While Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand welcome millions of travellers each year, Taiwan is an Asian destination that is often overlooked. Off the coast of Southeastern China, just an hour away from Hong Kong, the island nation offers a variety of exciting attractions. Towering mountains, steep marble gorges, idyllic beaches and healing hot springs make Taiwan a paradise for nature seekers and adventure lovers. Also, it has the most diverse food scene in the world, thanks to the influences from Indigenous Taiwanese, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese and Han Chinese. Still not convinced why Taiwan should be on your list of places to visit? Taiwanese-born food and travel writer Cat Lin suggests these fantastic things to do in Taiwan.
If you’re travelling with kids, you’ll be pleased to know that Taiwan is a family-friendly country, with excellent facilities and lots to keep the little ones happy. There are many Taiwan tourist spots suitable for families. Here’s a 7-day itinerary in Taiwan.
- 15 Incredible Things To Do In Taiwan
- 1- Explore Taipei 101
- 2- Soak in Beitou hot springs
- 3- Connect to ancient history at the National Palace Museum
- 4- Discover the unusual rock formations at Yehliu Geopark
- 5- Visiting the tea plantations and experience tea picking
- 6- Find the Golden Waterfalls
- 7- Sample Taiwan’s most famous whisky
- 8- White water rafting in Hualien
- 9- Hiking Taroko Gorge
- 10- Go on a hot air balloon adventure
- 11- Meet the monsters at Xitou Monster Village
- 12- Cycle around Sun Moon Lake
- 13- Dine at night markets
- 14- Eat your way around Tainan
- 15- See the sunrise in Alishan
15 Incredible Things To Do In Taiwan
1- Explore Taipei 101
Taipei 101 is among the world’s tallest buildings and an iconic symbol of Taiwan as well as the most recognisable Taiwan tourist spot.
Paying homage to the culture, the 101-storey tall glass structure resembles a traditional pagoda with discs on each side to represent ancient coins.
The interior is just as incredible.
Take a closer look inside by getting on the Guinness World Record-breaking high-speed elevator.
In only 37 seconds, you will be transported to the observatory on the 89th floor.
From there, you can see Taipei City in all directions.
Walk down to the 88th floor to get a glimpse of the giant wind damper that is used to offset the force of wind and help the building stand upright.
To get a view of the building itself, hike up the Elephant Mountain, which is only a 20-min walk from the Xiangshan MRT station.
The view is definitely worth the effort.
Taipei is an easy city to get around. Read more about Taipei’s MRT system in this post on how to get around Taipei by subway.
2- Soak in Beitou hot springs
Colonised by the Japanese, it was during the Japanese occupation natural hot springs were discovered in the mountainous region of Beitou.
Today, Beitou has developed into a resort destination where public baths are available to visitors at as little as (40 NT) and is one of the most popular Taiwan tourist attractions.
There are also plenty of upscale hot hotels and spa resorts with private day rooms for those who want some privacy.
Besides hot springs, Japanese-style tea houses, gardens, thermal valley, and museums are also popular Taiwan tourist spots and should not be missed if you’d like to learn more about the area’s history and hot springs culture!
3- Connect to ancient history at the National Palace Museum
Home to over 600,000 imperial artefacts from ancient China, visiting the National Palace Museum is one of the top things to do in Taiwan for history buffs.
It has the largest collection of antiques in the world spanning 8000 years of history.
Browse through the paintings, rare books and objects made of jade, bronze and ceramic and you will be taken back in time.
Whether you prefer to tour on your own or join a guided tour, there are multiple ways to familiarise yourself with the different periods of Chinese dynasties.
There is even a mobile app you can download to explore the museum as a young detective.
4- Discover the unusual rock formations at Yehliu Geopark
Make a trip to the northern coast of Taiwan and you will find one of the most stunning places to visit in Taiwan.
The dramatic landscape of Yehliu Geopark is rarely seen anywhere else in the world.
Thousands of years of sea erosion and weathering created these bizarre geological formations that seem otherworldly.
Some are so interestingly shaped that people have given them a nickname, such as “Ice Cream”, “Sea Candles” and “Fairy Shoe”.
The most famous of all is “Queen’s Head”, named for its likeness to Queen Elizabeth I.
5- Visiting the tea plantations and experience tea picking
Taiwan has an ideal tea-growing environment and is known for producing high-quality Oolong teas so it’s not surprising that one of the things to see in Taiwan is its tea plantations.
From north to south, Taiwan is covered with tea plantations where different types of tea are harvested each season.
To experience tea picking, there are a few places to go in Taiwan, such as Wenshan Farm in Taipei which grows the best pouchong tea and harvests tea year-round.
Xu Yao-liang Tea Farm in Hsinchu produces champagne oolong tea (aka Oriental Beauty) but its harvest season is limited summer (June to August).
In the south, Alishan’ high-mountain oolong and Jinxuan tea have repeatedly earned the reputation of being the best teas in Taiwan.
In this region, Ruei Ming Shiang offers tea picking, processing and tasting tours year-round (except April and May, with appointments only).
6- Find the Golden Waterfalls
Taiwan’s mountainous landscape makes chasing waterfalls an amazing adventure but have you seen golden waterfalls?
One of the things to do in Taiwan is to visit the former mining town in New Taipei City’s Ruifang District, where you will find beautiful golden waterfalls.
The natural wonder is formed because of the heavy metal elements deposited in the riverbed, which is then brought downstream by the rainwaters.
It is an amazing sight especially when it is shimmering in yellow-golden under the sun.
7- Sample Taiwan’s most famous whisky
If you find yourself on the eastern part of Taiwan, stop by the scenic countryside of Yilan and spend a day whisky tasting at Kavalan Distillery.
Whisky tasting is one of the unexpected and fun things to do in Taiwan.
Kavalan has put Taiwanese whisky on the map with its award-winning tropical-fruit-style single malt whisky.
The distillery is open daily, taking visitors through the whisky-making process on-site at no cost.
For 1500 NT, you can upgrade your experience to taste whatever you want in the collection and blend a unique bottle of Kavalan Whisky, which makes a unique souvenir.
8- White water rafting in Hualien
For adventure seekers looking for some outdoor fun, one of the top things to do in Taiwan is to go on a white-water rafting adventure in East Rift Valley in Hualien.
Rafting trips will take you through a 24-km long stretch of the Xiuguluan River, starting from Ruisui all the way to Changhong Bridge.
On this wet and wild journey, you paddle through more than 20 sets of rapids.
It is an unforgettable experience, full of splashes, laughter and remarkable scenery along the way.
9- Hiking Taroko Gorge
While in Hualien, don’t miss the chance to visit Taroko Gorge, Taiwan’s most beautiful national park.
This 18-kilometer canyon was formed by erosion and earthquakes, cutting through towering walls of coloured marble.
Some parts of the canyons are over 1000 m high, making you feel so small and insignificant.
The park has many beautiful sights to see and plenty of spectacular hikes, making it a fantastic Taiwan tourist spot to visit.
Changchun Trail is a popular one that will lead you to the famous Eternal Spring Shrine.
Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail is a short trail featuring enchanting scenes of marble cliffs, raging river and lush vegetation.
10- Go on a hot air balloon adventure
Explore the most untouched landscape of Taiwan by visiting Taitung in the southeast part of the island.
The best way to do this is by taking a hot air balloon ride, where you rise into the sky and soar above the picturesque East Rift Valley.
Winding rivers, a patchwork of farmland, lakes and rolling hills unfold before your eyes.
In summer, there are lots of things to see in Taiwan at the International Taitung Hot Air Balloon Festival happening every year between June and August.
The festival is held in Luye Highland with dozens of hot air balloons flying high in the sky each year.
Besides hot air balloon rides that take place around sunrise (advance booking required), the festival also features music concerts and camping experience.
11- Meet the monsters at Xitou Monster Village
Go deep into the forest and visit the most quirky village in central Taiwan.
Xitou Monster Village in Nantou was built in 2011 to commemorate the friendship between a Japanese man and Taiwanese man during the Japanese colonial period.
Filled with statues of monsters, spirits and demons from Japanese folklore, the small whimsical village provides many photo opportunities.
It’s a fun tourist spot in Taiwan to visit, with food stalls and souvenir shops for visitors to discover.
12- Cycle around Sun Moon Lake
Xitou Monster Village can be easily combined with a visit to the lovely Sun Moon Lake.
Divided into two by Lalu Island (one resembling a moon and the other a sun), this scenic lake is Taiwan’s largest alpine lake.
Its mountainous landscape and picturesque cycling routes continuously attract millions of visitors every year.
The entire loop is about 30km long, taking you around the lake with abundant photo spots along the way.
For those who prefer a shorter version, consider the route from Sun Moon Lake bikeway to Xiangshan, which is only 3.4 km.
13- Dine at night markets
You can’t possibly visit Taiwan without checking out the night markets. It’s one of the things to do in Taiwan you simply cannot cross off your list.
If you don’t know already, Taiwan has the best night market scene in the world.
From traditional eats like oyster omelettes to inventive creations like cheese potatoes, you will find tons of yummy goodies to fill your belly.
Shilin and Raohe Night Markets are the popular ones worth visiting in Taipei but for more unique drinks and eats, go to Fengjia Night Market in Taichung – it promises to dazzle your senses.
14- Eat your way around Tainan
Speaking of food, it is worth making a trip to southern Taiwan, to the former capital and the oldest city – Tainan.
The city is commonly referred to as the food capital of Taiwan because of its strong culinary heritage.
In fact, it is where many Taiwanese dishes (like oyster omelette) originated.
Other traditional foods include Danzai noodles, shrimp rolls, Taiwanese meatballs and coffin bread, which after a few bites will make you addicted.
15- See the sunrise in Alishan
To see the most mesmerising sunrise, go to Alishan! Hop onto the Sunrise Viewing Train at 4 am in the morning and hike up to the Xiaoliyuan Mountain sunrise viewing platform.
There, you can gaze at the majestic sun rising above floating clouds and mountain peaks – totally worth waking up early for!
Cat Lin is a Taiwanese-born food and travel writer who loves adventure travel and enjoys sampling the local cuisine when travelling to foreign countries. She currently lives in Calgary, where she runs the food and travel blog For Two, Please with her husband, Kev.