey and who knows what else, you won’t find this anywhere else in Taiwan.

★ DINNER:  Ay-Chung Flour Rice Noodle

Eating Ay-Chung Flour Rice Noodle

This shop is impossible to miss with its large crowds of tourists either slurping away or queueing in anticipation.  The good news is that the lines move very quickly as they efficiently fill up bowl after bowl.  What makes them special is that they make a unique style of rice noodle that is completely different from the ones we had in Taitung.  Extremely thin and flat, these noodles are similar to some of the noodles you find in Vietnamese Pho but in a thick and somewhat gelatinous soup base.  Mixed in the broth are diced bits of pork intestines which may turn some off but is honestly as indistinguishable as tendon or tripe in pho.

Taking the train back to Taipei turned out to be a bit more of an adventure than we expected mainly because we took way too long to get back down and we missed our originally booked train.

The way the drama played out is our original train was supposed to be at 4:30PM but by the time we left Taroko National Park, it was already 3:45PM.  Rushing to the Hualien train station, our guide tried to get our tickets switched to a later train but were told that we could either swap them for a slower train that would arrive late in the evening.  Otherwise, if we wanted anything earlier, we would have to forfeit these tickets and get them ourselves.  Not wanting to get into Taipei so late especially considering how long of a day we’ve had already, we made the no-brainer decision to buy new train tickets for $NT 340 per person ($11 USD).

★ WESTGATE Hotel (2 nights)

Inside A Room in Westgate Hotel Taipei

We couldn’t have asked for a better hotel in Taipei.  Located right at the doorstep of Ximending and seconds away from the subway, it was overly convenient to get around the city and at the end of the day, we could always come back to the hotel and get our fill of more food and snacks before heading home.

Westgate Hotel Taipei Lobby

Upon entering the hotel, you immediately notice that the boutique and modern lobby is both welcoming and luxurious.  From the check-in to check-out the staff were extremely courteous and friendly, willing to help at every turn.  What I loved about the property is how one-of-a-kind artwork can be found all over including my favourite sculpture of two boys free falling off Taipei 101 with their suitcase in hand.

The rooms themselves are spacious and a modern open concept where we felt immediately at home after a weary day of travel.  The bathroom is elegant and clean while the bedroom is cozy, and beds overly comfortable.

For breakfast, expect to be tempted with plenty of tasty Asian and Western foods, and great service from the wait staff.

>> Day 11 – Zen, Heat and Fishing <<

taiwan travel videos

With one final full day in Taiwan, there are a lot of options open to you but if your preference is to take it easy and end on a relaxing note with a dash of excitement, pull off an unconventional day trip that combines the best of what Taipei has to offer.

Wulai is a mountainous district south of Taipei.  It’s known for its old street, hot springs, natural sights, and the area’s indigenous Atayal people.  It’s an easy day trip from Taipei that gets you out of the city and into a place that is very walkable, easy to explore, and not too crowded.

If there are other things that you want to check out, treat this as a free day.  There are a lot of choices here so if you’re looking for a few ideas, here’s what we were also contemplating:

  • Hiking Teapot Mountain
  • Beitou Hot Springs (i.e. SweetMe Hotspring Resort)
  • Hiking Yangmingshan
  • Yehliu Geopark
  • Danshui/Tamsui Old Street
  • Maokong Gondola
  • Everything else in Taipei you might not have seen such as the National Palace Museum, Chiang Kai-Shek  Memorial Hall, Taipei 101, other night markets

★ Tai Chi at Muzha Zhongshun Temple (木柵忠順廟保儀大夫)

taiwan travel videos

Every morning, there are temples all over Taipei where the local community gets together to practice Tai Chi.   Instead of paying for lessons, why not join one of these sessions and try your best not to embarrass yourself while at the same time, learn how hard it is.  What looks like a moving form of yoga and meditation is actually a fluid art of motion with its ying-yang balance of dance and martial arts while all in slow motion.

Now it will be pretty daunting to jump into one of these sessions if you don’t know anyone but thankfully we had someone like Joshua from MyTaiwanTour to introduce us and give us permission to film the experience.  Comfortably at the back of the group, we did our best to imitate the experienced Tai Chi-ers, occasionally tripping on my own feet and stopping to stare at the combination of pushing and parrying.

A little bit about Joshua Samuel Brown

Joshua is someone I was extremely grateful for during my travels in Taiwan.  He was instrumental in providing tips on local spots to explore in the country and we were also lucky enough to have him show us around a few spots you might’ve seen from the Taiwan in 12 Days YouTube series .  Joshua is the former Editor-in-Chief at MyTaiwanTour , acclaimed author of the upcoming Formosa Moon, co-author of numerous Lonely Planets, all-around expert in Taiwan, and just a great guy.  Make sure to read the Joshua Samuel Brown blog which has a true local’s perspective of the country and much more!

With how friendly the Taiwanese are, you can easily find a local temple to visit and find out whether they’d welcome a drop-in student.

Schedule:  Everyday at 8:30AM – 10AM

★ Wulai Old Street

Wulai Old Street

The old street of Wulai is a short distance but packs in quite a number of things.  If you enjoy street food, left and right you’ll find a ton of different shops that sell snacks, drinks and cooked food.  You’ll also find several independent shops specializing in clothing, art, foods, and crafts.

Another interesting fact about Wulai is that it’s the closest accessible aboriginal village from Taipei which makes it a great place to learn about the fascinating culture and people of the Atayal tribe with the Wulai Atayal Museum.

Don’t forget to walk around and outside of the street to find attractions such as Wulai Falls and Yunxian Playground.

★ Yen Town Hot Springs

Inside the Hot Springs Pool of Yen Town

Along the old street of Wulai, you’ll find this hidden gem and the perfect hot springs for my wife and I.  Many hot springs in Taiwan are of the onsen (Japanese hot springs) variety where male and females are split, and are nude.  Understanding that this may not be comfortable for everyone, it is actually a challenge to find hot springs that are couple friendly, aren’t crowded, and have clean facilities.

All you need to bring with you to Yen Town is your swimwear, a shower cap and you’re all set.  In this intimate and beautifully set hot spring, you’ll find a rejuvenating set of pools that vary from ice cold to 40C+.  To mix things up, you’ll also find an open air room temperature swimming pool, intense pulsating showers, and lane of rounded pebbles for feet therapy.

Entrance of Yen Town in Wulai

Price:  $NT 400 per person

TIPS:   Yes you read that right, in Taiwan it is mandatory to wear head caps to cover your hair.  Yen Town expect for you to have your own.  This means you can either purchase one or come prepared with basic shower caps from the hotel.

TIPS:   A custom that is strictly enforced here for sanitary reasons is to rinse your feet with the water from the pool before entering.

The convenience of WESTGATE Hotel meant that we had to take advantage of it with our daily walk around to see what fun boutique shops we could find and other treats we could buy.

★ LUNCH:  Local Aboriginal Restaurant on Wulai Old Street (烏來小吃店)

Aboriginal Restaurant in Wulai

There isn’t exactly an English name for this restaurant so I’ve included the Chinese name which you’ll see in the sign.  It’s actually right across from the Wulai Atayal Museum.  This is a restaurant cooked by aboriginal locals and is a chance to try a variety of dishes that are hard to find elsewhere.

Not knowing what was good there, we tried an assortment of fish, vegetables, soup, pork, and rice that turned out to be quite good.  The highlight was definitely the rice cooked in bamboo and the fried fish.

★ DINNER:  Aquatic Addiction Development

Aquatic Addition in Taipei

Aquatic Addiction Development (AAD) is quickly becoming a must-see place for seafood-loving foodies.  Carved out of the Taiwan Fish Market, this is a brand new and modern type of market that has a little bit for everyone.  Near the entrance you have what looks like a wholesale area with tanks filled with fresh catches.  From there, you step into the main section of AAD which is a cross between a really up-scale supermarket and sit down sushi and seafood bar.  Upstairs, there’s a hotpot restaurant and then you have the entire outdoor wing of the market which has more food, another restaurant, and additional seating.

We ended up ordering a tray of salmon sashimi, scallops and Calpis for $NT 590 ($20 USD).

TIPS:   You’d think a market like this accepted credit card but it doesn’t.  Make sure to bring enough cash.

Taipei Prawn Shrimp Fishing

★ DINNER:  Prawn Fishing (全佳樂釣蝦場) You can’t leave without doing the favourite past-time of Taiwanese.  Indoor shrimp fishing has become a popular form of entertainment, transforming something that is still an important industry into sport.  Huddling around a smoke-filled room centred around a shallow pool, serious pros and wannabe anglers wait patiently for bobbing buoys.  Beneath the depths of the bubbling water are large prawns waiting to steal your bait.

Prawn Fishing Catch

Okay, I admit it’s probably not for everyone but for something that you won’t find anywhere else in the world, you just have to experience it for yourself.

This is how it works.  You essentially purchase fishing game time and starts at 1 hour and goes up to 3 hours.  Dried shrimp bait and custom fishing rods are provided and the rest is up to you to catch as many as you can in the time you paid for.  When you’re done, the shop owner cooks the prawns on a skewer dusted with salt.

It’s a bit of a test of patience that Anthony Bourdain clearly didn’t have much of in Season 2 of The Layover .  Don’t expect your tummies to get filled here but the satisfaction of catching anything at all is something to rejoice here.  In the hour we were there, we caught 6 but the owner felt pity for us so he topped it up to 10.

Address:   台北市中山區錦州街190號

Cost:  Starts at $NT 300 for an hour

TIPS:   HAH got none for ya.  Good luck!

Getting to Wulai

Take the MRT all the way to the Xindian Station (last stop on Green Line 3) and find Bus Stop B located along Beiyi Road (北宜路一段).  Wait for bus 849 bound for Wulai and all you have to do is get off at the last stop.

>> Day 12 – Mad Dash for Pineapple Pastry <<

Sunset At Taoyuan Airport With Plane

Depending on when your flight leaves, you may or may not have time to squeeze in one last bit of Taiwanese goodness before you go.  The best souvenir to bring home for friends and family in my opinion is pineapple pastry since it’s something that just isn’t as good outside of Taiwan.

You’re probably wondering, well can’t you get pineapple pastry at any Asian supermarket?  Yes, that’s true but all of these are packed with preservatives and as a result contain smaller traces of pineapple.  The real stuff from Taiwan is made with fresh ingredients and will only last 2-4 weeks before expiring.  That’s why I recommend buying these squares of sweet goodness on your last day so you have a chance to pass it along to friends and family.

TIPS:   Remember to get your tax refund before you go through security/customs.  At the primary international terminal (T2), go down one level from departures and you’ll find it.  SunnyHills is also on this floor.

★ Chia Te Bakery

Chia Te Pineapple Pastry In Hand

Perhaps the most famous pineapple pastry bakery in town and while they make a variety of Chinese bakery goods, people from all over the world come here for one and one thing only – pineapple pastry.  These are made in the traditional style where these square-sized desserts are filled with mildly sweet and moist strings of pineapple and surrounded by a soft, buttery crust.  There is only one store and they’ve been open since 1975.

★ SunnyHills

SunnyHills Pineapple Pastry Experience Taipei

You’d think one bakery was enough but you really have to try the modern, and some say, better take on pineapple pastry.  SunnyHills is everything that Chia Te isn’t.  Where Chia Te is reminiscent of your typical no-nonsense Chinese bakery with bright lights, shelving with product, and queue for the cashier, SunnyHills is a much more refined, contemporary experience where it is more of a tea house than it is a bakery.

When you enter one of their stores, you’re greeted with friendly service staff and even before promoting any product, they get you seated.  This is when they serve you a complimentary cup of tea and one of their products.  This gives you a chance to use all of your senses to appreciate their food.  When you’re ready, you go up to the counter and place your order.  You’ll most likely be buying pineapple pastry and when you do, it comes in a beautiful packaged box and a recyclable linen bag.  Like I said, it’s very much an experience.

Focusing in on the pineapple cake itself, what makes it different from Chia Te is in its shape which is rectangular, the density of the crust, and the filling a bit more tangy.  Some say it’s more fresh than the competition but I think it’s all in your taste preferences.

TIPS:   If you qualify for tax refund, the staff will let you know and they have a separate desk to help you with the filling out of the form.  Officially, I believe purchases over $NT 3000 are eligible for tax refund but we were able to get it with a purchase of $NT 2680.  This is good for a 5% VAT tax rebate at the airport.

TIPS:   If you don’t care for the in-store experience of SunnyHills, note that there is a storefront at the airport.  The difference is that at the airport, they only stock the box of 10 and not the box of 16.

★ LUNCH:  Din Tai Fung (Original Xinyi Location)

Original Ding Tai Fung In Xinyi

It would be almost embarrassing to leave Taiwan without going to their internationally-famous Ding Tai Fung.  Known for their great-tasting xiao long bao (soup dumplings), it’s the kind of perfection that I haven’t been able to find replicated anywhere else and that includes Shanghai where it is known to have originated from.

If you come early enough  (10:20AM in our case), you’ll be able to get a table pretty quickly.  Otherwise, expect to take a number and wait awhile.

★ SNACK:  Ice Galaxy

Ice Galaxy Mango Shaved Ice To Go

There were a whole bunch of other dessert spots that we wanted to hit up in Taiwan but with literally 15 minutes left before our airport pick up, I ran over to the closest shaved ice restaurant in Ximending which turned out to be Ice Galaxy.  They’re not famous per say but it still lived up to my expectations for shaved snow packed with mango.

If we had more time we would have liked to have visited Roji Shaved Ice or Bingzan.

WHERE TO STAY IN TAIWAN

Here is the compilation of everywhere that I stayed on my trip and would highly recommend

sonnien hotel in taipei

SONNIEN HOTEL

Conveniently located hotel where I stayed at the beginning of my trip to Taiwan.  This was a super clean and spacious property that included a fabulous breakfast as well.  Couldn’t have asked for more.

TripAdvisor

Booking.com

westgate hotel in taipei taiwan entrance

WESTGATE HOTEL

Right next to Ximending in Taipei, this is equally a great hotel to stay at in Taipei.  Sonnien Hotel was already pretty modern but WESTGATE takes it up a notch.  They have an amazing breakfast as well.

alishan house hotel in taiwan

ALISHAN HOUSE

The nicest property in Alishan for sure, we were given this extravagant double king-sized bed complete with balcony and fireplace.  It’s also located in the best spot to do your hike around Alishan.

hoya resort hotel in kaohsiung

HOYA RESORT HOTEL

One of the newer properties in Kaohsiung.  While it was extremely comfortable and spacious here including a smashing breakfast, I did find that it was a bit further from the action that I would’ve liked.  That said, it is right next to a night market!

a-fei hotel hostel in kenting

A-FEI HOTEL

Some call it a hostel but it’s really a hotel right by Nanwan Beach in Kenting.  You’ll typically find the owner, A-Fei, who is a blast to be around.  This is the perfect place for surfing as well since they have their own lessons and gear rental.

mata indigenous cultural resort in taitung taiwan

MATA INDIGENOUS CULTURAL RESORT

Quite the unique property that focuses on Taitung’s heritage of indigenous cultures.  The rooms are nice but the star feature are the displays and shows that they offer.  They have a great breakfast and they offer free bike rentals.

azure hotel in hualien taiwan

AZURE HOTEL

Centrally located hotel in the city of Hualien.  Loved their breakfast as they had their own noodle bar.  The room was quite modern, comfortable, spacious, and clean as well.

TAROKO NATIONAL PARK

taroko mountain hiking homestay

TAROKO MOUNTAIN HIKING HOMESTAY

Not exactly something you can book off the cuff but if you work with a company like MyTaiwanTour, they can put together a custom trip to trek up to the mountains of Taroko and stay with someone like Ah-Ma!

MyTaiwanTour

TAIWAN ITINERARY FINAL THOUGHTS

Taiwan may be a small country, but it’s big on heart, is guaranteed to fill your tummies with delight, and will surprise you over and over again with its amazing activities and attractions.

As I mentioned in the beginning, this guide is really only meant to be a starting point for your planning.  As a trip planner myself, I’ve always found that it’s way easier to see what someone else has done and go from there.  Feel free to make changes to it and tweak it to your liking based on what you’re interests are and your travel style.

Enjoy and do let me know how your trip goes!

How About You?

  • What do you think of this itinerary for Taiwan?
  • Are you planning your own trip? How have you customized it to your style?
  • What are the top things that you’re dying to do?
  • If you’ve been to Taiwan, are there any travel tips you’d like to add?

Looking For More Taiwan Content?

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Ultimate Alishan Guide in Taiwan

Why You Need To Travel To Taiwan Next

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This trip was sponsored by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau but all opinions are my own because I had one amazing time there and I seriously need to share this with the world!

About William Tang

William Tang is the Chief of Awesome behind the award-winning Going Awesome Places which is focused on outdoor adventure, and experiential travel. His true passion lies in telling stories, inspiring photography and videos, and writing detailed itineraries and travel guides. He is a member of Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC), Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), and Travel Massive. He has also been featured in publications such as Reader's Digest, Entrepreneur, Men's Journal, and Haute Living. Make sure to learn more about William Tang to find out his story and how Going Awesome Places started.

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Best Time to Visit

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Guide

Best Taiwan Hotels

Top Things to Do in Taiwan

Best Beaches

Food to Try

Top Things to Do in Taipei

Best Museums

Best Restaurants

Nightlife Guide

Getting Around Taipei

Day Trips From Taipei

Your Trip to Taiwan: The Complete Guide

taiwan travel videos

When it comes to Western tourists, Taiwan is still under the radar when compared to Japan, Mainland China, and Hong Kong, yet it manages to take the best of all three and jam pack those into a tiny island. From Taipei's pulsing, future-forward districts of Xinyi and Ximen and nightlife, to lush swathes of nature, outdoor activities, and mineral-rich hot springs, stunning arts, creativity, and culture, to excellent transportation options including a bullet train, and wide array of Chinese, Japanese, and indigenous cuisines, Taiwan offers something for every traveler.

Planning Your Trip To Taiwan

  • Best Time To Visit: While the majority of Taiwan falls into the subtropical category climate-wise  , the winters can be substantially drier, pleasant, and even cold enough during January and February to require a jacket and other winter apparel. Fall's October and November months are a sweet spot when it comes to weather, while March through May are warmer and see cherry blossoms, and are also hot enough to hit the beaches in Taiwan's tropical south.
  • Language: As with Mainland China, Taiwan's official language is Mandarin  , which became the case post-WWII. However, Taiwan is multilingual thanks to both its indigenous cultures and periods of occupation, and other common tongues include Taiwanese Hokkien and Hakka.
  • Currency: The New Taiwan Dollar (TWD).
  • Getting Around: The Taiwan High Speed Rail system runs almost the entire length of the island from North to South, with stops in a dozen cities including Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, and Zuoying/Kaohsiung (there may be line extensions in the future as well). A robust assortment of public transportation routes also exist for bigger cities, like Taipei's MRT subway/rail , and buses to and from airports, while taxis are also readily available and not expensive. Conveniently for those who can't read Chinese characters, Uber is present in Taipei (again), while the Taiwan ride hailing app Find Taxi also has an English language option.
  • Travel Tip: The Chinese New Year is the equivalent of the West's holiday season, and for as long as several weeks locals take leave of their jobs, close up small businesses and restaurants, and return to their hometowns or head overseas on vacation. It's a double-edged sword for tourists to visit during this time, since on one hand, you'll avoid crowds and lines, and can experience the colorful Lantern Festival and parades, but you'll also find some attractions, activities, restaurants, and stores closed, especially on the New Year itself.

Things To Do

Like Japan to the north (albeit without the snow and subtropical temperatures!), Taiwan offers a diverse and distinct combination of city, nature, culture, and adventurous activities including relaxing, natural hot springs, and more blended all together in the same city! Just Taipei alone can serve as a holistic sampler of everything Taiwan has to offer, yet it's so easy to traverse other cities all over the island thanks to the high speed rail, you can curate an extensive sampler itinerary from North to South.

  • Explore Taiwan's Famed Night Markets: If you ask a Taiwanese expat what they miss most about home, chances are they'll say the vibrant night market culture of their homeland. Spread all over the country, with dozens in major cities, these markets offer a wide array of street food and trendy delicacies, including the aptly named stinky tofu, frisbee-sized tapioca flour crispy crusted chicken cutlets, "coffin bread," and much more including clothing, gadgets, and other goods.
  • Soak in Taiwan's Natural Hot Springs : Like Japan, Taiwan boasts mineral-rich hot springs and resorts built around them (as well as more humble, public access, low-cost facilities). Conveniently, a handful can be found in the Beitou district in Taipei (which is home to a Hot Spring Museum as well!) while other popular hot spring destinations include Hualien County's Wenshan , Miali County's Tai'an, and Jiaoxi's Tangweigou Hot Spring Park.
  • Take in The City Views From Taipei's 101 Tower: The world's largest tower when it first opened in 2004   (and now ranking number 10), this stacked cup-shaped skyscraper features an incredible multi-level observation deck from which you can see both the modern cityscape and natural wonders it's nestled in, plus a xiao long bao (soup dumpling) lunch afterwards at the ground floor's Din Tai Fung restaurant.
  • Enjoy the Splendor of Taroko Natural Park : Once you've had your fill of modern metropolis delights in Taipei or another larger city, explore the stunning glory of Taroko through its many trails and iconic gorge.

Explore more of the best Taiwan has to offer with articles on the top 15 things to do In Taipei , our Taipei city guide for LGBTQ+ visitors , and overview of the Taipei 101 tower .

What To Eat And Drink

The past decade has seen an evolution of Taiwanese cuisine thanks to innovative fine dining chefs who take earthy local, seasonal ingredients to technique-forward Michelin star levels at restaurants like Taipei's RAW and Mume , and Taichung's Singaporean-Taiwanese fusion venue JL Studio . Some of the foods most often associated with Taiwan are accessible, unpretentious, and delicious; most famously, "bubble/boba tea," which entails a tea, juice, or even milk beverage served with a scoop of chewy tapioca pearls. Although only invented in the 1980s, it's now an international phenomenon, and Taiwan sees all kinds of innovative, creative new takes and artisanal brands as well as big chains making the beverage.

Stinky tofu is one of the most popular—and aptly named—street foods in Taiwan, so much that there is even an entire street dedicated to it. Shenkeng Tofu Street is located in New Taipei's Shenking district, and offers many takes on the odious acquired taste and smell, as well as non-stinky tofu iterations and even deserts.

Xiao Long Bao is another Taiwan must-eat. Known in Western countries as "soup dumplings," this staple may have originated in Mainland China and its Shanghainese iteration is found all over the world (a bit flabby, with a thick dough skin that contains soup and usually succulent pork), but Taiwan's Michelin-starred chain Din Tai Fung helped popularize Taiwan's daintier, thinner-skinned, one-or-two-bite sized version both domestically and abroad. You'll find twists on Din Tai Fung's formula and fillings in restaurants all over Taiwan.

Bubble tea aside, the Taiwanese also satisfy their sweet tooth with the signature local snacks, Pineapple Cake and nougats. The former can be found everywhere, including airport shops and 7-Eleven, but for the good stuff, the handmade, real pineapple-filled shortcakes from SunnyHills are a must (but do note their limited shelf life, as with all preservative-free foods). Nougats are also found all over Taiwan, but local gourmands feel the yummiest can be snagged at Taipei's Okura Prestige Hotel shop (they get snatched up fast during holidays for gifts).

Where To Stay

Taiwan offers a pretty wide range of accommodations and price points, from international chains to local luxury and boutique properties. Taipei's Chinese palace-style Grand Hotel is an architectural icon (albeit inconvenient to public transport) and classic. More contemporary, newer properties like Mandarin Oriental , W Taipei , and Hotel Proverbs offer primo city district locations and gorgeous modern decor.

In contrast to Hong Kong, Taipei's hotels are a steal price-wise, especially its local boutique properties (unless there's some major convention or function). Although heavily regulated, Airbnb does have a Taiwanese presence and is currently legal. However, as with some other destinations the legal lines get blurry over specific kinds of stays, some hosts only speak/write in Chinese, and their house rules can be more strict than in other Asian countries. However, price-wise they are extremely reasonable.

For TripSavvy's current top hotel picks, check out the best Taiwan hotels .

Getting There

Located outside city limits and requiring a chunk of time to commute a la Tokyo's Narita, Taipei's Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) is the country's biggest, busiest air transportation hub and home base for EVA Air and China Airlines (both offer direct flights to and from U.S. cities). Two terminals, with a third in the works, feature oodles of places to eat and drink, from Taiwanese fare to Starbucks and even some local craft beer.

There's a second, conveniently located but smaller area airport, Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA), which services cities within Taiwan and China, and a couple of other Asian countries. Southern Taiwan's Kaohsiung International Airport (KHH) is the second largest/busiest air hub, with more than two dozen Asian airlines and destinations, including Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Macao serviced.

Culture And Customs

Although any business with an international or Western clientele, especially five-star hotel brands, will generally have an English-speaking staff and wording on map apps, English isn't that prevalent on a whole in Taiwan (and English translations for the same road or business can be phonetically spelled out in many different ways). A Chinese-English translation app can be extremely valuable for communicating, and having locals enter the Chinese letter names of destinations directly into your favorite map app is also an extremely helpful tool for finding places and getting around independently of tours, guides, etc. Taiwanese people are typically friendly, unpretentious, and polite, so don't be afraid to ask for assistance!

Money Saving Tips

  • The food choices are plentiful and prices are cheap at Taiwan's night markets, making these a perfectly thrifty way to fill up your belly with authentic local fare.
  • Another unique Taiwan attraction is its creative art parks: imminently walkable and photo-friendly districts (often comprised of abandoned factories or military facilities) now filled with murals, galleries, craft shops, cafes, and exhibitions (though some of the latter do charge admission). These include Taipei's Songshan Cultural and Creative Park and Huashan 1914 Creative Park , Tainan's Blueprint Cultural & Creative Park , and Kaohsiung's Pier-2 Art Center .
  • Book a trip during low season, which is usually both during the chillier winter months and late summer's hot, monsoon-plagued time, which also happens to be the "Ghost Festival," which is when the entirety of Taiwan is believed to be haunted by spirits and it's considered ill-advised to travel (August to September).

Britannica. "Taiwan: Climate."

WorldAtlas. "What Languages Are Spoken In Taiwan?" April 25, 2017

Skyscraper Museum. "Supertall 2020: Lineup"

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17 things you need to know before visiting Taiwan

Piera Chen

Oct 29, 2023 • 7 min read

Two young Asian women come to Taipei Tamsui Old Street for independent travel in summer, with pedestrians and land motorcycle traffic in the background of old street market

Taiwan is a breeze to visit, but it doesn’t hurt to know a few things before you go © Getty Images / iStockphoto

Taiwan is a breeze to visit, with easy-to-navigate transport systems, handy convenience stores at every turn, and endless restaurants that just hit the spot. 

That said, it doesn’t hurt to prepare a little before you go. Here are some tips from a Taipei resident of seven years.  

1. Book accommodation early

Taiwan’s sweeping range of lodgings means you can live like a multimillionaire or a monk, although it's at the midrange hostels and B&Bs that you’ll get the best deals.

Rooms sell like hot dumplings during summer, Lunar New Year and national holidays. Book at least two months ahead. In Kenting , Jiufen  and Alishan , spots favored by local vacationers and glampers, early reservation is key. Aside from pitching a tent, the cheapest sleeps are at temples with guest rooms.

To hike Taiwan’s highest mountains , you’ll need a permit or two, and the process can take weeks. If you want to stay in the cabins , you’ll need to apply for those as well. The process may not be a walk in the park, but Taiwan’s breathtaking high mountains will reward you generously.  

Waitress bringing a bowl of noodles to a table with two customers looking excited

2. Make restaurant reservations

Eating will be an important part of your trip, and reservations are strongly advised for weekend dining. A few days will do for most restaurants, though Michelin-starred tables, such as RAW and Le Palais , need to be reserved a month or two in advance. Book by phone or on Facebook. A growing number of places will also let you reserve with Google. For walk-in-only hotspots, get there early or get ready to see Taiwan’s famous queue culture in action. 

Dinner service usually begins at 5:30pm and starts winding down in less than three hours. This means your restaurant options grow thin after 8pm — but then street food-filled night markets are always an option.

3. Tap and go with EasyCard or iPass

EasyCard is Taiwan’s contactless smartcard that you can use on the metro, local buses and trains (except high-speed rail), as well as convenience stores and supermarkets. You’ll also need it (and a local phone number) for Youbike, Taiwan’s electronic bike-sharing service. The card itself costs NT$100, and you can top up at any metro station or convenience store. Any unused money is refundable, so don’t lose your card.

iPass is Kaohsiung ’s version of Easycard, which is issued by Taipei. The two are interchangeable. 

4. Download those transportation apps

The government’s bilingual apps are wonderful for checking routes, fares, arrival and departure times, and even whether or not you can bring your cello on board. You can purchase digital train tickets via T Express  (for high-speed rail) and 台鐵e訂通  (for railway), or simply use the apps for information and buy tickets at the station counters.

Taiwan’s metro systems are straightforward, but apps like Taipei's  台北捷運Go  can help you make better decisions about whether to get the day pass or whether you should just bus it. Taiwan’s bus apps give similar information to Google Maps but with more accurate arrival times.

People outside of a brightly lit Family Mart convenience store in Taipei at night

5. Convenience stores are little shops of wonder

Taiwan’s convenience stores let you buy prepaid phone cards, print and photocopy, buy train and concert tickets, send and pick up local packages and use the ATMs.  You can do most of this on an automated kiosk while basking in the aroma of tea-infused eggs, roasted sweet potatoes or whatever decent-tasting rice or pasta dish a fellow customer happens to be reheating for indoor-seated enjoyment. Bear in mind not all kiosks have full English translations, so ask a staff member for help if you need it. Many convenience stores have toilets open to the public, too.

6. Pack enough prescription meds for your trip

If you’re on a specific antidepressant drug, blood pressure medication,or contraceptive pill, bring enough with you to be safe. If you need flu and cold medicine, head over to Watson’s or Cosmed for Tylenol or its local equivalents.  

Sanitary products can be easily purchased from supermarkets and drugstores. Some cafes and restaurants even provide them for free in the women’s toilets. 

Commuters are shuttled inside the Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station of the Taipei MRT in Taiwan at rush hour

7. Be considerate on public transport

The metro  and  buses  have priority seating that's a different color from the other seats. Most Taiwanese who are not elderly, pregnant or physically challenged would never think of sitting there, but in recent years, detractors have been questioning whether age and appearance are accurate reflections of need, arguing that it’s fine for anyone to use the seats until someone needier comes along. Whatever you choose to do, it helps to be aware of these dynamics.

Taiwanese metro commuters take the 'no eating and drinking' rule very seriously. Chewing gum and sips of water are frowned upon. Carriages are also quiet. Your chances of overhearing someone’s life story are disappointingly low. 

8. Tipping is not customary (but it is appreciated)

You are not expected to tip at restaurants, whether or not they levy a 10% to 15% service charge (many do). Taxi drivers don’t expect tips, but you may hear a brighter " xie xie"  (thank you) if you round up to the next dollar. It is courteous to give the porter at better hotels NT$100. If you’re happy with a massage or a tour guide, add 10% to the bill. 

Asian woman holding incense stick outside of a Chinese temple

9. Wear whatever you like, but dress respectfully at temples 

While middle-aged Taiwanese tend to dress conservatively, young urbanites in Taipei and Kaohsiung are sartorially quite open-minded. That said, clothes that show more skin, such as crop tops or halternecks, are much less commonly worn than in London or New York, for example, and may get some stares.

It’s a different story when you visit a temple – here, wearing clothes that cover the thighs, shoulders and midriff is regarded as a sign of respect. 

10. Take off your shoes when entering homes 

Taiwanese do not wear outdoor shoes inside their homes. If your host offers you a pair of slippers, accept or propose going with socks. 

It is not customary to remove shoes before entering a temple, especially in urban temples, though the rule may be enforced in a particular hall housing a sacred relic or a fragile heritage building.

11. You can get by without much Chinese

Most Taiwanese in the major cities know at least some English. Naturally, the further you go from the metropolitan areas, the less prevalent the language is. But with the friendliness and hospitality of the Taiwanese, and some help from good old Google Translate, you can get pretty far.

12. Bring your reusable water bottle

Taiwan’s tap water is officially deemed safe to drink; however, it’s hard to know for sure if the pipes in a particular building are up to par. 

Using your own drinking water bottle is by far the cheapest, greenest and safest way to hydrate. There are water fountains in all metro and train stations, public facilities, such as information centers, libraries and museums, and even temples. When checking in at your lodging, ask reception where the water dispenser is.

13. Taiwan is affected by frequent natural disasters

This includes earthquakes, typhoons, floods and landslides. Avoid mountainous areas after quakes and heavy rains. Strong winds often mess up sailing schedules to and from Taiwan’s islands, and cross-island buses may stop running after a landslide. Check with the relevant authorities before heading to the station or pier with your umbrella. 

14. Be wary of where you smoke

Smoking is banned in all indoor public places, such as hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and metro stations, and this is strictly enforced. Smoking at alfresco cafes is common.

15. Taiwan is great for solo women travelers 

Taiwan has a very low crime rate, and many solo women travelers report feeling safer here than in other destinations. Some train and metro stations have nocturnal women-only wait zones that you can take advantage of, especially if traveling alone at night. 

16. Taiwan is a welcoming place for LGBTIQ+ travelers

The first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, Taiwan is friendly and progressive, especially Taipei, home of the Chinese-speaking world's most vibrant Pride parade. Kaohsiung, which has its own Pride, comes a close second. In terms of nightlife, however, Taipei wins hands down. Useful resources include Utopia , Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBTQ+) Hotline Association  and Taiwan LGBT Pride .

17. Taiwan is fantastic for toilets

Free and usually spotlessly clean facilities are everywhere. While most public toilets are the squat style, there are usually at least one or two stalls with sit-down facilities. They often also have toilet paper. Western-style toilets are standard in hotels and apartments. Many restaurants ask you not to flush used toilet paper but to put it in the wastebasket beside your throne.

This article was first published Oct 22, 2022 and updated Oct 29, 2023.

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Spotlight: East Coast Scenic Route

Take one of Asia’s ultimate road trips

Hualien Starts Here   Tantalizing Taroko Gorge   Taiwan’s Best Beaches   Is Yilan Worth Visiting?   Renting a Car in Taiwan   The Truth About Taitung  

Spotlight: East Coast

Asia’s ultimate road trip

Hualien Starts Here   Tantalizing Taroko Gorge   Taiwan’s Best Beaches   Is Yilan Worth Visiting?   Renting a Car in Taiwan  

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On the hunt for inspiration—or just information—for your next trip to Taiwan? My name is Robert Schrader, and you’ve arrived in the right place. I’m a veteran Taiwan traveler with half a dozen years under my belt—and I’m delighted you’re here.

Feel at home in Taiwan’s cozy capital

See the famous Dragon and Tiger Pagodas

Take a delicious journey back in time

Whether you need tips on top Taiwan destinations, Taiwan trip ideas or travel advice about topics like Taiwan SIM cards and trains in Taiwan, my Taiwan travel blog is where you need to be. I’ve circled the island dozens of times—I’ve lived in Taipei for over a year!—and my posts combine the wisdom I’ve gained with insightful, informative personal anecdotes.

Enjoy a Whirlwind Week in Taiwan

Taiwan proves that big adventure comes in small packages—so small, in fact, that you can see everything in a week if you budget your time right. After a couple of nights in Taipei, rent a car and drive clockwise along the island’s wild east coast, ending in the southern metropolis of Kaohsiung before heading back north via the futuristic high-speed rail line.

A Whirlwind Week

Taiwan proves that big adventure comes in small packages—you can see everything in a week if you budget your time right. After two nights in Taipei, drive along the wild east coast, ending in Kaohsiung.

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Taroko Gorge

Hike through enchanting grottos to forlorn shrines

Visit the home of high-mountain Oolong tea

Bask on Taiwan’s most beautiful beaches

Taiwan is a place I always think I know completely—then I get on a train or bus to somewhere seemingly random, and I’m blown away. As you’ll see browsing through my Taiwan travel blog posts, this capacity for spontaneous adventure is precisely what makes Taiwan such a joy to discover. In fact, I love it so much I decided to move here!

See All of Taiwan

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If there’s one word I could use to describe Taiwan, it would be “harmony.” Taiwan’s cities are a pastiche of East-meets-West cosmopolitanism, while the larger culture perfectly mixed stoic Japanese traditions with wilder elements that might be more at home in Southeast Asia. To say nothing of the food—I could write a Taiwan blog just about that!

See Authentic Taiwan in Just Two Weeks

The longer you devote to Taiwan, the more authentically you can experience its culture. Whether you sip delicate oolong tea amid the emerald fields of Alishan, embark on exciting hikes from rough-and-tumble Hualien or discover history in the former capital city of Tainan, Taiwan is definitely worth a deep dive.

Taste Authentic Taiwan

The longer you devote to Taiwan, the more authentically you can experience its culture. Sip delicate oolong tea atop the emerald peaks of Alishan, or discover history in the former capital city of Tainan—Taiwan is definitely worth a deep dive.

Enjoying Taiwan is easy, but planning a trip to Taiwan can be a nightmare. Commission a custom Taiwan itinerary—and let me sweat the details. Get a personalized video consultation, detailed day-by-day itinerary and more!

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Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog

The Perfect Taiwan Itinerary And Complete Taiwan Travel Guide

By: Author Lotte

Posted on Last updated: March 5, 2024

Categories Taiwan

1-month-taiwan-travel-itinerary-phenomenalglobe.com

Did you know Taiwan has the largest number and density of high mountains in the world? While this island may be small in size, it has much to offer!

From beautiful beaches to modern skyscrapers and from colorful street art to delicious cuisine, Taiwan has it all.

This Taiwan itinerary will guide you around the highlights of this green island that used to be called ‘Ilha Formosa' (meaning ‘ beautiful island ‘ in Portuguese). A fitting name as Taiwan is absolutely gorgeous!

Taiwan itinerary

Taiwan Itinerary - empty road in Kenting

Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). We're very grateful when you use our links to make a purchase:-).

Itinerary for Taiwan and Taiwan travel map

In the map below you can find our Taiwan itinerary, at the end of the post you can download this map.

Taiwan itinerary map

Click here for the interactive map

The ultimate Taiwan itinerary

  • Day 1-3: Kaohsiung
  • Day 4-6: Kenting National Park
  • Day 7-9:  Tainan
  • Day 10-11:  Taichung
  • Day 12-13: Sun Moon Lake
  • Day 14-19:  Taipei (part I)
  • Day 20-23: Hualien and the Taroko Gorge
  • Day 24-29:  Taipei (part II)

The Chang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei

Important things to know when planning a trip to Taiwan

Taiwan is a great destination year-round, however, Spring (March-April) and Autumn (October-November) are the most popular times to visit. From mid-May until September, monsoon season causes a lot of rain, especially on the East Coast. We visited in May and while we did experience some rain, the weather was good on most days. However, we did adjust our travel plans because of the (terrible) weather forecast, and instead of traveling the entire length of Taiwan's East Coast (in the pouring rain), we opted to spend more time in Taipei (where it was still sunny). During Summer (June until August) Taiwan is hot and humid with temperatures rising above 30 degrees Celsius. Winter is low season in Taiwan, though it usually doesn't get that cold (around 10 degrees).

The official currency in Taiwan is the  New Taiwan dollar  ( NT $) .   Here  you can find the current exchange rates, at the time of writing €1 is approximately 34NT$ and $1 approximately 30NT$.

Dry beef noodle Kaohsiung

Plan your Taiwan trip like a pro with these tools: ? Pick up an EasyCard for cashless payments and to use public transport. ? Book discounted tickets for Taiwan's high-speed rail. ? Stay connected with a  Taiwan Wifi router . ? Plan your journey with the  T aiwan Lonely Planet . ?️ Find your dream accommodation on Booking.com or Agoda . ? Book the best tours via Klook or Get Your Guide . ?️ Travel safely and get reliable travel insurance from Safety Wing .

Taiwan travel tips

In general traveling around Taiwan is very easy. This beautiful small country is safe and well-organized and, as I already mentioned, the people are super friendly.

Nevertheless, here are some travel tips to make your Taiwan trip even easier (and cheaper!).

Bicycles in Kaohsiung city Taiwan

Buy an EasyCard

I recommend that as soon as you arrive in Taiwan, you pick up an EasyCard .

You can use this pass all over Taiwan to pay for transport (MRT, bicycles, buses, trains, ferries, etc.). The Easy Card gives you a discount on transport fares and saves you the hassle of having to pay with coins.

You can top up your credit in 7-11 and Family Mart (you can also pay with your EasyCard in these shops and several others).

Pick up a Wifi router at the airport

During our trip to Taiwan, we used a portable Wifi router with unlimited data to stay online.

We could connect all our devices (and we have a lot ) and had excellent reception everywhere in Taiwan (except in the tunnels on the East coast). Click here to book your Wifi router .

You can pick up the router upon arrival at Taoyuan international airport or Kaohsiung airport and use it throughout your Taiwan trip.

You can simply return the device to the service counter where you picked it up, or use a 24-hour drop-off box available at the airports mentioned above if you happen to have to catch a flight outside of business hours.

Be prepared to use Google Translate a lot

While the people in Taiwan are very friendly and always willing to help, I was surprised to learn that many Taiwanese don't speak English. At all.

They will still try to help you through and Google Translate makes it a lot easier. You can download the app for free in the App Store or the Play Store .

Qingshui Cliffs Taiwan East Coast

Our Taiwan trip: facts and figures

  • I traveled with my husband; our trip started in Kaohsiung and ended in Taipei. Our Taiwan trip itinerary was  29 days in   total.
  • We traveled around Taiwan by public transport (train, bus, and MRT). In Kenting National Park and Hualien, we rented a scooter. In Kaohsiung, Tainan, Taichung, and Taipei we used the public bicycle rental systems, bus, and MRT to get around.
  • During our trip around Taiwan, we spent approximately   2065 NT / €63 / $69 per day as a couple. If you want to know more about the costs of our Taiwan trip , check my budget breakdown .
  • I have written detailed guides for most places we visited in Taiwan, in these guides you can find detailed information about our day-to-day activities, transportation, and detailed information about our accommodation . You can find the links to those posts in the itinerary below.

Where to find great budget accommodation in Taiwan

taiwan travel videos

In the table below you can find our Taiwan accommodation. I’ve also written a separate post about the places we stayed in Taiwan with more details about these places.

Note: Prices for these hotels depend on the time of year and how far in advance you book. Therefore, the prices mentioned above are a rough indication of the price per night to help you compare the different options. Use ‘click here' to see the latest prices on Agoda and Booking and book ahead to get the best deal.

* Unfortunately, the Airbnbs we stayed at in Kaohsiung and Taipei are no longer available due to Covid-19. I've done my utmost to find a suitable alternative (see table) .

How to spend a month in Taiwan

Ideally, if you have a month in Taiwan as we did, you'd make a full circle around the island. You can either start and end your trip in Taipei or in Kaohsiung, as these are the largest hubs for international flights.

As I mentioned above, unfortunately, we didn't get to finish our Taiwan loop because monsoon season started and the East Coast was soaking wet.

Nevertheless, we had a lot of fun during the additional time we spend in Taipei and I don't regret making this decision. Below you can find our day by day one month Taiwan trip.

If you have less time available to explore Taiwan, don't worry, I've got you covered. Further on in the post, I also suggest shorter options (5, 7, and 10 days, plus 2 and 3 weeks) for your Taiwan travel itinerary.

Day 1 – 3: Kaohsiung

Love River Kaohsiung Taiwan

Kaohsiung isn't a well-known city, at least I had never heard of it before traveling to Taiwan. Of course, that could also just be me being ignorant…

Anyway, Kaohsiung is the third-largest city in Taiwan and this is where we started our trip. Kaohsiung is an important harbor city but also has many interesting sights.

My recommended activities for Kaohsiung are:

  • Cycle the bicycle trail along the Love River . Worthwhile stops are the Kaohsiung 228 Peace Memorial Park, Zhongdou Wetlands Park, Botanical Garden, and the Lotus Pond.
  • Cycle around the Lotus Pond. Another great bicycle trail goes around the Lotus Pond, on the south side of the lake you can find the colorful Tiger and Dragon Pagodas.
  • Visit Qijin Island . This small island is only a 5-minute ferry ride from the mainland. Here you can explore the Cijin Coast Park, admire the view from the Cihou Lighthouse and visit the Maritime Museum.

Book your Kaohsiung accommodation: 85 Good Time Hotel

Click here to read about more things to do in Kaohsiung .

Day 4 – 6: Kenting National Park

Beach in Kenting National Park

From busy Kaohsiung, we traveled to the green Kenting National Park, in the South of Taiwan.

Fun fact: did you know there are 9 National Parks in Taiwan ?

Kenting National Park is beautiful, the beaches are pristine and the empty roads through lush green jungle make it the perfect place for a scooter road trip.

Some of the best places to visit in Kenting are:

  • Maobitou Park : a great spot to admire the beautiful ocean views and impressive rock formations.
  • Hengchun night market: try out lots of typical Taiwanese dishes and snacks and wash them down with a boba (bubble tea).
  • Kenting town: take an hour or so to explore the town, but leave plenty of time to relax on a pretty Kenting beach, with white sand and stunning blue water.

Book your Kenting accommodation: Light Blue Bed & Breakfast

Click here to read about more things to do in Kenting .

Day 7 – 9: Tainan

Colorful temple in Tainan, Taiwan

Our next destination was Tainan, the oldest city in Taiwan and one with a Dutch history which made it extra interesting for us (being from the Netherlands and all).

Back in 1624, the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or United East India Company in English) built Fort Zeelandia in Tainan and used the city as their ruling and trading base.

Besides the Dutch Fort, there are many beautiful temples in Tainan. In fact, there are more Buddhist and Taoist temples in Tainan than in any other Taiwanese city! The top spots in Tainan you should visit are:

  • Koxinga’s Shrine : an impressive shrine dating from 1663. Also, take a stroll around the stylish garden in front of the complex.
  • Fort Zeelandia: this fort was built by the Dutch in the early 17th century and used as a trading outpost. It's a great place to learn about (part of) the tumultuous history of Taiwan.
  • National Museum of Taiwan History : another excellent place to learn about Taiwanese history and its many invaders throughout the decades (the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Chinese, and the Japanese).

Book your Tainan accommodation: Tie Dao Hotel

Click here to read about more things to do in Tainan .

Day 10 – 11: Taichung

Skyline Taichung

Unfortunately, it was raining during the majority of our time in Taichung. We made the most of it though and went to the movies, ate wood-fired oven pizza, and hung out in cute cafes.

However, if the weather is a bit nicer, you can easily spend three days here as there are many things to do in this interesting city! Highlights in (and around) Taichung are:

  • Rainbow Village : a short distance from Taichung city center you can find what is perhaps the most colorful village in the world. Painted by Huang Yong-Fu in a desperate attempt to preserve his home that was about to be torn down by the government, this artsy village has now become one of Taiwan’s most famous attractions!
  • Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House : the birthplace of Taiwan's famous boba, aka bubble tea. Here you can take a bubble tea-making class and learn how to create these delicious and highly addictive concoctions yourself.
  • Taichung Second Market : an authentic wet market with 100 years of history. Here you can eat local dishes created from secret family recipes handed down for generations!

Book your Taichung accommodation: Modern Inn

Click here to read about more things to do in Taichung .

Day 12 – 13: Sun Moon Lake

Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan on a cloudy day

Sun Moon Lake is the largest lake in Taiwan and a very popular place to visit. It sure is a gorgeous place, unfortunately, the rain that found us in Taichung followed us to Sun Moon Lake.

We had planned to do lots of outdoor activities, like cycling around the lake and hiking up Mt. Shuishe.

Instead, we spent most of our time in the Starbucks in Shuishe Village, running outside whenever the rain stopped for a brief moment to take pictures of the still beautiful-looking lake.

Nevertheless, there are tons of things to do at Sun Moon Lake when the weather is nice:

  • Follow (part of) the Yuetan Bike Path : a 29 kilometers bike route that goes around Sun Moon Lake. You can also opt for a shorter section of approximately 12 kilometers.
  • Ride the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway‭: from the Ropeway, you can enjoy the best views over the lake and forested mountains.
  • Visit the Wenwu Temple and Ci En Pagoda : these beautiful constructions‭ are highly worth a visit, and both can be reached with the  Round-The-Lake-Bus .

Book your Sun Moon Lake accommodation: Itathao Motel

? Discount : if you're planning a trip to Sun Moon Lake,  check out the Sun Moon Lake ropeway combo pass , which includes the ropeway, bike rental, and a boat trip over the lake.

Day 14 – 19: Taipei (part I)

Taipei skyline at dusk

I loved Taipei! I'm not usually one for big cities for a long period of time, but I really enjoyed our time in Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan. We spent 12 days there in total and still didn't run out of things to do.

What I loved most about Taipei is how easy it was to get away from the busy part of town and find some peace and quiet.

There is so much nature just a subway ride away from the center! For example, we hiked a mountain trail in the Maokong area and didn't come across anyone else.

I've written an extensive post about Taipei and a blog about day trips from Taipei , but to sum up, here are some of the main Taipei highlights to add to your Taipei itinerary.

Admire the view from the iconic Taipei 101

Go up to the observation deck on the 91st floor for marvelous birds-eye views of Taipei city ( purchase a fast-track ticket here ).

Explore the National Palace Museum

National Palace Museum Taipei Taiwan

This huge museum houses one of the world's largest collections of ancient Chinese artifacts and is highly worth a visit. Click here to buy your ticket online .

Hike the Elephant Mountain trail

A steep but short walk to the top of Elephant Mountain (a 183-meter high hill) offering beautiful views over Taipei and the aforementioned Taipei 101.

Visit Chang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is a huge and impressive building. Try to time your visit to coincide with the changing of the guards (every hour on the hour from 10 am to 4 pm).

Also visit the nearby Gate of Great Centrality and Perfect Uprightness, National Concert Hall, and the National Theater.

Eat your way around Shilin Night Market 

Shilin Night Market is one of the best night markets in Taiwan, and also one of the largest in the country. Sample some famous street food dishes such as stinky tofu, fried buns, bubble tea, and oyster omelet.

There are so many food stalls you'll inevitably find yourself coming back a second night to try out more typical Taiwanese foods and snacks.

Take a day trip to Maokong

This is a pretty little village on the outskirts of Taipei that can be reached via the Maokong gondola ( buy your online ticket here ) or bus.

There are several great hiking trails around the village, which is known for the cultivation of high-quality tea.

Book your Taipei accommodation: Comma Boutique Hotel

Click here to read about more things to do in Taipei .

Day 20 – 23: Hualien and the Taroko Gorge

Qingshui Cliffs Taiwan

The East coast was my favorite part of Taiwan and I have only seen a small section! There are steep cliffs, a stunning blue ocean, marble mountains, and a green jungle.

It's much less populated than the rest of Taiwan, only 4% of the Taiwanese live on the East Coast. We spent 3 days in Hualien and used this relaxed city as a base to explore the famous Taroko Gorge and the area south of Hualien.

Some of the best things to do around Hualien are:

  • Qinshui Cliffs : the combination of the steep cliffs and the vivid blue color of the ocean is a spectacular sight.
  • Taroko Gorge: one of the most popular places to visit in Taiwan and rightly so, it's a beautiful place. There are hiking trails, waterfalls, rope bridges, and amazing views wherever you look. Click here to book a day trip from Taipei or take a Taroko tour from Hualien city .
  • East Coast National Scenic Area : we rented a scooter and went for an adventurous drive along the coast and mountainous area south of Hualien.

Book your Hualien accommodation: Honey B Trip B&B

Click here to read about more things to do in Hualien .

Day 24-29: Taipei (part II)

View from Elephant Hill Taipei

Because of the approaching typhoon season, it was already very rainy on the East Coast. Therefore we did not continue south to Taitung ( cycling Taiwan’s east coast is a very popular option) but went back to Taipei instead.

In Taipei, we had mostly sunny days for the remainder of our trip and there was a lot more to do in and around Taipei so this was the best option for us.

But I sure would love to see more of the East coast of Taiwan!

Alternative Taiwan itineraries (5, 7, and 10 days + 2 and 3 weeks)

Taiwan itinerary 5 days.

If you just have 5 days to travel around Taiwan, don't worry! While you cannot see everything the island has to offer, you can get a taste and feel of the country.

This is how I would spend a Taiwan 5 day itinerary:

  • Day 1-2: Taipei
  • Day 3: make a day trip from Taipei (such as Beitou, Tamsui, Wulai, Maokong , or Yehliu Geopark )
  • Day 4: travel to Sun Moon Lake
  • Day 5: explore Sun Moon Lake and return to Taipei

Da'an Forest Park Taipei

Taiwan itinerary 7 days

For a 7-day Taiwan itinerary, I'd suggest the following:

  • Day 3: make a day trip from Taipei (such as Beitou, Tamsui, Wulai, Maokong or Thousand Island Lake and the Shiding tea township )
  • Day 5: explore Sun Moon Lake and travel to Taichung ( book HSR tickets with a discount here )
  • Day 6: Taichung
  • Day 7: Taichung and return to Taipei

With this Taiwan 1 week itinerary, you will get to explore the buzzing capital as well as Taiwan's second-largest city, Taichung, and one of Taiwan's absolute highlights: the beautiful Sun Moon Lake.

Sun Moon Lake Taiwan

Taiwan itinerary 10 days

This 10 day Taiwan itinerary not only includes the two major cities of Taiwan (Taipei and Taichung), but also the two most beautiful natural sights: Taroko Gorge on the East Coast and Sun Moon Lake in the middle of the Island.

  • Day 3: make a day trip from Taipei (such as Beitou, Tamsui, Wulai, or Maokong )
  • Day 4: travel to Hualien
  • Day 5: visit Taroko Gorge
  • Day 6: travel to Sun Moon Lake
  • Day 7: Sun Moon Lake
  • Day 8-9: Taichung
  • Day 10: Return to Taipei

For days 4-10 of this Taiwan 10 day itinerary, it's easiest to rent a car as this will allow you to explore Taroko Gorge independently.

It's also the easiest way to travel from the East Coast to the West coast. If you opt to travel via public transportation, the best way to travel from Hualien to Sun Moon Lake is via Taipei.

Blue ocean near Taroko Gorge and Hualien

Taiwan 2 week itinerary

If you have 2 weeks in Taiwan, I'd recommend traveling either from North to South or vice versa. Your 2 week Taiwan itinerary could look like this:

  • Day 1-3: Taipei
  • Day 4-5: Sun Moon Lake
  • Day 6-7: Taichung
  • Day 8-9: Tainan
  • Day 10-11: Kenting National Park
  • Day 12-14: Kaohsiung

This 2 week Taiwan itinerary is especially suitable for people looking to travel in one direction instead of a loop.

Evening light on Maobitou Park in Kenting Taiwan

Taiwan 3 week itinerary

If you don't mind a fast-paced itinerary, you could make a complete loop around Taiwain in three weeks. For this 3 week Taiwan itinerary, I'd suggest the following route:

  • Day 6-8: Taichung
  • Day 9-10: Tainan
  • Day 11-13: Kaohsiung
  • Day 14-15: Kenting National Park
  • Day 16-17: Taitung
  • Day 18-20: Hualien and Taroko Gorge
  • Day 21: Return to Taipei

You will be traveling a lot with this 3-week itinerary for Taiwan and I'd recommend avoiding monsoon season (which is especially bad on the East Coast).

This itinerary for 3 weeks in Taiwan will show you very different sides of Taiwan. You'll explore several interesting cities, spend enough time at the most beautiful lake in Taiwan and also visit two National Parks (Taroko and Kenting).

Gaomei Wetlands Taichung

Planning a trip to Taiwan: in conclusion

I had a great time in Taiwan and hope this post will help you plan your trip to this wonderful little island.

You can download the map and table with the transport information below. If you have any questions, leave a comment or send me a message !

This post was updated in November 2022.

Complete guide to plan the perfect Taiwan trip: itinerary (5, 7 and 10 days + 2, 3 and 4 weeks) with highlights plotted on a map so it’s easy for you to find them. Detailed information how to get from A to B in Taiwan and useful travel tips how to make the most of your trip to Taiwan. Including Kaohsiung, Kenting National Park, Tainan, Taichung, Sun Moon Lake, Taipei and Hualien (Taroko Gorge). #Taiwan #Asia

ViaTravelers

Tuesday 7th of September 2021

Hello, Lotte! Thank you for thsi great blog! Taiwan is such a fascinating place to visit, and I love the Itinerary you gave. It makes an almost two-week trip to Taiwan packed and great!

Monday 4th of October 2021

Thanks for your kind words about my Taiwan itinerary:-) It's such a great country, too bad it's been closed since Covid... Anyway, enjoy your time in Amsterdam (I saw you went on a canal boat trip on your IG).

Monday 18th of January 2021

Thanks so much for sharing such an amazing post of your experience in Taiwan! I've always wanted to visit this country, and your post helped me add even more to my Taiwan must-visit list.

Sunday 24th of January 2021

Thank you for reading my Taiwan post and great to hear it's inspired you (even more) to visit this amazing island. I really loved our time there and would love to go back to explore more (and eat more delicious food...) One day!

Sunday 3rd of January 2021

Thank you so much for all this information. I truly appreciate it! I have been Virtual traveling since C19 and once this pandemic is contained and global green light turns on, Ilike to take my boys (husband and son) to Taiwan. Stay safe and god bless. Thank you

Sunday 10th of January 2021

Hi May Twu,

Thank you for reading my post and most welcome! For now, virtual travel is what will have to do... Hopefully, things will improve in 2021 with vaccine campaigns starting up. I hope you can visit Taiwan in the near future!

Stay safe and thanks again! Lotte

Tuesday 14th of May 2019

Hi. Thanks for the very informative itinerary!

May I know which month did you went to Taiwan? Thanks.

You are welcome! We went to Taiwan in May and left at the start of June. Have a nice trip:-)

Thursday 22nd of February 2018

Thank your for post, it's very useful! Taiwan looks really amazing.

Saturday 24th of February 2018

Thank you, Taiwan is amazing indeed:-)

Spiritual Travels

A 2024 Taiwan Travel Guide for Planning Your Trip

Last updated on Apr. 10, 2024 by Nick Kembel

Taiwan is a small island nation that packs a serious punch. At only 36,193 km², it is about the size of Vancouver Island in my native Canada, but home to a staggering 23.9 million people.

Do not be fooled by its compact size, however. There are many reasons to visit Taiwan : the tallest mountains in Northeast Asia, rich history & culture, welcoming locals, some of the best night markets and street food in the world – the list goes on. To get a better idea, see my ever-growing list of things to do in Taiwan .

I’ve lived in Taiwan for over 10 years. I’m married to a Taiwanese, and my two kids were born and raised in Taiwan. I’ve written articles about Taiwan for CNN, National Geographic Traveller, Discover Taipei, and Taiwan Travel Magazine, as well as my book, Taiwan in the Eyes of a Foreigner , which has sold more than 7000 copies.

This Taiwan travel guide links out to all of my most useful articles for planning a Taiwan trip. Here on my Taiwan travel blog, Spiritual Travels, you’ll find some of the most comprehensive Taiwan travel information Taiwan tourism details available in English online, all based on years of on-the-ground research. 

Let the below be your personal guide to traveling in Taiwan. I’ll be covering a wide variety of topics below, so use the table of contents to jump to the info you need! If you prefer Q&A format, you can find all the same info in these FAQs about Taiwan .

Table of Contents

Travel restrictions and visas.

As of October 13, 2022, Taiwan is totally open for travel. All COVID-related  travel restrictions  are finished.  That brought to an end the 938 days total that Taiwan’s borders were closed to some or all international tourists!

Currently, you just need to find out if your country is eligible for visa-free entry  (most are), and for how many days. If you need a visa for Taiwan, or want to stay for longer than the visa-free period, you’ll need to apply at the Taiwan office in your country before coming. 

Besides the visa, there are no special forms, tests, vaccines (these were never needed) for entering Taiwan. You just need to fill in the normal arrival card when you arrive, or do it online before you come. Note that some people have reported not receiving an email confirmation after filling in the online form, so you may want to just do it when you arrive in Taiwan. You can stay in any hotel or accommodation you want, including hostels (these weren’t allowed until March 20, 2023). 

The outdoor mask mandate ended in late 2022 and the indoor mask mandate ended in early 2023. Now, you only need to wear masks in medical facilities in Taiwan. However, many locals are still wearing them in public.

Following the April 2024 Hualien Earthquake , Taroko Gorge in Hualien is totally closed to visitors for an estimated 6 months to 1 year. Everywhere else in Taiwan is open as normal and fine to visit. Here’s my list of things you can still do in Hualien besides Taroko Gorge .

If you ever have any questions about anything related to traveling in Taiwan, you can call the 24-hour English tourist hotline at 0800-011765 (from outside Taiwan dial 886-800-011765). For COVID-specific questions, dial 1922 (from outside Taiwan dial 886-800-001922). 

Taiwan COVID restrictions and guidelines

A Guide to Taiwan’s Quarantine Hotels and COVID Travel Restrictions

Taiwan travel planning group.

The absolute best place you can go for any questions about planning your Taiwan trip is my free Facebook group, Taiwan Travel Planning .

Literally any question you have about traveling in Taiwan or planning your Taiwan trip will be answered within 1-2 days by me or other members of the group. I’m also happy to look over your itinerary and give you suggestions. Because I do spend a lot of time every day in the group answering questions, I’ve created this Buy Me a Coffee account for anyone who wants to say thanks (my readers requested this!)

Take a Tour or DIY Travel?

The main purpose of this page, my website, and my Facebook group is to help you plan a DIY trip to Taiwan. Taiwan is an incredibly safe and easy country to travel around. However, this does require some advance planning, especially as trains and hotels in popular destinations in Taiwan often sell out. Generally, Taiwan is not a very suitable country for just showing up and figuring it out once you get there. Even more so since COVID, advance bookings for almost everything are the norm. 

If you’re looking for a luxury, fully customized tour of Taiwan, I recommend Life of Taiwan . Their team of experts are some of the most knowledgeable in the industry. They provide personalized tea, food, cultural, or family tours of Taiwan and put you up in some of the country’s most exquisite hotels. If you contact them, please let them know that Nick sent you over!

If you’re in a rush and just want to see the best of Taiwan in a short period, I recommend this Taiwan 5-day tour . It doesn’t include Taipei, which is best visited in a day or two on your own before or after the tour.

What most visitors to Taiwan do, however, is plan their trip on their own. The country’s amazing TRA train (round-island) and High Speed Rail (down the west coast from Taipei to Kaohsiung) systems are actually faster than driving. 

Then, when you get to your destination city, you can hire drivers for the day or go on guided day trips only when necessary. This is a very common approach, and there are numerous popular day trips and drivers available on Klook (sign up with this link for a TWD 100 credit in your account). You’ll find that I recommend Klook tours, drivers, car/scooter rentals, discounted attraction tickets, train tickets, and more throughout my Taiwan articles. There are many good deals on there, so you can save a lot of money by using the platform for planning your Taiwan trip.

And for truly DIY or budget travelers, you can certainly do it all on your own, especially with all the articles you’ll find on my website, covering how to visit almost every corner of Taiwan.

Renting a car is also a great option – read my tips for driving in Taiwan here and why I rented my car with Klook .

One good idea is to try one of these free Taipei waking tours on Day 1, then take it on your own from there!

Before Your Trip: Flights, Insurance, Apps, Guidebooks

If you’re coming from a country in Asia, there are numerous budget flights to Taiwan. I’ve prepared this list of the cheapest budget flights to Taiwan .

I’ve tried many different flight websites for finding long haul flights to Taiwan (I live in Canada). My two favorites are Kiwi.com and WayAway . I usually try both these sites when booking my Taiwan flights. They are often (but not alway) cheaper than booking directly with the airlines.

What I like about Kiwi.com is special features like searching not only your departure point but other cities nearby and being able to enter “anywhere” as a destination, and “anytime” as a flying time. For flexible travelers, this allows you to find the cheapest possible flights and dates without searching a million times. Unlike other aggregate flight sites, Kiwi includes budget airlines (many of which fly to Taipei!) and routes combining multiple airlines that are not affiliated.

WayAway is an even newer site and is now my favorite. Like Kiwi, it includes budget airlines, plus it displays awesome calendars showing the price of flights on every day. But the really special feature on WayAway, which will appeal to frequent travelers, is WayAway Plus. Basically, for a small annual fee, you can get cashback (like real cash, deposited to your account) not just for your flights but also any hotels you book through their system. Sign up with this link and you’ll get 10% off WayAway Plus !

Having said that, there are benefits to going with the airline directly, such as being able to easily contact them when needed. rather than going through a third party. China Airlines and Eva Airlines (the one with the Hello Kitty planes!) are two of Taiwan’s largest carriers.

For travel insurance , it’s pretty much a must nowadays. I recommend SafetyWing  or Insubuy . Find more details about why in my guide to choosing travel insurance for Taiwan .

Which apps should you download for Taiwan? I’ve got you covered in this guide to the best Taiwan apps for travelers.

Last but not least, I may be old school, but I still love using travel guidebooks for planning my Taiwan trips. My favorite is and always has been the Taiwan Lonely Planet (I have about 5 different issues of it). I also recommend the Bradt Taiwan , written by long-term Taiwan resident Steven Crook. He also co-authored this amazing book covering the history of Taiwanese food, which I highly recommend.

Moving to Taiwan?

If you’re planning on moving to Taiwan for work, family reasons, or simply because Taiwan is an awesome place to live, then you should head over to my novella-sized guide to living in Taiwan . 

In that article, I focus more on visa issues, getting a job in Taiwan, finding an apartment, making friends, and all other aspects of daily life in Taiwan, whereas below, I’ll stick mainly to things you need to know for traveling around Taiwan.

Taiwanese History & Culture

A detailed Taipei itinerary for 5 days, which also serves as a Taiwan itinerary for 5 days

How much do you know about Taiwan? Having lived in Taiwan for many years and married a Taiwanese, I know for a fact that many people around the world know little to nothing about Taiwan. Even some of my friends and family members back home think it is the same as Thailand. For this reasons, I’ve even written this article to explain the differences between Taiwan and Thailand  as this one to share some fun and interesting facts about Taiwan .

Taiwan is a small island nation in East Asia. Culturally, it is usually considered part of Northeast Asia, but geographically, some argue that it is closer to Southeast Asia. Taiwan was the original homeland of the Austronesian people, who went on to populate many islands of the Pacific in canoes. Today, their descendants include the 16 recognized aboriginal tribes of Taiwan .

Taiwan was briefly colonized by the Dutch and Spanish, while the Portuguese famously called it “Formosa”, or “beautiful island”, a name which stuck for centuries. Over the last 500 years, millions of people have migrated to Taiwan from China, especially Fujian province in the southeast. That’s why the local language of Taiwan, “Taiwanese” , is also called Minnan; it is the same as the Chinese dialect spoken in the Minnan region of Fujian. Taiwan remained on the fringe of Chinese imperial influence for centuries, then fell to Japanese occupation from 1895 to 1945.

In the Chinese Civil War, the nationalist KMT party of the Republic of China lost to the Communist Party in 1949 and fled to Taiwan, along with millions of Chinese soldiers and refugees from all over China, bringing their language (Mandarin), food, and culture. They thought they’d take back China someday, but they never did. That’s why Taiwan is still officially (and confusingly) called Republic of China, but their passports now finally say “Taiwan” in bigger letters . In 2000, the DPP were the first non-KMT party to win an election in Taiwan. Current President Tsai Ing-wen belongs to the independence-leaning DPP party.

The relationship between Taiwan and China remains complex and is the source of much tension. China claims that Taiwan is a province of China and bullies Taiwan from entering the UN and WHO, and from using the word “Taiwan” in international events like the Olympics (they have to call their team “Chinese Taipei”. But most Taiwanese consider Taiwan independent, and anyone who has been to both countries knows just how different they are. Few countries officially recognize Taiwan, but it acts as an independent country in virtually every way.

Today Taiwan is a modern, vibrant democracy with a free press. It is known for its welcoming people, efficiency, safety, and incredible street food. It has been chosen as the top country in the world for expats . It was also the first country in Asia to legalize equal (gay) marriage rights. Taiwan was one of the success stories in its handling of the COVID pandemic. Also read about some of the most famous people from Taiwan here .

Should you tip in Taiwan? Most often the answer is no. Learn all about Taiwan’s money and currency here .

Thailand or Taiwan: which should you visit? And what's the difference between them?

Thailand vs. Taiwan: What’s the Difference?

Taiwanese food.

One of the great pleasures of visiting Taiwan is enjoying the country’s incredible food. Indeed, may travelers from Asian country’s come to Taiwan JUST for the food. Taiwanese is especially known for its incredible variety of cheap and delicious street food .

The best place to try Taiwanese street food is in night markets. Every city in the country has a night market (here are the best night markets across Taiwan ), while Taipei has more than 50. Here I introduce the best night markets in Taipei , night markets in Taichung ,  night markets in Tainan , and night markets in Kaohsiung . Also don’t miss my favorite night market in the country, Keelung Night Market !

Besides street food, some restaurant experiences you may want to enjoy in Taiwan are DIY barbecue joints, all-you-can-eat hot pot, quick fry (a kind of local eatery suitable for groups, and with lots of cheap dishes meant for sharing, with lots of beer), and Din Tai Fung, the country’s most famous restaurant, which specializes in xiaolongbao (soup dumplings). In this article, I recommend 80+ of my favorite restaurants in Taipei , arranged by style, and the best restaurants open all night in Taipei here !

Seafood lovers should also visit Addiction Aquatic Development , an upscale gourmet seafood market in Taipei, or consider visiting one of the country’s many port markets.

For vegetarians and vegans, you’ll be happy to know you’ll be spoiled for choices in Taiwan. See the vegetarian section of my street foods article, or keep an eye out for the character for vegetarian 素 displayed on Buddhist vegetarian restaurants; many of them are buffet style and you pay by weight. You can also say “I am vegetarian” (wo chi su/我吃素), “Do you have anything vegetarian” (you sude ma?/有素的嗎?) or “Is this vegetarian” (zhe shi sude ma?/這是素的嗎?)

Besides all the articles before, I’ve got several newer  food and night markets guides here  on my other website, TaiwanObsessed.

The best night markets in Kaohsiung city, Taiwan

The Top 9 Night Markets in Kaohsiung (& what to eat at each one!)

A guide to Fenchia Night Market (Fengjia Night Market) in Taichung, Taiwan

A Guide to Feasting at Fengchia Night Market in Taichung

Where to eat in Ximending Taipei

Ximending Food Guide: What to Eat & Best Restaurants (2024 updated)

Best Taipei night markets

20 Best Night Markets in Taipei (+ What To Eat at Each One!)

The best places to eat in Taipei

The 80 Best Restaurants in Taipei (by food type!)

A guide to the best night markets in Taichung city, Taiwan

The “Big 5” Night Markets in Taichung (+ What to Eat at Each One!)

What to eat at Keelung Miaokou Night Market

How to Binge Eat Your Way Through Keelung Night Market

A guide to Taipei's Addiction Aquatic Development, which has the best sushi in Taipei

What to Eat at Addiction Aquatic Development, Taipei’s Seafood Mecca

things to do in anping, taiwan

Anping Old Street (& other things to do in Anping, Tainan)

The best night markets in Tainan City, Taiwan

The “Big Five” Night Markets in Tainan & What to Eat at Each One

Shenkeng Old Street in Taipei, Taiwan

Shenkeng Old Street: A Food Tour of Taipei’s Stinky Tofu Village

Giant mango ice statue, Yong Kang Street Taipei

Yongkang Street, Taipei for Foodies: Best Teahouses, Mango Ice, and More

taiwan travel videos

Taiwan Street Food Bucket List: 101 Taiwanese Foods To Try

taiwan travel videos

A Food Tour of Burma Street in Zhonghe, New Taipei City

When to visit taiwan.

Deciding on a season or month for your trip to Taiwan is the first step to planning your Taiwan travels, and thus the first topic to cover in this Taiwan traveling guide. To make things easier, I’ve written this dedicated guide to the best time to visit Taiwan . In it, you’ll find a description of every season and month of the year in Taiwan, and links to my 12 individual guides for visiting Taiwan in every month of the year. I update these articles constantly to add upcoming events and Taiwan travel news.

To summarize that article for you here, there’s no real “high” or “low” season for travel to Taiwan; each season of the year comes with some ups and downs. Summer is extremely hot and humid and comes with the chance of typhoons, but it’s also the best time for Taiwan’s beaches , outlying islands , and water-based activities.

Meanwhile, winter can be gray and chilly, but is the best time for hot springs and seeing cherry blossoms. Be careful if planning a trip around Chinese New Year , as many things will close (see my list of attractions and what days they close ), and it can be really difficult to travel around when half the country is on the road. Spring has warm weather but also a mini rain season, while autumn is my personal favorite for these reasons .

Below you’ll also find my individual guides to each season in Taiwan. But don’t fret too much about it; if you can only visit at a certain time of the year, there’s really no bad time to be in Taiwan!

A detailed guide to the best time to visit Taiwan, including best season to visit taiwan and best month to visit Taiwan

The Best Time to Visit Taiwan: A Month-by-Month Guide

A detailed guide to traveling to Taiwan during Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) and Taipei during Chinese New Year

2024 Chinese New Year in Taiwan: Tips for Visiting & Things to Do

A guide to spending summer in Taipei and summer in Taiwan

Summer in Taiwan: Everything You Need to Know

A detailed guide to taiwan in winter and where to see snow in Taiwan

Winter in Taiwan (Xmas, NYE, LNY & Where to See Snow!)

A guide to Taiwan in April

Spring in Taiwan: Everything You Need to Know

taiwan travel videos

Autumn in Taiwan: Everything You Need to Know

Best taiwan travel deal.

Who doesn’t want to find a good deal when traveling to Taiwan? Here are some of the websites and services I regularly use for planning my Taiwan travels:

  • Klook : Get big discounts on everything from High Speed Rail & attraction tickets to restaurant vouchers and guided tours. Sign up with this link to get a free TWD100 credit !
  • KKday : While Klook is a Hong Kong compared, KKday is the Taiwan version of it. Some activities are the same as Klook, while some are unique. I prefer Klook because KKday sometimes has poor English, but I still sometimes use KKday for things that Klook doesn’t have. 
  • Booking : My preferred site for finding the best hotel deals in Taiwan.
  • Agoda : Some users say they find cheaper prices on Agoda for Asian destinations, including Taiwan.
  • Cookly : Find the best cooking courses in Taiwan.

These are some examples of great travel deals you can find on Klook:

Taiwan Travel Passes

One way to save money on travel around the world nowadays is by using city travel passes. Taiwan has a few available, but in order for them to actually save you money, you have to understand how they work, and get the right one for your needs.

Here are some travel passes in Taiwan that you may consider getting:

Taiwan Fun Passes

These 1 to 3-day passes include all transportation in and around Taipei, entrance fees to a long list of attractions, and some tourist shuttle buses for day trips out of Taipei. The most popular one is the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass , which you can buy here .

Read my detailed review of all the Taipei Fun Passes to see how they work and determine if any of them will be worth it for your Taiwan trip. It only makes sense to get one if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing and MRT riding in Taipei in 1-3 days. Otherwise, I recommend just getting an EasyCard.

You’ll get a TWD 100 credit toward your Fun Pass if you sign up for Klook with this link first before booking!

I haven’t reviewed it yet, but there is a new Klook Taipei Pass . This one is for attractions only, but you have more time to use it, so it’s better for people who will have more time in the city.

Don’t confuse Taipei Fun Passes with the EasyCard , which is what everyone in Taipei uses to swipe onto the MRT and city buses. Read my detailed EasyCard guide for more info than I’ll provide here.

Taipei Fun Passes are designed for tourists, while the EasyCard is a reloadable card used by everyone else, including tourists who don’t get a Taipei Fun Pass. They cost TWD 100 (you can no longer get this deposit back), plus whatever money you load onto them. You can swipe them to ride the MRT in Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung, all city buses in Taiwan, some ferries, and to pay for taxis, items in convenience stores, and more. 

You can get an EasyCard from any MRT station, including the Taoyuan Airport MRT station, and load money onto it.  You can also order an EasyCard for pickup when you arrive in Taiwan . 

Sun Moon Lake Passes

The other place you will find travel passes in Taiwan is at Sun Moon Lake , one of the country’s most popular attractions (we’ll get to those below). There are numerous Sun Moon Lake passes to choose from, and you can buy them from 7-Eleven iBon machines or from train stations in Taichung, the nearest major city.

Like the Taipei Fun Passes, these only save you money if you use them for enough avtivities. Most also include transportation to and from Taichung.

Learn all about the passes and how to use them in my Sun Moon Lake Pass review . Note that these pass prices and what they include are often changing.

Find out whether the Taipei Fun Pass and Taipei Unlimted Fun Pass are worth it

Taipei Fun Pass: Is it Worth the Money?

Sun Moon Lake Pass

Sun Moon Lake Pass: Is it Worth the Money? (updated 2024)

Best sim card and wifi device.

There’s no doubt that having an Internet connection while traveling in Taiwan is super convenient. You can check GoogleMaps to find the way, communicate with hotels, find bus times, etc. Nowadays, it’s pretty much essential. 

A SIM card is the best idea in my opinion, but some people also go for an eSIM like this or pocket Wifi device . I compare all three in my guides to SIMs for Taiwan and eSIMs for Taiwan . 

I recommend pre-ordering your SIM card for pickup when you arrive at Taoyuan International Airport. If you go with a WiFi device, then I recommend this one . Note the pick up times – if you arrive in the middle of the night, you may have to pick one up in the city.

You’ll get a TWD 100 credit toward your Taiwan SIM card or WiFi device if you  sign up for Klook with this link  first before booking it.

Another option that I have yet to fully understand myself is  eSIMs for Taiwan  – especially considering that the newest iPhones don’t even have SIM card slots anymore. If you are tech-savvy, check them out!

Taipei: The Tantalizing Capital of Taiwan

Header for Taipei section of Taiwan travel guide

In some countries, you want to get out of the capital as soon as you arrive. This is not the case with Taipei . For most visitors to Taiwan, I recommend budgeting at least two full days for Taipei City alone, plus add 1-2 more days for day trips from Taipei (even more if you can!)

Taipei is always buzzing with activity; by day, you’ve got atmospheric historical neighborhoods to explore, towering Taipei 101, landmark Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Beitou Hot Springs, Maokong Gondola, Longshan Temple , and hikes in the hills (and volcanoes!) surrounding the city. After the sun goes down, it’s time to eat ’til you drop in the city’s famed night markets : the most famous ones are Shilin, Raohe, Ningxia, Tonghua, Nanjichang, and Huaxi Night Market .

As if that weren’t enough, Taipei is incredibly safe, and getting around is a breeze on the MRT, one of the best metro systems in the world.

Things to Do & Taipei Itineraries

Here is the most popular article on my website: 50+ awesome things to do in Taipei . For the less famous spots, see my off-the-beaten-track guide to Taipei . Below I’ve also linked to all my Taipei articles.

Besides the below articles, I’ve also got guides to spending one day in Taipei and how to plan a Taipei layover on my other website, TaiwanObsessed.

A super detailed Taipei travel guide for planning all types of travel to Taipei

50 Unmissable Things to Do in Taipei in 2024

Two days in Taipei itinerary

How to Spend 2 Awesome Days in Taipei

Taipei in 3 days, Taipei 3 day itinerary

How to Spend 3 Awesome Days in Taipei

4 days in Taipei, Taipei itinerary 4 days

How to Spend 4 Awesome Days in Taipei

The above itineraries will make things easier for those will little time for planning. But my recommendations for Taipei don’t stop there.

For people who want to dig a little deeper and further customize the Taipei portion of their Taiwan trip, here some useful resources that further explore how much Taipei has to offer, including its best temples , night markets , hikes , and beaches .

Also see the my post below for the best times of the year to visit Taipei; the weather of Taipei is quite different to that of other parts of Taiwan, so if your trip to Taiwan is mainly focused on Taipei, you’ll find this article more useful than my “Best time to visit Taiwan” article I linked to above.

A detailed guide to the best time to travel to Taipei and best month to visit Taipei

The Best Time to Visit Taipei City: An Insider’s Guide

A guide to the best hikes in Taipei

Hiking in Taipei: My 21 Favorite Taipei Hikes

The best cat cafe in Taiwan

The Best Cat Cafes in Taipei, the Birthplace of Cat Cafe Culture

The top temples in Taipei, Taiwan header

30 Jaw-Dropping Temples in Taipei and New Taipei City

The best Taipei beaches and Taiwan beaches

7 Beaches around Taipei You Can’t Miss

Coolest neighborhoods & where to stay.

Deciding where to stay in Taipei can be rather intimidating, as there are so many cool neighborhoods to choose from.

Let me make life easier for you by breaking it down to the best neighborhoods to stay in Taipei , with my hotel recommendations for each one. For each area of Taipei, I’ve included hotel recommendations for budget, mid-range, and luxury travelers, also pointing out which ones are suitable for travelers with kids. I’ve also got specific guides to the best hostels and luxury hotels in Taipei.

Besides my “where to stay in Taipei” article below, I’ve got detailed guides to some of my personal favorite neighborhoods in Taipei: Beitou for hot springs, historic Dadaocheng , and funky, gay-friendly Ximending . Start planning your walking tours with these guides!

If you have a very early or late flight, here are my recommended hotels in and around Taoyuan Airport .

Wondering where to stay in Taipei? Here's a guide to the best Taipei hotels

Where to Stay in Taipei in 2024 (by area & budget)

Beitou Hot Spring Taipei

The Ultimate Beitou Hot Spring Guide (2024 info!)

taiwan travel videos

A Guide to Dihua Street in Dadaocheng, Taipei’s Oldest Street

Things to do in Ximending Night Market Taipei

30 Fun (& WEIRD) Things to Do in Ximending, Taipei

Day trips from taipei.

When deciding how long to stay in Taipei, you have to factor in that there some really incredible day trips from the city!

I normally recommend that, if you can, dedicate two full days to exploring Taipei, then another one or two days for day trips. If you only have one day in your Taiwan travel plan to do a day trip from Taipei, I would suggest that you plan it carefully. This way, you’ll be able to squeeze in several of my recommended 40 day trip ideas into one day.

The following five stops are some of the most popular day trips from Taipei, and since they are all fairly close together, you can combine them into one killer day trip from Taipei. There are even some shuttle buses deals like this that can make this even easier to accomplish.

  • Jiufen : A former gold mining town on top of a mountain, famous for its atmospheric staircases and teahouses
  • Shifen Waterfall : The widest in Taiwan, accessed from a cute train station where people set off sky lanterns
  • Houtong : The “Cat Village”, literally a village full of cats
  • Keelung : A harbor city with the best night market in Taiwan, forts, beach, and more
  • Yehliu Geopark : Odd, wind-blown rock formations on the coast
  • Tamsui : A popular riverside promenade with unique foods, beaches, and picturesque colonial forts

If you don’t want to drive or figure out public transportation, there’s an awesome English service called Parkbus Taiwan , which takes guests on day trips from the city for hiking and other activities. Use my discount code “ Spiritual10 ” at checkout to get 10% (may not be available for some events). 

There are practically unlimited day trip possibilities from Taipei. This is why myself and so many other expats love living in Taipei; you get the excitement of the city, but you can go somewhere different every weekend. Because Taiwan is so small, and thanks to its amazing transportation system and the High Speed Rail, you can go almost anywhere in Taiwan in a day or weekend trip. 

A guide the best things to do in Keelung City, Taiwan

20+ Fun Things to Do in Keelung, Northern Taiwan’s Port City

taiwan travel videos

40 Day Trips from Taipei You Can’t Miss

How to get to Jiufen, Jinguashi, Shifen watefall from Taipei

Getting from Taipei to Jiufen and Shifen (with pictures and times)

Red lanterns on Jiufen Old Street at night

Jiufen Old Street: A 2024 Guide to this Classic Taipei Day Trip

A guide to Tamsui (Danshui) in New Taipei City, Taiwan

Tamsui, Taiwan: Fishermen’s Wharf, Old Street, & other Things to Do

Wulai Hot Spring in Wulai, Taiwan

Wulai Hot Spring & Old Street: A 2024 Guide

Planning your trip around taiwan.

Taroko Gorge in winter

One of the hardest parts of planning a Taiwan trip is mapping out the perfect Taiwan travel itinerary .

What a lot of people do is book their trip first, and then realize they didn’t budget enough time for everything they want to see. Moreover, some of the best things to do in Taiwan are on opposite coasts, with 3000-meter mountains between them!

For example, many people only schedule around one week for their Taiwan trip. Then they decide they want to visit Taipei, Taroko Gorge on the east coast, and Sun Moon Lake and/or Alishan , which are in Central Taiwan but accessed from the west coast. On the map, these three top scenic attractions in Taiwan look fairly close together. But guess what? There are no buses that cross the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan. You can do it in a car, but the road is super winding and takes a long time.

So what I see a lot of visitors doing is going from Taipei to Taroko Gorge first (2.5 to 4 hours on the train, one way). Then they have to return to Taipei, and then travel a similar amount of time down the west coast to reach Sun Moon Lake and/or Alishan. It’s certainly possible, but it means you have to use up an entire day of your trip on the road.

How can you resolve this common Taiwan travel dilemma? I feel the answer is in planning your trip better before you book it, so that you can budget enough days to travel all the way around Taiwan and see everything that you want to without rushing. Which leads to the next important question: 

How Long Do I Need to Visit Taiwan?

With a week or less, you will probably only have time to visit Taipei, including some day trips, and perhaps do a 1 or 2-night trip to Taroko Gorge on the East Coast, or Taichung, Sun Moon Lake, and/or Alishan in Central Taiwan (and this would be really rushed).

If you want to do a full circle around Taiwan, these are the most obvious destinations along the way, going in a clockwise direction around Taiwan by riding the train: Taipei, Hualien (Taroko Gorge), Taitung, Kaohsiung, Tainan, Alishan, Sun Moon Lake, Taichung, and back to Taipei.

To do this, you are going to need two weeks or more . With exactly two weeks, you may even have to cut out one or two of the above stops, otherwise you’ll just be checking in and out of hotels every day or two.

With even more time, you can be less rushed, and potentially add more stops, such as the beaches of Kenting on the southern tip of the island (as a side trip from Kaohsiung), Lukang, spend more time in laid-back Taitung, or visit some of the offshore islands, like Green Island, Orchid Island, or Penghu. This is why I think 3 weeks is a great amount of time for visiting Taiwan, and if you can go even longer, all the better!

Taiwan Travel Itineraries

Here are my recommend itineraries for traveling around Taiwan.

The five-day itinerary is for a very short visit, while the second article provides Taiwan itineraries for 1, 2, or 3 weeks. These are tried-and-tested itineraries that I have done in some form or another several times, including with my kids (see more on that below)!

The itineraries for 2 weeks and up involve doing a full circle around Taiwan mostly by train, with a few buses as well. See the end of this article for more information on transportation options for getting around Taiwan.

View of Sun Moon Lake, a necessary stop on any Taiwan itinerary

A Taiwan Itinerary for 1, 2, or 3 weeks (Slow & Fast Options!)

A detailed Taipei itinerary for 5 days, which also serves as a Taiwan itinerary for 5 days

A Simple Taipei & Taiwan 5 Day Itinerary

Visiting taiwan with kids.

My kids Sage and Lavender were born and spent the first handful of years of their life in Taiwan. They’ve seen more of the country than most visitors ever will!

Below are my super detailed guides to visiting Taipei with kids and how to plan a complete circle around Taiwan with kids . The latter article is very similar to my above Taiwan itinerary for 1-3 weeks, but with tweaks along the way to focus on sights that my kids loved the most, as well as recommendations for kid-friendly hotels in each stop along the way.

You may also be interested in the best amusement parks in Taiwan , where to see capybaras in Taiwan , and my guide to Yilan, the “kid-friendly county” .

Taiwan with kids

Taiwan with Kids: How to Plan a Round-Island Trip

Best Taipei attractions for kids

Taipei with Kids in 2024: Ideas from a Local Family

Best attractions around taiwan.

Eryanping, a beautiful sunset spot on the way up to Alishan

When trying to decide which destinations in Taiwan to include on your itinerary, it will be useful to take a deeper look at each of them to decide which ones are for you.

I’ll start with a list of some of the top scenic attractions. These five are the most common stops that people include on their Taiwan itineraries. I’ll follow that up with the best cities in Taiwan besides Taipei, best hot springs in Taiwan, best off-the-beaten track places to visit, and finally the  offshore islands of Taiwan . Again, these are described in clockwise order going around Taiwan.

Top Scenic Attractions in Taiwan

  • Taroko Gorge : dramatic canyon in beautiful Hualien County  (currently closed indefinitely due to April 2024 earthquake)
  • Taitung : Laid-back, rural corner of Taiwan, including the famous Brown Boulevard Cycling Path
  • Kenting : Beaches on the southern tip of Taiwan
  • Alishan : Mountain resort in Nantou famous for huge trees, high mountain tea, and sunrises above seas of clouds
  • Cingjing (Qingjing) Farm : A high mountain farm and resort village that looks like a slice of Europe in Taiwan
  • Hehuanshan : The best place to see snow in Taiwan (usually possible in January to March)
  • Yushan : Tallest mountain in Taiwan and Northeast Asia, requires permits and planning to climb
  • Sun Moon Lake : Beautiful lake surrounded by mountains

Here are my extremely detailed guides to the ones that almost all visitors try to include on their Taiwan travel itinerary:

Taroko Gorge Taiwan

A 2024 Guide to Taroko Gorge and Taroko National Park

Sun Moon Lake Taiwan

Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan: A 2024 Visitors’ Guide

Cycling on Brown Boulevard in Chishang, Taitung

A Guide to Chishang, Taitung and Cycling Brown Boulevard

A guide to Alishan National Scenic Area in Alishan Taiwan

Alishan, Taiwan: A Super Detailed 2024 Guide

taiwan travel videos

40 Unmissable Things to Do in Hualien, Taiwan

The best things to do in Taitung and other Taitung attractions

30 Incredible Things to Do in Taitung, Southeastern Taiwan

Best cities in taiwan.

Besides Taipei, which is a given, city lovers are going to find there are a few other cities they may want to include on their Taiwan travel itinerary. You can see my above-linked Taiwan travel itineraries to see how to fit these cities into your schedule.

Since there is one only train line around Taiwan, you’ll have to pass through all of them anyway if doing a full circuit around Taiwan. Since most cities in Taiwan are located on the developed west coast, the below are in counter-clockwise order. The varying time to reach them depends on whether you take the regular train/bus or the much faster High Speed Rail.

  • New Taipei City : Taiwan’s largest city literally surrounds Taipei and is home to many of the most popular day trips from Taipei .
  • Taoyuan : Best known for the international airport, consider stopping here to visit the impressive Xpark Aquarium on the way to/from the airport.
  • Taichung : 1 – 2 hours south of Taipei on the west coast and the largest city in central Taiwan. Known for its artistic attractions like Rainbow Village , Gaomei Wetland , and as the birthplace of pearl milk tea.
  • Lukang : 2-3 hours south of Taipei. Historic city famous for its traditional culture, food, and Old Street, and home to one of the most important temples in the country.
  • Tainan : 1.75 – 5 hours south of Taipei on the west coast of southern Taiwan. Former capital of Taiwan famous for its temples , night markets , and considered by locals as the food capital of Taiwan.
  • Kaohsiung : 2 – 6 hours south of Taipei in the southwest of Taiwan and end of the High Speed Rail line. Port city known for its revitalized harbor front, night markets , street art and Pier 2 Art Center , and the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan, Foguangshan . Here are my recommended hotels in Kaohsiung .
  • Hualien : 2.5 – 4 hours from Taipei, only major city on the wild, scenic east coast of Taiwan. Mostly people stay in the city to visit nearby Taroko Gorge, but the city has a good night market and opportunities to experience Taiwanese aboriginal culture, such as this aboriginal cooking course .
  • Taitung : 3.5 – 6 hours from Taipei, small city known for its aboriginal culture and end-point of most road trips down the east coast of Taiwan

A guide to things to do on Lukang Old Street in Changhua, Taiwan

Lukang Old Street (& other Things to Do in Lukang, Taiwan)

Things to do at Gaomei Wetlands Taichung

Gaomei Wetlands in Taichung: A Detailed Visitor’s Guide

taiwan travel videos

A Detailed Hualien Itinerary for 1-4 Days

Painting of Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum and Fo Guang Big Buddha

Fo Guang Shan, Kaohsiung: How to Visit and Stay at Taiwan’s Biggest Monastery

Fun things to do in Tainan, Taiwan

70 Things to Do in Tainan, Taiwan’s Ancient Capital

Rainbow Village Taichung Taiwan

Our Visit to Rainbow Village Taichung (before it was destroyed)

Fun things to do in Kaohsiung City Taiwan

50+ Things to Do in Kaohsiung, Southern Taiwan

Pier-2 Arts Center in Kaohsiung

A Guide to Pier 2 Art Center in Kaohsiung City’s Harbor

The best things to do in Taichung Taiwan

25 Unique Things to Do in Taichung, Taiwan

The best Taoist and Buddhist temples in Tainan City, Taiwan

20+ Awe-Inspiring Temples in Tainan, Taiwan

Best hot springs in taiwan.

I happen to be a hot spring lover. Because Taiwan sits on the meeting point of two major tectonic plates, the island is geologically active, with dormant volcanoes and over 100 major hot springs! The most famous is surely Beitou Hot Spring in Taipei , while Wulai , Jiaoxi , and Jinshan can be visited as day trips from Taipei.

Here is my detailed guide to the 20 best hot springs in Taiwan , including information on hot spring etiquette.

Wulai Hot Spring in Wulai, Taiwan

The 20 Best Hot Springs in Taiwan for a Blissful Winter Soak

Nick Kembel holding his young son while bathing in a bright yellow hot spring tub, both wearing swimming caps

Jiaoxi Hot Spring: A Guide to My Favorite Spa Village in Taiwan

King's Resort Hot Spring in Miaoli, Taiwan in January

Lovely Tai’an Hot Spring in Miaoli, Taiwan

Wenshan Hot Spring, Taroko Gorge, Taiwan

Wenshan Hot Spring: Taroko Gorge’s Spectacular Secret

Off-the-beaten-track places to visit in taiwan.

Just to make things more difficult for you, besides the many must-see places to visit in Taiwan I mentioned above, which already require at least two weeks to visit, there are loads of off-the-beaten-path destinations that are just as worthwhile.

Serious off-the-beaten track travelers should head to my other site, where I’ve got guides to relatively unexplored cities and counties like Taoyuan , Hsinchu , Yilan , Miaoli , Changhua , Yunlin , and Pingtung . I’ve also got this guide to  off-the-beaten-track things to do in Taipei .

The below are articles cover some of the more remote or less visited (by foreign tourists) places in Taiwan. These are just the tip of the iceberg, but they are some of my personal favorites.

Depending on what kind of traveler you are, these may appeal to you more than the “must see” attractions I covered above!

East Coast Taiwan, Yilan to Hualien

The Stunning East Coast of Taiwan Part 1: Yilan to Hualien and Taroko Gorge

Sicao Green Tunnel in Tainan City, Taiwan

Is Sicao Green Tunnel in Tainan Worth the Trip?

Little girl picking strawberries in Dahu, Miaoli, Taiwan

Strawberry Picking at a Strawberry Farm in Dahu, Taiwan

Taiwan Jingzijiao Salt Field and Cigu Salt Mountain Tainan

The Stunning Qigu Salt Mountain and Jingzijiao Wapan Salt Fields in Tainan

Find 40 things to do in Yilan in this detailed guide to Yilan Taiwan

50+ Fun Things to Do in Yilan, Taiwan (2024 Updated!)

Xitou Monster Village Nantou Taiwan

Quirky Xitou Monster Village in Nantou, Taiwan

Hot air ballooning, one of the best things to do in in Taiwan!

A Guide to Luye & the Taitung Hot Air Balloon Festival 2024

Dulan Beach Taitung Taiwan

A Guide to Dulan, Taitung: Taiwan’s Coolest Beach Hangout

taiwan travel videos

The Stunning East Coast of Taiwan Part 2: Hualien to Taitung and Kenting

Interior of Tainan Tree House in Anping

Anping Tree House: How to Visit this Must-See Tainan Attraction

The offshore islands of taiwan.

Grassland on Orchid Island, Taiwan in May

Yet another list of places you’ll want to visit during your Taiwan travels is the offshore islands. However, a visit to any of the offshore islands is like a trip within a Taiwan trip; visiting most of them involves a little more planning and time. 

There are about half a dozen main ones to choose from. Also, the offshore islands are best visited in spring, summer (high season due to domestic tourists, but can be very hot), and early fall. In winter, they become very windy (especially Penghu) and/or many traveler’s services totally shut down (especially Orchid Island ).

The first four below are most commonly reached by ferry, with Xiao Liuqiu being the closest to the Taiwan mainland. Orchid Island also has the option of flights in very small airplanes from Taitung, while Penghu has regular flights from Taipei and other cities in Taiwan. Kinmen and Matsu are much closer to China than Taiwan (they are so close to it that you can see China from their shores), so they require flights.

Here are the small islands of Taiwan that you may want to visit someday.

  • Green Island : Off Taitung’s coast, best for scenery and snorkeling or scuba diving, and a saltwater hot spring.
  • Orchid Island : Harder to reach/plan, and home to Taiwan’s most remote aboriginal tribe.
  • Xiao Liuqiu : Snorkeling with sea turtles, and easily done as a day trip from Kaohsiung. 
  • Cijin : A long, skinny island protecting Kaohsiung’s huge harbor.
  • Penghu : Best for beaches, sailing, island hopping and a fireworks festival.
  • Kinmen : Much closer to China than Taiwan, known for military history and Kaohliang, a strong liquor.
  • Matsu : Also very close to China, known for its tunnels and forts.

A guide to Orchid Island (Lanyu) Taiwan

Orchid Island, Taiwan: A Detailed 2024 Guide

A guide to Qijin Island in Kaohsiung city, Taiwan

How to Visit Cijin Island in Kaohsiung City’s Port

Things to do in Xiaoliuqiu Island Taiwan

A 2024 Guide to Xiaoliuqiu Island, a Turtle Spotting Hot Spot

A guide to Penghu county islands in Taiwan

A 2024 Guide to Penghu Islands, Taiwan’s Offshore Paradise

Transportation: how to get around taiwan.

Taiwan has an amazing transportation system, and getting around the country is a breeze thanks to its extremely reliable metros, buses, and railway systems.

It is still important to understand some things about getting around Taiwan, though, in order to avoid disruptions on your trip (like finding out all the trains to your next stop are sold out!)

If you follow my Taiwan itineraries, you’ll mostly be taking trains around Taiwan, with some exceptions. Getting to Alishan is more complicated, as it can involve a train, bus, or combination of the two. Sun Moon Lake and Kenting are also only accessed by bus. Luckily, you don’t need to book any of these bus rides in advance.

See here if you’d like to find a private driver in Taiwan .

Getting Around Taipei

Upon arriving at Taoyuan International Airport, you can takes a bus (TWD135, 1 hour), the new Airport MRT (TWD 165, 35-50 min), or a taxi (TWD1000-1500, 45 min to 1 hr) to Taipei.

I recommended  pre-booking a private transfer to your hotel , which is usually a little cheaper than taking a taxi. Also see my more detailed guide to getting from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei . If your flight is very early or late, stay in one of these airport hotels .

The MRT is the lifeline and pride of Taipei. It is considered one of the best metro systems in the world. You’ll love it, and use it to get almost everywhere you go in Taipei.

In order to ride the MRT, it’s best to get an EasyCard from any station (or order it before your trip ) and load some money onto it. This makes it easy to swipe in & out. You have to pay a TWD non-refundable deposit plus however much you want to load onto the card.

The EasyCard also works for buses and taxis in Taipei, ferries in Tamsui, and local buses in cities across the country. It can also be used on the Taichung and Kaohsiung MRT, and regular/local train tickets between cities that don’t require seat reservations. Note that for most long distance buses or trains, you won’t be able to use it.

Taxis are also cheap and plentiful in Taipei. Taipei has Uber, too, but it often isn’t any cheaper than taxis. Taxi drivers speak varying levels of English, and some not at all, so it’s a good idea to have your destination written in Mandarin when taking local taxis. Taxi drivers in Taiwan are honest and won’t try to scam you or rip you off.

Taking the Regular Train (TRA) around Taiwan

My kids riding a train in Taiwan

The regular (TRA) train does a full circle around Taiwan. Tickets can be booked online  up to exactly 28 days in advance (or 29 days for Saturday trips and 30 days for Sunday trips). See details and screenshots for how to book train tickets online or on the app .

Trains sell out in Taiwan very often, especially on weekends and holidays. Sometimes they even sell out minutes after they go on sale, such as for long weekends, or for very popular rides (like the express train from Taipei to Hualien/Taroko Gorge).

For this reason, it’s very important to book your tickets in advance. Note that 28 days in advance means the tickets go on sale at precisely 12:00 a.m. (midnight). For example, if you want to travel on September 28, you should try to book your ticket at 12:00 a.m. on September 1, which is actually the night of August 31, Taiwan time of course.

If your train sells out, don’t freak out. You can always buy standing tickets on most trains. A lot of people do this, and just stand in the aisle or sit on the floor between train cars (see which ones below). It’s not comfortable for a long ride, but at least you’ll get there. Another option is to try a different time, or take a bus (but beware that there are very few buses running down the east coast).

Note that you are allowed to eat and drink on trains in Taiwan, and they all have toilets on board. You can even discreetly drink a beer on Taiwan trains, although most train station 7-Elevens no longer sell them. But be warned that Taiwanese people tend to be very quiet (and often sleep) on buses and trains, and they don’t appreciate noisy passengers. To be respectful, keep talking to a whisper, or just don’t talk at all. I can’t say how many times we have been “shhed” just for having a conversation at a reasonable volume on buses or trains in Taiwan.

There are different types of TRA trains in Taiwan, and it’s useful to know the names of them when searching for train times. Here they are:

  • Local Train (區間車): Slowest, stops at every small stop, cheapest, least comfortable, and you can sit or stand anywhere. Buy ticket at station or swipe with EasyCard.
  • Chu Kuang Express (莒光號): Regular trains that circle around Taiwan. Reserved seats, but you can always buy standing tickets from the train station ticket window.
  • Tze-Chiang (Express / 自強號 ): Same as the above, but faster and fewer stops. Standing tickets also possible.
  • Taroko / Puyuma Express (太魯閣號): Super express train from Taipei to Taroko Gorge/Hualien. Reserved seats only, and always sells out very quickly.
  • Tze Chiang Lmt. Express 3000 ( 自強EMU3000 ): A new express train that is also reserved seats only.

The High Speed Rail (HSR)

How to get around Taiwan the fastest: by HSR

Taiwan has a Japanese-made high speed rail (HSR) sytem. The single line has 12 stops along the highly developed west coast of Taiwan, from Taipei city in the north to Kaohsiung city (called Zuoying Station) in the south. 

The first station in Taipei is Nangang, while Taipei Main Station is the most useful, and connects to the Taipei City MRT, regular (TRA) trains, and Airport MRT. Banqiao is located in New Taipei City (the large city that surrounds Taipei City), and Taoyuan is close to the Taoyuan International Airport. To get to Taoyuan HSR station from the airport, you have to ride the Airport MRT a few stops in the opposite direction from Taipei.

Generally speaking, HSR tickets costs about twice as much as the regular train, but get you there twice as fast.

It’s important to note, however, that in most cities, the HSR station is located outside of the city center, just like airports tend to be, so you have to factor in time (and money) to get to the city center once you arrive. This is the case for every stop except for Taipei.

In some cases, though, the location of the HSR station can be more useful. For example, in Taichung, the HSR station is closer to Rainbow Village, and has direct buses to Sun Moon Lake. Similarly, in Chiayi, you can catch a bus directly from the HSR station to Alishan, and thus avoid going into Chiayi City. In Kaohsiung, the HSR station is right beside Lotus Lake, one of the city’s top attractions. To get to the Kaohsiung City center, you just have to hop onto the KMRT.

You can buy HSR tickets online up to 28 days in advance, and buying them early usually gets you an early bird price. 

You can also buy discounted HSR tickets on Klook  – buying them here allows you to get the early bird discount even when you’ve missed it on the official site. Note that if you buy your tickets on Klook, you have to follow the instructions provided to actually book your seat after you receive the voucher. You can do this online or in person at the station. You’ll need to show your passport. Note that this Klook deal is for short term tourists only; residents/ARC-holders aren’t supposed to buy them.

Unlike TRA trains, the HSR has three cars (#10-12) of unreserved seats. This means you can show up at an HSR station anytime and buy an unreserved ticket at full price from one of the machines. These never sell out.

You aren’t guaranteed a seat, but you can often get one. The only time when demand is crazy high is Lunar New Year and on long weekends, and even then, we’ve always managed to get on without waiting too long.

Special Trains in Taiwan

Besides MRTs (city metros), TRA trains, and the HSR, there are a few special small-gauge train lines in Taiwan. Mostly these are restored old trains that run along former logging lines, built by the Japanese when they were logging during their colonial rule of Taiwan. They tend to be fun and highly scenic rides for tourists.

Here are some of these special small train lines that you may encounter or seek out on your trip:

  • Pingxi Line : this small train line provides access to some of the most popular day trips from Taipei, including Houtong, Shifen, and Pingxi. Most people board it at Ruifang, which has direct connections to Taipei by bus or TRA train.
  • Alishan Forest Railway : This is the most interesting way to get from the city of Chiayi to the mountain resort of Alishan. However, the final section was destroyed in a typhoon, so you have to take a bus for the final leg. There are also parts of the train line running to scenic spots within Alishan National Scenic Area. You can find all the relevant information in my guide to getting to Alishan .
  • Neiwan, Jiji, and Bong Bong Lines : These are three more scenic small train lines that far few foreign tourists ever make it to. They are in Hsinchu, Changhua, and Yilan (on top of Taipingshan Mountain), respectively. 

Buses in Taiwan

There are some cases where you will need to take buses in Taiwan. Here are a few common routes that many visitors take: 

  • In Taipei City, you’ll need to take buses for getting to Yangmingshan National Park or to National Palace Museum
  • You’ll also need to ride buses to popular day trip places in New Taipei City, like for getting to Jiufen or Yehliu Geopark. You can swipe EasyCard for all of the above.
  • Buses are the only direct way for getting from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake , Sun Moon Lake to Alishan , and Chiayi to Alishan . Click these links to find out how to book them.
  • You’ll also need to ride the Kenting Express bus from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park .
  • Buses also run between all major cities on the west coast of Taiwan. They are cheaper but usually a little slower than the train. There are no buses from Taipei to Hualien on the east coast.

Final Thoughts on Planning a Taiwan Trip

Well, I hope you’ve found more than enough information in my Taiwan travel blog for planning your trip. Taiwan remains largely closed to international visitors for the time being, but hopefully big changes are on the horizon.

Please feel free to check back again, as I’m constantly updating my Taiwan travel content to reflect the current situation. And if you’ve got any questions, please join my Taiwan Travel Planning group and I’ll answer them there!

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Taiwan Travel Tips: 24 Essential Things To Know Before You Go

30 May 2020.

Exceptionally beautiful, well organised and unfailingly friendly, Taiwan is a wonderfully easy place to travel.

With spectacular hiking trails and fairytale forests, tastebud-tingling street eats and world-class tea, a rich culture and fascinating history, mindboggling mountains and remote natural hot springs, along with the warmest welcome I’ve ever encountered, my five weeks in Taiwan made for one of my favourite trips of 2019. 

From traveller safety and sticking to your budget to local food and avoiding the crowds, these are my top Taiwan travel tips to help you fall in love with this place just as much as I did. 

* This post includes affiliate links and any purchases made through these links will earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. *

1  |  Download These Useful Apps For Your Trip

From breaking through the language barrier and deciphering streetside menus to figuring out the train network and finding the right hiking trails, these apps will make travelling in Taiwan a whole lot easier and can all be used offline.

Google Translate   |   Normally I just muddle way through any language difficulties with a few key phrases, an awkward smile and plenty of charades, but given many of us won’t be able to read the alphabet here, Google Translate is an absolute lifesaver. Make sure you download the Chinese dictionary before arriving and you’ll be able to use the instant translate option by hovering your phone over any sign or menu. It’s not always entirely accurate, but it’s better than nothing.

Google Maps Offline  |   You can download a map of the entire island of Taiwan offline which is incredibly useful for navigation and includes all train stations, bus stops, MRT routes, restaurants and attractions. Litter your map with stars to keep track of your top destinations.  

Maps.Me  |  While Google Maps is great for cities, Maps.Me is perfect for any hiking adventures. The island is a veritable maze of tiny tracks and many of them are captured on this app. It also often has the Chinese place names written in English characters which can be very useful. 

taipei streets. taiwan travel tips

2  |  You probably won’t need a visa to visit Taiwan

Unlike China which has a complicated visa application process, many nationalities are able to visit Taiwan visa free.

Citizens of Australia, Canada, the USA, the EU and the UK, among others, are able to visit for up to 90 days without a visa, while a number of other nations are eligible to visit visa-free for shorter periods of 14 to 30 days or apply for an e-visa.

Nationals from most countries in South America, Africa and Southern Asia will require a visa. See here for further information.

3  |  Taiwan Is Not Technically A Country

Officially, Taiwan is called the Republic of China and exists as a province of the People’s Republic of China (aka China), but it has many of the hallmarks of an independent nation, including a democratically elected President, military forces and a constitution.

In short, it’s a little complicated.

On the international stage, Taiwan is not widely recognised, in large part because this would severely disrupt any political relationship with China. Taiwan has been barred from having a seat at the UN and for major international events where China is also participating, it is either refused as an independent participant or allowed to participate under the name of ‘Chinese Taipei’, such as in the Olympic Games.

Today, the discussion around Taiwanese independence or unification is a polarising one with tensions escalating in recent months, though surveys show the majority of locals believe leaving things as they are is the best way forward. 

That said, to simplify things I have referred to Taiwan as a country throughout these guides.

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4  |  outside of the cities, english is not widely spoken.

The language barrier was definitely something I was concerned about before arriving in Taiwan, especially as I wouldn’t be able to read the language either.

But I really needn’t have worried.

In general, English is not widely spoken, but virtually everyone I met was so wonderfully warm and welcoming that they would go out of their way to help you and if all else failed it was Google Translate to the rescue.

That said, at the very least learning a few basic phrases like ‘Nihao’ or ‘She She’ is always worthwhile .

5  |  You will feel welcomed

‘Welcome to Taiwan!’

This was a phrase I was greeted with countless times during my trip, often accompanied by open arms, a toothy grin, a handshake and the occasional selfie. 

As a blonde-haired, blue-eyed traveller, I never had any hope of blending in in these parts, but I certainly never expected to be welcomed with such genuine warmth at every step of the way.

There was that couple who walked me to the correct bus stop in Taipei when they saw I was visibly lost, the fellow hiker that spent hours chatting about her favourite trails to ensure I got to experience the best of the mountains, the passengers who jumped up without question to help me retrieve my heavy bags off the train and the many, many people who would stop me during the day just to say hello and wish me a pleasant trip. 

Perhaps sweetest of all though was on one of the rare occasions when I had hitched a ride through the mountains with a fellow traveller instead oh waiting several hours for the bus. The couple who had kindly taken us had reached their final destination at a busy viewpoint, but instead of just dropping us by the roadside to continue on our way, they ran around the car park asking every single person if they were heading in our direction. When that failed they stood on the roadside and flagged down each passing car until they found one that would take us.

Of all the things I loved about Taiwan, and there were many, the unwavering kindness in ways both big and small was what left me truly humbled and made the place an absolute joy to explore. This kind of hospitality is not something I’ll be forgetting in a hurry.

taipei streets. taiwan travel tips

6  |  It’s a reasonably affordable destination

Taiwan falls somewhere between expensive Japan and wallet-friendly South East Asia. 

For a five-week trip that mostly involved street food and hostels, along with the odd luxury like a couple of days of diving, a foot massage and a handful of hotel stays thrown in for good measure, my daily budget came out to €32.  

Prices for a hostel dorm bed generally start at around €10 but can be considerably higher in more remote areas like Green Island or Hehuanshan . Popular destinations like Alishan will also command higher rates, especially over weekends and during cherry blossom season. For private rooms, family-run homestays or small guesthouses usually present the best value rather than hotels.  

Street food and local dishes are slightly more expensive than elsewhere in Asia, but munching your way around a night market is unlikely to break the bank (and should not be missed!). 

Local long-distance transport is very reasonably priced and will get you virtually anywhere in the country, while the west coast’s High Speed Rail is a fast and efficient option for anyone not on a tight travel budget. 

GET PLANNING:  HOW TO PLAN THE PERFECT DAY TRIP TO TAROKO NATIONAL PARK

7  |  avoid popular spots on weekends and holidays.

Locals and weekenders absolutely love getting out of the city to explore the countryside and with such astounding natural beauty at every turn, why wouldn’t you.

This does however mean that some of Taiwan’s most beloved spots can become exceptionally crowded on weekends and holidays which can detract somewhat what from their beauty so are best avoided during these periods if you can manage. 

Places that are easily accessible from Taipei, such as Taroko Gorge , Yangmingshan National Park , Jiufen and Shifen, generally receive the most visitors, but destinations that lie further afield and make for an excellent overnight trip ( Sun Moon Lake and Alishan , for example) can also become very busy with visitors. 

Of course, planning your trip around the day of the week isn’t always possible, but if you can, I’d suggest visiting during the week. If weekends are your only option, be sure to book your accommodation well in advance and make an early start when you arrive.

sun moon lake. taiwan travel tips

8  |  There are many ways to spell things in English

Translating complex Chinese characters phonetically into English words isn’t always straightforward and often leads to places having several different spellings.

The ‘Zh’ sound is one of the most confusing as it is widely used and can also be written using variations of ‘Sh’, ‘Ch’ or ‘J’ characters.

Just know that if it looks vaguely correct and seems to be in the right location, there’s a good chance it’s the same place.

Well, except for Taichung and Taitung, they’re completely different.

9  |  It’s a perfect destination for solo female travel

Travelling to a new destination as a solo female never fails to bring with it a host of questions.

Is it normal for women to be out alone? How conservatively do I need to dress? Is it safe to wander around at night?

Thankfully, I have never felt quite so safe in a place as I did in Taiwan. Everyone I encountered was nothing short of welcoming, extremely kind and respectful. No gawking stares. No catcalling. No creepy whispers as you walk by.

Though I always take the usual precautions when I travel, here I felt comfortable enough to loosen the reigns a little which was wonderfully refreshing and meant I could confidently explore cities alone at night, go hiking solo and even went as far as to hitchhike in the mountains rather than wait for a bus which is something I never normally do.

Taiwan is the highest-ranking nation in Asia and among the top in the world overall when it comes to gender equality and it really shows.

hehuanshan hiking taiwan. taiwan travel tips

10  |  You’ll Always Find A Bargain Online

For some of Taiwan’s most popular and iconic experiences, you’ll find some excellent deals online on anything from transport to dining out.

If it’s something you’re planning to do anyway, why wait needlessly in a queue or pay more than you need to!

Popular choices include early-bird discounts for the High Speed Rail , skip-the-line access to the Taipei 101 Observatory , pre-ordered meals at the incredibly popular Din Tai Fung , one of Taipei’s best restaurants, or discounted boba milk tea from the always busy Xing Fu Tang . 

For more great deals on transport, tours, foodie adventures and day trips, check here . 

READ NEXT:  THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ALISHAN | TAIWAN’S MAGICAL ANCIENT FOREST

11  |  it’s an incredible destination for hiking, just don’t forget your permit.

For avid hikers and lovers of the outdoors, Taiwan is an absolute dream destination.

From dramatic emerald hills that cascade toward the windswept sea, to dense bamboo forests that feel like you’ve stepped into a storybook, to high alpine peaks that reward you with unparalleled vistas, there’s really no better way to experience Taiwan than with a pair of dusty boots and the trail at your feet.

You’ll find a vast network of hiking trails that crisscross the island and make it incredibly easy to get off the beaten path, and while many are well-marked and free to access, there are a handful of more challenging tracks or those where numbers are restricted that do require you to have a permit.

Some are easy to secure just a few weeks in advance, whereas others involve a slightly complicated application process and need to be applied for months in advance. There are also occasionally two different permits required for a hike – a National Park Entry Permit and Mountain Entry Permit (sometimes called a Police Permit).

If you’re a keen hiker hoping to head into the mountains, I’d highly, highly recommend locking your plans in early so that you can acquire the appropriate paperwork on time and avoid being disappointed.

Popular hiking trails that will require a permit are the Zhuilu Old Trail in Taroko Gorge , Yushan, Taiwan’s highest peak, and Shei Pa National Park which is famous for its high ridge trail.

taroko gorge. taiwan travel tips

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12  |  get an easycard as soon as you arrive.

Do yourself a favour and pick up an EasyCard as soon as you arrive in Taiwan.

They’re available at the airport and convenience stores like 7-11 and Family Mart and can be used on public transport throughout the country, often giving a reduced fare.

Most importantly, it will also save you from having to rummage around for the correct change every time you need to jump on the metro or bus.

The card itself is $100 (€3) and you can top up your balance as needed. Then, simply tap on and off for every trip.

If you’re someone who likes to plan ahead, you also can order your EasyCard in advance for collection at the airport here . When I bought mine in Taipei, it was cash only so buying it in advance means you can collect your card directly from the counter rather than searching for an ATM in your post-flight sleep-deprived state.

easy card. taiwan travel tips

13  |  Public Transport Is Excellent

Public transport in Taiwan is efficient and widespread making travelling across the country a breeze. 

In Taipei, the metro or MRT is frequent, cheap and easy to use, while the vast web of local trains and buses make a number of day trip destinations in northern Taiwan easily accessible. Within other major cities, buses will be your bread and butter of getting around.

For travel further afield, local trains ( TRA ) are cheaper, slower and more frequent than the high-speed trains and cover a much wider network in Taiwan, travelling up and down both sides of the country and often rewarding you with incredible scenery along the way, particularly on the mountainous east coast. Check fares and timetables here .

Travelling down the west coast only, the Taiwan High Speed Rail ( THSR ) runs between Taipei and Kaohsiung’s Zuoying Station in just 2 hours. Though they’re quite a bit more expensive than the slower local trains, they’re incredibly efficient for anyone short on time and offer generous discounts for multi-day tickets and early bird purchases (sometimes up to 35%). Check the timetable here or get a discount for advance bookings here .

Taiwan’s mountainous heart is the only place that is somewhat challenging to reach. For popular destinations, there are generally dedicated ‘tourist shuttles’ or long-distance buses though services are often infrequent and reliable timetables hard to find. Your guesthouse should be able to point you in the right direction.

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14  |  take care when renting a scooter.

Travelling by scooter is a way of life for locals and a rite of passage for travellers in virtually all of Asia. But while many countries may turn a blind eye to unlicensed and inexperienced foreigners, Taiwan generally takes a stricter stance.

Officially, you are required to have either a motorbike license or an International Drivers License that covers motorbikes. A regular driver’s license isn’t good enough.

That said, there are exceptions and not every operator is stringent in following regulations, but after a series of tragic accidents involving tourists over the years, enforcing of the rules is becoming more common.

The good news is that you’ll virtually always find electric scooters available for rent alongside the usual petrol variety, and while these tend to be slightly more expensive and slower, they can be hired without an official license as well as being better for the environment.

taipei streets. taiwan travel tips. taiwan pictures.

15  |  Prices increase during weekends and flower season

Another darn good reason to avoid travel on the weekends is that as Friday and Saturday roll around, it’s not uncommon for accommodation prices to double, capitalising on the many of weekend tourists heading out to explore more of this beautiful island.

Destinations that become wrapped up in cherry blossom fever can also command far higher prices than usual during peak times.

If you’re on a tight budget, plan ahead and try to avoid key tourist areas during these times, or find accommodation that won’t hit you with a price hike.

HIT THE TRAIL:  EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VISITING HEHUANSHAN

16  |  there’s a great hostel scene.

As a budget traveller, you’ll have no issue finding affordable, high-quality hostels in every major city in Taiwan.

From modest and homely hideaways to trendy well-designed spaces, most hostels have embraced the capsule-style of bed with a light, power socket and shelf, and a roll down blind or curtain to offer an extra level of privacy.

Many hostels are also surprisingly roomy, with some even providing double dorm beds as the norm, making it far too easy to escape into your own little bubble at the end of a busy day, separate from the noisy packers and late-night light-turner-on-erers.

Search for your Taiwan accommodation here.

taiwan accommodation. taiwan travel tips

17  |  Don’t Miss The Night Markets

Tightly packed bodies jostle between food stalls, smoke billows into narrow laneways, large woks simmer away with century-old recipes and intoxicating aromas fill the air.

You can’t possibly visit Taiwan and not spend at least an evening or two absorbed in the clamour of its night markets. Aside from being a feast for the senses, they’re one of the best places to sample Taiwan’s street food and local delicacies. 

Taiwanese cuisine is very much a melting pot derived from various ethnicities with Japanese and Chinese flavours being prominent, alongside the influence of indigenous and Hakka communities. These were some of my favourite dishes.  

Beef Noodle Soup   |    Taiwan’s national dish, this hearty concoction of braised beef, noodles and a flavour-packed spiced broth is one not to miss.  

Dumplings   |   Steam ’em, fry ’em, stick ’em in a soup, there are a hundred different ways to enjoy the humble dumpling, all of them delicious and sure to put you into a blissful food coma many times during your trip. The standard filling contains pork, but there are numerous restaurants that offer veggie options as well.   

Scallion Pancakes   |    This was the very first thing I ate in Taiwan and I’m still craving one all these months later! A flaky, crispy roti-style flatbread woven with finely chopped green onions, this simple street snack can be found across Taiwan and is so damn good. You can choose your own fillings like cheese, smoked chicken or peppered beef, but my go-to was fried egg, Thai basil and spicy sauce. Yum!

Peanut Ice Cream Roll   |   A wafer-thin crepe filled with a generous sprinkle of shaved peanut brittle, vibrant fruity ice cream and garnish of fresh coriander (cilantro). The lot is bundled into a small burrito and is a textural sensation. Some stalls try to skip over the coriander bit, but in my humble opinion, this is where the real genius lies.        

Stinky Tofu   |    Ok, so this wasn’t exactly one of my favourites, but you kinda can’t leave Taiwan without giving it a go. While it’s an acquired taste and the stench can be… overwhelming – it’s certainly a dish that you’ll smell long before you see – it’s also one of Taiwan’s most beloved delicacies. The tofu is prepared in a brine of fermented milk, vegetables, meat and aromatics where it may sit for months before being served.

Taiwanese Hamburgers  |    A fluffy steamed bun stuffed with sticky pork belly and some greenery, these tasty handfuls will leaving you wanting just another bite. Though this is the typical version, many shops also offer veggie options with either mushroom, tofu or egg as the main filling.      

There are dozens of night markets scattered around Taiwan, so be sure to arrive with an empty belly, wander slowly and munch your way through all the things! 

taipei night markets. taiwan travel tips

18  |  Bring a set of reusable cutlery

Between the chaotic night markets, ancient hole-in-the-wall eateries and fantastic sit-down restaurants, dining out in Taiwan is an experience in itself.

Unfortunately, many places prioritise convenience over all else and will often only provide you with disposable single-use plastic cutlery, even if you’re eating in.

Instead of churning your way through what will literally be hundreds of unnecessary and completely avoidable pieces of plastic by the end of your trip, pack a set of reusable utensils in your day bag ready to be used at any occasion.

I carryied around a pair of chopsticks, a metal fork and a tablespoon in my handbag and used them on a daily basis. If you’re a lover of takeaway drinks, adding a thick reusable straw and/or a collapsible cup is also a good idea.

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19  |  boba tea is life.

I had my first ever boba milk tea on my second day in Taipei and it was love at first sip.

So, naturally, I dove straight into making up for lost time. 

Though now popular across the world, this delectably creamy and deliciously refreshing drink originated in Taiwan and you can’t walk a block here without passing several tea shops. Some specialise in green tea and fruit infusions, some focus on flavoured tapioca pearls and others strictly serve up the milky varieties. 

They’re all well-loved, they’re all found everywhere and the only thing for it is to try them all for yourself. 

My favourite was the signature brown sugar boba milk tea from perennially popular Xing Fu Tang. The mix of luxuriously creamy tea and not-too-sweet sticky caramel tapioca balls had me craving one every single day.

taipei night markets. taiwan travel tips

20  |  It’s not the best for vegetarians, but you can make it work

Full disclosure, I’m not a vegetarian, but I do try to limit my meat consumption to just a couple of times a week. In Taiwan, however, that wasn’t always easy with night markets being particularly challenging.

All major cities have dedicated vegetarian restaurants, but in small towns and mountains villages you may need to plan ahead.

In case your body is crying out for a vitamin kick and a healthy dose of fresh produce which the cuisine decidedly lacks, be sure to stock up with everything you’ll need for hiking and road snacks in the city as supplies in the countryside are often limited.

21  |  You’ll probably end up eating at a convenience store (and that’s totally fine!)

With so many delicious street eats to choose from, it may sound a little nutty to dine in a 7-11, but chances are it will happen at least once during your trip.

I had read a lot about the ubiquitous convenience stores before arriving in Taiwan and had quietly scoffed thinking I would never actually eat there while I had one of the world’s best foodie destinations on my doorstep.

Turns out, these shops are actually pretty bloody, well, convenient, and I, like many, many other travellers ended up eating here on more than one occasion.

Of course, sampling local delicacies from unassuming hole-in-the-wall eateries is an experience you absolutely shouldn’t miss in Taiwan, but when you’re running late for the train, are craving a familiar dish (hello green curry!), or just need a cheap eat in an expensive tourist town, these stores can be a lifesaver.

They’re always an affordable and reliable choice and I also heard from several vegetarian travellers that in smaller towns where veggie restaurants were limited, these were often the best option.

sun moon lake. taiwan travel tips

22  |  Typhoon Season is June to October

Typhoons generally hit Taiwan between June and October when a deluge of rain is dumped across the country accompanied by strong winds.

Surprisingly, this is peak tourist season and one of the most popular times for travel across the region, but expect to be met by gloomy skies, frequent rainy days and hot, humid conditions.

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23  |  when to go petal peeping.

Cherry blossom fever has become a global phenomenon in recent years and Taiwan is no exception. But along with these delicate white florals, the country also plays host to a number of other blooms that attract hoards of visitors to witness the landscapes erupting in a riot of colour.

With flower festivals in full swing, these tend to be the busiest time of year for certain regions so be sure to plan accordingly.

Cherry Blossoms  |   Springtime means cherry blossoms! In Yangmingshan National Park , blooms can arrive as early as February usually peaking by early March, while the higher altitude of Alishan means a later season between March and April. Other popular spots for cherry blossoms include Wuling Farm in the heart of the mountains and around Tianyuan Temple in New Taipei.

Rhododendrons  |  Next up on the flower enthusiast calendar is the rhododendron season where thousands of tiny florals unfurl across Taiwan’s landscapes and high mountains peaks. Taroko National Park and Hehuanshan are popular places to see the blooms with the peak viewing period lasting from April to June.

Daylilies  |   Arriving in late summer, golden daylilies blanket the lush plateau of Liushishishan or Sixty Stone Mountain that rises from the vast checkered plains of the East Rift Valley . Visit between August and September for the best of the blooms.

east rift valley. taiwan travel tips

24  |  The Best Time To Visit Taiwan

Between the monsoonal rains, cherry blossom fever and oppressive summer mugginess, it can be hard to determine when the best time to visit Taiwan actually is.

While summer is when tourism booms across the country, the searing heat, crowds and high chance of storms mean this isn’t an ideal time to plan your trip.

Anytime between late autumn and spring are far more pleasant when you’ll be welcomed with comfortable temperatures, fewer visitors and low season prices for accommodation and tours. The only downside is that some tour operators or transport routes to popular summer destinations may not be running at full capacity.

Avid hikers should prepare for chilly conditions in the mountains outside of summer, while flower enthusiasts should consider visiting in spring when much of Taiwan bursts into colour.

Taiwan Travel Tips: 24 Essential Things To Know Before You Go

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TravelAwaits

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9 Reasons To Fall In Love With Taiwan

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Considering all that Taiwan has to offer — from world-renowned cuisine to spirited night markets to a fascinating hot springs culture — it seems that the little island nation would be on travel bucket lists around the world.

From my experience, though, that is not the case. When I was planning my trip to Taiwan a few years back, I often encountered questions about my destination, with friends sometimes confusing Taiwan with Thailand.

After I spent time walking the lively streets of Taipei, relaxing in soothing hot springs in the north, and sampling every variety of seafood imaginable, I came to the conclusion that Taiwan is vastly underappreciated.

On the plus side, that can lead to an air of authenticity that you typically don’t get in more-visited destinations. My travel companions and I sometimes went days without seeing another English-speaking tourist, which led to a feeling of cultural immersion.

During that time, I found so many things to love about Taiwan, and here are nine of the best.

1. No Visas For Short-Term Stays

Officially known as the Republic of China, Taiwan is located 100 miles off the southeastern coast of China (the People’s Republic of China) and shares a number of characteristics with its giant neighbor. Among them is the use of the Mandarin language.

Luckily, these similarities do not extend to China’s visa requirement for many international visitors. When I visited Taiwan, I needed only my United States passport. Taiwan’s website for consular affairs states that nationals from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and most European countries are eligible for visa exemption for stays of up to 90 days.

That means that many visitors to Taiwan can sample wonderful foods and customs that have been influenced by China without the expense or hassle of a visa.

Streets of Taipei.

2. The Streets Of Taipei

The capital city of Taipei is a sprawling metropolis of about 2.6 million people, and its streets can seem clogged with speeding cars and scooters. But on a walking tour of the city, you’ll see Buddhist temples dating back to dynastic times right alongside narrow alleys lined with street-food booths offering thick-cut noodles and fluffy dumplings.

Taiwan’s tourism website refers to its capital city as a “cultural kaleidoscope” that takes visitors from chaotic night markets to neon street life to the one-time tallest building in the world.

Among the not-to-be-missed stops on a tour of Taipei are the Shilin Night Market , the Yangmingshan National Park , the Taipei 101 skyscraper, the Lungshan Temple , and the National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall .

Pro Tip: Along with visiting the tourist sites, I also recommend wandering the streets and checking out the local shopping scene at the ubiquitous 7-Eleven stores, which are amazingly well stocked with quality snacks and convenience items, as well as the many modern electronics stores and trendy clothing shops. 

3. The Historic Town Of Jiufen

As a lover of mountainside mining towns, I couldn’t wait to visit Jiufen , a historic seaside town located about an hour northeast of Taipei.

The charming town did not disappoint. Known for its “Old Street” that winds amidst the town’s steep cliffs, Jiufen features a dazzling assortment of food booths peddling everything from grilled snails to ice cream sandwiches to traditional teas.

Although Jiufen’s history dates back centuries, it earned a place on the world map in the 1890s when gold was discovered there. Soon, the mining outpost had grown from a handful of residents to 4,000 families, and it became known as a “little Shanghai.”

While the town’s fortunes faded with the decline of mining activities after World War II, it was rejuvenated in recent decades as a filming location for popular movies, such as 1989’s A City of Sadness . Today, Jiufen attracts thousands of tourists who flock to the Old Street, wandering the winding alleyways that are adorned with colorful lanterns.

Although Jiufen is known mostly as a foodie destination, the town is also a great place to shop for souvenirs like quality teas, bamboo cooking utensils, adorable coin purses, and quirky Hello Kitty trinkets.

Pro Tip: Jiufen can be reached by train and bus from Taipei. Instructions are available here .

Signs for hot springs.

4. The Hot Spring Culture

Ranked among the world’s top 15 hot spring areas, Taiwan has a number of the natural springs concentrated in the northern region. For a fun and relaxing taste of Taiwan’s hot spring culture, head to the Jiaoxi Township , located about an hour northeast of Taipei.

The rejuvenating and therapeutic properties of the water in the Jiaoxi region have been recognized since ancient times, and today, there are many resorts and hotels that offer hot spring experiences. The naturally hot water is said to contain beneficial minerals like potassium chloride, sodium sulfide, and potassium hydrogen carbonate.

Pro Tip: For a stellar hot spring/cuisine experience, check out Taiori , a little bed and breakfast that features in-room soaking tubs that can be filled with hot spring water. A stay also comes with multicourse meals in the evening and morning. Staying at Taiori is a bit of a splurge, but the combination of food, relaxation, and hot spring atmosphere definitely makes it worth the cost.

5. Taipei 101

At 1,667 feet high, the Taipei 101 skyscraper was the tallest building in the world from 2004 until 2010, when it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai. Today, Taipei 101 is the 10th tallest building in the world.

The needle-like skyscraper, featuring a postmodernist architectural design, can be seen towering on the Taipei skyline from all over the city. It is also a cool spot to visit — either for the commanding view of the city from the observation floor, or for a fancy shopping or dining experience at the Taipei 101 Mall. 

6. The Stunning Beaches And Islands

Owing to its location surrounded by the East China Sea, the Philippine Sea, the South China Sea, and the Luzon Strait, the island of Taiwan is not lacking in the beach department.

From the black-sand Honeymoon Bay in the northeast to the popular white-sand Dawan in the south, Taiwan’s beaches are varied and plentiful.

For a beach choice about an hour and 15 minutes from Taipei, locals head to the popular Baishawan Beach (Baisha Bay), which translates to “White Sand Bay.” The area is a hot spot for summer water fun and bayside tours.

Taiwan is also known for its lovely offshore tropical islets, administered by counties such as Penghu, Kinmen, and Lienchiang, where blue skies and white-sand beaches await.

7. The Night Markets

If you’re in the market for a trendy purse, some deep-fried squid, or a bit of stinky tofu, chances are you will find something you like at the Taipei night markets .

Taiwan’s night markets are famous for their varied goods, including clothing, accessories, and home goods, not to mention the huge number of tasty and unique snacks. Depending on the market, you’ll find oyster omelets, spring rolls, braised pork rice, hot stuffed dumplings, sliced noodles, and squid thick soup.

According to the Taiwan tourism website, the country’s enormous variety of snacks is unique in the world, and it illustrates the important place that the food culture has in the lives of the Taiwanese people.

Night markets are available all over Taiwan, but Taipei is especially famous for them and offers at least a dozen throughout the city. Among the best known are the Shilin Night Market , which specializes in stir-fried cuttlefish, fried buns, and shaved ice, and the Raohe Street Tourist Night Market , which specializes in oyster vermicelli, spare ribs stewed in herbal soup, and pepper meat buns. 

Strawberry mochi.

8. The International Cuisine Scene

From noodles and dumplings to sushi and fried squid, Taiwan has the Asian cuisine scene covered.

Taiwan prides itself on its variety of cuisine styles, which have been influenced by many different countries over the years. Along with its large array of Chinese foods, other cuisines such as Indian and Thai are also popular and excellent.

For dishes that are quintessentially Taiwanese, try the popular beef and noodle soup, considered an essential comfort food throughout the country, or the soup dumplings ( xiao long bao ).

Pro Tip: The popular franchise Din Tai Fung , famous for its soup dumplings, originated in Taiwan, and the original location can be found on Xinyi Road in Taipei.

Seafood in Taiwan.

9. The Fresh And Varied Seafood

With its easy access to the sea, it stands to reason that Taiwan would have a strong seafood game. As a lover of seafood, I was amazed by the endless choices and fresh presentation available everywhere in Taiwan.

Visitors looking for an entertaining experience and an astonishing assortment of fresh seafood, sushi, and authentic condiments should be sure to check out the Addiction Aquatic Development in Taipei.

Pro Tips: It’s hard to go wrong with dining choices in Taiwan. Almost everywhere we ate, we were served delicious, flavorful food. But for a list of suggestions, Taiwan’s tourism website recommends using the Michelin Guide .

For tips on how to prepare for a trip to Taiwan, check out my article How Taiwan Stole My Heart .

Image of Cindy Barks

Cindy Barks is an Arizona-based newspaper reporter, freelance travel writer, and travel blogger. Her blog, NearandFarAZ gives readers an insider's view of the wonders of the U.S. Southwest, and a traveler's take on far-off locales from Panama to Hong Kong to the Czech Republic. Regardless of the destination, her goal is to find the perfect scenic hike, city walk, beach stroll, or road-trip jaunt, and bring it to life in her blog. Cindy's articles about outdoor adventures have appeared in numerous regional and national publications.

Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

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Taiwan Travel Guide

Last Updated: August 23, 2023

The towering skyline of Taipei, Taiwan featuring Taipei 101

Taiwan is one of the most underrated budget destinations in Asia. It offers a beautiful — and super affordable — mix of east and west, blending the culture and cuisines of mainland China , Japan , and Hong Kong . And all with a fraction of the crowds.

I don’t think enough people visit Taiwan. I spent time here as an English teacher and have revisited the country since. There is a lot to do there: hiking the mountains, eating at night markets, drinking at tea houses, lounging on beaches, and enjoying the country’s amazing nightlife. No matter your interests, Taiwan won’t disappoint — especially if you’re a foodie. The food here is some of the best in the region!

This travel guide to Taiwan can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your visit to this underrated island!

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Taiwan

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Taiwan

The towering skyline of Taipei, Taiwan featuring Taipei 101 during the sunset

1. Visit Jiufen

Jiufen is one of Taiwan’s most popular tourist destinations. Founded during the Qing dynasty, Jiufen boomed as a gold mining town in the 1890s. Here, you can find all kinds of historic tea houses built into the hillside. The center of the city and its historic streets and buildings are all preserved and look as they did 100 years ago. Try the snacks on offer, visit one of the many tea houses, and do some hiking if you have time. It’s a pretty easy day trip from Taipei but you should aim to come early to beat the crowds. If your itinerary allows for it, consider spending a night here so you can experience it without the daytripper crowds.

2. Soak in the Hot Springs

Especially fun to visit in winter, the Beitou Hot Springs are just 30 minutes from downtown Taipei and you can get there on the MRT (you need to go to Xinbeitou station). There are lots of resorts, spas, and inns in the area which, with a vast array of wildlife and fauna, really feel like you’ve traveled much further afield. Visit the Hot Springs Museum, the Xinbeitou Historic Station, and Thermal Valley (a sulfurous lake nearby that has walking trails) while you’re here. There are also some really cool temples here, including the tiny wooden Puji Temple.

3. Explore Taroko National Park

Located southeast of Taipei, this national park offers visitors a chance to hike through beautiful mountainous terrain and gorges. It spans almost 250,000 acres and is one of only nine national parks in Taiwan. With loads of cliffs and waterfalls to explore, it’s a really stunning place to visit. Head to the Zhuilu Suspension Bridge for some amazing views and to the Eternal Spring Shrine or to the Changing Temple for a bit of culture and history. Some suggested walking trails include Shakadang, Changchun, Swallow Grotto, and Lushui-Heliu. Entrance to the park is free.

4. Visit Taipei 101

Formerly known as Taipei World Trade Center, this was the tallest building in the world from when it opened in 2004 until 2010 (when the Burj Khalifa took its place). Standing 508-meters (1,667-feet) tall, it towers over Taipei. There is an observation platform on the 89th floor (at 382-meters high). You can also go up to the 91st floor for an outdoor platform. If you’re needing some retail therapy (and can fit anything else in your bags), there’s a shopping mall at the bottom.

5. Explore the night markets

Taipei is home to dozens of night markets. Shulin Night Market, Raohe Night Market, Tonghua Night Market, Snake Alley, and Ningxia Night Market are all worth spending some time exploring but there are over 30 to choose from in Taipei alone. The food at these markets is the best (and cheapest) in the city. So much so that a few have even been given Michelin Bib Gourmands!

Other Things to See and Do in Taiwan

1. visit taipei.

Taipei is the epicenter of the country. Here there are sprawling food markets, a wild nightlife, spacious parks, and all kinds of interesting and quirky museums. Plus, the nearby mountains are full of easy and accessible hikes. Be sure to take a free walking tour, visit the National Palace Museum, see some temples (especially Confucius Temple and Bao-an Temple), and visit the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. I can’t sing the praises of this city highly enough (I lived here when I taught English). For even more on the city, here’s my full list of things to do in Taipei!

2. Go island hopping

The Pescadores Islands (known locally as Penghu) is an archipelago off the west coast between Taiwan and China. There are 90 islands in the region, perfect for exploring on a day trip. You can take a boat tour that visits several islands in the region, allowing you to snorkel, see sea turtles, and wander through traditional aboriginal villages and explore temples galore. Expect to pay around 1,500 TWD for a one-day multi-island tour.

3. See Tianhou Temple

Located in Taipei, this is one of the oldest temples in the city. Tianhou (also known as Mazu Temple, after the deity Mazu, goddess of the sea) was built in 1746 and is one of three major temples in Taiwan from the Qing period. It’s a beautiful Taoist temple filled with mythological creatures, incense, lucky goldfish, and people paying respect to the gods. Admission is free.

4. Hit the beach

The beaches of Kenting on the southern tip of the island are the best place to enjoy the summer weather. White Sand Bay is the most popular beach and a great place to swim, snorkel, and soak up the sun. Other beaches worth checking out are Fulong Beach, South Bay, Dawan Beach, Laomei Beach, and Little Bali Bay.

5. See the Lantern Festival

The famous Taiwan Lantern Festival is held every February/March and involves releasing hundreds of paper lanterns into the sky. There’s also a huge parade with floats, most of which relate to the year’s animal (from the Chinese zodiac). Thousands of people gather to watch and take part. To ensure the environment is protected, make sure you use a biodegradable eco-friendly lantern.

6. Hike Jade Mountain

Jade Mountain (also known as Yushan), the highest peak in Taiwan and East Asia with its peak at almost 4,000 meters above sea level, is a popular hike. If you don’t hike, there’s a special train that takes you to the peak before dawn (150 TWD). Most people do the hike over a couple of days, however, you can do it in a single day if you wake up super early and hike but that will mean over 10 hours of hiking. You’ll also need permits in advance so talk to your hotel or hostel staff as they can help you arrange those.

7. Tour Fo Guang Shan Monastery

This Zen monastery in Kaohsiung is a massive complex with eight towering pagodas that flank the monastery’s Big Buddha (which, at 36-meters tall, is the highest seated bronze Buddha in the world). Built in 1967 and spanning over 74 acres, the complex has a spacious outdoor walkway lined by manicured gardens as well as the huge pagodas. There are also over 14,000 statues of the Buddha here. Admission is free (donations are welcome) and there’s a delicious vegetarian restaurant inside with a huge buffet.

8. Visit the National Palace Museum

This museum, located in Taipei, has a collection of over 70,000 artifacts from Imperial China. Most of the collection was brought to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War (1929–1947). In addition to their permanent exhibits, there are also rotating exhibits throughout the year as well as a section for children. There are free daily tours in English as well as a detailed audio guide if you’d rather explore yourself. Admission is 350 TWD.

9. See the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Officially known as Liberty Square, this national monument was built in 1976 in honor of Chiang Kai-shek, former president of the Republic of China. He ruled mainland China from 1928 to 1949, and then in Taiwan from 1949 until his death in 1975. The memorial also houses a library and a museum that documents Chiang Kai-shek’s life and career. Tours in English are available daily but must be booked in advance. Admission is free.

10. Take a cooking class

Taiwan is a foodie’s dream and I always overindulge while I’m here. Noodle soups, incredible rice dishes, amazing buns, dumplings, and scallion pancakes are just some of the tasty local offerings. While cooking classes here are a little pricey, I think they are worth it if you really want to learn about the food. The cooking skills (and recipes) make a great souvenir to take home too. Expect to pay around 2,000 TWD for a class.

11. Go hiking

Taipei has plenty of hiking trails just outside town that are easily accessible. There are easy, moderate, and challenging trails, as well as both short and full-day hikes. Some suggested trails to check out are Xiangshan (easy, 45minutes), Bitoujiao (moderate, 2-3 hours), Jinmianshan (easy, 1.5 hours), Huang Didian (hard, 5 hours), and Pingxi Crag (moderate, 2-3 hours).

12. Visit Orchid Island

Located 64 kilometers (40 miles) off the southeastern coast, this lush, volcanic island offers hiking, swimming, diving, and amazing hot springs. There are also underground houses here, built to avoid the numerous typhoons that ravage the region. The island is home to only 5,000 people too. Visit the Lanyu Flying Fish Cultural Museum to learn about local culture. Flights from Taipei take just over an hour and cost around 4,500 TWD.

13. Hike Wuling Peak

For more hiking, head to Wuling Peak on Hehuan Mountain. Located in Central Taiwan, it stands 3,275 meters (10,744 feet) above sea level and makes for a good day trip for anyone looking to spend more time outdoors. The peak here is so high you can actually look down into a sea of clouds below. A round-trip hike takes around 2-3 hours. Be sure to bring a raincoat as well as water and sunscreen.

14. Explore the Northern Coastline

Head to the coast to see the otherworldly lunar-like landscapes at Yehliu Geopark. There are all kinds of unique rock formations here, including one that looks like Queen Elizabeth (which took over 4,000 years to form). It’s a popular tourist attraction so try to get here early to beat the crowds. Admission is 120 TWD.

15. Visit Tainan

This is Taiwan’s oldest urban area, established by the Dutch East India Company in 1624. Located in the south near Kaohsiung, Tainan was the capital of Taiwan from 1683-1887. There are all kinds of temples to visit here (don’t miss the Confucius Temple), several night markets, a historic old town, and a massive department store reminiscent of the Ginza district in Tokyo. There is also a nearby mangrove and wildlife reserve (it’s part of Taijiang National Park) just 30 minutes away by car.

16. Explore Taichung

Taichung is located in west-central Taiwan and is the second-largest city in the country. Spend some time walking the Parkway (a corridor of greenery perfect for walking and exploring), visit the Feng Chia Night Market, see the botanical garden, and explore the massive National Museum of Natural Science. If you’re a history buff, don’t miss the Taichung Folklore Park which is home to several traditional Taiwanese homes and buildings that showcase the country’s history.

Taiwan Travel Costs

The famous and massiveChiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taiwan

Accommodation – Hostels dorms with 6-8-bed cost between 300-700 TWD per night. A private room costs anything from 1,000-3,000 TWD. Every place has free Wi-Fi and most hostels have self-catering facilities and include free breakfast.

Budget hotels start at 950 TWD for a small room with a double bed. Most rooms have AC but free breakfast is rarely included.

Airbnb is available around the country with private rooms starting at 650 TWD per night, though they average at least triple that. For an entire home or apartment, expect to pay at least 1,000 TWD (though prices average triple that). Book early to find the best deals.

Wild camping is generally prohibited but there are lots of campgrounds around the country. Expect to pay at least 300 TWD for a basic plot without electricity.

Food – Taiwanese cuisine is a mix of influences, from Chinese, Japanese (owing to the Japanese occupation), and Western traditions. Seafood is a huge staple, with squid, crab, and shellfish being especially popular. Braised pork, oyster omelets, fish balls, and stinky tofu are just some of the many dishes you can find around the country.

Food at the outdoor markets costs around 35-100 TWD depending on what you get. An order of dumplings costs around 100 TWD. Noodle soup or a basic rice dish costs around 70 TWD.

A meal at a simple sit-down restaurant serving local cuisine costs around 120 TWD.

Western food costs between 100-400 TWD. Burgers (often made with pork rather than beef) are on the lower end while pizza is on the higher end.

Fast food is pretty popular here. MosBurger (the best fast food joint in the country) costs around 165 TWD for a combo meal. Sushi, one of the most popular food options, costs 300–450 TWD for a meal. (Plates at the conveyor belt places are around 30 TWD each.

A three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant costs 500 TWD. A beer or a latte/cappuccino costs around 80 TWD while a bottle of water costs 21 TWD.

For a week’s worth of groceries including staples like rice, seasonal produce, and seafood, expect to pay 2,000-2,500 TWD.

Backpacking Taiwan Suggested Budgets

On a backpacker budget of 1,050 TWD per day, you can stay in a hostel dorm, eat some street food, cook some meals, limit your drinking, do free walking tours, and take public transportation to get around.

On a mid-range budget of 2,700 TWD per day, you can stay in an Airbnb, enjoy some Western food, drink more, take the bus between cities, and do more paid activities like museum visits and cooking classes.

On a “luxury” budget of 5,600 TWD per day, you can stay in a hotel, rent a car or take the train between cities, take guided tours to the islands, go diving, eat out at any restaurant you want, and visit as many attractions as you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in TWD.

Taiwan Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Taiwan is an affordable country so you don’t need to worry about breaking the bank here. As long as you stick to local cuisine and limit your drinking, it’s hard to spend a lot of money. Here are a few tips to keep your spending in check:

  • Skip the high-speed trains – The high-speed trains in Taiwan are super convenient but expensive. Stick to the slower local trains, which are about 50% cheaper than the HSR.
  • Eat at the food markets – The food in Taiwan is world-class and the best food is at the night markets that dot all the cities.
  • Avoid Western food – Western food is twice the price of Taiwanese food. It’s also not amazing so stick to the local cuisine to save money.
  • Take free walking tours – Taipei, Jiufen, Tainan, and Kaohsiung all have free walking tours from companies like Like It Formosa . They’re my favorite walking tour company in Taiwan. Their tours are fun, informative, and free. Just remember to tip your guide at the end.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle – The tap water here needs to be boiled before drinking so bring a bottle with a filter to ensure you have safe drinking water. LifeStraw makes a reusable bottle with a built-in filter to you can be sure you water is safe and clean.

Where to Stay in Taiwan

Taiwan has plenty of fun and affordable hostels. Here are my suggested places to stay:

  • Formosa 101 (Taipei)
  • Star Hostel (Taipei)
  • T-Life Hostel (Taichung)
  • Fuqi Hostel-Heping (Tainan)

How to Get Around Taiwan

A narrow alley lined with scooters and shops in busy Taiwan

Public transportation – All of the major cities have public transportation that is fast, safe, and reliable. Fares start at 15 TWD and go up depending on how far you travel. Taipei and Kaohsiung both have metro systems with tickets costing between 20-65 TWD. A single-day pass in Taipei costs 150 TWD, while a day pass in Kaohsiung costs 180 TWD.

Bus – The bus is the cheapest way to get around Taiwan. Intercity coach buses are available to all major cities around Taiwan, including Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung. They are comfortable, modern, safe, and have air conditioning (too much, usually, so bring a sweater). The two main intercity bus companies are Ubus and Kuo-Kuang Bus. For fares and timetable information, visit taiwanbus.tw.

A bus from Taipei to Kaohsiung takes around five hours and costs 600-1,000 TWD while the three-hour trip from Taipei to Taichung costs as little as 90 TWD.

Train – The high-speed trains (HSR) in Taiwan are super convenient, however, they only go down the west side of the island and are very expensive. For example, a ticket from Taipei to Kaohsiung costs around 1,500 TWD.

The “local” trains are much more affordable, often 50% cheaper. The trip from Taipei to Kaohsiung on a local train costs just 845 TWD. It’s also just 515-800 TWD from Taipei to Tainan and 675-800 TWD from Taipei to Taichung via the local train.

The HSR line doesn’t pass through city centers, so you either need to take a bus or train from the HSR station, which also costs more time and money.

Flying – Domestic flights are relatively affordable, however, they are much more expensive than the bus or train. The two-hour flight from Taipei to Kaohsiung costs more than 4,000 TWD.

Flights to neighboring Hong Kong start at 3,600 TWD and take five hours (they can be as much as 6,500 TWD so it’s best if you’re flexible with your dates) while flights to Singapore take five hours and cost around 3,500 TWD.

Car Rental – Driving here is safe, however, car rentals here are expensive, usually costing at least 1,500 TWD per day. You need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to rent a vehicle here. For the best car rental prices, use Discover Cars .

When to Go to Taiwan

July and August are the hottest months in the country and the most popular time to visit. Temperatures often hit 35°C (95°F) and prices are a little higher as well. It’s a great time to visit if you want to hit the beach.

The shoulder months of May-June and September-October offer the best balance of crowds, weather, and price. It’s still warm enough to enjoy the outdoors and do some hiking without getting rained out.

Winters in Taiwan are a little rainy but still warm, with daily highs around 18–20°C (65-68°F). Prices are a bit lower and it’s the perfect time to visit the relaxing (and relatively empty) hot springs. Expect big crowds in Taipei in December-January for the Chinese New Year.

How to Stay Safe in Taiwan

Taiwan is very safe, consistently ranking well on the Global Peace Index as one of the safest destinations in the world. Crimes against tourists are super rare. Overall, you are unlikely to encounter any problems in Taiwan and I never felt unsafe in the country. There are no scams here, everyone is super nice, and crime is super rare. It’s a great place to visit. My friends who live here also never have problems.

Solo female travelers should feel safe here for all those reasons. However, the standard precautions you take anywhere apply here too (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.). There are numerous solo female travel blogs that can provide more specific tips.

Earthquakes are common in the region so make sure you’re familiar with your accommodation’s emergency exits. Between July and November, typhoons can occur so make sure you stay up to date on the latest weather — especially if you’re near the coast or out hiking.

110 is the emergency number for police while 119 is the emergency number for fire and ambulance.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Taiwan Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

Taiwan Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on China travel and continue planning your trip:

The 23 Best Things to Do in Hong Kong

The 23 Best Things to Do in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Itinerary: What to Do in 4 (or More) Days

Hong Kong Itinerary: What to Do in 4 (or More) Days

My Favorite Restaurants in Hong Kong

My Favorite Restaurants in Hong Kong

What Hitchhiking Solo as a Female in China Taught Me

What Hitchhiking Solo as a Female in China Taught Me

7 Lessons Learned from 3 Months in China

7 Lessons Learned from 3 Months in China

How to Travel the Trans-Siberian Railway

How to Travel the Trans-Siberian Railway

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  • Where To Stay
  • Transportation
  • Booking Resources
  • Related Blogs

taiwan travel videos

Taiwan - The Heart of Asia

Cheap electronics, neon lights and people everywhere were some of the first things that came to mind when we decided to travel to Taiwan.

Taiwan is known as the heart of Asia and as we circumnavigated this country our eyes were opened to a natural beauty that in a millions years we didn’t expect.

Check out some of our videos from our trip and see for yourself and don’t forget to follow us to keep up to date with our latest travel adventures.

Taiwan

Taiwan's wild terrain & Travel Adventures

Taiwan Surf Check & Travel Adventures

Taiwan Surf Check & Travel Adventures

Scuba Diving Green Island - Taiwan Travel Adventures

Scuba Diving Green Island - Taiwan Travel Adventures

Taiwan Jungle with a local Tribe Travel Adventures

Taiwan Jungle with a local Tribe Travel Adventures

taiwan travel videos

Tuesday, 22 Jan 2019 --> Last Updated : 2024-05-27 21:56:00

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Mon, 27 May 2024 Today's Paper

#

Singapore, Vietnam call for peace amid Chinese military drills around Taiwan

27 May 2024 02:07 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

taiwan travel videos

Singapore and Vietnam have called for regional peace and stability at a time when China was conducting large-scale military exercises surrounding Taiwan, Taiwan News reported. Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Gan Kim Yong warned that a conflict in the Taiwan Strait would carry grave repercussions for all parties involved, as well as for the whole world, Taiwan News reported citing CNA.

While speaking in Tokyo, the deputy PM also called for dialogue between China and the United States. Further, the deputy prime minister of Singapore and the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs called for regional peace and stability as China conducted large-scale military exercises surrounding Taiwan on Friday.

Days after Taiwan's Lai Ching Te was sworn in as the island's President on May 20, China launched two-day-long military drills on Thursday and Friday (May 23-24) involving land, sea, air, and rocket forces, as per Taiwan News. China described the maneuvers as "punishment" for what it called President Lai Ching-te's Taiwan independence stance.

Further, Yong described the issue as the 'most potential point of conflict in the region.' and stated the possibility of accidents or misunderstandings would increase if the US and China saw each other as opponents. While addressing his Japanese audience in Tokyo, he said Singapore would welcome visits by planes and ships from Japan's Self-Defense Forces. The visits would assist Japan's role in fostering regional peace and security, Gan said.

Amid China's recent actions, US State Department said that it was "monitoring very closely" in coordination with the island nation, expressing confidence in its current force posture and operations in the region to ensure peace and stability, reported Focus Taiwan. A State Department spokesperson, in response to CNA, expressed concern over reports of China's People Liberation Army's (PLA) joint military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and around its vicinity.

Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin are all Taiwan-controlled territories in the Taiwan Strait close to China's southeast coast, Focus Taiwan reported. The median line of the Taiwan Strait served for decades as a tacit border between China and Taiwan, but China's military has more freely sent aircraft, warships and drones across it. (ANI)

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Russian president Putin to make a state visit to China this week

FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photo prior to their talks on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023. President Putin will make a two-day state visit to China this week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, May 14, 2024.(Sergei Guneyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photo prior to their talks on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023. President Putin will make a two-day state visit to China this week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, May 14, 2024.(Sergei Guneyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

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BEIJING (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin will make a two-day state visit to China this week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, in the latest show of unity between the two authoritarian allies against the U.S.-led Western liberal global order.

Putin will meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping during his visit starting on Thurday, the ministry said, saying the two leaders would discuss “cooperation in various fields of bilateral relations ... as well as international and regional issues of common concern.” No details were mentioned.

The Kremlin in a statement confirmed the trip and said Putin was going on Xi’s invitation. It said that this will be Putin’s first foreign trip since he was sworn in as president and began his fifth term in office.

China has backed Russia politically in the conflict in Ukraine and has continued to export machine tools, electronics and other items seen as contributing to the Russian war effort, without actually exporting weaponry.

China is also a major export market for energy supplies that keep the Kremlin’s coffers full.

China has sought to project itself as a neutral party in the conflict, but has declared a “no limits” relationship with Russia in opposition to the West. The sides have also held a series of joint military drills and China has consistently opposed economic sanctions against Russia in response to its now two-year-old campaign of conquest against Ukraine.

Firefighters put out a fire after two guided bombs hit a large construction supplies store in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Saturday, May 25, 2024. Writing reads "Garden Center". (AP Photo/Andrii Marienko)

The two continent-sized authoritarian states are increasingly in dispute with democracies and NATO while seeking to gain influence in Africa, the Middle East and South America.

Putin’s visit comes just days ahead of Monday’s inauguration of William Lai Ching-te as the next president of Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy that China claims as its own territory and threatens to annex by force if necessary.

Xi returned last week from a five-day visit to Europe, including stops in Hungary and Serbia, countries viewed as close to Russia. The trip, Xi’s first to the continent in five years, was seen as an attempt to increase China’s influence and drive a wedge between the EU and NATO on one side, and a yet-to-be-defined bloc of authoritarian nations on the other underpinned by Chinese economic influence that has been wavering amid a housing crisis and dramatically slower domestic economic growth.

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