A Taiwan Itinerary for 1, 2, or 3 weeks (Slow & Fast Options!)

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One of the most common questions about Taiwan that I get from my readers is how to plan the perfect Taiwan travel itinerary.

It’s a common story: people look at the map of Taiwan and see that it’s a pretty small country. So they think 7 days in Taiwan will be enough. Once they start planning their trip, they realize one week is not enough because there are SO MANY things to do in Taiwan. So they book 2 weeks in Taiwan. Then, the more they plan the finer details of their Taiwan itinerary, the more they wish they had actually booked 3 weeks or even one month in Taiwan!

In this article, I’m going to exactly how to plan your Taiwan travel schedule, no matter how many day’s you’ve got. After checking hundreds of people’s itineraries in my Taiwan Travel Planning Group, I’ve come to realize that the way people plan their itinerary varies A LOT. So many visitors cram two weeks of activities into one week or less. So I’m going to give itineraries for both slower travelers and for fast ones. I’ll also give a nature-focused itinerary and a city/culture one.

I’ve been living in Taiwan for over 10 years. I’ve written a book about Taiwan and articles for CNN, National Geographic Traveller, and others. I’ve planned numerous trips around Taiwan so the recommendations in this article are based on multiple first-hand experiences.

Taiwan Itinerary Essentials

– Read my general Taiwan travel guide. Figure out the best time to visit Taiwan and its top festivals.

– Find all your day tours, drivers, discounted attraction tickets, and more on Klook! Use my referral link to get TWD 100 off your first booking.

– Buy your SIM card / eSIM / WiFi device, EasyCard, and HSR tickets online before you arrive. Also consider getting a Taipei Fun Pass (read my review of the pass here).

– If you are looking for a customized luxury tour of Taiwan, I recommend Life of Taiwan. Tell them Nick sent you over!

– If you’re visiting Taiwan as a family, I’ve written a similar Taiwan itinerary with kids.

– Learn all about about Taiwanese food and my recommended restaurants and night markets in Taipei.

– Find my recommended hotels in Taipei by area and budget.

Sample Taiwan Itineraries

Here’s a brief outline of the itineraries I’ll be covering in this article. Since so many visitors only visit Taiwan for one week (I know because I’ve checked so many of your itineraries!), and because I know you try to squeeze in as much as you can, I’m provided both a slower (recommended!) and more rushed itinerary.

Typically, visitors want to squeeze in Taipei, Hualien/Taroko Gorge on the east coast, plus Sun Moon Lake and/or Alishan (on the west coast) in a short period of time. It might look like a quick drive across the island from Taroko Gorge to Sun Moon lake, but it is NOT!

There is a chain of high mountains in the center of Taiwan, with no public transportation. Even if you drive, the cross-island highway is often destroyed by landslides and impossible to cross. This means you’ll need to go from east coast to west coast via Taipei, so keep that in mind!

For the two-week itinerary, I’ve provided a nature-focused one and a city/culture-focused one, with some overlap. The three-week itinerary basically just covers all the stops of these two itineraries.

For each of the below outlines, I’ll explain how to do them in great detail below.

Taiwan in 1 Week: Slow

  • Days 1-3: Taipei
  • Days 4-5: Day trips from Taipei
  • Days 6-7: Short trip outside the city, choose ONE of these: Hualien/Taroko Gorge, Taichung/Sun Moon Lake/Cingjing Farm, Alishan, Tainan, or Kaohsiung

Taiwan in 1 Week: Fast

  • Days 1-2: Taipei
  • Day 3: Day trip from Taipei (this one covers the top spots in one day!)
  • Day 4: Long day trip to Taroko Gorge (details below)
  • Day 5: Sun Moon Lake and/or Cingjing Farm
  • Day 6: Alishan
  • Day 7 Back to Taipei or directly to Taoyuan International Airport

Taiwan in 2 Weeks: Nature-Focused

If you want to do a full circle around Taiwan, two weeks is a reasonable amount of time. You can’t easily hit every stop without rushing, though. This itinerary focused on natural places and skips some of the big cities.

  • Days 1-3 :Taipei (including day trip)
  • Days 4-5: Hualien and Taroko Gorge
  • Day 6-7: Taitung (Chishang)
  • Days 8-9: Xiaoliuqiu or Kenting National Park
  • Days 10-11: Alishan
  • Days 12-13: Sun Moon Lake and/or Cingjing Farm
  • Days 14: To Taipei or Taoyuan International Airport

Two Weeks in Taiwan: City/Culture-Focused

  • Days 1-3 :Taipei (including day trip)
  • Days 4-5: Hualien and Taroko Gorge
  • Day 6-7: Taitung city
  • Days 8-9: Kaohsiung
  • Days 10-11: Tainan
  • Days 12-13: Taichung
  • Days 14: To Taipei or Taoyuan International Airport

Taiwan in 3 weeks

If you are able to spend more than two weeks in Taiwan, you can visit all the main stops I mentioned above, but add an extra night at each for a more relaxed pace.

Or, you can add more smaller stops and side trips to your schedule. Here’ just one example of what that could look like:

  • Days 1-4: Taipei
  • Days 5-6: Hualien / Taroko Gorge
  • Days 6-7: Taitung
  • Days 8-9: Kenting National Park or Xiaoliuqiu Island
  • Days 10-11: Kaohsiung
  • Days 12-13: Tainan
  • Day 14: Fenqihu or Shizhuo
  • Day 15: Alishan
  • Days 16-17: Sun Moon Lake
  • Day 18: Cingjing Farm
  • Day 19: Lukang
  • Day 20: Taichung
  • Day 21: Back to Taipei or directly to Taoyuan Airport

Transportation Info

In this section, I’ll cover everything you need to know about transportation for completing these itineraries in Taiwan.

Airport to Taipei

My itineraries assume you’ll be arriving at Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei’s main airport. There’s also a smaller city center airport called Songshan Airport, as well as international airports in Taichung and Kaohsiung.

On Day 1, to get from the airport to Taipei city center, hop in the Airport MRT. It runs frequently from around 6 AM to midnight, taking 35 or 50 minutes (every second one is express) and costing only TWD 160 one-way (or cheaper if you buy it here).

You can pay in cash at the machine or ticket window, or swipe an EasyCard, the transportation card which almost all locals use in Taiwan. You can buy your EasyCard (TWD 100 non-refundable deposit + however much money you want to load onto it) from the ticket window, but the window isn’t always open. Or you can pre-order and pre-load your EasyCard for pickup when you arriver at the airport. Kids under 6 are free, while kids 6-12 and seniors can ask for a Concessionaire card (at the station only).

There are also regular buses to the city (one hour). If you arrive between midnight at 6 AM, you’ll need to take a taxi (45 min, TWD 1000 to 1200), or arrange a private transfer (usually a little cheaper than taxi).

How to Rent a Car in Taiwan

If you do decide to rent a car in Taiwan, you can pick it up from the various locations, including the Taoyuan Airport or in the city center. However, a lot of people find it easier to explore Taipei by MRT, ride the express train to Hualien (which is faster and easier than driving), then start their car rental in Hualien.

Getting around Taipei

Inside a Taipei MRT, the best way to get around on your Taipei trip
The Taipei MRT, one of the best metro systems in the world.

Getting around Taipei is a breeze thanks to the amazing Taipei MRT system. Simply buy and load an EasyCard online, from any station, or from any convenience store, and use it swipe in and out of stations. You can also use it to pay at convenience stores, some taxis, other city buses and MRTs across Taiwan, some ferries, and even some food stalls. When in Taiwan, you can only use cash to load your EasyCard.

Also consider getting an Unlimited Fun Pass, which is a 1-3 day pass for tourists only. It includes unlimited MRT and bus rides in Taipei and New Taipei City, five tourist shuttle buses to attractions all over Northern Taiwan, and entrance fees to 16 major Taipei attractions. It is can save you a lot of time and trouble! There’s also a cheaper transport-only pass that doesn’t included the attractions. Read my guide to using Taipei Fun Passes to decide whether they are worth the money, and whether you need to get one for your kids.

TRA Trains Around Taiwan

Want to know how to get around Taiwan? Take the TRA trains!
Riding the regular (TRA) train with my kids

Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) runs trains in a full circle around Taiwan. There are a variety of train types/speeds, and all of their schedules can be searched and booked (from 28 days in advance) on the official TRA website.

Train types include LOCAL (no seat booking possible, just swipe your EasyCard), Tze-Chiang and Chu-Kuang (seat reservations recommended but you can always swipe EasyCard for standing ticket), and EXPRESS (seat reservation essential, as these trains often sell out). If you’re traveling during a long weekend or national holiday, booking train seats is essential.

In all my recommended Taiwan itineraries, you’ll be riding TRA trains from Taipei to Hualien (the express one here is especially popular and likely to sell out). It is also your only option from Hualien to Taitung and from Taitung to Kaohsiung.

From Kaohsiung to Taipei, and all the big cities between, you’ll have the choice of TRA trains or the High Speed Rail. TRA stations are usually more convenient because all of them are in the city center.

For Alishan and Sun Moon Lake, you’ll need to take some buses to reach them.

High Speed Rail (HSR)

How to get around Taiwan the fastest: by HSR
We ride the HSR with style

Taiwan’s High Speed Rail (HSR) runs from Taipei City down the west coast to Kaohsiung (Zuoying Station). It has some very clear advantages and disadvantages.

On the plus side, the HSR is twice as fast (but also twice as expensive). However, besides Taipei, every HSR station is inconveniently located outside of the city center. It means once you reach Taichung, Tainan, or Kaohsiung, you have to take local transport to reach the city center. Two cases where this isn’t a problem are Chiayi HSR station (where you can catch a direct bus to Alishan) or Taichung HSR station (where you can catch a direct bus to Sun Moon Lake).

If you book your tickets in advance (on the official site) or here on Klook, you can get a discount. However, you can also just show up at the station and buy a non-reserved ticket, even last minute, even on sold out trains, and sit in the non-reserved section (cars 10-12).

You don’t actually need to use the HSR on my recommended Taiwan itineraries. In most cases, the TRA will suffice and will be more convenient. I would only recommend it if (for example), you want to quickly travel one of the big cities (Kaohsiung, Tainan, Chiayi, Taichung) to Taoyuan (where you can catch the Airport MRT to Taoyuan International Airport) or to Taipei.

Insider’s Tips: HSR tickets

Book your HSR tickets in advance online to save money. But if you prefer flexibility, you can always buy a full-price HSR ticket at the last minute and sit in cars 10-12 (non-reserved section). We’ve even done this at the busiest time of the year (Lunar New Year, when all HSR tickets sell out instantly) and only had to wait under an hour to get on a train and even get a seat. The same is true for any long weekends in Taiwan.

If you order your HSR tickets online, you’ll still need to pick up physical copies in Taiwan from a convenience store or HSR station window. If you want to get digital tickets, use the T Express app.

1 Week Itinerary Details

If you’ve only got 7 days in Taiwan, obviously you aren’t going to tour the whole country, but it’s still enough time to get a very good taste of it. What most likely will happen is that you’ll finish your trip and start thinking about when you can come back again to see more of the country. I’m only repeating what many, many travelers say!

Here are my detailed itineraries for slow or fast travelers!

Slow Itinerary

For my slow one week itinerary, I recommend spending most of your time in Taipei, including some day trips from the city (keep in mind that you can see many parts of Taiwan as a day trip from Taipei!) There’s just so much to see in and around Taipei that it’s not really necessary to do a lot of traveling and changing hotels when you’ve only got a week.

Then I recommend one trip out of the city, perhaps for 2-3 nights. I’ll give several options!

Days 1-3 in Taipei

Three cute statues of cartoon characters standing among trees in Yongkang Park
Yong Kang Park in Taipei

You need at least two fulls days just to cover the main sights on Taipei. Trust me, you won’t run out of things to do in Taipei!

I’ve suggested three days here assuming you won’t see and do much on Day 1. The exact number of numbers you stay in Taipei might depend on what time you arrive on Day 1. Will you have much time to explore the city on Day 1 or not? Will you be super tired after your long flight? Just a few things to consider.

I’ve got several separate articles to help you plan your time in Taipei. Start with my two day, three day, four day or five day itineraries for Taipei, which cover the main sights and how to see them most efficiently.

Also have a look at my guide to where to stay in Taipei, Taipei’s night markets, the best restaurants, and the best temples in Taipei. For Taipei-specific weather advice, see the best time to visit Taipei.

Also read about Taipei’s famous food streets and markets, like Yongkang Street, Shenkeng Old Street, Danshui Old Street, and Addiction Aquatic Development seafood supermarket.

Days 4-5: Day Trips from Taipei

A lane with some of the best places to stay in Jiufen
Jiufen, the most popular day trip from Taipei (See what camera I always use for traveling and the best lenses for it)

There are so many incredible day trips from Taipei that I suggest reserving 1-2 days in your itinerary for it. Here are my 40 recommended day trips from Taipei.

Several of the most popular places to visit around Taipei can be combined into one epic day trip. Many people include several (but not all!) of the following into one day: Shifen Waterfall, Jiufen Old Street, Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park, Golden Waterfall, Houtong Cat Village, Keelung Night Market, and Yehliu Geopark. This guided day tour visits several of them in one day, of you can follow my guides for doing it all on your own (see my day trips article linked above).

I’ve also got dedicated articles to the most famous day trips from Taipei: Jiufen Old Street, how to get to Jiufen, Wulai aboriginal village, and Jiaoxi Hot Spring. You may also want to visit some of Taipei’s best beaches or one of these fun amusement parks.

For families, consider visiting Yilan, which is loaded with kid-friendly museum, leisure farms, and other activities.

Days 6-7: Somewhere Outside Taipei

View of Taroko Gorge
Magnificent Taroko Gorge

Depending on how many nights you decide to spend in Taipei, you can schedule 2-3 nights for staying somewhere outside Taipei.

Taroko Gorge in Hualien is a popular option. Here’s my Taroko Gorge guide. You can get there in only two hours on the fastest train (booking essential), or 3-4 hours on slower ones. It is possible to do Taroko Gorge as a rushed day trip from Taipei, but for our slower itinerary, I recommend spending a minimum of one night there, and two is better. Most people visit the gorge as a full-day tour such as this one, or with a private driver such as this one.

Another popular option is Sun Moon Lake or Cingjing Farm. Sun Moon Lake is a beautiful lake with temples, gondola, night markets, and other things to do. Cingjing Farm is a high mountain farm with beautiful mountain views, European-style buildings, and farm animals.

Both places can be reached via Taichung city. The regular train or bus to Taichung takes 2 hours, or the High Speed Rail takes one hour. From either station, it’s 1.5 hour bus ride to Sun Moon Lake or 2.5 hours to Cingjing Farm.

There are several options here. You might choose to spend 1 night in Taichung (see the main things to do in Taichung), one night in Sun Moon Lake (see my Sun Moon Lake guide), and one night in Cingjing Farm. Or you might skip Taichung and choose only SML or Cingjing. It’s up to you!

There are various transportation options and tours available on Klook for these visiting these places efficiently. Here’s a Taichung tour, Sun Moon Lake tour, shared transfer, private transfer, Cingjing and Hehuan Mountain tour, and SML and Cinjing combined tour.

Sun Moon Lake Taiwan
Pretty Sun Moon Lake

Yet another option for you trip outside Taipei would be Alishan. This is Taiwan’s most popular mountain resort. It is famous for its beautiful sunrises, small gauge forest railway line, huge ancient trees, and high mountain tea. Here’s my guide to Alishan and how to get there. For this relaxed itinerary, I recommend riding the High Speed Rail to Chiayi station (1.5 hrs) then taking the bus (2 hrs) to get there.

One night is the bare minimum at Alishan, but two nights is more relaxed. You can consider one night in Fenqihu or Shizhuo villages on the way there, and one night in Alishan National Forest Recreation area. All the details are in my Alishan guide. Book your Alishan hotel early as they often sell out.

Other options for your stay outside of Taipei would be the cities of Tainan (the country’s ancient capital) or Kaohsiung (the country’s largest port city).

On your final day, you can ride the HSR from Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan or Kaohsiung to Taoyuan HSR station, then connect to the Airport MRT for getting to the Taoyuan International Airport. If coming from Hualien, you’ll need to ride the TRA train to Taipei Main Station then connect to the Airport MRT from there.

Seeing cherry blossoms at Alishan, with the Alishan Railway going by
The Alishan Forest Railway

1 Week Fast Itinerary Details

So many visitors to Taiwan want to see Taipei + the Big Three Sights (Taroko, Sun Moon Lake, Alishan), but they only book one week or less to do it. This is too rushed, in my opinion, but it can be done. Here’s how:

Days 1-2: Taipei

Of course you can’t miss Taipei. Two full days here is enough to see the main sights.

Day 3: Day trip from Taipei

You can ‘t miss this either! I recommend this tour for visiting some of the best sights in one day.

Day 4: Day trip to Taroko Gorge

Since your schedule is very tight, I recommend visiting Taroko Gorge as a day trip from Taipei. If you take the earliest train of the day, you can make it just in time for this Taroko Gorge day tour. Or, come at a later time, and just hire a driver to take you around. There’s also this Taroko Gorge tour from Taipei, but I don’t recommend it because it involves too much driving time in one day.

If you prefer to spend a night in Hualien when you visit the gorge, it’s also possible in this itinerary. Follow the above instructions for getting to Taroko Gorge, then spend a night in one of the hotels in the gorge, in Xincheng village nearby, or in Hualien city (see my Taroko guide for my hotel recommendations). Then, the next morning, ride an early train back to Taipei, and onward to Taichung for getting to Sun Moon Lake. It means your time at Sun Moon Lake will be shorter, though, so go as early as possible.

Day 5: Sun Moon Lake and/or Cingjing Farm

From Taipei, ride the High Speed Rail to Tauchung station (1 hr). If you spend a night in Hualien, ride the regular train all the way to Taichung (slowest), or regular train to Taipei Main then transfer to the High Speed Rail.

If you choose Sun Moon Lake, there’s a direct bus from the HSR station (90 min). Try to go as early as possible so you can have a full day for exploring Sun Moon Lake. Spend the night in Shuishe village at Sun Moon Lake, which is where you’ll need to catch the bus to Alishan the next morning.

If you choose Cingjing Farm, you probably shouldn’t spend the night there, because it will take a long time to get to Alishan the next day. You can visit Cingjing and Hehuanshan as a day tour from Taichung, or choose this Cinging and Sun Moon Lake day tour to visit both places in one day.

Day 6: Alishan

If you spend the night at Sun Moon Lake, there’s only one bus per day to Alishan, departing Shuishe village at 8 AM and arriving at Alishan around 11 AM. This will give you all afternoon for hiking and exploring Alishan, which is lots of time.

If you chose to spend the night at Cingjing, you can wake up early for sunrise, then go back to Taichung as early as possible for getting to Alishan.

If you did one of the SML or Cingjing tours, you probably finished in Taichung and spent the night there. To get from Taichung to Alishan, ride the regular train or High Speed Rail to Chiayi, then take the direct bus from Chiayi HSR station or Chiayi TRA station to Alishan (2 hrs). You can see all the bus times here. Try to reach Alishan by the early afternoon so you have some time for exploring there.

Day 7: Alishan Sunrise and Back to Taipei/Airport

On your last day, wake up super early to see the famous Alishan sunrise. Then, if you aren’t too rushed to get back to Taipei or to the airport for your flight, you can spend a few more hours hiking around Alishan.

Ride the bus from Alishan to the Chiayi HSR station for the fastest way back to Taoyuan (for the airport) or Taipei Main Station. For the airport, ride it to Taoyuan HSR station then take the Airport MRT to the airport.

Or take the bus to the Chiayi TRA station for the slower but cheaper way to go back. If you want to go directly to the airport, ride the TRA train to Taoyuan station, then take a taxi from there.

Taiwan 2 Week Itinerary

Two weeks is a good amount of time if you want to do a full circle around Taiwan. You won’t be able to hit every stop along the way (unless you are willing to rush and change hotels/locations almost every night). But you can at least cover most of the main ones.

If you plan to travel around Taiwan in two weeks, I’m going to give you two diffrent itinerary options. One is more focused on nature and the other on history and culture. You maybe want to modify or combine the two itineraries as you see fit.

Nature-Focused Itinerary

Two kids sitting on a scooter parked on the coast of Xiaoliuqiu
Riding a scooter on Xiaoliuqiu

For my nature-focused itinerary, traveling clockwise around Taiwan, you will stop at Taroko Gorge, rural Taitung County, Alishan National Scenic Area, and Sun Moon Lake. Why clockwise? Well, that way just feels natural to me, plus I being able to ride the High Speed Rail directly to Taoyuan for getting to the airport on the final day, avoiding the need to go to

To avoid repeating a lot in this article, I’m going to describe each of these stops in detail (including hotel recommendations) below in my recommended 3-week itinerary. The route is the same, but you’ll just have to skip over a few stops. Essentially, my 3-week itinerary hits every one of the stops on these two 2-week itineraries.

  • Days 1-3 :Taipei (including day trip)
  • Days 4-5: Hualien and Taroko Gorge
  • Day 6-7: Taitung (Chishang)
  • Days 8-9: Xiaoliuqiu or Kenting National Park
  • Days 10-11: Alishan
  • Days 12-13: Sun Moon Lake and/or Cingjing Farm
  • Days 14: To Taipei or Taoyuan International Airport

Just a few things to mention about this specific itinerary. For Hualien, make sure to book your train early. Choose to stay at one of the hotels in the gorge or in Xinsheng village nearby for a quieter and more natural experience. If you do so, the next day, you might have to catch a local train from Xinsheng to Hualien first. From there, there are more trains onward to Chishang.

I recommend staying in one of the villages in Taitung for experiencing this beautiful, this rural part of Taiwan. Chishang is my top choice and is famous for cycling in the rice paddies. But other choices are Yuli, Guanshuan, and Luye. Read about them all in my guide to the East Coast of Taiwan.

For the next stop, Xiaoliuqiu is a small island where you can snorkel with sea turtles. To get there, ride the train from Chishang to Taitung city first. Then ride a train from Taitung city to Fangliao and take a taxi to the ferry port in Donggang for riding the ferry to Xiaoliuqiu.

Alternatively, follow the same steps to Fangliao then catch a bus to Kenting National Park, which has the best beaches on the mainland of Taiwan and many resorts or B&Bs to choose from.

From either one, return to Fangliao, then take the train to Chiayi. If you ride Fangliao to Kaohsiung, and then Kaohsiung to Chiayi, there will be more trains to choose from. Try to get to Chiayi before the last bus to Alishan. If you can’t, spend the night in Chiayi and go to Alishan then next day. Here’s my guide to getting to Alishan and visiting Alishan.

From Alishan, there’s one minibus per day to Sun Moon Lake, departing at 1 PM and arriving at SML at 4 PM. Spend the next day at Sun Moon Lake plus another night. Catch the shuttle bus from Sun Moon Lake to Taichung High Speed Rail station for connecting to the airport or Taipei.

Alternatively, after one night and one day visiting Sun Moon Lake, move to Cingjing Farm for your last night. You can get there by bus via Puli (budget about 2 hours) or take a shared transfer. On the final day, bus from Cinging to Taichung via Puli (2.5 hrs), or take a shared another shared transfer (1.5 hrs).

City & Culture-Focused Itinerary

A person dressed in ceremonial attire conducting a ritual inside Tainan's Dongyue Temple
A temple ceremony in Tainan

If you’re more into the arts, culture, and urban explorations, then this itinerary is for you. You’ll still visit Taroko Gorge in Hualien, because I can’t justify skipping that. You can also experience Taiwanese aboriginal culture in Hualien, for example by taking this aboriginal cooking course.

Then you’ll do a circle around Taiwan via its main cities, stopping in each one to experience local attractions and culture. This won’t be all urban-sprawl – there are plenty of chances within the cities to get outside in nature.

  • Days 1-3 :Taipei (including day trip)
  • Days 4-5: Hualien and Taroko Gorge
  • Day 6-7: Taitung city
  • Days 8-9: Kaohsiung
  • Days 10-11: Tainan
  • Days 12-13: Taichung
  • Days 14: To Taipei or Taoyuan International Airport

There are a few more things to be said here that I haven’t already mentioned above. First, Taitung city is not the most exciting city. It’s hardly a city. It feels more like a small country town. But it has a few interesting cultural attractions (read these things to do in Taitung), and you can use it as a home base for doing this tea culture day tour.

The Kaohsiung and Tainan portions are self explanatory. Just ride the regular (TRA) train to those cities and enjoy! Don’t bother with the HSR, because the stations for Kaohsiung, Tainan, and Taichung are all outside of the city centers.

Read my guides to Kaohsiung, Tainan, and Taichung for all the juicy details. I’ll also cover them in more detail below.

Taiwan 3 week itinerary

OK, now I’m going to get down to some serious day-by-day details. The following is precisely how I would plan a 3 week itinerary for Taiwan. If you want to see all the places that I’ve mentioned in both 2-week itineraries without rushing, then you’ll need 2 to 3 weeks in Taiwan.

I’ll also sprinkle the itinerary with ideas for additional stops or side trips along way, including some more off-the-beaten-track attractions.how you what is possible, and how to cover all the main stops in Taiwan in three weeks, for those who want to. This is exactly how I travel, but I know others are different!

  • Days 1-4: Taipei
  • Days 5-6: Hualien / Taroko Gorge
  • Days 6-7: Taitung
  • Days 8-9: Kenting National Park or Xiaoliuqiu Island
  • Days 10-11: Kaohsiung
  • Days 12-13: Tainan
  • Day 14: Fenqihu or Shizhuo
  • Day 15: Alishan
  • Days 16-17: Sun Moon Lake
  • Day 18: Cingjing Farm
  • Day 19: Lukang
  • Day 20: Taichung
  • Day 21: Back to Taipei or directly to Taoyuan Airport

Days 1-4: Taipei

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei
CKS Memorial Hall: One of the top attractions in Taipei

Spend your first 3-4 day in Taipei, including one or two days for a day trip out of the city. They exact number of nights you spend in Taipei might depend on what time you arrive on Day 1. Will you have much time (or energy?) to do much on Day 1? Generally, I recommend at least two full days for exploring Taipei, plus 1-2 days for day trips.

Consult my itineraries for 2 days or 3 days in Taipei, my top things to do in Taipei, guide to the best temples, restaurants, night markets, and amusement parks in Taipei.

Also see my neighborhood guides to funky Ximending, historic Dihua Street, food-focused Yongkang Street, Shenkeng stinky tofu street, and the hot springs of Beitou.

See my Taipei accommodation guide for the best hotels in Taipei covering all budgets and types of travelers. Last but not least, check out my recommended day trips from Taipei, best beaches, and guides to Jiaoxi, Yilan, Wulai, Jiufen, Shifen, Keelung, and Tamsui (all possible day trips).

Miaokou Night Market in Keelung (aka Keelung night market)
Keelung Night Market, my favorite one in Taiwan and an easy trip from Taipei

Days 4-5: Hualien and Taroko Gorge

Qingshui Cliffs, Hualian, Taiwan
Dramatic Qingshui Cliffs near Taroko Gorge

On day 4, catch a morning TRA train to Hualien (make sure to book in advance, up to 28 days, especially for the express train). Check in to your hotel and begin exploring some of the things to do in Hualien. See my recommended Hualien itinerary for planning your schedule.

If you’ve got time, consider taking this highly recommended aboriginal cooking course.

Where to Stay in Hualien

There are three main places you can stay in Hualien County for visiting Taroko Gorge, and they are all quite different.

1. Hualien City: This offers the best choice of restaurants, accommodations of all price ranges, and other things to do, but it is the furthest from Taroko Gorge (30-40 minutes by car). Most Taroko tours start from here. Just Walk (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) is an excellent hostel choice. Happiness is my Home (see on Booking) is an excellent mid-range B&B. Farglory Resort (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) is the best luxury seaside resort and has a sea-themed park attached (you can even sleep in it!)

2. Xincheng: This is a very small town closest to the entrance to Taroko Gorge. There isn’t much there, but it’s quiet and there are some great hotels. It’s only a 10-minute drive to Taroko Gorge. You can also have the Taroko tours pick you up here. You can get off the train at Xincheng (Taroko Gorge station), one stop before Hualien on the express train from Taipei. When traveling on from here, you might have to train to Hualien city first, then catch your next train south. Liwu Hotel (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) is the closest to Taroko Gorge. Liiko Hotel (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) is the best hotel in town.

3. In Taroko Gorge: There are only a few hotels right inside Taroko Gorge. Aboriginal-themed Taroko Village Hotel (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) is halfway up the gorge on a beautiful terrace with suspension bridge nearby and an aboriginal buffet restaurant. Ultra-luxurious Silks Place Taroko (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) at the top of the gorge is the best hotel in all of Hualien county. Both should offer pick-up and tour services.

See my Taroko Gorge article for everything you need to know for planning a trip to Taroko Gorge on the 5th day. If you’re looking for a tour, I recommend this one. Even better, hire a driver for a day to take you to the best spots.

You can also rent a scooter in Hualien City or in Xincheng (IDP or Taiwanese license needed) and visit the gorge yourself, but beware of the narrow road and possible landslides. Do not visit the gorge during or right after heavy rain, especially by scooter or bicycle.

You will want to wake up early for this one, and you’ll probably spend a long, full day visiting the various attractions, views, shrines, and hikes in the gorge, not to mention beautiful Qixingtan Beach and the dramatic Qingshui Cliffs nearby, which can also be included in your Taroko Gorge tour if you plan it right.

Other things to do in Hualien

– If visiting Taiwan in winter, check out Wenshan Hot Spring, a natural hot spring in Taroko Gorge that was damaged by a typhoon, and is now semi-open (you might have to climb around a fence or two).

– Other amazing experiences in Hualien include whale watching, paragliding, river tracing, rafting, seeing cute animals, sleeping inside an aquarium, and ATVing on a beach.

Day 6-7: Taitung

Your next stop is one of the most remote and beautiful corners of Taiwan, Taitung County. Also called the “rice basket of Taiwan”, Taitung is known for its clean air, fresh water, quaint rural scenery, and the stunning East Rift Valley.

For more details, learn how to plan your full Taitung itinerary here.

The East Rift Valley, Taiwan
Typical rural scenery in the East Rift Valley

For Taitung county, you’ll have to decide which town to stay in. Some great choices are Yuli (actually in southern Hualien county, but near Taitung), Chishang, Guanshang, Luye, and Taitung city. I desribe each town in more detail in my East Coast guide.

It only takes 1-3 hours to get there on the train from Hualien, depending on which town you decide to stay in, and what speed of train you catch.

Yuli is very rural and you can cycle or ride a scooter to a waterfall, amazing hike, or hot springs. Chishang is the most popular town for its famous cycling paths among rice paddies. Guanshan is also known for cycling but less popular than Chishang. Luye is super rural and famous for the International Balloon Festival in summer and for its tea farms.

Taitung city is my least favorite option, but it does have some things to see and do, too. In all of these places, riding a bicycle or scooter to explore is best, but there are also tours like this one and this one.

There are direct flights from Taipei’s Songshan airport to Taitung City if you want to access the region faster.

How to Rent a Bike or Scooter in Taitung

Exploring rural Taitung is best by bicycle or scooter. You can order your bicycle for Chishang here, or just get one from the many shops when you get there. Other towns in Taitung also have bicycle rental shops, usually around the train station, or you can inquire if your hotel has them. Guanshan definitely has lots, while Luye may not.

It’s also possible to rent a scooter from a small shop outside each train station (Taiwanese license or IDP needed). You can reserve one in advance here for Yuli, Chishang, Guanshan, or Taitung station (electric scooter also available). I recommend doing this to avoid not finding one upon arrival.

Where to stay in Taitung County

In Yuli, I highly recommend Wisdom Garden (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor).

In Chishang: we liked Good Harvest B&B (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor), which is just out of town (ride a bike there!) but very close to the famous cycling paths. A fancier option is Papago International (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor).

In Guanshan, Remindful Homestay (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) is a nice B&B in with free bikes available.

In Luye, Jamie’s Guesthouse (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) is a popular choice in town, while Luminous Hot Spring Resort (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) is a larger (but older) hotel with indoor hot spring, outdoor pool, and balconies facing nature.

In Taitung city, Begonia B&B (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) is an excellent B&B, while The Gaya (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) has a great location by the Railway Village and a rooftop pool.

Taiwan hot air balloon festival
My kids at the annual Taitung Hot Air Balloon Festival in Luye

Green Island and Orchid Island

If you’ve got more time or want to focus your trip mainly on this part of Taiwan, hop on a ferry and spend a few days at Green Island (Lu Dao). This small island has more of a tropical feel, with great snorkeling/scuba diving, and has one of only three salt water hot springs in the world. Book your Green Island ferry tickets here.

Orchid Island (Lanyu)is home to Taiwan’s most remote aboriginal tribe. A trip there involves more planning, so you’ll definitely want to consult my detailed guide to Orchid Island.

Days 8-9: Kenting National Park or Xiaoliuqiu

A beach and palm trees in Kenting national park taiwan
Beautiful beaches in Kenting

Kenting National Park occupies the southern tip of Taiwan and is home to Mainland Taiwan’s best beaches (the real best ones are on the offshore islands, like Penghu).

Still, the park offers gorgeous scenery and many activities, so if you’re looking for a beach vacation, do consider it! Kenting has three main beaches to choose from, in the order you would pass them: Nanwan (South Bay), Kenting Main Beach (or Kenting Night Market), and Sail Rock.

Nanwan and Sail Rock are small beaches with just a few simple hotels and great swimming. Kenting Main Beach is the largest town and has the most resorts and other hotels, but swimming is not technically allowed there.

There is also a very famous aquarium in Hengchun, a small city near Kenting, called the National Museum of Marine Biology. Here’s the local shuttle bus for getting to the aquarium and other places in Kenting.

To get there, ride a train from wherever you stayed in Hualien to Fangliao station (you will get more train options if you ride to Taitung city first, then catch a new train from Taitung onward). At Fangliao, you can board the shuttle bus to Kenting. Budget about four hours for getting to from Taitung to Kenting.

Where to Stay in Kenting

In Nanwan, try The First (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor), a fun capsule hotel just off the beach or Nanwan Station (see on Booking / Agoda) for a B&B.

Kenting Main Street area has the biggest selection of accommodations, including some of the best resorts in Kenting, like Howard Beach Resort (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) and Caesar Park (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor).

Sail Rock Beach, the furthest from Kaohsiung, has more excellent accommodations, like the snazzy Kenting 4 Sisters Villa (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor).

An aerial view of Secret Beach on the coast of Xiaoliuqiu
Secret Beach on Xiaoliuqiu

Xiaoliqiu (also called Little Liuqiu or Lambai Island) is a small coral island off the coast of Pingtung, just below Kaohsiung city. Here’s my detailed guide to Little Liuqiu Island.

The top reason to come here is to go snorkeling with the islands resident giant turtles. There are hundreds of them and you are guaranteed to see them. The island also makes for the perfect tropical getaway and I can’t speak highly enough of it.

The time to reach Xiaoliuqiu is almost the same as getting to Kenting, so you’ll have to make a tough choice here. Coming from Taitung, you’ll also want to take the train to Fangliao station. From there, you can just hop in a taxi to get to the Xiaoliuqiu ferry port in Donggang city. Don’t miss the excellent seafood market in the port!

Where to Stay on Xiaoliuqiu

We loved our stay at Ocean Dream (see on Booking / Agoda). It was right in the main town, so you can don’t need a scooter to get there. Our balcony overlooking a quiet corner of the harbor and we could even see across the ocean to Kaohsiung city in the distance. Our hotel arranged our scooter and snorkeling experience.

You can also rent a scooter or electric bicycle and book your Xiaoliuqiu snorkeling experience here.

Days 10-11: Kaohsiung

The Love River in Kaohsiung
Love River, Kaohsiung

Kaohsiung is the largest port in Taiwan and the country’s second largest city. Street art enthusiasts will find some of Taiwan’s best street art in Kaohsiung, and the newly renovated waterfront around Pier 2 Art Center is a must. In the evening, check out one or more of the city’s bustling night markets.

Other things to do include hiking on Shoushan and connecting Chaishan mountains, where you can spot loads of wild macaques. Nearby, you can visit the restored British Consulate at Takow, which offers beautiful seaside views. Or head to Cijin Island for a few hours, which has a nice beach, fort, and art installations you can cycle to along the coast.

Don’t miss the awesome Lotus Pond, which features multiple temples, near Kaohsiung’s High Speed Rail Station (Zuoying). The KMRT also goes there.

Last but not least, some people’s main reason for coming to Kaohsiung is to visit the impressive Buddha Museum at Fo Guang Shan Monastery, the largest Buddha and monaster in Taiwan. You can even spend the night in the monastery!

If you’re coming from Kenting, you can ride the shuttle bus to Kaohsiung. From the Xiaoliuqiu ferry harbor, you can take local buses to Kaohsiung.

Where to Stay in Kaohsiung

Whenever we visit Kaoshiung, we like to stay around the point where the Love River flows into the harbor, which is a romantic area at night. Harbour 10 Hotel (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) has nice river views, but it’s about 10 min walk to the nearest MRT.

Hotel Yam Lagom (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) is another choice with harbor/sea view from the higher rooms and close to Pier 2 and the MRT.

I also had a good experience staying in KLA B&B (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor), which has private rooms and capsule dorm rooms, in the same convenient neighborhood as the last one.

Days 12-13: Tainan

A stone gate with red entrance gate in background, which forms the entrance to the Confucius Temple in Tainan
Confucius Temple in Tainan

A quick hop on the train (30 min to 1 hour) going north will bring you to Tainan, Taiwan’s former capital. You can read about all the city has to offer in my guide to things to do in Tainan.

History buffs will find several of Taiwan’s oldest temples in Tainan. Also make sure to head over to Anping district (about 45 min by bus from central Tainan city) to see Anping Fort, Anping Old Street, and Anping Tree House. Also consider a side trip to Sicao Green Tunnel.

Most Taiwanese people regard Tainan as the cultural and food capital of Taiwan, so don’t miss the city’s famous street food. Read my guide to the best night markets in Tainan and learn about the individual dishes in my Taiwanese street food guide.

For something totally off-the-beaten-track, you can discover the remains of Tainan’s now defunct salt industry. Check out Cigu Salt Mountain and Salt Museum north of Tainan’s city center, or the visually stunning Jingzijiao Wapan Salt Fields further north near the border with Chiayi County. Read my guide to Tainan’s Salt Mountain and Salt Fields for all the details.

Last but not least, Guanziling mud hot spring in northeastern Tainan is one-of-a-kind, but it’ll take a little more effort to get there. Although Guanziling is technically in Tainan, it is closer to Chiayi city, so if you want to visit it, I suggest you travel to Chiayi city first (which you’ll have to in order to get to the next stops on this itinerary), then visit it as a half-day trip from there.

Where to Stay in Tainan

Budget travelers can try Quiet Hostel (see on Agoda / Booking / Tripadvisor), while A Fat at Home (see on Agoda / Booking) is a local guesthouse in a great location by the Confucius Temple and is run by friendly hosts (don’t ask me about the name!)

For families, nothing beats Hotel Cozzi (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor), which has some amazing facilities and play areas for kids.

In Anping district, I loved An-Ping Inn Here (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor).

Day 14: Fenqihu or Shizhuo

Fenqihu, a stop on the Alishan Forest Railway
Cute little Fenqihu village

On day 14, travel from Tainan to Chiayi, the departure place for buses and trains to Fenqihu, Shizhuo, and Alishan.

Most tourists rush up to Alishan, Taiwan’s most famous mountain resort. But I personally recommend spending one night in either Fenqihu or Shizhuo villages on the way there. Fenqihu is famous for its bento lunchboxes and hikes though bamboo forests. Shizhuo is known for its Alishan High Mountain tea plantations where you can even spend the night.

Getting from Chiayi to Shizhuo, Fenqihu, and Alishan is a little complicated, with lots of options. I suggest you read my guide to Fenqihu, Shizhuo, and Alishan, as well as my guide to getting to Alishan.

Trains at Fenqihu, the halfway point from Chiayi to Alishan
My friends at the Alishan Forest Railway at Fenqihu station

If you choose Fenqihu, you can either go there by riding the famous Alishan Forest Railway (slower but more scenic, only 1-2 departures per morning, need to book) or a regular bus (faster, with frequent departures, no booking needed). This train no longer goes all the way to Alishan because the upper portion of the railway line was destroyed in a landslide several years ago.

Fenqihu is a cute little mountain village with an Old Street. Its busy in the daytime when everyone stops there for lunchboxes on the way to Alishan. But at night it is super quiet and you can sometimes see fireflies there. The excellent Fenrui Historic Trail though bamboo forests starts here.

The next day, you can catch a bus from Fenqihu to get to Alishan.

Shizhuo tea farm guesthouse
Cuiti Guesthouse, where we stayed in Shizhuo

Shizhuo is another small village very close to Fenqihu. The train doesn’t go there, but every bus from Chiayi to Alishan drives through it (Fenqihu is off the main highway, so only some of the buses make the small detour to it).

Shizhuo is where most Alishan High Mountain Tea (Taiwan’s most famous tea) is grown. Some of the guesthouses along the highway are run by tea farmers, but for the best ones (like where we stayed), you’ll have to walk up the hill beside town or ask them to pick you up from either Fenqihu train station or Shizhuo bus station.

Shizhuo is quite off-the-beaten-track, especially compared to popular Alishan. But the scenery there is fantastic, including hiking trails through the tea farms and beautiful sunsets.

Where to Stay in Fenqihu and Shizhuo

We enjoyed our stay at Fenchihu Hotel (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor), built above the only 7-Eleven in town.

We had an amazing experience staying on a tea farm at Cuiti Guesthouse (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor). It was close to some hiking trails, had a beautiful sunset, and the farmer picked us up from the stations. You’ll need to bring dinner or hike into town for it. Breakfast is provided.

If you want one that’s easier to get to, Alishan Hinoki B&B (see on Booking / Agoda ) is right on the highway, with Chiayi to Alishan buses going right past it, and is run by a tea farming family.

Day 15: Alishan

The main tourist trail through the forest of giant cypress trees in Alishan National Scenic Area, Taiwan
Amazingly huge trees at Alishan

On day 15, make your way from Fenqihu or Shizhuo up to Alishan National Scenic Area, Taiwan’s most famous mountain resort, by bus.

Alishan is famous for Alishan High Mountain tea (you won’t see the tea farms unless you stop in Shizhuo), hiking trails though old growth forests with enormous and oddly shaped cypress trees, the three Alishan Forest Railway lines still operating in the park, and the breathtaking phenomenon of sunrises over seas of clouds.

For all these reasons, Alishan does attract tour group masses, but it’s still one of my favorite places in Taiwan. My guide to Alishan offers more information than you’ll find anywhere else, including how to get away from the crowds at Alishan.

If you happen to be coming when the cherry blossoms are blooming at Alishan (March to April), getting a room can be difficult or impossible. Many places to open their rooms up until around 3 months in advance, and then they all sell out right away.

On the day you arrive at Alishan, spend the afternoon doing the main tourist hiking loop around the scenic area, which only takes a few hours. Here you’ll have a chance to ride a few short legs of the Alishan Forest Railway, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get one of the train cars made entirely of wood like we did. They smell amazing inside!

Wooden car on the Alishan Forest Railway, the best way to get around Alishan!
My kids inside a wooden car of the Alishan Forest Railway. Read about visiting Alishan with kids here.

On the morning of the 16th, wake up disturbingly early to take the small train line to the famous sunrise viewing point. The train is usually packed with notoriously loud tourists, so you can also consult my Alishan guide to find out how to hike up to the viewpoint, or to find other sunrise viewpoints with no tourists.

After that, you’ll have a few more hours to hike around before checking out and catch the only bus of the day (1 PM) to Sun Moon Lake.

Don’t forget to bring warm clothes, even in summer. Although rare, you may even see snow at Alishan in winter!

Where to Stay in Alishan

The selection of hotels at Alishan is pretty weak. Most of the hotels are old and overpriced and located in a little tourist village around the main parking lot, train station, and collection of restaurant’s and shops. I recommend Shermuh Hotel (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) mainly because they offer free pickup from the bus station (double check to make sure they’re still offering it).

Alishan Hotel (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) is the nicest hotel at Alishan, but even it is a little old, too. It is often filled up by tour groups and it is located deeper in the park, away from all the amenities. They do offer pickup from the bus station, though.

Unfortunately, there is no longer a hostel at Alishan. Budget travelers can consider just visiting as a day trip and staying in one of the hostels in Chiayi city, like this one.

Day 16-17: Sun Moon Lake

Sun Moon Lake Wenwu Temple, a must on your Sun Moon Lake itinerary
Iconic view of Sun Moon Lake from Wenwu Temple

The next stop on this Taiwan itinerary is Sun Moon Lake. Because there’s only 1 bus per day from Alishan to Sun Moon Lake (departing 1 PM, arriving 4 PM), I recommend two nights here. You won’t have time to see or do anything after you arrive on Day 1.

Like Alishan, you’ll have to battle with some tourist crowds here, but I don’t personally find it that bad and I really love Sun Moon Lake. Some of the top attractions here include the Sun Moon Lake ropeway, riding boats across the lake, temples with amazing lake views, and a local night market.

See my extremely detailed guide to Sun Moon Lake here, including how to get off the beaten track.

You may want to consider getting a Sun Moon Lake Pass. I’ve also got articles on the best Sun Moon Lake tours and Sun Moon Lake’s amazing black tea.

Where to Stay at Sun Moon Lake

There are two main villages on Sun Moon Lake. The main tourist village is called Shuishe. It’s more convenient, because it’s where your bus will arrive from Alishan, and where you will catch a bus to Taichung when you leave. In Shuishe, I recommend ‬Shaoguang 188‭ (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor), a lovely guesthouse with stone bath tubs.

I personally prefer Ita Thao, the aboriginal village on the other side of the lake. It’s a tourist town as well, but has a more local and less resorty feel. We loved staying at these rustic cabins on Sun Moon Lake (see on Agoda / Booking), which were in a lush area just a few minutes walk out of Ita Thao. There are also some rooms with beautiful lake views right in town, such as Hu Yue Lakeview Hotel (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor).

Day 18: Cingjing Farm

Cingjing Farm, one of the best places to visit in Taiwan
High mountain farm at Cingjing

Right up there with Alishan, Cingjing Farm is one of Taiwan’s most popular mountain resorts. This one is a little different: it’s actually a high mountain farm!

Besides beautiful mountain views from most guesthouses, you’ll find a working European-style farm with farm animals. Other attractions included cherry blossoms (Feb to Mar), beautiful sunrises/sunsets, Cingjing Skywalk, and morning sunrise tours to Hehuanshan (one of the most famous places for seeing snow in Taiwan).

It will taker you about two hours to travel from Sun Moon Lake to Cingjing Farm by bus (via Puli), or you can take this shared transfer service. From Cinging to Taichung (the next stop), budget 2.5 hours, again via Puli, or this shared transfer service.

Where to Stay at Cingjing Farm

Besides the official accommodation on the farm, there are loads of guesthouses at Cingjing, may of which offer spectacular views. Yunnan Homestay (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) is a lovely property with good restaurant and especially good views. It’s ways south of the main attractions, but they offer pick-up/drop off.

Iris Farmhouse (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor) is a simple but very friendly guesthouse with great views and hot pot dinner available.

A very convenient option is Bokelai (see on Booking / Agoda / TripAdvisor), which is very close to the main entrance to Cingjing Farm.

Days 19-20: Taichung

Taichung Cultural Heritage Park
Taichung Cultural Heritage Park

The final stop on our Taiwan tour itinerary is Taichung! Taiwan’s “middle city” is known as the place where pearl milk tea was invented (you can still visit the original shop!)

Other top attractions in the city include Rainbow Village (currently closed until mid-2023), 921 Earthquake Museum, and Feng Chia Night Market. Outside of the city, popular day trips include Gaomei Wetland, and Zhongshe Flower Market, and Lihpao Discovery Land (one of the newest and best amusement parks in Taiwan).

For all the info you need, see my guide to Taichung, recommended Taichung itinerary, and the best day trips from Taichung.

Where to Stay in Taichung

Norden Ruder (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) is a new, highly rated hostel in town.

Red Dot (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) features a slide into the lobby, while Inhouse Hotel Grand (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) is a good mid-range choice.

Day 21: Back to Taipei or Taoyuan Airport

That wraps up our Taiwan itinerary! From Taichung, you can hop on the High Speed Rail to Taoyuan station, where you can transfer to the Taoyuan International Airport. There are also direct buses to the airport from Taichung bus station, just north of the TRA train station in the city center.

More Places to Consider

Whether you are living in Taiwan, have more time in your schedule, or prefer off-the-beaten-track destinations, here are even more ideas for your Taiwan itinerary!

Miaoli County

Picking strawberries in Dahu Miaoli
Picking strawberries in Miaoli

Miaoli is a less-visited county in between Taichung and Taipei, but it has so much to offer. Some of the top spots include picking strawberries in Dahu (winter only), remote Tai’an Hot Springs, hiking or sleeping in a temple on Lion’s Head Mountain, the fun Flying Cow Leisure Farm, or visiting Hobbit Houses here and here.

I’ve got even more ideas for exploring the area in my Miaoli guide. Please note, it takes more time to travel around Miaoli, so renting a car is a good idea for getting around.

Yilan county

Us at Wufengqi Waterfall, one of the most famous Jiaoxi attractions
Wefengqi Waterfall in Yilan

Yilan is considered the family-friendly county of Taiwan. Only 60-90 minutes from Taipei, the county has dozens of kid-friendly museums, leisure farms (meet capybaras here!), kid-friendly hot springs, glamping, beaches, and more. It is also known for its many excellent minsu (local guesthouses).

Jiaoxi, Yilan City, and Luodong are the three main towns in Yilan. Renting a car or hiring a driver is best if you want to explore the county. Yilan also has a famous mountain park called Taipingshan, with its Bong Bong Train and chance to see snow in winter.

For all the info you need, see my favorite things to do in Yilan and my guide to Jiaoxi, the most kid-friendly hot spring area in Taiwan.

Penghu Islands

Penghu heart weir viewed from above
Famous heart weir in Penghu

The Penghu archipelago is a collection of Taiwanese islands in the Taiwan strait between Taiwan and China. They are super easy to visit thanks to direct flights from Taipei’s city-center Songshan Airport, Taichung, or Kaohsiung.

Some fun things to do in Penghu include island-hopping by scooter or boat, some of the country’s best beaches, traditional houses made of coral, tasting cactus ice cream, and the Penghu International Fireworks Festival. It’s best to avoid winter, when it’s super windy.

All the details are in my Penghu travel guide.

Well, that brings us to the end of my Taiwan itinerary. I hope you’ve found more than enough info for planning your visit. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

16 thoughts on “A Taiwan Itinerary for 1, 2, or 3 weeks (Slow & Fast Options!)”

  1. Hi! My wife and I speak mandarin but we are both from UK and US. We have four days to travel outside of Taipei and are unsure how to use that time. The places we are considering is:

    Taroko Gorge – Alishan – SunMoon Lake, do you think it would be wise to do all 3? Or just pick 1 or 2? Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. I’m planning a slightly longer than week long trip to Taiwan and your tips and detailed writing really helped clear my mind. Just wanted to say a big thank you!

  3. Hej Nick, just planing a trip to Taiwan after a wedding in Hong Kong and so glad to have stumbled over your blog. Really helpful information. I will make sure to study it all. We are currently looking for a good ‘base camp’ somewhere in a pretty little town where we would like to spend most our time and plan trips from… Could I trouble you to ask for your advice? Is there any place you would recommend? We will be flying to and from Taichung City and probably want to do Taipeh, Taroko Gorge and Sun Moon Lake. Many thanks, Mira

    • Hi Mira,
      Based on where you are planning to go, I can’t really think of an ideal “base camp”, since the places you are planning are really far from each other. It would only really make sense to stay in Hualien for visiting Taroko Gorge, stay in Taipei for visiting Taipei, and stay at Sun Moon Lake for visiting Sun Moon Lake. It would not be feasible to choose somewhere in between all of those, because your day trips to each place would be really far and you’d spend all your time on the road. I hope this helps, but do get in touch if you have any further questions!

      • Thank you for your reply. I figured it would not be possible without travelling around somewhat. Do you still have a recommendation for a particularly nice, maybe a bit more remote spot with a relaxed holiday feeling somewhere to spend a few days longer? Would you say Hualien or Sun Moon Lake would lend themselves more to do so? Many thanks.

        • Hi Mira,
          If you are looking for something more relaxed, I would say Hualien and Sun Moon Lake are not exactly that. Hualien City is just a pretty normal medium sized city, nothing special at all. If you staying somewhere closer to Taroko Gorge, like in Xincheng or even right in Taroko Gorge, definitely it will have more of a countryside/nature vibe, but still not really the “holiday” vibe I think you are looking for. Meanwhile, Sun Moon Lake I would say has more of a tourist vibe than anything. For both locations, though, the hotel you stay in will make a big difference. If you are staying in a nice resort, then certainly you can enjoy a relaxing holiday feeling at either place. But in a budget hotel, not so much…
          One area you might consider is Miaoli County. It’s quite off the beaten track as most foreign visitors don’t go there, but locals certainly do. Miaoli is most rural scenery and has been chosen as one of the world’s “slow living, slow travel” places. There are loads of B&Bs in small, quaint villages. See my Miaoli article for lots of pics and details. Another option you might consider is spending a few days in a hotel near one of Norther Taiwan’s beaches. They aren’t the best beaches in the world, but definitely you will find a more laid back, beachy vibe. You can look up my article on “Taipei Beaches” for ideas. I hope this all helps!

  4. Hey Nick, great article, thanks! You wrote about so many temple in Taipei, maybe you know what temple is the best to meditate. Sometimes i dont want to do it in classes or at home. Looking forward to your reply!

    • Hi Madeline!
      If you are just looking for a quiet temple to meditate in by yourself, then I would consider the following:
      -Lion’s Head Mountain (in Hsinchu & Miaoli counties): there are many temples there and you can even spend the night. See my article about Lion’s Head Mountain for all the info.
      -Linji Huguo Temple: If you go up the stairs behind the main building, there is a quiet section in the woods above that may be suitable.
      – Songshan Tianbao Temple: It’s an old temple with some parts in ruins, but it is located in the forest on the edge of town, so you can surely find some peace and quiet spots there with no people at all.
      – Silver Stream Cave at Maokong: also in the forest and very few people
      – Guandu Temple: there’s a quiet section at the back looking down on the temple where you could sit
      – Dharma Drum Mountain Nung Chan Monastery: some people like to sit by the large pool there and meditate
      You can find more info about all of these here:
      I hope that helps!

  5. Hi Nick
    Thank you for your truly fantastic coverage of Taiwan! I’m in New Zealand, looking well ahead for a trip for my birthday next October, but obviously pending sorting out all this Covid mess. Hopefully both Taiwan’s and NZ’s borders will be open by then (and hopefully Taiwan will still be safe to visit, not disrupted by military activities…).
    Is there perhaps any reliable reference as to the progress with regards the Covid and border opening situations? Where can we look to monitor progress and the rules about travel (pre-dep tests, tests on arrival, quarantine on arrival, border opening dates, which countries’ visitors will be allowed, etc.)?
    I thought two weeks would be enough time, but no way! Will need three weeks! Hopefully all of it actually traveling, not stuck in an isolation facility.
    Take care

    • Hey Brian, the closest to what you describe is the Taiwan Center for Disease Control website. But it’s not the best resource…there are lots of updates that won’t affect you, the English is sometimes bad/confusing, and the current restrictions are not clearly explained. When Taiwan starts opening up, it is going to be big news. I would suggest checking into the main Taiwan news sites once in a while and check the travel sections. Also please join my Facebook group “Taiwan Travel Planning”. We have over 1000 members highly anticipating these changes, so there will be posts and discussions the moment these changes are announced. Best of luck, and for next October, I would be optimistic!

  6. Hey there! Thanks for the details, it’s really informative and it indeed helped me so much with the planning. Just a quick question – Do you recommend going to Jiufen and Shifen on a weekday like Mon/Tues instead of the weekend – will the shops be closed? Since it’s more crowded on the weekends.

    • Some other visitors have reported that the shops around Shifen station (where you can usually buy sky lanterns, snacks, etc) are mostly closed on Monday. If you only want to see the waterfall, though, this is not a big deal. As for Jiufen, it will be quite a bit quieter on Monday or Tuesday, and some shops take a break, but most should still be open.


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