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. 

Cultural Differences

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.

Must-See Cities

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.   

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11 Day Back roads of Japan Tour with Project Expedition

***Note: meals are largely excluded on this tour and are the responsibility of tour members***

Days 1-2: Tokyo

There is no itinerary upon arrival until the welcome meeting which will take place in the evening. The first day will consist of learning more about your tour and meeting your guides. Day two is a walking tour of the fashion district of Harajuku. This eclectic district is popular for its eccentric fashion and youth culture. In the afternoon you will get a chance to visit Sensoji Temple, Meiji Shrine, and the surrounding attractions. 

Day 3: Nagano

You will take Japan’s famed bullet train to Nagano before checking into your accommodations. The highlight of this trip is the Jigokudani Monkey Park, where you will get to observe Japan’s bathing snow monkeys enjoying a bath in the natural hot springs.

Day 4: Matsumoto/Nagano

Enjoy a day trip to visit one of Japan’s most beloved castles: Matsumoto Castle. Afterwards, return to Nagano to venture off to Zenkoji Temple, one of Japan’s last standing pilgrimage sties. 

Day 5: Ōtsu 

Travel in the morning to Ōtsu for some stunning views of Japan’s largest lake: Lake Biwa. Top off the night with a delicious ramen dinner. 

Day 6-7: Hagi

Enjoy a quick breakfast before an extended drive to Hagi. You will then check into your local homestay. Pack for two nights as your remaining luggage will be sent to the next destination by your tour company. Make sure you pack comfortably for outdoor activities. This is a chance to experience life like a local as you meet your host family and take part in a welcome ceremony and dinner. 

Day two is an active day as you take a guided cycle tour around Hagi Castle. Afterward, you will have time to participate in seasonal activities with the locals. You will enjoy a homecooked dinner with your host family.

Day 8-9: Tottori

After breakfast with your host family, take a scenic trip by train on your way to Mihomisumi. There, enjoy learning the art of Washi paper making before hopping on another train to Tottori. 

In the morning, explore the unusual Tottori Sand Dunes along the Sea of Japan’s coastline. After that, make your way to the local fish market for some fantastic seafood lunch options. End the day with a trip to Kyoto to check in to your accommodations. 

Days 10-11: Kyoto

Take a morning trip to the well-known Fushimi Inari-Taisha, one of Kyoto’s many beautiful local shrines. This is where you will find the mystical  trail of torii gates along its trails. After this, you will have free time to explore what Kyoto has to offer. Recommended sites include a walk through the geisha district of Gion, exploration of Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion, and a visit to Kiyomizu Temple. 

The next day marks the end of the tour. Public transit is available to the airport, or you can speak to your guide to help find accommodations if you wish to extend your stay. 

Sample of an 11-Day Intrepid Tour

Days 1-2: Taipei City

Take the first day to relax and unwind after your travels before joining your group for dinner. After a good night’s sleep, enjoy learning about Taiwan’s love of sweet potatoes at Sweet Potato Mama for some spud-filled activities. Check out Shilin Night Market to enjoy Taipei’s variable food culture.

Days 2-3: Hualien

Enjoy nature at Danong Dafu Forest Park before spending the evening enjoying even more street food at the local night markets (you may have noticed a trend). Visit Qingshui cliff before venturing off to the famous Taroko Gorge.

Day 5: Yilan

Visit one of Yilan’s well-known onion farms to learn about the agriculture behind them before learning to make a Taiwanese favorite: scallion pancakes!

Day 6: Turtle Island and Jiufen

Set out on a 3-hour cruise around Turtle Island before travelling off to Jiufen, famed by Hayao Miyazaki as the inspiration for Spirited Away. You will be able to explore Old Street on your own. My suggestion: Eat everything ,try lots of samples, and make time for tea at the famous Teahouse.

Days 7-8: Sun Moon Lake

You’ll get to hike from the base of the mountainous area through the trails that snake up the mountain. You can then climb the Pagoda which marks the end of your trek for some incredible views. The next day you will get to explore the Chung Tai Chan Monastery for a unique, cross-cultural experience.

Day 9: Taichung

Visit Taiwan’s “Breadbasket”, where you can go oyster picking, bird watching, and exploring the water-life of the area. Try some incredible seafood and maybe even go out after returning to you accommodations near — Oh look, it’s near another night market!

Days 10-11: Taipei

Visit the Rainbow Village before heading back to the city you started in. You’ll get to see the massive collection of traditional art and artifacts contained within the National Palace Museum before taking the evening for yourself. After breakfast in the morning,  Your tour will end.