Two Weeks in Taiwan: A 14-Day Itinerary Exploring the Best of Taiwan

Two Weeks in Taiwan: A 14-Day Itinerary Exploring the Best of Taiwan

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Taiwan is a small country with an efficient rail system so you can easily explore the entire country on your own. That’s exactly what we did on our last trip when we spent two weeks hopping from city to city, experiencing the best that this island nation has to offer.

Following this itinerary will take you on a loop from Taoyuan International Airport down the western side of the country to Taichung, Sun Moon Lake, Qingjing Farm, Alishan Forest, Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Kenting. You’ll then go up the eastern coast to Hualien before winding up in Taipei where you’ll be spending the most number of days, both to explore the capital city and use it as a base for day trip excursions to notable areas like Tamsui, Beitou, Shifen, and Jiufen.

For me, figuring out how many days to stay at any stop is the hardest part of planning a trip like this. To make it easier for you, I’ve broken it down by day, giving suggestions on how long you should stay at each destination and why. If you have two weeks to spare and want to experience the best of Taiwan, then I hope this 14-day itinerary can help you plan your trip.

FEATURED PHOTO: “2014-new-year-taipei-101-fireworks” by Sinchen.Lin, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom, added text

GUIDE TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. DAY 1-2: Taichung
  2. DAY 3: Sun Moon Lake
  3. DAY 4: Qingjing Farm
  4. DAY 5: Alishan Forest
  5. DAY 6: Tainan
  6. DAY 7: Kaohsiung
  7. DAY 8: Kenting
  1. DAY 9-10: Hualien
  2. DAY 11: Taipei
  3. DAY 12: Tamsui/Beitou
  4. DAY 13: Shifen/Jiufen
  5. DAY 14: Taipei
  6. Trip Map
  7. Travel Tips

DAY 1-2

TAICHUNG

Taichung is one of our two favorite cities in Taiwan. It’s considered the arts and cultural center of the country, home to interesting museums and cultural venues like the Museum of Natural Science, the Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, the National Theater, and the Taiwan Symphony Orchestra.

We wanted to leave Taipei for last so we took a bus straight to Taichung from the basement of Taoyuan International Airport. The trip takes about two and a half hours on Ubus 1623.

I’ve allotted two days to Taichung so on your first day there, I suggest exploring the neighborhoods surrounding Calligraphy Greenway. Calligraphy Greenway is a 3.6 kilometer long green open space, around which are many shops, restaurants, museums, and cafes. It’s an interesting and pleasant space so you can easily spend a whole day visiting its museums and getting lost in its many artsy neighborhoods. You can check my post for more information on Calligraphy Greenway and what you can find there.

On day two, you can venture farther away from downtown Taichung to visit a couple of its most popular attractions – Rainbow Village and Gaomei Wetlands. They’re a little hard to get to on your own so it’s easiest to go on a guided day tour. That’s what we did. Kkday’s Gaomei Wetlands and Rainbow Village Tour starts at 2PM and takes you to both places before dropping you off at Fengjia Night Market – Taiwan’s biggest night market and a must-visit in Taichung. If you do go on Kkday’s tour, then that’ll leave you enough time in the morning to visit the 921 Earthquake Museum. Just be sure to be at the meeting point by 2PM.

TAICHUNG TRAVEL GUIDE: You can refer to our detailed travel guide to Taichung to help you plan this leg of your trip.

Rainbow Village, Taichung, Taiwan

WHERE TO STAY IN TAICHUNG: Since you’ll be traveling by train from city to city, it’s best to stay by the TRA train station. We stayed at Shin Sei Bashi Hotel which is a cute boutique hostel across the street from Miyahara and about a 5-minute walk from the train station. We booked a room there through AirBnB, but you can book it through Booking.com or Agoda as well. Follow these links for other listings in Taichung: AirBnB | Booking.com | Agoda. If you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get USD 31 free travel credit when you sign up via this link.

DAY 3

SUN MOON LAKE

Taichung is a gateway to Taiwan’s mountainous interior so you can use it as a base to do day trips to Sun Moon Lake and Qingjing Farm on days three and four.

Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County is the largest body of water in the country. It’s designated as one of thirteen national scenic areas in Taiwan. You can explore the lake by boat or by bus, but the most fun would be to rent bicycles and ride around its perimeter. It’s an easy and picturesque ride that was once named by CNN as one of the most breathtaking cycling routes in the world. Be sure to sample the street food along Ita Thao Street and ride the ropeway to get breathtaking aerial views of the lake.

Sun Moon Lake is about two hours by bus from Taichung so it’s easily doable as a day trip. You can catch the Nantou Bus from Gancheng Station which is a few minutes’ walk from Taichung TRA Station. If you’d rather go on a guided tour, then you can do so with Kkday. Follow the link for more information and to book tickets to the Sun Moon Lake Tour with Kkday.

SUN MOON LAKE GUIDE: You can refer to our detailed travel guide to Sun Moon Lake to help you plan this leg of your trip. It includes details about Sun Moon Lake passes which you can purchase at the bus station to save on the overall cost of your visit.

Sun Moon Lake, Nantou County, Taiwan

DAY 4

QINGJING FARM

A visit to Qingjing Farm is another popular day trip you can make from Taichung. Located in the mountainous area of Ren’ai Township in Nantou County, Cingjing Farm is a picturesque tourist farm known for its crisp air, its rolling hills, and acres of flowers. Apart from enjoying the atmosphere, tourists flock to Cingjing Farm to interact with its many farm animals like cows, sheep, and ponies.

Like Sun Moon Lake, Qingjing Farm can be reached by Nantou Bus from Gancheng Station. It’s about two and a half hours away and you can purchase Qingjing Farm passes to save on the cost of the trip. Like Sun Moon Lake, it’s easy enough to do on your own, but if you’d rather go on a guided tour, then you can do so with Kkday. Follow the link for more information and to book a voucher for the Cingjing Farm Day Tour with Kkday.

Qingjing Farm, Nantou County, Taiwan

清境農場 綿羊 Qingjing Farm-Sheep” by Chi-Hung Lin, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

DAY 5

ALISHAN FOREST

The Alishan National Scenic Area is a mountain resort and forest reserve located three hours south of Taichung in Chiayi County. It’s a 41,500 hectare area famous for its mountain wilderness, waterfalls, tea plantations, and hiking trails. One of its biggest draws is the Alishan Forest Railway, an 86 kilometer network of rails that takes tourists on a picturesque train ride through the lush forests of Alishan.

There are two ways to get to Chiayi by train from Taichung – either by TRA or HSR train. TRA trains are cheaper but HSR trains are much faster, getting you there in less than 30 minutes as opposed to about 1 hour and 15 minutes for the TRA train. You’ll then need to catch a bus to Alishan from either station. Buses between Chiayi TRA station and Alishan run more frequently so there are pros and cons to each. You’ll see what I mean when you look at the train and bus timings below.

BY HSR TRAIN: Take the HSR train from Taichung to Chiayi, then take Bus 7329 to Alishan. The bus ride will take about two and a half hours. There are only four bus trips between Chiayi HSR Station and Alishan so you’ll need to be aware of the train and bus schedules. If you can get to Chiayi HSR Station in time to catch the 9:30AM bus, then you’ll get to Alishan by noon. The last bus back to Chiayi HSR Station departs from Alishan at 4:40PM. If you decide to take the HSR train from Taichung to Chiayi, then you can save on the ticket cost by purchasing it through Kkday.

BY TRA TRAIN: Take the TRA train from Taichung to Chiayi, then take Bus 7322C to Alishan. This bus ride will also take about two and a half hours. There are ten bus trips between Chiayi TRA Station and Alishan so this option will give you more flexibility. The last bus back to Chiayi TRA Station departs at 5:10PM.

If you have big luggage, then you may want to store it somewhere first so you don’t have to carry it around with you in Alishan. According to the Chiayi HSR Station map, there’s a locker storage facility on the first floor. If you’re going via the Chiayi TRA Station, lalalocker lists a few places where you can store your luggage within walking distance of the station. lalalocker is like the Taiwanese AirBnB for luggage storage.

Alishan Forest, Chiayi, Taiwan

Alishan Forest Railway, Sacred Tree Station” by Sonse, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

After exploring Alishan, you can either stay the night in Chiayi or take the train to Tainan, the next stop on this itinerary. Tainan is less than 20 minutes from Chiayi by HSR train or about an hour by TRA train, so I suggest going straight to Tainan. You’ve already seen the best of Chiayi County anyway at Alishan Forest. Scroll down to the next section for hotel recommendations in Tainan. If you decide to take the HSR train from Chiayi to Tainan, then you can save on the ticket cost by purchasing it through Kkday.

DAY 6

TAINAN

Tainan is the oldest city in Taiwan. Unlike Taipei and Taichung, Tainan feels like an ancient city, harkening back to its 200-year history as Taiwan’s former capital. At its historical heart is Anping District, the oldest urban area in the country and home to some of the city’s most popular attractions like Anping Tree House, Anping Old Street, and Fort Zeelandia.

If you like the arts, then be sure to check out Blueprint Cultural & Creative Park and Ten Drum Rende Creative Park. You can end your one-day visit to Tainan by stuffing your face silly at Flower Night Market. Open only on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, it’s one of Taiwan’s biggest and most famous night markets.

TAINAN TRAVEL GUIDE: You can refer to our detailed travel guide to Tainan to help you plan this leg of your trip.

Tainan, Taiwan

WHERE TO STAY IN TAINAN: As advised, we stayed near the TRA train station in every city we visited. In Tainan, we stayed at this lovely Japanese-inspired AirBnB called KyoMachiya-Kagurazaka. We booked it through AirBnB but you can make a reservation through Agoda as well. Follow these links for other listings in Tainan: AirBnB | Booking.com | Agoda. As advised, if you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get USD 31 free travel credit when you sign up via this link.

DAY 7

KAOHSIUNG

Remember when I said that Taichung is one of our two favorite cities in Taiwan? Kaohsiung is the other. It’s got a great laid back vibe that really resonated with us.

Located in the southern part of the country, Kaohsiung is often referred to as Taiwan’s Harbor Capital because of its connection to the ocean and its reputation for being one of the world’s largest cargo-container seaports. It’s one of the country’s most bike-friendly cities as well, and the only other Taiwanese city other than Taipei to have its own metro system.

Kaohsiung is less than 15 minutes south of Tainan by HSR train or just under an hour by TRA train. We weren’t in a rush so we took the TRA train. If you’d rather go from Tainan to Kaohsiung by HSR train, then you can get a discount on the ticket cost by purchasing it through Kkday.

Be sure to visit the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, Pier-2 Art Center, Fo Guang Shan Monastery, and the Dome of Light. If you start the day early enough, then maybe you can squeeze in Cijin Island as well. It’s a great place to ride bikes and enjoy the ocean view. Kaohsiung is home to two great night markets as well – Ruifeng Night Market and Liouhe Tourist Night Market. Ruifeng was our favorite night market in Taiwan.

KAOHSIUNG TRAVEL GUIDE: You can refer to our detailed travel guide to Kaohsiung to help you plan this leg of your trip.

Dome of Light, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

WHERE TO STAY IN KAOHSIUNG: We booked a big AirBnB in a building right next to the Kaohsiung TRA and MRT stations. It was super convenient and it even had a washer and dryer inside the room. You can check it out on AirBnB or follow these links for other listings in Kaohsiung: AirBnB | Booking.com | Agoda. As advised, if you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get USD 31 free travel credit when you sign up via this link.

DAY 8

KENTING

We opted to stay in Kaohsiung to explore Cijin Island, but if you want to cover as much ground as possible, then you may want to take a day trip to Kenting National Park using Kaohsiung as a base. Kenting is Taiwan’s oldest and southernmost national park, covering an area of about 181 square kilometres (70 sq mi) of land and 152 square kilometres (59 sq mi) of sea. Kenting is famous for its picturesque beaches and clear ocean views.

Located about two hours south of Kaohsiung, the easiest way to visit Kenting would be by private car charter. Kkday offers a roundtrip Kaohsiung-Kenting private transfer starting at NTD 4,200 for up to 4 people. If there are enough people in your group, then it may be worth the cost. You’ll have the car and driver for 10 hours, giving you about 6 hours in Kenting. This will be the most convenient option since I’ve read it isn’t as easy to get around in Kenting. Many people do so on rental scooters.

If the private charter is too expensive, then an alternative would be to go by shuttle bus. Kkday offers tickets to the Kaohsiung-Kenting shuttle bus which runs every hour on the hour from 9AM-5PM, giving you a maximum of about 6 hours to explore Kenting.

Kenting National Park, Taiwan

By Bernard Gagnon [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

DAY 9-10

HUALIEN

This is was one of our favorite places in Taiwan. Hualien on the eastern coast of Taiwan is home to Taroko National Park, one of nine national parks in Taiwan. Covering an area of over 92,000 hectares, it features many natural wonders like mountains, gorges, rivers, and cliffs. Many local Taiwanese feel that the eastern half of Taiwan is the country’s most beautiful, and Taroko Gorge has a lot to do with that.

HSR trains only run on the western half of the country so your best option would be to do the 5-hour TRA train ride from Kaohsiung to Hualien. The first train departs at 7:21AM so the earliest you can get in to Hualien is just before noon. I allotted two days to Hualien because there’s so much to see in the park that you’d be selling yourself short if you only stayed for one night. The quickest and most foolproof way of seeing Taroko Gorge is by guided tour, but those start at around 8AM so it isn’t possible if you’re arriving at noon. For that reason, I suggest staying two nights in Hualien.

There are three ways to explore Taroko Gorge – by guided tour (which is what we did), by rental car, or by public bus. I explain in detail the differences, advantages and disadvantages for each in my post about Taroko National Park.

Other than Taroko Gorge, other popular things to do in Hualien are to visit Qixingtan Beach, go night river shrimping, dolphin and whale watching, and paragliding. Hualien is all about natural beauty so pretty much all the activities here involve the outdoors. At the end of the day, you can chow down at Dongdamen Night Market which is also one of our favorite night markets in Taiwan.

HUALIEN TRAVEL GUIDE: You can refer to our detailed travel guide to Hualien to help you plan this leg of your trip.

Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

WHERE TO STAY IN HUALIEN: We booked a big room at a boutique hotel in Hualien called Cozy Homestay. We were perfectly happy with it, though in hindsight, I would have loved to have rented a car and stayed one night in Taroko National Park. It’s pricier than Hualien City, but the experience of staying in the park overnight would have been worth it. We booked a room at Cozy Homestay through AirBnB, but you can make a reservation through Booking.com or Agoda as well. You can check these links for other listings in Hualien: AirBnB | Booking.com | Agoda. As advised, if you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get USD 31 free travel credit when you sign up via this link. If you’d like to stay in Taroko Gorge, then you can either stay at one of the few hotels in the park or go camping.

DAY 11

TAIPEI

We were allocating the most number of days to Taipei which is why I left it for last. Four days is a good amount of time to spend in the capital city. It’ll give you enough time to see its highlights and use it as a base to make a couple of easy day trips.

The easiest way to get to Taipei from Hualien is by TRA train. The trip takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes. If you catch the 8:39AM train, then you can be in Taipei before 11AM.

I’ve allotted two days to Taipei City. The fastest and most convenient way to see it’s top attractions is to go on a Hop On Hop Off tour. These double decker buses ply set routes that will take you to the city’s highlights like Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei 101, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, National Palace Museum, and Shilin Night Market. You can hop on and off as often as you want for the duration of your pass. There’s much more to see in Taipei but these attractions will already fill up an entire day so we’ll leave the rest for your second day.

TAIPEI TRAVEL GUIDE: You can refer to our detailed travel guide to Taipei to help you plan this leg of your trip.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan

WHERE TO STAY IN TAIPEI: There are many good neighborhoods to stay in Taipei, but for me, there’s no better place then Ximending. It’s a fun and lively neighborhood in Wanhua District with lots to see and do. We rented a big studio apartment in Ximending that served as our base in Taipei for several nights. You can book it through AirBnB or check these sites for other listings in Taipei: AirBnB | Booking.com | Agoda. I go into more detail about where you can stay in the city in our Taipei travel guide. As advised, if you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get USD 31 free travel credit when you sign up via this link.

DAY 12

TAMSUI/BEITOU

Tamsui and Beitou are accessible by MRT, making them one of the easiest day trips you can make from Taipei. Conveniently, they’re both located along the Red Line (Tamsui and Beitou Stations) so you can visit one after the other. Tamsui is a seaside district famous for its street food while Beitou is one of the most popular hot spring destinations in Taiwan.

You can visit either place first, but if you plan on soaking in a hot spring in Beitou, then you may want to save that for last. After a long day exploring Tamsui and Beitou, it was nice to get off our feet and relax in a hot tub before heading back to Taipei and calling it a night. Tamsui is the last stop on the Red Line while Beitou is six stops before it. From Beitou Station, you’ll need to transfer to the pink line and go one stop to Xinbeitou. That’s where all the hot springs and attractions are.

In Tamsui, you can try the street food along Tamsui Old Street. They have a few interesting regional specialties like Ah-gei, fish ball soup, and iron eggs. Other highlights include Lover’s Bridge at Fisherman’s Wharf and Fort San Domingo.

Aside from its hot springs, Beitou has a few notable attractions like its library, Plum Garden, the Hot Spring Museum, and Hell Valley. But its premier attractions of course are its hot springs. You can either go to a public bath or pay more to use a private facility. We went to Beitou Hot Spring Resort and rented a private room for a 90-minute hot spring session. It was awesome and much more relaxing than sharing a tub with a bunch of strangers.

But even if you aren’t interested in bathing in a hot spring, Beitou is still very much worth visiting for its atmosphere alone. It was developed into a tourist destination during the Japanese occupation so it looks and feels very much like a Japanese onsen town. You’ll feel like you’re in Japan when you’re there. The central Beitou Hot Spring Park is beautiful and serene and a great place to just sit and enjoy the day.

TAMSUI & BEITOU TRAVEL GUIDE: You can refer to our detailed travel guide to Tamsui and Beitou to help you plan this leg of your trip.

Thermal (Hell) Valley, Beitou, Taipei, Taiwan

DAY 13

SHIFEN/JIUFEN

This is one of the most popular day trips you can make from Taipei. Shifen and Jiufen are both small towns in New Taipei City, about an hour east of Taipei. Tourists flock to Shifen to make wishes and release paper lanterns into the sky, while Jiufen is a former mining town that draws visitors to its cool mountain atmosphere and abundance of street food.

From Taipei, it’s best to go to Shifen first before continuing on to Jiufen. You can refer to our Jiufen and Shifen travel guide for detailed instructions on how to get there using public transportation. But if you’d rather go on a guided tour, then you can do so through Kkday. We went on this Yehliu, Shifen, Jiufen tour from Taipei which also took us to Yehliu Geopark and its fascinating hoodoo stones. Yehliu is a little harder to get to on your own, especially if you’re pressed for time, so you may want to consider this tour. It’s the most hassle-free way of seeing all three places.

If you go to Shifen and Jiufen on your own, be sure to check out Shifen Waterfalls as well. It’s a beautiful cascading waterfall that’s often referred to as the “Little Niagara of Taiwan”. You can walk to the falls after releasing your sky lantern along the railway tracks of Shifen Old Street.

We wanted to get the full Jiufen experience so we decided to stay the night there. Jiufen is the last stop on the guided tour so you’ll be given the option of staying there and making your way back to Taipei on your own. It’s just an hour away by bus so it’s pretty easy.

I’m glad we decided to stay the night in Jiufen because we had no idea how crowded it gets during the day! The place gets absolutely packed with tourists so it was nice to see it empty late at night and early in the morning. As described, Jiufen is known for its street food so you may want to refrain from eating too much until you get to Jiufen.

SHIFEN & JIUFEN TRAVEL GUIDE: You can refer to our detailed travel guide to Shifen and Jiufen to help you plan this leg of your trip.

Shifen, Taiwan

WHERE TO STAY IN JIUFEN: We booked a one-night stay at Jiufen Alleyway B&B. It’s located in a much quieter area of Jiufen so you’ll be far removed from all the chaos of the main street. We booked it through AirBnB but you can make a reservation through Booking.com or Agoda as well. Follow these links for other listings in Jiufen: AirBnB | Booking.com | Agoda. As advised, if you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get USD 31 free travel credit when you sign up via this link.

DAY 14

TAIPEI

We took an early morning bus from Jiufen and got back to Taiwan before noon to enjoy our last day in Taipei. You’ll probably be pretty tired at this point so you may want to just relax and take it easy. But if you have the energy to do more sightseeing, then there’s still plenty left to explore in Taipei.

Other popular attractions include Longhsan Temple, Bopiliao Historical Block, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Huashan 1914 Creative Park, Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, and Raohe Night Market. If you’re in the mood to go shopping, then you’ll find plenty of trendy shops and boutiques in Ximending, which is often referred to as the “Harajuku of Taipei”. Be sure to end the day at Raohe Night Market as its one of the best and most popular night markets in Taipei for food.

And that’s about it! If you follow this itinerary, then you’ll get to experience the best of Taiwan in 14 days. It can be tiring but it’s fun and super worth it. Taiwan is a fascinating country with great infrastructure so it’s easy to explore. Be sure to check out the map and our travel tips below for more help in planning your trip.

Raohe Night Market, Taipei, Taiwan

TRIP MAP

These are all the places you’ll be covering if you follow this 2-week itinerary. Zoom in to get a closer look and mouse over the pins to see what they are.

TRAVEL TIPS

1. Avoid the Rainy Season

The climate varies slightly from city to city but the seasons are typically consistent throughout the island. Just know that April to September is generally the hottest, wettest, and most humid time of the year so it may not be the best time to go. Many night markets won’t open at all when it rains and you don’t want that. June till August is the height of typhoon season.

If you can, plan your visit anytime between October and March. This is the driest time of the year with relatively mild temperatures. If you’d like to catch the cherry blossoms, then shoot for around February till mid-March. I think April might be too late.

2. Plan your Trip with Sygic Travel (formerly Tripomatic)

This free app is very useful. It enables you to plot points of interest on a map, including your hotel, so you can see exactly how far you need to travel between points. You can then group attractions together per day based on their location. With pocket wifi, it can turn your mobile phone into a GPS tracking device so people with a terrible sense of direction (like me) don’t get lost. Pretty cool right? Check out my post on the Sygic Travel app for more information.

DOWNLOAD: iOS / Android

You can also download our entire 2-week Taiwan itinerary in editable Word format from our EAT-ineraries page.

3. Rent a Pocket Wifi Device

Having a constant and strong wifi connection is a must when traveling these days. You’ll need it to navigate, convert currencies, post on social media, and do last minute research.

We rented a 4G pocket wifi device through Kkday for NTD 80 a day. You can pick it up and drop it off at Taoyuan, Songshan, or Kaohsiung International Airports. It gave us a strong wifi signal no matter where we were in Taiwan. Beach, mountains, intercity trains, it didn’t matter. Our wifi signal was always good. Battery life was decent, maybe 6-7 hours so I suggest bringing a power bank as you’ll probably need to charge it before the end of each day. Follow this link to rent a pocket wifi device in Taiwan through Kkday.
Pocket wifi rental, Taiwan

4. Exchange Your Currency at Big Banks

Taiwan’s unit of currency is the New Taiwan Dollar (NTD). Changing currency is less stressful in Taiwan because currency exchange services are strictly regulated by the government. There aren’t any independent money changers in Taiwan so you’ll need to exchange your currency at banks.

Any bank will do though smaller banks may charge you a fee for the service. For that reason, I suggest exchanging your currency at big local banks like Bank of Taiwan, China Trust Bank, or South China Commercial Bank.

Alternatively, you can also withdraw NTD from an ATM. The rates are competitive. Just be sure to advise your bank you’ll be using your ATM card overseas so you don’t run into any problems. In my experience, my ATM card works in some machines but not in others.

5. Know the Differences Between the TRA and HSR Trains

As previously described, HSR trains are faster but TRA trains are cheaper. But that’s not the only difference between the two. To know which type of train is best for you, it’s important to understand how they differ.

  1. HSR trains are faster. They can get you to your destination in less than half the time.
  2. HSR trains are about twice as expensive as TRA trains, but there are discounts available.
  3. HSR tickets can be purchased online as early as 4 weeks in advance. TRA tickets can be bought no earlier than 2 weeks ahead.
  4. HSR trains run only on the western side of Taiwan while TRA trains service the east as well.
  5. The majority of HSR stations are located a little outside of the city, so you’ll probably need to arrange for transfers to your hotel. TRA stations are located closer to the city center so they’re more convenient location-wise.

It was important for us to be centrally located and be close to the train station so we took TRA trains the entire trip. If you’d like to take HSR trains, then you can get up to 35% off on the ticket cost if you purchase it in advance or travel during off-peak hours. You’ll see what I mean when you do a route search on the HSR website.

You can also save on the cost of HSR tickets if you purchase them through Kkday. They offer an HSR Unlimited Pass as well as discounted single-journey HSR tickets from different cities throughout the country.

6. Invest in a Transportation Card

A transportation card like the Easycard or iPass will be a great investment in Taiwan, especially if you’ll be spending enough time in Taipei or Kaohsiung. Not only will they give you a discount on MRT rides, but they’ll eliminate the hassle of having to buy single journey tokens every time. We went with the EasyCard and it gave us a 20% discount with every ride on the Taipei MRT and 15% off on the Kaohsiung MRT. From what I understand, the EasyCard and iPass offer similar benefits. They’re just operated by two different companies.

On top of discounts on the Taipei and Kaohsiung MRT, the EasyCard works on most city bus systems and several inter-city buses in Taiwan as well. I read you can get discounts and free rides in some cities, but what I really like about it is that it eliminates the need to pay in exact change. Bus drivers can’t give you change so you don’t have to worry about scrounging up exact amounts every time.

We never used it for anything but transportation but you can use it for other things as well like taxis, ferries, TRA trains, supermarkets, convenience stores, even some restaurants and cafes. Follow this link to see the full scope of use of an EasyCard.

you can purchase an EasyCard from any MRT station for a non-refundable NTD 100. You can then top it up at any station in multiples of NTD 100. You can use it throughout Taiwan, meaning if you bought it in Kaohsiung like we did, then you can use it on the Taipei MRT as well and vice versa. At the end of your trip, any unused amount can be refunded minus a service charge of NTD 20. It’s super convenient so I’d never go to Taipei or Kaohsiung without getting one. You can refer to the EasyCard website for more information.
EasyCard, Taiwan

7. Store Your Luggage with lalalocker

More and more travelers are staying at AirBnBs these days. We do, and it can be a problem when we can’t check in to our accommodations until 2PM, sometimes even later. We arrived by train early in every city we visited in Taiwan. It wasn’t a problem with hotels because we could leave our luggage at the front desk till check in. But in some instances, like in Kaohsiung for example, we were staying at an AirBnB so it wasn’t possible to leave our bags there. Thankfully, we were able to leave our bags at a luggage storage facility so we could tour the city before checking in.

If you run into the same problem, then you can use lalalocker to find places where you can temporarily store your luggage. Think of them as the AirBnB for luggage. They connect travelers with establishments like hotels, shops, and cafes where you can safely leave your luggage for a fee. They service many cities in Taiwan so just go to their website to find a storage place convenient for you. You can then make a reservation directly on their website. Check out the lalalocker website for more information.
lalalocker, Taiwan

Bookstore that stores your luggage in Taipei

8. Check for Discount Passes

There are many websites that offer discount passes to tours and services. One of my favorites is Kkday. They offer deals to many destinations around the world, including Taiwan where they’re based. They’re a Taiwanese e-commerce travel platform so in my opinion, there’s no better website to purchase deals from in Taiwan than Kkday. They have the widest selection.

If you’re looking for deals on tours, transfers, pocket wifi rental, etc, then you may want to search through Kkday’s website for a list of deals in Taiwan. You can do a search by city to narrow it down. You’ll often find interesting activities that you wouldn’t normally think of yourself, so it’s definitely worth a look.

9. Get Travel Insurance

To be honest, it was only recently when we started buying travel insurance. Back when we traveled just once or twice a year, travel insurance felt like a luxury, something we could do without. But now that we travel more, I understand how important it is to have it. Fact is, you never know what can happen. It’s one of those things that you hope you never have to use, but if you do wind up needing it, then you’ll be thanking the gods that you had it (or cursing them if you didn’t).

Though I do find it more necessary now, it’s still up to you if you think you need it. A 3-day trip to Hong Kong just sightseeing and eating may not really call for insurance but if you plan on doing more active things like skiing, horseback riding, or even going on a city bike tour, then I’d say travel insurance is a must. We went bike riding twice on our most recent trip to Taiwan so we did get travel insurance.

We buy travel insurance from World Nomads because every long-term traveler I know recommends it. From the sound of it, they’re the best in the industry by a mile. Not only do they provide a high coverage limit for medical expenses (up to USD 5 million with the Standard package), they also cover things like trip delays, missed flight connections, theft/loss of passport and luggage, etc. Follow the link or use the widget below to learn more and get a free travel insurance quote from World Nomads. It’s super quick and easy.

10. Bring the Right Power Adapter

Taiwan has Type A and Type B electrical outlets so be sure to bring the right power adapters for your devices. Electrical voltage is 110V and the standard frequency is 60Hz.

Have fun!

I’m not an expert on Taiwan but I do hope that you find this guide useful. I’m only sharing some of the things I learned from our trip. If you have any suggestions or simply want to share your own experiences, then please feel free to do so in the comments section below. You’re welcome to join our Facebook Travel Group as well. We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by and have fun exploring Taiwan!

OUR GEAR

These are some of the things we brought with us to Taiwan. As you can tell, I document a lot of content for this blog so most of the things I bring are photo and video equipment. 😆 If you’d like to see what other gear we use, then you can check out our “What’s in Our Backpack?” post. (NOTE: The following links are affiliate links.)

Disclosure

We’re a Kkday affiliate and worked with them on our latest trip to Taiwan. We paid for our airfare, accommodations, and incidental expenses like transportation and food, but we were allowed to go through their website and choose activities and services in exchange for an honest account of the experience. They didn’t ask us to do or say anything. We chose them on our own volition. As always, all words and opinions expressed in this post are mine and mine alone.

Some of the links in this guide are affiliate links, meaning we’ll get a small commission if you make a purchase at NO extra cost to you. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as this helps us make more of these free travel guides. Thank you!


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There are 7 comments for this article
  1. Sudeesh at 11:49 am

    Your Itinerary was pretty cool.. i will recommend this to my clients and friends… cheers.. waiting for more itineraries like this.

  2. Lee at 5:22 pm

    Hi, your itinerary was really helpful. Wondering about how accessible it was to get a ticket from Hualien to Taipei? I read other sites that TRA tickets get snapped up really quick, but you didn’t go into detail on your guide. Thanks and hope you can help!

  3. Mai at 12:51 pm

    Thanks for the post. I wonder if it would be better to go to Taroko gorge from Taipei or Taichung as one day trip. Thanks.

  4. JB & Renée Macatulad at 11:28 am

    Hi Mai, definitely from Taipei. I don’t think there’s a train that crosses the mountains from Taichung to Hualien. If you start from Taichung, then you’ll probably need to go via Taipei anyway. Hope that helps and enjoy Taiwan! 🙂

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