Planning to travel to Taiwan and need to some inspirations? I can share some ideas!
Taiwan (台湾Táiwān), also known as 宝岛bǎodǎo (beautiful island), or Formosa, found in 1544 by Portuguese sailors, has seen a spectacular increase of tourists since a few years now. In 2015, it reached 10 million annual visitors and its growth hasn’t stopped since. There are several reasons why Taiwan is becoming more and more popular among foreign tourists: huge night markets, friendly local people, beautiful temples, amazing scenery, numerous hiking trails, and so on.
This year, Taiwan has also been elected the best place to live for expats by the 2019 Expat Insider Survey (Vietnam being number 2 and Portugal number 3). Having the chance to live there for more than 2 years now, I decided to introduce some cities I’ve been to so that you can visit it as well if you feel to.
When is the best time to visit Taiwan?
The best time to visit Taiwan is during spring (April to June) and fall (September to November). During July and August, it is too hot and often raining, while in winter it may be cold and cloudy.
In this blog article, I’ll present the cities in a clock-round order, from the northwest to the southernmost part, then from the southeast part
NORTHWEST PART OF TAIWAN
Taipei (4-5 days)
Taipei is the capital of Taiwan and one of the liveliest cities in the world. It is better to plan at least 3 days if you want to have time to see the most famous places. Taipei being well-known to have one of the best public transportation systems in the world, it becomes extremely convenient to travel around the city and gives you the chance to visit a lot of places in a short period of time.
Must-go destinations if you spend a few days in Taipei:
- Taipei 101 and the Elephant Mountain: see one of the biggest building in the world and hike the elephant mountain to enjoy a panoramic view of the city
- Shilin Night Market: visit one of the largest, most popular night markets in Taiwan and eat as much as Taiwanese snacks as you can
- Ximending Youth Shopping Districts: go to the busiest districts of Taipei and find the weirdest things to shop or to eat (#ToiletRestaurant)
- Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall: discover the memorial established in memory of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the father of the Republic of China
- Guandu Temple: enter the famous old temple built right into the side of a mountain and go inside the 100m-plus tunnel that runs through the mountain itself
- Tamsui Old Street: take a walk along the riverfront and enjoy the beautiful sunset
What are the must-eat in Taipei?
Don’t leave Taipei without trying at least the stewed pork rice, oyster omelet, stinky tofu, bubble tea, soup dumplings, fried chicken, and shaved ice. If you leave Taipei without eating one of them, make sure to eat it in another city of Taiwan, you won’t regret it.
Taichung (1-3 days)
Taichung is known to be a vibrant, colorful, and fun city. You can see amazing street arts around the city and other impressive artworks. If you are a foodie like me, go to the Fengjia Night Market; it is huge and has a lot to offer (but mostly calories). One to three days is enough, depending on how much you want to visit. Some places like the Sun Moon Lake, which is beautiful, takes actually a day since you should take a bus from Taichung for two hours.
Must-go destinations in Taichung:
- Rainbow Village: take pictures in the most colorful village of Taiwan
- The home of Bubble Milk Tea: for boba lovers
- Sun Moon Lake: discover the unique beauty of this hidden lake
- Painted Animation Lane: enjoy beautiful street art with your favorite anime characters
- Fengjia Night Market: go on a food adventure and eat things you’ve never eaten before
What are the must-eat in Taichung?
Don’t leave Taichung without eating its famous pineapple cakes, it is the specialty of the city!
SOUTHWEST PART OF TAIWAN
Tainan (2 days)
Tainan is so far my favorite city in Taiwan. It is located in the southeast of Taiwan and has a lot to offer (especially in terms of food, which would explain why I love it so much). The atmosphere is really relaxed and there are a lot of small traditional streets, many temples all around the city, as well as famous museums. A lot of expats working in Taipei like to go to Tainan when having day-offs to take a break and enjoy good food.
Must-go destinations in Tainan:
- Tainan Confucius Temple: discover beautiful architecture and buy authentic souvenirs
- Tainan Art Museum: enjoy art exhibitions in one the most modern museums of Taiwan
- Yuguang Island: take a rest and have a walk on a sandy beach
- Garden Night Market: try the unique taste of Tainan food
What are the must-eat in Tainan?
The most famous dish is the beef soup. Fish and seafood in Tainan is also delicious, but don’t hesitate to wander in the food street and try their local food, it has a special taste that you often can’t find in other cities.
Read More: 8 CHINESE DISHES FOREIGNERS DON’T DARE TO EAT
Kaohsiung (2 days)
Kaohsiung is as lively as Taipei but with a unique southern touch. It is a rich, vibrant, and grand city that is definitely worth to visit. You can find night markets, amusement parks, shopping malls, big temples, street art, museums, etc, everything you need to enjoy a wonderful trip to the south of Taiwan. It is also the city who has THE biggest temple of Taiwan, which is a must-see.
Must-go destinations in Kaohsiung:
- Love River: take a gondola and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the river
- Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Centre: run through the biggest temple of Taiwan
- Lotus Pond: visit the wonderful Taoist complex build directly on a lake
- The Pier 2 Art District: walk around amazing street arts and have a drink near the port
- Formosa Boulevard station: enter the most famous metro station of Taiwan
What are the must-eat in Kaohsiung?
Kaohsiung has the best beef noodles around the island. You can find hundreds of beef noodles restaurants in the city, so don’t forget to try it.
SOUTHERNMOST PART OF TAIWAN
Visit Kenting (2 days)
Kenting has not a lot to offer in terms of food, but the scenery is breath-taking. Located in the southernmost point of Taiwan, it is my favorite place to drive around with an electric motorcycle (which is really cheap to rent) and enjoy amazing landscapes.
Must-go destinations in Kenting:
- Southernmost point of Taiwan
- National Forest Recreation Area: take a walk in the surprising and beautiful national park of Kenting
- Longpan Park: drive a motorcycle to Longpan Park and enjoy a breath-taking scenery
- Baishawan beach: enjoy a nice swim on a white-sand beach
What are the must-eat in Kenting?
Go to the port of Kenting and enjoy fresh-prepared sashimi.
SOUTHEAST PART OF TAIWAN
Taitung County (2-3 days)
Located in the southeast of Taiwan, Taitung County possesses a very diverse collection of aboriginal culture, making it a unique place to visit in Taiwan. In addition, Taitung is well-known for its beautiful landscape. Every year during summer, there is the International Taitung Hot Air Balloon Festival which is really popular (remember to book a balloon in advance). However, you can visit Taitung anytime and you will still fall in love with the county.
Must-go destinations in Taitung:
- Jialulan Recreation Area: enjoy tranquil natural views peppered with local arts
- Sanxiantai Scenic Area: take a walk on a bridge connecting several offshore islands
- Lisong Hot Spring: get your swimming suit and have fun in natural hot springs
- Brown Avenue: ride a bicycle on the most famous and beautiful road of Taiwan
What are the must-eat in Taitung?
Take the opportunity to be in Taitung to go to the different night markets of the area and try aboriginal food such as Hakka BBQ buns (with fatty meat), silky soybean pudding and grass jelly, as well as dried mi tai mu (famous noodles) and braised pork intestines.
Hualien County (2-3 days)
If you are drawn to nature, you will love Hualien as well. Hualien is similar to Taitung in terms of peaceful atmosphere, aboriginal culture, and amazing landscape. Many travelers visiting Hualien use it as a base to explore Taroko Gorge, a 92,000 hectare national park which spans Hualian, Taichung, and Nantou counties. It is considered as a must-see in the island because of its breath-taking landscape and natural beauty.
Most-go destinations in Hualien:
- Qingshui Cliffs: visit one of the Eight Wonders of Taiwan
- Shakadang Trail: hike the mysterious valley trail of the Taroko Gorges
- Swallow Trail: don’t forget the Swallow Loop as well
- Liyu Lake: walk around the beautiful lake of Liyu and enjoy a nice meal there
What are the must-eat in Hualien?
Don’t leave Hualien without eating steamed goose, fresh mochi or pork ribs noodles.
NORTHEAST PART OF TAIWAN
Yilan County (1-2 days)
If you like surfing or enjoying hot springs, Yilan is the place to be. What is very convenient with Yilan is that it doesn’t take more than an hour to go there from Taipei. You can get a bus or the train early in the morning and go back to Taipei in the evening. However, it is nice to spend two days there so that you have more time to enjoy the beach, the food, the hot springs, and the night markets.
Must-go destinations in Yilan:
- Wai’ao Beach: go surfing and get a tan on the sandy beach of Wai’ao
- Dong’ao Bay: rent a motorcycle and go to the two-kilometer-long gravel beach along the coast of Yilan
- Jiaoxi Hot Springs Park: enjoy a peaceful moment in one of the most famous hot springs on Taiwan
- Luodong Night Market: enjoy local food in the big night market located in Luodong village
What are the must-eat in Yilan?
Green onion cake is the specialty of Yilan. If you love onions, go for it! Also, seafood and fish is very tasty on the east coast, it is definitely worth the try.
Jiufen (1 day)
Jiufen is perfect for a one-day trip not far from Taipei. Founded during the Qing Dynasty, this small town was a relatively isolated village until the discovery of gold during the Japanese occupation in 1893, quickly developing the town due to a gold rush. Many buildings in the town remain unchanged to this day, reflecting the Japanese influence on both architecture and culture on the island. Since now, many tourists go to Jiufen all year round to walk around the beautiful village and enjoy local snacks.
Organize your trip in Taiwan
Don’t worry if you don’t have time to visit everything. You can pick the places you feel you will like the most. You can also prioritize the east VS the west coast or the north VS the south. If you feel like you want to discover more, it is never too late to come back.
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