Five Great Reasons to Visit Taiwan

Taipei, Taiwan skyline dominated by Taipei 101
Taipei, Taiwan skyline dominated by Taipei 101 | Photo by Zhong Cen Fan Jiang CC BY-SA 2.0

Our first trip to Taiwan came about because of an amazing seat sale I noticed in my inbox.  Calgary to Taipei return for less than $500 CDN!  I mean, what choice did I really have?  🙂 Taiwan is under the radar of many travelers and we knew very little about it before our visit.

The Taiwan Flag
Taiwan Flag

Why Visit Taiwan?

Despite having a rich culture, amazing food, and stunning scenery, Taiwan isn’t widely known by many travelers to Asia. After our first vacation in Taiwan, it’s now at the top of our list. Taipei is a world-class city, and beyond the capital you’ll find eight national parks with lush mountains, valleys, coastlines and fascinating geology to explore.

Taiwan is a small island state off the southeast coast of China, with Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. It is approximately 245 miles (395 km) long and 90 miles (145 km) wide. It also includes many small islands, some of which are also claimed by China, Japan or the Philippines. The population of Taiwan is about 24 million and Taipei, the largest city and capital (population 2.65 million), is located on the northwest tip of the island. Taiwan’s climate is mainly subtropical, except for the southern part of the island, which is tropical.

Most of the population and farmlands are found on the western side of the island. The mountains and rugged coastline on the eastern side make it more natural and less populated.  An ideal visit to Taiwan can include the best of both worlds, with all the culture and sights of Taipei, and the stunning scenery, hiking and friendly small towns of Taiwan’s east coast.

Here are five great reasons to plan your next holiday in Taiwan:

1. That Famous Taiwanese Cuisine

Hotpot in Hualien
Hotpot in Hualien
Taiwanese breakfast – egg crepe roll (dan bing)
A Taiwanese breakfast – egg crepe roll (dan bing)

Taiwan is justifiably one of the best food destinations in the world. There are many must-try Taiwanese foods, including Taiwanese hotpot, beef noodle soup, bubble tea, and the infamous “stinky tofu”, as well as many other Chinese, Japanese and international options.  Lining up for delicious soup dumplings (xiao long bao) at Din Tai Fung is worth the wait. Sampling delicious street food at a Taipei night market is an experience not to be missed. You can find amazing food at small family Taiwanese restaurants, and food in general is very affordable. 

2. Beautiful and Diverse Taipei

Ciyou Temple in Songshan District, Taipei, Taiwan
Ciyou Temple in Songshan District, Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei is Taiwan’s beautiful capital and largest city, and it truly offers something for everybody. It’s a city of contrasts, with history and culture, alongside modern architecture and transportation. Its skyline is dominated by Taipei 101, a bamboo-shaped skyscraper with an observation deck, which was the world’s tallest building until 2010.  The city is surrounded by green hills and mountains, and there are many parks and bike paths within the city. You can explore the shops and cafes in cool neighbourhoods such as the historic Dihua Street and buy some oolong tea; visit one of Taipei’s world-class museums; take the Maokong Gondola high above the city into lush and peaceful mountains; enjoy the food and exciting atmosphere at one of Taipei’s night markets; relax at the Beitou hot springs, or venture out to the mountain town of Jiufen, about 90 minutes by train from Taipei.

3. Eastern Taiwan – Mountains, Coastline, and the East Rift Valley

The eight-arched Sanxiantai Bridge connects the small island of Sanxiantai (三仙台) with Taiwan’s east coast.
The eight-arched Sanxiantai Bridge connects the small island of Sanxiantai (三仙台) with Taiwan’s east coast.

Taiwan has gorgeous scenery, especially on the mountainous and rugged east coast. Highlights of an east coast road trip could include hiking in Taroko Gorge National Park near Hualien, cycling in the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area, Kenting National Park in the south, visiting one of the many hot springs or exploring unique geological formations on the coast. 

4. Taiwanese History and Culture

National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

Taiwan’s history began with its indigenous peoples, then Chinese immigration and occupation, Japanese occupation and other Asian and western cultural influences.  Today this results in a culture that is distinctly Taiwanese, and there are an abundance of historical sites, temples, and museums to explore. In Taipei the National Palace Museum is a must for its permanent collection of nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks.  There are many regional festivals if you are lucky enough to be in a place at the right time. Taiwan also has a thriving modern culture (the Ximending district is the hub for nightlife, shopping and street performances), and most Chinese TV dramas and pop music artists popular throughout Asia originate from Taiwan.

5. Taiwan has the World’s Friendliest People

Even with all the amazing scenery, food and culture Taiwan has to offer, it’s the Taiwanese people that made our trip even more special. We traveled the circumference of the whole country, and the people we met everywhere were helpful, patient, and treated each other with respect. 

One night we forgot where we parked our car* 🙁 (see tip below). After eating some tasty hotpot at a restaurant in Yuli, we walked out to find it had become dark, and we were disoriented. We searched for over an hour and then it started to rain. We were feeling miserable and worried whether we could find our car at all that night. Thankfully a young couple noticed our distress, and immediately offered to help by driving us around to look for it. With their help we soon found it, and this is only one example of the kindness and hospitality of the Taiwanese people we met.

According to Expat Insider, Taiwan was rated 1st out of 64 countries in the Expat Insider 2019 World Survey, and the friendliest country in Asia (4th overall). In our own experience, the hospitality and pleasant nature of the Taiwanese people made us feel relaxed and safe on our trip, and has made Taiwan one of our favourite places on the planet.

Our new friend in this East Rift Valley cafe is known as "Coffee Uncle".  He grows, roasts, and brews these special cups of coffee himself!
Our new friend in this East Rift Valley cafe is known as “Coffee Uncle”. He grows, roasts, and brews these special cups of coffee himself!

*Tip for not losing your car: When you park in an unfamiliar place, take a quick photo or two of your car showing its licence plate, and a nearby landmark or road sign. We almost always do this, but this time we didn’t and ended up wandering around for an hour in the dark looking for it. Lesson learned!


Planning a trip? Wondering where to Stay in Taiwan?

Read more about some of our favourite places to stay in Taiwan. These hotels and B&Bs in Taipei and throughout Taiwan feature both budget and affordable luxury options. We focus on hotels and B&Bs that offer good value, along with that special something to make your stay memorable.

Grand Hotel Taipei, Taiwan

Best Places to Stay in Taiwan

Here are some of our favourite places to Stay in Taipei and Around Taiwan

The Grand Hotel Taipei
The Grand Hotel Taipei, Zhongshan District

Your choice of accommodations can make or break your holiday. When we search for places to stay, first they must be clean, safe, and comfortable. Then we like to mix it up, and stay in a variety of accommodations—some budget and some affordable luxury. So our list focuses on hotels and B&Bs with good value, along with that special something that can make your stay memorable. Taiwan is known for its friendly people and hospitality, and this was also our experience in these hotels and B&Bs thoughout the country. Here are some of our favourite places to stay in Taiwan.

Disclaimer: We have personally stayed in the accommodations listed below at our own expense, and received no compensation for these recommendations. This post contains affiliate links where TouristSite will earn a commission if you make a purchase, but there is no extra cost to you.

Where to Stay in Taipei

Grand Hotel Taipei

Staying at the 14-story Grand Hotel Taipei in the Zhongshan District almost feels like staying in an Asian palace. The 4.5-star hotel is a landmark of Taipei, perched high against Yangming Mountain, facing the Keelung River. The interior lobby is stunning and the grounds are beautiful.

The Grand Hotel is well-located near many popular attractions. It’s an 8-minute walk from the Jian Tan metro station (MTR). There’s also a hotel shuttle to the MTR and the Shilin Night Market, one of the best night markets in Taipei. The National Palace Museum, Huashan 1914 Creative Park, Maokong Gondola, and Taipei Zoo are all easy to access by MTR or taxi. It’s a great place for a very-affordable splurge. As a major resort-style hotel, the service is less personal but very professional. This is a great place to stay if you want to be immersed in a grand Asian atmosphere.

The Lobby of the Grand Hotel Taipei, Places to stay in Taipei
The Lobby of the Grand Hotel Taipei

The Rido Hotel in Da’an District, Taipei

The Rido Hotel is a boutique hotel in Taipei City’s main financial district, in a great location facing Da’an Forest Park. Once inside, the art and architecture give it a real European feeling. Da’an Park is a great place to go for a walk, or rent a bike to enjoy on the local bike pathway. It is near the Taipei 101 tower, and you can walk to many restaurants including Din Tai Fung for must-try soup dumplings.

The Rido Hotel is across the street from Daan Forest Park, Places to stay in Taipei
The Rido Hotel is across the street from Daan Forest Park, Taipei

More Places to Stay in Taiwan

Legend Hotel Pier2 Hotel in Kaohsiung

The fun Legend Hotel Pier2 in Kaohsiung is well-located between Lover River and The Pier-2 Art Centre. The quirky “Alice-in-wonderland” inspired murals and bonuses like in-room snacks and drinks make it great for families or young-at-heart. There is also a substantial breakfast buffet, entertainment/games area and laundry facilites. Friendly staff and great value.

Legend Hotel Pier2 in Kaohsiung, Places to stay in Taiwan
Legend Hotel Pier2 in Kaohsiung

Wisdom Garden Home Stay B&B in Yuli, East Rift Valley

The Wisdom Garden Home Stay in Yuli was one of our favourite B&B stays ever. The garden setting is beautiful and peaceful, and the warm hospitality of the family who runs the B&B makes it even more special. The Taiwanese breakfast was so thoughtfully prepared and one of our best meals in Taiwan—we would return to this Taiwan B&B just to eat this meal again. Our room was modest but spacious and clean. Yuli Town is only a few minutes drive away, and the location is perfect for walking the Walami Trail, heading to a hot springs, or cycling on the Yufu Bikeway.

Wisdom Garden Home Stay, Yuli, East Rift Valley, Places to stay in Taiwan
Wisdom Garden Home Stay, Yuli, East Rift Valley

Kindness Hotel in Hualien (near Taroko Gorge National Park)

The Kindness Hotel in Hualien is a perfect place to stay if you are on a Taiwan East Coast road trip. The service is excellent, and amenities include free parking, laundry, meals and bicycles, making it an excellent value. The evening buffet is extensive and with live musicians it almost feels like a celebration. If you have a car and are in Hualien to visit Taroko Gorge, we would recommend staying in Hualien rather than next to the park. It’s a short drive to the trails and in the evening you can enjoy Hualien.

The road from Hualien towards Taroko Gorge National Park
The road from Hualien towards Taroko Gorge National Park

Kenting Maya House, B&B in Kenting National Park

Kenting Maya House (墾丁瑪雅之家民宿 l 防疫ok l 客房二氧化氯殺菌) is a great B&B if you are visiting Kenting National Park, on the southern tip of Taiwan. It’s located in a peaceful rural setting a short fifteen-minute walk from Kenting town, and a short walk from the local market. We enjoyed watching the birds from our balcony while eating our breakfast, which was served in our room.

Kenting Maya House, Kenting National Park, Places to stay in Taiwan
Kenting Maya House, Kenting National Park

Why Visit Taiwan?

Read more about Five Great Reasons to Visit Taiwan. Despite having a rich culture, amazing food, and stunning scenery, Taiwan isn’t widely known by many travelers to Asia. After our first vacation in Taiwan, it’s now at the top of our list. Taipei is a world-class city, and beyond the capital you’ll find eight national parks with lush mountains, valleys, coastlines and fascinating geology to explore.

Taipei 101, Taipei Night View Taiwan
Taipei 101, Taipei Night View Taiwan