Taiwan is a fascinating country with beautiful scenery, fantastic food, easy transport and accommodation options and very friendly locals. However, with so much to do, planning a Taiwan itinerary is not as easy as you would think. While Taiwan is rapidly gaining in popularity with those seeking an experience away from the well-worn tourist routes of Asia, it doesn’t yet feel overrun with tourists and a 7-day itinerary in Taiwan will give you a good taste of what the country has to offer.
Travelling around Taiwan for one month, we found it to be a family-friendly destination and Taipei is a great place to visit with kids. Visiting Taiwan is fun and there are places where you will be the only tourist in the restaurant, and where, without a good grasp of Mandarin or Cantonese, pointing may be the only way to get the perfect meal.
Our action-packed 7 days in Taiwan itinerary, with a focus on Taipei (as there are so many things to do in this fantastic city) will get you started but you might also consider staying for longer as there are lots of exciting things to do in Taiwan and stunning places to visit.
Before you start exploring, it would be a good idea to get an Easycard which gets you on to most public transport with a discounted fare.
Although Taipei is a vibrant city, Taiwan has so much more to offer, so we’ve also snuck in a few days to head south and experience the temple filled city of Tainan and the spectacular Taroko National Park.
- Taiwan Itinerary
- Day 1 – Taipei
- Day 2 – Taipei
- Day 3 – Taipei
- Day 4 – Day trip to Taroko Gorge
- Day 5 – Taipei to Tainan
- Day 6 – Tainan
- Day 7 – Tainan to Taipei
Day 1 – Taipei
Yongkang Street Market
Taiwan is a foodie’s paradise, and it’s essential to get your food bearings early on, so you’ll know what culinary treats to indulge in over the upcoming few days.
While you might get some hints online if you want to know what’s what, it’s a great idea to get a guide to show you around and point out those foodie gems that only the locals know about.
We hired a local guide to navigate the morning market at Yongkang Street (Dongmen station on the Metro Red Line) which was packed in the build-up to the New Year celebrations (though we suspect it’s always pretty busy regardless!).
There was much food available at the market, it was mind-boggling.
There was sushi, fish ball soup, local fruit and vegetables, doughnuts and scallion pancakes.
We tasted so much more than we would have if we were on our own, thanks to the guide helping us.
Our guide even took us to one of the many 7-11 stores in the area, which are a staple destination for the locals to get their morning coffee or even a boiled egg to kick start the day!
A handy hint that we made the most of throughout our time in Taiwan.
Da’an Forest Park
Following the food tour, you’ll need a sit down (or maybe a lie down).
Head east about 800 m from Dongmen Station (either walk or take the metro to Daan Park Station) toward Da’an Forest Park.
The park was developed as an answer to New York’s Central Park or London’s Hyde Park and surrounded by some of Taipei’s most expensive real estate.
It covers 26 hectares and boasts ponds, pavilions, pathways for strolling and recreational facilities including a great children’s playground, amphitheatre and even a skating rink.
Once you’re feeling sufficiently relaxed, head to the Da-an Park Station at the northern edge of the park and travel three stops to the east to the very impressive Taipei 101.
You’ll soon see why visiting this attraction should definitely be on your Taipei itinerary.
Built in 2004, and reaching 509m (1671 ft), Taipei 101 held the title of “World’s Tallest Building” until Burj Khalifa in Dubai won that mantle in 2010.
It also has an elevator that travels between the 5th and 89th floors at more than 60km/hr (just under 38mph), which is an experience all in itself!
Be prepared to queue to get up to the top, especially if you are heading up to capture the sunset.
At the top, as expected, you will have brilliant 360-degree views of the city and access to the level 91 observation deck.
Take a peek at the 660 tonnes tuned mass damper (TMD) that sits between the 87th and 91st floors, used to reduce the sway of the building in high winds by up to 40%.
It’s one of the few TMD’s on display anywhere in the world and offers fascinating insights into the inner workings of a skyscraper.
Once you’ve seen the sunset at the top of Taipei 101, head down to the mall at the bottom of the building.
Eat dumplings at Din Tai Fung
Put your name down for a table at the world-famous Din Tai Fung.
The dumpling restaurant is so popular you might have to wait a while (though you can get some shopping done in the meantime).
The dumplings are to die for and will cap a great day of food exploration in Taipei.
Watching the skilled chefs preparing the dumplings through the glass windows to the kitchen is a real treat.
Day 2 – Taipei
Elephant Mountain is the place to go for one of the most famous views in the city.
It’s a popular spot late in the day for a sunset experience, though heading there in the morning will allow you a little more space to yourself as you work your way up the steep steps.
Head to the end of the Metro Red Line to Xiangshan Station (the one after Taipei 101), then follow the well-signposted route south to Elephant Mountain.
It’s a 10 to 15-minute walk to the base of the mountain, past the delightful Xiangshan Park (and some lovely apartment buildings).
Buy some water (and maybe a snack or two) from one of the convenience stores at the southern end of the park before you tackle the mountain.
From the base of the mountain, the hike to the lookout point will take about 30 minutes (for most people) but the effort is worth it.
Your reward is one of the best views in the city looking back to Taipei 101 and surrounds.
There are also many paths around the mountain that you could take some time to explore if you’re feeling energetic.
Or just relax and soak up the view!
National Palace Museum
Once you’ve worked your way down from Elephant Mountain, head to the National Palace Museum for a real cultural treat.
To get to the museum, the best option is to catch the MRT to Shilin Station.
Then walk towards the overpass and catch a shuttle bus to the museum (pay the shuttle bus fare with your Easycard).
The museum houses almost 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese artifacts and artworks spread over 8,000 years, mainly collected by China’s emperors.
It is the most extensive surviving collection of Chinese artifacts in the world, as most were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
The audio guides available at the museum are also excellent, with adult and kid-friendly versions available.
Take your time to explore this exceptional museum. As it’s large and busy, plan to spend a few hours there.
The museum has a good cafe with both Chinese and Western food available. You’ll find more information here.
Shilin Night Market
No trip to Taipei is complete without at least one trip to a night market and the Shilin Night Market is within striking distance of the museum.
Take the shuttle bus from the museum back towards Shilin Station but don’t get off at Shilin Station!
Despite the name, there is a closer stop at MRT Jiantan Station, which will save you a confusing 20-minute walk!
Most night markets in Taipei are busy and Shilin is no exception.
So take your time to experience the sights and smells and be prepared to queue for the array of food on offer. Just follow the locals as they know what’s good!
Day 3 – Taipei
Take some time to head away from the tall buildings and crowded streets and head to the Maokong Gondola for a scenic ride up to the Taipei Hills.
The gondola s located a couple of hundred meters down the road from the entrance for Taipei Zoo, so take the MRT to the Taipei Zoo Station.
You can also pay for the gondola ride using your Easycard (or with cash if you prefer).
At just over 4 km long, the gondola takes about 20 minutes to glide its way over the lush forest to Maokong, a small village that’s known for growing some of Taiwan’s best tea.
There are plenty of tea houses where you can relax and take in the view.
Once you get back to the start of the gondola ride, take a short walk up the road to Taipei Zoo.
The 90ha zoo houses more than 400 different types of animals, making it one of the largest (and most impressive) zoos in Asia.
There’s plenty to keep the entire family occupied here for a good few hours.
Our kids loved the bird world and the amphibian and reptile house.
There are animals from all over the world including the very popular Giant Panda.
Catch the metro to Longshan Temple Station to see one of the most popular and impressive temples in Taipei.
Built in 1738, the Longshan temple is just one of many temples scattered throughout the city.
From the temple, head north (either walk or catch the metro one stop) to the vibrant Ximen neighbourhood.
While away some time shopping, playing in one of the many claw machine arcades, drinking a bubble tea and just wandering through the pedestrianised streets.
There are many excellent restaurant options available for dinner in this area.
Day 4 – Day trip to Taroko Gorge
Taroko Gorge in Taroko National Park is one of the most spectacular natural landscapes in Taiwan and well worth at least a day trip from Taipei (if not more if you have the time).
If you only have a day, a guided tour is the most efficient way to see everything but there is also the option to catch the train south, then pick up a rental car to wind your way through the gorge on your own.
Most tours will leave early in the morning (about 6 am), with a 2.5-hour train scenic trip south to the city of Hualien.
From Hualien, it’s a short drive north to the gorge which is justifiably considered one of the seven natural wonders of Asia.
The gorge follows the Liwu River, boasting a sheer landscape and over 35 tunnels chiselled out of the cliffs.
Make sure you see the picturesque Eternal Spring Shrine, dedicated to those that lost their lives in the building of the road in the mid 20th century.
Take some time to have a relaxing lunch at one of the restaurants along the road.
It will be a long day (approximately a 13-hour round trip), however, you will not regret making the effort! Check out this guided tour of Taroko Gorge.
Day 5 – Taipei to Tainan
Train to Tainan
At Taipei’s Main Station, purchase a three-day rail pass to get you to and from the southern city of Tainan in comfort.
Travelling at close to 300 kph, the train will get you from Taipei to Tainan in under two hours!
Take a taxi to the beautiful Chimei Museum, which houses collections of musical instruments, western art, weaponry and an excellent natural history gallery.
The museum was established in 1992 but moved to its current location in the delightful Tainan Metropolitan Park in 2014.
It’s a building that might look more at home in Europe.
It houses some surprisingly good collections, including the world’s largest violin collection.
Wusheng Night Market
Get a taxi to the busy Wusheng Night Market, where there are plenty of stalls and a chance to try some of the best Tainan street food around.
Day 6 – Tainan
Wander the streets of the historic Anping District.
Start at the Former Tait and Co. Merchant House, which offers a glimpse of the lives of the early traders in this important international trading port.
The main reason to visit this particular house is to see the abandoned warehouse, now the Anping Tree House, which has been entirely overtaken by banyan roots and branches.
The building has several walkways and viewing platforms for great photo opportunities.
From here, head to the Anping Old Fort, Fort Zeelandia, which was built between 1624 and 1634 by the Dutch East India Company.
The tower at the fort, a more recent edition offers a good view of the neighbourhood and city centre.
Wander around Anping Old Street and soak up the atmosphere before making your way to the Eternal Golden Castle, which is an impressive castle that was completed in 1876 to protect the region from Japanese invasions.
Enjoy the scenery before heading back to Anping Old Street for a drink and some dinner.
Looking for somewhere luxurious to stay? Take a look at this review of Hotel Eclat in Taipei.
Day 7 – Tainan to Taipei
Beitou Hot Springs
On your final day take the train back north.
As it has been a busy week, you’ll need a rest when you get back to Taipei.
One of the most popular options to chill out – away from the big city – is Beitou Hot Springs.
The hot springs are 30 minutes north of central Taipei.
Take the metro to Beitou Station and transfer to the Pink Line for one stop to Xinbeitou Station.
The springs are about a five-minute walk from the station.
It’s a popular destination where you can soak in warm, mineral-rich waters surrounded by beautiful lush forests.
There are both public and private hot spring pools.
The public pools are less costly but more crowded, with multiple, mixed-gender pools.
The pools themselves vary in temperatures from very cold to very hot, so choose carefully depending on your preference and take the time to try the different pools.
Shilin Night Market
Once you’re feeling suitably relaxed, it will be time to complete your stay in Taiwan where you started – with another food market.
The Shilin night market is just six stops down on the red line from Beitou.
You’ll be able to try all those local delicacies that you were too nervous about going near the start of your week in Taiwan!
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Kylie Gibbon is a passionate traveller who’s been to almost 60 countries around the globe. Her blog, Overseas Adventures, chronicles her family travels with her husband and 7 and 8-year-olds in tow.