The Taiwanese adore kids, but they are also conscious about disturbing other people, so young children are generally well behaved in public. That said, with some imagination and the following pointers, you won't have much difficulty finding ways to keep your kids amused in Taiwan.

Best Regions for Kids

  • Taipei

Abundant children’s attractions from museums and puppetry to mechanical rides and playgrounds, many free, too; also gentle hikes and riverside cycling.

  • New Taipei City

Sky lanterns, a scenic train, a cat village and interactive mining exhibits await, if the little legs don’t mind walking.

  • Taichung

Fancy cakes and ice cream in fun settings, a handicraft village with loads of sweet treats, and further afield, a wetland teeming with marine life, and cycling for the whole family.

  • Kaohsiung

Child-friendly museums and cultural programmes, theme-park and virtual-reality rides, entertaining industry-art crossovers.

  • Tainan

Hands-on specialty museums from salt to seed; a fort and a water fowl reserve; quaint walkable streets; canal cruises; and products of the Tainanese famous sweet tooth.

  • Pingtung

Chocolate farms galore and year-round sun-and-beach fun on the southernmost coast.

Taiwan for Kids

Safety

In Taiwan, you can walk on the streets at night with few worries – it’s one of the safest places in the world for travellers. However, be vigilant when crossing the road and hold your child’s hand. Taiwanese car drivers are generally pretty well behaved, but scooters can be unpredictable. When in a hurry, they are known to use the pavements or skirt dangerously close to walkers and people getting out of cars. Pavements outside Taipei and the downtown areas of big cities are often overrun by parked vehicles and hawker stands, which forces pedestrians to walk on the sides of roads, and that is unnerving to say the least.

Dining Out

You're not likely to find high chairs or booster seats for kids at lower-end restaurants, but they are more common at more expensive places, as are unbreakable bowls and eating utensils. Upper-end restaurants may have kids’ menus. Some brunch places and family-friendly eateries offer distractions for young ones, from crayons and balloons to a small play area.

The best time to visit Taiwan’s night markets with young children is from 5pm to 6pm, before crowds make keeping track of kids or manoeuvring pushchairs difficult.

Shopping

  • You can generally find baby formula, food and nappies at supermarkets.
  • All-natural shampoo and skincare products are available at upmarket grocery stores like Jason’s Market Place (www.jasons.com.tw).
  • Jason’s may also have mosquito patches for kids; if it doesn't, go to a pharmacy like Watsons (www.watsons.com.tw).
  • For a greater selection of western snacks and children's food products, try the large Carrefour stores (www.carrefour.com.tw).

Open Spaces

Even the big cities like Taipei and Kaohsiung have lots of nature downtown and not far from the central areas – riversides, gentle hikes, small corner parks with simple play facilities and big parks for picnics, ice cream and ducks.

Nursing Rooms and Playrooms

There are free-to-use nursing rooms in all of Taiwan’s metro, train and bus stations, as well as shopping malls, banks, museums, government buildings and parks. Nursing in public is not common in Taiwan.

All large museums have a children's room or corner with books and educational distractions. There is always a water machine near the toilets.

Sick Children

  • Simple medication to soothe headaches and stuffy noses can be bought at pharmacies. Supermarkets and convenience stores tend not to carry meds.
  • Hospitals have paediatricians and you can make an appointment to see them without a referral from a general practitioner.
  • Adults and older children who have a cold wear medical masks in public, partly for self-protection (against airborne pollutants) but mostly as a courtesy to others.

Public Transport

  • Children under 115cm or six years of age can ride the MRT for free.
  • For high-speed rail and intercity trains, children under 115cm or six years can ride for free provided you hold them on your lap. If your child needs a seat, you'll have to buy a children’s ticket – half price for children 115cm to 150cm or between six and 12 years.
  • Children over 12 (even if under 115cm) pay the full fare.
  • Eating is allowed on trains, but not on the MRT.

Pushchairs

  • Pushchairs are welcome on buses, trains, high-speed rail and the MRT.
  • In tourist hotspots like Jiufen, a pushchair can be difficult manoeuvre due to crowds and uneven pavements.
  • In cities outside Taipei, pavements can be uneven and overrun by parked scooters, hawker stands and furniture belonging to shops. This means you would have to push the pushchair on the road right next to traffic.

Hot Springs

  • Infants and toddlers in nappies are not allowed into public tubs or pools.
  • Children under three should probably not go in as their skin is very sensitive.
  • Many locals take potty-trained kids aged three and over into springs of moderate temperatures to splash around.

Children's Highlights

Museums

  • National Museum of Natural Science, Taichung Exhibit areas cover rainforests, dinosaurs, botany and space; there are also theatres and a botanical garden.
  • National Taiwan Museum, Taipei Lots of hands-on games and a museum shop with stuffed animals and colourful rocks.
  • Thousand Fields Seed Museum, Tainan Educational and fascinating place where exotic-looking seeds can be admired, touched and experimented with.
  • Postal Museum, Taipei Pretend you're a post employee and make your own stamp with your face.
  • Chigi Salt Museum, Tainan Climb over and explore the salt mountains next to the museum.

DIY Experiences

Places with Animals

Parks & Artsy Outdoor Spaces

  • Pier-2 Art District, Kaohsiung Repurposed warehouses by the harbour offer interactive art experiences, book and stationery shopping, and lawns for running and napping.
  • Xihu Sugar Refinery, Changhua A disused factory in an attractive park where you can picnic and cycle; locomotive rides and ice cream are bonuses.
  • Alishan Forest Railway Chiayi Garage, Chiayi An urban park where you can play hide-and-seek and check out old steam locomotives.
  • Maji Square, Taipei Huge foodcourt, weekend market, live music and planes roaring overhead every few minutes.
  • Da'an Forest Park, Taipei A large urban park where you can rollerblade, shoot hoops and watch the ducks go by, with a cafe and a amphitheatre to boot.

Unusual Experiences

  • Anping Tree House, Tainan Walkways take you up into the branches of a massive Chinese banyan that has grown over and into a 19th-century house.
  • Nantian Temple, Changhua Fun, scary or both, the 'haunted house' behind the temple is where Taiwanese parents used to take children to scare them into obedience.
  • Madou Temple, Madou Similar set up as Nantian Temple but with a wacky heaven version to show you what happens if you're good.
  • Rainbow Village, Taichung A village with every inch of its walls painted over in vibrant colours by Mr Wong, the nonagenarian 'resident painter'.

Rides

  • Maokong Gondola, Taipei Gondola ride with great views.
  • i-Ride, Taipei Pricey 5-D virtual-reality cinema taking you above the clouds and deep into the oceans of Taiwan; there's another one in Kaohsiung.
  • Taichung Park, Taichung In this picturesque urban park, row a boat on the lake and see ducks up close.
  • Miramar Entertainment Park, Taipei A huge mall, cinema and amusement park complex.
  • Taroko Park, Kaohsiung A mini-amusement park for young children and an indoor centre with laser and sports games for older kids.

Accommodation

  • Secret Path B&B, Little Liuchiu Island Large rooms and communal spaces designed with kids in mind.
  • Fu Wan Villa, Donggang Villa on the premises of a chocolate farm; lap pool, too.
  • Grand Cosmos, Ruisui Fantastical buildings with chateau-like turrets; water park and in-room hot spring bath.
  • Fullon Hotel, Fulong Outdoor pool complex with kids' facilities.

Planning

When to Go

  • May and June see the most rainfall, while typhoon season is July to October, and could mean fewer opportunities for outdoor fun.
  • In southern Taiwan, July and August may be too hot for young children and you may have to spend a good part of the day indoors until the heat abates at around 4pm.

What to Pack

  • Favourite snacks for long train journeys as the selection of western snacks may be limited, especially outside Taipei.
  • Swim suit and swim cap (required at all pools in Taiwan) for impromptu swimming or hot springing.
  • Raincoat and waterproof shoes or boots if going in the rainy season (May and June); quick-dry sandals may work too if you're just walking in the city.
  • Sunscreen, hat and sunglasses in the summer.
  • Mosquito repellent and mosquito patches.
  • Your go-to meds for headaches, fever, diarrhoea and vomiting.
  • A light jacket for sudden temperature drops or strong air-conditioning in the warmer months.
  • A water bottle; there are plenty of water dispensers in Taiwan.

Before You Go

  • Make sure your child's passport is valid for at least six months past your arrival date.
  • Check whether they need to obtain a visa in advance or are eligible to apply for one upon arrival.

Useful Websites

  • The Community Services Centre (www.communitycenter.org.tw) has information for families relocating to Taiwan.
  • For all-round information and advice, check out Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children.

Itinerary

  • 1 week

Southern Taiwan with its tropical weather, proximity to the sea and colourful history can be a wondrous place for children and accompanying adults, offering up experiences just as fun, yet very different from Taipei. This route explores the child-friendly side of eclectic Kaohsiung, historic Tainan and leafy Pingtung.

Spend a couple of days in Tainan. Make an appointment with the eye-opening Thousand Fields Seed Museum a few days before your arrival. Head east to central Tainan and visit the modern Tainan Art Museum Building 2. Its criss-crossing staircases, multiple entrances and airy atrium make it a pleasant space to explore when you tire of the art. There are plenty of fruit stalls and cafes around this area. Hayashi Department Store has beautifully packaged Taiwanese snacks, handicrafts and stationery. Be sure to check out the art deco lift. The Confucius Temple nearby has a lovely park where the dogs are timid and the squirrels bold; bring nuts. For dinner Da Dong Night Market has an assortment of delicious options.

Next morning, go south to Ten Drum Rende Creative Village. Watch drum performances, go on long slides and rooftop swings, and launch a sky lantern in a chimney. Have something to eat in the cafe. Head back to Tainan proper and explore Anping Tree House and the scenery. A cruise on the Anping Canal is an option if you have the energy.

Head to Kaohsiung and stay two days. Mornings can be spent on virtual-reality theatre i-Ride, and the mechanical and laser thrills of Taroko Park. Pier-2 Art Centre and Cijin Island are better visited in the afternoon. Depending on your schedule, you can have lunch at Taroko Park or Pier-2. Cijin Island is great for coastal cycling for the whole family, and swimming and watching the sunset on the beach. Kaohsiung has plenty of excellent restaurants, but for range of options, you can't beat Liuhe Night Market.

From Kaohsiung head to Fu Wan Chocolate in the fishing port of Donggang in Pingtung. A tour and shopping at the chocolate farm's boutique should take a couple of hours. You can spend the night in one of the villas here, but can also head straight to Kenting for two days of sun and beach, and some sightseeing thrown in.