Out of everywhere that I’ve been in Taiwan, it was hard to hand-pick a list of the most recommended places. If you’re having a difficult time building an itinerary for your visit to Taiwan, I have plenty of recommendations for you.
You may not have enough time to do everything on this list. So, you’ll want to be careful about what Taiwan tourist destinations you choose.
Keep reading to find the best things to do in Taiwan throughout the nation’s various regions. As you progress through this guide, I’ll also tell you some great things to do at each spot and how to get there.
23 Amazing Tourist Spots in Taiwan
1. Visit One of Taiwan’s Many Night Markets
Taiwan’s home to over 65 night markets. 30 of them sit in the greater Taipei area—New Taipei, Keelung, and Taipei cities.
These markets are one of the better ways to give you a grasp of Taiwanese culture. Many of them will have:
- Food stalls
- Carnival-style games
- Souvenir shops
- Clothing stores
Most markets have vendors that provide specialty foods, making that particular market famous for that food. Moreover, vendors don’t charge much for their dishes.
Also, depending on what part of Taiwan you’re in, the stall owners will understand English. If they don’t, you can point at what you want or use a translation app.
While many stall owners deep fry the foods that you’ll find in these stalls, they offer an affordable means to eat out.
A lot of the time, locals will opt for eating at night markets over restaurants or cooking at home. Going to street food vendors gives them a quick and cheap way to get food after an intense day of work.
You won’t have a difficult time finding these night markets. No matter what city you’re in, there’s usually a Taiwanese night market nearby.
2. Over 9,000 Temples to Visit
If you thought 70 night markets were a lot, what do you think about Taiwan’s over 15,000 temples? It’s a fantastic opportunity if you’re interested in learning about various folk heroes, gods, and more. Furthermore, every once in a while, you might run into a ceremony.
Be sure to do your research ahead of time on what deity the temple is based around. Otherwise, it could lead to bad luck.
3. Skip the Tourist Activities and Bike
If you have the stamina, over 5–12 days, a durable bike, and a thirst for adventure, consider riding a bike around the entire main island. This thorough PDF guide shows you the ideal route, fitness training, tools, and everything else you need to conquer this journey.
You can do this journey solo if you want. However, it’d be ideal to find a partner to watch your back in case anything happens. While the country is extremely safe, anything can happen at any time.
Places to Visit
Taiwan’s 11 times smaller than California. However, you’ll likely not have enough time to do everything you’ll want while in the island nation.
Instead of running around like a chicken with his head cut off, create a Taiwan itinerary. Use it to plan the most efficient path during your stay.
I recommend the following tourist and local spots based on my experience, and that of people I know.
These spots will mostly cover Taiwan’s main island. However, once I have a guide on the nation’s outlying islands, I’ll add them to this blog.
Kaohsiung Destinations to Check Out
Taiwan’s commercial-focused Harbor Capital, Kaohsiung (高雄 Gāoxióng), sits as the country’s third most populated city. Though it doesn’t have as many tourist attractions as its counterparts, Kaohsiung does offer quite a few gems to experience during your time in Taiwan.
You can directly fly to Kaohsiung VIA, the Kaohsiung International Airport. Conversely, f you came in through, for example, Taoyuan, you could consider taking the high-speed rail train, renting a car, or taking the bus.
Once you’re there, you should consider strolling through Ruifeng Night Market, one of the cities’ largest. Afterward, you should get some sleep and get ready for some of the following fun the next day.
4. Fo Guang Shan Monastery
While it’s challenging to get here, if you appreciate great architecture or are curious about the culture, Fo Guang is a free and fantastic piece of history to visit.
Once you arrive, you’ll find the tallest bronze sitting buddha statue in the world (108m or 354ft) flanked by eight beautiful pagodas. On top of that, you’ll find over 480 Buddha statues here. Truly a sight to behold.
5. Find the Tiger and Dragon Pagodas at Lotus Lake
In the northern outskirts of Kaohsiung city lies Lotus Lake, where you can find a myriad of historical gems.
The two enormous seven-story pavilions were built in honor of the Chinese God of War, Kuan Kung (Guan Gong).
In front of each of the two towers are a giant dragon and tiger that you can enter to get to the pavilions.
Make sure you enter the buildings from the dragon’s throat and exit through the tiger’s jaws because you’ll be a lucky duck if you do so
Lotus Lake Address: Lotus Pond, Zuoying District, Kaohsiung City, 813
6. Relax at Love Pier
Formerly dubbed Kaohsiung No. 12 Pier, it was renamed to create a romantic atmosphere for locals and tourists with its heart-shaped scenery.
Love Pier’s address: No. 11, Gongyuan Second Road Yanchengpu District
Or you can take Kaohsiung’s MRT to Yanchengpu Station.
New Taipei City Places to See
New Taipei City, or 新北 (Xīnběi), surrounds Taipei City and houses over 3.9 million residents.
Most of the time, people will confuse the two cities and consider them both Taipei, which isn’t true.
New Taipei is eight times larger than its popular neighbor and has plenty of places to visit despite people not mentioning it much.
Also, if you want to move to Taiwan, this is the region I recommend locating to. It doesn’t have as much English support as Taipei. However, Taiwan’s working on making the nation fully bilingual by 2030, which will make it easier to survive in New Taipei.
7. Jump into the Magical Realm of Jiufen
Out of everywhere I’ve been in Taiwan, Jiufen (Jioufen) remains my favorite.
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you were in the movie Spirited Away, now’s your chance. Around the 90s’, a former gold mining mountain village morphed into a bustling labyrinth of street food stalls, trinket shops, and relics.
As for things to do, you could spend a day here. You’ll want to arrive first thing in the morning and chow on some Taiwanese breakfast—it doesn’t matter where.
Next, you’ll want to make your way toward Teapot Mountain. It’s a 2.2 mile (3.5 km) hike that’ll take you by a rock that’s shaped like a teapot. Moreover, as you reach the top of the mountain, you can experience a breathtaking view of the nearby ocean.
Your next option for hiking is the Junguashi Geopark, it was once a hillside used for mining excavation. But now it’s a series of trails that’ll take you through lush forests and waterfalls.
No matter which hiking trail you choose, I recommend making your way to the Golden Waterfall at some point. It’s sorta small, but this natural formation gives you a glimpse into the days during Taiwan’s gold rush.
Before the sun sets, you’ll want to go toward the waterfront and watch the Yin Yang Sea. It features various rock formations that overlook a yellow- and blue-tinted bay. To get here, you’ll want to take an Uber, taxi, or bus.
If you don’t want to stray too far from the town, you can spend half the day exploring.
If you’re not allergic, you need to try the peanut ice cream rolls. It’s a crepe wrapped around ice cream, peanut shavings, and cilantro. The ice cream roll isn’t too sweet, and the cilantro paired with ice cream gives it a refreshing taste.
Don’t forget to check out the A-MEI Teahouse. It was once a blacksmithing storefront, and now it serves as an establishment where locals and tourists can drink Taiwanese tea or buy souvenirs.
A-MEI Teahouse address: 224, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Ruifang District, 市下巷20號
Golden Waterfall address: Jinshui Rd, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224
A great place for ice cream peanut rolls—A-Zhu Peanut Ice Cream Roll: No. 20號, Jishan St, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224
8. Pet All the Kitties in Houtong Cat Village
Houtong Cat Village sits tucked away in northern New Taipei’s Ruifang District. This humble village was a popular mining town until the 90s’ until the industry’s decline.
In 2008, a group of cat-loving volunteers transformed Houtong Village into a resort for cats. Eventually, the cat population exploded, transforming this into a “Cat Village.”
When you enter Houtong, you’ll find kitties and bowls of cat food everywhere. You’ll also find feline-themed cafes, shops, and statues. It’s a great place to pick up some small souvenirs while helping the locals and their cat companions.
If you want to take in the culture, you can explore the abandoned buildings from when this town was a mining village. Or, you can check out the Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park.
Also, if you’re familiar with Japan’s occupation, here’s a good question for you. What happened to all the torii gates? When the Kuomintang retreated to Taiwan and transitioned from Japanese rule, they removed almost all these gates.
However, Houtong has one of few, Houtong Shinto Shrine, or Houtong Shrine Relics. Not too much to do in this area. But it’s a great area to learn more about Taiwan’s past.
How do you get to Houtong Cat Village? You could take a taxi or an Uber. Or, if you’re at Taipei Main Station, take a northbound Taiwan Railways train that stops at Ruifang Station.
If you’re coming from eastern Taiwan, take the Yilan Line toward Ruifang Station.
Houtong Shinto Shrine address: No. 61, Houdong Rd, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224
9. Watch an Amazing Sunset in Tamsui
Tamsui—pronounced as Danshui—sits on Taiwan’s northern coast and houses various historical relics left behind by western and Japanese colonists.
I recommend visiting this Tamsui in the middle of the day. That way, you can see the contrast between the bay when the sun’s up and after it sets.
During the day, you’ll want to rent a YouBike and ride along the Jinse Shui’an Biking Trail. YouBikes don’t cost much and it’s a great way to keep you in shape during your trip.
Afterward, if you’re feeling brave enough, you can take a sometimes bumpy boat ride to the Fisherman’s Wharf, home to the Lover’s Bridge. Or, you could take a bus or the Danhai Light Rail Transit (LRT).
Once you view the sun setting, take a walk along the waterfront. Try from a myriad of food stalls (or Turkish Ice Cream) while feeling the ocean breeze brush your face.
You can also view street performers, play carnival-style games, visit souvenir shops, or whatever else.
Speaking of souvenirs, don’t forget to buy Tamsui’s famous Iron Eggs. They’re black eggs that someone repeatedly stewed in a mix of crystal sugar, soy sauce, and occasionally Chinese medicine.
You can reach Tamsui by taking the Taipei MRT Red line toward Tamsui Station. It’s only $2.30 for a one-way trip, and it’ll take you about an hour if you’re coming from central Taipei.
Taichung’s Finest Attractions
You may have never heard of Taichung. However, it’s one of Taiwan’s most popular cities.
It’s full of night markets, beautiful ecotourism spots, and a large city that offers plenty to do.
Even though it wasn’t as convenient as Taipei regarding transportation, Taichung has been building upon the Taichung MRT, which will make navigating this city significantly easier.
Anyway, there are plenty of things to do in Taichung. Moreover, they’ve not spread too far apart.
10. Start the Day at the Birthplace of Bubble Tea
Taiwan’s Chun Shui Tang was founded in May 1983 and claimed to have invented the glorious silky bubble tea drinks. While you can find Chun Shui Tang shops throughout Taiwan, the one in Taichung is the nation’s first.
It has a unique atmosphere and isn’t crammed like most Taiwanese restaurants. Moreover, they have various souvenirs you can buy once you’re done drinking your tea and eating. Yes, they have food as well.
How does the birthplace of bubble tea’s drink compare to other shops? Honestly, I didn’t care too much for it. However, everyone has varying taste buds, so I at least recommend trying their boba tea.
To reach this place, you’ll need to rent a scooter, hail a taxi, or use an Uber.
The Chun Shui Tang (Original Store) address: No. 30 Siwei Street Origin Store, West District, Taichung Taiwan
11. Try a Sun Cake
Once you’re done drinking pearl milk tea at Chun Shui Tang, fill up on more sugar and get yourself a sun cake.
There’s a famous shop nearby, the 23 Sun Bakery. They’ll sell you these cakes individually or as a special gift box. If you want to introduce these to your family or friends, I recommend getting the box.
This place charges quite a bit for these cakes; however, it’s worth the price.
The Sun Cake, or taiyang bing, is another sweet that’s native to Taichung. This dessert has multiple layers of thin wrappings that bakers wrapped around maltose filling. Once you bit into this snack, you’ll notice flakes break off your dessert as you taste the Sun Cake’s smooth and sweet filling.
You’ll want to make sure that you eat these over a bag or a dish to avoid making a mess. I also recommend eating these with a warm cup of tea.
23 Sun Bakery’s address: No. 191, Section 1, Sanmin Road, West District, Taichung City, 40343
12. See What Taiwanese Artists Have to Offer
Put on your nostalgia goggles because you’ll find an alley filled with various wall canvas of American cartoons, anime characters, and video game scenes in Taichung’s west district.
There isn’t too much to do here. You may find a cafe and a claw machine place. However, this area’s a great showcase of talented Taiwanese artists.
It’s also free to enter. You simply walk a reasonably short distance through the alley maze and snap pictures while wondering what character you’ll find next.
Taichung Painted Animation Lane address: Lane 100, Linsen Road, West District, Taichung City, 403
13. More Sweets: Miyahara Ice Cream
The Miyahara building housing expensive, yet coveted ice cream that comes in 50 unique flavors like:
- Honey Lime
- Assam Black Tea
- Honey Cheese
- Raisins Mascarpone
- Citrus White Chocolate
- Rosemary Tea
Miyahara charges NT$90 ($3.23) for a single scoop, NT$160 ($5.74) for a double, and NT$225 ($8.08) for a triple. Fairly pricey, but it’s a unique experience.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on ice cream, you can stroll through the adjacent building. Once you enter, you feel like you’re in Hogwarts School of Wizardry with its unique theme.
While making your way around the area, you’ll also find sweets in retro packaging in addition to other traditional Taiwanese pastries such as the Sun and pineapple cakes.
However, if you want fresh air, you can walk along the paved trails of the nearby Green River waterfront, which is Taichung’s revamped waterway.
Miyahara’s address: No. 20號, Zhongshan Road, Central District, Taichung City, 400
Popular Places in Tainan
Taiwan’s southernmost city, Taiwan, remains the oldest city in Taiwan’s history. And due to its various comebacks after numerous occupations, it has earned the nickname “The Phoenix City” and offers plenty of historical sites for people to visit.
14. Travel Time in Tainan’s Anping Old Fort
In 1624, Dutch colonists captured the modern-day town of Anping and finished construction of its stronghold, Fort Zeelandia, in 1634.
It now sits as a relic of the past, with a museum having an entry fee of a mere NT$50 ($1.79).
Anping Old Fort’s address: No. 82, Guosheng Rd, Anping District, Tainan City, 708
15. Don’t Hold the Salt: Jing Zhai Jiao Tile Paved Salt Fields
If you still want to time travel, the Jing Zhai Jiao tile paved salt fields serve as a remnant of a once-thriving salt industry.
It’s best to come here when the sun’s about to set to watch it shine on the reflective pools.
Jing Zhai Jiao Tile Paved Salt Fields address: 727, Tainan City, Beimen District, 西南郊復育鹽田
16. Work Wonders for Your Skin at the Guanziling Hot Spring
After all that time traveling, you’ll need to relax, and hot spring will make that happen. If instead, you’re thirsty for more adventures, nearby are several temples, footpaths to various mountains, and the Water and Fire cave.
Address for Guanziling Hot Spring: 732, Tainan City, Baihe District
Best Tourist Attractions in Taipei City
Most tourists seem to stay in Taipei during their time in Taiwan. While I recommend exploring other parts of this beautiful island, you should visit Taipei at some point in your journey. There’s a lot to see in Taipei, it has a stellar public transportation system, and it has plenty of English support.
I have a couple places that I’ll always recommend to tourists, nomads, or expats in Taipei.
First, there’s Ximending. It’s “the” place to visit in Taipei. Taipei’s youth district contains history, culture, pork-flavored ice cream, and many more sites you should view.
Then there’s Yanmingshan. It’s a mountain in northern Taipei. I recommend visiting it over Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain)—a popular hiking trail—if you have to choose one mountain.
Add the following tourist hot spots to your Taipei itinerary. I’ll cover basic information about each spot, along with providing where they’re located.
Once you’re done reading this post, read through my guides on other tourist hotspots in Taipei.
17. Watch the Sun Rise from Elephant Mountain’s Peak
When hiking Elephant Mountain, you’ll face a steep 15-20 minute hike that’s all concrete stairs.
As you ascend, you’ll likely encounter a lot of locals and tourists, but there’s plenty of room for people to pass each other.
Anyway, this path will take you to an observation area. Xiangshan’s observation spot overlooks some of the best views Taipei has.
The reward makes fighting the onslaught of mosquitos and the millions of stair steps you must endure worth the effort.
If you visit during New Year’s Eve, Xiangshan and Maokong Mountain are a couple of the best spots in Taipei to watch the skies explode.
Elephant Mountain also gives you a great vantage point to snap pictures of sunrises and sunsets. So, you’ll want to make sure you time your hikes right.
Ensure you bring sunscreen, insect repellant, a camera, and water or Super Sapau—Taiwan’s Gatorade. These items will ensure you have a smooth hike.
The best way to get to Xiangshan is to take the Taipei MRTs Red line to the Xiangshan terminal station. From there, you’ll need to walk a bit until you reach the hiking trail.
Elephant Mountain hiking path entrance address: Alley 342, Lane 150, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, 110
18. Observe Taipei from One of the World’s Tallest Buildings (Taipei 101)
You likely saw Taipei 101 from Elephant mountain while you were there.
Why not check it out?
On the lower floors, you’ll find a high-end shopping mall and food court. If you want to make your way up one of the world’s tallest buildings, then you’ll need to buy tickets from the 5th floor.
I wrote a guide that tells you how to get your hands on these affordable tickets.
You can take a lightning-fast elevator to the 89th floor for a mere NT$ 190 ($6.83). Once you reach this floor, you can view most of Taipei and get your hands on Taipei 101 souvenirs.
Do you want to be on top of one of Taiwan’s highest points? You can visit the Skyline (top floor) also. But this ticket will cost you a little more.
If you’re a Starbucks fanatic, consider visiting the tallest Starbucks on the globe. It’s located on the 35th floor and requires a reservation to enter.
You’ll need to buy at least NT$250 ($8.99) worth of drinks from the secret Starbucks while you’re there.
To reach Taipei 101, take the Taipei Metro Red Line to Taipei 101 World Trade Center Station. Or, take the Blue Line to Taipei City Hall Station.
Taipei 101’s address: 110, Taipei City, Xinyi District, Section 5, Xinyi Rd, 7 89
19. Relive History in the National Palace Museum (Northern Branch)
The National Palace Museum (NPM) has over 700000 pieces of Chinese works of art and imperial artifacts. These relics span 8000 years of history.
The National Beijing Palace Museum and other institutions handed over many of their artifacts to Taiwan. This event happened after the ROC’s evacuation to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War.
The NPM has a Southern Branch in Taibao City and a Northern Branch in Taipei City. Visit both if you can.
Regular admission is NT$ 350 ($12.59). They’ll offer a slight discount if you’re in a group of 10 or more.
National Palace Museum, North Branch’s address: No. 221, Sec 2, Zhi Shan Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, 111
20. Soak in the Beitou Hot Springs
Taiwan has over 100 hot springs. Yet out of all the ones I’ve visited, Beitou triumphs the rest.
They have top-notch hotels that don’t cost too much and gave me some of the best sleep of my life.
Strolling through the Thermal Valley was quite an experience.
The Beitou Hot Spring Museum shows you how Taiwan was during Japan’s occupation.
Beitou’s park and trails were relaxing, despite the sulfur aroma.
These hot springs won’t only do wonders for your skin, but they’re perfect for bathing in after a long day of walking. You can either visit a public unisex hot spring or rent a private room. I recommend the latter.
To reach Beitou Hot Springs Resort, take the Taipei MRT Red line and get off at Beitou station.
From there, you can walk to Beitou, or transfer to Xinbeitou, which will take you to the main hot spring area.
If you transfer to Xinbeitou, you’ll have to wait at least seven minutes for a cart to arrive.
Beitou Public Hotspring address: No. 6, Zhongshan Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, 112
Will You Get Bored in Taiwan?
I guarantee that you’ll never suffer from a dull moment in Taipei. Whether you’re facing culture shock or trying a new dish, you’ll always find fun things to do in Taiwan.
I’ve been here for several years now and I still manage to keep myself entertained.
I recommend planning your trip, though. Otherwise, you might overwhelm yourself with trying to figure out your itinerary. Then you may end up paralyzed from thinking while lying on your hotel bed.