Discover Taiwan in-depth & independently with our 2 Week Taiwan Itinerary – find out which cities & attractions make this island nation the “Heart of Asia.”
This DIY Travel HQ list is in chronological order of the 7 cities I visited in my 18 day solo tour of Taiwan.
Taiwan is modern & clean with friendly, English-speaking locals so it’s a great destination if you’re travelling solo for the first time.
* Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before any trip to Taiwan. We’ve been using World Nomads for over 10 years – it’s the best-value provider we’ve found & we’ve also never had any issues on the few occasions we’ve had to make a claim.
Naturally I began my trip in the capital & there are so many things to see & do in and around Taipei.
The main attractions in the capital are:
- Elephant Mountain
- Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
- Taipei 101
Taipei is also a fantastic base for day trips to:
- Jiufen, Houtong Cat Village & Shifen
- Yehliu Geopark
Of course no trip to Taiwan is complete without visiting Taipei – it’s the perfect introduction to Taiwan, the “Heart of Asia.”
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The main reason I stopped in Taichung was to visit Rainbow Village. It’s worth a spot on a 2 Week Taiwan Itinerary.
Rainbow Village is an old veteran’s village, simple housing given to Kuomintang soldiers & their families after they retreated from China.
These villages have slowly been disappearing but one of the residents refused to leave his home.
As his neighbours left him one by one, he found himself alone & increasingly bored. Rainbow Grandpa turned to painting & inadvertently created the Rainbow Village.
It’s more of a compound than a village – you could walk around it in a few minutes but all the colours kept me & my camera amused for a good while.
It’s quite popular with Asian tourists too so expect to be surrounded by a lot of selfie sticks. I prefer using my Nikon D3300 DSLR unassisted 🙂
Rainbow Village entrance fee: Free
Chun Sui Tang
Visit Chun Shui Tang, the original home of pearl milk tea! Established in 1983 🙂
To me the bubble tea was good but nothing special.
I would recommend having a meal there too as the restaurant looked lovely, the prices were very reasonable & the food has great reviews.
Save some room for dessert at the nearby Miyahara.
They’re famous for their fancy ice-creams with all sorts of toppings.
Expect a long queue.
Next door to the ice-cream shop is the main Miyahara building selling Taiwanese snacks, tea & souvenirs.
Even if you don’t want to buy anything, take a quick look inside the store, it’s beautiful.
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts is fantastic & free!
Taichung has lots of interesting & quirky attractions – be sure to include it on your 2 Week Taiwan Itinerary.
The contemporary art is engaging & there are scattered sculptures around the surrounding park.
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts entrance fee: Free
National Museum of Natural Science
The National Museum of Natural Science is a large complex with exhibitions, theatres & a conservatory.
I walked there from the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts but I didn’t visit.
There’s free entrance on Wednesday before 10:00 am.
National Museum of Natural Science entrance fee: from NT$150 / $5.00
Painted Animation Lane
Painted Animal Lane is a small alley with colourful anime murals. It’s worth a quick stop for a photo shoot.
It’s known as Cartoon Alley on Maps.Me.
Fengjia Night Market
Fengjia Night Market is one of the largest in Taiwan but it’s no different to any of the others you’ll no doubt come across on a 2 Week Taiwan Itinerary.
It’s located a little outside Taichung centre so if you don’t feel like riding the bus, feel free to skip it.
Yizhong night market is more central but more low-key.
Chiayi Old Prison & Chiayi Park
Chiayi Old Prison is a historic monument of Taiwan & it’s the only one of its kind remaining on the island.
You may only visit on a free guided tour, in Chinese only.
It’s open from Tuesday to Saturday and tour times are at 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 1:30 pm & 2:30 pm.
The bus was late so I didn’t get to visit the prison. Chiayi Park is the only other attraction in the city but unfortunately I didn’t make it there either.
Chiayi Old Prison entrance fee: Free
The only reason to visit Chiayi is to get to Alishan National Scenic Area. It’s my favourite place on the island & a must-visit on any 2 Week Taiwan Itinerary.
Riding the Alishan Mountain Railway narrow-gauge train to watch sunrise on Alishan is one of the most popular experiences in Taiwan, for locals & tourists. Plan ahead if you wish to do this.
Alishan is one of the best managed parks I’ve been to. There are trail markers everywhere, the boardwalks are in excellent condition & there’s no litter.
It’s a very beautiful park too. There were a lot of people when I visited but it wasn’t overwhelming.
There are 8 main points of interest in a relatively small area so it’s perfect for a day trip from Chiayi. Go early if you also want to hike to the famous sunset platform at Jhusan.
How to get to Alishan from Chiayi by bus
Buses run regularly from in front of Chiayi Train Station. Tickets from Chiayi to Alishan cost NT$234 each way.
* Top Tip: buy your return bus tickets in advance at Family Mart. This guarantees you a seat & you won’t have to wait in the long queue, like I did. You can also buy tickets onboard & using the EasyCard but people with pre-purchased tickets board first so you’re likely to have to wait for the next or next or next bus.
Alishan entrance fee: NT$300 / $10.00, student or arriving by local bus NT$150 / $5.00
Anping Tree House
Anping Tree House is the old warehouse of the Tait & Co. Merchant House as well as the Japan Salt Company.
For the past 70 years, a single banyan tree has completely taken over the building. It’s many, many roots & branches stretch & wrap themselves in all directions.
It’s fascinating to walk in, around & to the top of the Anping Tree House.
There’s also a skywalk & museum – don’t miss it & Tainan in general should be on any 2 Week Taiwan Itinerary!
Anping Tree House entrance fee: NT$50 / $1.65, students NT$25 / $0.85 *
Anping Fort was built by the Dutch in 1624 and named Fort Zeelandia.
At the time Anping was a hub for trading & the administrative center of the Dutch regime.
These days it’s been reconstructed into a historical park.
The main structure is a square platform with a museum inside & an observation tower that you can climb to the top of for 360 degree views of the city.
There’s also an original brick wall, banyan tree & exhibition hall.
Anping Fort entrance fee: NT$50 / $1.65, students NT$25 / $0.85 *
Eternal Golden Castle
The Eternal Golden Castle is another fort, this one built by the Chinese in 1874.
It’s surrounded by a moat & features some replica canons but there’s not much to see and it’s also away from the other attractions.
It’s not worth really worth visiting.
Eternal Golden Castle entrance fee: NT$50 / $1.65, students NT$25 / $0.85 *
Chikhan Tower is the main landmark of Tainan. It sits on the site of another former Dutch fort.
Visitors can wander through the pavilion, all to way up to the balcony on the top floor.
There are sculptures, steeles & stones in the garden.
I visited at night, where there was a performance happening, though I didn’t go inside.
Chikhan Tower entrance fee: NT$50 / $1.65, students NT$25 / $0.85
* Top Tip: The Tainan City Monuments Pass costs NT$150 / $5.00 and gives you entrance to Anping Tree House, Anping Fort, Eternal Golden Castle, Chikhan Tower & Navy Destroyer Museum
Hayashi Department Store
The Hayashi Department Store is located on what was once the richest shopping street in Tainan.
It opened in 1932 with a state-of-the-art elevator, that is still in operation – only 5 people are allowed in at a time.
Ride to the 5th floor where you can still see bullet marks from WWII (the building was also bombed) in the retail store.
There’s also a shinto shrine on the terrace with rooftop views.
Fo Guang Shan
If you only visit 1 temple in your 2 week Taiwan Itinerary, make it the biggest one – Fo Guang Shan.
I only visited the monastery. I can’t believe the maps had no information on the museum, which is the bigger & more important of the two! They even have separate websites! I only saw the path of pagodas & the huge seated Buddha on Google later…
At least I made it to the free lunch with monks at the monastery. It begins promptly at 11:30 am so you should be there at least 5-10 minutes earlier as there can be a queue, but it was nothing like the the lunchtime procession at Bago monastery in Myanmar.
Food will be placed in front of you and after chanting & prayers everyone eats together in silence. I had a banana, tofu, green veggies, cabbage & veggies, mixed rice, sup with carrots & yam.
Lunch is finished by 12 noon. After that I explored the rest of the Fo Guang Shan monastery, which included the Main Shrine & Great Buddha Land.
I still can’t believe I missed the Fo Guang Shan Museum!
Fo Guang Shan Monastery & Museum entrance fee: Free
Dome of Light
The Dome of Light is the world’s largest work of illuminate glass – and you’ll find it inside the MRT Formosa Boulevard station.
It’s very beautiful with 4500 glass panels telling the history of the Universe through Earth, Fire, Wind & Water.
Pier 2 Art Centre
Pier 2 Art Centre is located in a former warehouse district which has been converted into art galleries & exhibitions centres.
There are large-scale sculptures in the outdoor park across railway tracks.
The man-made Lotus Pond is not very attractive but there are a few attractions along the Western shore.
The Confucius temple may be the largest one in Taiwan but it’s not that big. Lovely though.
Next up are the Spring & Autumn Pavillions, guarded by a Guanyin statue riding a huge dragon. You can enter the dragons mouth, check out the painted murals inside his body & then come out from its behind.
The huge statue of the Taoist “God of the North Pole” Xuan Wu looms ahead.
And finally there are the Dragon & Tiger Pagodas. You can enter their bodies and also climb up to the to of the pagodas for nice views of the lake.
Get away from it all on a short ferry ride across to Cijin Island. Here you can head to the beach, climb up to Chihou lighthouse & walk around the lovely Chihou fort.
You won’t go hungry as the main street is lined with food stalls as well as souvenir shops.
There’s nothing to see or do in Kenting especially if you’re traveling by public transport. The main beach is very average.
You can take the bus to Eluanbi Lighthouse & the southernmost point of Taiwan but I read reviews that were lackluster.
You need your own wheels to explore Kenting National Park; there’s no public transport.
Check out this comprehensive guide to Kenting National Park for more on sightseeing on a scooter & accommodation options in the nearby town of Hengchun.
I was really disappointed by Kenting as the images on Google were nothing like reality but my time there was affected by a typhoon passing through for several days.
I regret including Kenting in my 2 Week Taiwan Itinerary but it’s a popular holiday destination, as you’ll see at the night market when everyone comes out to play.
The typhoon swept me to Hualien where I could only sit & wait it out for another 2 days. It wasn’t on my radar to do anything in the city anyway, I stopped over to visit Taroko Gorge – a must-visit destination on any 2 Week Taiwan Itinerary.
The typhoon caused every single trail at Taroko Gorge to be closed.
This was not mentioned on the official website, despite some other safety updates, which was misleading.
My ideal 1 day itinerary at Taroko Gorge would be:
- Shakadang Trail: 4.1 km one way, 3-4 hours return
- Changchun Shrine / Eternal Spring Shrine: 1.35 km one way, 20 mins one way
- Yanzikou Trail / Swallow Grotto: 1.3 km, 20-30 miins
- Lishui Trail: 2 kms, 1 hour
I wasn’t able to walk any of those trails. Instead, I rode the Shuttle Bus, got off at most stops, looked around & waited for the next bus.
The meandering trail on the lower terrace at Buluowan was short & sweet but not worth a stop on a normal day when all other trails are open.
Same goes for the Xiangde Temple Trail at Tianxiang.
But don’t miss a look at beautiful Qixingtan beach – it’s the 1st stop on the shuttle bus from Hualien.
Taroko Gorge entrance fee: Free
Hualien to Taroko Gorge Shuttle Bus: NT$250 / $8.30
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Visited in October 2017