10 Days in Taiwan: Itinerary, What to Do & Where to Go

Planning 10 days in Taiwan? When the Portuguese first laid eyes on Taiwan they dubbed it Ilha Formosa (Beautiful Island). Take on your own Taiwan itinerary, and you’ll soon agree. No place on earth has a better size-to-awesomeness ratio than Taiwan.

Don’t let it’s tiny stature fool you: Taiwan is a heavy-hitter. It’s everything you’d expect on an epic East Asia trip. From buzzing cities & delicious food to swoon-worthy hikes & pristine beaches, you can enjoy it all in Taiwan. And with an ease worth bragging about.

Not sure where to go in Taiwan in 10 days? Follow along with this complete 10-day Taiwan itinerary including when to visit, what to do, see & eat, and where to stay…

10 days in Taiwan: Things to know before you go

When to go to Taiwan

The only thing certain about Taiwan’s weather is that it won’t always co-operate. The time of year you decide to visit Taiwan can make a huge difference on your trip.

Taroko Gorge

The best time to visit Taiwan is either November or April. By November the heat & humidity of summer is long gone, leaving dry days with warm to mild temperatures.

April is a close second when the island is in full bloom and spring is hitting full stride. Stick to early April if possible. The end of the month begins to see increasing rainfall.

Do I need travel insurance for Taiwan?

Even though I’ve yet to make a claim (knock on wood!), I never leave home without travel insurance.

Alishan

Taiwan is a safe place with few hassles. But that doesn’t mean you should skip out on buying travel insurance. It’s a good idea to cover yourself for trip cancellation, medical care, and lost/stolen baggage. It’ll give you a peace of mind that’ll outweighs the small cost of a travel insurance policy.

Getting connected in Taiwan

Finding an internet connection in Taiwan isn’t usually much of a problem. In the bigger cities, you’ll find free Wi-Fi hotspots in restaurants, cafés, malls and even at MRT stations & major tourist sites.

Ximending

Of course, it can still be a hassle staying connected as you move around, logging onto network after network. Plus, speeds can slow to a crawl when you’re sharing bandwidth with hundreds of others.

However you decide to connect while visiting Taiwan (or anywhere for that matter!), it’s a great idea to use a travel VPN (virtual private network).

Ximending at night

Although you won’t face the same restrictions in Taiwan as in mainland China, a virtual private network helps secure your data. It ensures your browsing and personal information stays private and safe.

Need a fast, secure & reliable VPN? With servers all around the world, NordVPN offers quick speeds and reliability. It uses Double Data Encryption technology to protect your most precious data and let you browse anonymously. Save big with their latest plan deals by clicking here.

Other Taiwan travel planning resources

  • Guidebooks: As much I rely on technology these days, I rarely travel without print guidebooks. Lonely Planet Taiwan provides one of the more comprehensive and up-to-date travel guides for Taiwan.
  • Phrasebooks: Planning to travel outside the main cities of Taiwan? Expect a sizeable language barrier. Let the Lonely Planet China Phrasebook help. It includes phrases in Mandarin and Hakka, and is good to have by your side in a pinch.

Where to go in Taiwan: A complete 10-day itinerary

We’ve geared this plan for what to do in Taiwan in 10 days or less towards urban explorers. We’ve also included more than a few surprises for foodies & nature lovers.

Yehliu Geo Park

This action-packed 10-day itinerary swings around the entire perimeter of the island. It covers plenty of ground and will help you leave Taiwan with a well-rounded appreciation of the country and its people. Mix and match these ideas as you go to craft the perfect Taiwan itinerary for your trip.

Taipei

3 Days

If I pushed you to start your Taiwan itinerary anywhere but Taipei, it would be purely a cry for attention. And while I scurry around clichés as much as possible, this one is unavoidable.

All sensible Taiwan itineraries start in Taipei with good reason: It’s super convenient. (And super awesome.)

Dalong Street
Perhaps it’s crazy to love a city that so many travellers ignore or are indifferent to. But I’ll put my reputation on the line and give Taipei the thumbs up. (Yes, I’m that confident you’ll like it.)

Sure, Taipei might lack the dynamism of Tokyo or the cultural treasures of Kyoto. But Taipei captures your heart with the secret that grandmothers long figured out: through the stomach. Taipei is one of the best foodie cities in Asia, even in the world. And all at a deep discount.

See Also: When is the Best Time to Visit Taipei?

You’ll spend much of your journey chowing down at Taipei’s bustling night markets. But the Taiwanese capital is also the perfect city for wandering around without a plan. Walk the streets to stumble upon stunning Taiwanese folk temples. Or follow your nose to a hole-in-the-wall food stall serving the best beef noodle soup you’ve ever tasted. Either way, you won’t be disappointed with spending time in Taipei.

What to do in Taipei

With only 10 days in Taiwan, try to spend at least two days in Taipei (or, even better, three). If you do nothing else, try to fit in a few of these best things to do in Taipei:

Gorge yourself at Taipei’s night markets

Visiting Taipei without going to one (or several) night markets would be heresy. If there’s anything that Taiwan’s capital is known for it’s the food. And the best place to test out the country’s best flavours is at a Taipei night market.

Ningxia Night Market in Taipei

Spread throughout the city, night markets are buzzing hotbeds of activity. Get your adrenaline rushing as throngs of people skate past you while food vendor wisp intriguing smells into your nostrils.

Not sure which one’s right for you? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Shilin Night Market is the city’s biggest & busiest night market. It offers a massive variety of food, covering the gamut of Taiwanese flavours from savoury to sweet.
  • Raohe Street Night Market is a more traditional night market. It’s located in Songshan District at the edge of the stunning Ciyou Temple. The pepper buns on Raohe Street are to die for!
  • Ningxia Night Market is a smaller night market closer to the heart of the city. It’s heavy on traditional Taiwanese snacks. The fried chicken and stinky tofu get my vote here.
  • Tonghua Night Market is located close to the central business district of Xinyi. It’s a quieter night market, sitting among a deluge of teppanyaki restaurants. Don’t miss the famous sausage stand run by a perky “ninja” who hunts his own boar.

Want to get the most of your Taipei night market & evening eating experience? Hop onto one of these recommend Taipei food tours:

  • Ningxia Night Market Food Tour: This private food tour will help you sort through the best Taiwanese delicacies at Ningxia Night Market. Located in Zhongzheng, this popular hangout is one of Taipei’s best night markets! The tour is approximately three hours long, and includes hotel pick-up.
  • Shilin Night Market Food Tour: This private 4-hour tour digs into the Taiwanese goodness of the city’s biggest night market. It includes a fun & unique shrimp fishing experience!
  • Taipei Culinary Experience: Experience the breadth of Taiwanese cuisine in Taipei on this 3.5-hour food tour. It stops for gourmet dishes at the restaurants of Yongkang Street and for authentic street food at Ningxia Street Night Market.
Eat at Din Tai Fung at Taipei 101

With your stomach growling from sightseeing, tackle your hunger at Din Tai Fung. This restaurant is Taipei’s most famous eating institution. Although it’s been awarded a prestigious Michelin star, Din Tai Fung is surprisingly affordable. It’s one of the most value-laden fine Taiwanese dining experiences in the country.

Din Tai Fung Taipei 101

Of course, the popularity comes at a price. Expect a long wait to snatch a table at Din Tai Fung. In the end, I promise it’ll be worth your while. Remain patient and you’ll be rewarded with silky-smooth xiao long bao dumplings so good they might make your heart skip a beat.

Want to eat at Din Tai Fung without the wait? Secure your spot with one of these convenient tours:

Scoot up to the Taipei 101 observatory

Done grabbing a lunch at Din Tai Fung? Head upstairs to Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest buildings. Shoot up the world’s fastest elevator for some huge views of Taipei City.

Taipei 101

The elevator at Taipei 101 zips you up to the 89th floor to take in the 360-degree panorama. On the way be sure to check out the massive damper. It’s a marvel of engineering brilliance that keeps Taipei 101 from toppling in typhoon-prone Taiwan. Alternatively, slink up to the 91st floor to breathe in Taipei at the outdoor observatory.

If you decided to skip on Din Tai Fung, the Taipei 101 food court is another great place for a bite to eat.

Want to skip the crazy line-up at Taipei 101? Book your Taipei 101 observatory admission ticket before you leave and save some serious time!

Hike the tea trails around Maokong Gondola

At first glance, Taipei seems little more than a sprawling urban jungle. Take a trip to the fringes of the city, though, and it’s a different story. It’s not hard to feel worlds away from Taipei’s hustle. Add some bliss to your trip with some fresh air and exercise in the shadeless tea fields of Maokong.

Tea Fields in Maokong

The gateway to this chilled-out tea-growing area is the Maokong Gondola. This lofty cable car is located outside of the Taipei Zoo and easily-accessible via MRT. Hop on to scoot up to the tea fields & hiking trails. Along the way, you’ll breathe in incredible vistas of Taipei.

Want to get the most out of a visit to Maokong? Grab your seat on one of these recommend tours:

  • Taipei Half-Day Tea Culture Night Discovery Tour: Explore Taipei’s tea culture at Maokong on this 4-hour tour. The evening includes food & tea tasting. At Maokong’s teahouses, you’ll enjoy boundless views of its tea fields and distant cityscapes. The tour includes an option to continue on to Elephant Mountain. The trail offers the ultimate night views of Taipei and is highly recommended.
  • Taipei Tea & Sightseeing Tour: This full-day tour is for serious tea fanatics. It doesn’t just stop at Maokong. You’ll also get a chance to check out the Bagua Tea Plantation and Thousand Island Lake (Qiandao Lake) for some killer photo ops. The tour ends with a traditional Taiwanese tea ceremony at Shihting Old Street.
Take a brilliant day trip to Jiufen and Jinguashi

Toss one extra day into your Taipei itinerary. It’ll afford you the time to visit the old mining towns of Jiufen and Jinguashi. These twin towns are the prefect place to suck in fresh mountain air and enjoy epic views of the northern coast. They’re among the best day trips from Taipei and well worth the small effort to explore.

Old Alleyway in Jinguashi

Start the morning in Jinguashi. Once a prosperous gold mining town, Jinguashi has a storied history. It took a sharp turn for the worst under Japanese rule when it became a WWII POW camp. Leave enough time to explore the most interesting sites in Jinguashi. Check out the Gold Ecological Park and its Benshan Fifth Tunnel, former Japanese residences, and Shinto shrine ruins.

Much like Jinguashi, the town of Jiufen got its start as a gold mining town. Long since decommissioned as a mining centre, the town’s now one of Northern Taiwan’s most famous tourist attractions. Jiufen’s tourism got a huge boost from the popular Japanese anime film “Spirited Away.”

Jiufen Old Street

While the crowds in Jiufen may leave you jaded, the food won’t. Walk along Jiufen Old Street to discover the town’s famous street food concoctions. Those with a sweet tooth will love Jiufen’s taro balls and peanut ice cream rolls.

Want to get the most out of Northern Taiwan? Squeeze more out of your day trip with one of these hand-picked tours:

  • Jiufen Village & Northern Coast Tour: This half-day tour slides along the coast of Northern Taiwan. It includes the Northeast Coast National Scenic Area, Pitou Cape, Nanya Rock Formations & Jiufen (Chiufen).
  • Private Full-Day Northern Taiwan Tour: Skip the hassle of public transportation. Customize your Northern Taiwan itinerary with this superb private tour. Destinations ideas include Jiufen, Jinguashi, Pingxi, and Yehliu Geopark.
  • Full-Day Pingxi, Shifen & Jiufen Private Trip: Combine the mining towns with the charming Pingxi Branch Line rail-side villages on this full-day private tour. The tour includes a hike to the majestic Shifen & Golden Waterfalls.

Where to stay in Taipei

The best place to base yourself while visiting Taipei is Zhongzheng District. Alternatively, book yourself into one of the best places to stay in Ximending. Both of these districts are super central, close to Taipei Main Station, and offer quick access to superb food and fun things to do.

Here are some of the best hotels in Taipei:

  • Roaders Hotel is a stylish modern hotel is located near Ximending. It features a shared lounge with cool entertainment options like a 24-hour movie theatre and dartboards. Both Ximen Station and Taipei Main Station are within short walking distance.
  • Hotel Relax III is a contemporary hotel within a 5-minute walk of Taipei Main Station. It offers beautiful modern rooms with comfortable beds. It’s a great choice for staying in Zhongzheng.
  • W Taipei is the hippest hotel in the city. It charms with a sophisticated contemporary style that propels it ahead of the pack among the top 5-star hotels in Taipei. Views towards Taipei 101 and the city, especially from the sleek outdoor pool area, are stunning.
Don’t leave booking your Taipei accommodations to the last minute. All these hotels are popular and book up fast.

Getting to Taipei

Several major international airlines offer flights to Taipei from North America and Europe. Airline flying into Taipei include Cathay Pacific, All Nippon Airways, and EVA Air. I’ve flown all these airlines to Asia, and would recommend any of them—especially Cathay Pacific.

Looking for awesome flight deals to Taipei? I’d recommend starting your search at Cheapoair!

Taichung

2 Days

Zipping two and a half hours south of Taipei, you’ll reach Taichung, Taiwan’s third biggest city. Taichung doesn’t get a whole lotta of love from travellers, but it’s worth popping in for at least a quick visit.

Relaxing in nature near Taichung

What’s more intriguing in visiting Taichung is less the city itself but what lies beyond. The industrial city cozies up to to the island’s rugged interior. Here, some of the top nature spots in Taiwan including spectacular Sun Moon Lake reside.

When you’ve only got 10 days in Taiwan, try to squeeze in at least one day in Taichung. Leave at least one extra day to explore some of its beautiful natural surroundings.

What to do in Taichung

Compared to the likes of Taipei or Tainan, you won’t find a massive list of things to do in Taichung itself. Most travellers will prefer using the city as a launch pad for day trips into the central highlands. Here’s a quick list of places to check out while visiting Taichung:

Admire nature at Sun Moon Lake

If you can only fit in one activity in the Taichung area, make it a day trip to Sun Moon Lake. This dazzling lake lies amidst Nantou Country’s Central Mountains. It’s surrounded by verdant rolling mountains that’ll take your breath away.

Sun Moon Lake

There’s a whole slew of things to do in Sun Moon Lake. Enjoy the scenery on one of the sightseeing boat tours. Or rent a bike to tackle the 30-kilometre round-the-lake circuit. You can also catch incredible views along the 1.8-kilometre-long Sun Moon Lake Ropeway. Trips to the Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village are also popular. Since the bus ride takes about 90 minutes from central Taichung, you’ll need to be a true travel planning genius to fit it all in.

Just be aware: Weekends at Sun Moon Lake can get packed, as all of Taiwan seems keen on converging here.

Want to maximize your visit in the Central Mountains? Save time by hopping onto one of these awesome tours:

  • Sun Moon Lake, Puli & Lukang 2-Day Tour: Love mixing nature and culture? Carve out two days for this tour from Taipei. It focuses on Nantou and Changhua areas around Taichung. Highlights include Sun Moon Lake, a paper factory in the small town of Puli, and the temples of Lukang.
  • Sun Moon Lake Full-Day Bike Tour: On this full-day bike tour, you’ll cycle among bewitching lakeside scenery and the temples of Nantou County. Includes transportation from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake.
  • Sun Moon Lake and Nantou Cultural Experience: Join in on this complete full-day tour of Sun Moon Lake. It includes stops at Chung Tai Chan Monastery, and Wenwu Temple. You also get to taste local Shaoxing wine at Puli Winery.
Undertake a late-night Taiwanese food adventure at Fengjia Night Market

In choosing only one of the Taichung night markets, you’d do well to stick here. And with good reason: For food, Fengjia Night Market is one of the two best night markets in Taiwan (1).

Fengjia Night Market

Seek out some famous Taiwanese fried chicken, deep-fried squid-on-a-stick, or deep-fried Oreos. Wash it all down with what might be Taiwan’s tastiest bubble tea.

Revel in history at Taichung Folklore Park

Unless you can read Chinese, you won’t understand a thing while walking around Taichung Folklore Park . Either way, the historical park is a pleasant escape within Taichung. It provides a glimpse of Qing Dynasty-era Taiwan with its traditional architecture and artifacts.

You’ll love the lotus pond and arch bridge. They’re reminiscent of what you’d see in old Chinese cities like Lijiang and Suzhou.

Marvel at the story of Rainbow Village

I don’t want to overhype Rainbow Village (Caihongjuan Village in Chinese) for fear it might disappoint. It truly is small, but its story is remarkable. The Kuomintang built villages for its soldiers all over Taiwan. Mr. Huang, a war veteran himself, saw these villages slowly wiped away as his comrades passed on. He didn’t want his village to suffer the same fate. So, he painted.

Rainbow Village

Once discovered, his colourful murals gained instant attention, first around Taichung then in the whole of Taiwan. Thankfully, his plan worked, and his village was saved from demolition. Now, visitors from around the world drop in to see Mr. Huang’s legacy. Immerse yourself in this little colourful corner of Taiwan. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll get to see Mr. Huang, now 99 years old, continuing his work.

Where to stay in Taichung

Like Taipei, Taichung is an enormous, sprawling city. Sorting through all the accommodations in Taichung would be an absolute nightmare. One of the best areas to stay in Taichung is Xitun District, near the colourful Fengjia Night Market. Here are a few choices for the best hotels in Taichung…

  • Hotel 7 Taichung is a stylish design hotel located within a five-minute walk of Fengjia Night Market. The rooftop terrace offers incredible views over Taichung. It’s reason enough to stay here.
  • La Vida Hotel is another modern design hotel in Xitun District. It’s beset with spacious well-appointed rooms in a key location blocks from Fengjia Night Market. The hotel serves a delightful breakfast.
  • Miller Inn is an excellent value hotel close to Fengjia Night Market. The staff is extra helpful to ensure your stay goes without a hitch. Reservations include a free EasyCard for the night market.

Getting to Taichung

From Taipei to Taichung, it’s anywhere from about two hours to over three hours of travel time by regular train. The cheapest fares (and slowest trains) go as low as NT$241. Faster trains will set you back NT$375. If you’re in a rush, Taiwan HSR plies the route in just over an hour for NT$700.

Tainan

1 Day

From Taichung, it’s a quick 2- to 2.5-hour trip south to Tainan, Taiwan’s fifth biggest city and former capital. Like many Taiwanese cities, the charms of Tainan may not immediately jump out at you. But with a little prodding it might become one of your favourite stops during your 10 days in Taiwan.

Temple in Tainan

If you’re a little crunched for time, stick to spending at least one day in Tainan. It’s enough time to get the main sites out of the way to get a taste for the city before moving onto the back half of your Taiwan itinerary.

What to do in Tainan

As the old Taiwanese capital, there are plenty of things to do in Tainan for the cultural explorer. Although Tainan’s a large city, you can fit in many of the highlights on a time-crunch. Here are a few must-sees for your travel plans:

Get your Taiwanese food fix at Tainan Flower Night Market

It’s no Shilin Night Market or Fengjia Night Market, but in Tainan, Tainan Flower Night Market is the go-to venue for late-night street food. Unlike most night markets in Taiwan, Tainan Flower Night Market is only open three nights a week. If you want to visit, you’ll have to be in Tainan on a Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday night.

Tainan Flower Night Market

There are a few delectable treats to seek out in Tainan Flower Night Market. Look out for oyster pancakes, Korean-style fried chicken, and everyone’s favourite, bubble tea.

Dabble in Dutch colonial legacy at Anping Fort

Many people aren’t aware that for 40 years in the 17th century, the Dutch ruled Taiwan as “Dutch Formosa.” One of their most prized possessions on the island was Fort Zeelandia, now known as Anping Fort.

Anping Fort

Wandering around Anping Fort these days is an interesting look back to these, perhaps not so popular, times. The road leading up to the main gate, Anping Old Street, is a one of the better places to eat in Tainan. Grab a mid-day snack here to fuel up for your day.

Marvel in ancient Chinese architecture and traditions at Taiwan Confucian Temple

There’s no shortage of temples in Tainan. If you have to visit just one, Taiwan Confucian Temple is it. As the name implies, Taiwan Confucian Temple in Tainan is one of the most important centres of Confucian worship in Taiwan.

Tainan Confucius Temple

The temple has been preserved since 1666, despite being destroyed numerous times by war and natural disasters. It’s a testament to its importance within Taiwan’s Confucian community. Within Taiwan Confucian Temple, you’ll find plenty of well-preserved artifacts. They’ll help you better understand the impact Confucianism has had on the island.

Want to squeeze more into your visit to Tainan? Check out these recommended tours:

  • Private Tour of Tainan: Join a knowledgeable guide on this full-day tour soaking in the top sites of Tainan. Highlights include Anping Fort, Anping Tree House, Taiwan Confucius Temple, and Chihkan Tower.
  • Private Historical & Cultural Tour of Tainan: Another full-day private tour of Tainan skating through its history. It retraces the days between Dutch and Japanese colonization to its Chinese influences. Tour stops include Anping Old Street, Anping Fort, Confucius Temple, Chihkan Tower, and Dadong Night Market.
  • Small-Group Cooking Class in Tainan: Sick of the usual sightseeing? Start your day off with a cooking lesson. Here, you’ll learn to prepare local Tainan specialities like spring rolls, coffin toast, and aiyu jelly.

Where to stay in Tainan

There’s a surprising selection of quality hotels in Tainan. Start your search with a couple of these best places in stay in Tainan:

  • Hotel Brown is a modern hotel in a funky building with an amazing central location. Guest rooms are simple, but spacious and comfortable.
  • Golden Tulip Glory Fine Hotel is a modern 4-star hotel that’s more delightful than its chuckle-worthy English name lets on. Rooms are clean, colourful, and spacious. The location, a quick walk from Tainan’s top attractions, is near perfect.
  • Silks Place Tainan is a glorious 4.5-star that slots in among Tainan’s top luxury hotels. Rooms feature a fusion of contemporary and classic Asian design. The hotel’s vibe is unlike another in the city. Taking a dip at the rooftop pool to combat Taiwan’s humidity is worth the reservation alone.

Getting to Tainan

From Taichung to Tainan, bargain for between 2 and 2.5 hours on the train. The quickest trains cost NT$363. Slower trains can cost as little as NT$233 for anywhere from an extra 30 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes of travel time.

The HSR (high-speed) train zips between Taichung and Tainan in under an hour for NT$650. If you’re not on a tight budget, HSR is the way to go. Keep in mind: the HSR station is a little outside of town. You’ll need to grab a taxi or take public transportation to get into Tainan’s centre.

Kaohsiung

2 Days

The once bleak post-industrial Kaohsiung has done much to shed its “grey” reputation. Today, Taiwan’s second most populous city has become a worthy detour while travelling in Southern Taiwan.

Dragon and Tiger Pagodas

Kaohsiung is second only to Taipei in its cosmopolitanism. There’s a lot to love in Kaohsiung. In fact, it might even be one of the most underrated and under-appreciated cities in the region!

Try to spend a least two days in Kaohsiung getting to know the city. If nothing else, you’ll at least leave well-rested. You’ll also get a more well-rounded appreciation for the country, its cities, its people, and its food. (Even if you can only manage one day in Kaohsiung, it makes for a worthwhile stop on your round-the-island Taiwan itinerary.)

What to do in Kaohsiung

Given the size of the city, there’s a large handful of things to do in Kaohsiung that travellers will dig. Get started with these gems:

Swing around the Lotus Pond

Most postcard photos of Kaohsiung feature the Lotus Pond. This interesting little attraction is located in the northern part of the city. Lotus Pond has been kickin’ around since the Qing Dynasty. And it’s dotted with several buildings to prove it.

Lotus Pond in Kaohsiung

The most famous tourist attractions along the Lotus Pond are the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas and the Spring and Autumn Pavillions. Even if you find them a little kitschy, it’s hard to not admire the remarkable details.

Eat your heart out at Liuhe Night Market

Some might argue that there are better Kaohsiung night markets. But Liuhe Night Market has one thing that many night markets in Taiwan lack: space. Unlike most Taiwanese night markets, Liuhe Night Market expands across an avenue rather than a narrow street.

That’s not to say it doesn’t get busy.

Liuhe Night Market

Aim to arrive shortly after 6pm if you want to take advantage of that breathing room. Since Kaohsiung sits on the southern coast, it’s not surprising that Liuhe Night Market specializes in fresh seafood. The popular barbecued shrimp and fish soup are worth a try.

Evening gondola ride down the Love River

You don’t need to bring your significant other along to enjoy a night out on Love River. Not long ago, this river that runs north and south through Kaohsiung, was a complete wasteland. No one would have dreamed that it would soon become a major Kaohsiung tourist attraction.

Love River

Walking along the shore by day is worthwhile. Floating down the river at night though, you’ll truly get to admire the impressive Kaohsiung skyline.

Walk down the Great Path to Buddhahood at Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center

The Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center sits among the most elite Buddhist architecture in East Asia. Like Tian Tan Buddha in Hong Kong or The Great Buddha of Kamakura, Fo Guang is show-stopping.

Fo Guang Shan

You can’t help but be amazed walking down the Great Path to Buddhahood. It’s lined by eight pagodas representing eight schools of Chinese Buddhism. Looming above, the world’s largest Fo Guang Shan Buddha statue guards the path. Best of all, Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center is free to visit.

Where to stay to Kaohsiung

If you’re figuring out where to stay in Kaohsiung, keep in mind that the most popular hotels pepper the area south of the main train station. They are also several options near Liuhe Night Market. This is a good place to start your accommodations search. Here are a few of the best hotels in Kaohsiung…

  • Legend Hotel Kaohsiung Pier 2 is a funky artsy hotel located close to Love River. The colourful murals painted upon the hallway and room walls—and even the exterior—make Legend Hotel a unique choice among hotels in Taiwan. Both private rooms and dorms are available.
  • Hotel La Inn is a newly renovated hotel with spacious cosy rooms. It’s situated within a five-minute walk from Liuhe Night Market for easy access to tackle your late-night munchies.
  • Starhaus Hotel is a classy 4-star hotel exhibiting rich and sophisticated style. The hotel is a five-minute walk to Love River. The Starhaus Hotel the perfect getaway for couples in Kaohsiung.
  • Hotel Indigo Kaohsiung Central Park is a luxury design hotel daubed with retro stylings that’ll snag your attention. The rooftop bar spits out swoon-worthy views of Kaohsiung. It’s the perfect place to end your evening. Get the best price guaranteed and collect IHG Rewards for your stay by booking at IHG.com.

Getting to Kaohsiung

The train from Tainan to Kaohsiung is a quick one. Even with regular trains, you only need to carve less than an hour out of your day. Your wallet will only be NT$68 lighter.

For the high-speed trains, you’ll pay NT$130 and zoom between the two cities in less than 15 minutes. The only catch: the HSR train only takes you as far at Zuoying, a northern suburb of Kaohsiung. To get into Kaohsiung, you’ll need to hop on a train NT$15 to NT$23 for a 9- to 13-minute ride.

Hualien

3 Days

Mention to a Taiwanese person that you’re heading to Hualien, and you’re bound to face envy. In Eastern Taiwan, no destination is more popular among Taiwanese city dwellers hoping to escape their daily chaos.

Coastline near Hualien, Taiwan

The reason for its popularity among Taiwanese city folk isn’t surprising: Hualien is one of the best slices of nature in Taiwan.

Don’t attempt to jam everything into a long Hualien day trip from Taipei. Instead, spend two or more days here to allow yourself time for relaxation.

What to do in Hualien

Of the most recommended things to do in Hualien almost all involve getting outdoors. With beautiful lakes and mountain scenery at its doorstep, there’s plenty to see around here. It’ll open your eyes to the immense natural beauty of this treasured island.

As with many popular Taiwanese destinations, you’d best avoid weekends and holidays in Hualien as it’s a local hotspot. Split up your time up with the following:

Wander through canyons in Taroko National Park

Among most lists of things to do in Taiwan, Taroko National Park sits somewhere near the top. Taroko Gorge, stretching 36km through Taroko National Park, is the highlight here.

Taroko National Park

You’ll never tire of the area’s temples, canyons, rivers, and, especially, the hiking trails. The trails here offer some of the best hiking in Taiwan.

Looking to make the most out of your visit to Taroko Gorge? Check out these recommended tours:

  • Taroko National Park Private Tour from Hualien: Skip the line with this private full-day tour of Taroko National Park. Highlights include Chishingtan Beach, Qingshui Cliff, Eternal Spring Shrine, and Swallow’s Grotto. You’ll also get to hike along the Shakadang Trail. All entrance fees and hotel pick-up/drop-off in Hualien is included.
  • Taroko Gorge Small-Group Full-Day Tour: This full-day Taroko tour pushes through the park’s top natural wonders. Stops include Qingshui Cliff, the Eternal Spring Shrine and Swallow’s Grotto. You’ll also enjoy a leisurely hike along the Shakadang Trail.
  • Taroko Gorge Zhuiliu Old Trail Hike: Discover one of Taiwan’s most mesmerizing hikes along the ancient Zhuiliu Old Trail on this full-day hiking adventure. All permits and hotel pick-up/drop-off are included in the price.
Relaxing at Liyu Lake

Spectacularly clear and surrounded by mountains, Liyu Lake is built for chillin’ out. Hanging out here, you’ll get to admire Taiwanese nature at its finest.

Liyu Lake

Several cycling and walking trails ring the lake. They give ample opportunity for leisurely trips along the shoreline. If you happen to be in Hualien in May, head over to Liyu Lake to take in its famous Dragon Boat Festival.

Finding Taiwanese food bliss at Rainbow Night Market

You might have noticed I can’t resist adding night markets at every point of the journey. It’s not just because I sport a massive appetite, but because I truly could never get enough of Taiwan’s night markets. Hualien’s answer to Shilin Night Market in Taipei is Rainbow Night Market.

Of course, it’s nowhere near as large or famous. The food offerings aren’t shocking for frequent visitors to Taiwanese night markets. Where Rainbow Night Market is unique is its family-friendly atmosphere. It offers activities like video game arcades and small carnival-type games for kids.

Where to stay in Hualien

The East Coast of Taiwan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Taiwan. You’re spoiled with choice for accommodations. Here are a few of the best hotels in Hualien…

  • You Worth Inn delights with rustic and industrial design touches. They give the guesthouse a unique vibe among Hualien hotels. The higher-end rooms offer onsen-style soaker tubs to melt away your stress.
  • Just Sleep Hualien ZhongZheng is a modern boutique hotel situated in a near perfect Hualien City location. It’s close to night markets and excellent restaurants. The on-site library and vegetarian restaurant add to the hotel’s charm.
  • Arsma Hotel is a delightful 4-star hotel located in the centre of Hualien. Rooms are spacious and combine elegant touches with a modern style. Book yourself into one of the deluxe rooms for gorgeous sea views.

Getting to Hualien

From Kaohsiung to Hualien, the regular Taiwan Railways trains take about 4.5 to over 5 hours. The fare is NT$705. Unless you love epic train trips, avoid the Chu-Kuang Express and Tze-Chiang Limited Express. Travelling via Chaozhou, these trains are more expensive and the ride can take up to 11 hours.

10-day Taiwan itinerary: Tips, tweaks & more places to visit

  • Need a little time on the coast? Head over to Kenting National Park for a relaxing vacation on the beaches of Southern Taiwan.
  • Craving more amazing street eats? Add in a half-day trip from Taipei to Keelung. Visit Miaokou Night Market and sample its Taiwanese delights.
  • Want a tighter connection with nature? Visit Alishan National Scenic Area to hike and drink tea among amazing Taiwanese woodlands.
Ryan O'Rourke

Ryan O'Rourke is a Canadian traveller, food & drink aficionado, and the founder & editor of Treksplorer. Join Ryan as he explores the world two to three weeks at a time from his home base of Canada with Treksplorer's independent and unsponsored mid-range luxury travel guides including itineraries, things to do, where to stay, when to visit, and hiking & walking trails.

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