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Taiwan travel guide for solo travellers

Last Updated on 5 July, 2024

Taichung Rainbow Village Walls Me

This is where you’ll find all my Taiwan guides, articles about Taiwan and basically everything I know about visiting Taiwan solo. Taiwan is one of my all-time favourite destinations and a place I keep coming back to.

I’ve mostly travelled all around Taiwan solo and independently but occasionally with friends. It was where I went for my grad trip, solo career break and I explored Taipei and its surroundings throughly for an epic content project with Scoot finding hidden gems. (New collaboration with Income Insurance coming soon!)

There’s a lot that I’ve experienced in Taiwan that hasn’t made it to blog form, so feel free to drop me a question and I’ll help you if I can!

Taiwan Placeholder
Taiwan

NORTH

Taipei

台北

Capital of Taiwan, Taipei is the main transport hub and starting point for most people visiting Taiwan for the first time. There’s lots to see in the city which is easy to navigate by public transport, and nature is not very far away either. It’s the best base to explore Northern Taiwan.

How long to spend in Taipei

My recommendation for first time visitors to Taiwan is to spend 2-3 nights here, which should be enough to see Taipei’s main attractions. You could easily spend a longer time here if you want a more relaxing pace or plan to do several day trips around Taipei.

How to get around Taipei

Taipei has a very well connected public transport network. Get an EasyCard and use it take public transport around the city.

Taipei Metro/MRT and buses are clean, efficient and have good signage. Google maps is fairly accurate in terms of bus stop locations and timings. Shared bicycle service YouBike is also easy to use.

Uber and taxis are easy to hail or call if you are in a group.

Where to stay in Taipei

I like to stay in the Datong and Ximen districts which are quite central and close to Dadaocheng, Zhongshan and Ximending.

Anywhere close to an MRT Station is usually best for getting around, and I like staying near Taipei Main Station which is best for commuting from Taoyuan Airport and day trips around Taipei by bus/train.

Things to do in Taipei

48 Hours in Taipei for first-time visitors

Itinerary

What I’d recommend for people who have never visited Taiwan before is a short trip to Taipei that covers what I consider are the main sights to see in 2 days.

Weekend in Taipei for the design lover

Itinerary

For people looking to explore a bit more of what Taipei has to offer, this 2-day itinerary has a bit more of a hipster design lover angle.

How to experience Taipei like the locals do

Recs

I tried out a bunch of experiences with Taipei’s locals and got their recommendations on fun ways to experience the city.

Underrated local Taipei Night markets

Recs

Night markets are a quintessential Taiwanese experience and while stalwarts Shilin, Raohe and Ningxia are good for first timers, I enjoyed lesser known local favourites like Nanjichang and Gongguan as well.

Taipei’s National Palace Museum

Attractions

Gugong aka the National Palace Museum is home of the Jadeite cabbage and one-stop shop for Taiwan’s history and artefacts. It’s impossible to take in with just one visit. It may be crowded but is worth stopping in just for a bit.

Cycling Taipei’s Riverside Parks

Recs

Cycling is actually a pretty fun way to explore Taipei. Head to its bicycle-friendly riverside parks with your Youbike and explore the city along its green waterways!

NORTH

New Taipei City

新北

Great day trip options for those visiting Taipei and wanting to explore outside the city

Taipei day trip or stay overnight in New Taipei City?

Most of these places are fairly near to Taipei City and can be done as a day trip. Of course if you want a more immersive experience, an overnight’s stay is better. These districts tend to be less crowded and can be cheaper compared to Taipei. Ultimately it depends on how much time you have to spare.

How to get to New Taipei City

Intercity buses are your best way to get to places around New Taipei City. Most leave from Taipei Main Station or Taipei City Hall.

Taiwan Tourist Shuttles (Haoxing buses) by the tourism bureau to special tourist attractions are also good options.

TRA trains are only convenient if you are going to Keelung or along the Pingxi Line (Shifen, Sandiaoling)

Getting around New Taipei City

Driving will give you the most flexibility especially if you are planning to visit some more remote locations within the area. Booking private car transfers with a driver/guide for a day is common and not too expensive if you have a group to cater to.

Give yourself more time if you are planning to rely on the local bus network to get around.

Taiwan North Coast 台灣北海岸

Take a day trip along Taiwan’s North Coast with a 1-day bus pass, or spend a night of two exploring some of its more popular coastal towns.

Keelung 基隆

Port town Keelung has a nice sea town vibe with scenic coastal parks for some hiking, delicious seafood and a great night market. One of my favourite Taipei day trips.

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

Wanli 萬里

Home to the famous Yehliu geopark and its unusual coastal rock formations, come here to eat Wanli crabs, go paragliding and even explore a UFO village.

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

Jinshan 金山

This quiet town on the North Coast has a nice old street with lots of food options, lovely coastal scenery and the Juming Museum with its beautiful sculptures.

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

Shimen 石門

The northernmost of Taiwan’s mainland can be found here at Fugui Cape, along with a beautiful stretch of mossy green coastal rocks called Laomei Green Reef.

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

Pingxi 平溪 / Ruifang 瑞芳

Buy a 1-day pass for the Pingxi Railway Line to explore the smaller stations in between Ruifang and Jingtong. Shifen is by far the most popular stop along this line.

Sandiaoling Waterfalls 三貂嶺瀑布

Relatively unknown compared to the famous train street with sky lanterns and large waterfall at Shifen, Sandiaoling is a little further along the same Pingxi train line where you get not 1, not 2, but 3 waterfalls when hiking this trail!

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

Shiding 石碇 / Pinglin 坪林

Do a day trip south of Taipei City and visit both Shiding and Pingling along with a hike at Thousand Island Lake.

Thousand Island Lake 千島湖

An artificial reservoir created in the mountains south of Taipei, this is a nice quiet place to hike. Stop by the quaint old streets in the towns of Shiding 石碇 (famous for houses hanging over the water) and Pinglin 坪林 (famous for tea)

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

NORTH

Yilan

The northeastern coast of Taiwan is a quick day trip from Taipei and has a nice relaxing vibe

Taipei day trip or stay overnight in Yilan?

Yilan is about an hour away from Taipei by bus or train so you can easily do a day trip from Taipei, but it’s actually a fairly large area and I recommend spending a night (or more!) if you can to better explore Yilan.

How to get to Yilan

Intercity buses from Taipei are the cheapest option and will bring you to either Yilan City (North Yilan) or Luodong (South Yilan) and take 50 minutes.

TRA trains take around 60-75 minutes from Taipei and stop at towns like Jiaoxi and Toucheng.

Driving takes about the same time as the bus, but taking a taxi can be expensive if you go long distances. Consider hiring a driver for the day.

Getting around Yilan

Driving will give you the most flexibility especially if you are planning to visit some more remote locations within the area. Booking private car transfers with a driver/guide for a day is common and not too expensive if you have a group to cater to.

Give yourself more time if you are planning to rely on the local bus network to get around.

Yilan North: Yilan City, Toucheng, Jiaoxi, Yuanshan

Covering the Yilan region north of the Lanyang River with Yilan City as the main hub, check out all things Jimmy Liao, Jiaoxi hot spring town, Taiwan’s best whisky distillery in Yuanshan head to an island shaped like a turtle from Toucheng.

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

Yilan South: Luodong, Wujie, Dongshan, Su’ao

This guide covers areas south of the Lanyang River with the main hub Luodong and its famous night market, a cool traditional arts centre in Wujie, picturesque lakes and roads in Dongshan, the cute fishing village of Nanfang’ao and some nifty cold springs in Su’ao.

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

EAST

Hualien

The start of the mountainous scenic east coast of Taiwan and home to Taroko Gorge

East Coast 東海岸 (Highway 11)

Hualien East Coast Shuttle bus 花蓮台灣好行304

Fengbin

I took this Taiwan Tourism Shuttle also known as the Huilan East Coast Bus 304 to explore 9 of Hualien’s coastal sights in the Fengbin Township in a day tour.

Taroko Gorge 太魯閣

Xiulin

Of course I had to check out the magnificent Taroko Gorge. Here are some of my favourite sights that we saw in a day trip that brought us to Tianxiang and back.

East Rift Valley 花東縱谷 (Highway 9)

Liyu Lake 鯉魚潭

Shoufeng

Chilling out at this picturesque lake and eating live jumping prawns, oh my.

Fenglin 鳳林

Fenglin

A whirlwind tour through this small town known for Hakka culture and doing a little wood crafting and trying out indigenous tribal cuisine!

Guangfu 光復

Stay in an old sugar factory or spend some time cycling around its forest parks, lots of greenery here!

Ruisui 瑞穗

Soak in its iron and mineral rich hot springs and indulge in its fresh dairy products.

Yuli 玉里

Paddy fields surrounded by mountains and a bridge that crosses over 2 tectonic plates.

EAST

Taitung

The rural eastern region of Taiwan has lots of greenery, mountains and sea views for real relaxation

Luye 鹿野

Anecdotes

I visited Luye completely by chance on my grad trip but I’ve never forgotten the hospitality and natural beauty this rural village has to offer.

Chishang 池上

Guide

This town famous for its high quality rice and fanbao is perfect for a little cycling amid its picturesque paddy fields surrounded by the mountains of the East Rift Valley.

Taitung Islands

Green Island / Lyudao 綠島

Offshore island

My favourite tiny island off the coast of Taitung that you can navigate on electric scooter. Lots of interesting coastal rock formations and one of my favourite hot springs – saltwater pools by the sea!

Orchid Island / Lanyu 蘭嶼

Offshore island

This island is further and larger than Lyudao and fiercely proud of their tribal Yami culture. I stayed with a lovely older couple by chance and had a really interesting experience exploring this rural island.

CENTRAL (WEST)

Taichung

Taiwan’s next busiest city after Taipei is a short HSR ride down the west coast

Taichung City

Travel Guide

Taichung’s 2nd biggest city is more spread out but there’s lots of cool sights in and around Taichung worth checking out.

Divecube Hotel

Attraction

A hotel that you can scuba dive in without even being close to the coast? Check out the DiveCube Hotel where I explored their in-house caves and even learned a bit of free diving.

CENTRAL (WEST)

Tainan

A favourite for those who love Taiwanese Xiaochi, there’s a lot to see in this sprawling district

Vanaheim Glamping

Beimen

Glamping in a mangrove swamp along the coast, it’s the perfect retreat from the bustle of city life.

Guanziling Mud Hot Springs 關子嶺溫泉

Guanziling

Taiwan’s only mud hot springs is in a little town on the northern edge of Tainan.

Ten-Drum Cultural Village 十鼓仁糖文創園區

Rende

A former industrial space repurposed into a cultural arts area and practice space for a drumming troupe.

SOUTH

Kaohsiung

The main hub of Southern Taiwan and conveniently connects to Taipei in less than 2 hours by high speed rail

Weiwuying Street Art Village 衛武營

Lingya

A district close to the new National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts that has been transformed by street art and murals on all the buildings.

Pier 2 Art Centre 駁二藝術特區

Yancheng

Former dock area converted into an arts and culture area and one of my favourite places to stroll around in Kaohsiung.

OFFSHORE

Taiwan Offshore Islands

You can take a ferry or fly to some of Taiwan’s offshore islands to escape the mainland for a bit

Matsu Islands 马祖

Once the frontline of China-Taiwan conflicts, this remote island cluster has remnants of its military history littered throughout its islands along with some cool natural phenomena like the glowing Blue Tears bioluminesence 蓝眼泪. I visited its two main islands Beigan 北竿 and Nangan 南竿 solo.

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

Penghu Islands 澎湖

Taiwan’s largest island cluster west of Chiayi is home to many cool natural sights that are worth checking out like volcanic rock formations and ancient fishing techniques. I visited its main island Magong solo during the famous annual fireworks festival and took a day trip to southern islands Wang’an and Qimei.

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

PINGTUNG

Xiaoliuqiu 小琉球

This tiny coral island off Taiwan’s southern coast is the perfect weekend getaway spot to discover abundant sea turtles, splendid sunsets and relaxing tropical island life.

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

YILAN

Turtle Island / Guishandao 龜山島

A short ferry ride away from Toucheng in Yilan, this turtle shaped volcanic island is now uninhabited and requires special permits to visit. I took a boat tour over solo to explore the remains of its old village and climbed its 401 peak.

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

Kinmen 金門

Closer to Xiamen than mainland Taiwan, Kinmen has plenty of military remains and history worth exploring courtesy of its long-drawn battles with China. I explored this enigmatic island solo.

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

TAITUNG

Green Island / Lyudao 綠島

My first Taiwan offshore island encounter, the lovely Green Island off the east coast has plenty of beautiful coastal views and rock formations, including a rare saltwater hot spring by the sea. I visited with friends and solo on a separate trip.

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

TAITUNG

Orchid Island / Lanyu 蘭嶼

Take the time to get to Taiwan’s wildest island and be rewarded with pristine nature, amazingly blue coasts and get to know about the unique Yami aboriginal culture. I spent a few memorable days here solo.

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

Taiwan Travel Tips

How to travel in and around Taiwan

The ultimate guide to adventures in Taiwan

For Skyscanner

Thinking about Taiwan as a holiday destination? Here’s a quick overview that I wrote for Skyscanner to give you an idea about what a trip to Taiwan can be like.

When is the best time to visit Taiwan?

For Skyscanner

Taiwan is great anytime of the year, and the short answer is: it depends on where you go. Mountain, coast, city… many of these factors affect the weather. My personal suggestion would be visiting in Spring from March to May – while it’s still relatively cooler and before school holidays.

Best hot springs in Taiwan

I love Taiwan’s hot springs and have tried all different sorts around the country. Mud hot springs, saltwater hot springs and even cold springs – here’s a collection of all my Taiwan hot spring experiences to date.

Best Taiwan hostels for a stylish stay

As a solo traveller who’s getting older, I’ve tried to find nice accommodation options that still have a nice communal vibe or great design. Here are some of my personal recommendations.

Other Taiwan Resources

  • Why Wendy Writes – Wendy is a fellow blogger and lover of Taiwan that I met through TTBSG activities. She’s got some great guides to northeast and eastern Taiwan and more.
  • Luomujie Travel The World – the layout of his site drives me a bit batty but he studied and lived in Taiwan and has been to some pretty interesting and out of the way places in Taiwan worth checking out.
  • Nick Kembel – Nick has lived in Taiwan for a long time and is married to a local and has lots of great Taiwan guides on his site.