Are you looking for a sense of adventure without wandering too far from the comforts of civilization? If so, Taiwan may be the place for you. This unique island nation has a truly unique culture and lifestyle unlike any other. Influences of its roots in China, it’s Japanese and Western occupations, and its indigenous tribes accumulate across the diverse landscape. With mountains comprising a majority of the interior geography, cities like Taipei back into the mountainside, allowing for easy access to outdoor adventures without having to venture too far from your hotel. But if hiking isn’t your thing, never fear! Food is a huge part of Taiwanese culture: It is everywhere and it is diverse. Not trip is complete without a visit to at least one night market for a sampling of tasty treats.
Taiwan offers Visa-Free entry to 65 countries including the United States, Canada, and The United Kingdom. please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs Website for a list of eligible countries.
All but 12 visa-free countries are eligible for up to 90 days without a visa. Additional restrictions may apply. Please see the Bureau of Consular Affairs Website for more information on restrictions and visa-free durations.
Visitors with birthplaces listed as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, the People’s Republic of China, Syria and Yemen who hold passports from Eswatini, Belize, Nauru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and Tuvalu are ineligible for visa-free entry.
U.S. and Japanese visitors must have a passport that is valid for the duration of their stay. All other visitors must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months at the date of entry.
As of July 31, 2022: Russia’s trial program has been suspended and is under review.
Things to Do
Here are a few recommended places to visit while travelling in Taiwan. Please note that this a very incomplete list, and there is plenty more that Taiwan has to offer than I could fit on here. for more complete lists, Check out the Lonely Planet Taiwan Guides: Lonely Planet Taiwan (11th Edition), Lonely Planet Taipei (2nd Edition)
Snow King (Ice Cream) - Zhongzheng, Taipei
Heritage Cafe and Bakery - Zhongzheng, Taipei
Fuhang Soy Milk (Breakfast) - Zhongzheng, Taipei
Lao Shandong Noodles - Wanhua, Taipei
Modern Toilet (International) - Shilin, Taipei
Din Tai Fung (Soup Dumplings) - Multiple Locations
Nomura (Sushi) - Da'an, Taipei
Maji Park (Food Court) - Zhongshan, Taipei
Lin Dong Fang (Beef Noodle Soup) - Zhongshan, Taipei
RAW (French) - Zhongshan, Taipei
Taiya Popo (Aboriginal) - Wulai, New Taipei City
Flower Space (Vegetarian) - Hualien
Mu-Ming (Indiginous) - Hualien
Shilin Night Market - Shilin, Taipei
Taipei 101 - Xinyi, Taipei
Tonghua Night Market - da'an, Taipei
Eslite Spectrum (Shopping Center) - Xinyi, Taipei
Breeze Nanshan (Shopping Center) - Xinyi
Yingge Old Street (Traditional Shopping area) - Yingge, New Taipei City
Jishan Street (Street Stalls, Souvenirs) - Jiufen, New Taipei City
Miniatures Museum of Taiwan - Zhongshan, Taipei
Taipei 101 Observation Deck - Xinyi, Taipei
Hidden Taipei (Tour) - Longshan Temple, Guangzhou, Taipei
Miramar Entertainment Park - Zhongshan, Taipei
Light Project Ximending (Massage Parlour) - Ximending, Taipei
i-Ride Taipei (5D Cinema) - Songshan, Taipei
Taipei Eye (Traditional Theatre) - Zhongshan, Taipei
Marshal Zen Garden (Restaurant and Hot Spring) - Beitou, Taipei
Villa 32 (Hot Spring) - Beitou, Taipei
Maokong Gondola - Maokong, Taipei
Taipei Zoo - Maokong, Taipei
Jia Jiu liao Stream (Water Activities and Hiking) - Wulai, New Taipei City
Jiufen Tea House - Jiufen, New Taipei City
Cat Village - Houtong
WaGaLiGong (Water Sports) - Dulan
Longshan Temple (Taoist Temple) - Guangzhou, Taipei
Bao'an Temple (Taoist Temple) - Datong, Taipei
Taipei Confucious Temple - Datong, Taipei
National Palace Museum - Shilin, Taipei
Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines - Shilin, Taipei
Ciyou Temple (Taoist Temple) - Raoher, Taipei
Tamsui Customs Wharf - Tamsui, New Taipei City
Guandu Temple - Beitou, Taipei
Ketagalan Culture Center (Aboriginal Culture Center) - Beitou, Taipei
Tea research and Promotion Center - Maokong, Taipei
18 Lords Temple - Ganhua, New Taipei City
Quanhua Temple - Shitoushan, Miaoli
Gandtiangong (Taoist Temple) - Hualien
2-28 Peace Memorial Park - Zhongzheng, Taipei
Shilin Official Residence (Historic site and Garden) - Shilin, Taipei
Elephant Mountain - Xinyi, Taipei
Thermal Valley (Natural Hot Spring) - Beitou, Taipei
Yangmingshan National Park - Taipei
Manyueyuan Forest Recreation Area - Near Yingge
Wulai Waterfall - Wulai, New Taipei City
Yehliu Geopark - Yeliou, New Taipei City
Golden Waterfall - Jiufen, New Taipei City
Pingxi Crags - Pingxi
Fulong Beach - Fulong
Turtle Island - Toucheng
Taroko Gorge - Taroko National Park
Sixty Stone Mountain - Hualien County
Fuyuan Forest Recreational Area - Ruisui
National 2-28 Memorial Museum - Zhongzheng, Taipei
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall - Zhongzheng, Taipei
Zhongshan Hall - Zhongzheng, Taipei
National Revolutionary Martyr's Shrine - Shilin, Taipei
Former Residence of Taka Eikichi - Tamsui, New Taipei City
Fort San Domingo - Tamsui, New Taipei City
Tamkang University Maritime Museum - Tamsui, New Taipei City
Beitou Hot Spring Meuseum - Beitou, Taipei
Grass Mountain Chateau - Beitou, Taipei
National Human Rights Museum - Xindian, New Taipei City
Cihu Memorial Sculpture Park - Cihu, Taoyuan
Benshan Fifth Tunnel - Jiufen, New Taipei City
Taiwan POW Memorial and Peace Park - Jiufen, New Taipei City
Things to consider
Taiwan is a subtropical island with a tropical climate at it’s southern tip. It has long summers with intense heat and humidity. Winter is short and mild, with snowfall in the mountains.
Taiwan is subject to natural such as Tsunamis, earthquakes, and typhoons.
Taiwan is comprised largely of mountains with several peaks over 3,500 ft (~10,600 m), making the the world’s 4th highest island. This is largely due to the massive fault block in Taiwan which remains active and tilts toward the left, resulting in many earthquakes on the western side of the island. Most of the mountains are on the Eastern side of the main island.
A majority of the population live on the west side of the island, where rolling plains and flat lands provide more level grounds for buildings and roads.
Taiwan has a large number of endemic (localized) species, especially in wild birds and fauna. In addition, several other unique animals can be found across the main island, including several endangered species such as the Formosan black bear, the Formosa sika deer, and the Formosan landlocked salmon.
Eating and drinking while moving is generally frowned upon in Taiwan. Similarly, if you are a smoker, it is proper etiquette to stop and take a break to smoke rather than walking while smoking. Eating on public transportation is also widely prohibited, with the exception of long-haul trips where boxed lunches (便當 Biàn dang) are commonly sold before trips.
Taiwan has very few public trash receptacles, especially in public walking areas that are managed by the city. It is expected that you will carry your trash with you until you are able to find a place to throw it away. Convenience Stores (便利店 biàn lì diàn), the Metro, and train stations are good places to throw away any waste collected. If you find public waste disposal, they are often broken down into various categories. These are to separate recycling, please make sure you are sorting your trash properly when throwing it away. Not all bathrooms will have bathroom tissue, so many carry a small pack with them in their pocket or handbag. You can find them in most convenience stores.
Squat toilets are still common in Taiwan, especially when venturing to older areas like Beitou or outside of major tourist areas.
Taiwan does not have a large tipping culture. In fact, if you try to tip in a restaurant, you will most likely be chased down by the service staff to let you know you left change. Not only does it lead to confusion, but some may find it insulting as it makes employers feel you think they are not being paid enough and makes employees feel like you think they need handouts. There are a few times when tipping is acceptable, but most of the time it’s better to not tip.
Taipei – The famous capital boasts more restaurants and eateries than you could eat through in a lifetime, a rich culture, and a ton of cultural landmarks. The night market scene in Taipei is huge – 30 night markets in the greater city region, many with their own specialty dishes and unique personalities.
New Taipei City – While Taipei proper makes up the inner circle of the greater Taipei region, New Taipei City is a series of neighborhoods with a similar city vibe. NTC is expansive and covers many areas that seem at first to be outside of the city limits. One such example is Jiufen, one of my persona favorite places. It was the inspiration for the Miyazi Film ‘Spirited Away’ and has a whimsical, fantasy-like aura. For a romantic getaway, take a trip to Tamsui and take a walk by the river or visit the fisherman’s wharf at sunset.
Kaosiung – Kaosiung is a major port city and Taiwan’s second largest city. They are best known for their modern atmosphere and attractions like Taroko Park, which offers shopping and adventure in one place. It is also close to Yushan national park and Shoushan, so if you are looking to get out of the city for a while nature is just around the corner.
Tainan – The former capitol is host to many historical sites and even more food.
Hualien – The highlight of this smaller city and its surroundings is Taroko Gorge, an incredible nature site that is a must-see on any trip to Taiwan. If it’s food you are after, the massive Dong Da Men night market has a huge selection, with many stalls offering Aboriginal-inspired dishes you won’t find anywhere else.