Taiwan is a country that really has it all. I have put together 21 of the things that stand out to me.
What are the 21 essential things to do in Taiwan? In a nutshell, these things will take you all around the island and even off it! They are varied, and they are fun!
Hopefully, you are itching to get started, I am. Let’s get started!
1. Go Snorkelling or Diving
When asked about the best dive locations in Asia, most people would come up with places like Thailand, Indonesia, Maldives or the Philippines but snorkelling or diving is a great option when you are looking for things to do in Taiwan. If you have never tried it before, don’t worry, many reputable dive centres will take care of you. The recommended areas are Kenting, Orchid Island, Xiao Liuqiu, Green Island and Penghu. There are many beautiful spots where you can see coral, wrecks and sea turtles.
2. Do some Water-Sports
Taiwan has a lot of mountains and rivers that are perfect for water sports. If you like to get yourself wet, then you are in for a treat.
Surfers can be a found at many of the beaches in the South. Cijin beach, Kaohsiung, has an active surfing community and you can go there for lessons if the sport is something you would like to try.
Penghu is very popular with windsurfers as it’s geography makes it a very windy place. Top athletes from the sport go here in the winter to train due to the force of the winds. It’s not recommended for beginners during the winter season.
The options for water-sports are plentiful here are just a few:
- Kite surfing
3. Go Hiking
Taiwan has some stunning scenery, and this is thanks to its high mountain ranges. Some of the views remind me of time spent in the Swiss Alps. If you want to get outdoors, there is something for everyone in Taiwan. But as with any outdoor activity, caution should be taken if you’re going to venture up to the higher peaks. You should go with a guide or a group if you are not an experienced climber and always be prepared for changes in the weather. The climate is different in the mountains.
4. Go Sailing
The sea is never far away when you are in Taiwan, so it makes sense to take advantage of that by going sailing. There are lessons available for beginners and experts alike. You will find a sailing school in most large marinas.
Sailing here is not as popular as in many other countries, but it is a growing sport. There are many regattas held here, so if sailing floats your boat time your visit accordingly.
5. Cycle around the island
Many Taiwanese see the challenge of cycling around the island as something they must do before they die.
Route No1 is now famously known as the route that cyclists will follow for the 9–12 days that it will take them to complete the circuit. It is 939.5 kilometres in length. (584 miles).
If you are starting and finishing in Taipei, the recommended direction is counter-clockwise. This is because the west coast is generally much flatter and this will allow riders to build up some fitness for the rest of the route.
Cycling is a great way to explore a country, and it is my preferred way to travel anywhere.
[Here is a PDF that tells you what you need to know!](Around Cycling Taiwan – Taiwan Tourism Bureaueng.taiwan.net.tw/att/0024052/04_0024052.pdf)
6. Eat Stinky Tofu
I know, I know, everyone says it, “You have to try stinky tofu in Taiwan!” The thing is, they are right, and that is why it has made its way onto this list. You might love it, and you might hate it. Either way, don’t leave Taiwan without trying it.
7. Eat Beef Noodles
Beef noodles are synonymous with Taiwan. England has Fish & Chips, Taiwan has Beef Noodles! Just like any other dish, Beef Noodles can be very average if you eat it in the wrong place. I would use Google Maps to locate a great place near your location.
8. Launch a Lantern
Chinese lanterns have been banned in my home country of England. I remember an instance where one of them came down and set fire to a large factory not far from my house.
Well, thankfully, we are not in stuffy old England, we are in Taiwan! That means we can not only launch lanterns, but we can do it properly! These lanterns are not just itsy bitsy, tiny paper things, they are big and the real McCoy!
Come to Taiwan during the lantern festival and Chinese New Year and head out to Shifen Old Street. Expect there to be big crowds as this place gets seriously popular but for a reason. It’s marvellous!
9. Drink some Tea
There is a lot of tea in China, but there is also a lot of tea in Taiwan! Forget what you think you know about tea. (In my case it was PG Tips tea bags with sugar and milk). No, I’m not knocking tea bags before you Brits out there get angry, all I’m saying is tea culture here is big! Come here and immerse yourself in it. Even if you don’t usually drink tea, try it!
Take a tour up into the mountains to a plantation. See where it is grown, how it is processed and I’m sure you will be glad that you did!
10. Cycle around Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake is situated in Nantou County, central Taiwan. It’s stunningly beautiful and the cycle route around the lake rates very highly, some even say in the top ten in the world.
Go there, hire a bike, prepare to be amazed! That is all.
11. Go to a Hot Spring
There are over one hundred hot springs in Taiwan. There are said to provide many health benefits as well as being very relaxing. There is even a saltwater hot spring on Green Island which is very rare!
I wrote a post recently all about Taiwanese hot springs:
Should I visit a hot spring in Taiwan?
12. Go to an Anime Convention
Anime is a big business in Taiwan. They love to dress up in the style of their favourite characters. There are many events held up and down the country so don’t be surprised to see in costume at weekends.
13. Visit a Computer / Camera Street
If you are a lover of high tech gizmo’s, then I’m sure a visit to one of the many computer and camera streets will be right up your alley!
Taiwan has not yet been massacred by online giants (There is no Amazon in Taiwan. I know, shock, horror!), so you can still walk into a store and see what they have. Thankfully, the high tech stores seem to group themselves together so you can easily spend a few hours lost in a high tech wonderland!
Be sure to compare the prices with home before buying though, it is not always cheaper here!
14.Try Taiwanese Beauty Products
If the last section was aimed more toward us men, this one is for the ladies or guys that like to pamper themselves. Beauty is big business here, and you may be surprised at the selection and variety of products available.
Forgive me ladies, but I don’t profess to know too much about this sector. What I do know is that they have a wide variety of facial masks. You know the things, open the packet and stick it on your face!
Go to a Cosmed or a Watsons to look at the options.
Department stores are still big here so they will also have a big selection of beauty products!
15. Go Fishing
If you like to fish back home then why not try fishing here? Sea fishing is the obvious choice, and many people do it, but I know some people like to go coarse fishing too.
16.Pray at a Temple
The first temple I saw in Taiwan was through a taxi window on the freeway. It was so beautiful that I felt like asking the taxi driver to take me there. Had I done so, he would have thought of me as being crazy. There are around 15,000 temples in Taiwan so you will never be far from one. Temples here are only outnumbered by Hello Kitty.
Here are some tips for visiting a temple.
-Temples often have three doors. Enter through the door on the right and exit through the door on the left. The centre door is for the deities to use.
– Buy a package of incense and light them. Don’t blow to extinguish the flames, fan them with your other hand.
– Ask a monk for guidance. They will be happy to help you.
– You can also buy some money to burn. Gold for gods, Silver for ghosts.
– Most temples are free so a donation of 100NT$ will help them immensely.
17. Get your Eyebrows and Facial Hair Plucked
This is another one for the ladies, I believe the actual term for this is facial threading. This activity is often seen near markets. It involves using twisted cotton thread being rolled over your face to remove unwanted facial hair. My research indicates that most ladies find the procedure to be beneficial with the results lasting 4–6 weeks.
Maybe I should try it to discover what it feels like.
18. Have a Massage
There are many places to go for a massage in Taiwan. The service is cheap and professional. Maybe it’s just the ticket after a busy day exploring in the city. There are dedicated massage shops, or you could also try a spa where you can even get other beauty treatments.
19. Try Chinese herbal Medicine
Chinese medicine dates back thousands of years, and some of the locals swear by it. I have tried it on a handful of occasions, and it is a very different approach to western medicine. The consultation is quick and involves the doctor measuring your body by taking your pulse. Apparently, they can learn a lot from this seemingly simple measurement. Then you will be given a powdered concoction to take several times a day. Be careful if you are already taking prescription drugs. You must tell the doctor about any western medicine that you have been prescribed.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, and I merely suggest this as an alternative therapy. Always consult with your doctor before trying alternative medicine.
20. Try Taiwanese Coffee
In a country known for its tea, you might be surprised to learn that Taiwan also grows coffee. The first Starbucks opened in 1998 in Taipei, and now they are all across the country. All the convenience stores sell a pretty good selection of coffees too.
When you walk around any city in Taiwan, it’s not difficult to find the small, independent coffee shops. It is here that the coffee aficionados visit for their daily fix. Go on, try it, you know that you will love it!
21. Fly a Kite
The Taiwanese love to fly kites, here in Kaohsiung there are several places where you can buy a cheap kite and spend a few hours relaxing.
What is the best month to visit Taiwan? It is difficult to say precisely when I the best month to visit Taiwan as people come here for different reasons. I personally like the winter months, it’s not as hot, humid and it is outside the typhoon season. My answer would be that there is no bad month to visit, but my preference would be November to April.
Should I visit Taiwan during Chinese New Year? Chinese New Year is the big holiday period so it can be an excellent time to be in Taiwan. Remember however that during this period, public transport will be very busy and flights may be difficult to find and are more expensive.
How long should I stay in Taiwan? As long as possible. For most people, the cost of getting here will pretty high, therefore it makes sense to try to stay as long as you can. There is so much to see and do that just to visit for a week wouldn’t do Taiwan justice.