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Holidays in Taiwan – Asia's underrated dream destination

Taiwan may be one of the most underrated destinations in Asia, just waiting to be explored. The country is safe for solo and LGBTQIA+ travellers and backpackers (ranked the third-safest country in the world), and has a strong focus on sustainable tourism.

The island, which is just 13,900 square miles, is home to 23 million people. Despite its small size, Taiwan has great cultural diversity, with three ethnic groups of Chinese, such as the Han Chinese, the Hakka, the Hokkien and 16 indigenous tribes. Thanks to a rich cultural heritage, outstanding natural and scenic beauty, as well as delicious cuisine (soup dumplings, anyone?), Taiwan is a great destination for an extended holiday or a stop on your way to another Asian country.

How to get to Taiwan

Both China Airlines and Eva Air have daily, direct flights from London to Taipei, which is a good starting point for your trip. The flight takes around 13 to 16 hours. To find cheap flights to Taiwan, use our flight search below.

As a UK citizen you do not need a special visa. You’ll be able to obtain an automatic 90-day stay upon arrival. You just need to make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months when you enter the country. Once you’re in Taiwan, you can apply for a further 90 days.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: If you are planning to visit Taiwan before 30 June 2025, make sure you register for the Taiwan Lucky Draw at least 1 day before you arrive. When you arrive at the airport, you'll be able to play a cute game where you could win NT$5,000 (around £120–£130) to spend during your time in Taiwan.

Taiwan also makes for a really great stopover for those wishing to visit other countries in Asia or Australia. While we think Taiwan deserves a longer visit, the country also has a free half-day tour programme for visitors that have a 7 – 24 hour layover in Taiwan. You can book your tour of choice online from 5 to 90 days prior to your arrival.

Find flights to Taiwan

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Currency and payment options

The local currency is the New Taiwan Dollar (NT$). It's best to exchange money at banks or at the airport in Taiwan to get the best rates. Credit cards are usually accepted for payment, but cash can only be obtained from ATMs, which can charge high fees. Be sure to check with your bank before you travel. Most markets, for instance the food and night markets, only accept cash, so it is worth making sure to have some on you.

Climate and best time to go to Taiwan

Taiwan has a subtropical climate. The north of Taiwan is dry from November to January, and the south stays dry until April. Be prepared for a hot and humid climate between June and September. Autumn is less hot, and the humidity drops. The average temperature ranges from 20°C to 30°C in the summer and 15°C to 20°C in the winter.

Where to stay

Taiwan is perfect for both backpackers and those looking to splash out. In Taipei, for example, there are plenty of affordable hotel and hostel options to choose from, including some pretty cool, well-rated capsule hotels that start around £25-30 per night. Expect to pay around £40-80 per night for a 3- or 4-star hotel in Taipei.

On the other hand, luxury 5-star hotels are quite affordable compared to the UK. Booking in advance, outside of high season, will get you the best deal, but 5-star hotels normally cost around £150 to £200 per night. This may seem like a bit of a splurge, but we think it's worth it if breakfast is included. Many of the hotels offer buffets with tons of options to choose from, giving you a nice overview of traditional Taiwanese food.

LGBTQIA+ friendly

Taiwan was the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage. It is a safe place for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. It is also considered the third-safest country in the world. Queer bars and clubs are plentiful, and rainbow flags are a common sight. Additionally, Taiwan hosts a massive Pride celebration annually in October in Taipei, which happens to be the largest Pride in East Asia.

Sustainability in Taiwan

Taiwan provides a wide range of eco-tourism opportunities. These include exploring lush national parks, scenic hiking trails, sustainable agriculture, and conservation initiatives. Visitors can encounter unique wildlife and participate in eco-friendly activities such as birdwatching, organic farming experiences, and community-based tourism projects.

Transportation is an important sustainable topic for tourism in Taiwan. Taiwan promotes low-carbon travel through train, bicycle, and foot.

Exploring Taiwan by Train

The best way to get around Taiwan is by train. Not only is it a sustainable way to travel, it's also the most efficient.

The island has a high-speed train that runs from the north to the south along the west coast, connecting major cities such as Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung, allowing you to travel from one end to the other in just two hours. International travellers can take advantage of great deals, with tickets costing around £25-35 and various day passes available for 2, 3 or 5 days.

To see the east side of the island, you can take the local trains, which offer a leisurely journey through picturesque towns and stunning landscapes.

If you're in Taipei, the MRT is the best way to get around. You can buy a metro card at local convenience stores such as 7-11 or Family Mart, where you can also top it up, or at the stations. The metro is incredibly clean and convenient and connects all major parts of the city, including the airport. No food or drink is allowed once you've passed through the ticket barriers, so make sure you're not caught eating or drinking on the platforms or trains, or you could get a hefty fine.

Sample train routes around Taiwan

  1. Alishan Forest Railway:
Originally constructed to transport logs from the forests to the cities, the Alishan Forest Railway is now a popular tourist attraction that provides a unique glimpse into Taiwan's past. The Alishan National Scenic Area is renowned for its tea plantations and majestic mountain ranges. Kick back and relax while you take in the breathtaking views of the area!

  2. Pingxi Railway: Located in New Taipei City, the Pingxi Railway is a historic line known for its stunning scenery and historic charm. Along the way, you’ll be able to see Shifen Waterfall and Shifen Old Street. The train also stops at the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival (which takes place in February each year). You’ll be able to get off the train and release your own lantern into the sky.

  3. Neiwan Line: Located in Hsinchu County, the Neiwan Line is a historic railway that is named after the traditional Hakka village of Neiwan. Visitors will be able to visit this village for a unique glimpse into Hakka culture and history. The line also stops at the historic Beipu Old Street, where visitors will be able to sample local Hakka cuisine and handicrafts.

Exploring Taiwan by bike

Exploring Taiwan by bike is just as easy. There are numerous bike stations in most major cities where you can rent a bike for as long as you like to explore the city or area that you are in.

For those who are passionate about cycling, there are special routes that are more challenging. These routes combine nature with various historical elements. Possibly, the most popular is the Cycling Route No.1.

Named one of the best cycling routes in the world, Cycling Route No.1 is a picturesque 968 km bicycle route that runs along Taiwan’s coast. The route passes through cities, rural villages, and stunning natural landscapes. It's accessible to both beginners and advanced cyclists.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: For a scenic and relaxed schedule, it is recommended to spend at least two weeks to complete the entire route. This will allow you sufficient time to appreciate some of the cities and towns en route, as well as to rest.

Exploring Taiwan by foot

Last, but not least, Taiwan can also be explored by foot. The island contains many hiking paths and cultural walks.

A particularly popular hike that we can recommend is from the Houtong Cat Village to the Instagram hotspot Jiufang. Cat lovers will be at home in Houtong, which is not just full of cats but also includes cat-themed cafes, shops, art and more. From Houtong, you can take the Dacukeng Trail to Jiufang, which was the inspiration for the bathhouse in the Studio Ghibli film Spirited Away. The hike takes around two hours and is not too difficult, but there are a few steps to climb along the way.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: We recommend getting an early start if you’re doing the walk. Both places are popular tourist spots and can get more and more crowded as the day goes on.

Where to go in Taiwan


Taipei is the capital city of Taiwan, located in the northern part of the island. It is the largest city in Taiwan, with over 2.6 million people. Taipei boasts a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and performing arts venues. Throughout the year, the city hosts various festivals and events celebrating Taiwanese culture, arts, and traditions.

Taipei 101 – an architectural masterpiece

At 101 floors and 508 metres high, the capital's landmark is the tallest building in Asia, and once the tallest building in the world (2004~2010). The jade-green office tower is modelled after bamboo and can withstand major earthquakes. The visitor platform offers a breathtaking view.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: We highly recommend taking a trip up to the top of Taipei 101. The elevator takes you to the observatory on the 89th floor in just 37 seconds! Be sure to have a look at the damper while you’re there. It’s the only damper in the world that is open to the public. You’ll also be able to learn all about how it works during an earthquake.

Top things to do in Taipei

  • Marvel at the world's largest collection of Chinese art at the National Palace Museum in Taipei

  • Visit the historic National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, a national monument built to honour the former President of Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek

  • Spend an afternoon at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, an old tobacco factory turned creative space for design and handcrafted goods

  • Soak in the thermal hot springs at Beitou Hot Spring Park

  • Grab bubble tea and go shopping in the Xinyi and Ximen Districts, both hotspots for young people to shop, eat and gather

  • Wander around Dihua Street, an older district with cute cafes and restaurants, where many Taiwanese come to do their Lunar New Year shopping

Northern Taiwan

Outside of Taipei, northern Taiwan also includes New Taipei City, Keeling City. Yilan County, Taoyuan City, Hsinchu County and Hsinchu City. In New Taipei City, you'll find old-time charm on the old streets in Jiufen and stunning nature at the Yehliu Geopark, including the famous rock formation and geological wonder the Queen's Head. In Hsinchu County, you'll find the largest Hakka community in Taiwan. On the northeast coast, you'll find Yilan, where you'll be able to take whale and dolphin watching tours or take a relaxing soak in one of the hot springs.

Central Taiwan

Located in the heart of Taiwan, Central Taiwan is home to Miaoli County, Taichung City, Changhua County, Nantou County, and Yunlin County. The climate here is mild almost year-round, so it's perfect for a visit at any time of the year. Highlights include the wood carving studios and pottery kilns in Miaoli, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and Rainbow Village in Taichung, and the Bagua Mountain Range in Changhua County for ecotourism.

Southern Taiwan

The south is home to the oldest city in Taiwan, Tainan, which was once the ancient capital city, as well as Chiayi County, Kaohsiung City and Pingtung County. Thanks to a warm, year round climate, Southern Taiwan is a great place to visit for those that want to be outdoors.

Highlights include: Auping Treehouse and district in Tainan, scuba diving and water activities in Kenting Natioal Park in Pingtung, and hiking in Alishan Forest Recreation Park.

Eastern Taiwan

Eastern Taiwan is home to Hualien and Taitung counties, both of which are surrounded by mountains on the left and ocean on the right. Highlights include hiking in Taroko National Park, canoeing down Xiuguluan River and a visit to the Wuhe Tourist Tea Plantations.

Temples, traditions and unspoilt countryside

Close to modern cities, beautiful landscapes, temples and much more await you around every corner in Taiwan. We have put together a small selection of highlights for you:

Sun Moon Lake

Just a few hours' drive from bustling Taipei is the idyllic Sun Moon Lake, named for its shape. One of the world's most beautiful cycle routes runs around the lake, and you can also explore it by boat. In the months of April and May, you'll be able to spot dancing fireflies at night around the lake.

Taroko National Park and Gorge

Taroko National Park is the oldest national park in Taiwan. It is also home to the famous Eternal Spring Shrine. The park offers a variety of trails with stunning waterfalls, impressive prayer halls, and towering marble cliffs. To make the most of your visit, plan ahead and choose the trails that interest you the most. If you enjoy hiking, consider exploring Taroko Gorge. If you do not have a car or wish to see all the highlights in one day, you can book a tour.

Diving and relaxing on the beach

In Taiwan, you can also spend relaxing days on idyllic beaches. The Kenting National Park on the Hengchun Peninsula, with its crystal-clear waters and coral reefs, is ideal for scuba diving.

The Longshan Temple

Another must-see is the Longshan Temple, the oldest temple in Taipei at 254 years old. This fascinating place is best visited at dusk, the light emphasises the already impressive atmosphere.

Top 5 must-see festivals in Taiwan

  1. Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival - Located in Taipei, this festival is easily one of the most famous that Taiwan has. Each year in February, the festival kicks off by releasing thousands of lanterns into the night’s sky.

  2. Lunar New Year Lantern Festival - This festival takes place in a different city in Taiwan each year. With over 170 performances during the day and night, the festival attracts some 10–15 million visitors during the two weeks during Lunar New Year.

  3. Dragon Boat Festival - The Dragon Boat Festival is one of Taiwan's three major traditional holidays, occurring in late May or June. Visitors celebrate the festival by participating in dragon boat races and eating zongzi, which are glutinous rice dumplings. The festival is believed to have originated from the story of the poet Qu Yuan, who jumped into the Miluo River. The locals searched for him by rowing their boats back and forth. This tradition has since evolved into the dragon boat races that we know today.

  4. Yenshui Fireworks Festival - Known as the world's deadliest festival, each year the sleepy town of Yanshui fills with tourists from all over the world to celebrate with fireworks in hopes of bringing good luck and fortune to the village and its inhabitants.

  5. New Year's Eve in Taipei - NYE in Taipei is a must if you are in Taiwan for the holidays. The city celebrates with a fantastic fireworks display from the sides of Taipei 101, Taiwan's tallest building.

Typical local cuisine and bustling night markets

Classic Taiwanese cuisine, regional Chinese cuisine and influences from Japan are all on the menu in Taiwan. The night markets are an experience not to be missed. Big crowds, intense smells and fascinating food - this is the heart of Taiwanese culture!

The Ningxia Night Market in Taipei's Datong district is one of the most popular night markets in Taiwan. Other markets worth visiting while in Taipei are the Shilin Night Market and the Raohe Night Market.

Must-try food and drinks while in Taiwan

  1. Stinky tofu - Don't let the name stop you from trying this dish! Taiwan's national dish can be found all over the country, especially in street markets. It consists of fried fermented tofu, which has a slightly strong smell, hence the name - pickled cabbage and a hot sauce.

  2. Bubble tea - Taiwan invented bubble tea, so you're sure to find bubble tea shops on almost every corner. We recommend going to Chun Shui Tang Teahouse to try the best bubble tea (in our opinion). It's said that this place invented bubble tea. Not sure what to order? Try the classic milk tea or the brown sugar latte. The place also serves delicious food, making it a great place to stop for lunch or dinner. We loved the spicy beef noodle soup.

  3. Oolong tea - In case you hadn't guessed, the Taiwanese take their tea very seriously. Black tea, green tea and oolong tea are the three main types of tea you'll find in Taiwan. It's typical to share a pot of oolong tea with your meal instead of water.

  4. Beef Noodle Soup - Taiwan's national dish, Beef Noodle Soup is a hearty soup of tender slices of beef with chewy noodles in a savoury, aromatic broth with spices such as star anise, garlic and ginger. It's a comforting bowl that captures the warmth and depth of Taiwanese cuisine.

  5. Oyster Omelette - A mash-up of two foods you might not think to pair, but somehow the result is very delicious. The oyster omelette is another staple street food. If you find yourself in Taipei, you can go to the Ningxia Night Market and try an oyster omelette at Yuan Huan Pien, where they've been making omelettes, with oysters from Tainan, since 1965.

  6. Xiao long bao - The famous Xiao long bao are intricately made soup-filled meat dumplings, and are a true highlight and must-eat when in Taiwan. While they might look very simple, each one is carefully folded 18 times, known as the "golden-18 folds" and are prepared by expertly trained chefs. Some of the best can be found at Din Tai Fung in Taipei, which currently holds a Bib Gourmand award.