52 Best Things to do in Taiwan & Reasons You Must Visit
Taiwan is my adopted home. I’ve been here for 10 years, my wife is Taiwanese (we met on the Taipei MRT!), and my kids Sage and Lavender were born and raised here.
I have written a book describing my first year living in Taiwan, called “Taiwan in the Eyes of a Foreigner.” The book’s Mandarin title is 老外愛台灣, which literally translates as “Foreigner Loves Taiwan.”
As you can probably gather, it was not difficult for me to come up with the following list of 52 best things to do in Taiwan and why you should visit!
General Reasons to Visit Taiwan
1. Some guidebooks say that Taiwan has the friendliest people in Asia. A little tough to prove, I know, but there’s no denying the Taiwanese are a kind-hearted, hospitable people.
2. Taiwan’s night markets are the talk of Asia. There are 30+ major night markets in Taipei alone, offering an overwhelming concentration of cheap, delicious, authentic local food.
3. The country has a world-renowned transportation system. The High-Speed Rail traverses the country in 2.5 hours, while timely trains and intercity buses provided access to remote locations.
4. Taiwan is a super safe country. You can walk anywhere at night, including solo female travelers, there’s no pickpocketing, vendors and taxi drivers are honest, and the food is clean.
5. The musical garbage trucks across Taiwan play Beethoven’s Fur Elise as they ply the streets.
6. Taiwan’s eclectic cultural landscape combines traditional Chinese customs and aboriginal Taiwanese roots with a distinct local Taiwanese flavor.
7. Taiwan is a vibrant democracy with a female president and is on the verge of being the first country in Asia to legalize equal marriage rights. Taipei’s also got the largest annual pride parade in Asia.
8. Geologically, the country sits on the boundary of several tectonic plates, resulting in dramatic natural scenery and an abundance of thermal springs.
9. Known as the land of convenience, Taiwan has more 7-11s per capita than any other country, providing an air-conditioned respite, cold beers, meals-on-the-go, and a long list of services.
10. Taiwan’s oolong tea is world-renowned. The country is also the homeland of bubble tea (aka pearl milk tea or boba tea).
Best Things to do in Taipei & the North
11. Taipei 101 sets many records: it is the world’s tallest ‘green’ building, has the world’s fastest elevator, and has the world’s highest Starbucks.
12. Taipei City is a food lover’s paradise. From night markets and hole-in-the-wall noodles shops to international gourmet cuisine and Michelin star restaurants; Taipei has got it all.
13. The National Palace Museum houses the world’s largest collection of Chinese artworks and artifacts.
14. The Taipei MRT is one of the world’s best; trains are ultra clean, frequent, and cover virtually every corner of the city. Passengers are super polite and always give up seats for those who need them most.
15. You can take the MRT to Beitou thermal hot spring village, first developed by the Japanese when Taiwan was a Japanese colony.
16. Also MRT accessible, the Maokong Gondola offers the opportunity to see terraced tea fields from above, or sip on tea in a traditional teahouse looking over the city. Go for one of the glass-bottomed Crystal Cabins!
17. The MRT even extends to the north coast at Danshui, with its riverside promenade, harbor with gorgeous sunsets, and bus access to numerous (surfable!) beaches.
18. Pingxi in New Taipei City is the location of one of Taiwan’s most mesmerizing spectacles: the Lantern Festival, in which hundreds of lanterns with wishes written on the sides are released simultaneously into the sky.
19. There are dozens of waterfalls and impressive hikes within an hour or two of Taipei, ranging from simple strolls to exhilarating climbs.
20. Jiufen and Jinguashi are former gold mining towns. Jiufen is now an atmospheric market village overlooking the sea, while the Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park has a golden waterfall!
East Coast of Taiwan
21. Yilan County is home to several hot & cold springs, amazing waterfalls, an award-winning whiskey distillery, and is famous for its diet-destroying deep-fried green onion cakes.
22. Taroko Gorge, the “Grand Canyon of Taiwan,” is the country’s top scenic attraction. Its sheer vertical walls are guaranteed to leave you in awe.
23. Hualien County is a paradise for thrill seekers, offering hang gliding, sea kayaking, white water rafting, river tracing, and more.
24. The Qingshui Cliffs, near Taroko Gorge, spill dramatically down to the sea. Ride a scooter or cycle along the death-defying cliff-top highway, if you dare!
25. Taiwan’s aboriginal people are the original ancestors of Austronesian people spread across the Pacific Ocean. Their culture and festivals can best be observed in Hualien and Taitung Counties.
26. The stunning east coast of Taiwan is perfect for cycling, especially from Hualien to Taitung. There are two parallel highways, one on the coast and one inland, so you can take one down and the other up.
27. In summer, the slopes of 60-Stone Mountain are covered in bright orange daylilies, an unparalleled sight.
28. Taitung’s East Rift Valley is a gorgeous, wide valley filled with quaint villages and rice paddies, the bread basked of Taiwan.
29. Every summer, colorful hot air balloons fill the sky at the International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Luye, Taitung. Keep an eye out for the minion shaped one!
30. Dulan is Taiwan’s version of a Southeast-Asian hippie backpacker hangout, with a thriving arts scene, local craft brewery, and good surf.
West Coast & Central Mountains of Taiwan
31. To see snow in this subtropical nation, climb Snow Mountain in winter.
32. Zhenlan temple in Taichung is the starting and ending point of the Matsu pilgrimage, the world’s largest pilgrimage for a goddess.
33. Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Miaoli are great places to experience Hakka culture. The Hakka are a once nomadic tribe originating in Central China who make up about 17% of Taiwan’s population today. Hakka pounded tea is a must!
34. Taiwan is home to Northeast Asia’s tallest peak, Yu Shan (Jade Mountain). Anybody in reasonable shape can climb the iconic peak in two days return.
35. The cycling route around Sun Moon Lake has been called one of the best in the world.
36. Ride the narrow gauge railway to Alishan, famed for its sunrise over a sea of clouds phenomenon and Taiwan’s most sought-after teas.
37. The Alishan small train line also stops at Fenqihu, where you can see fireflies in spring and hike through bamboo forests.
38. Where else can you cover yourself in thermal mud and bathe in a muddy salt spring bath? OK, there are two other places in the world, but Guanziling Mud Spring is still special.
39. Taiwan’s old capital, Tainan, is the best place for temple hopping and visiting impressive forts. Many locals also consider it the food capital of Taiwan, with many specialties found only here.
40. Taiwan’s salt industry is dead but the Qigu salt fields and salt mountain are a visually striking monument to the past.
Southern Taiwan & Offshore Islands
41. You are guaranteed to spot wild macaques at Chaishan (nicknamed “Monkey Mountain”) in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second largest city.
42. Kaohsiung is revitalizing its waterfront, with a new light rail, arts district, and more, leading Lonely Planet to call it one of the world’s best cities to visit in 2018.
43. The enormous Buddhist monastery complex of Foguangshan features Taiwan’s tallest Buddha and offers visitors the chance to spend the night.
44. Nearby, you can buy traditional handmade umbrellas in the Hakka village of Meinong.
45. Kenting National Park boasts mainland Taiwan’s best beaches, making it a popular holiday destination, especially on long weekends.
46. At the lighthouse on the southern tip of Taiwan in Kenting National Park, Taiwan’s longest-running indie rock music festival Spring Scream takes places every year at the beginning of April, just when the weather is starting to get hot. This is truly one of the best things to do in Taiwan.
47. The Penghu archipelago, halfway between Taiwan and China, has fishing villages, white sand beaches, and traditional Chinese courtyard homes constructed with coral and shells.
48. Green Island feels more tropical than the rest of Taiwan, with awesome scuba diving and a saltwater hot spring right on the coast.
49. Orchid Island is home to the Yami (Tao) people, the most isolated of Taiwan’s aboriginal tribes, known for their spring Flying Fish Festival.
50. Matsu and Kinmen Islands are much closer to China than Taiwan, so close you can see China from them.
Two Personal Extra Reasons
51. For the above 50 reasons, Taiwan is a very comfortable place to live and a suitable place for teaching English, studying Mandarin, or becoming an international student.
52. The Taiwanese people are hospitable, open-minded, and curious about foreigners in their country. They will talk to, ask you what you think, smile at you, and welcome you. I’ve been here for 10 years, and this is my daily experience.
WHEN TO VISIT TAIWAN
The best time to visit Taiwan is during in spring, between April – June, and during fall, between September – November. Spring is also a shoulder season, you won’t have to worry about too many tourists either.
If you enjoyed this article about the Best Things to do in Taiwan, you’ll also love 52 Reasons to Visit Macau.
Traveling To Taiwan Soon? Here are a few tips:
How to get there:
Taiwan’s main international gateway is Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, located near the city of Taoyuan, about 50km southwest of the capital Taipei. The only other major international airport is at Kaohsiung, serving the country’s second-largest city.
Where to stay: There are many places to stay in Taiwan. There is a wide range of hotels, from budget to luxury. For a luxury hotel that won’t break the bank, I recommend the Mandarin Oriental, Taipei, which is currently the #1 hotel on Tripadvisor. For a mid-level hotel, I suggest the Grand Hyatt Taipei. Finally, for a budget hotel, try the Taipei Garden Hotel. You can also check HotelsCombined for the best Taiwan Hotel Rates.
What to pack: Spring is similar to fall with temperatures around 70 F but the rain is incredibly fickle. One minute it’ll be beautiful and sunny and the next it’ll be pouring down rain for a week straight. It’s good bring clothes you can layer so you’re prepared for the warm days and cool nights. A travel umbrella is also handy and you’ll keep up with the trend of Taiwanese people using umbrellas to shield from the sun. If you are planning to do some hiking, you might also brought hiking pants, athletic shirts, and waterproof hiking sandals. Don’t forget to bring mosquito repellent. Mosquitoes are relentless in Taiwan and dengue fever is bad there, especially on the coasts.
Taiwan Trip Essentials
6 Indispensable Items to Pack for a Taiwan Vacation
- Get the Taiwan from the eyes of a foreigner book.
- Bring a good quality mirrorless camera for getting those beautiful Taiwan landscape shots. I use the Sony Alpha a6000 .
- Summers are hot and humid in Taiwan, so make sure to bring Neutrogena Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 45
- A great cross body travel bag. Cross body bags prevent theft and are much easier to access.
- Don’t forget sunglasses for the beautiful sunny days. A.J. Morgan Unisex Sunglasses are a great choice and very affordable!
- A comfortable walking shoes are a great item to pack for a Taiwan vacation. They take up a little room when packing and great if you will go walking or sightseeing.
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