Here Are 13 Essential Travel Tips For An Amazing Vacation In Taiwan
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Zachary Williams
Zach emerged from a small community from where no one ever left. He had previously only encountered literature and after reading about so many fascinating places throughout the world, the thought of never visiting them was too much to bear.
21st Jul | 11 min read

Table of Contents

    The founder of Orphaned Nation, Zachary, provides his top travel advice for exploring Taiwan in this article.

    Vietnam, China, and Nepal are just a few of the many countries I've called home over my extensive travels. Taiwan was the one spot that made me want to finally stop traveling. This island nation is a location where traditional customs and cutting-edge technology coexist in harmony, thanks to its rich culture and friendly people.

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    What Makes Taiwan So Great

    Taiwan is unique in the fact that you can bicycle from the windy coast to the green mountains in just a few hours. Lined with bike paths and hiking trails, many of these routes have you scaling high peaks and trotting along the seaside on the same trip.

    After your adventure to the top of Jade Mountain or finish relaxing on the sands of Kenting, you’ll inevitably find yourself in one of Taiwan’s sprawling cities. On the surface, cities such as Taipei and Tainan are full of artsy cafes and night markets. If you plan your trip just right, you’ll witness temple fairs flooding into the streets. With gods dancing to the beat of drums and blaring trumpets, Taiwan’s rich culture seems to pop out of the pages of a fantasy novel.

    One thing that I hear again and again is that once you travel to Taiwan, you’ll never want to leave. It's not just the bullet trains and the temple fairs that make people want to stay in Taiwan, but the warmth of its people. The Taiwanese will go out of their way to make sure you feel at home. From welcoming you into their families to inviting you to go out on a motorbike trip, the hospitality of Taiwan is felt from the very moment you step off the plane.

    Tip 1: How To Best Allocate Time To Travel Through Taiwan

    A trip to Taiwan can mean different things to different people. Those looking to hop from major city to city could easily be satisfied with a 10-day holiday. Those wanting to explore the vast natural beauty and abundant cultural heritage of the country could find themselves spending a lifetime in Taiwan and still be unable to experience everything.

    If you just have 2 weeks to spend in Taiwan, here are the places you will not want to miss. This itinerary misses half of the island, but you are sure to be blown away with this trip so much that you’ll be planning your next trip back to Taiwan before you even leave!

    Days 1-3 Taipei
    As the capital of Taiwan and its largest city, Taipei is home to countless night markets, massive temples, hiking trails, and some of the best-tasting food on the island. Just a few days in the city is not enough to do it justice. Some of the best day trips from Taipei include a trip to Jiufen, Tamsui, Yehliu, and Keelung to just scratch the surface.
    Days 4-6 Yilan
    Many travelers ride past Yilan on the way to Hualian from Taipei. If you’re looking for fewer tourists and more of a countryside atmosphere, you’ll want to make sure to not miss your stop in this town! Not only is Yilan home to stunning nature in Taiping Mountain and sand beaches on Waiao, but you’ll get the chance to explore even more of Taiwan’s coast on the breathtaking Turtle Island! 

    7-9 Hualien

    While in your hostel, you’re bound to hear people buzzing about Hualien. Hualien is the jumping-off point to Taroko Gorge. Nestled within the mountains you’ll be surrounded by stunning cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and temples sprinkled throughout the forest. 

    10-12 Taitung

    Taitung often ranks as one of the top places for people to visit in Taiwan. Primarily due to its proximity to the famous Green Island. Setting off on your boat, you’ll be given a whole new perspective on the country and its natural beauty. One of the best day trips you can take from Taitung is to Chishang. Be sure to rent a bicycle! With rice fields as far as the eye can see, a bike is the best way to explore the more rustic side of Taiwan.

    Tip 2: The Best Spots To See In Taiwan

    I fell in love with Taiwan’s traditional Daoist culture. Through temple fairs, travelers can see centuries-old practices come to life before their eyes. Even more touching is witnessing local people embodying traditional culture. Every city in Taiwan has its own customs and festivals in relation to gods. This means that you never know when you’ll run into one of these colorful processions!

    For those looking to explore massive parades, frightening deities, and traditional culture, you won’t want to miss cities such as Beigang, Baishatun, Yanshui, and Donggang.

    Some of the top cities to experience traditional culture in Taiwan are Beigang, Baishatun, and Dajia. In these cities, you’ll regularly find locals carrying statues of gods out from the temples and taking them out to the streets. Met with blaring music and explosions, the jingling of their thrones can be heard echoing throughout the city.

    During Lunar New Year, Yanshui is literally blowing up with excitement. Home of the yearly firework festival, smoke can be seen from the city for miles around. Be sure to bring earplugs! The deafening sounds of the festival are sure to have you clasping your ears!

    Donggang is one of the many places in Taiwan that hosts a boat burning festival. Filled to the brim with joss paper, these boats are cast out to see and lit ablaze in offering to the gods.

    Tip 3: Things To Do In Taiwan 

    Taiwan has something for nearly every kind of traveler. For such a small island, it is impossible to not find something to make you fall in love with the country.

    Hiking usually tops the list as one of the best things to do in Taiwan. For all you more experienced nature lovers, you’ll want to be sure to check out the peaks of Jade, Snow, and Ali Mountain. If you’re just wanting a more leisurely hike, you can find great trails around Taipei on Elephant Mountain and Yangming Mountain.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who are looking to lay out on a beach. Snorkeling, boating, and just overall relaxing can be found in many places along the coast of Taiwan. One place that pulls in more backpackers than any other is Kenting. Some other islands you’ll want to explore are Cijin and Lambai Beaches.

    It goes without saying that urban exploring also ranks among the best things to do in Taiwan. No matter if you’re in Taipei or Kaohsiung, simply strapping on your backpack and hitting the streets will have you mesmerized by the wonders of the country. From hidden away temples to sprawling skyscrapers, your entire trip can be spent getting lost in one of these breathtaking cities!

    Tip 4: How To Budget For Taiwan

    Taiwan is definitely not the most expensive country to travel to, but it is also not the cheapest. If you’re not careful, you can easily spend much more money than you were originally planning on. On a normal day in Taiwan, you can expect to spend around 800 NT (about 25 USD).

    Your average meal in Taiwan can be as cheap as 30 NT (1 USD) up to 250NT (8 USD). These meals can consist of anything from Taiwanese meatballs to a full Japanese donburi.

    Local travel in Taiwan is quite cheap. With buses, subways, and public bikes, getting around each city is a breeze and will not bleed your wallet dry. The most expensive fare for the Taipei subway is only 60 NT (2 USD)

    Traveling between cities can be a bit more expensive. Local trains will save you money but will take out a large chunk of your trip. A trip from Taipei to Kaohsiung will cost about 843 NT (26 USD) while a high-speed rail ticket costs 1,490 (46.5 USD)

    For hostels and hotels, you can usually find dorm rooms as cheap as 300 NT (10 USD) a night and private rooms around 1,300 (40 USD).

    Tip 5: Things To Pack For Taiwan 

    Being an island with dramatically different landscapes you can easily find yourself wearing swim trunks one day and a wool sweater the next. A lot also depends on the time of year you arrive in Taiwan. During the winter months, some of the mountains in Taiwan even experience snowfall!

    For a long-term trip to Taiwan, you’ll want to bring a little bit of everything. Sandals, shorts, and a t-shirt for your days lounging in Kenting. Sneakers, jeans, and a jacket for those rainy, windy days in Taipei. As well as boots, a sweater, and a coat for when you trek up to the stunning mountain tops of Taiwan.

    Tip 6: Best Time To Visit Taiwan 

    Taiwan is a country that can be enjoyed anytime throughout the year! If you’re wanting to avoid the heat of summer and the slight chill of winter, you’ll want to be sure to visit during the Spring and Fall months. Spring weather in Taiwan can be enjoyed from around March to May while Autumn lasts from September to November.

    During these months you’ll also be able to experience the stunning Matsu festivals in April and the Mid-autumn festival in September!

    Tip 7: Safety Tips For Taiwan 

    Taiwan is an extremely safe country. You can exercise your normal level of caution when out in crowded places without worry. The only dangers to look out for in Taiwan are traffic while in major cities and getting lost while hiking in the wilderness. The main mode of transportation in Taiwan is by motorbike. While these scooters are whizzing around there are also careless trucks and speeding cars barreling down the road. With many cities lacking sidewalks, be sure to be on alert while walking on Taiwanese streets. Deaths while hiking are not uncommon either. With sudden storms and wet paths, it is easy for someone to get lost or lose their footing. Be sure to stick to the main trails and do not hike alone!

    Tip 8: Working Opportunities In Taiwan For Backpackers

    Most backpackers are looking for ways to truly immerse themselves in local culture. If you’re looking to do this in Taiwan, you’re in luck! Taiwan has many opportunities for people who are willing to work for food and board. On websites such as Workaway and WWOOF, travelers can connect with various organizations on the island to gain a truly unique experience. Most of the work consists of organic farming. If you don’t have a green thumb there are also temples, hostels, and many other places to both volunteer and live in Taiwan!

    Tip 9: Visa Requirements To Enter Taiwan

    Taiwan is extremely easy to travel to. The country is open to nearly every nationality with visa exemption programs. These free visas can last anywhere from 14 to 90 days!

    Tip 10: Best Ways To Get Around In Taiwan

    Taiwan is blessed with a modern, efficient railway that stretches across the entire island. With both local trains and a high-speed bullet train, there are loads of options to get from one place to another. Being such a small country, buses are also a viable option, especially if you’re looking to get to more out-of-reach places. Many adventurous travelers even circle the entire island of Taiwan by bike! If you are wanting a truly one-of-a-kind experience, you can hop on Taiwan Cycle Route 1 and see all of Taiwan by bicycle!

    Tip 11: Best Things To Eat In Taiwan

    Everyone talks about stinky tofu in Taiwan, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Taiwan’s delicious cuisine. What gets me out of bed every morning is heading over to the local breakfast eatery to sink my teeth into some dan bing (a Taiwanese egg pancake). If you want to find a showcase of all the best things to eat in Taiwan, you’ll want to make sure you visit the lively night markets. With fried rice, dumplings, Taiwanese hot dogs, shaved ice, duck eggs, and Taiwan-style steaks, you’ll be eating something completely different every night!

    Tip 12: Unique Experiences In Taiwan 

    With cultural events such as temple fairs, your mouth will literally drop to the floor with all of the whimsical performers parading through the streets. Giant puppets, go-go dancers, lion dances, spirit mediums, and the famous bajiajiang. The bajiajiang are a temple fair troupe that portrays various guardians of the underworld. With painted faces, fangs, and weapons, the performers march through the streets to the beating of drums and blasts of firecrackers. One of the first questions you should ask after arriving in Taiwan is when is the next temple fair!

    Tip 13: Advice For Travelers Who Wants To Stay Long-Term In Taiwan

    If you’re wanting to make a longer move to Taiwan, there are many ways to make this dream a reality! For many travelers, the easiest way is to teach English as a second language. The Ministry of Education only offers these working visas to nationals from countries that are considered English-speaking countries, however. The next option would be to come to Taiwan to study Chinese. Other than just degrees, many Taiwanese universities offer opportunities to come to Taiwan and study the language from anywhere from just a semester up to four years! Some other countries have labor agreements with Taiwan and offer visas to work. Most of these travelers come from Southeast Asia.

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