What To Do In Taiwan

Over the summer I spent just over a week in Taiwan, and I explored some of the top places which were recommended on many a blog/website/travel guides blah blah blah. I only really visited Taiwan as firstly I had never been, and secondly it’s really close to Japan so it seemed only apt to hop on over and see what this country was all about. After spending nine days, I can’t say I’d spend much longer. My trip wasn’t bad at all but overall there isn’t a great deal to do in this country, and I wouldn’t feel the need to visit it again. However, the people are friendly, the majority of signs are in English and the country is pretty different to any other South East Asian country I have visited.

I started off in the capital of the country, Taipei. Flights to the city are easily obtainable from a lot of south east Asia, and also fairly cheap. Getting from the airport to the city centre is easy enough and there are English speaking staff members to send you on your way. I spent four days in Taipei overall, which were split between the start and end of my trip. My travel itinerary for Taipei was pretty tourist filled and I spent most of my time in the tourist hotspots of the National Palace Museum, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei Astronomical Museum, 2-28 Memorial Museum and Taipei 101. Some of these places are worth visiting, such as the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which has beautiful buildings and is also in a good location. The National Palace was beautiful from the outside but very dull inside, basically a lot of old pots and artefacts, and all in Taiwanese. The Memorial Museum and Park was ok, but also a bit small and not too much to see.

I found that a great way to explore this city was to visit the temples, which is great if you haven’t experienced many temples on your travels. However, other great ways to spend time in this city are to stroll around the night markets and the million and one tea shops. Great iced flavoured tea and fairly cheap. The night markets hold a million wonders, varying from tacky souvenirs to fried chicken cartilage. There are plenty around the city and definitely worth a few evenings of your time.
Accommodation wise I stayed in JV Hostel and Banana Hostel. JV Hostel is near Taipei 101 tower but a twenty minute walk from the nearest subway, and overall a basic hostel with nothing exciting about it. The Banana Hostel was a quirky little place. You can have your own twin room for a cheap price, with cute Ikea décor and it’s also in a great location, however not the type of place to stay if you want to meet people as no bar and only three rooms, but I’d still highly recommend. Overall a fairly cheap capital city, but not as cheap as some of its neighbours. Plenty of restaurants and bars including a Toilet Café, where the food is shaped like the contents of a toilet...

Sun Moon Lake
After Taipei I caught a four hour bus to Sun Moon Lake. I booked the bus on the morning of travel from Taipei main bus station. Make sure to take layers for the buses and trains as they go overboard on the air conditioning in summer. Once at Sun Moon Lake I strolled around to find accommodation. There are several town sections to Sun Moon Lake and I know there is a hostel in one of the sections but not sure where or even how I would have got there in the evening. I stayed in a hotel style room above 7/11 for £18, then on the second night I found a twin hotel room for £16 which seemed more the norm. It may be worth booking a hotel in advance but I just winged it and it turned out to be fine. Sun Moon Lake can be covered in two days unless you’re a really avid walker. On the first day I took a boat hopping trip around the different sections of the lake. This was beautiful to see and you could spend as long as you wanted at each section but it was quite confusing to then find out which boat you were allowed back on. A lot of trailing around, and different people pointing me to different boats. Not too many bars in this place, however there are enough restaurants for the size of the town, but not a place to party.

After Sun Moon Lake I got a bus to Taichung where I had to get a train to Hualien. Many guides said I would have to change trains in Taipei but there were direct trains. It took about seven hours in all as it had to go around the mountains on the east of the island. Once at Hualien I had already booked a hostel from Hostelworld.com which displayed a varied number of places. I got a taxi (very cheap) from the station to Tidal Surfers Hostel. As the town isn’t big you’ll find all the hostels in a good location. My hostel seemed strange at first as it tended to be the workers then me and my friend, but on the second night a number of visitors stayed and the whole hostel had a big drinking party, all paid for by the owner. If that doesn’t sway you to stay then nothing will! Overall, Hualien is a bit of a dull town, the main reasoning for staying here was to visit Taroko Gorge (Taroko National Park).

Taroko Gorge
Taroko Gorge day tickets can be bought at the bus station next to Hualien train station on the day of your trip. You catch the bus to whichever point of the gorge and then you can hop on and off whenever you like with your day ticket. The gorge is quite spectacular and worth at least a day of your time. There are plenty of walks/hikes/river treks available and all give fantastic views. Make sure to wear good shoes, and take a waterproof. I spent a day here and could have easily spent a second.

There are other places to visit in Taiwan which I’ve heard recommendations of, including Taichung and Alishan. I only wanted a week in the country, but ended up been here two extra days due to a typhoon which cancelled all planes from Taipei. However, I tweeted Air Asia to ask if I could switch my flight to the next available one, and they did it within a few hours. Fantastic service and I always think it’s great to recommend good flight companies and the service they provide! So there you have it! A great country but not an action packed one. Expect lots of tea, everything flavoured with something that tasted like weird liquorice, photos from the locals at every available chance they get and overall, amazing scenery and great views!

By Becky on
About Taipei City, Sun Moon Lake and Hualien
Tagged with Taiwan and Air Asia