Taiwan is planning to reopen after being closed to international tourism for close to two and a half years! It is so surreal to read the news. I have been talking about and dreaming of visiting Taiwan for so long and I am so excited that I can finally start planning my next trip.
I miss Taiwan so much and I can’t wait to revisit and rediscover my favorite place in the world after organizing a series of virtual Taiwan travel sessions in the last few months (check out this special guide to Taiwan packed with transportation tips, itineraries, and resources). I have put together travel information and a guide to the 10 best places to visit in Taiwan for you!
INFORMATION ABOUT TRAVELING TO TAIWAN
Taiwan is planning to resume visa-travel travel to previously visa-exempt countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Thailand and Brunei starting from September 29, 2022.
Travelers from eligible countries are welcome to visit Taiwan without applying for special permits for activities like leisure travel.
TAIWAN WILL HAVE A TWO-PHASE REOPENING PLAN TO GRADUALLY EASE THE TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
First phase: From September 29, you will have to undergo the “3+4” quarantine (3 days of quarantine and 4 days of self-health monitoring). You will be able to spend the entire 7-day period in a residence with others by following the “1 person per room” principle.
On-arrival saliva test will be discontinued, and you just have to do Antigen Rapid Test (ART). You will be given 4 rapid antigen test kits on arrival.
Second phase: If conditions are deemed suitable as expected, the second phase is likely to take effect on October 13, 2022. “0+7” scheme (no quarantine and 7 days of self-health monitoring) will be launched. This is when travelers from countries that required visa to enter can travel to Taiwan and the ban for tour group will end.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: https://en.mofa.gov.tw/
Taiwan Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov.tw/En
For visa related matters: https://www.boca.gov.tw/
Visa-exempt entry: shorturl.at/gxYZ1
10 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN TAIWAN
Now is the time to start planning your trip to Taiwan! I have been traveling “virtually” around Taiwan since the start of 2022 thanks to Taiwan Tourism Bureau Singapore. I am so excited to share the secrets of Taiwan I have uncovered and invite you to join me to rediscover Taiwan. Here’s my guide to the 10 best places to visit in Taiwan beyond Taipei. Enjoy and book your air ticket soon!
After living with Covid for over 2 years, we are all tired and the best way to restart our international travel is to have a relaxing vacation. I recommend a therapeutic retreat to Alishan where you can immerse in nature and rejuvenate with forest bathing or “shinrin-yoku” activities. Find out more about how to enjoy forest bathing in Taiwan.
Alishan or Mount Ali is a popular sightseeing spot in Taiwan because of its lush nature filled with ancient cedar trees and stunning scenery known for the rare sight–the sea of clouds. Alishan is huge and most people usually visit the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area. Remember to purchase admission ticket to enter the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area.
However, there is the lesser known Alishan National Scenic Area that boasts rolling tea fields, hiking trails, and scenic lookout points. My tips for Alishan: Take the Alishan Forest Railway up to the mountains, spend at least 2 and 3 nights in the region to explore both the touristy Alishan National Forest Recreation Area and the hidden gems in the Alishan National Scenic Area. Check out my comprehensive guide to Alishan to plan your mountain getaway!
2. CHIAYI CITY
A trip to Alishan must be accompanied with a stop at Chiayi City and preferably a multi-day stop. I will definitely spend a few days in Chiayi City for my next trip to Taiwan. Why? Because there’s so much to do and eat in this underrated city. Thanks to the serendipitous connection with the Outsider in Chiayi (Joanna Sun) and Smart Fish 林聰明沙鍋魚頭 (Grace Lin), I am convinced that Chiayi is the place to retire and enjoy life. From the historical Chiayi train station, the starting point of the Alishan Forest Railway, to the nostalgic North Gate Station and Alishan Forest Railway Garage Park, Chiayi City is a must-visit place if you love everything about train travel.
There are many fascinating cultural and historical sites like the Hinoki Village, which used to be a residential area with Japanese style dormitories for the people who worked in the forestry industry, Chiayi Cultural and Creative Industries Park (G9 Creative Park), Chiayi Art Museum, Museum of Ancient Taiwan Tiles, and Chiayi Old Prison.
Mostly important, Chiayi is the food destination to eat non stop! 有一種餓叫做嘉義人怕你餓 is a popular phrase used locals, which means “there is one kind of hunger called Chiayi people are afraid you are hungry!” Chiayi is known for their chicken or turkey rice, fish head stew, cold noodles, and more. Check out my 72-hour itinerary to Chiayi City and Insider’s Guide to Chiayi’s Cultural and Culinary Secrets for more recommendations.
Start planning your trip to Chiayi City! It is only a 1.5-hour ride on Taiwan High Speed Rail. Secure your Chiayi train tickets here.
3. CHIAYI COUNTY
Other than Chiayi City, there is another the under the radar Chiayi County to explore. Chiayi County surrounds Chiayi City and lies between Yunlin County and Tainan City. It is blessed with pristine landscape as it is flanked by the sea and the mountains. Chiayi County is big and it is only county in Taiwan with 3 major national scenic areas: Alishan National Scenic Area, Southwest Coast National Scenic Area, and Siraya National Scenic Area.
Venture beyond the usual tourist circuit and spend some time exploring the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area, the homeland of farming and fishing. Recommended spots include Haomeili Village in Budai Township (visit Haomei Boathouse 好美船屋 for fresh seafood and fun experiential activities), Haomeiliao Nature Reserve 好美寮溼地, and Budai Salt Fields.
Chiayi County is home to top notch farms so you can enjoy fresh produces. Make a trip Fengshuo Orchard in Lunbei Township that produces their prized fruit like sweet milk melon and succulent cherry tomatoes. Check out more farms with my guide to Taiwan’s fruits, fruits picking, and leisure farms.
Before I write an essay about Chiayi, I shall pause here and leave with you my detailed guide to Chiayi City and Chiayi County.
Situated in the Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area, Lishan is an iconic mountain range in Central Taiwan that is popular with locals who are seeking for an outdoor retreat. Affectionately called “Pear Mountain,” Lishan is the top pear production region in Taiwan as its attitude at over 2,000 metres is conducive for cultivating fruits like peach, apples, and more. The journey to Lishan starts from Taichung City and it takes about 3 hours. Thanks for the well-designed public bus system, you can now access this remote part of Taiwan.
Lishan and the surrounding area is gorgeous and serene all year round. The landscape changes with the seasons and in fall, the autumn foliage shines in Fushoushan Farm and 1956 Maple Valley. The mountains shine with vibrant shades of colors as seasonal flowers grow the landscape. If you like flowers. visit nearby farms like Fushoushan Farm, Wuling Farm, and Cingjing Farm to view flowers and even buy or taste floral products. Here’s a guide to flower viewing and leisure farms in Taiwan.
There is a great network of hiking routes like the Siliq Trail and the pristine Black Forest Trail. The region is filled with rich culture where you can visit the Jiayang Tribal Village and informative Lishan Culture Museum. End your mountain excursion at the Seven Heroes of Guguan, a majestic mountain range with trekking paths leading to Guguan, an atmospheric hot spring town. Check out my guide to Lishan and the Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area here.
I have been recommending Taitung to everyone as most travelers do not know about this amazing area and sometimes even confuse it with Taichung. Nestled in southeastern Taiwan, between the towering Central Mountain region and Pacific Ocean, Taitung embodies the best of Taiwan’s nature, culture, and spirit. Taitung City is the launchpad for your Taitung “slow travel” exploration. Fuel yourself with delicious local and street food in the city and spend as many days so you can to explore Taitung County and its diverse attractions.
Taitung has two scenic areas: East Rift Valley National Scenic Area and East Coast National Scenic Area. In the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area, you can cycle through charming towns like Chishang (for the famous Mr Brown Avenue) and Guanshan (Guanshan’s bicycle trail is the first path in Taiwan that was built for cyclists), and be mesmerized by the colorful hot air balloons floating in the sky at Luye during the Taiwan International Hot Air Balloon Festival.
The East Coast National Scenic Area runs along the Pacific Ocean and its breathtaking coastline is perfect for a road trip. Must-visit spots include the Fugang Geopark, Jialulan Recreation Area, Jinzun Recreation Area, Dulan Village, and Sanxiantai. If you are an arts buff, time your visit during the annual East Coast Land Arts Festival.
If you like train travel, board the Breezy Blue 藍皮解憂號 train that chugs between the Taitung and Fangliao station and passes by the most picturesque stretch of Taiwan’s eastern coastline. Here’s more information about this special train and railway travel in Taiwan.
I love Taitung so much and I hope I have tempted you to plan a trip with more guides: Rhythm of South-Eastern Taiwan: Guide to Cycling in Taitung and Top 10 Experiences in Taitung, Southeastern Taiwan.
6. ORCHID ISLAND
Orchid Island is my favorite island in Taiwan! It is part of Taitung County and you can take a ferry (about 2 hours) from Fugang Fishing Harbor or a plane (30 minutes) from Taitung Airport. This volcanic island is well known its rugged landscape, untainted nature, and Tao Culture. The island is home to the native Tao people, also known as Yami, who preserve the culture and custom of their island passionately.
Orchid Island deserves at least 3 or 4 days to explore. Even though I stayed on the island for 4 days 3 nights, I felt that it was too short. The idyllic island is so relaxing as you can enjoy diving and snorkelling activities in summer, hike around the island, and experience the welcoming Tao culture by visiting the traditional underground houses and trying to row the traditional Tao fishing boats. The island is really special and worth an extended detour! Here’s more information and travel tips for Orchid Island. Book your ferry ticket to Orchid Island easily here.
I visited Hualien twice and both times I wish I have more time. Hualien is easily accessed from Taipei and it is nestled between the Central Mountain Range and the Pacific Ocean. Taroko Gorge National Park is the star attraction in Hualien. With plunging gorges, dramatic canyons and caves, the national park is a sanctuary far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Marvel at the waterfalls and the Tunnel of Nine Turns and explore the Swallow Grotto. I had the most memorable stay at Silks Place Taroko Hotel–it was an extravagant experience but so worth it. One of the best ways to explore Hualien is to have a car so check out how to rent a private car here.
Continue your Hualien adventure by exploring other parts of Hualien country like the Wuhe tea plantations, hot springs at Ruisui, and more. Travel down to the areas that are in the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area and East Coast National Scenic Area before crossing over to Taitung!
8. NORTHEAST AND YILAN COAST NATIONAL SCENIC AREA
Just a short trip from Taipei City, you will be transported to the Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area where you will enjoy unforgettable views of dynamic mountains, cliffs and unique landforms. Located in the northeast region of Taiwan, the scenic area starts from the Nanya District in New Taipei City and traces the coastline and mountains to the southern cape in Suao Township.
If you are an outdoor enthusiast, the scenic area is your nature playground. Indulge in snorkeling and diving around Bitou Cape Fishing Village with Ocean Love Dive Club. Head to Longdong or Dragon Caves for rock climbing with The Bivy Taiwan and challenge yourself with different hiking trails like the Bitou Cape Hiking Trail, Nanzilin Hiking Trail, and Caoling Historic Trail. Book a tour to Turtle Island to explore its pristine nature dotted with cliffs, caves, and even active hot springs.
If you are traveling with children, you can enjoy a fun cycling through the Old Caoling Tunnel on the Old Caoling Loop Line Bicycle Path. Don’t miss the Fulong International Sand Sculpture Arts Festival held at Fulong Beach every year! Here’s a guide to Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area and itineraries for best trips for Taipei.
Penghu is on my Taiwan bucket list since forever but I still haven’t visit it yet! Penghu is the most scenic and massive group of outer islands in Taiwan. The island archipelago is a top summer destination for locals and international travelers.
Penghu National Scenic Area consists of over 90 islands (about 20 islands are inhabited) in the Penghu archipelago. The highlights of Penghu include Qimei Island and its famous twin-hearts stone weir, Jibeiyu or Jibei Island and its picturesque sand bar, and paradise-like beaches like Aimei Beach and Shanshui beaches. The islands are decorated with interesting natural formations like Beiliao Kuibishan Geopark, Xiaomen Whale Cave, Daguoye Columnar Basalt, and Tongpan Geology Park (Tongpan Island). And the list goes on!
Summer is the peak season for Penghu as the islands are bustling with water activities and festivals. Other months are great to visiting Penghu too like during the migration season from the end of April to September when you can enjoy terns-watching. Start planning an island escapade with my guide to the islands of Penghu.
The second largest city after Taipei, Kaohsiung is a vibrant city surrounded with a dynamic landscape of mountains and coastlines. I visited Kaohsiung for the first time because of Mayday. I have to confess that I am a fangirl and I visited Kaohsiung a few times to catch Mayday live concerts at Kaohsiung’s national stadium. Spend a few days exploring the sights in the city like the Pier-2 Art Centre, Hamasen Railway Cultural Park, Lotus Lake, and hop on a ferry to Qijin Island to enjoy a cycling and eating day trip. Venture beyond the city and you will find yourself at Fo Guang Shan, a famous Buddhist monastery with the iconic golden Buddha statue, and the rustic Hakka community in Meinong.
If you visit in February, don’t miss the Taiwan Lantern Festival that takes place every year during the Lunar New Year period and showcases spectacular lanterns along the Love River and at the festival sites.
Are you ready for Taiwan? I am so excited to revisit and rediscover Taiwan. Check out my special Wendy’s guide to Taiwan for more information about places to visit in Taiwan, transportation tips, travel resources, and more!
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