“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” - Gustave Flaubert
Are you heading to the South China Sea, between the Philippines and Japan?
Yes, we’re talking about Taiwan, its countryside, cuisine, and historical and cultural heritage. Taiwan, for many people, conjures the idea of manufacturing. After all, most of us have seen something with “Made in Taiwan” printed on it. However, the island is much more than just that.
Taiwan has a population of 23.58 million people, covers 13,974 mi², is separated from the People's Republic of China by the China Strait, is 240 miles long, and 85 miles wide.
The island’s economic growth was 2.68% in 2018, has a GDP of $52,304 per person per year, ranks 19th in the world ahead of both South Korea (32nd) and Japan (31st).
In this article, we're going to look at the best time to visit Taiwan, the things you should see, why should visit, and where you should stay when you go.
When Should You Visit Taiwan?
When can you visit Taiwan?
You only need a one-word answer: whenever!
The climate in Taiwan is subtropical and humid in the north, tropical in the south, and is dry in winter and humid in summer. From the Kenting National Park to the Yangmingshan National Park in the north via Taroko Gorge, Alishan Park, and Taiwanese towns, the climate can vary wildly from season to season.
While 30°C would be a heatwave in the north of the UK, temperatures regularly approach 40°C in Taiwan. Taipei, the Taiwanese capital city, is located 25° north, on the same latitude as northern Mexico or southern Egypt. The Tropic of Cancer runs through the island and typhoons and monsoons are common in Taiwan. Taiwanese cities can be unbearable in summer when the humidity and pollution make it feel hotter. Temperatures can exceed 35°C in April in Taipei.
On the other hand, the winter is mild and dry in the south and humid and cool in the north. The snow covers the mountains in the centre of the island that reach 12,966 ft above sea level.
While the thermometer can read 25°C in December and January, the average temperature tends to be around 20°C in the north with grey skies.
If you want to visit Taipei in the north of Taiwan, it’s probably better to go in the spring when the temperatures are milder and there’s less rainfall.
The best months to visit Taiwan are March, April, May, and September.
However, you might want to consider visiting the island in winter when there are fewer Chinese tourists except during the Chinese New Year and the Spring Festival.
So how long should you go for?
British Citizens can spend up to 90 days in Taiwan without a visa. This should give you more than enough time to see Taiwan’s unmissable attractions. However, it won’t be long enough if you want to learn Mandarin Chinese.
If you want to immerse yourself in the language and intensive language courses, you’ll probably need closer to a year.
Find out more about when you should visit Taiwan.
What Are the Must-See Sights in Taiwan?
Travelling to Taiwan is very easy and it allows you to experience an aspect of Chinese culture including temples, historic monuments, and cuisine. However, Taiwan is not China and it has its own culture, monuments and food, too.
Here are some of the things you have to visit in Taiwan.
Taipei, the Capital City
Taipei is a city that never sleeps. In this way, it’s like a lot of the other big cities in Asia: Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Manila. In Taipei, you have to see the following:
- Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
- Lungshan Temple
- Songshan Ciyou Temple
- The Taipei 101 Tower
- Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain)
- Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
- The National Museum of History
- Yangmingshan National Park
- The Tamsui River and Tamsui District
- Da’an Park, Nangang Park, and Rainbow Riverside Park
- Tasting bubble teas, a popular Taiwanese beverage
- Shilin Night Market and Raohe Night Market
- Jiufen and Teapot Mountain
Outside of the Capital
Do you have some extra time?
Take the HSR (High Speed Rail), which travels at speeds of up to 186mph, to Tainan, Hsinchu, Kaohsiung, and Taichung. From there, you can take a romantic trip to Sun Moon Lake, a popular spot for couples.
Make sure you also visit the Taroko Gorge on the west coast of the island or head to the south of the island Kenting National Park. From there, you can go to the southernmost part of Taiwan!
The Top 10 Reasons to Visit Taiwan
Why should you visit Taiwan instead of elsewhere in Asia?
Does safety, warm and welcoming people, decent weather throughout the year, great street food for a couple of quid, and millennia of history sound good to you?
To understand why you should visit this island, let’s look at its history. This state is sovereign at an administrative and political level and has its own government but cannot promote its own independence at an international level as it lost its seat in the UN to the People's Republic of China.
Taiwan is said to be “One country, two systems”.
After colonisation by the Dutch in the 17th century, the island was repopulated under the Ming dynasty and was occupied by Japan for 50 years until 1945.
Taiwan industrialised in the 20th century under the nationalist and anti-communist Kuomintang government of Chiang Kai-shek. The island progressively entered into international commercial relations and became democratic and capitalist.
Tsai Ing-wen, the former Chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party, became the first female President of Taiwan in 2016. Under her rule, she’s reignited the independence debate, calling for Taiwan to become a sovereign state.
Gay marriage was legalised in 2019 in Taiwan, a first for Asia, making the country more progressive than the others on the continent.
The country’s history has forged its national identity, multicultural society, and its place between Chinese, Japanese, and western culture, which tends to see diplomatic relations run hot and cold.
Here are some great reasons to visit Taiwan:
- Quality infrastructure
- Beautiful countrysides
- Varied Taiwanese cuisine
- Friendly locals
- Its history and culture, a blend between modernity and Buddhist and Taoist traditions
In addition to all that, there are tonnes of hot springs, especially in Beitou, Yangmingshan National Park, Taroko, Baolai, and Bulao.
The fact that Taiwan isn’t the most popular tourist destination in Asia is a great reason to head there. There will be fewer tourists when you go and it’ll be easier to visit the sights.
The Taiwanese have spent the last 15 years cleaning up their island and recycling more.
Where Should You Stay in Taiwan?
While you can eat for cheap, it’s a little harder to find accommodation in Taiwan as cheaply. You’ll need around £20 a night for an Airbnb in Taichung, Kaohsiung, Hualien, and Taichung, especially if you don’t want to be too far out.
That said, it’s easy to find accommodation in Taiwanese cities. On the other hand, it’ll be harder to get a good deal on accommodation if you go in spring, summer, or the Chinese New Year.
The range of accommodation includes campsites, holiday rents, youth hostels, and luxury hotels. Have a look at Booking.com, Trivago, Airbnb, and Homeaway to find the best prices.
For long stays, you’ll probably need to find flatmates as, in Taipei in particular, renting can cost a lot.
You can pay around £300 for a room in a flat with two other people.
If you find somewhere in the city centre, you can see everything Taipei has to offer without spending too much time on the metro.
Choosing your accommodation will depend on what you want to do in Taiwan:
- Hsinchu, in the south, is milder and near the sea.
- Taoyuan, which is near the airport.
- Taichung, a good base for those heading to Sun Moon Lake or wanting to hike in the centre of the island.
- Tainan, where you can visit the traditional and picturesque 17th-century temples.
- Kaohsiung, to see the Formosan rock macaques in the Gushan District and visit Kenting National Park.
- Hualien, on the east coast where you can see the Taroko Gorge.
So are you going to start looking for flights on Skyscanner?
The fact that Taiwan isn’t the world’s most popular tourist destination is the very reason that you should go!
If you'd like to learn some of the language before you go, consider getting help from a private tutor on Superprof.