You may not find this island state on your radar when it comes to planning an Asia trip, but once you discover all that Taiwan has to offer, we promise you’ll be booking your flight to this destination in no time. Filled with endless bucket list sites, mouthwatering delicacies and friendly locals, Taiwan is the hidden gem that should be on everyone’s travel list.
Originally named as Formosa, meaning “beautiful island” by the Portuguese, Taiwan is home to dramatic landscapes, coastlines and glimmering city life.
Unravel the beauty of this Southeast Asian island and get lost in our ultimate Taiwan travel guide for all the wonders you can’t miss in this stunning destination.
In the beloved capital of Taiwan, Taipei has fast evolved into a cosmopolitan city filled with a mix of wondrous things that are waiting to be discovered.
Wander through winding alleyways to find historic temples, quirky art galleries, hipster coffee shops and local eateries during the day. Once the sun sets, grab your friends and get lost in the buzzing night markets, trendy bars and clubs. From a toilet themed restaurant to classy rooftop bars, this city has it all!
Oh, and have we mentioned that Taipei is the most tourist-friendly city in Asia? With warm and amiable locals, wifi access all over the city, free bike rentals by U-bike, pedestrian-friendly lanes, easy local transportation, and a convenience store in every corner, Taipei is the perfect destination for any traveller.
What to do in Taipei:
1. Soak in the view at the top of Taipei 101: The iconic skyscraper of the Taipei skyline is not to be missed! Once the tallest building in the world, Taipei 101 offers world class shopping, dining, and an unbeatable view of the city. Once up top this iconic landmark, we suggest enjoying the view with a cup of coffee or gelato!
2. Eat and shop through the local night markets in Taipei: Across the city you can take your pick of more than 15 night markets to experience. Get your haggling game on and head to our favorite Shilin Night Market located just out of Jiantan MRT Station.
3. Get cultured at the National Palace Museum: Home to about 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks, the National Palace Museum is also known as “The Louvre of Taiwan.” With fine art pieces dating back to 4,000 years throughout Chinese history, this museum is a feast for your cultural seeking eyes.
4. Take a day trip to neighbouring towns: An hour from the city you’ll find yourself surrounded by entirely different scenery. From peaceful hot springs, majestic waterfalls to sleepy seaside towns – the options around Taipei are endless. Our top picks include Jiufen for its artsy scene, Wulai for relaxing hot springs, and Pingxi for their famous lantern festival!
Hop on the train to get away from the bustling city and arrive in the unspoilt nature of Hualian. Just a mere 2.5 hours scenic train ride from Taipei Main Station, Hualian township is the place to soak up all the beauty of nature and find your inner self.
What to do in Hualian:
1. Marvel at the grand scenery of Taroko National Park: A canyon with extraordinary lush landscape, waterfalls, emerald rivers, eternal springs, suspension bridges, and hidden caves that will leave you speechless. Our top pick includes Qinshui Cliff where you’ll discover the rugged edge of the island seamlessly merge with baby blue colors of the Pacific Ocean.
2. Hike to the top of Liushishi (Sixty Stone) Mountain: The best time to visit is between July to September where you’ll witness endless fields of daylily flowers atop dramatic landscape of Huatong Valley and the Central Mountain Range. Fun fact: These daylilies can be cooked and indulged as a dish! Check out some local stalls on top of the mountain to give it a try.
3. Hop on a boat trip: Climb aboard a boat tour and soak in the view of Taiwan from the Pacific Ocean. If you’re lucky you might spot some wild dolphins, sperm whales or stingrays! The best time is between April to October where there’s a higher chance of witnessing these marine creatures.
4. Indulge in local eats: When in Hualian, you can’t miss out on their local soup wontons, otherwise known as bian shi. It’s simple, delicious, heartwarming, yet so full of flavor and zest. To round off your tastebuds, head to a local stall for a classic shaved ice dessert!
More than just factories for toys and electrical goods labelled “Made in Taiwan,” Taichung is an up and coming city of Taiwan famed for it’s world class dining, art and culture, and perfect weather.
1. Take it easy at Sun Moon Lake:Offering picturesque scenery and clear blue waters, the idyllic Sun Moon lake is the perfect place to escape the urban noise. We suggest taking a leisurely boat road to get that perfect Insta-shot, then spend a night or two at The Lalu.
2. Snap photos at the Rainbow Military Dependents Village: Truly a feast for the eyes, this village was once planned for demolishment by the government during the mass construction of urbanization and high rise buildings. As a sign of protest against the planned demolition of his home, Mr.Huang began painting every corner of the village with imaginary characters and bright colors, and it was quickly known as The Rainbow Village. This peaceful protest has since drawn attention from citizens across the country as a unique destination!
3. See the sunrise atop of Alishan Mountain: Travel about 2 hours and you’ll find yourself above the sea of clouds in Alishan. A classic adventure and sight in Taiwan, the Alishan area also offers sublime hiking, mountain climbing, and fresh local tea.
4. Dine at Le Moût: Located in a modern four-storey mansion and a highlight of Taiwan’s gastronomic scene, Le Moût is one of only two restaurants in Taiwan to make it onto the 2016 list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. With sophisticated French dishes inspired by local produce, Le Moût will provide an unforgettable dining experience.
Journey to the southernmost tip of Taiwan to relax, tan, surf, snorkel, party and soak up the laid back lifestyle in Kenting. Take the high speed rail to get here fast, and take it slow in this lively beach town. THE summer destination for families and friends, Kenting is home to tropical forests, white sand beaches, and the best surf on the island!
1. Ride the waves of Jialeshui or Nawan Beach: Here you’ll find surf breaks that are perfect even for beginners. You can find board rentals along the beach and friendly locals who are always ready to lend a tip or helping hand.
2. Rent a scooter: Get the most of Kenting by renting a scooter to ride through the vast Kenting National Park. Here you’ll find abundance of flora and fauna, marine ecosystem, and hidden caves. Get your camera out and ready to snap away!
3. Just relax: Take a day off of all your plans and just melt away on the beach with good read and your loved ones nearby. End your do-nothing day with a simple barbecue on the beach or a trip to the nightmarket!
MUST-EATS IN TAIWAN
Beef Noodle Soup: Yes, the Taiwanese take their beef noodle soup so seriously there’s even a festival dedicated to this flavorful dish! With chewy noodles, tender beef, and rich broth, this is a must-have when in Taiwan. We suggest heading to the OG of all beef noodles at Lao Wang Ji Beef Noodles in TaoYuan Street, Taipei. Or opt for a more upscale version of the beef noodles soup at the W Taipei complete with a view of the city.
Local breakfast: There’s no better way to start the day than with a satisfying breakfast! Head to a local breakfast joint (usually available 24 hours) for soy milk, steamed buns, Chinese-style omelettes, rice rolls, and many more! As with most of the local eats in Taiwan, breakfast joints such as Yong He Dou Jiang (永和豆浆) are quick, cheap, and highly delicious!
Din Tai Fung: A global phenomenon originating in none other than Taiwan, Din Tai Fung specializes in the most delicious and mouthwatering xiaolongbao (steamed dumplings). With branches around the world, this famed restaurant has even been featured on the Michelin guide! Head to their original shop on XinYi Road, Taipei for an unforgettable dining experience.
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In collaboration with Taiwan Tourism Board