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.

June to September are the best times for festivals and water-based activities

Summer is the 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.

A traditional Chinese festival with several contested origin stories, the Dragon Boat Festival in June 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 to 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.

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. The Taipei Water Festival also kicks off in July and is the perfect way to keep kids cool and entertained on a family vacation.

August marks the opening of the gates to the underworld, and Ghost Month is Taiwan’s spookiest Taoist tradition. Throughout August, 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.

September brings 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.

Two young women renting bikes together in a park in Taipei, Taiwan
Take advantage of the lower temperatures and rent a bike for the day © miodrag ignjatovic / Getty Images

November to March is the best time for an outdoor adventure 

Low season provides a cooler setting for outdoor adventures such as hiking, biking and hot springs hunting if high temperatures and humidity aren't your bag. Winter in Taipei can get a little chilly, (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.

November offers plenty to do, both in and outside of the city. Take a break from the city buzz on a day trip, 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.

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 Nanyang Memorial Hall and Xinyi shopping district. Better yet, gain a vantage point atop Elephant Mountain – arrive early for the best views.

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.

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. Lanterns are released along the charming old railway that runs through Pingxi Old Town.

Winter is long gone, but summer is not yet here, making March a great time to visit Taipei to explore the outdoors. 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.

Participants stand on a pink float for the annual LGBTIQ+ festival, Taiwan Pride
 If you're traveling to Taipei during October, you won't want to miss the annual Pride parade © Q Wang / Shutterstock

March to May and October to November are best for stunning foliage

Blink and you’ll miss them, but there are in fact four seasons on display in Taiwan. The short-lived spring (March to early May) is when the forested mountains backing Taipei bloom in pink and white, while in fall (October and 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.

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.

The first Asian destination to legalize gay marriage, Taiwan hosts the region’s largest LGBTIQ+ celebration in October. Taipei’s annual LGBTIQ+ 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.

This article was first published June 2022 and updated October 2023

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