Taiwan, formerly known as Formosa, is a beautiful country, great for tourism and living. Besides its small size, it has an infinity of activities to do and places to visit.
With so many interesting places in Taiwan, we need to divide this post into two parts (part two here). For this part, we’ll list 15 places from the west side of the island, mostly. A tiny number of what Taiwan has to offer, though.
The video above is only 5 minutes long but is good enough to make you willing to plan your next trip to Taiwan.
1 – Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (Taipei)
The National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is a national monument, erected in memory of Chiang Kai-Shek.
Right of the entrance, you will notice how wide the place is, with the National Concert Hall on your left, the National Theater on your right, and the Memorial Hall in the middle, at the end of the square. The entrance to the square is something impressive too.
Tip: The change of the guards is a plus you don’t want to miss.
Hours of operation: 9 AM – 6 PM
Nearby hotels: Hotels in Taipei City
More information: http://www.cksmh.gov.tw/eng/index.php
2 – Elephant Mountain (Taipei)
People traveling to the island should see the Taipei 101, one of the tallest buildings in the world and a top place in Taiwan. It is beautiful indeed, and you may want to visit its interior, but don’t miss the view from outside. It can be even prettier. That’s why we recommend going to the Elephant Mountain. Not only an amazing place to visit, the top of the Elephant Mountain is also perfect to get one of the best views of the city and its tallest building.
The hike takes around 15-20 minutes from the bottom to the top and can be tough sometimes, but the trail and the sights you get from there worth the effort.
Tip: The best time to get to the top is during the late afternoon as you can catch the sunset reflecting on the Taipei 101.
Elephant Mountain Entrance Location
3 – National Palace Museum (Taipei)
With 700,000 pieces of artifacts and artworks, the National Palace Museum, in Taipei, is one of the largest of its type in the world. The collection holds over 10,000 years of Chinese history from the Neolithic age to the late Qing Dynasty.
Tip: It can be quite crowded sometimes, mostly because of the famous Jadeite Cabbage. There are waves of tourists who go in large groups to see this artifact. So the tip is to enjoy the other artifacts first (around 700,000 pieces, remember?) and try to visit the Cabbage between those waves.
Open daily from 08:30 to 18:30 all year round.
Admission: NTD $250
Nearby hotels: Hotels in Taipei City
More info: https://www.npm.gov.tw/en/
4 – Beitou Hot Springs (Taipei)
Beitou, with its wooden houses and old stone bridges, is a charming city. It is only 30 minutes from Taipei and is a top place in Taiwan to visit. It is famous for its spas and hot springs.
If you are looking for a place to stay in Beitou, click here: Places in Beitou
Tip: The city has an infinity of hot springs pools, ranging from cheap public hot springs to pricey exclusives. You should try the Millennium first, a well maintained public Hot Spring next to the Xinbeitou MRT Station.
5 – Sun Moon Lake (Nantou County)
You will find yourself in a pleasant city surrounding this beautiful lake. It’s almost mandatory you rent a good bike (and a good one, please!) and give a ride around this huge lake. Don’t worry. If your concern is where to find a place to rent your bike, the city has plenty of options. You have to check the conditions of the bike before you rent it, though. There are good prices everywhere, but sometimes the savings do not pay for your comfort and safety. The bike path is well maintained, with tons of places to eat, to take pictures, to relax, and to enjoy.
If you feel like walking instead of riding a bike, fear not, you will have even more paths and options to choose.
You can look for accommodations here: Hotels in Nantou County
Tip: Start early, have a nice breakfast, carry some snacks and water with you and you are good to go. Oh, and if you see places selling mushroom sandwiches with tofu, you definitely should try, they are delicious.
6 – Alishan Sunrise (Chiayi County)
The best way to see this amazing sunrise is to get the train to the top of the mountain, in the early morning. The train is usually crowded, but it is a short trail to the top.
Accommodations nearby: Hotels in Alishan National Scenic Area
Tip: When you go back, I recommend taking a walk down to the city instead of getting the train back. It is a comfortable walk and you don’t need to leave at the right time. People who visit there, just go to take pictures of the sunrise and forget the surroundings are beautiful too.
7 – Taijiang National Park (Tainan)
An ecological paradise in Taiwan, the Taijiang National Park is on the migration route for Asian birds. Every autumn and winter thousands of birds can be seen there.
Tip: When in there, try to visit the Sicao Green Tunnel. Do not forget to carry your earplugs to decrease the noise made by both the boat engine and the tourist guide.
8 – Chimei Museum (Tainan)
The Chimei Museum is a private property open to the public. Its art collection is divided into western art, musical instruments, natural history, military artifacts, and antiquities.
If you like musical instruments, don’t miss the Stradivarius violins collection. One of the largest collection in the world. More information here.
Tip: Try to get there in the early morning and go to the front fountain (the one with the horses) to see a special sunrise.
9 – Fo Guang Shan Temple – Kaohsiung Buddha Temple (Kaohsiung)
Among all the Buddhist temples in Taiwan, this one is the largest, and certainly one of the most impressive (if not the most). Located in Kaohsiung, this huge place is the HQ for the Fo Guang Shan, an order that calls itself as the International Buddhist Progress Society.
If a giant golden Buddha isn’t enough to make your mind, there are eight pagodas, pavilions, halls, gardens, museums and much more. Actually, I would need an entire post just to talk about this amazing place 🙂
Tip: There are two main entrances leading to different places of the complex. Save some time to visit the monastery, in special the museum. Don’t spend all your time at the giant Buddha side.
10 – Kaohsiung Lotus Pond
Also called Lotus Lake, it is a man-made pond and a popular destination in Kaohsiung. It is known for its lotus plants and also for the temples around the lake. Among those temples, we can highlight the Dragon and Tiger pagodas (you can enter inside them), and the Confucius Temple.
Tip: Look for the Taoist God statue, located on the southeast side of the lake.
11 – Love River (Kaohsiung)
You will find restaurants, a vibrant night market, places to rent a bike (even for free) and more alongside the river. The Love River is also a stage for the Kaohsiung Dragon Boat Festival and other sailboat competitions.
Tip: If you are traveling in June, don’t miss the Kaohsiung Dragon Boat Festival
12 – Sizihwan (Kaohsiung)
Sizihwan is a community surrounded by mountains and beaches. It has good places to eat and an especial sunset to see. There, another great place to visit is the NSYSU, a beautiful university with its campus facing the open waters of the Taiwan Strait.
Tip: When in the mountains beware of the monkeys which can be aggressive and steal your food.
13 – Penghu Islands (Penghu County)
Also known as “Ilha dos Pescadores”, Portuguese for Fishermen Island, Penghu is an archipelago of 64 islands and islets in the Taiwan Strait.
Penghu is one of the top places in Taiwan. It has a great structure for tourism, with plenty of places and activities to do. Even being an archipelago, it’s easy to find transportation from one island to another, though. The island is also famous for the basalt formations spread all over the National Scenic Area.
Places to stay: Hotels in Penghu National Scenic Area
Tip: Do not miss the Wang’an Island, to the south of Magong. It’s not overcrowded; it has great places to visit, good food, and a delicious cactus ice cream. When there, you can rent a scooter or a car to help you explore this beautiful place.
14 – Xiao Liu Qiu (Pingtung County)
It’s a small island of Pingtung County, in the south of Taiwan. Like many places in Taiwan, Xiao Liu Qiu is tourist friendly. There you will find hundreds of B&Bs, hotels, and activities, including bicycling and scuba diving, which are easy to find.
Xiao Liuqiu stands out not only because of its Flower Vase Rock but also for the ghost stories and its haunted caves.
Interested? Find a place to stay here: Hotels in Liuqiu Township
Tip: If you are not afraid of ghosts and don’t mind dark places, give the Black Dwarf Cave a try.
15 – Kenting National Park (Pingtung County)
Kenting is the oldest and southernmost national park of Taiwan. It offers beaches, scenic mountains, tropical climate, the sunshine, good nightlife and much more.
You may rent a car or a scooter to explore further, especially the Eluanbi Lighthouse area, located at the southernmost point of Taiwan.
Find accommodations in Kenting National Park
Tip: Don’t miss the National Museum of Biology and Aquarium, it’s cheap, good and easy to find.