Don’t jam-pack the whole Taiwan into 8 days
I used to belong to “the more, the better” school of travelers. I’ve done a few places with this principle successfully, so it only made sense for me to do the same with Taiwan. After all, Taiwan seems to be a relatively small country and mostly everything is accessible from land, so it should be doable within one go. RIGHT?
If your idea of a perfect trip is to be constantly in rush, catching a glimpse of everything without truly exploring them, and spending 80% of your time on the road, then by all means do it at one go. Otherwise… no, just no.
(or how I would’ve done this trip differently)
For me, the best part of Taiwan is the Northern and Eastern side. I don’t mind dropping the rest of Taiwan (save them for next time) in return for a more relaxing travel experience. So here’s what I think a first-timer’s itinerary should look like:
- Day 1: Upon arrival at Taoyuan International Airport, travel to Taipei. If you arrive in daytime, you can explore Taiwan’s capital for all its worth. Plenty of choices to pick from, perhaps satisfy your inner shopaholic at Ximending or take a stroll along Tamsui Old Street. Grab your dinner at one of the night markets (Raohe or Ningxia).
- Day 2: Experience the North East Coast. Good stops along this route may include Jiufen, Nanya Rock Formations, Bay of Two Colours, Bitou Cape and Long Dong Cliffs. This should take about 4-6 hours. If time permits, you might even be able to squeeze in Shifen Old Street. Next, take a domestic flight or scenic train ride (Tze-Chiang Limited Express: approx. 2-3 hours) to Hualien and rest.
- Day 3: Explore the beautiful trails of Taroko Gorge.
- Day 4: Take a domestic flight or scenic train ride back to Taipei. Explore Yehliu Geopark and don’t miss the wonderful Taipei 101 at night.
- Day 5: Enjoy Taipei before your flight home.
Well, be prepared to drop some places from the itinerary. But as long as you have Taroko, Jiufen, Yehliu, Taipei 101 and one of the night markets, you’ve gotten the essentials covered. If your return flight on Day 5 is on late afternoon or night, you may have time to visit any of the places which you might have needed to drop.
Day 2 and Day 4 are sort of interchangeable. You can also do Yehliu first and experience the North East Coast on Day 4, although my gut says that it may be a little packed to do it that way. Do note that Yehliu closes at 4 pm though, so you want to do it on Day 2 if the train/flight schedule back to Taipei is a little tight on Day 4.
All Posts on the 2013 Taiwan Trip:
- 3 Things I Can’t Wait to Do in Taiwan
- Taiwan D1: Hunting Food at Ximending & Raohe Markets
- Taiwan D2: Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall + a Glimpse of Taipei 101
- Taiwan D2: Releasing Lanterns at Shifen Old Street
- Taiwan D2: Jiufen, Food Paradise Defined
- Taiwan D2+3: Fengjia Market & DIY Bubble Tea at Taichung
- Taiwan D3: Relaxing at Monster Village & Xitou Forest
- Taiwan D3+4: Cruising at Sun Moon Lake
- Taiwan D4: Wen Wu Temple
- Taiwan D4: Bullet Train to Kaohsiung
- Taiwan D4: Liuhe, the Ultimate Seafood Indulgence
- Taiwan D5: Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center
- Taiwan D5: East Coast Road Trip & Taitung Hot Springs
- Taiwan D5-6: Spectacular Hualien & Taroko Gorge(ous)
- Taiwan D7: National Center for Traditional Arts & Zhong Lie Shi
- Taiwan D7: Tamsui Old Street & Shilin Night Market
- Taiwan D7: Taipei 101 (Again!)
- 3 Places in Taiwan I Didn’t Visit (That I Totally Should)
Also, traveling can be quite a nightmare without internet, so make sure you book a 4G WiFi to be picked up at Taiwan airport now.
What’s your perfect Taiwan itinerary? What places belong to your “essentials” list?
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