Choose from 57 Fun Things to Do in Taiwan
Watching the sunrise over the Alishan National Scenic Area feels like being in a dream—thick white clouds cover the valley below and towering mountaintops look like tiny islands in an endless ocean. It’s worth visiting during the day too, with treetop boardwalks, forests, and temples making for incredible photos.
A visit to the Alishan National Scenic Area is one of the main attractions of central Taiwan and a popular day trip destination from Chiayi or Taichung. Multi-day tours from Taipei often combine a tour of Alishan with regional sights, such as Sun Moon Lake and Puli.
To make the most of your visit, start early and ride the historic Alishan Forest Railway to Chushan to watch the sunrise. Additional highlights include a hike through the forests to the Sister Ponds and the Sacred Tree, the Giant Tree Plank Trail boardwalk, and the Shoujhen Temple, the area’s largest temple.
Things to Know Before You Go
- There is an admission fee to enter the Alishan National Scenic Area.
- Pack comfortable shoes, warm clothing (it can be chilly up in the mountains even in summer), mosquito repellent, and a raincoat.
- Tickets for the Alishan Forest Train must be booked in advance and can sell out weeks in advance during peak season (July–August).
- Many viewing areas are wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The Alishan National Scenic Area is in Chiayi County in central Taiwan. Take a high-speed rail train from Taipei to Chiayi. Then, take a bus, taxi, or the famous Alishan Forest Railway (one departure daily) to Fenqihu, where direct buses run to Alishan. From Alishan Train Station, various routes of the Alishan Forest Railway run into the park, including the sunrise train to Chushan (book your tickets the day before (times are announced daily).
When to Get There
It’s possible to visit the Alishan National Scenic Area year-round. Summer (July–August) is the busiest season, when it’s worth booking train tickets, tours, and accommodation well in advance. Autumn (September–November) is a particularly enchanting time to visit, when the multihued trees fill the landscapes with color.
Alishan’s misty high-altitude mountains provide the perfect terrain for growing Oolong tea, and the region is home to numerous tea plantations. The tea, which is irrigated using pure mountain spring water and harvested by hand, is renowned for its sweet, floral flavor and being rich in antioxidants. Alishan Tea is sold worldwide, and many teahouses and restaurants in the Alishan area can offer you a freshly brewed cup to sample.
- Raohe Street Night Market is a must-visit for food lovers and culture vultures.
- Try to not to fill up at the first stall you see—Taiwan is famous for its ‘little eats,’ so sample a variety of dishes.
- If you see a long line, join it. It’s a sure sign that the street-food stall is one of the best.
- Taipei is often subject to unexpected rain showers, so be sure to bring an umbrella, especially in fall.
- Jiufen is ideal for travelers interested in history, culture, and shopping.
- Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes. There are a lot of stairs and cobblestone streets in Jiufen.
- Bring sun protection, rain protection, and water if visiting in summer, which is also the wet season.
- Full-day tours from Taipei can last upwards of eight or nine hours.
- If you’re visiting in summer, bring an umbrella and a hat as heat protection.
- This is a must-see for travelers interested in Buddhist architecture and history.
- There are coffee shops and vending machines at the complex.
You won’t find any souvenirs or trinkets here, but you will see a wide range of traditional Chinese goods, like tea, medicinal herbs, dried mushrooms and seafood, beans, rice and sweets, and many locals coming to shop. Dihua Street gets particularly busy in the days leading up to Chinese New Year when families come to stock up on traditional holiday foods. During this time, the street becomes a solid wall of people haggling for their ingredients.
If you’d like to sample some traditional Taiwanese foods, Dihua Street might be a good option. Most of the shopkeepers don’t speak English, but they’ll happily let you sample their products. You can always select dishes by looking around at what those around you are eating and simply point.
The Pingxi Branch Rail Line was completed in 1921, and until the late 1980s, it was used exclusively as a mining train, transporting coal south from the mountains of Northern Taiwan. Today, the train whisks passengers through a wooded gorge area, past waterfalls, trail heads and old mining towns. It’s an inexpensive and easy way to get out of the city for a day and see the Taiwanese countryside.
Trains only pass along the line every hour or so, but because many of the stops and attractions are relatively close together, it’s possible to walk from one station to the next if you’ve just missed a train. Pick up a line map and schedule at the station before you head out so you’ll know when and where you need to be to catch the next one.
The shrine was completed in 1969 and was inspired by the Hall of Supreme Harmony in Beijing. Plan your visit on the hour mark to witness the changing of the guard, an elaborate ritual similar to that seen at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. Memorial rites take place on March 29 and September 3 each year when the president and other government leaders come to pay their respects.
The five-story red brick building has an eleven-floor tower at its center. At the time it was built, it was the tallest building in Taipei. On weekday mornings, the Presidential Office Building is open for tours, giving visitors the chance to see exactly where the president works. Even if you don’t take the tour, it’s worth stopping by just to see the building’s facade.
Apart from the mundane gardens -- bamboo, succulents, ferns and the like -- the Botanical Gardens maintains some interesting themed areas as well. Learn about plants used for daily life in the Economic Crops Garden, and see the hundreds of varieties of plants mentioned in ancient Chinese literature, like Journey to the West, in the Chinese Classical Literature Botanical Garden. Be sure to stop by the Sensory Garden, a space filled with plants you can touch and smell.
You might assume spring is the best time for a visit, but the botanists at the Botanical Gardens have carefully curated plants to ensure a year-round show of color.
White sandy beaches and swaying palms are perhaps not the first things that come to mind when you think of Taiwan, but that’s exactly what you’ll find in the Kenting National Park. This natural treasure has some of the best surf beaches in the region, as well as diving, jet-skiing and lots of other seaside fun.
The park’s beautiful scenic landscapes, with dramatic rocky outcrops, lush jungles and cliffs offering outstanding views over the sea and shoreline, make this a popular hiking destination.
Visit traditional fishing villages during the day and at night enjoy the numerous dining options and night markets in the area’s towns.
Kenting National Park forms the southern tip of the island of Taiwan and can be reached by high-speed rail from Taipei in just 2.5 hours. There is a range of accommodation options from camping to luxury resorts. Some beaches are privately run and charge admission.
- Each location has different rules and etiquette, such as whether the pools are segregated by gender and whether swimsuits are required.
- Bring a change of clothing and a bag for wet swimsuits, plus towels for the public hot springs.
- Photography is not allowed in the pool areas.
- Individuals with health issues, such as high blood pressure and heart problems, should not use the hot springs.
- Use plenty of insect repellent before you climb Elephant Mountain, because there are lots of mosquitoes at the top.
- For travelers of a moderate fitness level, it takes about 30 minutes to reach the top.
- This is a must-visit for the best views of the Taipei skyline.
- Take a bottle of water for the ascent. At the bottom of the trail, there is a water fountain where you can refill.
- The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is a must-visit for those with an interest in Taiwan’s history.
- Don’t forget to bring your camera to take photos of the stunning memorial hall, entry, and park.
- Guided tours are available in Mandarin, English, and Japanese. Book ahead for English and Japanese tours.
- The 89 steps leading to the memorial hall are steep and high. There is an elevator too, as well as an entrance on the ground floor next to the stairs.
- The Maokong Gondola is lovely for all visitors to Taipei, especially first-timers.
- Regular gondola cabins can hold eight passengers; crystal cabins can hold only five.
- The gondolas are not air-conditioned.
- In the event of thunderstorms or inclement weather, the gondola stops running and buses are used to transport passengers.
- The gondola stations and cabins are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, but not all attractions near a station may be accessible.