The Road Less Traveled: Travel to Taiwan
September 23, 2017
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I will start this post by saying that you absolutely need to travel to Taiwan. Visiting Taiwan is an amazing experience and everyone should do it! When I left on my backpacking trip to Asia it never even crossed my mind to add a trip to travel to Taiwan to my itinerary. However, as I began traveling I met traveler after traveler who insisted that it should be the next stop of my trip. Easily convinced by a couple of beautiful photos, I decided that visiting Taiwan was next on the list… and 6 hours later I was heading to the airport!
Why Travel to Taiwan?
Taiwan has truly got it all! From busy city life and beautiful landscapes to amazing street food and an easy and expansive metro system, travel to Taiwan couldn’t be easier! What is there not to love? The only thing that I didn’t find visiting Taiwan was tourists! As a solo traveler this has both pros and cons. While there were far less travelers around to befriend (other than those studying or teaching abroad), it also meant that I wasn’t being hassled on every corner. Gone was the crazy bargaining for tuk-tuks and elephant pants that I was so accustomed to in Southeast Asia. Instead, during my travel to Taiwan, I could walk the streets and vibrant markets in peace.
Although I only spent 6 nights visiting Taiwan, I managed to visit three cities: Taipei, Hualien, and Hsinchu. I’ll provide some tips for visiting each of these cities below!
Best Time to Travel to Taiwan?
The best time to travel to Taiwan is between April to June or September to November. I found that the weather in June was hot but not unbearable, with very few tourists, definitely one of the best times to travel to Taiwan.
Travel to Taiwan: Taipei
Where to Stay in Taipei
There are a ton of great, affordable options in Taipei, but I personally recommend Star Hostel Taipei Main Station. The hostel is centrally located right by the train station, making it a great option for getting around.
What to do in Taipei
There are tons of great things to do in Taipei.
Visit the Local Temples
There a number of beautiful temples in Taipei to explore, including the Confucius Temple, Baoan Temple, and Mengjia Longshan Temple. I recommend spending a day in the city exploring each of these gems.
Take the Cable Car
Visit the Shilin Night Market
The perfect place to snack, shop, and people watch. Located right by the Jingjin metro station, the night market is easy to reach for those not staying in the area.
Travel to Taiwan: Hualien
Hualien is the perfect jumping off point for anyone interested in visiting Taroko National Park. It is easily accessible by train and an easy city to navigate.
Where to Stay in Hualien
I stayed at Journey Hostel and couldn’t have been happier. The hostel is clean, quiet, and extremely beautiful – there is even a koi pond in the common area! The main train station is only a 10 minute walk, so it is easily accessible by foot.
What to Do in Hualien
There are plenty of things to do in Hualien, from visiting Taroko National Park to exploring the beaches by bike.
Spend a day (or two) exploring Taroko National Park
From Hualien it will take approximately one hour by bus to get to the entrance of Taroko National Park. From here you can take the shuttle bus throughout, but make sure to watch the time as they don’t always run regularly! There are tons of great trains to explore.
You can find some of the best dumplings at Zhoujia Steamed Dumplings. Located at No. 4-20 Gongzheng Street, this casual spot is always bustling with customers.
If you’re vegetarian then I recommend a little local spot by the hostel. Never knew the name but if you are staying at Journey Hostel, turn left out of the hostel and walk one block. The owners don’t speak any English and the signs are all in Mandarin, but it’s good fun!
Travel to Taiwan: Hsinchu
Located just 1.5 hours south of Taipei by train, I came to Hsinchu to visit some friends that I had met traveling who were working as English teachers. The awesome part about Hsinchu is that it is truly off the beaten path, so no tourists in sight! However, there definitely isn’t a lack of beautiful things to see and do.
What to Do in Hsinchu
Explore the local temples
Visit the Big Buddha
Located just outside of Hsinchu you’ll arrive at Ermei Lake. Here you’ll find one of the biggest buddha statues in the world, if not the biggest, at the Nature Loving Wanderland monastery.
Go cliff jumping
Just a short ride from the Big Buddha you’ll find a river known for cliff jumping, Celestial Lake. Go for a swim, or jump at your own risk!
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