Things to Do in Taiwan
Taroko National Park, home to the Taroko Gorge is one of Taiwan’s foremost tourist draws, encompassing an incredible range of landscapes: imagine Sumatra snuggling up to Sweden and you get some idea of the variety. Among the park’s unforgettable sights are the looming Qingshui Cliff on the Pacific coast, the twisting vistas of the Tunnel of Nine Turns, and the dramatic hanging bridges of Swallow Grotto. The few buildings here make the most of the topography, particularly the Eternal Springs Shrine which hugs a lush green hillside next to its namesake springs.
Located in northeast Taiwan, the mountainside village of Jiufen was once the gold mining center of Taiwan. Today it’s a popular tourist destination known for its quaint streets and alleyways, traditional teahouses, myriad food stalls and souvenir shops, and spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
Once a forgotten abandoned warehouse, this contemporary hub for art and design has become a destination for hip and cultured visitors to Taiwan. Popular exhibits have included 3D street art, automotive art, and even technological displays from gaming developers. In addition to artistic installations, music events and trade shows are also held in this unique space.
At a soaring 1,667 feet (508 meters), Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building when it was completed in 2004—Dubai’s Burj Khalifa overtook it in 2010. A landmark in Taipei, it houses offices, restaurants, and a multilevel shopping complex, as well as indoor and outdoor observatories offering stunning panoramic views of Taipei.
The National Palace Museum in Taipei is home to one of the most important collections of Chinese art in the world, and covers more than 8,000 years of Chinese history and culture. Featuring some 690,000 pieces, it covers all areas of Chinese art, including antiquities, painting, calligraphy, bronzes, jade, ceramics, and sculpture.
Yehliu Geopark, home to the iconic Queen’s Head rock formation, looks more like a landscape from Mars than the northern coast of Taiwan. With its otherworldly natural structures, all of which have alluring names such as the Fairy Shoe and Sea Candles, the park makes for an enriching day trip from Taipei.
Located in central Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake is one of the only natural lakes in the country. It’s also the largest and arguably the most beautiful. Lalu Island divides the lake in two, with one part resembling a moon and the other a sun, hence its name. Natural beauty aside, the lake has an aboriginal history dating back thousands of years.
Horseshoe-shaped Shifen Waterfall is one of the most famous falls in Taiwan. Torrents of water plunge into a deep pool and raise a shroud of mist that creates a rainbow effect on sunny days. With a width of more than 131 feet (40 meters), Taiwan’s Little Niagra isn't quite as big as Niagara Falls but its shape is similar.
Watching the sunrise over the Alishan National Scenic Area feels like being in a dream—thick white clouds cover the valley below and towering mountaintops look like tiny islands in an endless ocean. It’s worth visiting during the day too, with treetop boardwalks, forests, and temples making for incredible photos.
First constructed in 1921 to transport coal, the Pingxi Branch Rail Line—often known simply as the “Pingxi Line”—is today an enchanting tourist attraction. Stretching eight miles (13 kilometers) through some of the Taipei area’s loveliest scenery, the single-track railway wends its way through the photogenic Keelung River Valley.
More Things to Do in Taiwan
The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is one of the most prominent landmarks and popular attractions in Taipei, and sees thousands of visitors daily. Learn about the life of Chiang Kai-Shek and the history of Taiwan inside this impressive building set within a 62-acre (25-hectare) memorial park with gardens, pools, and walkways.
The Zhuilu Old Trail follows the last remaining section of the Old Hehuan Mountain Road in Hualien County, Taiwan. Also known as the Vertical Trail, it’s a nail-biting yet rewarding hike, offering spectacular aerial views of the Taroko Gorge and the Liwu River that created it.
The trek begins at Zimu Bridge and follows the north wall of the gorge before recrossing at Swallow Grotto. The route is a little more than 10 kilometers in total and takes between six and eight hours to complete, including a section that is literally cut out from the cliff face hundreds of meters up and no more than 6070 centimeters wide.
The Taroko National Park restricts the number of trekkers walking the Zhuilu Old Trail to 60 people on weekdays and 96 at the weekends. A permit is required, as is an official guide to lead the way.
Established by the King Car Group, the Kavalan distillery is the first (and only) whisky distillery in Taiwan. Using a building in Yilan along with Taiwan’s unique natural resources, the Kavalan whisky distillery produced the very first bottles of Taiwan-made whisky back in 2008.
In order to establish a world-class distillery, the King Car Group invited world-class whisky specialists to share their advice on how best to deliver quality whisky while still maintaining a respect for the use of traditional production and distilling methods.
Just a few years after it produced its first bottles of whisky, one of the products of the Kavalan distillery caused quite the stir when it beat three Scotch whiskies and one English whisky in a tasting test held in Leith in Scotland.
The Kavalan distillery has since won several official awards and even earned the accolade of being shortlisted for the “Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year” in 2011 by Whisky Magazine.
Don’t be deterred by the name Elephant Mountain. A relatively easy climb takes you to the top of a hill that affords panoramic views of Taipei. Nestled among other rolling green hills, Elephant Mountain (Xiangshan Hiking Trail) is indisputably the best place in Taipei to enjoy a sunset over the capital’s skyline.
The Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the first of its kind in Taiwan, opened in 1983 in the building that once housed the United States Defense Command. The museum’s collection seeks to highlight work by Taiwanese and international artists from the late nineteenth century onward, picking up where the National Palace Museum’s collection ends. Exhibits run the gamut from photography and oil paintings to mixed media art. The Jewels of 25 Years Museum Collection highlights the best pieces of the 4,000 the museum has collected since its opening.
Besides the permanent collection, the Fine Arts Museum hosts special exhibitions throughout the year, including the prestigious Taipei Fine Arts Awards, an annual competition to unearth emerging local talent. The museum frequently exchanges collections with other international museums, so there’s always something new to see.
Photo courtesy of Taiwan Tourism Bureau
The oldest temple in Taiwan, Mengjia Longshan Temple was built in 1738 by immigrants from Fujian, China. The ornate and exquisite structure has been damaged by war and natural disasters, but also rebuilt, expanded, and improved over the years. Today is remains a center of religious life and a bastion of local culture in Taipei.
Located on the northern edge of Taiwan, just a quick trip from Taipei, Yangmingshan National Park offers a dose of nature for city-dwellers and those touring the bustling capital. Visit Yangmingshan to hike through its volcanic scenery and rolling hills, soak in its hot springs, and, in the spring, see the cherry blossoms in bloom.
Located just 30 minutes north of central Taipei, Beitou is a mountainous area full of natural hot springs and supporting spas, hotels, teahouses, and parks. It’s a popular destination for locals and visitors looking to escape the city and enjoy a soak in warm, mineral-rich waters surrounded by lush forests and beautiful scenery.
Originally built as a bathhouse by the Japanese Colonial Government in 1913, today’s Beitou Hot Spring Museum was the largest bathhouse in East Asia at the time, and the first public bathhouse in Taiwan. Abandoned after World War II, it was renovated and reopened in 1998 as a museum documenting Beitou’s hot spring history and culture.
The Leofoo Village Theme Park is a combined amusement park and safari experience located in Guanxi Town in Hsinchu County, Taiwan.
The park is divided into four themed areas, including African Safari, Wild West, South Pacific, and Arabian Kingdom. There are a number of roller coasters, including a twist-and-turn ride, an inverted shuttle coaster, and a Ushaped spiral coaster that makes 360 degree turns and drops at speeds of more than 120kph. The park also features various water rides, plus magic carpets and the Little Rattler, themed on an old mining railway.
The African Safari zone is the only safari park in Taiwan where more than 70 species and around a thousand wild animals can be seen. Visitors can tour the area by sedan, bus, or the Nairobi Express steam train. The Monkey Trail in this zone covers an area of more than two acres and features almost 30 species of rare and protected primates, such as baboons and orangutans.
One of the largest zoos in Asia, Taipei Zoo—also known as Muzha Zoo—features a wide variety of animals from around the world and those that are native to Taiwan. A popular attraction for locals and visitors alike, Taipei Zoo is also a leader in wildlife and ecological research, education, and conservation.
Constructed in 1967, Xingtian Temple is dedicated to Guan Yu—a deified general and patron god of businesspeople—and is frequented daily by around 10,000 believers seeking spiritual guidance. The temple is known for its forward-thinking approach; for environmental reasons, it became the first to ban incense in Taiwan in 2014.
This street that once served as Taipei’s major commercial center during the late Qing Dynasty still caters to more traditional tastes, giving visitors a glimpse at what the city was like in decades past. The market stalls and Chinese medicine shops sell a variety of teas, herbs, dried mushrooms, sweets, and other dried goods.
Home to towering peaks and verdant valleys, Hualien County provides an escape from the modern metropolis of Taipei. Tour Hualien and use it as a gateway to the famous Taroko National Park and the East Coastal National Scenic Area, hailed as Taiwan’s most attractive driving route.
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