Ten years ago, less imaginative writers wrote off Taiwan as a ‘Miniature China.’ The description has long outlived its usefulness, let alone its accuracy. Today, Taiwan is a vibrant and dynamic nation that thrives on diversity. No list will ever be definitive, but here’s our take on the 15 Things to Do in Taiwan.
Visit the Muzha Tea Plantations
Asians are predominantly tea drinkers, and few have a more discerning palette than the Taiwanese. The Muzha Tea Plantations are expansive and aromatic, with vibrant temples and teahouses scattered about, and are best seen through a gondola lift. Visit Three Stone Teapot Museum to witness artisan teapot and tea making ceremony, and sample a variety of Tieguanyin (“iron goddess of mercy”), the local specialty.
Ride the Alishan Forest Railway
To efficiently forest off the large cedar trees, the Japanese built an impressive narrow-gauge train. Today, logging has since ended and the government has granted the Alishan Forest national protection, but the Railway, remains the best way to appreciate. Catch the train before dawn and witness the villages, waterfalls, and high altitude tea plantations baked in the warm glow of the sunrise.
Book a tour of the Alishan Forest Railway over here.
Trek up Taroko Gorge
It’s the rugged and intimidating terrain that draws travelers to hike up some highest peaks in Asia. With certain bends only a meter wide, it’s sheer cliff to your left and a 400 meter drop on your right. The sights are just as dramatic as the climb itself, Taroko Gorge is best experienced through River Tracing: an outdoor activity where travelers wade, climb, and trek through the rivers.
Schedule your climb with us over here.
Climb to the top of Taipei 101
At 101 floors, the skyscraper is both an architectural gem and engineering feat. The number eight—for good fortune and prosperity—is a recurring architectural theme, and there is no mistaking the unique silhouette this creates: Taipei 101 defines the Taiwan skyline as a bamboo, a symbol of growth. Climb to the very top in one of the world’s fastest elevators and linger for an afternoon; the shadow it casts creates a natural sundial over the landscaped park.
See the Taipei city skyline today when you book here.
Arts, Culture, and History
History Lessons at the National Palace Museum
The National Palace Museum houses over 8,000 years of Chinese history and sits as a quiet testament to Taiwan’s complex political climate.
It begins at the Forbidden City, where the Imperial Family kept dynasties’ worth of treasures dating back to the Song dynasty. Between 1937 and 1949, over 600,000 pieces were bounced around the country, constantly evading the devastation of war—first the Japanese, and then the Chinese Civil War. Many historians claim that not a single artifact was lost along the 20-year journey.
See the collection yourself when you book with us today over here!
Pray for Good Fortune at the Xingtian Temple
For wealth and prosperity: Draw a bamboo fortune, toss wooden jiaobei blocks for your answers, offer whatever food you have on hand, and pray. Xingtian Temple is consistently frequented by visitors seeking divine guidance. You’ll leave the temple with the scent of incense lingering on your clothes; the scent is meant to drive away evil spirits. Keep some of this luck with by purchasing a small, fragrant blessing bag from any of the fortune-telling street vendors.
Catch a live show at The Red House Theatre
Ximendeng’s true personality can be found not on the streets, but on the stage. Its oldest and most prominent building is The Red House Theatre, which has undergone its own set of cultural transformations. It’s donned the face of a marketplace, an opera house, a live performance, and a movie theatre. Today, it’s all these things at once: a multifunctional cultural centre that regularly hosts live performances and exhibitions. See the energy spill over to the entire district; every street hosts either a small concert, a live performance, or a stall of handmade jewelry.
Release a sky lantern at the Pingxi Railway Tracks
According to folklore, the sky lanterns were originally meant to transmit coded military information. Then they were used to send messages to the beloved deceased. While locals and visitors send up their lanterns year-round, the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival at Chinese New Year is a truly moving experience. Thousands of attendees release their paper lanterns adorned with hopes, dreams, and prayers into the night sky, nearly outnumbering the stars.
Release your own sky lantern with KKday.
Witness Aboriginal Culture Day
The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village gives visitors a glimpse of the colourful indigenous Taiwanese culture. Experience the basket weaving and wood carving, and watch stunning performances of ritual dances to the sound of live music. The best way to reach the Culture Village is through the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, a 7-minute ropeway ride which treats visitors to the incredible view of Sun Moon Lake.
Witness the Aboriginal culture and more here with KKday!
Food and Shopping
Street eats at Yongkang
Skip the snaking lines for xiao long bao and mango shaved ice and venture for the more exotic dishes. Yongkang Street is packed with everything from sophisticated restaurants serving classic and fusion Taiwanese dishes, to novelty cafes and food stalls that cater to the more experimental and adventurous palette.
Native Delights at Hualien
Most people come to Hualien for the incredible natural sights, but Hualien also plays host to some of the most authentic Taiwanese cuisine. Replenish yourself after hiking the trails of Taroko Gorge, taste a generations-kept family recipe with Hai Pu Oyster Omlette, cure your sushi fix at the Lai Sang Sushi House, and sample the local specialty Dai Ji Bian Shi’s dumpling soup. Still not satisfied? Check out our Ultimate Food Guide to Hualien, Taiwan.
Shop at the Shida Night Market
There are hundreds of marketplaces all over Taiwan, but the Shida Night Market, named after the nearby Shida University, has a personality all its own. Every street is bustling with youthful energy and creativity on a student budget, making it one of the best places in Taiwan to look for stylish, inexpensive fashion. Haggle your way to the perfect outfit, and use your spare change to sample all sorts of unique eats. Our advice? Go for the Shi Yun Fried Chicken and the Beigang Tofu Pudding, or check out our Shida Night Market Food Guide.
Get Spirited Away at Jiufen
The air in this quaint mountain village smells of flavorful tea. Hayao Miyazaki fans will recognize the winding cobblestone lanes and colourful town houses of Jiufen. Visit The Grand Teahouse and see where many authors, poets, and artists—Miyazaki included—come to work. Fancy yourself just a regular traveller? Spend the afternoon experiencing an authentic Taiwanese tea ceremony and sip your tea over the scenic view.
Experience the enchanting allure of Jiufen with KKday today by booking here.
Paraglide over Rift Valley
Hualien sits on the Eastern Coast of Taiwan, with some of the world’s highest sea cliffs, crystal blue-green rivers, and incredible coastlines. The standout sight is the East Rift Valley, named for the mountain range where the Philippine and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. Very few places in the world allow you to go from marine tropics to alpine with just a day’s drive, but the best ways to truly drink in the sights is by paragliding. And while the you’ll only be in the air for fifteen minutes, there’s no better way to catch the sights.
Ready to conquer your fear of heights? Check it out over here.
Detox at the Wulai Hot Springs
According to the folklore, a member of the Aboriginal Atayal tribe stumbled upon the steaming hot springs and pronounced them dangerous. Now, the hot springs draw crowds worldwide for their relaxing and restorative powers in the middle of incredible mountain landscapes and sparkling rivers. Cap off your Taiwan trip with an aromatherapy session at Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort, where you’ll be treated not only with quality service, but also delicious traditional food.
Book your spiritual spa experience with us today over here!
With its rich and complex history and unique geography, Taiwan has been described as a continent in a country. Keep coming back to this incredible country; You’ll never run out of things to do.
Still curious with what you can do? Check out our other Taiwan Travel guides:
>> Insta-Worthy Places in Yilan
>> 4 Not-so-common Things to Do in Taiwan
>> 5 Most Happening Bars for an Epic Night in Taipei
Browse more travel experiences in Taiwan here.