Taiwan spans 395km from north to south and 144km from east to west. While it may just seem like a small island off the coast of mainland China, in actuality, it is brimming with attractions ranging from one of the tallest buildings in the world to some of the most beautiful mountain ranges in Asia.
One could live in Taiwan for years and still not see everything the country has to offer. The following is a bucket list of things to do while in Taiwan. It will detail some places I have explored, but a majority of the recommendations will be places I’m planning to visit in the near future.
This list is just a few of the places I am really dying to visit or have already visited in Taiwan. There just isn’t enough space or time to cover all of the incredible places to see in Taiwan.
Just Taipei itself has years worth of places to explore, but I hope this list can get people started on ideas for things to do and places to see!
Yangmingshan Park, Taipei
Yangmingshan is located just on the outskirts of Taipei city and provides some of the most scenic hiking paths in Taiwan. It’s hard to believe one of Taiwan’s largest national parks takes less than an hour to get to from the city center.
Its close proximity to the city makes it an ideal getaway for those people who are looking to recluse themselves for a moment from the hustle and bustle of big city life.
The views from the top of Mount Qixing, at an elevation of 1,120 meters, not only overlook Taipei and New Taipei city, but also the surrounding mountains and rivers that effortlessly mesh into the cityscape.
Just like Taiwan itself, you can visit this national park dozens of times and still find something new with each trip.
Elephant Mountain, Taipei
Another area for really scenic views of Taipei City is Elephant Mountain (Xiangshan 象山). Located just off the Xiangshan MRT station, it’s incredibly easy to get to using public transportation.
The hike to the most scenic views of Taipei 101 and the city only takes about 15 minutes and is best seen during sunset or sunrise. Careful of the large amounts of tourists and locals that will be flooding the area during this time though!
For the amount of time this sight takes to the level of beauty it provides, it’s well worth being on the Taiwan bucket list.
Taipei 101, Taipei
Taipei 101 is ranked as on of the tallest buildings in the world and, in my opinion, is one of the coolest looking buildings I’ve seen. It has a shopping mall in the bottom floor and a plethora of restaurants that showcase a variety of cuisines.
Go to the top of the building on a good day to see incredible views of all of northern Taiwan. You can also drink a Starbucks coffee from the highest elevation in the world. The elevator to the top is also the fastest in the world (37.7 mph, 16.83 mps)
National Palace Museum, Taipei
When the Kuomintang fled mainland China in 1949 and established themselves in Taiwan, they brought with them a treasure trove of cultural artifacts. A majority of these artifacts are located in the National Palace Museum, tucked away in the outskirts of Taipei.
After the Cultural Revolution that took place in China from 1967-1976, where a majority of mainland China’s heritage was destroyed, Taiwan is now the place where you can see the largest number of historical Chinese artifacts.
Try to avoid going to the museum during peak hours, weekends mostly. If you have any time during the week for a trip to the museum you will find yourself less encumbered by tourists.
Eat at the Modern Toilet, Taipei
No, it’s not a super fancy toilet. The Modern Toilet is a novelty restaurant where all the food you eat is in the shape of poo. Strange, I know, but Taiwan is actually known for themed restaurants. Poo themed, airplane themed, Hello Kitty themed, and even Barbie themed.
Although I haven’t been to this restaurant yet, most reviews agree that the food is mediocre, but the decor and novelty is really what brings people inside.
Even if you won’t be a returning customer it’s a place to go at least once.
Taroko Gorge and National Park, Hualien
The area of Hualien, on the east coast of Taiwan, provides some of the most beautiful and serene views of nature in Taiwan. Taroko Gorge and National Park is set between the mountains and river terrain that is common for the east of Taiwan. The hiking trails that this type of geography creates makes for
The hiking trails that this type of geography creates makes for stunning views and an even more incredible look into the reason Taiwan was nicknamed “Formosa”, which means “beautiful island”.
If you go during the winter you can see snow capped mountains and is the only place in Taiwan for the potential for skiing.
The best way to get to Hualien is to board a train to the Hualien Railway Station and then take a taxi from there to the park. It’s recommended to stay there for 1 or 2 full days to get the full experience.
For those interested in adrenaline-filled activities like myself, paragliding is another option close to Taipei City. I found out about this place through a friend and it’s really easy to get to from Taipei.
From the Danshui MRT take a bus bound for Keelung and get off at the Wanli Elementary School stop. You need to contact the company in order for them to schedule a driver to pick you up from the bus stop and bring you to the top of the cliff where they do the paragliding.
The view from the top of the cliff is really stunning and it’s located just over the sea. Make sure you check the weather before you book a time to go because the company will cancel the gliding last minute if they feel conditions are not safe. I’m pretty sure they give you your money back though.
Baishawan Beach and Kenting National Park
Kenting is located on the southern most tip of Taiwan and has some of the nicest beaches in Asia. The national park is THE biggest in Taiwan and it covers the majority of the southern Taiwan peninsula. Since the area is so vast the best things to do once you get there is to rent a car, or, depending on how much luggage you have, a scooter if you’re feeling more adventurous.
The park surrounds mountains and oceans which gives it a unique advantage over other national parks of Taiwan. I have yet to go, but I can only imagine after taking a rigorous hiking session up the mountains you go to the white sand beaches and jump in the water.
Baishawan literally means “white sand bay,” is one of the nicest and prettiest beaches in Taiwan. If you’re looking for sunshine and warm weather, this is definitely the place to go, it is also a popular beach for the LGBT community in Taiwan.
Sun Moon Lake
No trip to Taiwan is complete with a visit to Sun Moon Lake. It is one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Taiwan and brings in thousands of people a year.
The best thing to do at the lake is to take a bike ride around the entirety of the lake and take in the beauty. Boat trips are also available for a small price and will take you around the lake that is nestled into the green mountains and hills.
Make sure you check the weather before you go. Sun Moon Lake is a totally different experience in good weather versus bad weather!
Penghu is an island of Taiwan located off the mid-west coast. It’s a peaceful getaway for many people from the bigger cities in Taiwan. With a much slower pace of life, Penghu is a great place to relax and kick back on the beach.
The top attraction here are the Erkan Residences which give a glimpse of early 20th century houses decorated Western and Japanese styles. There is also an old street with local snacks and treats. Seafood is also amazing.
Do you have anything you would like to add to the bucket list? Let us know what you think should be on there in the comments section.