Spend two weeks circling some of the most popular sites in Taiwan with this trip. Start off with the urban attractions of Taipei, then head out of the city to explore the nature of the Taroko Gorge National Park, followed by the many intricate rock formations and scenic attractions of the east coast. Continue through tree museums, beaches, and historic cities before you ascend into the mountains of the Alishan region, then descend past stunning Sun Moon Lake before you return to Taipei.

Highlights

  • Explore magnificent marble Taroko Gorge
  • Enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Sun Moon Lake
  • View the sea of clouds from atop Alishan’s mountains
  • Frolic in the sun in Kenting, Taiwan’s Cancun
  • Explore ancient history in Tainan, Taiwan’s former capital

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Taipei, Ultimate Taipei Day Tour Taipei City
Day 2 Vintage Taipei in Dadaocheng Taipei City
Day 3 Taipei to Jiaoxi Yilan
Day 4 Yilan to Taroko Gorge Hualien
Day 5 Explore Taroko Gorge Hualien
Day 6 Hualien to Taitung Taidong
Day 7 Explore Taitung Taidong
Day 8 Taitung to Kenting Kending
Day 9 Kenting to Kaohsiung Kaohsiung
Day 10 Kaohsiung to Tainan Tainan
Day 11 Tainan City Tainan
Day 12 Tainan to Alishan Alishan
Day 13 Alishan to Sun Moon Lake Yuchi, Nantou
Day 14 Sun Moon Lake to Lugang to Taipei Taipei City

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Taipei, Ultimate Taipei Day Tour

Iconic Taipei 101.
Iconic Taipei 101

The influences of ancient China, colonial Taiwan, and ultra-modern Taipei are yours to experience on your first day's Ultimate Taipei Tour. Visit the city's must-see attractions in style on this full-day tour to Taipei's traditional religious venues, historic spots, and scenic views. Highlights of the guided tour include a brief visit to the Taipei 101, skyscraper, once the highest in the world until it was dethroned by the Burj Khalifa; a classic Taiwanese lunch at Din Tai Fung; ancient Chinese art collections at the National Palace Museum; and free time to explore the bustling Shilin night market on your own.

Day 2: Vintage Taipei in Dadaocheng

Along the streets of Taipei

Discover the spiritual and mercantile roots of Taipei in this interactive tour of the city's oldest neighborhoods. The day begins with a guided stroll through the Confucius and Bao'an temples before heading by bus to Dadaocheng, a community where shopkeepers selling dried seafood, herbs, and other traditional Chinese items have plied their respective trades for generations. After stopping for lunch, head deeper into the neighborhood for a lesson in DIY handicraft making, some sidewalk fortune-telling, and a visit to a tea refinery.

Day 3: Taipei to Jiaoxi

Always exploring

Depart Taipei once more, this time heading in the opposite direction to visit some of the best spots on Taiwan's northeast coast. Visit the charming hillside town of Jiufen, where Qing-dynasty China comes alive, or choose to visit Cape Yehliu to check out the area's otherworldly rock formations.

Keep on to Pingxi to create a classic sky lantern, then end your travels with a relaxed evening at a local hot spring resort.

Day 4: Yilan to Taroko National Park

Pass by Qingshui Cliff on the famous Suhua Highway coastal road
Pass by Qingshui Cliff on the famous Suhua Highway coastal road

Start your day with a drive down the stunning east coast, where the towering Qingshui Cliffs meet the ocean, before turning inland to spend a full day in Taroko National Park. Best known for being the home of visually stunning Taroko Gorge, the park is also a treasure trove of rivers and waterfalls, cliffs and trails, tunnels and temples. Pay a visit to the Eternal Spring Shrine, seated atop the Changchun Falls and Swallow Grotto trail, named for its population of the petite nesting birds and known for its views into the gorge.

Day 5: Explore Taroko Gorge

Taroko Gorge
Taroko Gorge

Take more time today to explore the place some call Taiwan's Grand Canyon. Drive along a scenic road quite literally carved into the canyon walls; stop for lunch with a view; visit a temple, shrine, or waterfall; and even take a short hike into the gorge itself along the Baiyang trail, where you can hike through tunnels and past rushing waterfalls if weather permits.

Day 6: Hualien to Taitung

Dragon Bridge

Head south down the coast, making many stops along the way to check out the varied coastal terrain. Visit the Baxian, the coastal cliffside Caves of the Eight Immortals, site of Taiwan's earliest human habitations (one of them is even still in use as a home today). Further down the coast, go for a hike in Sansiantai, whose long arched Dragon Bridge connects the rocky shoreline with a neighboring island.

In the afternoon, you’ll visit the town of Dulan, known for its tribal artists, surfing scene, and laid-back vibe, along with a quick stop at the town's sugar factory.

Day 7: Explore Taitung

Taitung Park
Taitung Park

Visit a most unusual museum today, one made not of brick and glass, but of interconnected trees, part of a forest preserve maintained and protected by members of the local Bunun tribe. You’ll learn about the lives and cultures of Southeast Taiwan’s indigenous peoples at the Luan-Shan Forest Museum, enjoy tribal cuisine, and even do a bit of tree climbing.

Day 8: Taitung to Kenting

Kenting Sea Coast
Kenting Sea Coast

Hit the beach today in Kenting, a picturesque beach town located at the island’s southern tip. After checking into your beachfront resort, you have the rest of the day to swim, hike, bicycle, or just soak up the rays. When the sun goes down, you will be able to experience the beach town's night markets, drinks, and massages.

Day 9: Kenting to Kaohsiung

The South Gate of Hengchun Old Town
The South Gate of Hengchun Old Town

Leaving the beach is hard, so take some time to get in a morning swim or two before you leave Kenting and head back north. Your first stop is the old town of Hengchun to visit one of the last remaining Qing-era city walls left in Taiwan. Later, back in Kaohsiung, visit the 200-year-old wall paintings at the Fongyi Academy and Lotus Pond, a human-made lake surrounded by temples, pavilions, temples, and the famous Dragon and Tiger Pagodas.

Day 10: Kaohsiung to Tainan

Monastery meditation

Curve through Taiwan’s southern "Banana Belt" region today before turning northward up the western coast. Most of your day will be devoted to exploring the grounds, pavilions, and statues of Taiwan’s Fo Guang Shan Buddhist monastery, the largest of its kind in Taiwan. Afterward, head to Tainan to explore Taiwan’s spiritual capital and oldest city, stopping to experience some of the city’s famous culinary delights.

Day 11: Tainan City

The Old Fort in Anping

Stroll through the city of Tainan today, stopping at a traditional market to sample local cuisine followed by a visit to Anping, home to both an old Dutch castle and ancient banyan tree. You'll participate in a hands-on pottery experience, then head to the more contemporary, artsy Shennong and Hai'an streets for the evening.

Day 12: Tainan to Alishan

Sunrise in the mountains

Head into the mountains to take in Taiwan's natural landscapes, stopping at a tea farm or two to sample the wares before heading to the Alishan area, known for its scenery, flora, and fauna. Climb high into the mountains, reaching the heart of the Alishan Scenic Area in time to relax before watching the dramatic sunset in the mountains.

Day 13: Alishan to Sun Moon Lake

Boating or cycling trip at Sun Moon Lake
Cycling on the shore

Head directly to the mountain town of Puli this morning to visit the well-known Paper Dome, a memorial to both Taiwan’s 921 Earthquake in 1999 and the Great Hanshin Earthquake in Japan, and visit a paper factory to learn the traditional way of making paper. Afterward, you'll head to Sun Moon Lake and either take a boat across the lake or cycle around its shores.

Day 14: Sun Moon Lake to Lugang to Taipei

Further exploration of Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake

Take an early morning hike up Mt. Maoling to get a full overview of the lake itself before descending to spend more time exploring the area around Sun Moon Lake. In the afternoon, you'll get back on the road, stopping in the Lugang Old Town to visit ancient artist villages before heading back to Taipei late in the evening for a final night in the city.

Map

Map of Taiwan Round Island Tour - 14 Days
Map of Taiwan Round Island Tour - 14 Days
Yenyi
Written by Yenyi Fu, updated Jul 17, 2019