Taipei is surrounded by forested hills and heritage towns that make the best day trips. Within the city limits are world-class museums, historic temples, and never-ending opportunities for snacking and shopping. Heading out towards the coast or the mountains puts the traveller in northern Taiwan, with its hot springs, surf spots, and many cycling and hiking routes. The dusty plains of western Taiwan hold some of the best temple towns, while heading east the unspoiled Central Mountains rise quickly to over 3000m. Over the mountains lies eastern Taiwan, the country's least developed region, with a landscape that's pure eye candy. In tropical southern Taiwan, ecotourists brush against culture vultures taking in traditional festivals and night markets. Finally, scattered on both sides of the mainland are Taiwan's islands, boasting a Cold War legacy, seaside villages and a top windsurfing destination.

Taipei

Food

History

Shopping

Eating

With hundreds of restaurants incorporating culinary influences from every corner of China, some of the best Japanese outside Japan, hands down Asia's best coffee, and a night market scene loaded with unique local snacks, Taipei definitely has it all foodwise.

History

You'll find temples and markets dating back centuries coexisting with Taipei's flashy modernity, as well as neighbourhoods and parks from the Japanese colonial era now being revived as cultural and entertainment centres.

Shopping

Taipei shines in locally designed products such as ceramics, glassware, clothing, tea sets, jade, home furnishings and knick-knacks. You'll also find a host of enticing agricultural products, from designer desserts to organic teas.

Northern Taiwan

Outdoor Activities

Hot Springs

Museums

Hiking & Cycling

The north's network of trails crosses landscapes that vary from tropical jungles to alpine meadows above 3000m. The roads offer some first-class cycling, with day and multiday options along coastal routes, riverside paths and cross-island highways.

Hot Springs

With dozens of hot springs dotting the north, there's always a place for a dip somewhere close by. And with facilities ranging from five-star resorts to natural pools deep in the mountains, there's something for every taste and style.

Museums

Once a centre for traditional cottage industries such as tea, pottery and woodcarving, as well as gold and coal mining, the north boasts a small yet rich collection of museums highlighting them all. Master carver Juming and his internationally acclaimed works have their own outdoor park.

Taroko National Park & the East Coast

Landscapes

Cycling

Culture

Gorges, the Coast & the Rift Valley

Much of the east has hardly changed its face for modern times. It's still a land of 1000m seaside cliffs, marble gorges, subtropical forests and vast yellow rice fields nestled between blue-tinged mountain ranges.

Cycling

The scenery that makes the east a draw for nature lovers is best viewed at cycling speeds. The premier challenge is an 86km route from sea level to 3275m through Taroko Gorge, but most opt for all or part of the 400km loop down the coastline and back through the Rift Valley.

Indigenous Festivals & Art

Hunting, fishing and coming-of-age festivals dot the summer calendar. Woodcarvers operate small studios up and down the driftwood-rich coastline, while Dulan's weekly bash at a former sugar factory is keeping the music alive.

Western Taiwan

Mountains

Culture

Wildlife

Hiking & Landscapes

The 3000m-plus spine of Taiwan runs through the west, with three ranges competing for scenic supremacy. Yushan (3952m), the highest mountain in Taiwan, is just one of many worthy hiking opportunities.

Temples & Traditional Festivals

As one of the first areas settled by Chinese immigrants, the west is home to some of Taiwan's oldest temples. Exuberant yearly festivals such as the week-long Matsu Pilgrimage honour a pantheon of traditional folk gods.

Bird- & Butterfly-Watching

With its wealth of protected reserves and national parks, the west is a haven for endemic species such as the Mikado pheasant and several hundred butterfly species. Vast numbers of purple milkweed butterflies pass through each year.

Southern Taiwan

Culture

Wildlife

Food

Temples & Traditional Festivals

Early immigrants to Taiwan faced a hostile environment. In the south, the legacy of the faith that sustained them is evident in a wealth of old temples and the spectacular boat-burning festival in Donggang.

Bird- & Butterfly-Watching

The warm, sheltered valleys of the south provide a safe winter haven for millions of butterflies. The lakes, forests and grasslands of Kenting National Park support hundreds of species of birds year-round, making the region one of Taiwan's top twitching venues.

Night Markets & Traditional Snacks

Tainan's traditional snacks are famous throughout Taiwan: slack season noodles and coffin toast are just a couple of quirky, mouth-watering highlights. Kaohsiung's night markets serve everything, but specialise in fresh-off-the-boat seafood.

Taiwan’s Islands

Landscapes

Activities

History

Beaches & Coastal Scenery

Penghu's beaches are Taiwan's finest, and the traditional villages are a nice backdrop. The volcanic origins of Lanyu, Green Island and Penghu have left stunning coastal formations. Kinmen's landscape includes lakes, mudflats and fine beaches.

Windsurfing & Snorkelling

As the windiest place in the northern hemisphere in late autumn, Penghu attracts windsurfers from all over the world. For snorkellers, the easily accessed coral reefs off Lanyu and Green Island burst with marine life and colour year-round.

History

Former frontiers of the civil war, Matsu and Kinmen have a rich legacy of old military tunnels, memorials and museums. More interesting to many are the traditional villages, wonderfully preserved because of their frontier status.