Embark on a journey to Taiwan, where ancient temples coexist with modern innovations and bustling urban life.
Navigate through buzzing night markets alive with sizzling street food, wander through the serene beauty of lush national parks, and delve into the intricate rituals of temples that stand as testaments to centuries of Taiwanese history.
Whether you’re captivated by Taipei’s bright city lights or chasing the relaxing atmosphere of Sun Moon Lake’s calm shores, discover these must visit destinations, perfect for a first-time Taiwan adventurer.
Discover inner-city culture
A visit to Taiwan isn’t complete without ticking Taipei and Kaohsiung off your bucket list. Discover Dadaocheng, Taipei’s vintage core, where you’ll find a labyrinth of local souvenirs, handmade clothing stores, and mouthwatering eateries. While you’re wandering the streets of Taipei, make sure to make a stop at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, to witness the grandeur of the changing of the guard’s ceremony.
If visiting in February, don’t miss the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival – your chance to dive headfirst into Taiwanese culture and recreate your very own Disney Tangled lantern moment (if you know, you know). These lanterns are like wish-granting genies; release one, and your dreams might just hitch a ride to the stars.
Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second-largest city, is a temple-hopper’s paradise. Swing by Lotus Pond, a serene lake adorned with over twenty temples and add a touch of spirituality to your time in Taiwan.
Immerse yourself in nature
Escape the demands of everyday life and reconnect with the tranquillity of nature. Not sure where to start? Jiaosi and Taian have indulgent hot springs with glamorous hotels and services for those who want to take unwinding to the next level – hello multi-day spa getaway!
If laying back isn’t your thing and you’re looking to explore nature on two feet, or two wheels, explore Sun Moon Lake, nestled in Yuchi Township, and encounter Taiwan’s largest body of water. For those wanting to work up a sweat, we suggest renting a bicycle to cruise along the Shuishang Bikeway which wraps around and over the lake, allowing riders to enjoy its beauty from every angle.
If you’ve been there and done that with Taiwan’s water wonders, the island is also home to ten remarkable national parks, each with their own awe-inspiring sceneries. From the rugged beauty of Taroko National Park to the pristine shores of Kenting National Park, explorers can discover coastal landscapes, vibrant marine life, and even a 19-kilometre-long gorge to trek through.
Delve into history
If you’re itching to uncover Taiwan’s history and delve into its culture on a deeper level, head straight for Tainan; the city with some of the earliest cultural roots on the island. Make sure to visit local favourites, such as Fort Zeelandia, Chimei Museum, and Koxinga Museum.
Tainan isn’t just a cultural hub; it’s also considered the food capital of Taiwan. Sit down at a restaurant or adventure the bustling markets to sample Tainan’s seafood delights, like eel noodles, shrimp rolls, and squid rice noodle soup.
Beyond Tainan, make sure to swing by the Meinong Folk Village, where preserved Hakka culture is served with a side of Sun Moon Lake views. For a colossal dose of history and art, hit up the National Palace Museum in Taipei, where you’ll find almost 700,000 Chinese artifacts and artworks to marvel at.
Walk along the road less travelled
Escape the tourist traps and embark on a wild expedition off the beaten track. In Taichung, find yourself captivated by the vibrant hues of Rainbow Village, or take a leisurely stroll along the artistic enclave of Calligraphy Greenway, perfect for romantic wanders with your better half.
Families, brace yourselves for Jimmy Park in Yilan Country, where a train station has been turned into an interactive sculpture gallery. Funky cartoon sculpture displays sprout from every nook and cranny inside and outside the station, even from the ceiling.
Looking forward to checking out the swell while you visit? Surfers can conquer the waves in Jinzun, a sunny fishing and surfing village along Taitung County’s 175km coastline. If catching waves isn’t your jam, but you love beach days and snorkelling trips, Penghu is your ticket to island-hopping paradise. Choose your own adventure with an incredible range of tour options ranging from quick snorkel boat trips to multi-day island escapades.
Dig into Taiwanese tastes
An exciting collection of Taiwanese flavours awaits, and there’s no better place to start than at Taiwan’s iconic night markets.
Taipei’s Shilin Night Market and Raohe Market, Kaohsiung’s Liuhe Night Market, and Taichung’s Yizhong Street Night Market are taste treasure troves, with delicious street food including cheese potatoes, oyster pancakes, fried chicken fillets, and stinky tofu.
If your legs are sore from being out-and-about all day, East District, Taipei, has cafes, bars, and restaurants lining the streets – ideal for relaxed sit-down dining while still enjoying authentic Taiwanese dishes.
Tips for First-Time Travellers
- Australian citizens can travel to Taiwan without a visa for stays of 90 days or less.
- Taiwan’s currency is the New Taiwan dollar (TWD). When you arrive or exit Taiwan, declare foreign currency over $10,000, including cash and traveller cheques.
- Credit cards are widely accepted in most establishments including shops, businesses, hotels, and restaurants across Taiwan.