Taiwan

When it comes to Taiwan, one must know that the country overall history makes its identity confusing to begin with. Taiwan has been under control by an outside state on multiple occasions, and transitioning between states, adjusting identities, which unsurprisingly result in at least some form of uprising from the locals.
Today, Taiwan is the 19th largest economy in the world, and its immediate and long term futures are certainly bright.

3 Reasons to go

  • Culture: Taiwan has centuries of culture with more than 500,000 aboriginals. Most village tours and festivals are open to the public and can be a great way for you to experience the unique cultures.
  • Night Market: Streets and food stands come alive every night. From steamed dumplings to stinky tofu, there’s definitely something for everyone.
  • Safety: As a stable country where women feel perfectly safe, many tourists reviewed that they hardly ever felt worried or scared in Taiwan. According to our source based on crime statistics from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Taiwan is the world’s 2nd safest country!

Destinations

Destination A: Taichung
Known officially as Taichung City, this city has a population of over 2.7 million people, making it the third largest city on the island after New Taipei City and Kaohsiung.

Destination B: Nantou
Nantou County lies at the geographical heart of Taiwan and is the only county that does not border the coast. Taking in the breathtaking beauty of Nantou’s Sun Moon Lake is a must for everyone.

Destination C: Kaohsiung
Facing Taiwan Strait on the west and Bashi Channel on the south, Kaohsiung is a charming and modern metropolis in southern Taiwan as well as the second largest city of the island.

Destination D: Hualien
If nature and adventure is your thing, prepare to add Hualien to your list of places to visit. Many travellers like to base themselves here especially with Taroko Gorge being the main attraction.

Destination E: Taipei
The capital of Taiwan, a modern metropolis filled with bust shopping streets and contemporary buildings. The skyline of this city is crowned by the 509m tall Taipei 101 skyscraper.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Taiwan
There are two main commercial airports in Taiwan although most international flights arrive in Taoyuan International airport.
Upon arrival, make your way to Taiwan’s 3rd largest city, Taichung by bus. Simply turn to your left after exiting from the Terminal one Customs Hall and walk to the far end to get your bus ticket! The bus ride shouldn’t take more than two hours. Claimed to be the largest night market in the country, Fenjia Night Market offers one of Taiwan’s largest array of local eats.

Day 2: Taichung
One of Taiwan’s most picturesque spots and the country’s largest body of water, the Sun Moon Lake (picture at the top). It’s poetic name came from the unique shape that resembles the sun and moon. Take a leisure cruise on the placid lake to enjoy the scenic view before or after visiting Wenwu Temple, located north of the lake. We would recommend a hotel right beside the lake called Einhan Resort as it offers clean rooms and good service giving it a value for money!

Day 3: Xitou
Xitou Nature Education Area, also known as Xitou Forest Recreation Area, is one of Taiwan’s most noted attractions in Nantou County.You don’t have to be in love to experience firsthand why this area is a popular honeymoon destination. Just a hop and skip away is Monster Village. Despite its sinister name, this attraction is a Japanese-style village dotted with cute monster statues. To get to Xitou from the Sun Moon Lake, you can take the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle at Taichung Gancheng Bus Station, Taichung Train Station, or Taichung HSR Station. Get off at the last stop which is Xitou and walk about 5 minutes to Monster Village. A one way ticket costs about NT170 per person, while a round trip ticket should cost you NT330. Next up is Kaohsiung. Do consider taking a high-speed rail ride from Chiayi to Kaohsiung, as it will be much faster.

Day 4: Kaohsiung
Make the most of your time and explore Kaohsiung as early as possible! Located in Kaohsiung, Dashu District, the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center is the largest Buddhist complex center in Taiwan. This place could easily take up to 4 hours for a brief tour. The teaching on the eight pagodas is enlightening and even if you’re not into learning about religions, the view is just amazing.
Take a two hours train ride from Kaohsiung Railway Station to Taitung Railway Station and spend the night at a hot spring resort! We spent the night at Luminous Hot Spring Resort & Spa as all their rooms are equipped with a personal hot spring facility!

Day 5: Hualien
Get on a tour bus or rent a car but make sure you take the east coast scenic drive to Hualien, as you can enjoy views of pristine landscape seamlessly combining sea and mountains. The main attraction is Taroko National Park, the second largest national park in Taiwan and one of the natural wonders of the world. This is a place that proved the testament of the beauty of nature, a road that is worth the time to slow down pace and enjoy what nature has to give.
To our knowledge, there aren’t any buses operating from Hualien to Taipei City frequently so your best bet would be to book a ticket with a direct train to Taipei City. Also, for this particular train ride, we advise you to book your ticket 14 days in advance as it gets sold out quite often!

Day 6: Taipei
After breakfast, take an east coast scenic train ride to Yilan and while you’re there, feel free to visit San-Fu Leisure Farm to experience the rustic simplicity of farm life.
Shortly after lunch, cross the longest tunnel in Taiwan, Hsuehshan Tunnel to Taipei City. And depending on how much time you’ve got left for the day, take a stroll along Ximending, the first pedestrian zone in Taiwan to do some retail therapy.

Day 6: Taipei
After breakfast, take an east coast scenic train ride to Yilan and while you’re there, feel free to visit San-Fu Leisure Farm to experience the rustic simplicity of farm life.
Shortly after lunch, cross the longest tunnel in Taiwan, Hsuehshan Tunnel to Taipei City. And depending on how much time you’ve got left for the day, take a stroll along Ximending, the first pedestrian zone in Taiwan to do some retail therapy.

Day 7: Taipei
Jiufen and Shifen is a must-visit when one is in Taipei. Easily accessible by taking the train or buses, head to Shifen to experience the joy of lighting and releasing heavenly lanterns. Each lantern bears unique wishes for health, love, prosperity and more. Thereafter, take a bus to Jiufen, a former gold mining village crammed with teahouses and shops offering local delicacies and crafts.
Made a photo stop at the iconic Taipei 101 as this distinctive building is an integral part of the city’s skyline before embarking on yet another eat-a-thon at the famous Shilin Night Market, the largest night market in Taipei.

Day 8: Home Sweet Home
Depending on what time your flight is departing; grab your morning coffee at the world’s highest Starbucks located in Taipei 101. Make sure to make a reservation at least a day or two in advance. Should you need any help with that, I’m sure the lovely receptionist from your hotel wouldn’t mind making a simple phone call for you.

Tips & advice

  • Taiwan is not a particularly daunting place to visit. It’s crowded, and might be tad confusing, but you’ll be surprised at how friendly and helpful everyone is.
  • Chinese is the official language with a variety of dialects used in middle and southern Taiwan. English is considered a foreign language but the younger generations shouldn’t have a problem speaking simple English.
  • NTD (local currency) is used throughout the island. Remember to change your dollars in hotels or banks although credit cards are commonly used in the country, especially in restaurants, hotels and shopping malls.
  • If you want a perfect picture of Taipei 101, take a hike up Elephant Mountain, the trail paved with stone path and stairs and signage is great (and in English). It is located near the Xinyi shopping district.
Taiwan travel guide, 10th Edition May 2017 by Lonely Planet

Taiwan travel guide, 10th Ed May 2017
If you need additional information make sure you pack your favorite guide book, the Lonely Planet!

Author

KennyKenny Lucas from Singapore, is the founder of AlwaysGTG, a travel and lifestyle website made for everyone that love to discover more while on the road. Follow him on:
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Photo credit: Kenny Lucas