When the Portuguese first laid eyes on Taiwan they felt compelled to dub it Ilha Formosa (Beautiful Island). I’d have to agree with them. There’s hardly a place on earth with a better size-to-awesomeness ratio than Taiwan.
Don’t let it’s tiny stature fool you: Taiwan is a heavy-hitter. Just about anything you’d expect on an epic East Asia trip—from buzzing cities and great food to swoon-worthy hikes and pristine beaches—can be had in Taiwan at a price and ease worth bragging about.
Not sure how to start planning your ultimate Taiwan itinerary? Follow along with this complete guide for your first 10 days in Taiwan!
Table of Contents
- 10 days in Taiwan: Things to know before you go
- Where to go in Taiwan: A complete 10-day itinerary
- 10-day Taiwan itinerary: Tips, tweaks & more places to visit
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. What time of year you decide to visit can make a huge difference on your trip!
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’s in full bloom with spring hitting full stride. Stick to early April if possible as the end of the month begins to see increasing rainfall.
In whatever season you decide to launch your Taiwan itinerary, be sure you’re prepared by checking out our complete packing list for Taiwan.
Do I need travel insurance for Taiwan?
Even though I’ve yet to make a claim (knock on wood!), one thing I never leave home without is travel insurance.
Overall, Taiwan is a safe place with few hassles, but knowing that you’re covered for things like trip cancellation, medical care, and lost baggage gives you a peace of mind that far outweighs the small cost of a travel insurance policy.
Looking for simple & flexible coverage? Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries.
It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. You can even buy a policy online while you’re travelling!
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.
Of course, it can still be a bit of a hassle staying connected as you move around, logging onto network after network. Plus, when you’re sharing bandwidth with hundreds of others, speeds can slow to a crawl!
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).
Although you won’t face the same restrictions in Taiwan as in mainland China, a virtual private network helps to secure your data so 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 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: If you’re planning to travel outside the main cities of Taiwan, expect a (fairly sizeable) language barrier. The Lonely Planet China Phrasebook, including phrases in Mandarin and Hakka, is good to have by your side in a pinch.
Where to go in Taiwan: A complete 10-day itinerary
The following ideas for what to do in Taiwan in 10 days or less are geared towards urban explorers with more than a few surprises for foodies and nature lovers.
This action-packed 10-day itinerary swings around the entire perimeter of the island, covering much ground and helping 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!
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.)
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!)
While it might lack the dynamism of Tokyo or the cultural treasures of Kyoto, Taipei captures your heart with the secret that grandmothers long figured out: through the stomach. Taipei is easily one of the best foodie cities in Asia, possibly even in the world. And all at a deep discount!
See Also: When is the Best Time to Visit Taipei?
Besides chowing down to your heart’s content at Taipei’s bustling night markets, the Taiwanese capital is the perfect city for simply wandering around without a plan. Whether its stumbling upon a stunning Taiwanese folk temple or following your nose to a hole-in-the-wall food stall that makes the best beef noodle soup you’ve ever tasted, you won’t be disappointed with spending time in Taipei.
What to Do in Taipei
Gorge yourself at Taipei’s night markets
Visiting Taipei without going to one (or several) night markets would be absolutely heretic. If there’s any single thing that Taiwan’s capital is known for it’s the food. And there’s hardly a better place to test the country’s best flavours out than at a night market.
Spread throughout the city, these buzzing hotbeds of activity get your adrenaline rushing as throngs of people skate past 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: The city’s biggest & busiest night market offering a massive variety of food that covers the whole gamut of Taiwanese flavours from savoury to sweet.
- Raohe Street Night Market: A more traditional night market in Songshan District at the edge of the stunning Ciyou Temple. The pepper buns here are to die for!
- Ningxia Night Market: A smaller night market closer to the heart of the city that’s hardly short on traditional Taiwanese snacks. The fried chicken and stinky tofu get my vote here.
- Tonghua Night Market: Located close to the central business district, this quieter night market sits 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: A private food tour that helps you sort through all the best Taiwanese delicacies at Ningxia Night Market in Zhongzheng, one of Taipei’s best night markets! The tour is approximately three hours long, and includes hotel pick-up.
- Shilin Night Market Food Tour: A private 4-hour tour that digs into the Taiwanese goodness of the city’s biggest night market. 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. Stops for both gourmet dishes at the restaurants of Yongkang Street and the authentic street food of Ningxia Street Night Market.
Eat at Din Tai Fung at Taipei 101
With your stomach growling from sightseeing, there’s perhaps no more popular place to tackle your hunger than Din Tai Fung, Taipei’s most famous eating institution. Although it’s been awarded with a prestigious Michelin star, Din Tai Fung is surprisingly affordable and might be one of the most value-laden fine Taiwanese dining experiences in the country.
Of course, all that popularity comes at a price. Expect a long wait to snatch a table at Din Tai Fung, but, in the end, I promise it’s worth your while. Those who remain patient in their resolve will be rewarded with silky-smooth xiao long bao dumplings so good they might well 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:
- Dinner at Din Tai Fung with Luxury Chinese Massage Treatment: Pamper yourself with a relaxing massage followed by a brilliant Michelin-starred dinner at Din Tai Fung with this superb combo package!
- Taipei Din Tai Fung Restaurant Voucher: Skip the perpetual out-the-door line-up with this super convenient voucher! Price covers 8 courses of the restaurant’s most famous soups & dumplings including dessert.
Scoot up to the Taipei 101 observatory
After grabbing a lunch at Din Tai Fung or in the Taipei 101 food court, prepare to bring on the nausea as you shoot up the world’s fastest elevator for some huge views of Taipei City.
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, an absolute marvel of engineering brilliance that keeps Taipei 101 from falling down in typhoon-prone Taiwan. Alternatively, you can slink up to the 91st floor to breathe in Taipei at the outdoor observatory.
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 might seem like little more than a jungle of urban sprawl. Take a trip to the fringes of the city though, and you’ll be able to feel worlds away from Taipei’s hustle while getting a little fresh air and exercise in the shadeless tea fields of Maokong.
The gateway to this chilled-out tea-growing area is the Maokong Gondola, a lofty cable car located just outside of the Taipei Zoo and easily-accessible via MRT. Hop on to scoot up to the tea fields & hiking trails, breathing in some seriously incredible vistas of Taipei along the way.
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. Evening includes food & tea tasting and boundless views of the tea fields and distant cityscapes at the teahouses of Maokong. The option to continue on to Elephant Mountain for the ultimate night views of Taipei is highly recommended.
- Taipei Tea & Sightseeing Tour: A full-day tour for serious tea fanatics that stops, not just at Maokong, but at the Bagua Tea Plantation and at the Thousand Island Lake (Qiandao Lake) for some killer photo ops. Tour ends with a traditional Taiwanese tea ceremony at Shihting Old Street.
Take a brilliant day trip to Jiufen and Jinguashi
Tossing one extra day into your Taipei itinerary will afford you the time to visit the old mining towns of Jiufen and Jinguashi to suck in some fresh mountain air and enjoy epic views of the northern coast. These towns sit, undoubtedly, among the best day trips from Taipei and are well worth the (small) effort to explore.
Start off the morning in Jinguashi, once a prosperous gold mining town whose history took a sharp turn for the worse under Japanese rule when it became a WWII POW camp. Be sure to leave time to explore the most interesting sites in Jinguashi especially 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, getting a boost from the popular Japanese anime film Spirited Away.
While the crowds in Jiufen may leave you a little 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 find Jiufen’s taro balls and peanut ice cream rolls particularly pleasing!
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: A half-day tour sliding along the coast of Northern including 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 and 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 lovely northern mining towns with the charming rail-side villages of the Pingxi Branch Line with this full-day private tour. Includes a hike to the majestic Shifen & Golden Waterfalls.
Where to Stay in Taipei
In my opinion, the best place to base yourself while visiting Taipei is Zhongzheng District. Alternatively— and equally awesome—is to have your pick of some 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 a couple recommendations for some of the best hotels in Taipei:
- Roaders Hotel: A stylish modern hotel near Ximending. 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.
- Booking.com | Agoda
- Hotel Relax III: Located within a 5-minute walk of Taipei Main Station. Beautiful modern rooms with comfortable beds make this contemporary hotel a great choice for staying in Zhongzheng.
- Booking.com | Agoda
- W Taipei: The hippest hotel in the city 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 simply stunning.
- Booking.com | Agoda
Don’t leave booking your Taipei accommodations to the last minute—all of these hotels are highly popular and book up fast!
Getting to Taipei
A handful of major international airlines, including Cathay Pacific, All Nippon Airways, and EVA Air, offer flights to Taipei from North America and Europe. I’ve flown all of these airlines over to Asia, and would recommend any of them. (Especially Cathay Pacific!)
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.
What’s more intriguing in visiting Taichung is less the city itself but what lies just beyond. The industrial city cozies up to to the island’s rugged interior where some of the top nature spots in Taiwan including spectacular Sun Moon Lake reside.
When you’ve only got 10 days in Taiwan, to squeeze in at least one day in Taichung plus at least one additional 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, it should be a day trip to Sun Moon Lake. This dazzling lake lies amidst Nantou Country’s Central Mountains and is surrounded by verdant rolling mountains that will take your breath away.
There’s a whole slew of things to do in Sun Moon Lake from sightseeing boat tours to renting a bike to tackle the 30-kilometre round-the-lake circuit to catching incredible views along the 1.8-kilometre-long Sun Moon Lake Ropeway to the Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village. 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: If you love mixing nature and culture, carve out two days for this tour from Taipei focusing on Nantou and Changhua areas around Taichung. Highlights include Sun Moon Lake, a paper factory in the small town of Puli, the beautiful temples of Lukang.
- Sun Moon Lake Full-Day Bike Tour: Join a tour guide who’ll transport you from Taichung to Sun Moon Lake for a 3- to 4-hour bike tour among the bewitching lakeside scenery and temples of Nantou County.
- Sun Moon Lake and Nantou Cultural Experience: A complete full-day tour of Sun Moon Lake that includes stops at Chung Tai Chan Monastery, Wenwu Temple, and Puli Winery where you’ll get to taste some local Shaoxing Wine.
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).
Seek out some famous Taiwanese fried chicken, deep-fried squid-on-a-stick, or deep-fried Oreos, washing it all down with what is possibly Taiwan’s tastiest bubble tea.
Revel in history at Taichung Folklore Park
Even if you won’t understand a thing (unless you can read Chinese), walking around Taichung Folklore Park is a pleasant escape within Taichung. The park provides a glimpse of Qing Dynasty-era Taiwan with its traditional architecture and artifacts.
You’ll love the lotus pond and arch bridge, 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.
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, and, if you’re lucky enough, get to see Mr. Huang, at 93 years old, continuing his work.
Where to Stay in Taichung
Taichung is, like Taipei, an enormous, sprawling city. If you had to sort through all the accommodations in Taichung, it would be an absolute nightmare!
One of the best areas to stay in Taichung is Xitun District, near the always colourful Fengjia Night Market. Here are a few choices for the best hotels in Taichung:
- Hotel 7 Taichung: A stylish design hotel located within a five-minute walk of Fengjia Night Market. The rooftop terrace, offering incredible views over Taichung, is reason enough to stay here.
- Booking.com | Agoda
- La Vida Hotel: Another modern design hotel in Xitun District with spacious well-appointed rooms in a key location just blocks from Fengjia Night Market. Serves a delightful breakfast.
- Booking.com | Agoda
- Miller Inn: An excellent value hotel close to Fengjia Night Market. Staff is extra helpful to ensure your stay goes without a hitch. Includes a free EasyCard for the night market.
- Booking.com | Agoda
Getting to Taichung
From Taipei to Taichung, you’re looking at anywhere from approximately 2 hours to over 3 hours of travel time by regular train. The cheapest fares (and slowest trains) go as low as NT$241 while the faster trains will set you back NT$375. If you’re in a real rush, Taiwan HSR plies the route in just over an hour for NT$700.
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 may quickly become one of your favourite stops during your 10 days in Taiwan.
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 fairly large city, you can fit in many of the highlights easily 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. Surprisingly enough, 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.
A few delectable treats to seek out in Tainan Flower Night Market include 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.
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 in Tainan to grab a mid-day snack 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, but 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 all of Taiwan.
The fact that it’s been preserved since 1666, despite being destroyed numerous times by war and natural disasters, is a testament to its importance within Taiwan’s Confucian community. Within Taiwan Confucian Temple, you’ll find amazingly well-preserved artifacts that will 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 all of 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 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 where 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. Get started with your search with a couple of these best places in stay in Tainan:
- Hotel Brown: A modern hotel in a funky building with an amazing central location. Guest rooms are simple, but spacious and comfortable.
- Booking.com | Agoda
- Golden Tulip Glory Fine Hotel: A modern 4-star hotel that’s far 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.
- Booking.com | Agoda
- Silks Place Tainan: A glorious 4.5-star that slots in among Tainan’s top luxury hotels. Rooms feature a fusion of contemporary and classic Asian design for a vibe unlike another in the city. Taking a dip at the rooftop pool to combat Taiwan’s humidity is worth the reservation alone.
- Booking.com | Agoda
Getting to Tainan
From Taichung to Tainan, bargain for between 2 and 2.5 hours on the train. The quickest trains cost NT$363 while the slower ones 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! Just keep in mind that the station is a little outside of town, so you’ll need to grab a taxi or take public transportation to get into Tainan’s centre.
The once bleak post-industrial Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second most populous city, has done much to shed its “grey” reputation and has become a worthy detour while travelling in Southern Taiwan.
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 with a more well-rounded appreciation for the country, its cities, its people, and, of course, its food. (Even if you can only manage one day in Kaohsiung, it makes for a worthwhile stop a on your round-the-island Taiwan itinerary.)
What to Do in Kaohsiung
Given the size of the city, there’s naturally 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 this interesting little attraction in the northern part of the city. Lotus Pond has been kickin’ around since the Qing Dynasty, and is dotted with several buildings to prove it.
The most famous tourist attractions along the Lotus Pond are definitely the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas and the Spring and Autumn Pavillions. Even if you find them a little kitschy, the remarkable details are truly hard not to admire.
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. If you get claustrophobic easily, Liuhe Night Market might be the most elbow room you’ll find in any Taiwanese night market as it expands across a large avenue rather than a narrow street.
That’s not to say it doesn’t get (insanely) busy.
Aim to arrive shortly after 6pm if you want to take advantage of that breathing room. Considering 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 one of the major Kaohsiung tourist attractions.
Although walking along the shore by day is worthwhile, in floating down the river at night you’ll truly get to admire the impressive Kaohsiung skyline.
Walk down the Great Path to Buddhahood at Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center
Much like Tian Tan Buddha in Hong Kong or The Great Buddha of Kamakura, the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center is a truly remarkable piece of religious architecture.
You can’t help but be amazed walking down the Great Path to Buddhahood, lined by eight pagodas representing eight schools of Chinese Buddhism, faced by the largest Fo Guang Shan Buddha statue in the world. Best of all, it’s free.
Where to Stay to Kaohsiung
If you’re figuring out where to stay in Kaohsiung, keep in mind that a good chunk of the most popular hotels are peppered in the area south of the main train station and 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: A funky artsy hotel located close to Love River. Colourful murals painted upon the hallway and room walls—even the exterior!—make Legend Hotel a unique choice among hotels in Taiwan. Both private rooms and dorms are available.
- Booking.com | Agoda
- Hotel La Inn: Newly renovated hotel with spacious cosy rooms. Situated only a five-minute walk from Liuhe Night Market for easy access to tackle your late night munchies.
- Booking.com | Agoda
- Starhaus Hotel: A classy 4-star hotel exhibiting rich and sophisticated style. The five-minute walk to Love River make Starhaus Hotel the perfect getaway for couples in Kaohsiung!
- Booking.com | Agoda
- Hotel Indigo Kaohsiung Central Park: A luxury design hotel daubed with unique retro stylings that immediately snag your attention. The rooftop bar, spitting out swoon-worthy views of Kaohsiung, is the perfect place to end your evening. Get the best price guaranteed and collect IHG Rewards for your stay by booking directly at IHG.com.
- IHG | Booking.com | Agoda
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.
Mention to a Taiwanese person that you’re heading to Hualien, and you’re bound to get a little envy. In Eastern Taiwan, no destination is more popular among Taiwanese city dwellers hoping to escape their daily chaos.
The reason for its popularity among Taiwanese city folk isn’t surprising: Hualien offers one of the best slices of nature in Taiwan.
Instead of trying to jam everything into a long Hualien day trip from Taipei, I’d recommend spending 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 that’ll open your eyes to the immense natural beauty of this treasured island.
As with many popular Taiwanese destinations, you’d do best to 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.
You’ll never tire of the area’s temples, canyons, rivers, and, especially, the hiking trails, offering 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, Swallow’s Grotto, and the Shakadang Trail. All entrance fees and hotel pick-up/drop-off in Hualien is included.
- Taroko Gorge Small-Group Full-Day Tour: Another full-day Taroko tour pushing through the park’s top natural wonders including Qingshui Cliff, the Eternal Spring Shrine and Swallow’s Grotto as well as 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 and admiring Taiwanese nature at its finest.
A number of cycling and walking trails ring the lake, giving 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 overly shocking for frequent visitors to Taiwanese night markets. Where Rainbow Night Market is unique is its family-friendly atmosphere, offering activities like video game arcades and small carnival-type games for kids.
Where to Stay in Hualien
As the East Coast of Taiwan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Taiwan, you’re spoiled with choice. Here are a few of the best hotels in Hualien:
- You Worth Inn: Rustic and industrial design touches give this guesthouse a completely unique vibe among Hualien hotels. The higher-end rooms offer onsen-style soaker tubs to melt away your stress.
- Booking.com | Agoda
- Just Sleep Hualien ZhongZheng: A modern boutique hotel situated in a near perfect Hualien City location close to night markets and excellent restaurants. The on-site library and vegetarian restaurant give this hotel a unique vibe.
- Booking.com | Agoda
- Arsma Hotel: 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!
- Booking.com | Agoda
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 really love epic train trips, avoid the Chu-Kuang Express and Tze-Chiang Limited Express trains that travel via Chaozhou. Not only are they significantly more expensive, but 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 to visit the 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.