Sightseeing Spots · Food · Hotels · More! This guide has been crafted for the culturally curious and designed to inspire. Get it. Read it. Live it!
Are you wondering about the things to do in Taiwan?
Have you booked your flights to Taipei and are currently finalizing your Taiwan travel plan?
Then our Taiwan travel blog is for you!
Browse through our Taiwan guide and find great ideas for your Taiwan itinerary.
Explore places to go, where to sleep and most importantly, what to eat!
If you’re intrigued about Taiwanese food, check out our food guide on the best restaurants in Taipei & beyond. If you need a place to snooze, visit our guides on where to stay in Taipei, where to stay in Ximending and Silks Club: One of the best hotels in Kaohsiung. And if you’re interested in Taiwan as a whole, head on over to 10 of the most popular Taiwan night markets, 18 fun things to do in Penghu and 29 fun things to do in Taichung.
Things to do in Taiwan (Itinerary Ideas)
- Most Popular Sightseeing Spots & Attractions in Taiwan
- Most Famous Taiwanese Food
- Most Popular Festivals in Taiwan
- Best Hotels in Taipei & Beyond
- Best Hostels in Taipei & Beyond
Before you visit Taiwan, however, it might be a good idea to brush up on some basic facts.
When is the best time to visit Taiwan? It’s always the best time to visit Taiwan!
Taiwan is also referred to as “Formosa”, a term coined by Portuguese sailors in the 16th century. Formosa means “beautiful” and remains a popular term widely used on the island state.
Taiwan is surrounded by the East China Sea, South China Sea and Philippine Sea. The country’s neighbors to the south are Vietnam and the Philippines. However, its closest neighbor lies across the Taiwan Strait to the north – China.
The island state spreads across an area of 35.980 km2. In comparison, Taiwan is roughly the size of the US state of Maryland. Put differently, the United States are 280 times bigger than Taiwan!
The western stretch of Taiwan makes up one-third of its territory and is highly urbanized. It’s also home to most of the country’s 24 million inhabitants. The central and eastern parts of Taiwan – which make up the remaining two-thirds of its territory – are mostly dominated by tropical forests and mountain ranges.
The capital city of Taiwan is Taipei. Taipei is located in the north of the island and about one-third of the entire Taiwanese population lives here. Other notable cities include Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung – all of which are popular tourist destinations.
Generally, Taiwan is a cultural melting pot that encompasses Taiwanese, Chinese and Japanese influences.
Mandarin is the official language of Taiwan. In addition to Mandarin, vast parts of the Taiwanese pollution also speak Taiwanese Hokkien (also known simply as “Taiwanese”). Apart from that, Taiwanese also tend to speak Japanese and English.
Moreover, the Buddhist-Taoist religious fusion present in Taiwan accounts for 93% of the entire population.
Food plays a big role in the Taiwanese culture as well. As such, the Taiwanese cuisine is an integral part Taiwan’s identity and heritage.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s jump right in and explore the amazing things to do in Taiwan!
Most Popular Sightseeing Spots & Attractions in Taiwan
TAIPEI 101 (TAIPEI)
Constructed in 2004 and with a height of 509.2 m (1.671 ft), Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building, only to be eclipsed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010. Other interesting facts: Taipei 101’s fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve are world renown, it was the tallest sustainable building in the world, it boasts a pendulum with the largest damper sphere in the world and it has two high-speed elevators that travel at speeds of 60.6 km/h! Taipei 101 also offers multiple observatories, but we recommend to reserve a place at the world’s highest Starbucks on level 35 to enjoy a magnificent view of Taipei over coffee/tea and cake.
ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN (TAIPEI)
There are many spots from where you can marvel at Taipei 101, but Elephant Mountain offers the best one. Locally known as Xiangshan, the 183 m high Elephant Mountain is open from 9.00 am – 9.30 pm and is easily accessible by a hiking trail. It will take you 500 steps, a hike of approx. 30 minutes, to reach the elephant rocks / boulders (Instagram favorite) from where you can enjoy majestic day (sunrise) or night (sunset) views of Taipei 101 in particular, and Taipei in general. Before you embark on this spectacular hiking journey, make sure to check the weather forecast and dress accordingly.
CHIANG KAI-SHEK MEMORIAL HALL (TAIPEI)
The Chiang Kai-shek (CKS) Memorial Hall is one of Taipei’s most famous sightseeing attractions and always at the top of the list for things to do in Taiwan. This historical landmark stands at the Liberty Square and is flanked by the National Theater and National Concert Hall. It is also surrounded by a scenic park known for its cherry blossoms. The ground level houses a museum and a library. When you climb the 89 steps (one for each year of Chiang’s life) to the upper level, you will reach the CKS statue of the main hall. Here, the guard mounting ceremonies take place. There is no entrance fee and the opening times are 9.00 am – 6.00 pm. Yes, put CKS Hall on your bucket list!
NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM (TAIPEI)
The National Palace Museum shares its roots with the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City (Beijing, China). 700.000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks are on display in the permanent collection, making it home to the world’s largest and arguably finest collection of Chinese art. Notable items include the Yongle Encyclopedia and Jadeite Cabbage. The museum also holds the world’s largest collection of Ru ware, one of the rarest Chinese ceramics. Visit the museum’s official website for information on the entrance fees and guided tours, and make sure not to miss this must-see treasure of Taiwanese history!
LONGSHAN TEMPLE (TAIPEI)
The Longshan Temple is another famous tourist attraction in Taipei. The Buddhist temple is located in Wanhua District, also known as Manka, and was built in 1738 by Chinese settlers. It is dedicated to Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of mercy. Additionally, over 100 other gods are worshiped here. Before praying, make sure to (metaphorically) clean your body and mind at the waterfall located at the entrance. You can also take part in the fortune telling ceremony – ask the staff for assistance. If you are wondering what to wear, don’t worry, there is no dress code. The opening hours: 6.00 am – 10.00 pm. Combine your visit with a trip to Huaxi Night Market!
HUASHAN 1914 CREATIVE PARK (TAIPEI)
If you are wondering what to do in Taipei, visit the Huashan 1914 Creative Park and catch a play, concert or other cultural event. The park is located in Zhongzheng District and has an interesting history. Originally, the premise belonged to a winery that produced ginseng wines and sake. Huashan 1914 Creative Park doesn’t charge an entrance fee. However, you might be charged an entrance fee for some of the exhibitions. Our tip: visit Huashan 1914 Creative Park’s official website to stay up to date with the latest events. If you are into artsy stuff and like to experience Taiwan’s creative pulse, this gem is for you.
BEITOU DISTRICT (TAIPEI)
If you want to experience a truly Taiwanese phenomenon, visit the Beitou District – easily reachable by the Beitou metro station. Beitou is Taipei’s most mountainous district and as a thermal valley has one of the largest concentrations of hot springs in the world. Generally, hotels in the Beitou District offer public and private hot spring baths. Our tip: make sure to check the general rules pertaining the etiquette and dress code / attire before entering these. Apart from enjoying hot springs baths, we also recommend visiting Beitou Library (Taiwan’s first green library) and Beitou Park.
YANGMINGSHAN NATIONAL PARK (TAIPEI)
Yangmingshan National Park is easily reachable by Taipei Metro and bus. Here, guided half / day tours along the hiking trails will lead you to scenic spots such as Qingtiangang (area with breathtaking views of Taipei) and Lengshuikeng (indoor bathing area with cold hot springs). Xiaoyoukeng (area with steaming vents and sulfur deposits) on Qixing Mountain is another popular destination. The best time to visit the park is during the flower festival (December – April), allowing you to marvel at its flora / fauna and flower clock – a large garden artwork. Don’t miss out on Yangmingshan National Park’s mesmerizing landscapes!
FORMER BRITISH CONSULATE RESIDENCE IN TAMSUI (TAIPEI)
Fort San Domingo was built by the Spanish during their occupation of Northern Taiwan and claimed by the British after the second Opium War, who turned the fort into the British consulate residence. In 1980, the land and the building where returned to Taiwan. The building presents itself in an elegant red-brick Victorian-style. It is further complemented by the Min-Nan red-tile roof, giving it an exotically diverse appearance. The furnishings are well preserved, and the furniture layout has been re-created from photographic records. The Former British Consulate Residence in Tamsui is definitely an interesting place to learn more about Taiwan’s history.
YEHLIU GEOPARK (TAIPEI)
Yehliu Geopark is another Instagram favorite. Its distinctive feature are the hoodoo stones that dot its surface and form unique geological formations. Among the most popular are “Dragon’s Head” and “Queen’s Head”. The entrance fee is inexpensive and the best way how to go to Yehliu Geopark is either by train or bus. When visiting Yehliu Geopark you might also want to check out Yehliu Ocean World. If you are wondering what to eat while on your trip, we recommend checking out the restaurants on Gangdong Road. Yehliu Geopark is definitely worth a trip, not only for geo-enthusiasts and nature lovers!
Located on the side of a mountain, overlooking hills and the ocean, charming Jiufen is a former mining town that became popular due to its resemblance to the downtown in the anime movie “Spirited Away”. The mountain town is known for two things: Old Street and tea houses. Old Street is a picturesque, narrow alley lined with shops that offer delights such as Jiufen taro balls. The most popular tea house is “A Mei Tea House”. The Shengping Theater is over 100 years old and another landmark not to miss. Make sure to include Jiufen on your list of things to do in Taiwan! And if you are not in a hurry, stay in Jiufen overnight and enjoy a beautiful sunset over the Taiwanese coast in the evening.
DAJIA MAZU TEMPLE (TAICHUNG)
If you’d like to to learn more, visit our guide on fun things to do in Taichung.
Built in 1770 and dedicated to the Chinese Goddess of the Sea – Mazu – the Daija Mazu Temple is Taiwan’s most beloved place of worship. How popular is Mazu? Consider the annual Mazu Pilgrimage – the most popular hike of the world. Practiced for over 200 years, it involves hundreds of thousands of pilgrims carrying Mazu’s statue for 300 kilometers, visiting four cities in nine days. Taichung is the start and end point of the festival, which begins at the Jenn Lann Temple. The temple’s opening hours are 3.30 am – 11.00 pm and it is easily reachable by Dajia Railway Station. Let us know when you visited “Mazu March Mania”!
RAINBOW VILLAGE (TAICHUNG)
Originally built for the veterans of the Taiwanese military and their families, Rainbow Village was practically unknown up until a couple of years ago. Nowadays, however, it is an Instagram Mecca as the walls of the village’s houses are covered in beautiful paintings and graffiti. Hop on bus 617 to go from Taichung High Speed Rail Station to Rainbow Village. When you are in the area, you might also want to check out the Gaomei Wetlands. The opening hours of Rainbow Village are 10.00 am – 6.00 pm and it is the perfect breathing spell when traveling from Taipei to Kaohsiung!
NANKUNSHEN TEMPLE (TAINAN)
If you like the spirit and architecture of the temples in Taiwan, you’ll be happy to know that there is another one located in the Beimen District of Tainan: Nankunshen Temple. The temple has a rich history of more than 300 years and is regarded as the most beautiful one in Taiwan. Here, five Wang Ye Lords are worshiped: Li, Chi, Wu, Chu and Fan. The temple also boasts a golden plaque funded by its worshipers. It stands at a height of 6.6 m (21.654 ft) and is valued at US$ 19 million! Nankunshen Temple is a great place to experience the culture of Taiwan and the opening hours are 6.00 am – 9.00 pm.
SUN MOON LAKE (YUCHI TOWNSHIP)
If you’d like to learn more, visit our guide on things to do at Sun Moon Lake.
Taiwan’s largest lake, Sun Moon Lake, got its name from its geography: its east side resembles a sun, its west side a moon. The lake surrounds Lalu island and its nearby areas are dotted with aboriginal villages of the Thao tribe. You can visit the Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village by means of a scenic cable car service. Other activities include hiking, cycling and taking boat tours. We recommend spending a night at a hot spring hotel to experience the lake’s magnificent sunset and sunrise. From Taichung you can reach the lake by car, taxi or bus and make sure to check out the Sun Moon Lake Pass / Sun Moon Lake Package!
TAROKO NATIONAL PARK (XIULIN TOWNSHIP)
Due to its proximity to Taipei and Taichung, Taroko National Park is a popular destination for one-day-trips. It’s home to Taroko Gorge, an impressive 19-km-long canyon, and offers many things to do: hike along the waterfalls of the Baiyang Trail and up Hehuanshan, a mountain that offers rare snow views in winter! Also, enjoy the breathtaking sights of Qingshui Cliff and the Eternal Spring Shrine. If you wish to stay for a night, we recommend Silks Place, a hotel which also offers hot spring baths. At Taroko National Park no entrance fees apply. So, visit and take in the park’s awe-inspiring sceneries!
KENTING NATIONAL PARK (HENGCHUN TOWNSHIP)
Located on the southern tip of Taiwan you’ll find the island’s first national park, Kenting National Park. Here you can enjoy many attractions: the sandy beaches of Kenting Beach or the hiking trails of the Kenting National Forrest Recreation Area. Also, go snorkeling at Little Bali Bay, and visit Eluanbi Lighthouse and the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium. Where to snack? Kenting Street Night Market – obviously! From Kaohsiung, Bus No. 9188 is one of the most popular means to reach Hengchun Township. Book yourself a hotel room and enjoy an out-of-the-city getaway at this beautiful oceanfront destination.
YUSHAN NATIONAL PARK (XINYI TOWNSHIP)
Yushan (Mount Jade) is Taiwan’s tallest mountain and the name giver of Yushan National Park. At 3.952 m (12.966 ft) it gives Taiwan the 4th-highest maximum elevation of any island in the world! The park’s area covers 3% of Taiwan and includes large sections of the Central Mountain Range. The park is a haven for hikers and offers scenic panoramic landscapes – from the flora / fauna and wildlife, to the ravines and waterfalls – as far as the eye can see. No admission fees are charged, but you need a park entry permit to climb Mt. Jade. The permits are given out by a lottery. If you secured a permit, make sure to send us a experience report!
SHEI-PA NATIONAL PARK (WUFENG TOWNSHIP)
Although Shei-Pa is not as frequented as Taiwan’s other national parks, it’s a beacon of conservation. Prehistoric flora / fauna, rare or unknown elsewhere, are found here, as well as many rare and endangered species such as the Formosan Macaque, Mikado Pheasant, Swinhoe’s Pheasant and Formosan Landlocked Salmon. The park is also home to springs of some of Taiwan’s most important rivers and famous for the O’ Holy Ridge, a legendary hiking trail that offers amazing views of Xueshan, Snow Mountain. Shei-Pa National Park is a must-see and who knows, you might be fortunate enough to spot a Formosan Black Bear!
85 SKY TOWER (KAOHSIUNG)
Standing at 378 m (1.240 ft), the 85 Sky Tower is the tallest skyscraper in Kaohsiung. Under Japanese rule, Kaohsiung was renamed “Takao”, a two-letter word when written with Kanji and Chinese characters. The first of these letters was the inspiration for the design of the 85 Sky Tower. Within the building you’ll find offices, apartments and a department store. Also, the 85 Sky Tower Hotel and Restaurant cater to any needs you might have. Take the high-speed elevators, capable of speeds of 10.17 m/s, to the observation deck on the 74th floor (opening hours: 9.00 am – 10.00 pm) and take in breathtaking views of Kaohsiung.
BRITISH CONSULATE AT TAKAO (KAOHSIUNG)
A must-see for history buffs: as the first of its kind, the Former British Consulate at Takow was established in 1879. Today, the building is a historic place that serves as a tourist attraction. The structure lies at the peak of Shaochuantou and overlooks the Port of Kaohsiung and Xiziwan Bay. The site also runs a café where visitors can enjoy a cup of English tea. The opening times: 9.00 am – 9.00 pm. If you’re planning to go to Shoushan or Cijin Island, the Former British Consulate at Takow is the perfect starting point. If you just want to enjoy a lazy afternoon in the area, also visit Sizihwan and enjoy the picturesque sunset.
MONKEY MOUNTAIN (KAOHSIUNG)
Shoushan is a mountain located in the Gushan District of Kaohsiung. In the 17th century, Dutch explorers named the highland “Monkey Mountain” due to its large monkey population. The mountain and its surrounding areas make up a national nature park that is rich in flora / fauna and wildlife. Plus, Monkey Mountain has many interesting spots such as Snake Hill and Long Life Hill. Due to its easy accessibility through Gushan Station and its beautiful trails, Monkey Mountain is also a popular hiking destination. On your descent from the peak (Saracen’s Head) also visit Kaohsiung’s Martyrs’ Shrine and the Shoushan Love Observatory.
QIJIN RAINBOW CHURCH (KAOHSIUNG)
Hunting for your next Instagram spot? Then the Quijin Rainbow Church is the perfect sightseeing spot to go to! Don’t let its name fool you though: Quijin Rainbow Church is not an actual church but rather a contemporary art installation that features a vibrant open-air structure overlooking the sea. The art installation is located on Cijin Island, known for its seafood, historical architecture and long black sand beaches. How to go to Cijin Island? Take a ferry from Kaohsiung harbor. On arrival, rent an electric bike and take in the scenic views at the Quijin Rainbow Church, and explore Cihou Fort, Cijin Tunnel and Qijin Coastal Park!
LOTUS LAKE & PAGODAS (KAOHSIUNG)
The artificial Lotus Lake in Kaohsiung opened in 1951. It’s a popular sightseeing attraction due to its beautiful lotus plants and famous temples such as the Spring and Autumn Pavilions, and Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. The latter has a lot of meaning attributed to it. In fact, the 7 floors of the pagodas symbolize the first 7 steps of Buddha. Also, it is said that entering the pagodas through the dragon’s mouth and coming out from the tiger’s mouth turns bad luck into good luck. Both temples don’t charge entrance fees and their opening hours are 5.00 am – 10.00 pm and 8.00 am – 6.00 pm respectively. Visit the Lotus Lake at night to witness impressive light effects!
PIER-2 ART CENTER (KAOHSIUNG)
The Pier-2 Art Center is located in Kaohsiung’s Yancheng District and is housed in warehouses that where built in 1973. Previously, the warehouses where abandoned. But since the Pier-2 Art Center moved in, they have become Kaohsiung’s go-to spot for contemporary art exhibitions and installations. The temporary upside-down house is arguably the most famous. There are also art galleries and museums (e.g. Takao Railway Museum) and a host of trendy cafes and restaurants. On weekends the art center also hosts music festivals. Soak up some art and when you’re hungry, hop over to the Pier-2 Night Market on Jianguo 4th Road.
FO GUANG SHAN TEMPLE (KAOHSIUNG)
The temple is located in the Dashu District of Kaohsiung and is the headquarter of Fo Guang Shan, a Chinese Buddhist monastic order. It is the biggest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan and arguably the island’s most prestigious shrine. The temple also runs the Buddha Memorial Center, which is overlooked by the world’s tallest statue of a sitting Buddha. Legend has it that among the center’s artifacts one can find one of Buddha’s teeth – 1 of only 3 in the world! Generally, the landmark is well equipped: you’ll find restaurants, cafés and gift shops. The opening hours are 9.00 am – 6.00 pm, entrance fees don’t apply, and the dress code is liberal.
FORMOSA BOULEVARD METRO STATION (KAOHSIUNG)
Can a metro station be a tourist attraction? Yes, in Kaohsiung! The Formosa Boulevard Metro Station is famous for its “Dome of Light”, designed by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata. It’s the world’s largest artwork made of glass: 4.500 glass panels cover an area of 2.180 square meters! The installation’s themes are water, earth, light and fire and depict the history of human life. According to Quagliata, the message of the artwork is one of love and tolerance. The light shows take place at 11.00 am, 3.00 pm and 8.00 pm. Combine your evening visit to the Formosa Boulevard Metro Station with trips to the Love River and Liuhe Night Market.
PENGHU ISLANDS (PENGHU COUNTY)
If you’d like to learn more, visit our guide on things to do in Penghu.
Made up of an archipelago of 90 islands, the Penghu Islands are Taiwan’s next big thing. The largest city is Magong, and among the islands’ many historical sites you’ll find Jinguitou Fortress and Qimei Lighthouse. But, the Double-Heart of Stacked Stones in Qimei Township is the most famous. Penghu Rainbow Bridge is another popular sightseeing attraction. Naturally, the islands boast striking beaches and ample opportunities for snorkeling and diving. If you don’t want to fly in, take a 4 hours ferry journey from Kaohsiung to Magong. Add the Penghu Islands to your Taiwan itinerary and enjoy this hidden gem!
Most Famous Taiwanese Food
If you’re looking for the best eateries, check out our guide on the 24 best restaurants in Taipei & beyond!
THREE CUPS CHICKEN
Three Cups Chicken is a classic Taiwanese dish that is popular all over the world. In this dish the chicken is marinated with a mixture of 3 different ingredients: 1 cup of soy sauce, 1 cup of rice wine and 1 cup of sesame oil. Voila – this is where the name of the dish comes from. Three Cups Chicken is usually served with rice. So, if you usually enjoy sweet and spicy flavors, give this savoury dish a try!
America has the hamburger – Taiwan has Gua Bao. Gua Bao translates to “tiger bites pig” and it’s considered to be one of the most popular dishes in Taiwan – you’ll be able to find it anywhere you look. Basically, Gua Bao is shredded pork belly in a bun with additional ingredients – nuts and onions pair especially well. If you’re a fan of kebabs or burritos, you’ll definitely love Gua Bao!
BEEF NOODLE SOUP
Apart from Taiwan, Beef Noodle Soup is also popular through Southeast Asia. The recipe of the dish is quite self-explanatory: it’s made from a broth, stewed beef, vegetables and noodles. If you like aromatic and thick soups, you’ll absolutely love this one. Don’t miss out on this delicious dish during your explorations of Taiwan because it’s finger-licking and healthy at the same time!
The name of this dish sounds so interesting that you can’t help but be curious. The eggs are dubbed “iron” because of their dark color. Legend has it that a Taiwanese cook re-cooked leftover eggs that have been dipped in soy sauce in order to curb food waste. This led to the yummy discovery of Iron Eggs – eggs dipped in soy sauce that are repeatedly stewed and dried. While you’re in Taiwan you should definitely try them to experience their distinct flavor.
BRAISED PORK RICE
The classic version of this tasty dish is prepared with only 3 ingredients: minced pork meat is marinated in soy sauce and served on steamed rice. If you like both pork meat and the taste of soy sauce, you definitely won’t go wrong by ordering Braised Pork Rice in Taiwanese restaurants and night markets. The recipe is relatively simple, so you can also cook it yourself and bring back the taste of Taiwan to your kitchen!
SPICY HOT POT
When the Taiwanese call something spicy they’re definitely not kidding! Take Spicy Hot Pot for example. In this Taiwanese dish, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, peppercorns and red chilies are boiled into a spicy soup base. Then, ingredients such as pork belly, tofu and cabbage are added. Sounds fiery? Well, it sure is! As a lover of spicy tangs you can find Spicy Hot Pots in restaurants all over Taiwan.
Yes, the name doesn’t sound too appealing. However, if you taste Stinky Tofu, you’ll never want to eat regular tofu ever again! Peculiar for its, well…smell, it’s actually fermented tofu eaten as a snack or fast food dish. You will not find Stinky Tofu in Taiwanese restaurants. Rather, it’s sold by roadside stands and night markets – just follow your nose and don’t miss out on this tasty treat during your walks through Taiwan’s streets.
Tofu Pudding is a sweet dessert commonly sold by roadside stands and at night markets. Basically, the dessert is made up of fresh soft form tofu which resembles pudding. In China, Tofu Pudding is eaten for breakfast as a savory treat. In Taiwan, however, Tofu Pudding is eaten as a sweet dessert, commonly served with peanuts and sugar syrup. Due to its popularity, Tofu Pudding is readily available all over Taiwan – don’t miss out!
This yummy dessert consists of shaved ice pieces, and depending on the region, seasons and preferences, various toppings such as sugar water, condensed milk, mung or adzuki beans, and tapioca balls are added. Fruits such as mangoes and strawberries are also popular toppings. Shaved Ice has been eaten in Taiwan for centuries: it’s a true heritage piece of Taiwanese culture.
Pineapples are among the most popular fruits in Taiwan and bakeries use the surplus of this fruit to whip up delicious pastries such as Pineapple Cake. It’s a traditional Taiwanese sweet pastry dish with a simple preparation process and ingredients. It’s made out of pineapple slices or pineapple jam, butter, eggs, flour and sugar. Pineapple aficionados will definitely love Pineapple Cake!
Mochi is a dessert made from glutinous rice paste that is infused with ingredients like red beans, walnuts and coconuts. Traditionally Japanese, it’s very popular in Taiwan as well. But the Taiwanese have put their own spin on the dessert. In Taiwan, Mochi is mostly served plain with just a sprinkle of peanut powder. If you enjoy rice pudding or similar desserts, you should definitely try Mochi!
Mooncakes are traditional Taiwanese pastries eaten during the Moon Festival. The pastries have a thin crust and are traditionally filled with red bean, lotus seeds and yolks from salted duck eggs. What is interesting is that the crust of Mooncakes is always artfully created and decorated with Chinese symbols. If you find yourself in Taiwan in the time of the Moon Festival, someone may even gift you with Mooncakes as this is tradition.
The Custard Apple – sometimes referred to as “Sugar Apple” – is an exotic fruit native to Taiwan. The Custard Apple is easily distinguishable by means of its characteristic green rind, composed of knobby segments, and huge black seeds. The name of the fruit pretty much sums it up: its flesh is white, very sweet and creamy. Due to their special texture one might say Custard Apples are kind of fun to eat!
Bubble Tea is a fun and unusual drink that is popular among both locals and tourists. It’s an absolute hit in Taiwan and you can find it basically everywhere. Bubble Tea is tea-based, but milk, sugar, chewy tapioca balls, popping boba, fruit jelly, grass jelly, agar jelly, and puddings are often added. Ice-blended versions of Bubble Tea are frozen and put into a blender, resulting in a slushy consistency. The two most popular varieties: green pearl milk tea and black pearl milk tea.
Another popular Taiwanese drink found in supermarkets, local stores and night markets is the lip-smacking Papaya Milk. Although the combination of papaya and milk sounds bizarre, it’s actually quite delicious. That’s not all: Papaya Milk also offers numerous health benefits as it’s a rich source of antioxidant nutrients. Boost your health with a few sips of delicious Papaya Milk while you are enjoying your Taiwanese adventures!
Due to its numerous health benefits, Soy Milk has become an instant hit – not only in Taiwan, but across the globe. Soy Milk is a mixture of soybeans, some cane sugar and water. Although ways of serving Soy Milk in the US has changed over the years, the traditional Taiwanese Soy Milk is served hot and in a bowl. You can drink it as is or use it as an ingredient in traditional Taiwanese dishes.
For all beer lovers out there: your trip to Taiwan will definitely expand your horizons. Taiwan Beer is a brand of amber lager beers that truly depict the modern Taiwanese culture. Their distinct taste derives from the addition of locally produced ponlai rice (Formosa rice). Taiwan Beer pairs well with seafood and other trademark dishes from the Taiwanese cuisine. Make sure you order a Taiwan Beer along with your main dish to experience a full Taiwanese meal!
Kavalan Whisky is owned and produced by the King Car Group. Its named after the indigenous Kavalan people who originally inhabited the Kabalan Plain of modern-day Yilan County. Kavalan Whisky was first produced in 2006 and first released in 2008. All of its variants have a distinctive tropical flavor and are considered to be among the world’s finest whiskeys – making Kavalan Whisky a great idea for your next bar order in Taiwan.
Most Popular Festivals in Taiwan
LUNAR NEW YEAR / CHINESE NEW YEAR
The Lunar New Year holidays in the traditional Chinese calendar ring in New Year’s Eve, which mostly falls on a February. Apparently, the celebrations originate from the fight against “Year” – a mythical beast with the head of a lion and the body of an ox. Similarly, each year in the Chinese culture has a zodiac animal attributed to it. Today, the Lunar New Year brings together families to play games and feast on traditional foods such as fish, chicken, dumplings and pineapples. You might also receive a red envelope that contains lucky money! The Lunar New Year climax with the Taiwan Lantern Festival, so you’re in for a rollercoaster of festive activities.
PINGXI SKY LANTERN FESTIVAL
The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is world renowned and is visited by more than 100.000 people every year. It always takes places in the old coal mining village of Shifen which is located in Pingxi District. Contrastingly, the Taiwan Lantern Festival changes its location annually. During the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, people decorate paper-based sky lanterns with Chinese symbols and prayers, light up their combustible elements and release them into the sky. This creates the most beautiful sea of light. It’s easy to see why Lonely Planet and National Geographic have described the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
YANSHUI BEEHIVE FIREWORKS FESTIVAL
On the 14th and 15th day of the Lunar New Year, the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival takes place in Tainan. The festival is definitely not for the faint hearted as it has been called “the world’s most dangerous festival”. Legend has it that locals in the 19th century summoned Guan Gong, the Chinese God of War, to save them from an epidemic by using fireworks. Today, launching towers – dubbed “beehives” – are stacked with bottle rockets and set alight. Then, thousands of bottle rockets shoot out like a swarm of bees and it’s considered lucky to be struck by them. If you’re up for a flaming hot experience, visit the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival!
DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL
In the traditional Chinese calendar, the 5th day of the 5th month calls for the Dragon Boat Festival. It is said to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan who drowned in the Miluo River. He couldn’t be saved, so local threw sticky rice balls into the river so fish wouldn’t eat his body. The act of racing to Qu Yuan’s aid is the apparent origin of the Dragon Boat Festival and the reason why sticky rice balls are its signature food. Another curious tradition during the Dragon Boat Festival: it is believed that an egg can stand on its end at 12 noon. When you find yourself in Taiwan in June, visit the celebrations and enjoy some Zongzi and realgar wine!
MID-AUTUMN FESTIVAL / MOON FESTIVAL
The 15th day of the 8th month in the traditional Chinese calendar ushers in the Mid-Autumn Festival. It celebrates the story of Chang’e who was whisked to the sky after drinking an elixir. Her love for her husband, however, drew her towards the moon, the heavenly place nearest to earth. Now, she is known as the goddess of the moon. Today, the Mid-Autumn Festival brings together families under a full moon. Traditions include creating lanterns and having dinner together. The most customary foods include hairy crabs, river snails and mooncakes. If you’re in Taiwan during the Mid-Autumn Festival, gaze at the moon – Chang’e might just have a message for you!
BIENNIAL BUTTERFLY BEAUTY FESTIVAL
From November to March the Biennial Butterfly Beauty Festival takes place. The eco-touristic event is sponsored by the Tourism Bureau and hosted by the Maolin National Scenic Area. During the Biennial Butterfly Beauty Festival, millions of rare purple Euploea butterflies migrate to the area’s butterfly valley for their winter break. Interestingly, the butterfly valley in the Maolin National Scenic Area is one of only two winter migration gorges in the world – a fact many in Taiwan are very proud of. The Biennial Butterfly Beauty Festival is also a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness millions of butterflies in one location!
TAIWAN INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FESTIVAL
The annual Taiwan International Balloon Festival takes place from June to August in the Luye Highlands of Taitung County. Here, visitors can experience skies full of beautifully designed hot air balloons floating against an amazing mountain backdrop. The increasing popularity of the Taiwan International Balloon Festival has put the pretty Taitung County on the map as a hot air balloons hot spot and led to the inclusion of a growing number of aerial activities. For example, the festival now includes concerts and hot air balloon wedding celebrations! Visit the Taiwan International Balloon Festival to experience the feeling of flight and enjoy a feast for your senses.
FULONG INTERNATIONAL SAND SCULPTURE FESTIVAL
The three-kilometer-long golden beach between Yanliao and Fulong in the Northeast of Taiwan is home to the Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival. The festival takes place in April and is definitely amongst the top things to do in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District. The ulong International Sand Sculpture Festival is organized by the Tourism Bureau and the World Sand Sculpting Association (yes, that’s a thing). It doesn’t only include mythical sand castles from both local and international artists, but also sand art in all shapes and sizes. The Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival even includes upside down and underground sand sculptures!
PENGHU INTERNATIONAL FIREWORKS FESTIVAL
As mentioned previously, the Penghu Islands are Taiwan’s next big thing. Consequently, the Penghu International Fireworks Festival has continuously increased in popularity since its inception in 2003. The festival takes place in the summer season from April to June in Magong City at the Sea Wall of the Penghu Rainbow Bridge. During this time, visitors can marvel at breathtaking and dazzling fireworks shows on display. You can do so from Penghu’s beautiful beaches, while island hopping or aboard a sailboat. Our tip: head over to the Penghu Guanyin Temple (Guan-Yin-Ting) during the Penghu International Fireworks Festival for the best view!
If you’d like to learn more, visit our guide on things to do in Penghu.
GAY PRIDE PARADE
Taiwan has long been a leader of gay rights in Asia. In May 2019, lawmakers in Taiwan even voted to legalize same-sex marriages, a first for Asia. It comes as no surprise that the annual Gay Pride Parade in Taipei is a magnet for LGBTQs from countries where discrimination and unequal treatment is far more entrenched than in Taiwan. With more than 130.000 people attending, the Gay Pride Parade is the largest event of its kind in East Asia and the second largest in Asia behind the parade in Tel-Aviv, Israel. The Gay Pride Parade is always held on the last Saturday of October. So, if you want to show up and show your support for free speech and equality, mark the date in your calendar.
Best Hotels in Taipei & Beyond
If you’d like to browse through the best hotels in Taipei’s trendiest neighborhoods, visit our guide on where to stay in Taipei.
If you’re looking for something a little bit more hip in Taipei, we would suggest to browse through our guide on Ximending Hotels & Hostels.
W TAIPEI (TAIPEI)
The W Taipei is perfect for trendy travelers that want to experience the lively nightlife in Taiwan’s capital. Located in the city center, this chic boutique hotel is not only equipped with strikingly stunning rooms with scenic views of Taipei 101, but also with a restaurant that takes Taiwan’s food culture to the next level and your palate on a culinary journey.
HOTEL PROVERBS (TAIPEI)
Rich with warm walnut wood, copper and leather accents, guests at Hotel Proverbs will enjoy classic yet contemporary lavishness. You can also take in the breathtaking view from the hotel’s pool located on the 12th floor. The restaurant, TK Seafood & Steak, offers farm-to-table options and the East End Bar lets you enjoy distinctive drinks.
VILLA 32 (TAIPEI)
When planning as stay in Taipei’s Beitou District, Villa 32 should be on your list. The hot spring resort is located within the haze and greenery of the beautiful and peaceful Geothermal Valley. Here, you can relax in private hot spring baths or get a massage at the spa that caters to your every need. Villa 32 is definitelythe perfect place to get pampered!
HOTEL CHAM CHAM (TAIPEI)
In the Banqiao District of Taipei you’ll find Hotel Cham Cham. Here, you’ll experience charm, comfort and convenience – making you feel right at home. The hotel’s rooms will wow you with a minimalistic charm inspired by contemporary art. Also, a Taipei Metro station is around the corner, allowing you to get from A to B with ease.
PLAY DESIGN HOTEL (TAIPEI)
The Play Design Hotel is a platform that showcases the local design culture. All guest rooms have interesting names such as Future Lab or MIT 3.0 Room and are furnished by Taiwanese designers. The Play Design Hotel offers a perfect way to explore Taiwan’s contemporary art and you’ll definitely have a lot fun exploring its hidden amazements.
TANGO INN (TAIPEI)
The design of the Tango Inn is derived from a medieval gothic monastery and provides you with the perfect retreat to indulge your senses. Fitted with warm, refined and spacious rooms that boast high ceilings, the hotel is 1 metro stop away from Taipei Main Station. For travelers who want to take in the sights and sounds of Taipei, the Tango Inn is the perfect choice.
THE LANDIS / HOTEL ONE (TAICHUNG)
The Landis, rebranded as Hotel ONE Taichung, is located atop the Shr-Hwa International Tower and is located a 25-minute drive away from Taichung High Speed Rail Station. The rooms feature warm colors and large windows that offer sweeping city views. Also, the restaurant offers a delightfully modern fine dining and exotic fusion cuisine.
MINI HOTEL (TAICHUNG)
As soon as you enter the lobby of the Mini Hotel, you’ll see that you can expect something special – a whole property dedicated to the Mini Cooper. The hotel is well located, allowing you to enjoy Taichung’s attractions and activities. The Mini Hotel also offers a beautiful rooftop terrace where you can have a drink or snack and enjoy a view of the city.
GREEN HOTEL (TAICHUNG)
The eco-friendly Green Hotel is located a 5-minute stroll away from Calligraphy Greenway and located within 15 minutes of the National Museum of Natural Science. From the design to the food served, the ecological awareness of the Green Hotel shows throughout. The art décor hotel keeps its rooms simple, basking you in a relaxing and cozy atmosphere.
TREEART HOTEL (TAICHUNG)
Designed with eye-catching facades, the Treeart Hotel is an architectural masterpiece. The rooms are decorated in a classic and elegant tone, and amongst the wooden theme of the hotel you’ll also find lots of wonderful details. The nature-like décor of the Treeart Hotel is mirrored by its surroundings, which are dotted with greeneries and parks.
SILKS PLACE (TAINAN)
Silks Palace is the embodiment of the ancient Silk Road. Accordingly, the hotel’s design combines Western and Eastern elements in a beautiful, harmonious fusion. With its convenient location in the very heart of Tainan, Silks Palace offers an easy access to the city’s must-see destinations such as the Culture and Creative Park, and Old Five Channels Cultural.
U.I.J HOTEL (TAINAN)
Located 600 m from Tainan Confucius Temple, the U.I.J Hotel is perfectly located if you wish to explore the architecture and ancient landmarks of Tainan’s West Central District. The U.I.J Hotel offers beautifully appointed rooms and guests can dine in the in-house restaurant, which serves a delightful and tasty international cuisine.
SILKS PLACE (XIULIN)
In the picturesque Xiulin Township of Hualien County you’ll find Silks Place. The hotel is located in the middle of untouched nature, allowing you to enjoy breathtaking views of the mountainside and towering cliffs. Kick back and relax on the rooftop which offers an infinity pool and hot tubs, and which turns into an open-air cinema at dusk!
Silks Palace, No. 18, Tianxiang Road, Fushi, Taiwan
+886 3 869 1155
GLORIA MANOR (KENTING)
Inside what used to be President Chiang Kai-shek’s official guesthouse on the southernmost tip of Taiwan, Gloria Manor offers an eco-conscious retreat that provides a tranquil space to take a deep breath. The design of the hotel is kept in bright-white modernism and offers an intimate look at the unspoiled nature of Kenting National Park.
HOTEL INDIGO (KAOHSIUNG)
Situated across from the Central Park in Kaohsiung, the ultra-modern and trendy Hotel Indigo features delightfully decorated rooms. Guests can also enjoy city views at the rooftop bar of Hotel Indigo, dubbed “Pier No.1”. Due to its central location, this boutique hotel is the perfect hub for exploring all parts of the magnificent city that is Kaohsiung.
STARHAUS HOTEL (KAOHSIUNG)
The Starhaus Hotel puts you in the heart of Kaohsiung and it definitely lives up to its name: the rooms include touches such as jetted tubs and rainfall shower-heads, and premium linens welcome you to a good night’s rest. Attractions within a 30-minute walk of the Starhaus Hotel include the Love River, Central Park, 85 Sky Tower and Pier-2 Art Center.
H2O HOTEL (KAOHSIUNG)
Built with a modern façade, the H2O Hotel provides a swimming pool where you can relax and enjoy grandiose views of Kaohsiung. Every detail of your room is artistically and precisely thought-out, while your bed comes with down comforters and premium bedding. Extra perk: it only takes a 7-minute walk from the H2O Hotel to reach Ruifeng Night Market.
HOTEL DÙA (KAOHSIUNG)
Hotel Dùa is conveniently situated only steps away from the Formosa Boulevard Metro Station and Liuhe Night Market. The halls of Hotel Dùa are exhibition spaces of contemporary art and its softly lit rooms are visually pleasing with their understated and minimalist décor. The panoramic views of the étage 15 restaurant are also something not to miss!
PAPO’A HOTEL (KAOHSIUNG)
The Papo’a Hotel is situated in one of Kaohsiung’s prime locations, only 900 m from the Liuhe Night Market. The hotel has adopted an industrial interior and the rooms are kept in a simple and minimalist fashion. Papo’a translates to “applause” in Taiwanese and the magnificent hospitality of this cozy hotel definitely lives up to some Papo’a.
BRIO HOTEL (KAOHSIUNG)
The centrally located Brio Hotel is not only super trendy, but also super comfortable and homey! The contemporary art of this boutique hotel can be found in every detail – from the lobby to the rooms. Also, the atmospheric rooftop terrace of the Brio Hotel offers scenic views of Kaohsiung, which you can enjoy while having some revitalizing signature drinks.
Best Hostels in Taipei & Beyond
XIMEN WOW HOSTEL (TAIPEI)
The Ximen Wow Hostel is situated in the heart of Ximending, one of Taipei’s most popular areas. Attractions within a 20-minute walk include Lungshan Temple and Huaxi Street Night Market. Designed for both business and leisure, the Ximen Wow Hostel offers travelers an environmentally conscious architecture, decorated with traditional Taiwanese trinkets.
STAR HOSTEL (TAIPEI)
The Star Hostel is an awesome place if you like open space and minimalist design. From the hostel, a short MRT ride takes you to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and Huashan 1941 Creative Park. The beds are comfortable and offer a lot of privacy, while the Japanese style common area displays the eco-friendly character of the Star Hostel.
HOMEY HOSTEL (TAIPEI)
The colorful Homey Hostel is located in Taipei’s city center. The hostel is located in walking distance of Taipei Main Station and serves as a great hub for your explorations. The rooms are fitted with big windows that bring in a lot of natural light and offer quite a view! Also, the Homey Hostel strives to create a friendly and sociable atmosphere.
MEANDER HOSTEL (TAIPEI)
The Meander Hostel is a true traveler’s paradise. Situated in the city center of Taipei, the hostel embodies the spirit of adventurousness and open-mindedness. Referred to as a “hostel city”, Meander Hostel is a smart choice for backpackers on a budget that want to discover Taipei and meet other likeminded individuals in a fun, sociable atmosphere.
FLIP FLOP HOSTEL – GARDEN (TAIPEI)
If you are an artist, or artsy at heart, the Flip Flop Hostel should be your base when visiting Taipei. The hostel hosts an experimental art space and is located near the Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art. Just like the name suggests, the Flip Flop Hostel offers a casual and laid-back atmosphere that is perfectly complimented by Taiwanese hospitality and service quality.
TAIWAN YOUTH HOSTEL & CAPSULE HOTEL (TAIPEI)
Ideal for fun and relaxation, the Taiwan Youth Hostel & Capsule Hotel has created an environment that is comfortable, clean and safe. With its convenient location, the hostel offers an easy access to the Taipei’s must-see destinations. Additional perk: the staff at the Taiwan Youth Hostel & Capsule Hotel will help you make a reservation at the Starbuck in Taipei 101 – the highest in the world!
STRAY BIRDS HOSTEL (TAICHUNG)
If you’re visiting Taichung on a budget, the Stray Birds Hostel is a great choice. With a stay at the hostel you’ll be centrally located in Taichung, surrounded by the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Natural Science and Fengjia Night Market. Make sure to also take in the views of Taichung from the rooftop terrace of the Stray Birds Hostel!
LOOSHA HOSTEL (TAICHUNG)
It takes a 7-minute drive from Taichung Railway Station to reach this playful venue. The Loosha Hostel is a true monument to Taichung – from the city’s map on the flooring to the wall décor. Also, the hostel is located only a 15-minute stroll away from Taichung Park and Taichung City Hall. Apart from great comfort and excellent service, the Loosha Hostel also offers a free breakfast.
HAPPY INN & HOSTEL (TAICHUNG)
The Happy Inn & Hostel can be found in Taichung’s Central District. The hostel is located 1.6 km from the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and close to all the scenery and sightseeing spots Taichung has to offer. For those looking for more greenery, both the Taichung Park and Calligraphy Greenway are just around the corner of the Happy Inn & Hostel.
CAO JI BOOK INN HOSTEL (TAINAN)
The areas of the Cao Ji Book Inn Hostel are stacked with books, a haven for those who want to curl up after a long day of walking tours. The hostel features a sleek and minimalistic interior and each room is fitted with a balcony. Popular points of interest close to the Cao Ji Book Inn Hostel include the National Museum of Taiwan Literature and Tainan Confucius Temple.
U.I.J HOSTEL (TAINAN)
Offering city views, the U.I.J Hostel strikes a perfect balance between comfort and style. The hostel also provides an easy access to the Tainan Confucius Temple, Blueprint Collection Project Culture Park and Lover’s Wharf. You can also dine at the in-house restaurant of the U.I.J Hostel or enjoy a meal at Tu Hsiao Yeuh and Narrow Door Café just around the bend.
CHITOW HOSTEL (KAOHSIUNG)
If you’re looking for a conveniently located place to sleep in Kaohsiung, look no further than the wood-themed Chitow Hostel. It’s not a hostel, but a poshtel – a “posh” hostel. The Liuhe Tourist Night Market is located in the vicinity of the Chitow Hostel, perfect if you want to grab a bite before exploring the curiosities of Xinxing District, one of Kaohsiung’s most popular areas.
PAPER PLANE HOSTEL (KAOHSIUNG)
If you’re interested in street food and night markets, you can’t go wrong with choosing the Paper Plane Hostel. Liuhe Night Market is right there and ready to server both your foodie curiosity and cravings. The vibe of the Paper Plane Hostel is inspired by nature, a perfect prep for your trip to Lotus Lake, which you can reach within a few steps.
COMMA HOSTEL (KAOHSIUNG)
Located in the Yancheng District, one of the best-rated locations in Kaohsiung, the Comma Hostel is your gateway to the Pier-2 Art Center. The main characteristic of the hostel are the red brick walls, while the interior is minimalistic and the atmosphere cozy and warm. In case of the munchies, head over to Ya Rou Zhe, SunnyHills or Liouhe Night Market, all of which are in close proximity to the Comma Hostel!
And there you have it: our tips on things to do in Taiwan!
We hope we were able to inspire you on places to go, where to sleep and what to eat when in Taiwan.
Now, finalize your Taiwan itinerary and look forward to the journey of your lifetime!
Check out our latest posts: