Did you know Taiwan has the largest number and density of high mountains in the world? I for sure did not! And this wasn’t the only thing about Taiwan that surprised me.
I had no idea this little island used to be called ‘Ilha Formosa’, meaning ‘beautiful island’ in Portuguese. A fitting name though, Taiwan is beautiful indeed and really green! Even in the busy and modern capital Taipei, nature is just one MRT ride away.
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Taiwan itinerary and travel guide
In this post you will find:
- Why you should visit Taiwan
- Our Taiwan itinerary including all the best things to do in Taiwan
- General travel tips for Taiwan
- How to get around in Taiwan
- Where to find great budget accommodation in Taiwan
Why you should visit Taiwan
During our month in Taiwan I met some of the friendliest people of all my travels and I don’t say that lightly. When our rented electric scooter died on a steep hill in the middle of nowhere, the owner of our hotel came to our rescue.
One of our Airbnb hosts showed us his favorite restaurant (and insisted on paying for us no less) where we had the best beef noodle soup of our 1 month Taiwan trip.
The owner of a fruit stall kept giving us free fruit and drinks because we came back a couple of days in a row.
I could go on but I think I made my point: Taiwanese people are super nice! Anyway, on to the point of this post: our Taiwan itinerary…
Taiwan itinerary and travel map
In the map below you can find our Taiwan itinerary, at the end of the post you can download this map.
The ultimate Taiwan itinerary
- Day 1-3: Kaohsiung
- Day 4-6: Kenting National Park
- Day 7-9: Tainan
- Day 10-11: Taichung
- Day 12-13: Sun Moon Lake
- Day 14-19: Taipei (part I)
- Day 20-23: Hualien and the Taroko Gorge
- Day 24-29: Taipei (part II)
Taiwan trip: important facts and figures
• I traveled with my husband; our trip started in Kaohsiung and ended in Taipei. Our Taiwan trip itinerary was 29 days in total.
• We traveled around Taiwan by public transport (train, bus and MRT). In Kenting National Park and Hualien we rented a scooter. In Kaohsiung, Tainan and Taipei we used the public bicycle rental systems to get around.
• If you want to know more about the costs of our Taiwan trip, check my budget breakdown.
• I have written detailed guides for most places we visited in Taiwan, in these guides you can find detailed information about our day-to-day activities, transportation and accommodation. You can find the links to those posts in the itinerary below.
The best things to do in Taiwan
Day 1 – 3: Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung isn’t a well-known city, at least I had never heard of it before traveling to Taiwan. Of course that could also just me being ignorant… Anyway, Kaohsiung is the second largest city in Taiwan and this is where we started our trip.
Check out my post about things to do in Kaohsiung.
Day 4 – 6: Kenting National Park
From busy Kaohsiung we traveled to green Kenting National Park, in the South of Taiwan. Fun fact: did you know there are 9 National Parks on this small island?
Kention National Park is beautiful, the beaches are pristine and the empty roads through lush jungle make it the perfect place for a scooter road trip. An electronic scooter of course, very eco-friendly.
Check out my post about things to do in Kenting.
Day 7 – 9: Tainan
Our next destination was Tainan, the oldest city in Taiwan and one with a Dutch history which made it extra interesting for us (being from the Netherlands and all). Back in 1624, the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or United East India Company in English) built Fort Zeelandia in Tainan and used the city as their ruling and trading base.
Besides the Dutch Fort there are many beautiful temples in Tainan. In fact, there are more Buddhist and Taoist temples in Tainan than in any other Taiwanese city!
Check out my post about things to do in Tainan.
Day 10 – 11: Taichung
Unfortunately it was raining during our entire stay in Taichung. We made the most of it though and went to the movies, ate wood-fire oven pizza and hung out in cute cafes.
Day 12 – 13: Sun Moon Lake
The Sun Moon Lake is the largest lake in Taiwan and a very popular place to visit. It sure is a gorgeous place, unfortunately the rain that found us in Taichung followed us to the Sun Moon Lake.
We had planned to do lots of outdoor activities, like cycling around the lake and hiking up Mt. Shuishe. Instead, we spent most of our time in the Starbucks in Shuishe Village, running outside whenever the rain stopped for a brief moment to take pictures of the still beautiful looking lake.
Check this guide to the Sun Moon Lake to see how awesome this place is when the sun is out!
Day 14 – 19: Taipei (part I)
I loved Taipei! I’m not usually one for big cities for a long period of time, but I really enjoyed our time in Taipei. We spent 12 days there in total and still didn’t run out of things to do.
What I loved about Taipei is how easy it was to find some green, there is so much nature just a subway ride away from the center. We hiked a mountain trail in the Maokong area and didn’t come across anyone else!
Check out my post about things to do in Taipei.
Day 20 – 23: Hualien and the Taroko Gorge
The East coast was my favorite part of Taiwan and I have only seen a small section! There are steep cliffs, a stunning blue ocean, marble mountains and green jungle. It’s much less populated than the rest of Taiwan, only 4% of the Taiwanese live on the East Coast.
We spent 3 days in Hualien and used this relaxed city as a base to explore the famous Taroko Gorge and the area south of Hualien.
Check out my post about things to do in Hualien.
Day 24-29: Taipei (part II)
Because of the approaching typhoon season (June – October) it was already very rainy on the East Coast. Therefore we did not continue south to Taitung, but went back to Taipei instead. We had mostly sunny days for the remainder of our trip and there was a lot more to do in and around Taipei so I don’t regret this decision. But I sure would love to see more of the East coast of Taiwan! Next time…
Taiwan travel tips
In general traveling around Taiwan is very easy. The country is safe, well-organised and, as I said at the beginning of this post, the people are super friendly. Nevertheless, here are some travel tips to make your Taiwan trip even easier:
• Buy an get an iPass! You can use this pass all over Taiwan to pay for transport (MRT, bicycles, bus, train, ferry, etc.). The pass gives you a discount on the transport fares and saves you the hassle of having to pay with coins. You can top up your credit in 7-11 and Family Mart (you can also pay with your iPass in these shops and several others).
• Buy a tourist SIM-card at the airport. We bought a 30-day plan with unlimited 4G for only 1000NT (€30)! Imagine that, we could use unlimited data on all our devices (and we carry a lot of devices) for only €1 per day. We had reception everywhere, except in the tunnels on the East coast.
• Be prepared to use Google Translate a lot. While the people in Taiwan are super friendly and always willing to help, I was surprised to learn that many Taiwanese don’t speak English. At all. They will still try to help you though and Google Translate makes it a lot easier.
How to get around in Taiwan
Public transport is excellent in Taiwan: it’s dependable and inexpensive. There is a large network of trains, buses and MRT lines (in Kaohsiung and Taipei). You can also take a taxi or use the public bicycle system in Taipei, Kaohsiung or Tainan.
In the table below I’ve listed all the transport information (and fares) from our 1 month Taiwan trip.
Where to find great budget accommodation in Taiwan
In the table below you can find the places we stayed at (only the ones I recommend!). I’ve also written a separate post about our accommodation in Taiwan with more details about the places we stayed at.
|Hengchun||Kenting Light Blue Bed and Breakfast||€22/$26||Agoda|
|Hualien||Honey B Trip B&B||€25/$30||Agoda||Booking|
|Sun Moon Lake||Itathao Hotel||€39/$46||Agoda||Booking|
|Taichung||Taichung Loft Hostel||€22/$26||Agoda|
|Tainan||Tie Dao Hotel||€17/$20||Agoda||Booking|
Accommodation discount: if you have never traveled with Airbnb before you can get €30 of your first Airbnb stay with this link!
Planning a trip to Taiwan: in conclusion
I had a great time in Taiwan and hope this post will help you plan your trip to this wonderful little island. You can download the map and table with transport information below. If you have any questions, leave a comment or send me a message!