5-Day Best of Taiwan: Sun Moon Lake, Tainan, Kaohsiung, Lukang

taiwan island tour

  • Operation Day Monday
  • Departure Morning
  • Duration 5 Days
  • Pick-up Time 07:30
  • Vehicle Type 43-seater bus, 20-seater mini bus or 9-seater mini van (according to the number of participants)
  • Meeting Point Hotel in downtown Taipei City or Exit 2 of MRT Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station (BL14 /O07)
  • Drop-off Point Hotel in downtown Taipei City or Exit 2 of MRT Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station (BL14 /O07)
  • Immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes and rich culture of Sun Moon Lake
  • Discover the unique landforms and biodiversity of Kenting National Park
  • Uncover Tainan's centuries-old historic treasures and delve into its hidden secrets
  • Explore Lukang, a destination rich in timeless charm, reminiscent of bygone eras and nostalgic allure.
  • Enjoy a luxurious 4-night stay at top-notch local 5-star hotels
  • Guaranteed departure with a minimum of 1 participant
  • Experience the ease of hotel pick-up and drop-off within city limits

Taiwan, also known as Formosa, is an island situated in the Asia Pacific Region. Portuguese sailors discovered this land in the 16th century and were captivated by its breathtaking beauty. In tribute to the island's magnificence, they bestowed upon it the name "Ilha Formosa," which translates to "beautiful island."

From the north to the south, there is no shortage of incredible, awe-inspiring and fascinating places to discover in Taiwan. However, maximizing your vacation with limited time and budget can present a challenge.

No need to worry; we've got you covered. With this 5-day package tour of Taiwan, you'll explore all the must-see tourist spots and have the opportunity to stay in local 5-star hotels for four nights! You'll visit remarkable natural sites like Sun Moon Lake and Kenting National Park, allowing you to witness Taiwan's most spectacular natural wonders. In addition to the stunning landscapes, you'll also delve into Taiwan's diverse culture and history by exploring man-made attractions like Ci'en Pagoda, Fort Zeelandia, Fo Guang Shan Monastery, Eluanpi Lighthouse, Chimei Museum, Lukang Old Street and more.

This tour is available year-round, departing on Mondays and returning to Taipei on Friday evenings. With 7-8 days at your disposal, you'll even have extra time to further explore this incredible country on your own. Don't miss out on the opportunity to book this 5-day Taiwan round-island tour and make the most of your Taiwan adventure!

  • Description

Taipei – Sun Moon Lake

On the first morning of your Taiwan round-the-island tour, you will depart from central Taipei and travel to the heart of the island, Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area .

Sun Moon Lake, the largest freshwater lake on the island, is divided by Lalu Island. The eastern side of the lake resembles the sun, while the western side resembles the crescent moon, giving the lake its unique name. This picturesque area is also the ancestral home of the Thao people, one of Taiwan’s indigenous groups. With its rich indigenous culture and abundant natural beauty, Sun Moon Lake has earned its place as one of Taiwan’s premier destinations.

Sun Moon Lake View from the Top of Ci'en Pagoda

After lunch, your journey continues with a scenic bus tour around Sun Moon Lake, where you’ll explore the most renowned attractions in this area. Begin with a visit to Ita Thao , an indigenous village that offers insights into the culture and lifestyle of the Thao people. Then, marvel at the grandeur of Ci’en Pagoda , an iconic Sun Moon Lake landmark constructed by the late President Chiang Kai-shek in memory of his mother.

Following your visit to Ci’en Pagoda, your exploration of Sun Moon Lake continues with stops at two significant temples. First, you’ll arrive at Xuanzang Temple , a serene Buddhist sanctuary dedicated to the esteemed monk Xuanzang. Then, your journey takes you to Wenwu Temple , an imposing Taoist temple featuring three halls devoted to the Martial God and the God of Literature. With the expert commentary of your tour guide, you’ll gain deeper insights into Sun Moon Lake, enriching your appreciation of the area’s history and significance.

taiwan island tour

For the first night of your 5-day tour in Taiwan, you can enjoy a comfortable stay in a 5-star hotel, either in the serene surroundings of Sun Moon Lake or in the vibrant heart of downtown Taichung.

Overnight: Fleur de Chine Hotel – Mountain View Room,  Sun Moon Lake (5-star) / Le Méridien Taichung, Taichung (5-star) / a similar hotel

Sun Moon Lake – Tainan - Kaohsiung

Kick off the second day of your 5-day Taiwan adventure with a delightful breakfast, setting the tone for another day of exploration. Hop on the bus and make your way to Tainan, the oldest city in Taiwan, celebrated for its abundance of historic buildings and profound historical heritage.

Your adventure proceeds with a visit to Fort Zeelandia , constructed by the Dutch East India Company during their 38-year administration of western Taiwan. The original fortress faced near destruction by the British army in the 19th century but was subsequently rebuilt by the Japanese. 

Fort Zeelandia

After exploring Fort Zeelandia, take a leisurely walk along Anping Old Street . Situated on the east side of Fort Zeelandia, this historic street was established by the Dutch over 300 years ago and holds the distinction of being the first officially named street in Taiwan. Besides its fascinating history, Anping Old Street is also known for its local specialties such as tofu pudding, shrimp rolls, fish skin dishes, beef soup, and many more. While you’re here, don’t miss the chance to savor the city’s signature delicacies, adding a delightful culinary experience to your historical journey in Tainan.

Anping Old Street

After lunch, your next destination is the romantic harbor city of Kaohsiung, the most populous city in Southern Taiwan. Upon arriving in Kaohsiung, your first stop is the renowned Fo Guang Shan Monastery (FGS) or Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum . Fo Guang Shan Monastery is a significant Buddhist monastery founded by the Venerable Master Hsing Yun in 1967. The monastery is most famous for its Great Buddha Land, featuring a majestic 36-meter-tall golden statue of Buddha Amitabha, which stands as the tallest standing Buddha in Southeast Asia. It is encircled by an impressive array of 480 smaller statues depicting Buddha Amitabha.

The Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum proudly features the largest seated statue of Buddha Amitabha. In addition to housing authentic tooth relics of Shakyamuni Buddha, the compound also includes art galleries, a theatrical auditorium, a children’s gallery, and souvenir stores. In addition, visitors can get to experience Tea Zen, sutra transcription, or join in festive celebrations at the Five Harmonies Pagoda.

During your visit to Fo Guang Shan Monastery or Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum, you’ll have the opportunity to engage with a knowledgeable monk who provides insights into the doctrines and development of Buddhism, which is the most widely practiced religion in Taiwan.

taiwan island tour

Tonight, you’ll have a pleasant stay in a conveniently located 5-star hotel, surrounded by department store, convenience stores, and drugstores. Take advantage of this opportunity to stock up on any additional supplies you may need for the remaining days of your 5-day Taiwan tour.

Overnight: Grand Hilai Kaohsiung, Kaohsiung (5-star) / a similar hotel

Kaohsiung – Kenting – Taitung

After a hearty breakfast, set out on your journey as you head south toward the border, where Taiwan’s first national park awaits.

Kenting National Park - Maobitou

Kenting National Park is celebrated for its coastal geological formations, scenic landscapes, and rich marine biodiversity, fostered by its unique combination of crustal deformation and tropical climate. Additionally, Kenting is also a paradise for surfers and divers alike.

taiwan island tour

On the third day of your Taiwan-round island tour, you will make your stops at Maopitou , literally cat’s nose, aptly named as it resembles a colossal crouching cat when viewed from afar; Chuanfan Rock , literally sail rock, another distinctive natural formation that resembles the sail of a ship or a likeness of the former US President Richard Nixon; Eluanpi Lighthouse , a Qing Dynasty-era construction that was recognized as one of the Eight Views of Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period; and Longpan Park , a coral limestone plateau overlooking the Pacific Ocean, shaped over time by rainfall erosion.

taiwan island tour

Following your exploration of Kenting National Park, your journey will take you to Taitung via the scenic South Link Highway, allowing you to savor the continually shifting landscapes throughout your drive.

Tonight, you’ll enjoy the pleasure of staying in a serene hot spring resort in Zhiben, Taitung County. Zhiben is renowned for its carbonate hot springs, which are known for enhancing blood circulation and alleviating fatigue, making it the perfect place to rejuvenate after a day of exploration.

Overnight: Grand Hi Lai Hotel, Kaohsiung (5-star) / a similar hotel

Tainan - Kaohsiung

After a restful night’s sleep and a delightful breakfast, your 5-day exploration of Taiwan continues as you journey along the enchanting west coast. Prepare for an immersive adventure as you delve into the remarkable collection of Western artifacts housed in the Chimei Museum, and uncover the rich historical heritage of Tainan, the ancient capital city.

The Chimei Museum proudly houses an expansive collection of Western artifacts, featuring a wide range of treasures including engaging paintings and intricately crafted musical instruments. The compound evokes the majestic atmosphere of the Louvre Museum, providing visitors with a taste of European palace elegance. In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum hosts several special exhibitions throughout the year.

Chihmei Museum

After exploring the Chimei Museum, it’s time to treat yourself to some authentic gourmet delights. Tainan is renowned as a paradise for food lovers, offering a mouthwatering array of dishes. Whatever your preference, Tainan is guaranteed to satisfy your appetite and tantalize your taste buds. While at Yongle Market (Guohua Street), you can’t miss the popular queue foods, including savory rice pudding, rice noodle soup with squid, and refreshing shaved ice.

After filling your stomach, let’s take a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood to explore some historic relics dating back more than 100 years. First, let’s visit Fort Provintia, designated as a national historic monument in 1983. Originally constructed by the Dutch in 1653, the fortress underwent destruction and subsequent reconstruction during the Qing Dynasty. Throughout the Japanese colonization period, it was rebuilt multiple times. Today, Fort Provintia stands as one of the most iconic landmarks in the city of Tainan.

Fort Provintia

The Sacrificial Rites Martial Temple, among the earliest Guan Di Temples, stands as a testament to ancient government sacrificial rites. It holds the esteemed status of a first-class national historic site, drawing countless worshippers. Among its revered deities is Yue Lao, the God of Marriage. Devotees flock to pray for marriages guided by destiny, with some even sending express mail directly to Yue Lao through a special mailbox within the temple grounds. 

Finally, you will visit that Grand Mazu Temple, is commonly known as Taiwan’s inaugural government-built Mazu Temple.

Upon crossing the temple threshold, your eyes will be drawn to a magnificent golden statue of Mazu. Flanking her are the embodiments of Clairvoyance (eyes that see a thousand miles) and Clairaudience (ears tuned to whispers on the wind), formerly malevolent spirits redeemed by Mazu’s compassionate guidance. They now harness their powers to aid Mazu in her benevolent endeavors. Similar to the traditions at the Sacrificial Rites Martial Temple, worshippers, both men and women, gather at the Grand Mazu Temple to pay homage to Yue Lao, the God of Marriage. Seeking his blessings, they hope to expedite the journey towards finding their life partners.

Tonight, your accommodation awaits at a prestigious 5-star hotel in the vibrant heart of Tainan. Here, you’ll enjoy the top-notch amenities and have the freedom to explore the city at your leisure. Just steps away, you’ll find a bustling department store and an array of shops. Take advantage of this opportunity to replenish any necessities or treat yourself to unique local souvenirs, perfect for sharing cherished memories with friends and family back home.

Overnight: Silks Place Tainan, Tainan (5-star) / a similar hotel

Tainan – Lukang – Taipei

On the last day of your 5-day tour in Taiwan, you’ll set off to explore the renowned Tainan Confucius Temple, delving into its rich cultural legacy. Following this enriching experience, you’ll journey to Lukang, a destination steeped in a timeless charm that evokes the beauty of ancient poetry and nostalgia.

The Tainan Confucius Temple, constructed in 1666, stands as the oldest Confucius Temple, boasting over 300 years of history to this day. It held the esteemed position of being a stronghold of culture and education, and thus earned the prestigious title “The Highest Institute.

When it comes to preserving cultural artifacts within the Confucius Temple, the inscriptions documenting each period of repair, the horizontally inscribed boards bestowed by rulers of various dynasties, and ceremonial and musical instruments spanning from the early Manchu Dynasty to the present day are carefully maintained. These priceless artifacts from history and culture warrant careful appreciation for their profound significance and lasting impact.

Lukang Old Street

Your journey continues with a visit to Lukang. Lukang, a historic old town renowned for its well-preserved cultural and historical heritage, is literally known as ‘deer harbor”. Once a bustling port in the 17thand 18th centuries, it served as the center where Taiwan’s most affluent families amassed their wealth and power, capitalizing on the thriving commerce of the era. Despite the port losing its functionality due to sedimentation, Lukang has retained its enduring charm, serving as a timeless reminder of its glamorous past.

Take a leisurely stroll through the town adorned with red brick walls and floors, where historic relics like the Nine Turns Alley, the Urn Wall, the Half-Sided Well, and the Longshan Temple await your discovery, each with an intriguing story to tell.

Lukang is renowned for its diverse array of street foods and traditional Taiwanese desserts. Indulge your appetite and seize the opportunity to stock up on gifts, bringing a taste of this charming old town back home to share with your friends and family.

After enjoying lunch at your own expense, you’ll head back to Taipei and arrive at your hotel later in the afternoon.

Inclusions & Exclusions

  • Professional licensed tour guide (Mandarin / English)
  • Local transfer by air-conditioned vehicle
  • 4 night hotel accommodation
  • Hotel breakfast*4
  • Local general liabilities insurance
  • Tour will be conducted in Mandarin and English.
  • Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by adults.
  • Infants must sit on laps and share existing bedding with adults.
  • 2 people will share 1 twin room; for an odd number of individuals, 3 people will share 1 triple room.
  • The sequence and time of stay at tour stops might be adjusted according to the traffic/weather condition.
  • Please advise your designated meeting point (within Taipei city limits) and provide your SMS contact info or e-mail address. We will contact you directly and advise the pick-up time.
  • If the tour has to be cancelled due to bad weather, the tour operation will contact you no later than the evening before the excursion day by e-mail or SMS.
  • Please arrive at the meeting point 10 minutes earlier than the pick-up time.
  • This tour is not recommended for wheelchair users and people with physical disabilities.
  • Ensure you carry enough cash with you to cover your expenses for meals, beverages, souvenirs, tips, etc. Convenience stores and most of the eateries in Taiwan don't accept credit cards as a form of payment.
  • We regret to inform you that due to the recent earthquake, the Taroko leg of your itinerary has been replaced with Tainan and Lukang.

Cancellation Policy

For a full refund, you must cancel your booking at least 7 days before the listing ’ s local pick-up time(GMT+8). Please contact us by email or phone. 

Email: [email protected] 

Phone: +886 2 25635313

No-shows are defined as passengers who do not show up on time for the tours. In this event, the bookings will be cancelled and non-refundable.

Cancellations made 7 days or more in advance of the listing’s pick-up time in the local time zone: full refund

Cancellations made 6-4 days in advance of the listing’s pick-up time in the local time zone: 50% refund

Cancellations made less than 3 days in advance of the listing’s pick-up time in the local time zone: non-refundable

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5 Days Taiwan Round Island Tour

5 Days Taiwan Round Island Tour

Experience the best of Taiwan in 5 days! Just because you have limited time doesn’t mean you have limited fun. This tour gives you the best of Taiwan without the stress of booking transportation multiple times across multiple locations. From shopping in the city to hiking in the mountains, this tour has it all.

  • Child safety seat available
  • English service available
  • Private tour, flexible pick-up time
  • Up to 8 guests per vehicle only. More than 8 guests require 2 or more vehicles.
  • Pick up at Taipei City

Hotel, BnB or any place within the city

Wai'ao is a unique beach in Yilan, with unique - but no less beautiful - black sand. Wai'so attracts both beach lovers and surfers all year round. Definitely worthwhile to check out, even if just for a few cool picctures!

A must-see in Yilan County! Not only is the waterfall a beauty to behold, visiting Wufengqi is also a great chance for a relaxing hike or walk amongst Mother Nature. A great way to refresh your mind and soul away from the city.

Always a good start for any trip in Hualien, this mountain-meets-the-ocean Qingshui Cliff is situated not far from the Taroko National Park.

Take a stroll along Qixingtan beach where you can touch big white pebbles and the clear blue water of the Pacific Ocean.

  • Drop off at Hualien City
  • Pick up at Hualien City

Visit many places of Taroko National Park including Baiyang Waterfall (trail), Changchun Waterfall (trail), and Lushui Waterfall (trail), Swallow Grotto (Yanzikou), Tunnel of Nine Turns (Jiuqudong), Tianxiang, Buluowan

Hehuanshan is one of the best places to catch the sunrise. Besides the sunrise, Hehuanshan is also known for its natural beauty and mesmerising sights.

  • Drop off at Cingjing Farm
  • Pick up at Cingjing Farm

A little ways down from the Green Green Grasslands, the Guangshan Trail gives a picturesque view of the mountainside, as well as pretty little colourful windmills along the trail.

This trail is one of the Farm’s many trails. This particular trail leads you through the forests, where there are many cryptomeria trees.

A majestic manor against a beautiful, scenic backdrop - the Old England Manor is a popular spot for newly weds to have their weddings photoshoots. That is surely a testament to the beauty of this location!

The Small Swiss Garden is a charming place, great for a leisurely stroll to enjoy the cute architecture and to take pictures.

At Green Green Grassland, you can view and feed herds of cute fluffy sheep. At times, you can watch the sheep-shearing shows as well. It is a unique experience to be had in Taiwan, where you can interact with animals amongst the lush greenery and breathtaking scenery.

Surrounded by lush mountains and dotted with hot springs, explore this legendary lake with its amazing folklore.

Lavender Cottage is a lovely, charming getaway from the city, to immerse in nature, lavenders, and coffee.

Xinshe Castle is a majestic European-style castle, surrounded by beautiful gardens. A popular attraction all year round!

  • Drop off at Taichung City
  • Pick up at Taichung City

Rainbow Village has a unique history. Once a village settlement for military veterans, it was going to be demolished to make way for urban development. As people started moving out, one of the residents, Mr Huang, decided to add some colour to his home - literally. His bright and fun paintings gradually attracted more and more people, and now, it is one of the top attractions in Taichung.

Yizhong Street is known for its vibrant youth culture and trends. Yizhong Street and the Chungyo shopping area, which are just opposite each other, attracts large crowds for the low prices and wide variety of shopping options.

Miyahara is an immensely popular spot in Taichung, for both its interior decor and its wide variety of ice cream. Definitely worth a visit.

The Gaomei Wetlands is a unique way to watch the ocean waves and romantic sunsets aside from the usual sandy beach. Be prepared to get your feet wet!

  • Drop off at Taipei City

Wanna make changes to the itinerary?

Cancellation policy.

Cancel 7 days before the trip and get a full refund.

  • $31800 TWD per group
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  • Available tomorrow
  • Confirmation within 24 hours

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Around Taiwan 8 Day Private Tour (Classic)

  • • Enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Sun Moon Lake
  • • Witness the Sea of Clouds at the iconic Alishan National Scenic Area
  • • Visit several of Taiwan’s most important religious sites
  • • Hike through majestic Taroko Gorge National Park
  • • Circle Taiwan in a leisurely fashion in eight wonderful days

On this relaxed, round-island tour, you'll experience towering mountains, beautiful valleys, twisting rivers, ancient temples, and oceans that stretch off into the distance. You'll see the beautiful Sun Moon Lake, drive through the largest marble canyon in the world at Taroko Gorge, and learn about the secrets of Taiwanese Cocoa. This 8-day itinerary allows you to experience the island at a relaxing and stress-free pace. If you're seeking to experience as much of Taiwan as possible minus the hectic rush of a three or five-day tour, this may well be the one for you.

Over the course of this incredible 8-day tour trip across the island, you’ll experience towering mountains, beautiful valleys, ancient temples, and oceans that stretch off into the distance.

▴ Over the course of this incredible 8-day tour trip across the island, you’ll experience towering mountains, beautiful valleys, ancient temples, and oceans that stretch off into the distance.

Day 1: Make your own Hakka pound tea (Leicha)

▴ Day 1: Make your own Hakka pound tea (Leicha)

Day 2: Enjoy the majestic scenery of Sun Moon Lake from the deck of a pleasure boat

▴ Day 2: Enjoy the majestic scenery of Sun Moon Lake from the deck of a pleasure boat

Day 4: Exploration of Taiwan’s largest Buddhist monastery

▴ Day 4: Exploration of Taiwan’s largest Buddhist monastery

Day 6: Leisure walk at Taitung Seashore Park

▴ Day 6: Leisure walk at Taitung Seashore Park

Day 7: Enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Pacific Ocean at Qixingtan Beach

▴ Day 7: Enjoy the magnificent scenery of the Pacific Ocean at Qixingtan Beach

Day 1 / Taipei - Taichung

After meeting up in Taipei, we'll head down the west coast, stopping to visit some of Taiwan's most photogenic relics from both the Japanese colonial era and beyond. We'll take a lesson of Hakka pound tea making in Miaoli before reaching Taichung where after checking into our hotel, we'll visit the famous Taichung Fengjia Night Market.

Day 2 / Taichung - Sun Moon Lake

Today we'll head into the mountains to visit the majestic Sun Moon Lake, one of Taiwan's most popular sites. Enjoy your pleasant afternoon with both the naturally beautiful scenery and the culturally rich attractions.

Day 3 / Sun Moon Lake - Alishan

Day three is all about mountains as we head from Sun Moon Lake to another mountainous Alishan. After seeing the various beauties of Sun Moon Lake in the morning, we'll visit Zhushan and learn about Taiwanese tea on the way to Alishan, where we'll hike among the clouds through the verdant forests.

Day 4 / Alishan - Kaohsiung

In the morning, you may either get up early and hop on the Alishan Forest Railway to catch a view of the area's famed "sea of clouds" that appears around dawn. Afterward, head to Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second-largest city, where we will spend the rest of the day exploring the country's largest Buddhist monastery. Before checking into our hotel.

Day 5 / Kaohsiung - Pintung - Taitung

Starting with reaching Taiwan's southernmost city to take a look at the eco-friendly cocoa farm in the morning. Then we will drive through Taiwan's banana belt to hit the pretty east coast town of Taitung. It's time to head to the beautiful east coast with natural ecology and indigenous culture. After checking in at the hotel, take your time to relax in the famous Chihpen hot spring.

Day 6 / Taitung - Hualien

Spend this day exploring the landscapes considered by some as Taiwan's most beautiful road while driving through the scenic East Rift Valley. In addition to being where two tectonic plates meet, it's also where Taiwan's best rice is grown. We will be surrounded by bucolic splendor before reaching the coastal city of Hualien.

Day 7 / Hualien

We’ll spend the seventh day of our tour in Hualien County, enjoying magnificent oceanfront scenery, absorbing the Zen vibe at a Japanese-style temple, paddle boating on scenic Liyu Lake, and eating amazing food at Hualien’s lad back seafront night market.

Day 8 / Hualien to Taipei

We’ll spend the final day of our eight-day Taiwan adventure exploring world-renowned Taroko Gorge National Park, enjoying a guided trip to the park’s gorgeous gorge, rapid rivers, and wonderful waterfalls. After experiencing the majesty of Taroko Gorge, we’ll slowly make our way back up the east coast, pausing beneath the Qingshui cliffs (Taiwan’s largest coastal cliffs) before heading back to Taipei.

Can’t find what you want?

Create your own tour .

  • • Knowledgeable English-speaking guide to introduce you to local culture and history
  • • All transportation (5-seater sedan or 8-seater van, driver)
  • • Admission tickets to all activities on itinerary
  • • Travel insurance
  • • Meals not listed above
  • • Any optional activities not on itinerary

Cancellation Policy

I can't wait to see Taiwan again!

We had a wonderful time, the best quality of service and tour, other recommendations.

Watch as the mountainous village of Jiufen lights up the night

Jiufen Night Tour

Explore a 600-square-meter private lounge in the 1940s, showcasing a harmonious blend of Japanese and Western architectural styles

Jiufen & Pingxi Exclusive Night Tour

Explore Taiwan's #1 natural wonder

Taroko From Taipei In A Day (by train)


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Taiwan Island - 9 Days

  • In-depth Cultural
  • Fully Guided
  • Personalized
  • Christmas & New Year

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  • Circumnavigate the island in 9 days - carefully planned for the most complete Taiwan experience at the proper pace.
  • Enjoy treasure-spotting at the National Palace Museum of Taipei. Home to the world’s most extensive collection of Chinese art.
  • It’s Teatime! Enjoy a privately arranged afternoon tea served in an authentic Qing-dynasty setting paired with traditional music and pastries.
  • Overnight in Taroko National Park’s only 5-star hotel to end and start your day in the embrace of Taiwan’s most magnificent nature reserve.
  • Learn about the history of Taiwan’s indigenous Amis community and savor the authentic flavors of Taiwan’s agricultural abundance in through Amis’s cuisine.

Ready-to-book adventures, personalized

Make your adventure more you

Enjoy a tour focused solely on your travel group


Access our Travel Experts’ insider knowledge

Travel within your own bubble

  • Introduction
  • Day 1 Arrive in Taoyuan International Airport or Taipei Songshan Airport
  • Day 2 Taipei -- National Palace Museum -- Jiaosi Hot Springs
  • Day 3 Jiaosi Hot Springs -- (North-Link Railway) Hualien -- Taroko National Park
  • Day 4 Tiansiang -- Fata'an Wetlands -- Chihshang, Taitung
  • Day 5 Chihshang, Taitung -- (South Link Railway) Kaohsiung -- Tainan
  • Day 6 Tainan
  • Day 7 Tainan -- Lukang -- Chingjing Farm
  • Day 8 Chingjing -- Sun Moon Lake
  • Day 9 Sun Moon Lake -- Jiufen -- Taipei -- Your Destination

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What's Included

  • Accommodation
  • Additional Services

Adventure Type

  • Group of 24 travelers max.
  • Fast booking confirmation
  • Carefully planned itineraries
  • Travel with like-minded people
  • Choose your preferred dates and duration
  • Upgrade your accommodation
  • Customize the itineraries

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Operated by Supera Tours

5 Reasons Why Travelers Choose Supera: 1) Hands-on Quality | To personally ensure excellence, we do everything ourselves, from chartering our own private ships to hand-selecting every hotel on your itinerary. 2) No Tourist Traps | We include only the most worthwhile places on any of our tours, and refuse to clutter your trip with any time-wasting tourist traps. 3) Designed for Memories | Never feel rushed through a packed, forgettable program. Our team paces your itinerary so you'll savor wonderful experiences & remember each one. 4) Travel by Tastebud | Food is key in every culture, and we simply love to eat! From street-food to Michelin ranked, we're always seeking the best cuisine to share. 5) Total Peace of Mind | World-class planning, complimentary travel protection, and 24/7 team support are just a call away. We'll carry the baggage so you travel worry-free.

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  • Overall Rating Excellent 4.9
  • Itinerary Excellent 4.8
  • Guide Excellent 5.0
  • Transport Excellent 4.9
  • Accommodation Excellent 4.9
  • Food Excellent 4.8
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Dates & Availability



Take advantage of our 0% interest instalment plan on selected departures. Learn More

  • Upcoming departures
  • August 2024
  • September 2024
  • October 2024
  • November 2024
  • December 2024
  • Monday 6 May, 2024 Wednesday 15 May, 2024 English Filling Fast Multiple Room Types €3,449 Confirm Dates
  • Monday 20 May, 2024 Wednesday 29 May, 2024 English Filling Fast Multiple Room Types €3,449 Confirm Dates
  • Monday 3 Jun, 2024 Wednesday 12 Jun, 2024 English Filling Fast Multiple Room Types €3,449 Confirm Dates
  • Monday 17 Jun, 2024 Wednesday 26 Jun, 2024 English Filling Fast Multiple Room Types €3,449 Confirm Dates
  • Monday 8 Jul, 2024 Wednesday 17 Jul, 2024 English Filling Fast Multiple Room Types €3,449 Confirm Dates
  • Monday 29 Jul, 2024 Wednesday 7 Aug, 2024 English Filling Fast Multiple Room Types €3,449 Confirm Dates
  • Monday 5 Aug, 2024 Wednesday 14 Aug, 2024 English Filling Fast Multiple Room Types €3,449 Confirm Dates
  • Monday 23 Sep, 2024 Wednesday 2 Oct, 2024 English Filling Fast Multiple Room Types €3,449 0% Interest Instalments Confirm Dates
  • Tuesday 22 Oct, 2024 Thursday 31 Oct, 2024 English Filling Fast Multiple Room Types €3,449 0% Interest Instalments Confirm Dates
  • Monday 28 Oct, 2024 Wednesday 6 Nov, 2024 English Filling Fast Multiple Room Types €3,449 0% Interest Instalments Confirm Dates

Frequently Asked Questions

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Good to Know

  • Currency $ New Taiwan Dollar Taiwan

As a traveller from England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa you will need an adaptor for types A, B.

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Round Island Tour of Taiwan

Round Island Tour of Taiwan

Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan round island tour

Round Island Tour of Taiwan Overview

This adventure takes you from bustling Taipei to some of the most spectacular scenery on the stunning East Coast. You’ll experience Taiwanese history and culture, visit the minority indigenous tribes of Sun Moon Lake, walk through historic Lukang, join in the morning prayers with the monks of Foguangshan and perhaps enjoy a dip in the hot springs.

  • Experience Taiwanese history and culture
  • Walk through the small and winding streets of historic Lukang
  • Take a private lake cruise to Lalu island
  • Join the monks in morning prayers and a meditation session

Day 1 Arrival in Taipei

Arrive in Taipei - meet and greet at the airport for a transfer to your hotel.

This evening you'll have a Taipei night tour near the Lungshan temple area, one of the oldest areas of Taipei city. Lungshan temple has been a local landmark since its establishment in 1738. It is frequented by locals as well as international visitors for its vibrant atmosphere and lively night scene. Overnight in Taipei.

Day 2 Taipei sightseeing

Enjoy a Taipei city tour. Spend the whole morning in the world's finest Chinese art gallery, the National Palace Museum. The collection includes several thousand years of artifacts.

In the afternoon, visit the Martyr's Shrine for the famous Changing of the Guard and the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall before finally visiting Taipei 101, until recently the tallest building in the world.

Day 3 Taipei to Lukang and Sun Moon Lake

After breakfast, head down the highway to the historic town of Lukang. Lukang was Central Taiwan's most important port and second largest city from the mid-17th to the 18th century. Its small and winding streets still preserve the look and feel of southern Chinese architecture. Sites to be visited include the old street, the Tien Hou Kung Temple, the Lukang Lungshan Temple and the Lukang Folklore Museum. After Lukang, turn west to the mountains and beautiful Sun Moon Lake. Overnight in Sun Moon Lake.

Day 4 Sun Moon Lake

All rooms at the Lalu face the Lake, and you may want to wake up early this morning to appreciate the sunrise. Take your time and enjoy a refreshing breakfast by the lakeside. After breakfast take a private lake cruise directly from the hotel's pier and visit Lalu island and the Tzi-an Pagoda. Overnight in Sun Moon Lake.

Day 5 Sun Moon Lake to Tainan and Foguangshan

After breakfast head south to Tainan, the island's oldest city and its cultural capital. Upon arrival, tour the cultural riches of Tainan city, with relics from the Dutch and Qing colonial periods including the Koxinga's Shrine, Chikan Tower, Confucius Temple (one of the oldest in Taiwan) and the Guardian of War Temple area. Continue south to Foguangshan, one of the biggest Buddhist temples in East Asia whose name literally means light of Buddha. Overnight at the monastery.

Day 6 Foguangshan to Taitung

Wake up early in the morning to join the monastery's morning chant, followed by a short warm-up and a meditation session led by a monk or nun. After visiting the Buddhist museum and the monastery, head over the central mountain range to the hot spring resort town of Chihpen on the east coast. Overnight and enjoy the hotel's hot spring facilities.

Day 7 Taitung to Hualien

Proceed north up the east coast driving by some of the island's most striking and beautiful terrain, arriving in Taroko Gorge in the late afternoon. Stops will be made at the Tung He Bridge, Sansiantai, and the stone steps. Overnight in Hualien.

Day 8 Taroko Gorge sightseeing

Tour the amazing Taroko Gorge, a stunning, awe inspiring river gorge lined by sheer river-carved cliffs of marble. The visit includes stops at the Swallow Grottoes, the Marble Bridge, and the Eternal Spring Shrine. Leave for Taipei via the Hsuehshan (Snow Mountain) tunnel. Arrive in Taipei in the late afternoon. Overnight in Taipei.

Day 9 Taipei to Beitou

Travel to Taoyuan to visit the Chang Ken Memorial Hospital's traditional Chinese Clinic to experience the Chinese way of examination and treatment at the Chinese Medicine Spa. Head out to Yingge, the former ceramic centre of the island. Though mass production of ceramics long ago left the town, it remains an important ceramic art and retail centre. Since the opening of the pottery museum and the re-opening of the old street, Yingge has gained popularity among the locals and become a major destination for international visitors. Continue on to visit the nearby hamlet of Sanshia, location of the Tzu-Shi Temple, famous for its elaborate wooden dragon carvings. Overnight at the Maple Landis Hotel in Beitou, well known for its spas and hot springs.

Day 10 Departure

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Private Family Tour of Taiwan

Classic private tours of taiwan, natural wonders tour of taiwan, private tea tours of taiwan, private food tours of taiwan, private culture tours of taiwan, 12-day private island tour of taiwan.

Enjoy a twelve-day tour around the entire island of Taiwan. From urban city life to unique natural beauty, this tour provides you with the perfect blend of sightseeing, culture, and adventure.

All of our tours are fully customizable. Get in touch and we'll assign you a dedicated travel designer who will work with you to curate your perfect trip.

12-Day Private Island Tour of Taiwan Itinerary

Day 1 – taipei city tour.

  • Pick up at the hotel at 2pm for visiting Taipei 101 for sunset and Ding Tai Fong Dumpling before visiting a night market. This is a half day tour and we will include the meal and tickets to the 101. Will return to the hotel at around 10pm.

Day 2 – Taipei City Tour & Tea Tasting

  • Start from the hotel at 9am. Morning visit to the Lin Family Garden which is a beautiful heritage site and shines a light on the family traditions of Taiwan.
  • Then visit the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and break for a light lunch at a famous tea house nearby. After lunch is a traditional Chinese Tea Tasting.
  • Then onto Yong Kang Street which is a bustling artisan area with boutique coffee shops and additional points of cultural interest. Beef noodles or other fine dishes can be enjoyed before dinner. Returning to the hotel at around 6pm.

Day 3 – Taipei National Palace Museum and Yang Ming Mountain

  • Pick up from the hotel at 9:30 am for a 10:00am guided tour of the National Palace Museum.
  • Here you’ll find the greatest collection of Chinese Arts and Artifacts in the world. At least 2-3 hours are required.
  • From here, we’ll travel to the beautiful Yang Ming Shan to see the flowers and do some gentle hiking after a lunch of fresh mountain veggies and other delights.
  • Spend a relaxing afternoon in Yang Ming Shan before returning to the city for dinner and a foot massage in ‘shemingding’ (little Tokyo). Back to the hotel around 9pm.

Day 4 – Taipei to Hualien via Yeh Liu and Jiu Fen

  • Depart from hotel at 8:30 am and stop in Yeh Liu to visit the unique geological park.
  • Then onto the old Gold Mining Town of Jiu Fen to visit the museum (includes the prison camp in Jingwaushi).
  • Continue down the East Coast to Hualien where you can enjoy local food (dumpling soup with vinegar, mochi and seafood etc.) and culture.
  • The hotel has an excellent sauna and spa facilities.

Day 5 – Taroko Gorge and Hualien

  • Depart from hotel at 8:30am for Taroko Gorge.
  • First, stop at the Eternal Spring Temple to visit the Pagoda and Monastery. Then continue into the gorge stopping at Swallows Grotto, Lui Shwei trail and the Bai Yang trail.
  • We will be staying in the very heart of Taroko Gorge in wood cabins nestled into the hills side. Aboriginal dancing for evening entertainment.

Day 6 –  Taroko to Sun Moon Lake

  • Depart from Taroko Gorge at 9am and begin the climb from 700 meters to 3,500 meters as we cross the central cross highway. One of the most stunning roads in Asia.
  • Visit a 3,200-year-old divine tree. See monkeys on the roadside as we head for Herhua Mountain for a high-altitude stroll.
  • Lunch at the top for roast chicken before we drop down to Sun Moon Lake. Dinner at Crystal Hotel.

Day 7 – Sun Moon Lake and Tea Plantations

  • Visit tea gardens and do some DIY tea making activities.
  • Return to Sun Moon Lake to take an afternoon-chartered boat ride with drinks. Then some free time strolling the old lakeside village of Ita Thoa.
  • Dinner at the Sun Moon Lake restaurant for some local foods including wild boar.

Day 8 –  Alishan National Park

  • Depart early for Ali Shan over the beautiful route 21 going up past Jade Mountain.
  • Beautiful Mountain passes before arriving in Ali Shan National Forest.
  • Lunch and dinner in the National Park which has a great selection of mountain foods.

Day 9 – Alishan National Park

  • Early rise at 4:30am for the stunning sea of cloud sunrise over Ali Shan (this is very early and is optional). Return to the hotel for breakfast.
  • Hiking and exploring the ancient forests of Ali Shan. Free time in the afternoon for tea drinking, hiking and photography.

Day 10 –  Tainan the Ancient Capital

  • Depart at 8:30am for our drive to Tainan, the ancient capital of Taiwan.
  • Lunch in Anping Tainan, then a brief tour of An Ping, the oldest trading port in Taiwan.
  • Plenty of quaint old streets for exploring here. Check into the hotel around 4pm. Roast Duck for dinner in the Hotel.

Day 11 – Kaohsiung

  • Foguangshan Buddhist Temple in the morning before visiting the old British consulate at Takaw in the early afternoon.
  • Return to Tainan to visit the Dutch Fort and Confucius Temple. For dinner we’ll try traditional street food for the final night.

Day 12 –  Tainan to Airport

  • Free morning to enjoy the hotel and stroll around the university grounds.
  • Midday departure for the High Speed Rail to catch the High Speed Rail to the airport.

What to Expect

  • Fully Customized Itinerary
  • Dedicated vehicle with licensed commercial driver
  • Dedicated English-speaking tour guides
  • The best accommodations in every location
  • All meals tailored to your specific dietary needs
  • Comprehensive insurance

taiwan island tour

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Classic Taiwan Luxury Tour (5D/4N)

Home » Tours » Multi-day Tour » Classic Taiwan Luxury Tour (5D/4N)

Dear Valued Travelers,

Unfortunately, we must inform you that due to the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake on April 3, 2024, resulting in significant damage to Taroko National Park’s infrastructure, our 5-day tour including the park in its itinerary will be revised for safety reasons. Your well-being is our top priority, and we deeply appreciate your understanding and support during this challenging period. As we witness Taiwan’s resilience and commend the swift actions of its rescue teams and recovery teams, rest assured, we’re fully committed to ensuring your safety and delivering an exceptional experience. We kindly ask for your patience as we work to rearrange the itinerary, aiming to preserve Taiwan’s beauty and cultural richness. We’ll keep you informed of any updates and eagerly anticipate the opportunity to welcome you back to experience the splendor of Taroko National Park once again.

Get Me To Taiwan Tour Planning Team

About this activity

When Portuguese sailors first encountered the Island of Taiwan in the 16th century, they were so impressed with the scenery, they immediately named it “Ilha Formosa”, which translates to “beautiful island”.

The relatively small island of Taiwan is filled with amazing, awe-inspiring and fascinating places to explore. But accessing them takes some planning, and maximizing your vacation with limited time and budget can prove challenging even for experienced travelers.

No worries. We’ve got you covered. On this comprehensive 5-day package tour of Taiwan, you will visit all the must-see tourist spots while staying in 5-star hotels each night! The tour includes stops at remarkable natural sites like Sun Moon Lake, Kenting National Park, the East Coast National Scenic Area and Taroko National Park, all of which are filled with Taiwan’s natural wonders. But stunning natural landscapes are only half of the tour. Taiwan is home to a rich culture and features beautiful ancient architecture. The tour’s many cultural stops, including Ci’en Pagoda, Fort Zeelandia, Fo Guang Shan Monastery, Eluanbi Lighthouse and more, will give you a taste of Taiwan’s diverse culture and brilliant history.

The tour, which departs on Monday and returns to Taipei on Friday evening, is available all year round. If combined with a longer vacation, this tour can form the foundation for your amazing trip to Taiwan. Book this 5-day Taiwan “around the island” tour and make the most out of your trip to Taiwan!

Wenwu Temple

  • Marvel at the biggest marble gorge in the world—Taroko Gorge
  • Immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes and rich culture of Sun Moon Lake
  • Discover the unique landforms and biodiversity of Kenting National Park
  • Explore the East Coast National Scenic Area, where wilderness and natural beauty are right by the road
  • Enjoy 4-nights accommodation at 5-star hotels
  • Guaranteed departure with a minimum of 1 participant
  • Hotel pick-up and drop-off is available (within city limits)


Taipei – Sun Moon Lake

On the first morning of your tour, you will depart from Central Taipei and head for the heart of the island, Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area. 

Sun Moon Lake

Upon arriving in Hualien, today’s last stop will be a marble factory. Marble mining and processing was an important industry in Hualien. Although marble mining has been phased out for ecological reasons, it is still an important part of the city’s history, and one of the reasons for its prosperity.

Tonight, enjoy a peaceful night stay in a 5-star resort hotel. Tomorrow, you will view Taiwan’s greatest natural wonder—the world-famous Taroko Gorge. 

Overnight: Hotel Silks Place Taroko – Garden View Room(5-star), Hualien or equivalent

Hualien – Taroko – Taipei

On the last day of your 5-day tour in Taiwan, you’ll explore the most awe-inspiring destination in Taiwan, Taroko National Park. Get your camera or phone ready for an unforgettable adventure in the world’s largest marble canyon!

Situated in the eastern part of Taiwan, Taroko National Park was established in 1986. This national park is renowned for its dramatic gorges, diverse wildlife, unique geological formations, and particularly, its towering marble cliffs, which can reach heights of up to 1,100 meters. Today, you’ll have the opportunity to explore some of the park’s most famous attractions, including Cimu Bridge, the Tunnel of Nine Turns, Buluowan Suspension Bridge, Eternal Spring Shrine (Changchun Temple), Swallow Grotto Trail, and Qingshui Cliff.

Cimu Bridge

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Voyager In Taiwan

taiwan island tour

Taiwan Highlights (   10 Days Around Island Tour )

This tour offers a leisurely exploration of the entire island of Taiwan, allowing you to immerse yourself in its beauty without feeling rushed. Carefully curated by our experts, the itinerary spans ten days and covers numerous renowned attractions in each city we visit.

Image by Pascal Meier

After you claim your luggage and walk out of the arrival hall, our guide will greet you by holding a sign with your name at the airport and take you to your hotel.

The guide will ensure you're settled in your room and answer all your concerns or questions before making arrangements for your next day pick-up.

Overnight stay at Taipei hotel

Image by Winston Chen

Sun Moon Lake

Today, we will embark on a three-hour drive to reach the breathtaking Sun Moon Lake.

One of the best ways to experience the beauty of the lake is through a morto boat tour. The tour takes visitors on a relaxing journey around the lake, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and scenery.

Cien Pagoda was built by Chiang Kai-Shek in 1971 in remembrance of his mother, here is the best place to overlooking whole Sun Moon Lake.

Ita Thao Food Street is known for its wide variety of local food options, including street vendors selling traditional Taiwanese snacks and restaurants offering fresh seafood dishes. You can sample a range of delicious treats, such as grilled squid, Taiwanese sausage, stinky tofu, and shaved ice dessert.

Overnight stay at Sun Moon Lake hotel.  

Alishan National Park

Alishan is a captivating National Park in Taiwan that offers a rich exploration experience. Discover the high mountain Oolong tea plantations and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the local aboriginal communities. 

At YUYUPAS Cultural Park, you will be warmly greeted by indigenous residents who will provide a one-of-a-kind tea and dining experience accompanied by captivating performances.

Indulge in the serene tea ceremony experience in Alishan as you follow a skilled tea master through the lush tea plantations. Immerse yourself in the world of tea as you learn about its fascinating history, gain knowledge about tea cultivation, and savor the delightful flavors during tea tasting sessions.

Overnight stay at Alishan hotel.


Northern Coast

YehliuGeopark is known for its unique rock formations, which have been eroded over time by wind and sea water. One of the most famous rock formations in the park is the "Queen's Head", which resembles the head of a queen wearing a crown. You can explore the park by walking along the designated trails and taking in the stunning scenery.

Jiufen Old Street was originally a gold mining town during the Japanese colonial era and is now known for its narrow streets lined with traditional red lanterns, teahouses, souvenir shops, and delicious street food. You can try local specialties such as peanut ice cream rolls, taro balls, and tea eggs while enjoying panoramic views of the ocean and mountains.

Shifen Waterfall is the widest waterfall in Taiwan, and perhaps the most picturesque in all of Taiwan. It is easily accessible by foot from Shifen Train Station, and includes restaurants, gardens, and suspension bridges along the way. Visit Shifen district, set off the sky lantern and walk along the railway between the beautiful village.

Overnight stay at Taipei hotel.  


Day 5 

Witnessing the majestic sunrise in Alishan is a must-do activity for every tourist. We will wake up early around 4:30 am and board the vintage mountain train that will take us to the peak. Our professional guide will lead us to the prime viewing spot to witness the breathtaking sunrise. ​

Take some time to relax or nap before breakfast. In Alishan National Park, we highly recommend experiencing the mountain railway at least once. Our guide will then lead you on a leisurely walk through the forest, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty at a gentle pace.

Afternoon we are going to the ancient  city in south Taiwan. Tainan is a city located in southern Taiwan and is known for its rich history and cultural heritage. As Taiwan's oldest city, Tainan boasts a wealth of historical sites, including temples, forts, and museums, as well as a variety of delicious local cuisine.

Overnight stay at Tainan hotel.

In the morning we are going to Tianliao Moon World, just 15 minutes by drive. These typical badlands are found in dryer climates, are composed of sedimentary rocks, typically have very little vegetation, and have deep valleys or ravines.  You can also see some nearby mud hot springs.

Continue to the Buddha Memorial Hall, we can make a guiding reservation with a master who speaks English, and will explain deeper in Buddhism if you are interested. There are some nice vegetarian restaurants around you should experience.

The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, completed in 1976, are intricately connected to the Ciji Temple, which has a history dating back to 1719. When visiting, remember to enter through the dragon and exit through the tiger, as it is believed to transform bad luck into good fortune.

Overnight stay at Kaohsiung hotel.


Meinong Hakka culture is characterized by its distinctive architecture, dialect, folk arts, and culinary traditions. We also offer features exhibitions of traditional Hakka arts, such as paper umbrella making, straw mat weaving, and dyeing techniques. You can try their hand at these crafts and take home a unique souvenir.

The Pingtung Indigenous Peoples Cultural Park is a unique and educational cultural destination located in southern Taiwan. You can explore traditional indigenous houses and learn about the different tribes that call Taiwan home. They can also see traditional handicrafts being made by local artisans, such as weaving, pottery, and beadwork. The park also hosts various performances, such as dance and music shows that highlight the unique traditional customs and lifestyles of Taiwan's indigenous peoples.

Overnight stay at Taitung hotel.

Today, we will be making our way to Hualien and visiting several renowned destinations along the way.

Dulan is the largest tribe in the southern part of the eastern coast. Dulan Mountain stands tall in Eastern Taiwan. It has always been a "holy mountain" admired by tribal groups. It is not only a spiritual symbol of folklore, art and culture, but also a good place for tourists to enjoy the wild fun of mountains and forests!

Sanxiantai is one of the most beautiful spots on the East Coast, an area full of beautiful geology and natural scenery. It is known for its iconic arching footbridge that leads to the island of the three immortals. The ocean views and unique rock formations make it an ideal place to take a stroll and enjoy nature's beauty.

Overnight stay at Hualien hotel.


Taroko National Park

Taroko National Park is a must-visit destination in Taiwan. The park is famous for its stunning natural landscapes, including towering mountains, deep gorges, and crystal-clear rivers. Will visit Eternal Spring Shrine, Swallow Grotto, Moon Bidge.

Qingshui Cliff is a breathtaking cliff rises over 800 meters above the Pacific Ocean and is one of the most impressive coastal vistas in Taiwan.

Jiaoxi Hot Spring is a popular tourist destination located in Yilan County, Taiwan. The town is famous for its natural hot springs, which are believed to have healing properties and offer a relaxing retreat for visitors

Overnight stay at Taipei hotel.

Following breakfast, we will provide transportation to Taoyuan International Airport. If your flight schedule permits, there may be an opportunity to embark on a Taipei city tour. However, the feasibility of the tour will depend on the timing of your booked flight.


Additional Information

- Throughout your entire tour, you will be accompanied by an English-speaking guide .

- The type of vehicles provided will depend on the size of your group.

- In addition to hotels, we can offer unique and distinctive homestay as well.

Going Awesome Places

Detailed itineraries + travel guides

12 Days in Taiwan Travel Guide – Itinerary to Explore the Entire Island

Last Updated February 22, 2023 William Tang

You are here: Home » Travel Itineraries » 12 Days in Taiwan Travel Guide – Itinerary to Explore the Entire Island

Taiwan is known by many names but perhaps the most memorable one is Formosa .  Now that sounds a bit odd but it was in fact coined by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century.  Ilha Formosa   directly translates to “Beautiful Island” and they sure got it right.

Between the energy of the dynamic urban cities, bustling of the famed night markets, colourful culture, fascinating history, incredibly friendly people, and dramatic landscapes, you’ll be amazed at just how much awesome can be packed in this island.

This 12 day Taiwan itinerary (just short of two weeks) follows our journey around the entire island and is geared towards those that have the curiosity of a tiger and the adventurous courage of a dragon.  Now I will say it is a trip that required a bit of stamina to keep up but for the limited time we were there, I’m so glad we were able to see and do all the things we did.  That said, feel free to mix and match as you craft own trip as I know many of you are looking for a Taiwan 7 day itinerary.  As with all of our trip guides, I like providing as much detail as possible to make your planning that much easier.

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  • Hottest deals – Bookmark the frequently updated travel deals page .
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  • Insurance – Make sure you’re covered for all of your adventure activities with the best travel insurance .

Table of Contents

  • Pre-Trip Guide
  • Day 1 – Hitting The Ground Running in Taipei
  • Day 2 – Spirited Away
  • Day 3 – Winding Up To Alishan
  • Day 4 – The Almost Sunrise
  • Day 5 – Artsy Urban Kaohsiung
  • Day 6 – The Surf Challenge
  • Day 7 – Fly With The Wind
  • Day 8 – Ridin’ in Taitung
  • Day 9 – Taroko Tribe In The Mountains
  • Day 10 – Shakadang Is My New Favourite Word
  • Day 11 – Tai Chi, Hot Springs and Shrimps
  • Day 12 – Mad Dash for Pineapple Pastry
  • Where to Stay

12 Day Taiwan Itinerary Pre-Trip Guide

12 day taiwan itinerary trip planning guide

Taiwan currency is the New Taiwan Dollar ($NT).  TWD is also another symbol that is used.

  • Mental math for North Americans:  To convert things quickly in your head, cut one zero and we divided by 3.  This brings it closer to USD.  For CAD, you just “add a little”.
  • Quick reference print outs:  Oanda’s fxCheatSheet  is pretty handy.
  • App: For iOS users, I recommend the free app xCurrency .

Taiwan uses the exact same electrical standard as North America:  110V/60Hz AC.

taiwan island tour

Best Time To Visit

Taiwan goes through a full four seasons however they are less pronounced and they lean towards the humid subtropical climate.  It’s all personal preference but the best time to go would be either in late spring (April to May) or autumn (November) for a great blend of comfortable temperatures and smaller crowds.  Also keep in mind that temperatures will vary depending on where you are in the country which means it’ll be much warmer in the south vs. Taipei vs. in the mountains.

  • Spring (March – May): Very mild and pleasant where only long sleeve is required [Average 15ºC to 27ºC]
  • Summer (June – September):  Very hot and humid with chances of rain as well.  Keep in mind that this is typhoon season as well [Average 24ºC to 31ºC]
  • Autumn (October – November): Begins to cool down but is still very comfortable [Average 18ºC to 30ºC]
  • Winter (December – February):  Jacket season where it can get foggy due to northeasterly winds from Siberia [Average 13ºC to 19ºC]

taiwan temperature averages in 12 day taiwan itinerary

How To Fly To Taiwan

Flights to Taiwan will vary drastically depending on where you’re flying from.  If you’re coming from Asia, there are a number of low cost carriers to choose from including AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, and Scoot.  For the rest of the world, the two big national airlines to look out for are China Airlines (SkyTeam) and EVA Air (Star Alliance).

The primary international airport is Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) and for most international travellers, that is where you will want to land.  What you may not realize though is that there are alternative airports that you can use to jump to different parts of the country or directly fly into.  The two other international airports can be found at Kaohsiung (KHH) and Taichung (RMQ).  Another popular airport that you might want to try to search if you’re coming from other parts of Asia is Taipei Songshan Airport in Taipei (TSA).

I had the opportunity to fly EVA Air both direct from Vancouver and Toronto and had a fabulous experience with them.  Including a quirky interpretive dance safety video, pre-boarding complimentary tea, some of the best food I’ve had on the plane, and great service.

Where To Stay

There are so many choices for hotels in Taiwan that range from budget to mid-range and luxury.  In Taipei, you’ll find the big international brands but across the country, don’t be afraid to book local branded properties.  In this 12 day itinerary, you’ll see that we’ve chosen reasonably priced 4 star properties that all managed to impress.

Since you’ll be on the move quite a bit on this itinerary, homestays traditionally may not be a good option but if you can find one that only requires a minimum of 2 nights, you could swing it.

For where to stay in Taipei , make sure to read the neighbourhood guide to find out the best properties you can stay at

For the whole island, look on Booking.com for the best prices.

How to Get Around

Unless you’re travelling to one of the smaller islands of Taiwan (i.e. Penghu or Xiao Liu Qiu), your best bet is to take advantage of the excellent land transportation options that are available.

The best way to cover large distances along the west coast of the island is the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR/HSR) which is equivalent to Japan’s bullet train.  At a top speed of 300 km/h, you can get from Taipei to Kaohsiung in just over 1.5 hours.  In cities and towns that aren’t covered by THSR/HSR, there are traditional trains covered by the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA).

In the big cities such as Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Taichung, you have an extensive and efficient subway network which is also called the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system.

There are always buses  to fall back on. In the cities, I’d recommend using them only if you know the route and schedule.  That being said, if you’re going to be doing places like Alishan, Kenting, and Taitung, you’re going to need to familiarize yourself with what’s called the  Taiwan Tourist Shuttle .  These are buses created in coordination with the tourism bureau to make it easier for travellers to get to popular sightseeing destinations.  They’re typically more conveniently marked with English which makes things easier.

Taxis are easy to hail in the big cities and if not you can always get your hotel to call one for you.  Expect this to be your most expensive mode of transportation.

Scooters are often the preferred way of getting around in places like Kenting not to mention the most fun.  Roads aren’t crazy hectic like in Thailand so it’s quite safe.  What you need to know though is that they require local motorcycle licenses to drive motorized scooters.  Electric scooters are much easier to rent as long as you’ve done it before.  If you haven’t, they might reject you or you’ll be required to do a small lesson like we did.  If you continue reading the itinerary portion of this guide, you’ll learn why you really need one to get around.

Car rentals are another way to get around that often doesn’t get much attention.  Make sure you book in advance and do your research in advanced as English will be at a minimum when engaging with car rental companies and driving directions.  Make sure you have your international drivers license.

Lastly, I’d like to mention private drivers as this is another popular way to see the country.  These are typically taxi drivers that have their own side business.  I never had a chance to book one but did run across a cabbie that told us about his services and read about quite a number of them on TripAdvisor forums .  The beauty of this is that you can create your own itinerary and do it in the comfort of a private vehicle, skipping complicated commutes, and saving time as well.  It may be hard to find English-speaking drivers but I’m sure they’re out there.  This is best used for day trips such as up to Yehliu Geopark, Danshui, Jiufen, etc.


All the types of contactless IC cards you can find in Taiwan

  • What’s confusing in Taiwan is that there are multiple types of contactless cards (EasyCard, icash 2.0, and iPass).  I’m not going to pretend to be able to explain differences between them but the one that you want to get is EasyCard as it’s the most widely accepted around the country for most local transit (MRT and buses) and stores.  You can buy them at MRT stations but convenient stores like 7-11 and Family Mart sell them too.  Warning:  7-11 will try to sell you on their icash cards but make sure you get EasyCard (don’t make the same mistake that I made).  The beauty of the EasyCard is that all credit can be refunded at MRT stations whereas it is not easy/impossible with the other cards.
  • In Taipei, there is also something called the Taipei Pass that you can consider where you can get unlimited rides for the number of days that you purchase.  Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it as the EasyCard is just more hassle free and keeps things flexible.
  • Uber is available but isn’t worth it if your ride is less than $NT 35 or if surge pricing is on but on longer rides they can be marginally cheaper.  They’re operating in a restricted mode in Taipei only where cars can only drive for Uber if the car is rented from a specific company.  You’ll also find that most regular cabs don’t take rechargeable cards nor credit cards so expect to pay cash.
  • While Google is pretty good at providing schedules and directions for public transportation especially in Taipei, I’d recommend getting a local to help you when possible especially when it comes to buses.

Do I Need A Visa?

There are a number of visa regulations that depend on your nationality.  For most of you, the good news here is that you will most likely be visa exempt or you’ll be able to purchase a visa on arrival, eVisa, or an Online Travel Authorization Certificate.  Your best is to get most up-to-date information on visas for Taiwan .

If you’re coming from one of the 60 countries that don’t require a visa, you’re in luck.  As a Canadian, all I needed was a passport that was not expiring in the next 6 months, and I was granted a 90 day stay by the customs official after landing at the airport.  I didn’t have to visit the visa on arrival desk or anything – just walk right to the customs counters.

Wifi, Data, and Must Download Apps

The most important question is whether you should get a SIM card or a personal hotspot.  This comes down to whether you’ll be making calls or not and the answer will most likely be that all you care about is data.  If that is the case, you’re going to want to pick up a personal hotspot (pocket wifi) .   Taiwan’s rates are so cheap for unlimited use and the great thing about it is that you can share wifi with everyone in your group.

I reserved my device from a Chinese site called APTG that rents out WiFun and as unlimited data usage for $NT 100 per day (~$3.36 USD).  What I like about them is that you can actually get them to deliver it to your hotel ($NT 180 fee).  You just might need someone local to help you out.

If that’s a little complicated, there are also device rental shops right outside of arrivals at TPE.  The one I remember seeing is Unite Traveler (find them here ).

Before you leave home, here are a few apps that you should download to make your life on the road easier.

  • TP Metro – Lightweight app by rGuide that has a map of the Taipei MTR for quick reference.
  • Skype – This will be even more critical if you’re going with the personal hotspot option.  The few times we had to make calls, having credit with Skype definitely came in handy.
  • Google Maps – The offline feature of Google Maps is helpful as a backup if the wifi dies (dead zone or out of battery).

Luggage Storage Solution

One of the things I love about Asia and Taiwan in particular is how good they are with their luggage storage options.  This is super handy when you’ve got that awkward in between time from the point you check out into your hotel in the morning and you have to catch a train or bus to somewhere else but still want to explore without lugging it around.  That’s when those lockers really come in handy.

The traditional solution – The standard way to do this is to go to find a locker in a train station where there are usually large clusters of multi-sized lockers.  They’re not expensive and for instance Zuoying in Kaohsiung only cost $NT 50 for 3 hours.  You just have to remember to have cash on hand.  The challenge though is that if you’re not near the obvious places for lockers, it’s a bit of challenge to figure out where you can go.  The other thing to consider is size.  There’s no way of knowing whether the large lockers are available and what if you need somewhere to store something in a fridge?

The Airbnb of lockers – That’s where Lalalocker comes in.  Instead of hunting an elusive locker, all you have to do is check their platform to see what lockers are available in your area.  All you have to do is book your locker, show up, drop off your stuff, and pick it up when you need it.  It’s all part of the share economy where you’ll find locker locations anywhere from restaurants, stores, and hotels.  It’s completely safe, and the price is a flat rate of $NT 150 for large luggage and $NT 70 for small luggage for the whole day.

Store your stuff with Lalalocker

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What To Prepare

This really depends on what time of year you’re planning your Taiwan itinerary and I won’t list out everything we brought but I would recommend you read my previous packing lists for trips to Ireland , South Africa , Ethiopia , and Peru .

For Taiwan specifically, here are a few must-haves that you’ll want to pack and things to consider to make your life easier on the road:

  • Power bank – A high capacity power bank such as Anker’s 20,100 mAh , is a must-have in my mind considering the fact that your phone will be your lifeline for on-the-fly translations, maps, transit, and last-minute searches.  The personal hotspot devices drain battery like crazy so you’ll need to charge them halfway through the day.
  • Waterproof jacket – You never know when it’s going to rain and I sure was glad to have something like the Columbia’s OutDry gear with me.
  • Booking your train tickets ahead of time – It was truly a blessing for us to have MyTaiwanTour help with reserving of all the main trains that could be booked based on our itinerary.

The 12 day Taiwan itinerary

This is how our 12 days looked like during our trip to Taiwan.  With this day by day breakdown, you’ll get a clear picture of everything that we did and all the spots that we hit up.  Where I can, I also provide personal travel tips (signified by ) so look out for those.

Interactive Map

>> Day 1 – Hit The Ground Running In Taipei <<

Views of Taipei 101 from Xiangshan Elephant MOuntain

The perfect way to start your trip and get over your jetlag is to arrive in the heart of Taiwan and start wandering.  Go and take in Taipei’s iconic landmarks, feed your hunger at the bustling night markets, and jump right into the colourful culture.

With limited number of days in Taipei, you’ll want to make it count and pick the places that interest you to help decide what you’d like to focus on.  You won’t be able to do everything but remember that you’ll have the rest of your trip to make up for it.

For me, since I had been to Taipei before, my focus was on places I hadn’t been to which meant cutting out a lot of the highlights that other guides will take you to (i.e. Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, National Palace Museum, Taipei 101, and Longshan Temple).  What you’ll see below are all the places we managed to hit up in the first day before there was nothing left in the tank.  The focus for the day was primarily food and also getting set up with things like the pocket wifi and EasyCard.

★  Elephant Mountain

Stairs of Elephant Mountain Xiangshan

The views from Elephant Mountain or Xiangshan are arguable the best in the city and very easy to get to as long as you have it mapped out ahead of time.  The path to it will seem a little obscure but once you come out of the subway, you’ll no doubt see other tourists making their way there.

The hike itself isn’t particularly long but I would recommend preparing yourself for some serious stair-master.  The ascent is a sheer 20 minute climb but thankfully there are lots of places to stop, benches to rest, and great views from the forest.

Elephant Mountain is but one of the peaks in a collection of trails that make up the Four Beasts Mountains.  That said, if you’re like me and primarily interested in that epic shot of downtown Taipei, just focus on hiking straight up until you reach the Six Giant Rocks to get those iconic photos of you on the rock.  There’s also big platform below the final steps up that is great for views.

Detailed Xiangshan Elephant Mountain Trail Map

TIPS: Sunset is the best time to go as you get the insane explosion of colours if the weather cooperates and past sunset you get the night skyline as well.


Yongkang Beef Noodle

★ LUNCH: Yongkang Beef Noodle It would be a mistake not to try Taiwan’s famous beef noodle soup.  When I arrived, there was a modest line outside the restaurant but turnover is relatively quick here and I was seated within 10 minutes.  I ordered the non-spicy version of the beef noodles and spare ribs, both of which were PHENOMENAL.  The beef was perfectly cooked in juiciness and fat.  The noodles had also just the right amount of bounce.  #believethehype

Smoothie House on Yongkang Street

★ SNACK: Smoothie House You can’t miss this when you walk along the famed Yongkang street.  This big yellow building at the corner is home to the mango shaved ice that CNN made famous (or at least that’s what the signs tell me).  I ordered the mango shaved ice and it was oh-so heavenly.  The shavings from the block of mango ice fluff onto a mountain which translates to a wonderfully light and melt-in-your-mouth taste that you can only equate to eating fresh snow off the ground.  If that wasn’t enough mango, you get real mangoes drizzled with mango sauce and then panna cotta to top it off.

TIPS: There’s not a whole lot of seating on the ground floor but what isn’t obvious is that there’s inside seating upstairs.

Jing Mei Night Market Skewers

★ DINNER: Jing Mei Market In search of something a little bit more local and off-the-beaten-path, I was recommended to this night market in the southern part of Taipei.  I wanted a night market that wasn’t packed with tourists and I wanted to see where real locals ate.  I found it in this night market.  The streets weren’t overcrowded here, the food especially the octopus, fried sweet potato balls, sponge cake, and oyster omelette were all very good and noticeably cheaper than what you’d find in Shilin night market.  It’s not a large market but I quite enjoyed that it wasn’t overwhelming.


★  The Sonnien Hotel  (2 nights)

Sonnien Hotel Room

We couldn’t have asked for a better hotel to start the trip.  Modern, clean, and the most fluffy of beds, it was just the right size and conveniently located.

Walking distance to Yongkang Street and equidistant from Daan Park station on the Red line and Zhongxiao Xinsheng on the Blue/Yellow line, we had no trouble getting to everywhere we wanted to go our first two nights in Taipei.

Sonnien Hotel Taipei Outdoor Entrance

The buffet breakfast included with our stay was also fabulous with everything from hot dishes like noodles, stir-friend vegetables, dim sum, salad, congee, and miso soup.  It was so good that I often regretted eating so much because there was so much other food to eat throughout the day!

TIPS: If you arrive super early in the morning like we did, I actually booked an extra night’s hotel so we wouldn’t be forced to hit the road right away.  Instead, the room was ready for us and I was able to take a nap.


Save money on your trip to Taiwan

I travelled through Taiwan primarily through the help of a local company on the ground called MyTaiwanTour .  They were the ones that booked my train tickets and hotels which made my life so much easier . They are an operator based out of Taipei and specialize in custom-tailored solutions and English-based packaged tours around Taiwan.  I highly recommend them!

Save 5% on tours with MyTaiwanTour by using code  WILL19.

>> Day 2 – Spirited Away <<

Famous Miyazaki Spirited Away Inspiration In Juifen

After a day getting your fill of a few of Taipei’s highlights, it’s time to shake things up and head north.  What’s there you ask?  If you’ve ever wanted to launch your own sky lantern, explore the remains of a Japanese gold mine, and walk through streets that inspired Miyazaki’s classic “Spirited Away”, you’re in for a treat.  And yes, you get to do ALL of that in a day.

  A post shared by Will ✈🌐 GoingAwesomePlaces (@goingawesomeplaces) on Dec 5, 2017 at 2:58pm PST

★ Jiufen and Pingxi Day Tour with MyTaiwanTour

Golden Waterfalls Near Jinguashi

One of the things I love about Taiwan is that it isn’t very hard to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and get a big dose of charm, history, and culture in the northern towns.  Choosing MyTaiwanTour was a no-brainer as they made it really easy to book online and is the English speaking tour that we were looking for.

In our spacious van, our group of 7 spent the day exploring these spots:

  • Jinguashi Mines :  Coming into Taiwan, I had little knowledge of its Japanese occupation past and this was my introduction to what is fascinating history.  Front and centre in the Shuinandong area are the remains of a very serious mining operation as you get to see from afar and close up the abandoned buildings, funicular, tunnels, and land-based smoke stacks.
  • Golden Waterfalls :  Located just a bit further up from the mines, watch the water tumble down what really does look like a gold-laden waterfall.
  • Jiufen :  Once a prosperous gold mining town, Jiufen is now a popular tourist destination known for being the inspiration of Myazaki’s “Spirited Away”.  Spend just a few minutes here and you can see why it has that enchanted quality to it.  Adorned with strings of red lanterns, old tea houses, and streets lined with delicious local treats, we were let loose here for lunch.  My only regret is that it we easily could’ve spent more time getting lost in its maze of alleyways.
  • Shifen Old Street in Pingxi : If you’ve ever wanted to get the FULL experience of building a giant sky lantern from scratch, write your own wishes, and launch them to the heavens, consider your dreams fulfilled.  What makes this even more picture perfect is that you get to do this in a small town while standing in between live running train track.

We came out of the tour with a better appreciation for Taiwan’s history, our tummies filled, and our wishes delivered.  I would highly recommend this day trip as it’s one that would be very difficult to do on your own and I very much enjoyed the service of our guide and driver, Summer and Tom.

Sweet Potato, Taro and Green Tea Balls in Juifen

★ LUNCH: Jiufen Sure, Jiufen does get insanely packed with tourists, but we we didn’t let it bother us too much because we were hungry hippos on a mission.  Our guide, Summer, gave us a few tips on what to look out for and then we were unleashed!

Here is what we picked up along the way ( for our favs):

  • Stinky tofu
  •  Sweet glutinous balls
  • Mochi on a stick
  • A-Zhu peanut ice cream roll (九份阿珠雪在燒)
  • Taiwanese meatball

Total damage?  $325 TWD which is equivalent to a $11 USD lunch for two.  DEAL!

★ DINNER: Shilin Night Market

All Kinds of Sausage at Shilin Night Market

This is perhaps Taiwan’s most famous and largest night market and with its grid of streets lined with a variety of traditional, western, and local cuisines and merchandise.  It’s very much a choose-your-adventure kind of experience where you’ll start off in one corner of the market and slowly make your way to the other side.  Just make sure to come with an empty stomach.

MyTaiwanTour was kind enough to give us the option for drop-off after our day trip and mentioned Shilin Night Market as an option.  We jumped on the opportunity because it is a bit of a distance from the Taiwan core and you really can’t say no.

TIPS:  Make sure to try fried pork buns, bubble tea, wild boar sausage, and octopus.  Beyond food, I highly recommend dropping a few coins on any one of the claw game booths, try your hand at one of the carnival games and the underground floor that is part of the covered section of Shilin.

>> Day 3 – Winding Up In Alishan <<

Watching Clouds Roll Over Trees At Alishan Observation Deck

Alishan is one of Taiwan’s most visited national park and for good reason.  Located way up above the clouds, it’s here that you’ll find the most magnificent terrain of giant red cypress trees that are more than 2,000 years old, Rivendell-like hiking trails, and trains from a different era.  This region is also well-known for its tea because it is grown at such high altitude.

The tricky thing about Alishan though is that it’s quite the journey to get there and one that isn’t necessarily the most clear when it comes to English instructions.  When constructing your itinerary, you’ll also quickly realize that you easily need to account for 2 days to make it work.  As a result, this day is dedicated to getting to Alishan which is quite the adventure on its own.


There’s so much information about this that it really deserves its own dedicated article so make sure you read the full guide on everything you need to know about Alishan .

Alishan Forest Railway Museum

Since we elected to take the bus up to Alishan, we could have easily bypassed the small town of Fenqihu but I’m sure glad we didn’t.

Fenqihu is an old town that used to be a legitimate refuelling stop for the trains heading their way up to Alishan for what used to be a lumbering operation.   Today, it is mainly a rest stop for travellers that want to see the fascinating railway museum, the old street which features food specialities, similar to that of Jiufen, and most importantly their famous ‘Fenqihu bento box’.

TIPS:  There are lockers at the train station for $NT 30 for 3 hours which is perfect for your refuelling stop.

★ Sunset from Alishan House

Sunset from Alishan House Observation Deck

Psst…I’ll let you in on a secret.  The sunsets from Alishan House are just incredible.  Now I probably shouldn’t be telling you this but whether you stay there or not, I would recommend sneaking inside and going up to the 8th floor observation deck .  If you’re lucky, you’ll see the sea of cloud that Alishan is known for.

I ended up showing up here towards the end of the sunrise because I wasn’t sure if the rain would dissipate but when I got there it did.  I had a mind-blowing 20 minutes filming a timelapse of the waves of clouds climbing the mountainside.

★ LUNCH: Fenqihu Bento Box Place

Fenqihu Bento Box Man

There’s probably a more proper name for this place but when you get to Fengqihu, everyone will know what you’re talking about and if not, just follow the posters of the bento box to a 7/11 along the main street.  You can either take a bento box to go for $NT 100 or eat in for $NT 120 for the authentic metal container experience.

Fengqhu Classic Bento Boxes On Way To Alishan

The epitome of Taiwanese comfort food, it comes with a bed of rice with a pork chop, drumstick, tea egg, and a mix of fresh and preserved vegetables.  It was the perfect lunch, so much so that we started with one and ended up with two for the both of us.  If you decide to eat in, you can also have their mushroom and bamboo shoot soup.

TIPS:  If you’re looking for a unique souvenir, you can buy a metal bento containers for $NT 300 (includes the meal).  We were thinking about picking one up but they couldn’t confirm whether it was oven safe or not.

★ DINNER: Room Service at Alishan House

The truth is we were exhausted by the time we got to our hotel and it just seemed like too much work to take a shuttle back down to the train station where there were a number of local restaurants.  The restaurant at the hotel was also a little expensive for our tastes since it was a buffet ($NT 900 if I remember correctly).

If you’re curious, we ended up ordering fried rice and noodles from Alishan House’s room service but if we had a little bit more energy, I’m sure we could’ve had a better meal at the entrance to the park and near the visitor centre.

★ Alishan House

Alishan House Lobby

I’m not sure if I’d recommend staying anywhere else if you come to Alishan.  It’s one of the few properties that is inside the Alishan Forest Recreation Area and is most definitely the nicest.  For quite a reasonable nightly rate, you get a number of bonuses and conveniences that more than make up for the cost.

  • Massive room that you can tell was recently renovated, has a huge bathroom, and complete with fireplace and balcony
  • Hiking trails in the park start right from the hotel which means you don’t need to purchase additional train tickets from the Alishan station to Zhaoping station
  • Complimentary shuttle service to and from the train station
  • Convenience of purchasing sunrise train ticket from the front desk
  • Willing to hold bags for you as you explore the next day
  • The most decadent of breakfast buffets
  • The observation deck is just awesome

A nice bonus is that each room comes with a single-serving of the region’s famous Alishan tea.

>> Day 4 – The Almost Sunrise <<

Hiking Alishan Forest Trail

They say there are 5 wonder of Alishan but the most well-known of them all and the one that everyone goes crazy for is the sunrise.  There’s good reason for it as it’s apparently ranked #16 in sunrises around the world.  Now where that list comes from, I have no idea, but I heard it from the crazy local guy shouting to the crowd of sunrisers so it’s gotta be real right?

Alishan Sunrise Commentary Guy

Now I can’t promise that you’ll see a sunrise there but what I can promise you is that the forest trails in the rest of recreational area are quite the magical experience especially when you get that moment by yourself and you feel that you can hear every pin drop.  Whether you’re watching the train run through what seems like an ancient track, you’re feeling puny standing beside giant trees that are actually ancient, or you feel like you’re in a scene lifted from the ancient forest of Mirkwood of the Woodland Realm 🤓.

Now what are the rest of the wonders of Alishan?  There’s the sunset, forest train, forest trains and cloud sea.  What I love about Alishan is that it’s not overwhelmingly large and with one day, you can easily see all the wonders and not feel like you missed out on anything else.


For a detailed account of how the sunrise works, how to get back down to Chiayi, make sure you read the full Alishan Guide .

★ Alishan Sunrise

As Close To A Sunrise From Chusan in Alishan

I have no doubt that when you can actually see a sunrise, the view is quite glorious.  We weren’t quite lucky enough due to the time of the year but that’s kind of how it goes!  That said, I do consider ourselves lucky that it wasn’t a total wash when it came to the views as the sky opened a few times and we also saw the forming and flowing of clouds in the valley beneath us.

The sunrise itself isn’t on any peak called Alishan but in fact an adjacent mountain called Chusan.  That is why you have to take a separate train from Alishan to Chusan station so you can rise up to an elevation of 2407 meters to look at the surrounding mountain range.

If you get hungry up there, there are a line of stalls that open specifically for the sunrise.  The food may not be very good but it’ll help tide things over until breakfast.

TIPS:   The sunrise position changes throughout the year.  In the winter time, the sun comes up towards to the right side and in the summer, it’s more towards the left side so pick a spot accordingly.

TIPS:   Tripods are allowed but just note that you’ll be jockeying with other people for space so be careful.  Also, you’ll notice that there’s a single tree near the middle and beyond the fence that will make it challenging how you want to frame your shot (to have the tree in your shot or not).  I started with a wide angle lens but eventually went for a longer lens to capture the detail in the clouds.  Just be prepared to adapt to the changing weather conditions.

★ Alishan Forest Trails

Amongst Giants in Alishan

Beyond the sunrise, there’s a magical network of trails in the National Forest Recreation Area to be discovered where ancient trees stand tall and a narrow-gauge train runs through.  You’ll catch yourself wanting to take photos from every angle here as it’s photogenic everywhere you walk through.

For the full details of how we broke down our day between sunrise and hiking the Alishan forest trails, make sure to read Everything You Need To Know About Alishan .

In retrospect, coming to Taiwan in December and during low season worked out quite well for us in that it never felt like there were an immense number of people which was one of my biggest worries in reading about everyone else’s experiences.  The train ride up to Chusan wasn’t ridiculously packed, the trails were never lined with tourists, and the buses to and from the park were never full.  Now if you came during high season, I’m sure the experience would be a little different.

What we missed:  Giant Tree of Mt. Shuishan and extended hiking trails like the one up to Tashan

Besides the breakfast at Alishan House, we didn’t actually end up having a proper meal the rest of the day.  We just had a bunch of snacks that we had accumulated from the trip so far and things we picked up at 7-11 or Sushi Express takeout we grabbed at the Chiayi THSR station.

By the time we got to our hotel in Kaohsiung, we were both too lazy and tired to head back out.

★ Hoya Resort Hotel

Hoya Resort Kaohsiung Breakfast Buffet

This is a practically brand new hotel in Kaohsiung which was a nice surprise because the room was modernly decorated, very spacious, clean, and comfortable.  It’s also neighbour to the Kaisyuan and Jin-Zuan Night Market which is key because the truth is that it’s a little bit far from the centre of the city.  Just note that Kaisyuan is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Jin-Zuan is only open on the weekend.

I usually don’t complain too much about location but once you’re off the subway, there’s quite a long walk without a true sidewalk to get to the hotel or you have to hail a cab which isn’t very convenient.  As a result, we didn’t end up going back out the night we arrived.  My recommendation would be to find a hotel closer to the Zuoying THSR station or Formosa Boulevard Station (where you’ll find Dome of Light) to avoid the long commute especially if you’er only staying the one night.

>> Day 5 – Artsy Urban Kaohsiung <<

Dragon Entrance Of the Twin Pagodas in Kaohsiung

The southern city of Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s second-largest city is nothing like its bigger brother and that’s what makes it such a worthy destination.  Where Taipei feels packed in, aging, and sprawling, you immediate feel that there’s so much more breathing room here with its wider streets and modern urban landscapes of skyscrapers, airy cafes, gentrified spaces, bicycle lanes, and ferris wheels on the tops of malls.  There are less people rushing around, less cars on the road, and fewer people to be seen.

The biggest surprise of all was perhaps the vision the city had in converting a once-thriving industrial port into a hub of art, design, and entertainment.  With its graffiti, art installations, galleries, trendy cafes, and boutiques, it’s the perfect place to wander.  We kept making more and more discoveries here that what was supposed to be an hour-long stop turned out to be our whole afternoon.

This is your only day to explore the city before catching a shuttle bus down to Kenting so make the most of it!

★ Tiger and Dragon Pagodas

Tiger and Dragon Pagodas in Kaohsiung

Feel down on your luck and looking for a way to turn things around?  Look no further than this beautiful twin pagoda.

Run into the dragon’s mouth and out of the tiger’s mouth, said no one…ever!  This little superstition has had locals and tourists alike running through to reverse one’s fortune for centuries.  Now whether you believe in luck or not, you’ll still be impressed with the extraordinary detail of the largest paper mache dragon and tiger you’ll ever see.

Climb up one of the pagodas to get a great view of Lotus Lake and the number of other pavilions that line the shore.

TIPS:   This is surprisingly difficult to get to mainly because it’s not on the subway line.  To save time, I would suggest taking the cab there.  We ended up commuting it and learned through a bit of trial and error that from Zuoying THSR station that you have to take the TRA train one stop south to Zuoying Station (I know, not confusing at all).  This is where the kindness of locals came in .

★ Pier 2 Art District

Pier 2 Art District

No one would’ve guessed that abandoned warehouses in Kaohsiung’s harbour would be the perfect spot for a quirky arts hub.  What they’ve done is truly remarkable by bringing in local artists to completely revitalize an area to become a fresh urban space to spark commerce, tourism, and creativity.

Get your camera ready and strike a pose because you’re going to have a ball roaming through the vibrant spirit of my favourite spot in the city.

TIPS:   If you keep going further down on Pier 2, eventually you’ll find SunnyHills which is a famous pineapple pastry shop in Taiwan.  Go inside and you’ll be offered tea and a sample of their cake.  It’s all free!

★ Dome of Light

Dome of Light in Formosa Boulevard Station in Kaohsiung

Located in the Formosa Boulevard Station, the main interchange stop on the MRT, this glorious display of coloured glass is something that will make anyone stop and stare for those passing through.  What’s impressive about it is the scale of the public installation and how it feels like it belongs more in a Las Vegas casino than a subway station.  When you come here, make sure to see if you can spot the four themes of Water, Earth, Light, and Fire.

What we missed:  Cijin Island, Love River, and Ruifong Night Market 

WHERE TO EAT ★ LUNCH: Gang Yuan Beef Noodles

Gang Yuan Beef Noodles Full Menu

You can’t have enough beef noodles.  That is a fact.  Being in a new city, we wanted to try another favourite and were not disappointed. As far as beef noodles go, the noodles are perfectly cooked with the right amount of bounce, and the beef, a remarkable balance of fat, juicy, and tenderness.  Now if I were a judge, I’d say Yongkang Beef Noodle has the slight edge for the soup base and impossibly tender pieces of beef.

The menu is pretty easy to understand here as there aren’t many choices and as a bonus, since they do get many international visitors, they also have an English menu right up at the counter.

★ SNACK:  buonopops

buonopops Ice Cream in Kaohsiung

If you’re looking for Instagrammable ice cream, this is the place but when it comes to how it actually tasted, I don’t know if I’d be able to recommend it.

★ DINNER:  A-Fei Restaurant

Seafood Stirfry Dish At Afei's Restuarant

By the time we reached Kenting, it was quite late and so it was perfect that our hotel for the night also had its own restaurant downstairs.  This was in fact the first time on our trip we had a sit-down dinner.

We ordered fresh seafood paired with stir-fried vegetables, rice, and beer with live music in the background which made for the perfect end to our day.  A-Fei even came by to say hello and chat which was a nice welcoming touch.

Where To Buy Bus Tickets To Kenting From Kaohsiu g

Luckily, getting to Kenting is pretty straightforward.  When you’re at the Zuoying THSR station, look for a special booth that sells shuttle bus tickets to Kenting on your way down to metro station.  The good thing about this shuttle is that it is quite frequent (practically every 30 minutes from 8:30AM to 7:10PM).

There are two ways you can pay.

  • Discounted roundtrip tickets – $NT 600 which has an open ended return date
  • Pay with EasyCard – This is already discounted but you’d have to pay the amount of fare required for each leg you make.

If you’re desperate or missed the last bus, there is always the sketchy local people standing at the bus stop offering people direct rides to Kenting.

TIPS:   The roundtrip ticket is a pretty solid deal and definitely cheaper than paying through EasyCard.  The only downside is that you can’t use your EasyCard credit to pay.

TIPS:   If you have a luggage situation for your day trip exploring Kaohsiung, you can either leave your luggage at your hotel if it’s central enough or you can use the super convenient luggage lockers at the Zuoying THSR station.  It only costs $NT 50 for 3 hours (little more than $1.50 USD).

★ A-Fei Surf Inn (2 nights)

A-Fei Surf Inn Kenting Room

This was probably our big surprise hotel stay of the entire trip and I say that in a good way.  Locals and travellers make their way to Kenting because they want to do one of three things:  surf, beach, and party.  A-Fei ticks off all of those boxes.

We were kind of dropped into this world of A-Fei that pretty much offers everything you would want or need.  Want to go surfing?  He’s got the gear, the transportation, and instructors.  Want to go to the beach?  Nanwan Beach is right across the street.  Want to eat?  Breakfast is covered, and they’ve got fresh seafood cooked to order for lunch and dinner.  Want to party?  They have live music every night and a super friendly owner in A-Fei himself that loves hanging out with his customers.

I haven’t even mentioned our room yet which is uniquely decorated with an eclectic yet appropriate mix of memorabilia from west coast surfing USA, wood carvings from Bali, and decor reminiscent of Hawaii.  It’s a distinct hotel room that gives homage to the great surfing capitals of the world and has a chill vibe that made us feel at home.

>> Day 6 – The Surf Challenge <<

Loading Up A-Fei's Surfing Van

Kenting occupies the most southern part of Taiwan and is the country’s very own beach vacation destination with long stretches of sand, big waves, turquoise waters, rugged high cliffs, and low hilly terraces.  Locals and travellers alike come to Kenting to escape and experience the outdoors in a carefree way.  With the humidity and temperatures up a notch, there’s plenty of activities to do.

For us, it was the first time we were able to shed our rain jackets and long sleeves and were able to trade them in for shorts and flip flops – a much welcome change to our fast-paced schedule.  In Kenting, we made the best of it with our mix of water and land-based fun.

★ Surfing with A-Fei Surfing

Staying at A-Fei’s was intentional in that we knew we wanted to go surfing in Taiwan at some point in time.  Kenting is the perfect place to do it we learned in the winter as the wind was coming in from a northeasterly direction which meant that Taitung would be too strong, leaving Kenting more favourable for beginners.

We let A-Fei and his team know that we wanted to surf the night before and we were pretty much all set to go after breakfast the next morning.  Practically everyone staying at A-Fei’s was surfing so we all got together at 9AM, grabbed our gear (rashgaurd, boots, wetsuit and board), and proceeded to load up a classic Volkswagen T40 hippie van.

Jialeshui Beach in Kenting

Since the waves weren’t looking great across the street at Nanwan Beach, A-Fei decided that we would attempt the beach at Jialeshui which is also where he has his other surf shop and guesthouse (Nanu).  We got dressed at the Nanu shop and went down to the beach.

We had grand visions of riding surf like pros in Kenting but as we got down to the beach and received instructions for where we needed to paddle to, it quickly became apparent that we were in way over our heads.  With a no-fear mentality, we still jumped into the water with our boards and made it out to where we needed to be but the waves were simply too large for us and we floundered like poor helpless fish.  The paddle back to shore was even more difficult as the waves were pushing us into the rocky shore as we tried to maneuver around.  I ended up being smacked on the head with my board and my wife in the shin.

A-Fei Surfing Skills

Overall, I thought the surfing operation was run quite smoothly end to end where as a group we got transport to the beach, had a place to store our clothes at the Nanu shop, could rinse off, and be driven back to Nanwan.  From the beach, I could see that the others were able to rock some serious surf.  You just kind of needed to know what you were doing.

Cost:  $NT 700 for gear rental (board, booties, and wetsuit)

TIPS:   If you’re a beginner like us but have done a few lessons already, let them know that you want to do the beginner surf or tag along one of the introductory lessons.  This way you only have to pay for rental but still be within sights of an introduction instructor.

★ Scooter Adventures

Riding A Scooter in Kenting

The best part about Kenting isn’t necessarily any specific beaches or sights but it’s the chance to live like a local and drive the most popular form of transportation.  You see scooters all over Taiwan but in the big city it’s a little overwhelming so when you get the chance to do it in the tropical south, you have to jump on the opportunity.

What we soon learned though is:

  • Beyond the fun factor, you kind of need a scooter in Kenting because there isn’t much of public transit there
  • It’s not very easy to rent a scooter as a foreigner – gas powered scooters require a special Taiwan license and battery powered scooters require experience

A-Fei suggested a nearby scooter shop which we visited but when they asked if we had ridden a scooter.  I replied honestly “no”.  Initially, they said it would be too dangerous for us but then called his boss and said that he would give us a lesson in their other store.

We got picked up and driven to their main store.  The lesson itself was pretty simple but I’m glad that they spent the time to teach me how to drive it, do things like make turns on streets, and what not to do.  They even watched me drive up and down the street.  Once we got the go-ahead, we signed some basic papers and we were on our way.

At this point it was already past 3PM so she charged us half a day’s rental for $NT 500 including the discount since we were guests of A-Fei’s.  The nice part is that they said we could return it anytime in the night since they live upstairs and that they’d be able to give us a ride back to our hotel.

Sail Rock Kenting By The Beach

We didn’t have too much time to explore all of Kenting on a scooter but did manage to hit up Sail Rock and Eluanbi Lighthouse before turning back around to do the night market.

TIPS:   Kenting is honestly hard to enjoy without a scooter or your own transportation simply because there isn’t much in the way of frequent-enough public transit.  Without a scooter, you’re more or less stuck in whatever part of town you’re in.

What we missed:  If we had more time, we would have loved to have done a full loop around Kenting and make more stops along the way.  ATV-ing was another popular Kenting activity that would’ve been fun to do.  

★ LUNCH: A-Fei Restaurant

A-Fei's Restaurant For Lunch

A-Fei convinced us to have lunch at his restaurant downstairs which actually worked out quite well since our room is right above the restaurant.  Throughout the morning, he was telling us about his awesome pork and lamb dishes so we couldn’t refuse.

A-Fei hustles hard but he wasn’t kidding about how fresh and tasty his food is.  If you’re staying at A-Fei’s, it’s definitely a good idea to have at least one main meal there.

★ DINNER:  Kenting Night Market

The lively Kenting Night Market

There’s no livelier place in Kenting than the night market along the main downtown drag.  What’s incredible about it is that it’s the main artery through the town with regular car traffic passing back and forth but amidst it all are portable carts that get rolled in and massive crowds fill in once the sun goes down.

As far as the food goes, it’s a lot of the standard fare that you’re going to expect to see at any night market.  We had an assortment of pastry, fresh coconut, green onion cake, “sausage in a sausage”, bubble tea, and ice cream to round out our meal for the night.  There wasn’t anything unique per-say but it was a fun way to cap off our day and having our finger on the pulse of the town.

>> Day 7 – Fly With The Wind <<

Getting Ready To Take Flight Paragliding in Luye Gaotai

Continuing along the coastline, arrive in the city of Taitung.  On the onset, it may not feel remarkable as a destination on its own but stay a few days and you’ll slowly be able to unravel adventure, ecological, cultural and culinary gems that have led to it being dubbed as “garden of Taiwan”.

After a half day commute from Kenting to Taitung, we settle into our hotel for the night but the biggest surprise was to come.  I had read that paragliding was a popular activity in the region.  Having been yearning to do it for years now, I knew that I had to pounce on this opportunity.  With a contact I found online, we called to find out what the situation was.  Through my broken Mandarin, I learned that the winds were starting to change and that if we wanted to do it, it had to be that day.  We immediately packed our things and hauled ass out of there.

The paragliding experience was a dream come true for us.  Soaring through the sky with our feet dangling over the expansive farmland below and surrounded by the vastness of mountains and valleys, my fear of heights was immediately dashed.  The crazy thing is that I got to do it twice too.

Getting to Taitung

From Kenting, you have to take the shuttle bus back towards Kaohsiung but get off a little earlier in a place called Fangliao.  It’s here where you catch the local train that will take you straight into Taitung.

Getting to Luye Gaotai

Waiting for the tourist shuttle bus would have taken too long and so we got our hotel to hail a cab for us.  It cost us $NT 700 (~$24 USD) but we managed to get to paragliding spot by 3PM.

Getting Back to Taitung From Luye Gaotai

East Rift Valley Tourist Shuttle Bus

This was a bit of an unexpected adventure for us.  We knew from our printed bus schedules that there was one last tourist shuttle bus at 5:10PM.  We started our way down when we learned that there was a cheaper way back to Taitung via a train from Luye.  We got to the train station at 5:27PM but we soon learned that we had to wait until 6:40PM which gave us time to grab a spontaneous dinner with our new Taiwanese friend.  In retrospect we should’ve just stayed on the bus because we would’ve gotten back in the city by 6:30PM.

★ Soaring Paragliding (翱翔飛行傘)

Soar Paragliding Canopy Near Taitung

The two places I knew we could do paragliding in Taiwan was near Taitung and Hualien.  With two days in Taitung, I knew that this was the best spot to do it and it worked out fabulously for us.  Perched up on a giant hillside, Luye Gaotai is the perfect place for paragliding with its cliff that overlooks a chessboard of farmland.

For the full experience, read more about it .


  • $NT 2500 for a minimum 10 minutes or $1800 for 5 minutes ($60 – $84 USD)
  • $NT 400 to rent an action cam (GoPro extendable stick free to rent if you bring your own device)
  • Phone:  Mr. Chen +886-956 377 533
  • Website:   Facebook Page

TIPS:   If you look online, you will no doubt find activity aggregators selling packages for paragliding but the truth is, there’s only one operator in the Luye Gaotai area and it’s Soaring Paragliding.  Also advisable to call a day before you get to Taitung to find out what the weather conditions are like.  It helps to speak Mandarin but with how friendly they are there, I’m sure you’ll be fine with English.

TIPS:   Make sure to bring your passport for registration purposes.

★ DINNER: Fried Chicken and Tofu

Taiwanese Fried Chicken and Tofu

Another on-the-fly meal we had as a result of our transit improvising.  With the help of our local friend that we met along the way, he pointed out a popular fried chicken spot along the main street of Luye which turned out to be quite amazing.  The chicken was fried to perfection in that Taiwanese popcorn chicken flavour tossed with salt and pepper.  Equally as incredible was the fried tofu which was probably an even more of a surprise of the night.

★ MATA Indigenous Cultural Resort

MATA Indigenous Cultural Resort Entrance

I honestly have mixed feelings about this “resort”.  In seeing the name of the property, you’d expect that they’d have a full-fledged indigenous cultural experience available for guests but upon arrival, all we got from the receptionist was a feeling of “there might be a performance tonight…maybe?”

The property itself is beautifully built with a giant replica of a wooden boat used by one of the tribes and other various artifacts on display.  Outside, there’s also a large field that I can only presume is used as a stage for performances but perhaps it’s only used during high season or if there are large tour groups.

On one hand, I loved the hotel for its clean and spacious room, and amazing breakfast but couldn’t help feel shafted that we got absolutely no culture other than the visuals and CD that was played in the lobby.

TIPS:   Bike rentals are free for 3 hours but if you want to take it out for longer just let them know.  If they’re not busy, it shouldn’t be an issue.

>> Day 8 – Ridin’ in Taitung <<

Riding Bicycles in Taitung

Taitung is truly a remarkable stop along the journey around Taiwan as it faces the sea, is set against mountains and is rich in aboriginal heritage.  In fact, the city and its surroundings boasts the most prehistoric sites in Taiwan, which means there are many natural offerings and cultural centres that explore the long history of indigenous people.

While we would have liked to have visited one of these cultural centres, our schedule and timing meant that it wasn’t possible.  As a result, we decided to take our free bike rentals from the hotel and explore the city on two wheels.  This turned out to be a lot of fun, being able to leisurely weave through public spaces, parks, and the downtown area.  The best part of the day turned out to be the food.

TIPS:   Cultural centres are closed on Mondays so if you hope to visit them, schedule around this.

★ Taitung  Forest Park & Seashore Park

Taitung Forest Park Tunnel

These two parks are perfectly designed for the bicycle.  With its expansive network, you’re free to wind through the park and experience Taitung’s laid back lifestyle and clean ocean air.  The most surprising parts here are certainly the undeveloped rocky seashore which has quite the unique view, an enormous man-made lake that is popular for swimmers and rowers, and birds nest-like lookout platform.

Entrance fee:  $NT 30 for the Forest Park

TIPS:   If your hotel doesn’t have bike rentals, the forest park has bikes for rent for $NT 100 for 3 hours.

★ Old Taitung Railway Station

Exploring Old Taitung Train Station

In the centre of the city is the old train station that used to run through.  It’s an open-air museum/art village with the remains of an old train that you can climb into, and a repair terminal complete with the remains of signal lights.  In the surrounding space, you’ll also see the development of new art spaces that are just in the final stages of building.

What we missed:  Sights along the East Coast Line: Xiauyeliu Scenic Area(小野柳), Jialulan(加路蘭) Donghe Steamed Buns(東河包子), Amis Folk Center(阿美民俗中心), and Sanxiantai(三仙台遊憩區).  

★ LUNCH:  Rong Shu Xia Rice Noodles (榕樹下米苔目)

Rong Shu Xia Rice Noodles Bowl

This restaurant is highly recommended in Taitung and with good reason.  Along one of the main drags of the city, this place is hard to miss with its long lines that wind out from the restaurant.  What makes this place special is its rice noodles which have the thickness of udon and freshness of hand-pulled noodles.  They’re also special in that they’re very short and in an elongated teardrop shape.

Rong Shu Xia Rice Noodles Storefront

The ordering process is a bit different than what you might be used to but essentially while in line, you have to fill out a piece of paper.  You also need to have a table number by the time you order so if you can, get your partner to grab a seat somewhere first.  Drinks are also pre-made so after you order you grab them from the person working by the refrigerator.  Sounds complicated I know but you’ll figure it out eventually.  They also have English menus so ask for that if you don’t get one right away.

Other must-try items are the local pork with vegetables (side dishes behind the glass display) and the pineapple iced tea.

★ SNACK:  Chen’s Mochi

Chen's Mochi Sesame Flavour

If there’s a king of mochi, I think I’ve found it.  Look through the glass window and watch the mochi masters knead fresh sticky rice flour and roll them into balls to the eventual final product.  They serve up the most delicious of sticky rice desserts with my favourite fillings including black sesame, peanut, and red bean.

TIPS:   If you miss Chen’s in Taitung, don’t worry because there’s always Hualien which is also well-known for mochi.

★ DINNER:  Dongdamen Night Market

Dongdamen Night Market Gate in Hualien

This was perhaps the most disappointing of night markets.  Ironically it was probably the most organized, with the night market on a dedicated plot of land, wide streets, and permanent stalls.  To me, it lacked the grunginess of night markets, character, and a little bit of the chaos.   We also showed up late in the night which meant the streets weren’t very busy.  Personally, I think I prefer large crowds at night markets because it also means there’s quick turnover of food and nothing sits for too long.

Where we actually wanted to go was  Dai’s Dumpling but when we got there, it was closed for the holidays.

★ Azure Hotel

Inside A Azure Hotel Room in Hualien

The check-in process was very smooth, and the room was 4 to 5-star calibre.  What made this hotel a great to place to stay was the fact that it is on the main street that runs through Hualien which means everything is walking distance.  And then there’s the breakfast buffet which is as good as any other that you’ll see in Taiwan except it also has its own DIY noodle bar – the cherry on top!

Since we knew we were going to do a two day hike through Taroko, we spent the evening re-organizing our packs to only carry the essentials.  For everything else, we stuffed another backpack to leave behind.  The hotel was great in allowing us store this bag for an extra night.

TIPS:   To get to the hotel from the train station, there’s no easy way with the bus so hop on a cab once you arrive in Hualien.

>> Day 9 – Taroko Tribe In The Mountains <<

View From Truku Tribe B&B

Taroko, in the local Truku aboriginal language, means “magnificent and beautiful”.  When you set your eyes on mountainous landscape, bio-diverse vegetation, turquoise rivers, and marble-walled canyons, you’ll see why this is one of Asia’s top scenic wonder.

There are magic places in the world.  This is one of them.

While many travellers take one of the stream of tour buses that come through the main gate and jam all the sights in a day, we wanted to do something a little more unconventional. Everyone’s seen photos of the 18km stretch of Taroko Gorge that make it to postcards but few have seen it from the point of view of the indigenous tribes that still live in the tranquility of the mountains.  With our 2 day trek up to the villages of Datong and Dali, there was the promise of us being able to dig deep into local culture and take in a slice off nature that travellers rarely ever see.

★ 2-Day Guided Hiking Tour 

Hiking Up Dekalun Trail in Taroko National Park

If your goal in Taroko National Park is to hike through challenging terrain, interact with indigenous tribe members, and take in incredible mountain scenery way above the clouds, this is the activity for you. It is by no means easy, so my word of caution is that if you want to do this trek, you need to be physically fit and have some experience with long hikes with long portions of uphill and downhill.

The hike doesn’t have a specific name that you can look for but what it is a chaining of several trails that ultimately take you up to the villages of Dali and Datong before you descend back down to the end of the Shakadang Trail.

Eating Lunch Outside Church In Dali Village

Your first day in Taroko consists stair climbing along Dekalung Trail, a visit to Dali Village, before meandering through the side of the mountain along an old logging road.  All of this leads to the arrival of a B&B built by a local Truku tribe member, named Dadao.  With diminishing sunlight, you’ll be able to look out into the nearby mountain peaks, mystical clouds, and Datong village below.

After settling in and showering (yes there is running water!), your host cooks a fabulous dinner.

Fresh Salmon For Dinner In Tribal B&B In Taroko

My favourite part was sitting around of the campfire and having simple conversation with the guide translating for us while sipping on a cup of hot tea and listening to the crackle of the firewood.

Hiking Trails:  Dekalung Trail -> Dali Trail ->  Shakadang Logging Road

  • This tour was booked through MyTaiwanTour and the details are as follows:
  • Hiking permits
  • Transportation (pick up and drop off)
  • 1 night accommodation at the tribe B&B
  • Dinner and breakfast
  • Travel insurance


  • 1 person: $NT 22,600
  • 2 people total: $NT 24,800
  • 3 people total: $NT 27,000
  • 4 people total: $NT 28,700

TIPS:  Your guide picks you up and will park at the national park overnight.  This means that you don’t actually need to store your bags at your hotel.

★ LUNCH:  7-11 Food

Before heading into Taroko National Park, we made a stop at a 7-Eleven and picked up additional supplies for our trek.  We stocked up on water and also a few onigiri (Japanese rice triangles) which is perfect hiking food.  Plus we had extra mochis from Chen’s.

★ DINNER:  Cooked by Ah-Ma 

Photo With Ah-Ma at Dadong's B&B in Taroko

I don’t know if we were just ridiculously hungry but our 7-course meal hit all the right spots.  With fresh supplies brought from the city, Ah-ma cooked an assortment of salmon, chicken, fresh vegetables, tofu, and soup that was clearly too much for the 4 of us.  What amazed me was how she was able to cook such delicious dishes even with the limited amount of supplies, equipment, and appliances.

★ Truku Tribe B&B

taiwan island tour

Considering you’re high up in the mountains and away from civilization, it’s a marvel that a house of concrete, wood, and corrugated metal sheets could even exist.  I had pretty low expectations of the B&B before coming but was surprised to learn that they had running water, hot water tank, a proper toilet, electricity for lights, and propane for cooking.  To top that, the dorm rooms are fashioned similar to Japanese ryokans with clean laminate flooring, sliding doors and furnished with mats, blankets, and pillows.  Sure it’s not a 4-star hotel but more important to me was the hospitality of the host and that surprised us with the luxury of shower and toilets.challenging

To temper your expectations, you have to understand that the B&B is a structure built by Dadao himself for the express purpose of being able to host hikers.  This means that this isn’t a representation of what a real village home is like.  The other thing is that this home is perched high up in the mountains away from any other villagers so you’re also not going to be amongst a community of Truku families.

>> Day 10 – Shakadang Is My New Favourite Word <<

Views From The Shakadang Trail in Taroko

This day is about contrasts.  The views you get at the top of the mountain dramatically change as you make your way back down to the blue-green Shakadang river which is filled with large perfectly-round boulders, and jagged walls of marble.

You’ll feel pretty gross by the end of it all but when you finally get back to Taipei, that shower you take will be the best thing ever.

★ 2-Day Guided Hiking Tour

Jungle Like Hiking In Taroko

The second day of hiking is possibly even more challenging than the first because a section of the hike takes you through a trail that has typhoon damage.  On top of the on and off rain, and muddy conditions we had, there are a number of natural and man-made obstacles you’ll need to ninja through.  None of it is particularly dangerous but you’ll want to make sure you watch your step.  I came out of it with my legs completely shot and feeling wobbly every time I stopped for a break.

Steps To Climb Coming Down The Mountain in Taroko

The best part of the day was when we finally made it to the Shakadang Trail after 3.5 hours of downhill punishment.  I remember holding up my arms in the air and shouting “WE DID IT!!!” in relief.

Along this famous trail is where we got our first glimpse of the beauty that Taroko National Park is known for – naturally carved out canyons where turquoise water pass through rock overhangs and multi-coloured marble boulders.  Along the way, there’s also a small Truku tribe market place where we devoured the best sausage of the entire trip.

Highlights of what you’ll see:

  • Liwu mountain peak with views of the ocean on the other side
  • Datong Village
  • Dramatically changing scenery as you make your way down
  • Shakadang Trail

Hiking Trails:  Datong Village Trail -> Tongli Trail -> Trail down to Sanjianwu -> Shakadang Trail

TIPS:   The mountain is always 2-3 degrees cooler than at ground level so make sure you prepare your layers when packing for a trek like this one.  You also never know when you might get hit with rain so you’ll also want to pack the appropriate waterproof gear which at a minimum should include a jacket, waterproof shoes, and rain cover for your bag.

★ Ximending Youth Shopping District

With its abundance of bright lights, shops lining the maze of streets, trendy shopping, and a nightlife, it’s no wonder that it’s been called the “Harajuku” of Taipei.  Unlike a traditional night market, there’s more than food here which makes it a great place to wander.

★ BREAKFAST:  Tribe Breakfast

Tribal Breakfast In The Mountains of Taroko

Ah-Ma cooked another great meal for us that was way more food than we could finish.  It was all the energy we needed to last until dinner as we had quite the catchup we needed to do on our way down.

★ SNACK:  Shakadang Trail Sausage

Whether you do the Shakadang Trail on your own or as part of a trek, you MUST stop at this stall for these home-made sausages.  With a magical mix of ginger, honey and who knows what else, you won’t find this anywhere else in Taiwan.

★ DINNER:  Ay-Chung Flour Rice Noodle

Eating Ay-Chung Flour Rice Noodle

This shop is impossible to miss with its large crowds of tourists either slurping away or queueing in anticipation.  The good news is that the lines move very quickly as they efficiently fill up bowl after bowl.  What makes them special is that they make a unique style of rice noodle that is completely different from the ones we had in Taitung.  Extremely thin and flat, these noodles are similar to some of the noodles you find in Vietnamese Pho but in a thick and somewhat gelatinous soup base.  Mixed in the broth are diced bits of pork intestines which may turn some off but is honestly as indistinguishable as tendon or tripe in pho.

Taking the train back to Taipei turned out to be a bit more of an adventure than we expected mainly because we took way too long to get back down and we missed our originally booked train.

The way the drama played out is our original train was supposed to be at 4:30PM but by the time we left Taroko National Park, it was already 3:45PM.  Rushing to the Hualien train station, our guide tried to get our tickets switched to a later train but were told that we could either swap them for a slower train that would arrive late in the evening.  Otherwise, if we wanted anything earlier, we would have to forfeit these tickets and get them ourselves.  Not wanting to get into Taipei so late especially considering how long of a day we’ve had already, we made the no-brainer decision to buy new train tickets for $NT 340 per person ($11 USD).

★ WESTGATE Hotel (2 nights)

Inside A Room in Westgate Hotel Taipei

We couldn’t have asked for a better hotel in Taipei.  Located right at the doorstep of Ximending and seconds away from the subway, it was overly convenient to get around the city and at the end of the day, we could always come back to the hotel and get our fill of more food and snacks before heading home.

Westgate Hotel Taipei Lobby

Upon entering the hotel, you immediately notice that the boutique and modern lobby is both welcoming and luxurious.  From the check-in to check-out the staff were extremely courteous and friendly, willing to help at every turn.  What I loved about the property is how one-of-a-kind artwork can be found all over including my favourite sculpture of two boys free falling off Taipei 101 with their suitcase in hand.

The rooms themselves are spacious and a modern open concept where we felt immediately at home after a weary day of travel.  The bathroom is elegant and clean while the bedroom is cozy, and beds overly comfortable.

For breakfast, expect to be tempted with plenty of tasty Asian and Western foods, and great service from the wait staff.

>> Day 11 – Zen, Heat and Fishing <<

taiwan island tour

With one final full day in Taiwan, there are a lot of options open to you but if your preference is to take it easy and end on a relaxing note with a dash of excitement, pull off an unconventional day trip that combines the best of what Taipei has to offer.

Wulai is a mountainous district south of Taipei.  It’s known for its old street, hot springs, natural sights, and the area’s indigenous Atayal people.  It’s an easy day trip from Taipei that gets you out of the city and into a place that is very walkable, easy to explore, and not too crowded.

If there are other things that you want to check out, treat this as a free day.  There are a lot of choices here so if you’re looking for a few ideas, here’s what we were also contemplating:

  • Hiking Teapot Mountain
  • Beitou Hot Springs (i.e. SweetMe Hotspring Resort)
  • Hiking Yangmingshan
  • Yehliu Geopark
  • Danshui/Tamsui Old Street
  • Maokong Gondola
  • Everything else in Taipei you might not have seen such as the National Palace Museum, Chiang Kai-Shek  Memorial Hall, Taipei 101, other night markets

★ Tai Chi at Muzha Zhongshun Temple (木柵忠順廟保儀大夫)

taiwan island tour

Every morning, there are temples all over Taipei where the local community gets together to practice Tai Chi.   Instead of paying for lessons, why not join one of these sessions and try your best not to embarrass yourself while at the same time, learn how hard it is.  What looks like a moving form of yoga and meditation is actually a fluid art of motion with its ying-yang balance of dance and martial arts while all in slow motion.

Now it will be pretty daunting to jump into one of these sessions if you don’t know anyone but thankfully we had someone like Joshua from MyTaiwanTour to introduce us and give us permission to film the experience.  Comfortably at the back of the group, we did our best to imitate the experienced Tai Chi-ers, occasionally tripping on my own feet and stopping to stare at the combination of pushing and parrying.

A little bit about Joshua Samuel Brown

Joshua is someone I was extremely grateful for during my travels in Taiwan.  He was instrumental in providing tips on local spots to explore in the country and we were also lucky enough to have him show us around a few spots you might’ve seen from the Taiwan in 12 Days YouTube series .  Joshua is the former Editor-in-Chief at MyTaiwanTour , acclaimed author of the upcoming Formosa Moon, co-author of numerous Lonely Planets, all-around expert in Taiwan, and just a great guy.  Make sure to read the Joshua Samuel Brown blog which has a true local’s perspective of the country and much more!

With how friendly the Taiwanese are, you can easily find a local temple to visit and find out whether they’d welcome a drop-in student.

Schedule:  Everyday at 8:30AM – 10AM

★ Wulai Old Street

Wulai Old Street

The old street of Wulai is a short distance but packs in quite a number of things.  If you enjoy street food, left and right you’ll find a ton of different shops that sell snacks, drinks and cooked food.  You’ll also find several independent shops specializing in clothing, art, foods, and crafts.

Another interesting fact about Wulai is that it’s the closest accessible aboriginal village from Taipei which makes it a great place to learn about the fascinating culture and people of the Atayal tribe with the Wulai Atayal Museum.

Don’t forget to walk around and outside of the street to find attractions such as Wulai Falls and Yunxian Playground.

★ Yen Town Hot Springs

Inside the Hot Springs Pool of Yen Town

Along the old street of Wulai, you’ll find this hidden gem and the perfect hot springs for my wife and I.  Many hot springs in Taiwan are of the onsen (Japanese hot springs) variety where male and females are split, and are nude.  Understanding that this may not be comfortable for everyone, it is actually a challenge to find hot springs that are couple friendly, aren’t crowded, and have clean facilities.

All you need to bring with you to Yen Town is your swimwear, a shower cap and you’re all set.  In this intimate and beautifully set hot spring, you’ll find a rejuvenating set of pools that vary from ice cold to 40C+.  To mix things up, you’ll also find an open air room temperature swimming pool, intense pulsating showers, and lane of rounded pebbles for feet therapy.

Entrance of Yen Town in Wulai

Price:  $NT 400 per person

TIPS:   Yes you read that right, in Taiwan it is mandatory to wear head caps to cover your hair.  Yen Town expect for you to have your own.  This means you can either purchase one or come prepared with basic shower caps from the hotel.

TIPS:   A custom that is strictly enforced here for sanitary reasons is to rinse your feet with the water from the pool before entering.

The convenience of WESTGATE Hotel meant that we had to take advantage of it with our daily walk around to see what fun boutique shops we could find and other treats we could buy.

★ LUNCH:  Local Aboriginal Restaurant on Wulai Old Street (烏來小吃店)

Aboriginal Restaurant in Wulai

There isn’t exactly an English name for this restaurant so I’ve included the Chinese name which you’ll see in the sign.  It’s actually right across from the Wulai Atayal Museum.  This is a restaurant cooked by aboriginal locals and is a chance to try a variety of dishes that are hard to find elsewhere.

Not knowing what was good there, we tried an assortment of fish, vegetables, soup, pork, and rice that turned out to be quite good.  The highlight was definitely the rice cooked in bamboo and the fried fish.

★ DINNER:  Aquatic Addiction Development

Aquatic Addition in Taipei

Aquatic Addiction Development (AAD) is quickly becoming a must-see place for seafood-loving foodies.  Carved out of the Taiwan Fish Market, this is a brand new and modern type of market that has a little bit for everyone.  Near the entrance you have what looks like a wholesale area with tanks filled with fresh catches.  From there, you step into the main section of AAD which is a cross between a really up-scale supermarket and sit down sushi and seafood bar.  Upstairs, there’s a hotpot restaurant and then you have the entire outdoor wing of the market which has more food, another restaurant, and additional seating.

We ended up ordering a tray of salmon sashimi, scallops and Calpis for $NT 590 ($20 USD).

TIPS:   You’d think a market like this accepted credit card but it doesn’t.  Make sure to bring enough cash.

Taipei Prawn Shrimp Fishing

★ DINNER:  Prawn Fishing (全佳樂釣蝦場) You can’t leave without doing the favourite past-time of Taiwanese.  Indoor shrimp fishing has become a popular form of entertainment, transforming something that is still an important industry into sport.  Huddling around a smoke-filled room centred around a shallow pool, serious pros and wannabe anglers wait patiently for bobbing buoys.  Beneath the depths of the bubbling water are large prawns waiting to steal your bait.

Prawn Fishing Catch

Okay, I admit it’s probably not for everyone but for something that you won’t find anywhere else in the world, you just have to experience it for yourself.

This is how it works.  You essentially purchase fishing game time and starts at 1 hour and goes up to 3 hours.  Dried shrimp bait and custom fishing rods are provided and the rest is up to you to catch as many as you can in the time you paid for.  When you’re done, the shop owner cooks the prawns on a skewer dusted with salt.

It’s a bit of a test of patience that Anthony Bourdain clearly didn’t have much of in Season 2 of The Layover .  Don’t expect your tummies to get filled here but the satisfaction of catching anything at all is something to rejoice here.  In the hour we were there, we caught 6 but the owner felt pity for us so he topped it up to 10.

Address:   台北市中山區錦州街190號

Cost:  Starts at $NT 300 for an hour

TIPS:   HAH got none for ya.  Good luck!

Getting to Wulai

Take the MRT all the way to the Xindian Station (last stop on Green Line 3) and find Bus Stop B located along Beiyi Road (北宜路一段).  Wait for bus 849 bound for Wulai and all you have to do is get off at the last stop.

>> Day 12 – Mad Dash for Pineapple Pastry <<

Sunset At Taoyuan Airport With Plane

Depending on when your flight leaves, you may or may not have time to squeeze in one last bit of Taiwanese goodness before you go.  The best souvenir to bring home for friends and family in my opinion is pineapple pastry since it’s something that just isn’t as good outside of Taiwan.

You’re probably wondering, well can’t you get pineapple pastry at any Asian supermarket?  Yes, that’s true but all of these are packed with preservatives and as a result contain smaller traces of pineapple.  The real stuff from Taiwan is made with fresh ingredients and will only last 2-4 weeks before expiring.  That’s why I recommend buying these squares of sweet goodness on your last day so you have a chance to pass it along to friends and family.

TIPS:   Remember to get your tax refund before you go through security/customs.  At the primary international terminal (T2), go down one level from departures and you’ll find it.  SunnyHills is also on this floor.

★ Chia Te Bakery

Chia Te Pineapple Pastry In Hand

Perhaps the most famous pineapple pastry bakery in town and while they make a variety of Chinese bakery goods, people from all over the world come here for one and one thing only – pineapple pastry.  These are made in the traditional style where these square-sized desserts are filled with mildly sweet and moist strings of pineapple and surrounded by a soft, buttery crust.  There is only one store and they’ve been open since 1975.

★ SunnyHills

SunnyHills Pineapple Pastry Experience Taipei

You’d think one bakery was enough but you really have to try the modern, and some say, better take on pineapple pastry.  SunnyHills is everything that Chia Te isn’t.  Where Chia Te is reminiscent of your typical no-nonsense Chinese bakery with bright lights, shelving with product, and queue for the cashier, SunnyHills is a much more refined, contemporary experience where it is more of a tea house than it is a bakery.

When you enter one of their stores, you’re greeted with friendly service staff and even before promoting any product, they get you seated.  This is when they serve you a complimentary cup of tea and one of their products.  This gives you a chance to use all of your senses to appreciate their food.  When you’re ready, you go up to the counter and place your order.  You’ll most likely be buying pineapple pastry and when you do, it comes in a beautiful packaged box and a recyclable linen bag.  Like I said, it’s very much an experience.

Focusing in on the pineapple cake itself, what makes it different from Chia Te is in its shape which is rectangular, the density of the crust, and the filling a bit more tangy.  Some say it’s more fresh than the competition but I think it’s all in your taste preferences.

TIPS:   If you qualify for tax refund, the staff will let you know and they have a separate desk to help you with the filling out of the form.  Officially, I believe purchases over $NT 3000 are eligible for tax refund but we were able to get it with a purchase of $NT 2680.  This is good for a 5% VAT tax rebate at the airport.

TIPS:   If you don’t care for the in-store experience of SunnyHills, note that there is a storefront at the airport.  The difference is that at the airport, they only stock the box of 10 and not the box of 16.

★ LUNCH:  Din Tai Fung (Original Xinyi Location)

Original Ding Tai Fung In Xinyi

It would be almost embarrassing to leave Taiwan without going to their internationally-famous Ding Tai Fung.  Known for their great-tasting xiao long bao (soup dumplings), it’s the kind of perfection that I haven’t been able to find replicated anywhere else and that includes Shanghai where it is known to have originated from.

If you come early enough  (10:20AM in our case), you’ll be able to get a table pretty quickly.  Otherwise, expect to take a number and wait awhile.

★ SNACK:  Ice Galaxy

Ice Galaxy Mango Shaved Ice To Go

There were a whole bunch of other dessert spots that we wanted to hit up in Taiwan but with literally 15 minutes left before our airport pick up, I ran over to the closest shaved ice restaurant in Ximending which turned out to be Ice Galaxy.  They’re not famous per say but it still lived up to my expectations for shaved snow packed with mango.

If we had more time we would have liked to have visited Roji Shaved Ice or Bingzan.


Here is the compilation of everywhere that I stayed on my trip and would highly recommend

sonnien hotel in taipei


Conveniently located hotel where I stayed at the beginning of my trip to Taiwan.  This was a super clean and spacious property that included a fabulous breakfast as well.  Couldn’t have asked for more.



westgate hotel in taipei taiwan entrance


Right next to Ximending in Taipei, this is equally a great hotel to stay at in Taipei.  Sonnien Hotel was already pretty modern but WESTGATE takes it up a notch.  They have an amazing breakfast as well.

alishan house hotel in taiwan


The nicest property in Alishan for sure, we were given this extravagant double king-sized bed complete with balcony and fireplace.  It’s also located in the best spot to do your hike around Alishan.

hoya resort hotel in kaohsiung


One of the newer properties in Kaohsiung.  While it was extremely comfortable and spacious here including a smashing breakfast, I did find that it was a bit further from the action that I would’ve liked.  That said, it is right next to a night market!

a-fei hotel hostel in kenting


Some call it a hostel but it’s really a hotel right by Nanwan Beach in Kenting.  You’ll typically find the owner, A-Fei, who is a blast to be around.  This is the perfect place for surfing as well since they have their own lessons and gear rental.

mata indigenous cultural resort in taitung taiwan


Quite the unique property that focuses on Taitung’s heritage of indigenous cultures.  The rooms are nice but the star feature are the displays and shows that they offer.  They have a great breakfast and they offer free bike rentals.

azure hotel in hualien taiwan


Centrally located hotel in the city of Hualien.  Loved their breakfast as they had their own noodle bar.  The room was quite modern, comfortable, spacious, and clean as well.


taroko mountain hiking homestay


Not exactly something you can book off the cuff but if you work with a company like MyTaiwanTour, they can put together a custom trip to trek up to the mountains of Taroko and stay with someone like Ah-Ma!



Taiwan may be a small country, but it’s big on heart, is guaranteed to fill your tummies with delight, and will surprise you over and over again with its amazing activities and attractions.

As I mentioned in the beginning, this guide is really only meant to be a starting point for your planning.  As a trip planner myself, I’ve always found that it’s way easier to see what someone else has done and go from there.  Feel free to make changes to it and tweak it to your liking based on what you’re interests are and your travel style.

Enjoy and do let me know how your trip goes!

How About You?

  • What do you think of this itinerary for Taiwan?
  • Are you planning your own trip? How have you customized it to your style?
  • What are the top things that you’re dying to do?
  • If you’ve been to Taiwan, are there any travel tips you’d like to add?

Looking For More Taiwan Content?

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Ultimate Alishan Guide in Taiwan

Why You Need To Travel To Taiwan Next

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This trip was sponsored by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau but all opinions are my own because I had one amazing time there and I seriously need to share this with the world!

About William Tang

William Tang is the Chief of Awesome behind the award-winning Going Awesome Places which is focused on outdoor adventure, and experiential travel. His true passion lies in telling stories, inspiring photography and videos, and writing detailed itineraries and travel guides. He is a member of Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC), Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), and Travel Massive. He has also been featured in publications such as Reader's Digest, Entrepreneur, Men's Journal, and Haute Living. Make sure to learn more about William Tang to find out his story and how Going Awesome Places started.

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Taiwan Island 2024 | 10 Days |


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You will be taken to visit our sister company Supera Tours for English language tours & itineraries. Please note schedules, itineraries, and prices etc. will differ.

您剛點擊我們的姊妹公司Supera Tours的英文網站連結。 敬請注意:其相關行程、內容、價格等可能與超值旅遊有所不同。

You will be taken to visit our sister company Signet Tours for Chinese language tours & itineraries. Please note schedules, itineraries, and prices etc. will differ.

Sleep in Nature

Taiwan Island

  • Fares + Dates
  • Before You Book
  • Supera Features

taiwan island tour

Circle the "Beautiful Island" to find surprising delights

Soft flowing waters cut through soaring Taroko granite Taking you to that time of old - indigenous tribes and ancient Portuguese mariners, who called " Ilha Formosa" on sight. Meet local farmers and bike sun-kissed golden fields with the breeze at your back. Taiwan's beauty is fun and invigorating


Taiwan Island Announcement Due to the impact of the Hualien earthquake, Taroko National Park and the Silks Place Hotel are currently closed. In response to the current situation, we will adjust our itinerary to stay in the Grand Cosmos Resort in the town of Rusui, and visit attractions such as Qixingtan Beach and the Guangfu Sugar Factory. We may also adjust based on actual conditions on the ground, prioritizing the safety and experiential quality of our guests. Thank you for your understanding! For any questions about the latest updates, please contact us.

  • Visit the National Palace Museum, home to over 650,000 Chinese artifacts and relics.
  • Taste delicious xiao long bao dumplings and more on our Supera exclusive menu at Taiwan's iconic Din Tai Fung restaurant.
  • Jaiosi + Chihpen | Relax in mineral-rich hot springs at Taiwan's famous spa resort towns
  • Tour Taiwan's best national park, an impressive nature reserve of flowing waters, and soaring granite.
  • Overnight in the park's only 5-star hotel for an immersive stay in nature's masterpiece.
  • Learn about one of Taiwan's diverse indigenous cultures.
  • Savour the original flavors of nature through Amis-style tribal cuisine.
  • Chihshang | Bike and stroll the storybook beauty of the East Rift Valley
  • Donggang | Tour an award-winning chocolate factory and try your hand at DIY chocolate-making
  • Feel old capital charm with our carefully-designed exploration of Tainan's best sights.
  • Learn about Taiwan's colourful history through famous landmarks.
  • Tap into your musical side at the Ten Drum Culture Village, an invigorating art attraction rescued from a 100-year-old sugar refinery.
  • Lukang | Visit old town Lukang on a rickshaw
  • Enjoy the lake on foot, by bike, or boat cruise.
  • Appreciate the mysticism of the lake from our private Sky Lounge.
  • The Great Flower Hall: Enjoy traditional music in a Qing-dynasty setting and a privately-arranged afternoon tea with delicious pastries.

The essence of the National Palace Museum

  • National Palace Museum: One of Taipei's most popular attractions. Our visit is carefully arranged so you can see the world's most extensive collection of Chinese art while avoiding heavy crowds as much as possible.
  • Din Tai Fung Restaurant: Taste delicious "xiao long bao," fresh vegetables, and much more at the world-famous Din Tai Fung.
  • Soak in the rejuvenating waters of this natural hot spring, a truly relaxing and rustic experience.
  • Enjoy the magic tricks or other entertaining performances in the event night that the hotel provides.

Incredible canyon view from the window in the room

Taroko National Park

  • Meaning “magnificent and beautiful" in the Truku aboriginal language, Taroko Gorge is a natural wonder and a landmark of Taiwan. Photo stop at the East-West Highway Arch, the starting point of Taroko National Park.
  • Swallow Grotto Trail: Hike the most beautiful section of the Taroko Gorge, see magnificent canyons, soaring marble formations, and subtropical springs. (Walking time: 1hr; Difficulty: ◆◇◇◇◇ ).

Silks Place Taroko

  • Tonight's hotel is the only 5-star resort inside the National Park. Take in a beautiful view of the stars and gorge while soaking in the rooftop spa or watch an aboriginal performance in the evening.

Fresh spring water forming a waterfall, like painting a beautiful picture

  • Fata’an Wetlands: Learn about the rich heritage of Taiwan's aborigines. An "Amis- style" lunch in a private home will be served.
  • Chihshang East Rift Valley: Bike and stroll through the lush green rice fields of Chihshang. 

Hotel Royal Chihpen

  • Unwind in your personal in-room hot spring at our hotel. 
  • Feel the full force of Taiwanese aboriginal culture with an evening performance of powerful music paired with beautiful choreography.
  • Soak into the indoor Spa Complex and enjoy the nostalgic vibe of Japanese hot spring before bed.
  • Enjoy an ethereal moment surrounded by mountains and morning dew in the open-air Spa at dawn.
  • Take a walk in Onsen trail to inhale the fresh air from nature after wash of the “Beautifying Mineral Springs”.

Experience ESG friendly chocolate factory

  • Chocolate Factory tour: Tour the factory of a sustainable and award-winning local chocolate brand. Afterward, soothe your sweet tooth with a chocolate tasting experience and DIY chocolate making. 
  • Visit the bustling Rueifong Night Market (optional).

Dragon and Tiger Pagodas on Lianchitan

  • Love River: Stroll the banks of Kaohsiung's famous landmark and enjoy the quiet scenery along the riverbanks.
  • Light Rail Transit: Take a ride on Taiwan's first light rail, pass through unique stations, and explore the technology and art scene of the harbor city.
  • Cultural Park of "Juan Cun": Explore an old village for military families. Travel back in history and discover the disappearing stories that happened inside these fences.
  • Visit ancient Dutch settlements - Anping Fort
  • Walk around the Anping old town and see the most popular mascot "Sword Lion"
  • Explore the awesome power of nature - Banyan trees have reclaimed the earth of this former Qing Dynasty salt warehouse, giving us a chance to see the spectacular sight of Anping Tree House
  • Anping Canal:  Take a sunset cruise and enjoy the beauty of Anping Canal along the coast.

Anping Fort Walking Tour

  • Ten Drum Culture Village: Transformed from a historic sugar refinery, enjoy the music, movement, and art of Ten Drum Culture Village.
  • Experience the beauty of modern architecture fused with history: Tainan Art Museum, Judicial Museum
  • Hayashi Department Store: Travel to a century-old department store preserved from the Japanese colonial period, now reborn as a creative space.

Exploring Lukang on an Electric Tricycle Tour

Have a great time exploring this historic trading town on an electric tricycle tour.

  • Longshan Temple: One of the last remaining examples of traditional southern architecture, it's beautifully designed and preserved. 
  • Guihua Lane Art Village: A colourful art exhibition area was renovated from a formerly Japanese dormitory during the occupation.

Sun Moon Lake

Mystic views and picturesque scenery captivate travellers from all over the world.

  • Cruising Around Sun Moon Lake: Cruise the lake's majestic waters on a privately chartered boat.
  • Fleur de Chine: Enjoy a 270-degree panoramic view of Sun Moon Lake in three unique ways: from the roof-top Sky Lounge, the comfort of our lakeside rooms, and from your own private in-room hot-spring bath.

Enjoy Biking Along the Beautiful Lake

  • A. Stroll along the lakeshore. (Distance: 1 mile; Walking time: 1hr; Difficulty: ◆◇◇◇◇).
  • B. Bike along the lake biking trail (additional fee applies): CNN named this biking trail one of the world's top 10! Breathtaking. (Biking time: 1hr; Difficulty: ◆◆◇◇◇).
  • Travel back in time to Qing Dynasty Taiwan. Stroll the gardens with historical Chinese architecture, learn the story of the Lin family and discover Taiwanese history.
  • Enjoy traditional music with afternoon tea and pastries in The Great Flower Hall. 

We will return to Taipei in the evening for airport sendoff service. If you are planning on staying longer in Taiwan after our tour, we can arrange a dropoff in our Taipei hotel after airport sendoff. Please contact us for details. 

Related Tours

  • Deposit: A deposit of per person is due within 5 days of reservation confirmation to secure your space on tour.
  • Balance: Due days before tour departure.
  • Flights: We are happy to arrange air tickets with the best balance between price and flight quality. If you are purchasing your own flights, please book according to our schedule below. If you are arriving/departing on the same day as our tour but outside timeframes, we may still be able to arrange service based on other flights - please contact us for transfer options. Please be aware missed portions of the itinerary will not be refunded. Prior to issuing tickets, please reconfirm with us to avoid unexpected expenses.
  • Pre/post hotels: We can help arrange hotels matching our tour schedule. For prices and availability, please contact our team.
  • Upgrades and Fees:
  • Supera suggested optional activities:
  • Please review the Terms & Conditions before you book.
  • Please see the Itinerary for activity levels and details.
  • Wheelchairs Accessible: Guests in wheelchairs welcome, but please understand some sites are not accessible. A companion to help with the wheelchair must accompany the guest.
  • Age Limit: For quality concerns, guests should be 2 years or older to join this tour
  • Dietary Restrictions: Following our tradition of encouraging our guests to “savor the world,” we arrange delicious local menus, but many restaurants cannot meet custom preferences. If you have a serious meal restriction (i.e., fatal allergy, vegetarian, etc.), please let us know before booking and we can check if it can be accommodated.
  • Most reserved rooms are TWIN (2 bed) rooms. Please let us know if you require a DOUBLE (1 large bed) for the entirety of the tour - we will try our best to accommodate. Otherwise, rooms will be TWIN (2 bed) rooms. Hotels section for details. -->
  • If you have special requirements, please inform us at time of booking so we may make arrangements as soon as possible.
  • For guest privacy and security considerations, we do not have single sharing arrangements.
  • Please check if you are required to have the R.O.C. Visa and complete all processes needed before departure.
  • P.R.C., Hong Kong, and Macao passport holders must apply for an Entry/Exit Permit. Please contact us for more information.
  • Please be aware once a visa is processed by Supera, we will not be able to provide a refund under any circumstances.
  • Please provide a copy of your passport at sign up; we recommend having a copy of your passport with you in case of emergencies.
  • Your passport must have at least 6 months of validity remaining and two blank “Visa” pages.
  • Some airlines charge a fee for pre-assigned seats. If so, we will let you know the details at time of booking.
  • If you are booking your own tickets, we recommend reserving at least 3 hours connecting time between international airports.
  • Domestic and international tickets booked together: Luggage allowances are based on the terms of the international carrier.
  • Luggage allowances will vary based on the rules for each airline. Excess baggage fees are the responsibility of the traveler.
  • If you have booked your own air tickets, please verify baggage regulations for each airline.
  • Excess baggage fees are the responsibility of each traveler.
  • 此行程 包含國內段機票, 行李限制 件,每件限 公斤

Stays of a Lifetime

Don't be too tired to remember your trip.

The Okura Prestige Taipei

The Okura Prestige Taipei

Located in the heart of Taipei city with easy access to transportation, dining, and shopping, this 5-star property offers guests the ultimate comfort and conveniences. Guests may also enjoy the gym on the top floor as well as the rooftop open-air heated pool overlooking Taipei 101 building. 

Palais De Chine Hotel

Palais De Chine Hotel

Palas de Chine stations in one of the most convenient spots of Taipei, with easy access to all major transportation and to the most elegant plazas (Q Square), Cinemas, and other entertainment facilities.

Besides the convenience, Supera specially choose Deluxe Room 37 m² (398 ft²)  instead of standard Superior Room 30 m² (323 ft²), granting you as a European nobility with a colorful trip from the very beginning!

Evergreen Resort Hotel - Jiaosi

Evergreen Resort Hotel - Jiaosi

Located in Yilan county, this hotel is known for its hot springs and magnificent views. The rooms are designed in a Euro-Asian style. The bath houses offer healthy nano-milk baths and more. The 1.2 acre garden hot spring also provides a unique hot spring banquet experience. Fresh seafood is used in its delicious multi-cultural buffet.

Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi

Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi

Located in the city of Jiaosi, the Hotel Royal is one of the most luxurious in the area. The exterior features architecture inspired by traditional local artwork, and inside, guests can enjoy modern comforts with spa facilities, hot springs, and a variety of different amenities.

Silks Place Taroko

Tiansiang :

Built within the Taroko National Park, Silks Place Taroko is the only 5-star hotel inside a national park in all of Taiwan. We have chosen this hotel for its exclusive location, making the Silks Place Taroko perfect for exploring the Gorge. Silks Place Taroko was awarded TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Award for luxury and service in 2015.

Hotel Royal Chihpen

Recently renovated in 2017, the Hotel Royal Chihpen is one of the best hotels in Taitung. The design of the hotel honors local aboriginal culture and gives guests a chance to try the local hot springs. Hot spring water (bicarbonate) is also available in the room, and each room offers beautiful views of the surrounding nature.

H2O Hotel

Kaohsiung :

Located in Kaohsiung's city center, this modern hotel is a convenient short walk away from the city's main attractions.

Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Tainan

Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Tainan

This hotel is Tainan’s international 5-star hotel, located right next to Tainan Cheng Gong University and Tainan DaYuan Shopping center. The luxurious and modern interior design embodies the local enthusiastic atmosphere.

Silks Place Tainan

Silks Place Tainan

Located in the heart of the former capital city, Silks Place Tainan embodies the spirit of the ancient Silk Road in which East met West. Timeless designs throughout the five-star hotel blend the subtleties of Eastern aesthetics with the luxuries of Western modernity.

Fleur De Chine

Sun Moon Lake :

Fleur de chine, (lakeview rooms).

This hotel is the first top-rated hotel to have a natural spa facility. Located in the northern area of the lake, the entire hotel faces the lake with large floor to ceiling windows that allow the natural beauty of the lake to enter. This open design lets guests enjoy unobstructed views.

Yoko A.

This trip is my most memorable trip. Execellent servives from our guides and bus driver who pay attention to detail and make sure all the guests were comfortable. At the hotels, restaurants, and sigh seeings we received five star treatments. I enjoyed the open air hot springs.

This tour was infused with variety such as nature, location, different transportations, local foods, and hands on experiences. Every day was excellent day. I would like to go back to Taiwan again.

Jimmy C.

Supera Tours is trully Superb!!! This is our third tour with them and our current Taiwan tour of east and west coasts has been filled with excellent sight seeing, meals and hospitality.

Our tour guides Tom and Anita are very knowledgeable and accommodating to our tours individual needs. Kudos to them for sharing their homeland with us. They have treated us like family throughout the tour.

Phillip W.

A wonderfully well organised tour with a great selection of sights, food and accomodation. A beautiful country to visit with friendly locals. Our guide Amanda was extremely knowledgeable, friendly and accommodating and made our trip memorable.

Diane H.

We were happy that we chose the 9 day option and would recommend this to others. The hotels were superb as were the meals that were chosen for us. We hardly spent any money at all as everything was supplied for us. We are usually independent travellers but feel that Tiawan would be difficult to manage on our own. Having gone on this tour we feel that we have really seen a very varied and interesting side of this country. Our guide was extremely well informed, friendly and nothing was too much trouble for her. She really made our trip.

Teresa H.

Wonderful carefree vacation for both my husband and I, everything was well organized and taken care of, we are extremely happy with our food, accommodations and transportation. Our guide Amanda is the best guide anyone can ever wish for, her great sense of humour kept us well entertained, and she truly cared for all of our well being throughout our trip. Thanks!

Peter K.

We just returned from a 10-day trip on the East- and West- Coast of Taiwan with Super Value Tours and we loved it! The accommodations were great and the food was simply fantastic...The tour director, Andrew, was one of the best we ever had and we have traveled frequently! We very much enjoyed this experience and will definitely do another tour with Super Value soon.

Jay S.

My wife and I took the 10-day Taiwan Island Super Value Tour in early December, 2017. At first, we were a little skeptical because the itinerary was a little confusing.  However, all concerns were dismissed by the first day of the tour. Super Value Tours, did not adequately promote the fact that all hotels are 5 star and that all meals on the tour are provided at excellent and diverse restaurants. However, what really made the tour a standout was the tour guide, Salome Le. This 26 year old tour guide possesses excellent people skills and is extremely knowledgeable. She is fluent in 4 languages and was an endless source of knowledge about Taiwan. Moreover, her concern and attention to details made the tour run flawlessly. The very few questions that she couldn't answer right away were researched that night and answered the next day. The name of this company, Super Value Tours, Inc. may first appear to be marketing gimmick name, but we found out that this tour group really represents super value in every respect.

This is a private group, please enter the reserved code.


Beach Guides , Outdoor Guides , Taiwan · July 21, 2022

Turtle Island: Visiting Guishan Island in Yilan, Taiwan (2024 Guide)

Turtle Island, also known as Guishan Island, is hands down one of Taiwan’s most beautiful offshore islands .

Located just 10 km off the coast of Toucheng in northeastern Taiwan, Turtle Island is a charming little gem floating in the Pacific Ocean with a lot going for it! While visiting Turtle Island is one of the top things to do in Yilan , the island can also easily be visited as a  side trip from Taipei  with some planning.

In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know about visiting Taiwan’s only active volcano! Read along to find out how to visit Turtle Island and what to expect on your day tour.

turtle island taiwan milky sea

Disclaimer: This post probably contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through one of these links, I might receive a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Table of Contents

Tips for Visiting Turtle Island, Taiwan

  • Book a tour well in advance . Only a limited number of people can visit Turtle Island daily, and it’s best to book a tour well in advance. Klook has several day tour packages ranging in price and duration. If you want to visit the island, read the fine print carefully. The cheapest option only includes sailing around the island. I booked the 4.5-hour tour, which included whale watching and visiting the island. It was quite pricey (TWD 1400) but worth every penny! Another thing to note, is that the tour is only available in Chinese . But don’t let that stop you from visiting! 
  • Bring your ID and cash.  Upon check-in at the harbor, you’ll need to present some form of identification, so don’t forget to bring your ARC, ID, or passport. If you’re also visiting the island, you’ll need to pay an additional TWD 100 entry fee before boarding the ferry.  
  • Essentials to bring on your trip.  Whether you’re just cruising around the island or exploring it, make sure to bring a good SPF sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, bug spray, and ample water and snacks. A tiny shop in the Visitors Center sells a small selection of drinks and snacks too.
  • Take seasickness medication.  If you suffer from seasickness, it’s best to take medication at least 30-60 minutes before the boat trip. You can buy seasickness tablets at any pharmacy, but Watsons in Yilan also stocks them. 

Turtle Island 401 Highland

When to Visit Turtle Island

Turtle Island is only open to the public  from March to November  every day of the week except Wednesdays, when visiting is reserved for educational groups. If you can, come on a weekday. That way, you’ll skip the crazy weekend crowds.  

Because the island is an ecological park, only 1800 people can visit it daily , with only 100 people allowed to hike to its summit each day. Since visiting Turtle Island requires a permit (applied for up to 20 days in advance), it’s best to book an organized tour that takes care of that for you . 

How to get to Turtle Island, Taiwan

All tours to Turtle Island depart from Wushi Harbor just outside Toucheng in Yilan County.

The easiest way to get to the harbor is to take a train to Toucheng Station and then hop in a taxi . (Uber is not available in Yilan).

Make sure to download the Taiwan Railways App ( IOS ) to easily check train schedules and delays. It’s one of the most useful Taiwan travel apps to have on your phone. It’s also a good idea to have the harbor’s address in Chinese handy to show the driver. The ride from Toucheng Station to the harbor costs roughly TWD 140.

If you have a valid local license or an IDP for a scooter, another option is to hire a scooter for your trip. This will give you the freedom to work in a few other stops along the way.

wushi harbor visitors center

Insider tip:  There weren’t any taxis at the harbor when I finished my tour. If this happens to you too, you can catch bus #GR18  or  #1766 back to Toucheng Station at the  Wushigangzhuanyun Station . The bus stop is right in front of the Lanyang Museum. 

Guishan Island’s History

Despite its name, Turtle Island is not home to a bunch of turtles. Instead, the island gained its name (龜山島, literally Turtle Mountain Island) from its shape, which resembles a turtle floating in the ocean.

Turtle Island was once home to about 700 residents, but getting food and supplies from the mainland was often hard, especially during typhoons. In fact, in the early 1970s, the residents were cut off from the mainland for about two weeks due to torrential rains and almost ran out of food. As a result, local talks began to resettle the community on the main island. By 1977, all the residents had moved to Daxi in Toucheng.

Afterward, Guishan Island was declared a restricted military zone, and the island was closed off to the public for 23 years. In 2000, the island was reopened, and today, visitors can catch a glimpse into the rich ecological resources and natural scenery that makes Turtle Island so unique.

milky sea turtle island

Turtle Island Day Tour Highlights: What to See & Do

The milky sea.

The biggest highlight on any day tour to Turtle Island is seeing the Milky Sea up close.

The Milky Sea is quite a unique phenomenon, and its caused by cold seawater mixing with the hot spring water that emerges through the seabed’s crevices. The result? The most beautiful turquoise water imaginable! Just be ready for the smell of rotten eggs – it’s quite intense!

The best place to spot the Milky Sea is right in front of the 239m high Turtle’s Head, but you’ll already be able to see (and smell) it as you cruise along the island’s eastern side. The massive yellow-brown cliff, known as the Turtle’s Head, contrasts starkly with the light blue sea water and is truly something special to witness. Also, keep an eye out for bubbles surging to the surface and steamy sulfur smoke released from the water. 

turtle island boat tour milky sea

Just so you know, a   part of the turtle’s head collapsed during a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the east coast of Taiwan on April 3, 2024, so expect the head to look a little different from the images in this post. 

Spot Whales and Dolphins

If you’ve booked a whale-watching tour , you might be lucky enough to spot whales and pods of dolphins playing in the sea. 

From May to October , Guishan Island attracts large numbers of migrating marine life. This is due to the Kuroshio Current’s warm waters that flow through here. There are more than ten species of whales and dolphins around the island. However, some of the most common species include bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, and false killer whales.

Insider tip:  Whale and dolphin sightings aren’t guaranteed, so don’t expect a refund if you don’t see any on your trip. 

Sea Caves and the Turtle’s Glasses

The island’s southern side is home to a whole host of sea caves formed by constant crashing waves.

The most peculiar cave and one of the eight scenic highlights on the island is the “Spectacle of Glass Hole.” The cave consists of pyroclastic rocks and resembles a pair of glasses.

guishan island sea caves

Turtle Wags Its Tail

It’s hard to miss the peculiar pebble beach with its smooth round rocks resembling turtle eggs right next to the North Coast Wharf as you disembark the boat.

The beach is about 1km long and is mostly formed by weathered rocks that have fallen away from the southern edge’s cliff and carried to the Turtle’s Tail by typhoons.

Unfortunately, you can’t walk on the beach. However, you can get a good view of the little beach from the crossover bridge when entering the island. Another great photo spot is on the rock wall opposite the Visitor’s Center . There’s a small rock stairway that’ll take you to the top. Don’t walk around on the ledge, though, because it’s a restricted area.

north coast wharf guishan island taiwan

Putuoyan Temple

Putuo Rock Temple is the only temple on the island, and while it’s relatively small compared to other temples in Taiwan, it’s got a fascinating history.

Formerly known as Gonglan Temple, Putuoyan Temple was built in 1890 and later reconstructed in 1952. It was originally dedicated to Mazu, a popular deity worshipped among fishermen. But later, when all the residents moved away, Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy became the main deity.

putuoyan temple guishan island

Remains of the Old Settlement

Moving away from the temple, you’ll spot the remnants of the original settlement – a couple of derelict buildings made mostly of pebbles gathered from the surroundings. Since most roofs were made of thatch or tiles, most of them have collapsed, but it’s still interesting to catch a glimpse into the bygone days as you wander along the path.

Today the Guishan Island Elementary School is the most well-preserved building on the island. It was originally founded in 1949 but was later rebuilt to serve as barracks for the soldiers stationed on the island.

old buildings

The Military Tunnel

The Military Tunnel on Turtle Island is 800m long with a height of 3.5m and a width of 3m.

The trail takes about 40 minutes to walk, but visitors can only access a small part of it today. The tunnel is well lit, but there are some signs at its entrance warning of poisonous snakes. So keep your eyes peeled and don’t wander away from your guide!

Inside the tunnel, you can get a close-up look at a huge shore gun which still points out at sea. It weighs a whopping 8000 kg!

guishan island military tunnel

Lakeshore Trail & the Statue of Guanyin

The Lakeshore Trail is a lovely 650m long low-key trail. It runs all along Turtle’s Tail Lake (a beautiful natural lagoon with green water) and offers stunning views over the forest and glistening lake along the way.

While the trail is super easy to follow, there are quite a few stairs to climb, which could be a problem if you visit with the elderly. As you make your way around the lake, there are lots to take in – butterflies fluttering about, rare plant life, and fish swimming in the water.

There’s also a huge statue of Guanyin riding a dragon. And right behind her is an excellent example of the island’s volcanic rock formations. Another highlight further along the trail is the cold spring well – once a source of fresh water for the locals.

turtle island lake

401 Highland Trail

If you want the best views over the entire island, you’ll need to book a special tour that includes a hike to the island’s summit. The island’s highest peak is actually only 398m high, but it’s known as the 401 Highland because the observation deck stands 3m tall.

The trail is 1400m long, and it takes about 3 hours to get to the top and back. Mentally prepare yourself to climb 1706 steps to the top, though!

Besides the epic views, you can also spot a diverse range of flora and fauna and an ancient tomb dating back to the Qing Dynasty along the way.

Don’t forget; you need to book this tour well in advance as tickets are limited.

What to do Near Turtle Island

Lanyang museum Yilan

If you’ve booked a morning tour to Turtle Island and still have some time to explore the surrounding area, there are a couple of places worth checking out near Wushi Harbour.

For beach lovers,  Waiao Beach  is a stunning black sand beach just north of the harbor and one of the most popular beaches in Taiwan . There are many cozy cafes along the beach where you can sit back and admire the view of Turtle Island in the distance. And if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can even learn how to surf or go paragliding.

If you’re into culture and history, the Lanyang Museum is just steps from the harbor and a cool place to learn a little more about Yilan. The museum features many interactive exhibitions about Yilan’s history, culture, landscape, and natural beauty. While there is a lot to learn inside the museum, its striking architecture and unique design are just as fascinating.

For those who simply want to kick back and soak up the views, MSWH ( 滿山望海 ) is a super Instagrammable Cafe just south of the harbor. It features large comfy sofas and a breezy deck with outdoor seating perfect for enjoying a light meal or something sweet. Reserve a table in advance because this is a hot spot!

Where to Stay in Yilan

The turtle's head

If your sole purpose for visiting Taiwan’s northeast coast is to go to Turtle Island, it’s best to base yourself near the harbor. 

  • OA Hotel is a stunning contemporary hotel with bright interiors, beautiful rooms, and a fantastic rooftop hot spring pool where you can enjoy some epic ocean views. The best part? The hotel is mere steps from the harbor. [ Check rates and availability ].
  • Kailan Hotel is another good base, just 5 minutes drive from the harbor. The 4-star property features large clean rooms with amazing views over the ocean. [ Check rates and availability ].

If you’d rather stay in Toucheng , Hotel Lounge is centrally located and within walking distance to many shops, eateries, and the train station. [ Check rates and availability ].

For those planning to explore the rest of Yilan County, Yilan City, Jiaoxi, or Luodong all make excellent bases. Here are some of the best accommodation options: 

  • Yilan City: Hangkhau Hotel | Lakeshore Hotel Yilan | Silks Place Yilan
  • Jiaoxi: Just Sleep Jiaoxi | Evergreen Resort | MU Jiao Xi Hotel  
  • Luodong: Artch Inn | Check inn Hive | Kavalan Hotel

And, if you’d rather stay in Taipei, here’s my detailed guide on the best places to stay in Taipei . 

Turtle Island Taiwan in Conclusion

With its rich history, beautiful scenery, and multifaceted ecosystem Turtle Island is undoubtedly one of the top places to visit in Taiwan . I hope this guide helps you plan your adventure to Taiwan’s Guishan Island!

Well, that’s all I have on Turtle Island. If you think I’ve missed anything, let me know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this Guishan Island guide, please pin it to your favorite Taiwan travel board!

Turtle Island is one of Taiwan's most beautiful offshore islands and a huge must when visiting Yilan. Here's everything you need to know about visiting Guishan Island. Yilan Taiwan | Turtle Island Taiwan | Island of Taiwan | Guishan Island | beautiful places in Taiwan

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8-Day Itinerary: The ultimate adventure tour of Taiwan

taiwan island tour

Looking for a destination that has great food, culture, history with a dash of adventure? With this 7-day adventure itinerary you will find the best places to see in Taiwan.

While not a commonly talked about destination to visit, there are plenty of places to visit in Taiwan. Traveling within the country is quite cheap and you will find some of the best food in the many night markets of Taipei, and outdoor activities from Taroko National Park to Sun Moon Lake. Taiwan is a beautiful country that has sweeping vistas whether you’re standing on a mountain in Taroko National Park or on top of Taipei 101 in Taiwan’s capital city.

Travel to Taiwan

When traveling to Taiwan you will fly into the capital city, Taipei to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. You will most likely have a connecting flight to Taipei from the major American airlines. EVA Air is a Taiwanese airline that has a direct flight from Houston, TX.

EVA Air has the famous Hello Kitty everything airplane for the lucky (or unlucky depending on how you see it) few that get that specific plan! EVA Air is actually a very reasonable airline when traveling to Asia from the US but you will always have a connection in Taipei and then jump off from there to other destinations in Asia.

Travelling Around Taiwan

In order to get around Taiwan, taxis and ubers are safe, available and relatively cheap for getting around the cities. One thing to have prepared is the address for your hotel/AirBnb, and any sightseeing destination or restaurant in Mandarin. Many of the drivers don’t know or can’t read the English spelling of the Chinese names; so be sure to have all of the addresses or names in the Mandarin characters in order to get around the country. 

Taipei also has an amazing subway system andvmakes it easy to get around the city quickly. Taiwan also has train lines that go all the way around the island. There are high speed train options in between cities and regular train lines around the country.

Below are what I think are the top things to see and do in Taiwan.

Day 1: Taipei City

Since you are likely flying into Taipei City, make the most of the sights from this jumping off point on the island.

One of the first stops on your tour of the capital of Taipei should be the National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. Opened in 1980 it is part of a national park and gathering hall. Below the hall is a museum documenting Chiang’s life and career, as well as exhibits about Taiwan’s history, pan-Chinese culture and history, and the ROC’s development after moving to Taiwan. The memorial is within a park that you walk around and enjoy the gardens and many people watching.

taiwan island tour

Walk around the shops and restaurants to grab some lunch on your way to Lungshan Temple (30 minute walk from the memorial), a tourist hot spot. Lungshan Temple is a Chinese folk religious temple in Wanhua District, Taipei, Taiwan. The temple was built in Taipei in 1738 by settlers from Fujian during Qing rule in honor of Guanyin. 

The temple is a quick historic item to see. After that, take the subway to the Taipei National Palace Museum to see the permanent collection of nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks, making it one of the largest of its type in the world. The collection encompasses 8,000 years of history of Chinese art from the Neolithic age to the modern. Most of the collection are high quality pieces collected by China’s emperors.

taiwan island tour

After your busy day, enjoy a night out at one of the many Taipei night markets. Night markets in Taiwan have become famous for their xiaochi , an important category of Chinese food which literally translates to “small eats”. Served in portions similar to Spanish tapas, these dishes are often served as carry-out items, but many sellers provide small folding tables and stools for customers who would like to sit while they eat.

These dishes are offered at low prices and make it easy to sample from many stalls! Shilin Night Market is one of the most famous and largest night markets in Taiwan, located in Taipei. The night market first opened in 1899, and it is now famous for its various eateries selling authentic Taiwanese snacks.

The Shilin Night Market is near the Palace Museum and one of the biggest in Taipei.

taiwan island tour

Day 3: Taipei 101 and travel to Hualien

Head to Taipei 101 Observatory for the best views of all of Taipei. This building was officially classified as the world’s tallest from its opening in 2004 until the 2009 completion of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE. Its elevators, capable of traveling 60.6 km/h (37.7 mph) and used to transport passengers from the 5th to the 89th floor in 37 seconds, set new records upon completion. 

Monday-Friday it opens at 11am and Saturday-Sunday it opens at 10am. The line can be very long so if you get there when it opens you hopefully don’t have to wait long.

At the bottom of the building is the famous Din Tai Fung. It specializes mainly in Taiwanese soup filled dumplings known as xiao long bao. There are a number of locations throughout the world and within Taipei.

You have to buy tickets to Taipei 101 so depending on your ticket entry time you can either have lunch here first or after! The lines for lunch can also be long at Din Tai Fung- so make sure you can do what works with your schedule that day.

taiwan island tour

Take the Puyuma Express from Taipei to Hualien ( https://tip.railway.gov.tw/tra-tip-web/tip ). The express train takes about 2 hours while the non-express options take around 3-4 hours. Hualien is a little coastal city on the Eastern side of Taiwan that is seen as a weekend get-away destination for the citizens of Taiwan.

The Dongdamen Night Market in Hualien is open everyday from 6pm-12am. Check into your AirBnB or hotel and then head to the night market by walking or taxi!

taiwan island tour

Day 4: Taroko National Park

Taroko National Park is one of the nine national parks in Taiwan and a MUST see place in Taiwan. The park is home to unique geological and natural resources, including twenty seven peaks over 3,000 metres (9,843 ft).

Taiwan was created through the collision of plates 4 million years ago and the Central Mountain Range that runs north-south through much of Taiwan. Even today the shift in tectonic plates continues and this area continues to rise a few millimeters every year.

Full Day Tour

You can buy tickets to one of the many tour buses that bring tourists here daily or hire a private taxi for the day to drive you through the park and hit all the main stops.

Sights include:

  • Tunnel of Nine Turns (九曲洞 Jiuqudong)
  • Eternal Spring Shrine (pictured below)
  • Yenzikou, Swallow Grotto Trail (燕子口)
  • Jinheng Park (靳珩公園)
  • Cimu Bridge, Motherly Devotion Bridge (慈母橋)
  • Zhuilu Cliff (錐麓斷崖)
  • Liufang Bridge (流芳橋)
  • Dayuling (大禹嶺)
  • Buluowan (布洛灣)
  • Qingshui Cliffs (清水斷崖)
  • Shakadang Trail
  • Changuang Temple (禪光寺)
  • Baiyang Trail (白楊步道)

taiwan island tour

Day 5: Drive the Central Cross Island Highway to Sun Moon Lake

A truly unique experience in Taiwan and a must do for all adventure seekers! This road links the East coast of Taiwan to the West and is the only road that cuts across the center of Taiwan.

Construction began in 1956 and was open to the public in 1960. 225 men lost their lives building this road. Driving this road is one of the best things you can do in Taiwan, and one of the most frightening!

The views along the road are INCREDIBLE and only get better and better as you drive up to 3,500 meters. The road is not large and has plenty of tight curves and switchbacks as you travel up and down the mountains. It is often very tight as you pass cars traveling the other direction.

Along the road you will pass the Bilu Giant Tree. Right next to the tree is a cafe where you can sip some peach tea in the cloud forest.

You will pass by the Hehuanshan National Forest Recreation Area (合歡山森林遊樂區). There are plenty of areas to pull off and park and hike some easy trails around the peaks of the mountains here.

It is amazing to watch the landscape change from sea level as you climb up to the highest point at 3,500 meters and then back down again.

How to get there

  • You can rent a car and make the drive yourself.
  • You can hire a taxi for the day.
  • Or you can book a ticket on a medium size tour bus.

taiwan island tour

Day 6: Sun Moon Lake

Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of water in Taiwan. The area around the lake is home to the Thao tribe, one of aboriginal tribes of Taiwan. The east side of the lake resembles a sun while the west side resembles a moon, hence the name.

The lake is considered sacred and so no one swims in it. While swimming in Sun Moon Lake is usually not permitted, there is an annual 3-km race called the Swimming Carnival of Sun Moon Lake held around the Mid-Autumn Festival each year.

Full Day Bike Tour

For your adventure activity today, head to Ida Thao on the south side of Sun Moon Lake and rent a bike for the day. You can follow the lake side trail all the way around the lake and visit the many scenic stops and temples around the lake. 

Must stop: The Sun Moon Lake Ropeway- cable car offering panoramic views of Sun Moon Lake & surrounding forested peaks.

Must Stop: Wen Wu Temple- The temple consists of three halls. The first hall, located on the second floor of the front hall, is a shrine devoted to the First Ancestor Kaiji and the God of Literature. The central hall is devoted to Guan Gong, the God of War, and the warrior-God Yue Fei. The rear hall is dedicated to Confucius.

Other temples of note around the lake include Jianjing Temple, Syuentzang Temple and Syuanguang Temple.

Depending on your physical fitness and how often you stop, the bike ride around the lake can be an all day event. Of course you don’t have to go all the way around the lake and can choose to rent bikes for only a couple hours to ride around certain parts of the lake.

Head to Ida Thao to eat at one of the delicious restaurants in town

taiwan island tour

Day 7: Double Dragon Waterfall and Hiking around Sun Moon Lake/Amusement Park

Today you are hiking up to the Double Dragon Waterfalls. Make the drive (if you rented a car) or take a taxi to the waterfalls and Shuanglong Colorful Suspension Bridge https://nantou.welcometw.com/tour/N9Q6  

This is a hiking trail up to the double waterfall. The Colorful Suspension Bridge was opened for tourists in June of 2020, the service suspension bridge (right next to it) carries water from the waterfalls down to the village below.

You do have to buy tickets to cross the Colorful Suspension Bridge and there is a shuttle bus to help take you to the top before taking the trail down to the waterfall and bridge. 

You can choose some additional hiking trails around Sun Moon Lake, such as, the Shuishe Great Mountain Nature Trail, Neihu Mountain Trail or the Maolan Mountain Trail. 

Or you can choose to hang out at The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village ( https://www.nine.com.tw/en/index.aspx ) is an amusement park where people can observe Taiwanese traditional tribal lifestyle and observe an abundance of aboriginal traditions. It is distinctive for its Formosan aboriginal culture theme.

taiwan island tour

Day 8: Travel Day

After your adventure packed week in Taiwan, it’s time to head back.

Travel back to Taipei from Sun Moon Lake (about a 3 hour car ride) or take the bus or taxi from Sun Moon Lake to Taichung to catch the high speed rail back to Taipei and then Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

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Island Life Taiwan Adventures & Experiences

The BETTER Taroko Gorge Tour

The BETTER Taroko Gorge Tour

  • Hualien Tours
  • Rivers & Waterfalls
  • Taroko Gorge National Park
  • Taroko Gorge Tours

One of Many things to do in hualien, a Taroko Gorge Tour in Hualien, Hualien Tour of Taroko Park

*This experience is temporarily unavailable due to the earthquake of April 2024. We highly recommend some of our other amazing Hualien tours such as our popular Hualien Rivers & Valleys Experience or our East Coast Explorer Tour . Both show you incredible nature and culture in the Hualien area!*

Experience Taroko Gorge The Island Life Way!

Forget the big buses, and join Island Life Taiwan as we hit the trails, taste handmade Truku aboriginal cuisine, check out some amazing temples, cross suspension bridges and more.

Not only is a full ABORIGINAL LUNCH INCLUDED, but we also include other special experiences throughout the day intended to immerse you in the beauty and culture of Taroko Gorge. We’ll spend as little time in the vehicle as possible, our groups never get bigger than 8 people, all our guides speak English and your lunch and Hualien City hotel pick up is always included! 

Taroko Gorge Tour in Hualien, Hualien Tour of Taroko Gorge National Park


Trip highlights.

  • Stroll through the towering slot canyon of Swallow Grotto
  • Visit not one, but TWO suspension bridges during your day
  • Take a nature walk through the “Mysterious Valley” on the Shakadang Trail
  •  Enjoy zen with a view at the Changuang Temple
  •  Climb the Bell Tower Trail to a two story pagoda high on the hillside
  •  Enjoy an INCLUDED Aboriginal Lunch in the mountains and sample traditional indigenous vegetables
  •  Get blown away by the NEWLY REOPENED Tunnel Of Nine Turns!
  •  See the epic Eternal Spring Shrine  and learn about the deadly history of the Cross-Mountain Highway.
  •  Relax by a turquoise river and sample tasty homemade A boriginal Treats
  •  And so, so much more

One of Many things to do in hualien, a Taroko Gorge Tour in Hualien, Hualien Tour of Taroko Gorge National Park

Group Tours: Ages 7 – 65 PRICING Contact us for Pricing!


taroko gorge tour in taroko gorge national park


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Tour Reviews

My friend and I signed up for this tour and both had an amazing time! Our tour guide was very friendly and knowledgeable and we really appreciated her sharing information about the area with us. This was also a great way for us to meet new people and make some friends! Overall I would recommend this tour to anyone!

My partner and I had a great time! Our guide Alan had a lot of insight and was very funny and kind. He had a really good understanding of the park and its various traffic control points and distances. Some of the trails were unexpectedly closed dues to rockslides, but Alan was able to pivot without missing a beat and maximizimed what we were able to do. The gorge is unbelievably beautiful and was the highlight of our trip. Pick up and drop off at our accomodation was really nice. We highly recommend the tour to anyone considering it.

Our guide Santa was knowledgeable, humourous and patient! The responses to my many emails were quick and reassuring. Taroko Gorge is beautiful, thrilling, and a must-visit in Taiwan!!

Extraordinary tour with Alan ! Wonderful English-speaking guide who toured us around Taroko and showed us great spots, while sharing us the history behind the spots. Really great time and Alan’s open-minded mindset and personality took the tour to another level. Thanks a lot !

Jason was an enthusiastic tour guide who shared the history, food, scenery, and stories surrounding Taroko Gorge. Very in depth. Lots of spots covered that would’ve been difficult to get to and fully appreciate on my own. Would recommend!

Better Taroko Gorge tour. Jason was our tour guide. He immediately started introducing himself and talking about Taiwan, Taroko, and it’s history which it feel very welcoming. He’s very humorous, cracking jokes and integrating them into the tour to teach us about taroko. We hit so many different locations and got lots of pictures. Jason does a great job moving fast not wasting any time so you get the most of the experience. He went over and beyond the whole time. I highly recommend this tour.

Jason our tour guide made this the most enriching experience. We did so much more than just walk . From the car ride there and the entire trip, he retold dozens of history stories, legends, and facts about dozens of places. His passion for his home town and admiration of nature is contagious. He shared with us the diversity of species, the history of Taiwan, controversy’s, natural landmarks. We walked as high up as the bridge with gorgeous views and as deep through tunnels to see a shrine. Best way to learn and a must do for nature lovers. Jason’s knowledge and love for what he does guarantees that you will have the best experience ever. 10/10.

I went on their Taroko gorge trip and it was wonderful. They have a maximum of 7 participants. They also begin their tour earlier so you get to the main places of interest before the crowds. Alan our tour guide was so knowledgeable, passionate and funny. It was a very enjoyable day. The hiking was lovely and I also learned a lot about indigenous aboriginal culture. A lovely aboriginal lunch is also included in the price. Great day and great value

We had a fantastic day with our tour guide Alan at Taroko. He took us to so many different places and gave us enough time to explore everything. Overall a great experience and definitely worth the money!

My last day in Taiwan as a solo traveler I decided to book the Better Taroko Tour, and let me tell you I got more than I expected. Alan was our guide and he was so fun and went above and beyond for us. We were suppose to be done around 4, we got back into town at almost 6. He dropped a couple of us off at the train station was trying very hard to get us to our booked trains in time. He was fun and made great jokes. Overall, it was such a great time

The tour lasted over 10 hours starting at 8 and finishing at 6! Alan the tour guide was great and very passionate about his home land as well as the tribal culture that he taught us lots about. Definitely worth the money and would recommend to friends and family.

We had a wonderful time visiting Taroko with Allen as our tour guide! He was extremely friendly and fun to talk to and was very knowledgeable about the history of the area. Since everyone in our group had extra time at the end of they day, Allen was generous enough to bring us to a few extra locations near the gorge. We ended up doing so much that I can’t even keep track of it all, but the parts that stood out the most included the suspension bridge on the way to the bell tower and the Tunnel of Nine Turns Area. Overall, I would 10/10 recommend this tour!

Incredible! I had no idea how stunning Taroko is. The Island Life tour guides are so proud of it and really showed it off! What an amazing day. We can’t wait to go back! Take the tour, you’ll regret it if you don’t.

No other words than Fantastic and Outstanding day with Alan our very knowledgeable guide who made the day very special thanks to his great knowledge of the gorges, his excellent english and most importantly his humour. We had so much fun discovering the wonders of Mother Nature, very well organized tour, will do it again without any hesitation. Great job to Alan and to Islandlife taiwan.

Just stunning. There is no other place like it. Our tour guide was incredible and the whole team was detail-oriented. Awesome time!

Amazing tour with Alan! We saw so much of the park it felt like the most comprehensive tour we’ve been on. Several places they drop you at one end for a scenic walk and then pick you up at the other end, something you couldn’t do if travelling on your own. The nature of Taroko is incredible and overall this was one of our best experiences in Taiwan.

Great Taroko tour with Allen. I took a private tour of the Taroko park and gorge from island life adventures. They were very quick to respond to my inquiry and we conducted all details on what’s app but they also took calls . Allen was our local guide and he was fantastic. Great English and provided a very personal experience since he grew up in the area visiting the park regularly with his grandmother. You get a great history of the area, the country, and the people and culture. A nice local meal at the top of the mountain , a swim in the gorge , everything was well done and very well managed . Thanks Allen for a great time I will not forget .

This was a fantastic experience in my two night stay in Hualien, all thanks to Allen, our tour guide. He was very knowledgeable and had a lot of insight to share about the area; his English is fantastic and so were all of his jokes. The van was comfortable and well kept, and he gave us plenty of time to explore each site – I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone wanting to explore the Taroko Gorge.

Loads in one day with great guide Great friendly guide who spoke good English and was super knowledgeable about the area, shared loads of interesting stuff about Taiwan. The tour itself covered WAY more than we could have done with public transport, so all in all really excellent!

Memorable and exciting tour! A family of 4 joined the Taroko Gorge tour. We were very well taken care of by Allen the guide. He was knowledgeable and throughout the trip, managed the time very well so that we covered many areas for this trip. Allen also took us to the best scenic spots and took some amazing photos for us too! Our trip to Hualien was made so much more interesting and memorable with this tour. Thank you Allen!

If I could give this tour more than 5 stars, I would! Even with some rainy weather, this was by far the best tour I’ve ever been on!

I contacted Island Life Taiwan via email a week or two before planning on being in Hualien to arrange a tour and they were very swift to reply. Everything from the pre-tour planning to the tour itself was extremely well managed and I was very satisfied with the customer service.

Our guide, Iris, was very welcoming and happy to accommodate us in any way possible. We definitely benefitted from her local knowledge and were not only able to enjoy the amazing scenery around Taroko, but also learn more about the culture that surrounds it. She even helped me with the application process for the Zhuilu Old Trail permit and took all the pictures a tourist could dream of.

This was such a phenomenal place to visit, and the tour more than did it justice!

Thanks so much – I would recommend this tour to absolutely everyone who wants to visit Taiwan!!

Best Taroko Gorge Tour The whole tour was excellent. Every experience was 10/10. Food, scenery, guide every thing was just fantastic. The guide spoke great English which made life easy.

Better Life with Island Life Taiwan Taroko National Park is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, exploring with Alan was a very pleasant trip. One of my favorite locations was the Qingshui Cliffs which Alan brought us to. We left early to avoid the crowds which gave us a very good experience.

Went on a Taroko gorge tour with IRIS on the 5th of January 2020. She picked us up from our accommodation at 7.30 am and there was only 6 of us on the tour which was fantastic. She took us to all the major sites on the tour before lunch which was great as there were no crowds or waiting time anywhere. We drove past the places after lunch and saw heaps of people lining up at the places we had been. IRIS had a great understanding of all the places we visited and you could see her love for her country. Her English was outstanding and would recommend highly this tour to do. 10/10 !!!

Better Taroko Tour with Santa.We had a wonderful tour with Santa as guide! While driving he told us lots of stories. He is a funny guy who made everyone laugh during the whole day. His English was good and he gave clear information. We were ahead of all the tour buses which was great! It was like we almost had Taroko to ourselves 🙂 Thanks!

Taroko Gorge tour and lunch. Had a great day touring Taroko Gorge. Allen picked us up at our apartment, in total there were 7 people in our van. It was a comfortable ride and Allen used the time well so that we were able to see several different sights. He also explained a lot about Taiwan’s history, as well as plant and animal life. Lunch was a traditional meal and good. We never felt rushed, but things moved along at a good pace. Beautiful area, well worth seeing if you are in Hualien. Pickup was about 7:30am and we returned about 3:30 or 4 pm.

Great Taroko Experience. Superb Taroko experience, Allen was a great guide, a lot of information about local life and Taroko aboriginal tribe. Very comfortable van with AC, more than enough dinner included in the price of trip. Highly recommended tour agency in Hualien.

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The Tiny Island That Serves As a Tripwire for War between the US and China

Earlier this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences  nominated Island in Between in the Best Documentary Short Film category at the ninety-sixth Academy Awards. Although it didn’t end up taking home the Oscar, the documentary drew attention to the little-known Kinmen Island and its precarious position as an inflection point in the relationship between Taiwan, mainland China, and the continuing involvement of the United States. Taiwanese American director S. Leo Chiang narrates scenes of the tranquil lives of locals on the island juxtaposed against the dreaded possibility of war that looms larger there than in the rest of Taiwan as the shores of the mainland lay in visible distance.

In the film, a massive concrete loudspeaker pointed across Xiamen Bay wafts the voice of classic Taiwanese pop singer Teresa Teng as she sweetly sings her hits and delivers political taunts to the nearest mainland city, proclaiming that “I just hope all of you on the mainland will enjoy the same democracy and freedom that we have.” Chiang noted in an interview that

from there, you probably can see and hear things and feel things that you cannot from Taipei, or from the rest of the main Taiwan Island. A lot of them have the attitude [that] we’ve always been really friendly with the folks in China, and we support closer relationships [with China].

The nuance of the Taiwanese people in managing relations with China seems utterly lost on Americans, and it shows in Washington’s policy.

Green Berets Confirmed Stationed Just Miles from China’s Shores

The main island of Kinmen is situated just six miles away from the mainland Chinese city of Xiamen, and some parts of the island group are just 2.5 miles away. While Taiwan and its key role in US-China tensions has been gaining attention, far fewer people have heard of Kinmen. That might be changing as the US raises its level of engagement, sending military advisers and US Army Special Forces, better known as the Green Berets, there.

Just a couple weeks after Island in Between was nominated for an Oscar, it was announced that  US military advisers had begun long-term deployments to the island to assist in the training at the Taiwanese military’s amphibious camps to enhance their capabilities in countering enemy incursions. The deployments were planned along with various other types of support for Taiwan’s military under the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. These include the Green Berets of the 1st Special Forces Group, which are  permanently stationed at two bases of the 101st Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion. The presence of Green Berets in Kinmen and another outlying island group called Penghu was  recently confirmed by Taiwanese defense minister Chiu Kuo-cheng.

Another aspect of the cooperation under the National Defense Authorization Act includes the Green Berets’ training of their counterparts in Taiwan on the use of the  Black Hornet Nano , a small unmanned aerial vehicle that assists with portable surveillance and intelligence gathering. The Taiwanese Aviation and Special Forces Command has shown interest in buying these microdrones, which the US will likely oblige. Nobody actually believes that a group of US Army Special Forces stationed in Kinmen with small observation drones would make any difference if China launched an invasion. It would appear that this move serves as posturing against China, especially as a signal that America will brazenly and openly station special forces just miles from the mainland. It is nothing short of provocative, laying a tripwire for a miscalculation that could bring about the cross-strait conflict.

Flare-Ups over Taiwan

A few weeks after that revelation,  tensions flared up around Kinmen when two Chinese fishermen drowned when their boat capsized following a chase by the Taiwanese coast guard under accusations of trespassing to which the Chinese coast guard responded by boarding a  sightseeing boat and escorting it back to the island. The next day, the Taiwanese said that they drove off Chinese coast guard vessels that had entered the waters near the island. While these incidents did not result in more serious consequences, the increased attention on Kinmen is raising red flags that the island is once again becoming a hotspot for cross-strait tensions.

Taiwan has been proclaimed an integral part of China by the People’s Republic with claims that extend much further back in time than before the end of the Chinese Civil War. Xi Jinping has staked his reputation and legacy on reunifying the island with the mainland. Top American intelligence officials say Xi has ordered his military to be ready to invade the island by 2027. Against this backdrop, the Chinese military has increased its deployment of air forces that cross into Taiwanese air identification zones, implemented maritime demonstrations, and thrown its weight around in the South China Sea as the world anticipates the worst for the self-governing island.

Speaking to the Washington Post , Tom Shugart, adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said that “these drills keep getting bigger and bigger. As the number and frequency continues to grow, it naturally becomes that much harder to know whether next time is the real thing.” The US government’s stances and policies that openly place it in opposition to China in a geopolitical rivalry has pushed relations to ever-worse depths.

Whose Doorstep?

Chiang ends his documentary by asking, “When these young men arrive in Kinmen, will they be surprised, like I am, of the peaceful sunsets? The same ones that my father must have seen when he served here all those years ago? And by the kindness of the people here who are forever caught in between?” His words ring as true for the young Taiwanese men who go to Kinmen for their mandatory military service as it does for the American troops that are now stationed there. At the big picture level, Kinmen, Taiwan, and all of the inhabitants there are tragically in the crosshairs of the greater rivalry between the US and China.

As was the case with the Ukraine narrative leading up to Russia’s invasion, the American narrative regarding Taiwan points to China’s provocative actions around Taiwan while waving off the possibility that Washington’s weapons deliveries and military buildup in that part of the Indo-Pacific region would be perceived as provocative from Beijing’s viewpoint. In a 2016  campaign speech , Hillary Clinton said that “Moscow has taken aggressive military action in Ukraine, right on NATO’s [the North Atlantic Treaty Organization] doorstep.” Whose doorstep now? A quick look at a map of where eastern Ukraine and Taiwan are in relation to the US, Russia, and China should give a sufficient impression of who’s on whose doorstep.

It’s a shining example of Ron Paul’s “imagine”  speech where the former Congressman preached the kind of strategic empathy that asks to put the shoe on the other foot, to see what things look like for the other side. What does it look like to China, then, when the superpower almost seven thousand miles across the Pacific openly places its special forces in viewing distance from China’s shores on an island in between the mainland and Taiwan? Who’s on whose doorstep?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. 

Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

Watch CBS News

China-Taiwan tension brings troops, missiles and anxiety to Japan's paradise island of Ishigaki

By Elizabeth Palmer

April 11, 2024 / 10:28 AM EDT / CBS News

Ishigaki, Japan —  President Biden hosted Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at an official state dinner in Washington on Wednesday evening, showcasing the importance of the U.S.-Japanese relationship . Washington is counting on that close alliance to help limit China's influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Tension has been especially high recently over China's not-so-subtle threats that it could take over the island of Taiwan by force. Taiwan is a democracy that lies roughly 100 miles off the Chinese coast.

The United States, also not so subtly, has implied that it would protect Taiwan against a Chinese invasion, and that allies including Japan would be expected to help. 

Japan has already committed to a bigger military role in the Pacific, in partnership with the U.S. It has increased its defense budget this year by more than $55 billion, and is investing in both weapons technology and troop training.

Kishida's government argues that a more muscular military is necessary to deal with what it calls the "most severe and complex security environment since the end of World War II."

Not everyone in Japan is happy about the muscle building, however.

Take the residents of one tiny, picturesque island at the extreme southern end of the Japanese island chain. Ishigaki has long drawn tourists with its famous white sand beaches, laid-back vibe and tranquil turquoise seas.

But there's trouble in paradise.

The Japan Self Defense Forces, the country's military, has installed a missile base right in the center of the island.


On a hill surrounded by sugar cane and pineapple farms, about 600 soldiers and a battery of powerful missiles and launchers are now dug in. They are perfectly positioned to join the fight on the side of Japan and the U.S. if China attacks Taiwan, which lies just 150 miles away across those turquoise waters.

"For us, it doesn't make sense," Setsuko Yamazato, an Ishigaki resident since birth, told CBS News. When plans for the base became public, she joined other residents to protest against the militarization of their island.

"Just having them here is asking for trouble," she said. "We feel powerless. Helpless."

At the base, Commander Yuichiro Inoue sympathizes with the island's residents. A veteran of international conflict who served with Japan's military contingent in Iraq, he understands that it's hard for the islanders to accept that, by an accident of geography, their little community could wind up on the front line of a future war.


But Inoue defended the new base, noting a "number of challenges" in the region.

"China unilaterally claims territory, and North Korea is launching military satellites and missiles," he said. "Our mission is to provide deterrence against all these threats, and show that we are serious about protecting this country."

China's muscle-flexing has already affected the lives of Ishigaki's fisherman. Chinese Coast Guard ships have chased them away from the waters around the nearby Senkaku Islands, which  both Japan and China claim to own . China calls them the Diaoyu Islands.

Even so, Yamazato hates the idea of a beefed-up military presence on Ishigaki. As a little girl during World War II, she lost her mother, brother, sister and grandfather. The U.S. invasion of Japan in 1945 began on the neighboring island of Okinawa.


Yamazato had hoped the end of that conflict would mark a new era of peace and prosperity and, for decades, it did. She thrived and made a career for herself as a flight attendant with the American Overseas Airlines, and later for the American Geological Survey.

Now 87, she can't believe the threat of war is back, and she worries that the Ishigaki missile base will make her island a target.

"That is what I fear the most," she told CBS News.

"It's a sad fact of modern life," countered Commander Inoue. "A lot of people feel that way, but they need to understand global and regional realities are very harsh."

Japan has definitively chosen the U.S. side in the great Pacific geo-political rivalry, and preserving the peace means having weapons of war aimed outward, over Ishigaki's tropical seas.

Elizabeth Palmer

Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."

More from CBS News

China-U.S. ties "beginning to stabilize," but it won't be an easy road

Palestinians thank U.S. students for support as Netanyahu condemns them

Russian court extends Evan Gershkovich's pretrial detention yet again

U.S. loses $30 million Reaper drone in Yemen


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