…are not enough! This trip made me come up with a new travel theory; you need to stay as many days as the number of flight hours required to reach destination. In our case, we got a 13 hour and 30 minute flight, we should have stayed at least 13 days and let me tell you why below.
Taiwan is wrongly associated with the “Made in Taiwan”; you might have the impression that the country is a big open air factory supplying Father Christmas with plastic toys for the kids around the world, well think again ! It is actually mainly a big jungle hosting the 40th most-populous urban area in the world—Taipei City. You will find 9 national parks, pristine beaches with clear water, black sandy beaches, more sunset watching spot than you every thought of, 4 peaks over 3000m high, the birth place of Din Tai Fung (see what to eat besides Din Tai Fung to know more), bubble tea shops at every street corner, and the friendliest people in Asia (based on several surveys such as the one on the Asiacorrespondent.com – and I definitley agree with that!) .
So below, my recommendations for a road trip in Taiwan based on our 10 days + what I would have done with 3 extra days.
Day 1 to 4: Taipei Where to stay: indulge for relatively little at the W or stay in a boutique hotel in the trendiest area at Play design hotel
You’ll notice that as many other Asian cities, Tapei is relatively cheap. Luxury hotel chains such as the W, Grand Hyatt or the Mandarin become much more affordable. I would definitely recommend to indulge for at least a night and feel like you are in a scene from “Lost in translation”. The other option would be to stay in a smaller hotel such as the Play Design hotel. Very different concept this time, this hotel is situated in what became my favourite part of Taipei and asks Taiwanese artists/writers/designers to pick the room decoration. You’ll end up with a quirky but classy bird lamp that changes colour when you pet the bird, a cookie shaped wooden stool, and ceramic white pidgeons (really didn’t like this one but why not!). The best part of all that is that you can buy any of the pieces of furniture and decoration that you really liked, they even ship overseas.
Here is my list of must-sees in Taipei:
- Taipei 101 – by day and night, didn’t climb all the way up but worth going at the bottom
- Climb the Elephant Trail – best view over the city
- National Palace Museum – worth for its architecture but also for the jade cabbage!
- Dihua street
- Shillin Night Market
- Chiang Kai-Shek memorial hall
- Zhongshan district – my favourite part, full of small designers shops, bars and restaurants
- The jade market (only on sundays)
- Confucius Temple
One of the most famous views from Taiwan is from the hills of Jiufen. I personnaly was really disappointed by this place, small and extremely touristy, I don’t think it was worth the 1 hour train from Taipei. However, while up there we missed a stroll on the Laomei Green Reef beach which is apparently unmissable! (already planning my next trip there 😉 ). The sandy beach there is overshadowed by the deep troughs and trenches carved into the volcanic rock and trailing down into the ocean. So think of adding Laomei to a quick stop in Juifen.
Day 4 to 6: Taroko gorges Where to stay:not many options in the gorges itselves, the only one is the sumptuous Silks hotel (oh well that's a shame 😉 )
I would go back to Taiwan only to stay again at the Silks hotel, its location is out of this world; infinity pool overlooking the river, take a bath in one of the 4 hot tubs looking at the pagoda on top of the hill and finish your evening cosied up around the fire pit while listening to local singers.
Day 6 to 9: Taroko - Hualien - Kenting Where to stay: we stayed one nigt in Kenting (one of my biggest regret as the beach there is amazing)- our hotel wasn't the best. I let you find one for yourself!
Playa ! I told you in the intro, the highlights of a trip to Taiwan are the beaches and the coolest ones are along the highway 11 and 9 (two of the best roads in the world!) as well as in Kenting national park. if you are a diver, you’ll love the very tip of the island as it is almost certain that you will see turtles while diving there! So make sure to stay at least two nights down there. Because highway 9 is one of the most scenic in the world you’ll also need more than the 6 hour drive given by Google. You might want to consider staying somewhere along the way such as around Taitung and why not going camping ! Don’t forget to take a picture break at Sanxiantai Arch Bridge (yes we missed this one too). The best seasons for swimming would be late spring and autumn in order to avoid the typhoon season during the summer.
Day 9 to 12: Tainan Where to stay: La maisonette Tainan n2
Tainan is THE food capital city of Taiwan, you’ll need to stay at least 2 nights to make sure you have enough meals to try some of the best food options. You can also add a day trip to the sun moon lake (roughly a 2 hour drive) from Tainan. The vibe in this city is extremely different from Taipei (eventhough it used to be the capital city back in the day), much smaller buildings, less touristy more chill. I saw the nicest temples there as well as the most charming streets.
My must-sees in Tainan:
- Anping old street and the sunset platform
- Dadong night market
- Koxinga Temple
- Fujhong street
- Shennong street
- Zhengxing street
- Fahua temple
- Chikhan towers
Day 13: Back to Taipei
There is a direct train from Tainan to Taipei main station. One more night in Taipei before flying home !
I hope this post will help you plan your next trip to Taiwan. Do not hesitate if you have any questions to leave a comment below. I am planning to write a couple of other articles to give you my best places to eat and shop.
One thing I haven’t mentionned but probably the most important thing if you are planning a road trip in Taiwan, make sure to have a valid international driving license ! The rental car agencies won’t give you your car (even if pre booked) without it. Enjoy your trip to Taiwan !