6 Reasons Why Taiwan Should be on Your Travel Itinerary

If you’re planning a round-the-world trip, chances are Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam are all on your checklist of must-see destinations. For those really adventurous souls, maybe Malaysia or the Philippines will even make the cut. But what about Taiwan? It’s that little dot off the coast of China, and after calling it home for nearly two years, we can attest to its awesomeness. Not sure if it’s worth your time or tight budget?

Taiwanese
Taiwanese

 

Here are a few reasons to reconsider Taiwan on your next backpacking adventure:

1. Dramatic Scenery

The cities might be a concrete jungle, but as soon as you escape the confines of high-rise apartments, stunning landscapes surround on all sides.

Scenic east coastline
Scenic east coastline

 

Whether it’s the Pacific Ocean crashing into jagged sandstone cliffs, remarkable Taroko Gorge with its raging rivers and mystical ambiance, or the striking white sand beaches of the south, chances are you’ll find vistas that invoke inspiration and awe.

2. Outdoor Adventures

 In a country providing such a picturesque backdrop, it’s intuitive to get outdoors and enjoy it.

Rock climbing Long Dong Taiwan
Rock climbing Long Dong Taiwan

 

A few particularly popular calorie-burning options are hiking, cycling and rock climbing. Regardless of your fitness level, you’ll find something that meets your needs.

Cycling in Taiwan
Cycling in Taiwan

 

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Cost: hiking is typically free provided a permit isn’t required, bicycles can be rented for around $10 USD a day. Rock climbing is often free if you have your equipment, as most groups will welcome you in. (Try Long Dong for some of the best climbing in Asia). Scuba diving, paragliding, surfing, and kite surfing are also popular activities, although you’ll have to find the right location to pursue them. These niche sports can also get more expensive depending upon equipment needs.[/box]

3. Spiritual Temples

God Of War Temple
God Of War Temple

 

Buddhism and Taoism are the two largest religions in Taiwan, and it’s very common to stumble upon temples in every back alley or street corner. Visitors are welcome, so don’t hesitate to go exploring. Inside you’ll find ornate statues of deities, colorful hand-painted structures, and the smell of incense drifting up to the gods. Two of the most popular places to discover Taiwan’s temples are Taipei and Tainan, although they’re located in even the most remote areas. Temples are active places of worship, and an ideal place to immerse oneself in traditional Taiwanese culture.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”] Admission: Free[/box]
Futian Temple on Lion's Head Mountain
Futian Temple on Lion’s Head Mountain

 

4. Festivals

Festivals are another great way to learn about the history and religious beliefs of Taiwan, and they’re just plain fun. Watch hundreds of paper lanterns released into the sky at Lantern Festival, barbecue with locals during Moon Festival, cheer on dragon boats as they race to the finish line during Dragon Boat Festival, or watch a 14 meter long boat burned to the ground at Burning Boat Festival.

Lantern Festival
Lantern Festival

 

Regardless of your choice, the experience is bound to be a memorable one.

Burning Boat Festival
Burning Boat Festival

 

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Cost to attend: Free [/box]

5. Night Markets

Night markets are an iconic element of Taiwanese culture, and while at first they can be a bit overwhelming, they certainly transform into many travelers favorite part of Taiwan.

Shilin Night Market in Taipei
Shilin Night Market in Taipei

 

Streets are lined with food stalls of every variety, serving up everything from chicken hearts to stinky tofu to ice cream in a toilet. Be prepared to finagle the crowds to find what you want and you’ll leave with a full stomach and authentic Taiwanese experience.

Vendor Taiwan Night Market
Vendor Taiwan Night Market

 

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Cost: Depends on you, but food doesn’t get much cheaper than this. Expect to pay $1-$2 USD per item.  [/box]

6. People

At the end of the day, the biggest take away from your time in Taiwan will more than likely be the people. Taiwanese are incredibly hospitable and genuinely kind. Chances are you won’t ever have to ask for help; if you even look like you’re in need someone will be there to assist.

Taiwanese BBQ at Moon Festival
Taiwanese BBQ at Moon Festival

 

We’ve lost track of how many times we’ve been lost and a local has personally escorted us to our destination.  Whether it’s translating our broken Chinese, providing advice on the best local attractions, inviting us to dinner or offering up friendly conversations on the street, Taiwanese consistently blow us away by their generosity and desire to make our experience here smooth sailing.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Cost to make new friends: priceless[/box]

About the Authors

BIO PHOTODan and Casey are the two lovebirds documenting their travel musings at A Cruising Couple. They’re writing, photographing and drinking wine from their home base in Taiwan until August. After that who knows where they’ll be! Be sure to stay updated on all their adventures by connecting on facebook and twitter!

 

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75 Comments

  • I always wanted to visit Taiwan and those 6 reasons just make me wanna go there ever more. Thanks guys for sharing. I’m more determined to make it there this summer. The temples are stunning!

  • I’ve been to Taiwan and I absolutely loved the night markets. You can get there such amazing, cheap and delicious food! It’s a must see and explore place when visiting this country.

    • We always explore night markets everywhere we go. The nicest one was in Bangkok and Siem Reap. The food is always so delicious and cheap in Asia :)

    • It’s been our pleasure. Thank you so much for the contribution. It’s a great piece of work and I bet people will find it inspiring and helpful :).

  • I think the fact that people forget about it is why the people are so friendly. Maybe it’s because it rhymes with Thailand so no one thinks to go there, but that makes it better for everyone else. Whenever we were lost, we’d ask for directions, and if people didn’t speak English, they’d call their friends on mobile phones until everything was okay. It was great.

    • Too funny you mentioned the Thailand thing-we actually have a whole post on our blog dedicated to the fact that everyone thinks we live in Thailand when we say Taiwan. Taiwanese people definitely go above and beyond to help :-)

  • My best friend is originally from here and goes back every few years to visit and reconnect with her roots;-) She raves about it, but until now I never realized how affordable it can be!

    • Awesome! I met a Taiwanese girl in Prague, she was my host and she always invites me to visit her in Taipei. She told me it’s much cheaper than China so I need to check it out :).

  • We’ve just had a guest post about Tawain on our site and I have to say before then I never really thought about visiting, but it looks gorgeous especially from these photos!

    • Yes, we agree, the photos are just amazing. Love the vivid colors and how they captured the moment! Brilliant job!

    • Thank you-hope you make it here one day! We have to admit we came to Taiwan not really knowing anything about it other than you could make money teaching English. It’s an amazing place though, and we’ve definitely fallen in love with it!

    • Yes, Taiwan has a lot to offer and we can’t wait to visit some of the temples. We’re so tired of Chinese temples:)

    • It is indeed. I bet the food is just amazing at those markets. I feel like having a Taiwanese bbq right now :)

  • Wow – i’m getting more and more convinced that I need to get an extended layover in Taiwan on my next trip to visit my parents in Indonesia next time. It looks like an amazing country!

  • You had me at spiritual temples! All these photos are fantastic – I’d always wondered what Taiwan really looks like, and after seeing these photos it’s defintely been bumped up on my must visit in Asia list. I having a teaching English qualification, so who knows, might make it there to teach one day!

    • We are teaching in China and it’s been such an amazing experience, seriously. If you have a chance to do so in Taiwan, we would recommend you to just go for it without thinking! Those spiritual temples are irresistible to explore!

  • Taiwan is beautiful. I spent half of my childhood in Taiwan and always looking forward to my next trip to Taiwan. The food is seriously amazing. Oh! I really want to be there now :D

  • These pictures are beautiful and really show why Taiwan shouldn’t be missed. It’s such an underrated country. I have always wanted to visit and hoping to go for a long layover next summer. I have two good friends who are Taiwanese and I always love seeing their pictures. They’re going again this summer for a food/bike tour.

    • Thank you Mary. We agree, Taiwan shouldn’t be missed and we can’t wait to finally be able to explore it. We are hoping to go for a longer layover next year and cycling Taiwan is a great idea, indeed!

    • The Modern Toilet Restaurant is definitely quite the experience! We prefer to eat our ice cream out of cones, but can’t lie-it’s a little bit fun to get away with playing with your food like that. They also have urinals that serve as cups and apparently a really good curry that I think is served in a squatty pottie. (We didn’t get to try that one). Burning Boat Festival is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime sort of opportunity!

    • Cheers. I really want to move there from China maybe next year. Would love to live and work there as well. We will see… :)

  • I was converted from the first picture of the coastline! What a beautiful place! And the lantern festival is definitely on my bucket list! Taiwan seems to be such a gorgeous, but overlooked part of the world. Thanks for sharing :)

  • I’ve long wanted to visit the mythic isle of Formosa. These pictures have bumped Taiwan to my short list of places I must visit SOON – for the culture and for the food!

  • I spent just a few shot days in Taipei a couple of decades ago, and have always thought that I must get back there again one day, and your post here, reinforces that for me. I partularly like that beautiful temple in the mountains shot. Very beautiful!

    • I would personally recommend to try some fried bugs and dumplings :) Had them in one of the Korean restaurants in China and they were lovely!

  • Just found your website from WildJunket. What a great blog! And such beautiful pictures! And your writing’s great as well. Are you guys teaching ESL over there? I’m teaching ESL, and Taiwan has recently appeared on my radar screen as a place to do it. Some day…

    I thought the really adventurous would choose Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Malaysia and Phillipines are English-speaking countries, and thus easier to navigate. I remember the first time I went to Thailand, I was kinda nervous about not speaking the language. Oh well, that was over a dozen years ago.

    • Hi Eileen,

      Thank you so much for the message and all of the kind words. Yes, we are teaching English in Dongguan, China. It’s a big city nearby Hong Kong. Been enjoying ourselves a lot. If you need some more info, email me at agnieszka.walewinder@gmail.com. My boss is looking for foreign teachers for his new opened kindergartens all over China and Malaysia. I can recommend you!

      I hope you’re enjoying Taiwan! That must be a great experience I believe!

  • Hi E-tramping! Thanks for including this helpful blog! We are in the last 2 months of our 2.5 year Round-the-World Trip before we “settle down” back in the U.S. for awhile!

    Thanks again for sharing your photos and insights!

    Happy, Safe Travels! :-)

      • We are definitely glad we decided to come to Taiwan! We’ve spent 7 days so far just in Taipei (at the Meeting House) and tomorrow evening we fly to Seoul, South Korea. The people here in Taipei are so sweet and helpful, even if they don’t speak English! We’ve also loved the food – everything from dumplings and stinky tofu to “Ice Monster” Sensations and Coconut Milk Bubble Teas! There’s great shopping, temples, and hiking. Not sure what more we could ask for! We will definitely be back to Taiwan sooner rather than later. :-)

  • Your pictures are fabulous and you have convinced me to include Taiwan in our itinerary. We are a family of four who will be taking a one year trip around the world starting June 29. We are planning on visiting China for approximately six weeks in March and April of 2015. If we took time out of our mainland China itinerary to visit Taiwan, how much time would you recommend to stay in Taiwan? As a family we love hiking, biking and getting outdoors.

    • Hi Julie,
      I’m so glad to hear that! Amazing plans. I keep my fingers crossed for you!
      I would recommend you to stay in China for 3-4 weeks and 2-3 weeks in Taiwan, but it all depends on how many places you want to see. I’ve never been to Taiwan and it’s a guest post written for us by fellow travel bloggers. However, I have been living and travelling in China for the past 2 years so if you need some help, shoot me an e-mail at agnieszka.walewinder@gmail.com :).

  • I absolutely felt in love with Taiwan, so I’m hopefully moving there at the end of the year. I recommend everybody to at least travel there, as Taipei (haven’t been to other cities) have this “Hong Kong feeling” (which I find amazing), but once you go out exploring the nature, it’s the whole different level. I’ve never felt so peaceful anywhere in the world. And of course people are superfriendly, always ready to help.

  • I would love to travel to Taiwan but I have tight budget approximately around USD$1500. It’ll be my first time going backpacking so I was wondering can you share more information with me about Taiwan?

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