On the edge of the tropics, east of China and southwest of Japan, the small island of Taiwan drips with promise – and a fair bit of traveler sweat.
In the capital city of Taipei, the four seasons blur into two, and the calendar shifts to lunar logic. It's humid and hot much of the year, with temperatures and crowds peaking from July to August.
But whether you're visiting during the warmest months of the year, or during the slightly cooler months, there's still plenty to do – from festivals and hiking to beaches and biking.
For festivals and water-based activities, visit during high season (July-August)
July to August is high season, but with summer temperatures exceeding 30°C (86°F), you won’t want to spend long wandering the streets of Taipei. Instead, head to the nearest body of water for surfing, snorkeling and diving experiences. By late afternoon, the heat eases off and the parties start.
Visit during low season for an outdoor adventure (November-March)
Low season provides a cooler setting for outdoor adventures such as hiking, biking and hot springs hunting, if hot and humid isn't your bag. Winter in Taipei can get a little chilly, (between 13-18°C, 55-64°F) but adventure travelers will be thankful for this cooler air when out hiking the Pingxi Crags or biking through Pinglin.
Bask in the cherry blossoms and mild temperatures during shoulder season (March-April and October-November)
Blink and you’ll miss them, but there are in fact four seasons on display in Taiwan. The short-lived spring (March and April) is when the forested mountains backing Taipei bloom in pinks and whites, while in fall (October-November), the forests turn a rusty red. With such natural beauty on display and more comfortable temperatures (19-22°C or 66-72°F in April), the shoulder seasons are perfect for getting outside.
Celebrate Chinese New Year in January
Chinese Lunar New Year is Taiwan’s biggest public holiday and runs for one week in late January. In truth, Taipei becomes a bit of a ghost town during this time, when restaurants and shops close and city dwellers head south for family gatherings.
Try arriving in the days prior, hitting the thronging markets of Dihua Street and Nanmen, and consider staying at the Grand Hyatt in anticipation of the annual dragon dance on New Year’s Day.
Key events: Taipei Lunar New Year Festival, Taipei Lantern Festival, strawberry season
Launch lanterns in February
Come mid-February, you’ll have several lantern festivals to choose from across Taiwan, but Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is the biggest and closest to Taipei, where lanterns are released along the charming old railway that runs through Pingxi Old Town.
Key events: Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, Lohas Cherry Blossom Festival
March is best for blooms and biking
Winter is long gone, but summer is not yet near, making March the best time to visit Taipei for outdoor adventuring. Avid bikers tend to start round-the-island tours, while surfers take to the east coast.
March is also the best time to see the cherry blossoms, although you can continue to enjoy them into April at higher elevations, making for some colorful hiking opportunities on Yangmingshan.
Key events: Zhuzihu Calla Lily & Hydrangea Festival, Tour de Taiwan
Get artsy in April
A selection of great art and design events kick off in spring, with several cultural parks competing for picnicking locals and art lovers alike. Of these, Huashan 1914 Creative Park, Taipei Expo Park and Songshan Cultural and Creative Park all host a mishmash of independent design boutiques, art galleries and independent film showcases, with weekend markets held outside.
Key events: Baosheng Cultural Festival (Bao’An Temple), Urban Nomad Film Fest, Treasure Hill Light Festival, Creative Expo Taiwan
Hit the beach in May
As the weather heats up, the wise will head straight to the coast. Both Baishawan Beach north of Tamsui and Fulong Beach to the east lie less than an hour from Taipei by bus, with Longdong on the rocky northeast coast best for cliff jumping and snorkeling in fish-filled waters.
Yilan’s Wai’ao Beach is considered the best surf spot near Taipei. Here, you’ll find a lively stretch of black sand backed by Drifters Pizza Pub, open for après-surf, live music and stone-fired pizza.
Key events: Taipei Traditional Market Festival, Ki Kou Festival, Xia-Hai City God Cultural Festival, watermelon season (April-August)
Race dragon boats in June
A traditional Chinese festival with several contested origin stories, the Dragon Boat Festival continues the custom of competitive dragon boat racing followed by rice dumpling-making over the three-day weekend.
Marking the start of the Monsoon season (June-September), June’s forecast can look nightmarish, but dodging the rain is possible. Watch out for darkening skies, pack a sturdy umbrella and aim to finish your outdoor activities by early afternoon.
Key events: Taipei Film Festival, International Dragon Boat Championships & Festival, mango season (May-September)
Celebrate romance in July
Taipei celebrates its day of romance on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. Head to Daocheng Wharf (Dadaocheng) between Dihua St and the Tamsui River for fireworks displays atop shipping containers that double as bars and food stalls.
Key events: Taipei Water Festival, Taipei Arts Festival, Chinese Valentine’s Day
Don’t whistle after dark in August
Marking the opening of the gates to the underworld, Ghost Month is Taiwan’s spookiest Taoist tradition. During the month, people are meant to refrain from inauspicious activities such as whistling after dark, and Tao believers hold rituals and prepare sacrificial items (fresh fruit and snacks usually, but very occasionally whole pigs) in front of their local temples to promote good fortune. One of the more thrilling events is the Grappling with the Ghosts pole-climbing competition held in Yilan on the last day of the month.
Key events: Taipei Music Academic Festival, Taipei International Fine Wine Expo, Toucheng Ghost Grappling Competition
September is ideal for a barbecue
A 2000-year-old tradition marking the harvest festival and brightest full moon of the year, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated casually in modern Taiwan with families sparking up their barbeques on the roadside while children run around with pomelo skins atop their heads.
Key events: Mid-Autumn Festival, pomelo season
Take to the streets for October’s Gay Pride parade
The first Asian destination to legalize gay marriage, Taiwan hosts the region’s largest LGBTIQ+ celebration. Taipei’s annual LGBT Pride parade sees some 100,000 advocates and activists take to the streets around City Hall, culminating in Halloween-Pride mashup festivities across the city, including Yuanshan’s Maji Square and Ximen’s Red House.
Key events: Taiwan LGBT Pride, Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival
Make the most of the mild yet sunny month of November
November offers plenty to do for those who enjoy the outdoors, both in and outside of the city. Choose any of the best day trips from Taipei, or, get on your bike to explore the Taipei Riverside Bikeway. Alternatively, go hiking on Yangmingshan, finishing with an illicit nighttime dip in Bayan Hot Spring.
Key events: Taipei Jazz Festival
Watch Taipei 101 fireworks in December
Close on the heels of Christmas, when young Taiwanese get together for German markets and gift-giving, New Year’s Eve is another international holiday that Taipei residents can’t help but embrace.
Enjoy the Taipei 101 fireworks extravaganza by getting cozy with crowds around Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Xinyi shopping district, or, better yet, gain a vantage point atop Elephant Mountain, arriving early for the best views.
Key events: Taipei New Year’s Eve Countdown Party