Exceptional, beautiful, and fascinating: Taiwan! The mountainous island is utterly safe for traveling and a great place to meet some of the friendliest people on our planet. You can travel to Taiwan throughout the year but consider typhoons are likely to happen from July to October. The driest months are from November to April. These are the best months to travel around the entire island. During summer (July and August) Taiwan is overrun by the Taiwanese.
First of all, if traveling to Taiwan, you have to consider that rain is common throughout the year. There is much more precipitation on the east side due to the high mountain range. Most rainfall occurs from May to October. In these months Taiwan gets hit by typhoons regularly, especially in the east and in the central mountain range. The northern part of Taiwan and the Taipei area are several degrees colder than the south like in Kaohsiung and Kenting. Being there for quite a while, we learned that the weather forecast gives you an indication, but often it's better than predicted especially in the drier season from November to April. Find more weather details here: Monthly Weather Taipei - Taiwan North — Monthly Weather Tainan - Taiwan South
Spectacular Sunrise and Sunset
In Taiwan, you can experience stunning sunsets and sunrises. We give you insider tips for the popular spots and show you the hidden gems as well. Just mesmerizing!
View from Alishan
Alishan is famous but also an extremely crowded spot to view the sunrise. If you depend on public transport, it's one of the view sunrise spots where you can get to. However, it's utterly crowded which makes it hard to enjoy the sunrise. Want to visit by car? There is limited parking with only 120 spots.
The only available car park inside the Alishan National Scenic Area
However, shoulder parking outside the Recreational Area is available, and shuttle buses pick you up frequently during the cherry blossom season. Expect many thousand visitors each day at the sakura season at the end of the winter and beginning of spring. To watch the sunrise on the 2.489 m high Zushan Mountain you either have to come pretty early or stay in one of the view hotels in Alishan.
How to get to Alishan:
It takes 2. 5 hours from Chiayi TRA Station to Alishan by bus. Another option is the train from Chiayi to Fenqihu. It's a popular village where the railway stops at 1.400 m elevation. The Alishan Forest Railway used for logging by the Japanese siege in the past is now a popular tourist attraction. Many visitors take the train from Chiayi to get to Alishan. Unfortunately, the railway got hit by a typhoon in 2009 and operates until Fenqihu only. From here you have to take the bus to continue traveling to Alishan. Alishan Railway Station Google Maps
Tip: Stay in Alishan if you want to watch the sunrise. All the hotels here are fully booked very far in advance, although most of them are not outstanding. The best one perfectly located in Alishan is the Alishan Hotel ****.
An excellent budget option is the Legendary Bed and Breakfast in Fenqihu. The owners; Mr. and Mrs. You walk an extra mile for you. We prefer Fenqihu which is much quieter and located close to the Dadongshan Trail.
You can't watch the sunrise in Alishan only on the Zushan mountain. Take the sunrise train which runs just once from the Alishan station early morning. If the train is not fully booked, you can get tickets from 1 pm to 4.30 pm the day before. The departure of the train depends on the time of the sunrise. Each afternoon at 4.30 pm the exact time will be mentioned. Ask at your hotel reception for the departure time. When booking the hotel ask them to make a reservation for the sunrise train for you the next morning. It's a short ride up almost to the summit of Zushan. To catch the train, you have to get up very early between 4, and 5 am. It's a bit of a hassle during the sunrise, but you can take amazing pictures.
The rest of the day shuttle buses are offered but only every 2 hours. 9/11/13/15. The Zushan area is also beautiful in the daytime, and the views are awesome. Take the sunrise train or the bus later in the day to the top and walk back through the forest to Alishan. Consider frequently the clouds already roll in before midday. Therefore, it may happen that you are covered in clouds from midday onward.
More Beautiful Sunrise and Sunset Places Without Crowds
Besides Alishan there are even more outstanding locations in Taiwan to experience a gorgeous sunrise above the horizon or a mesmerizing sunset in the evening. Let us show you the best ones:
Linzhi Mountain is not far from Alishan already in the Yushan National Park is still one of the hidden gems. You can either come here for the sunrise or just early morning to watch the spectacular Alishan Mountain Range and the highest peak with 3.952 m Yushan or Jade Mountain. The Linzhi Mountain Loop Trail is roughly 7 km long and takes 3 1/2 hours. It's an easy and well-marked 1/2 day hike. Due to the high elevation, you may watch the sea of clouds before midday. Parking at Takaka Visitor Center. The visitor center is closed every second Tuesday each month. Bring water and a sandwich. There is just a restaurant but no shop. Takaka Visitor Center Google Maps
Dadongshan or Dadong Mountain
Spectacular hike and views without any crowds can be experienced from Dadongshan or Dadong Mountain. It's already part of the Alishan National Scenic Area and close to Fenqihu. Here you can watch a stellar sunrise with fewer people on the 1.976 m high Dadongshan or Dadong summit. It’s an hour drive west of Alishan. The climb is roughly 2 km up one way, and it may take up to an hour. The trail can be slippery and muddy. Watch the roots and stairs along the path. During summer be aware of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Mosquitos occur here at this time of the year. Winter can be pretty chilly. When you reach the viewing platform, you can see the highest mountain of Taiwan Mount Yushan on a clear day; during winter covered in snow. Mount Yushan also called Jade Mountain is 3.952 m high above sea level. Also here frequently clouds roll in at midday and spoil the breathtaking view. Dadongshan Trailhead and Parking Google Maps
Hehuanshan is near Taroko Gorge and with a height of 3000 m. This is an excellent spot for the sunrise. You can already watch the sunrise from your hotel room, or you climb to one of the summits of Hehuan Mountain. For detailed information read our article about Hehuanshan at Sunrise.
Popular by locals, not so much by foreign visitors, is the Eryanping Trail through tea plantations between Longmei and Shizhuo. It's a short steep trail up mostly on steps leading to two outlooks. Parking is available at the trailhead, and there are restrooms as well. Nice farm stalls and six fresh waffles for a less than 1,50 € are offered. Eryanping Trail Google Maps
We also watched a beautiful sunset at Guanwu where you can get to by car. It's 5 minutes walk to the viewing platform only. Guanwu is also excellent for hiking and famous for two thousand years old giant Formosan Cypresses. Detailed information in our Guanwu National Forest article.
Cherry Blossom and Sakura Season
This is the most famous time of the year in Taiwan. Depending on the elevation level it usually takes place between the end of February until mid-April. The most popular places are Yangmingshan and the Wuji Tianyuan Temple, Wulai Waterfall, Sun Moon Lake and, Alishan. All these places get utterly crowded, especially during the weekend.
Before we dive into our adventure experiences and ideas for your next visit, let us give you a detailed season overview. What to expect in terms of climate, highlights, and crowds:
March - April - May (Spring)
In terms of weather March and April are often sunny while heavy rainfall starts in May. March has pleasant temps above 20°C but not too hot. Temps are Increasing in April and May, as it's already hot with high humidity. However, rain showers can always occur. March and April are perfect months if you'd like to see Taiwan in full bloom. In April and May, we highly recommend visiting Guanwu for the rhododendrons.
June - July - August (Summer)
Temps are above 30°C, and it's not a pleasant time. During the Computex in June, the biggest IT Show in Asia, it's heavily crowded in Taipei. July and August is the peak season because the residents go on vacation. Many Taiwanese people travel either to the cooler mountains or to the sea. Often to Kenting in the south to escape the heat. Expect high humidity and lots of precipitation. These are the wettest months on the entire island and typhoons can occur.
September - October - November (Autumn)
There is still lots of rain until the end of October and typhoons are likely to occur until the end of September. October gets drier but not on the east side. November is one of the driest months with pleasant temperatures above 20°C, but it's often cloudy in the north. We can't recommend traveling in September, due to the rainfall. October and November are much better and not very crowded except Taipei.
December - January - February (Winter)
The temps in winter are still pleasant at day time roughly around 20°C and sometimes slightly below. The temperatures in the mountains are pretty chilly during the night from December to March. In January and February, the peaks are often covered with snow. Snow is something special for the Taiwanese and many of them travel to higher elevations like Hehuanshan or Alishan.
Avoiding the Crowds
So many regions of Taiwan are still overlooked by travelers from non-Asian countries. Of course, the famous attractions in Taipei like the World Trade Center or the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall as well as Taroko Gorge, Alishan, and Kenting are popular and crowded. In general, Taipei is extremely busy during the summer between July and August and from the end of December until early January. Weekends are always super busy. The Taiwanese have very few holidays. That's the reason for the very crowded weekends almost everywhere on the entire island. It tends to get busy from Friday midday onwards. Even worse is Xitou, which is busy even on weekdays due to retired hiking people. However, the hinterland and not well-known places by tourists are just visited by residents. What did we do to dodge the crowds? We went on adventures and deep into nature. Particularly on weekends to get away from the masses. That's how we shared beautiful nature with very few people only. Tip for the famous spots: If you'd like to visit the popular places, get there early in the morning to dodge the most crowds.
The mountainous island of Taiwan is utterly safe for traveling and a great place to meet some of the friendliest people on our planet. The variety of food and different tastes are exceptional. Nature is mind-blowing, and there are outstanding hiking pearls often not well known. You won't believe, but central Taiwan has 286 mountains more than 3000 meters high and the highest density of mountains in the world. The coral reefs are so colourful, and you even may be surrounded by green turtles while snorkeling. Mobile network connectivity is almost everywhere even at the remotest campground.
Taipei is a vibrant city with an estimated population of almost 3 million people. For two very famous spots, visit our helpful articles:
Yangmingshan National Park view from Guanyinshan
Location: North of Taipei situated on a geological fault. Perfect for a day trip from Taipei. Famous for volcanoes, hot springs and first of all hiking. The most popular trail is the climb up to Mount Qixing. With 1.120 m it's the highest peak in the Yangmingshan National Park. Shuttle buses inside the National Park are provided, weekdays roughly every half an hour and weekends more often every 10 to 20 minutes.
How to get to Yangmingshan: Take the red line to R15 Jiantan (There is an information center as well) and just outside catch the bus 5.
Crowds at Yangmingshan: As everywhere in Taipei weekends and bank holiday are the busiest days. The spring is the most popular time of the year due to the cherry blossom season, and it gets crowded everywhere. Summer is also a popular time but Yangmingshan is often covered in clouds, and it's raining at the extinct volcano. January to March/April are the best months followed by November and December for a Taipei visit regarding crowds and weather. However, it may be sunny in Taipei while Yangmingshan is hidden in clouds.
Parking at Yangmingshan: There is traffic control during weekends and holidays. Getting to one of the available parking lots is recommend on weekdays only. Erziping Visitor Center on Google Maps, one of seven inside the park.
Guanyinshan National Scenic Area - Special Tip
Climbing to the top of Mount Qixing is spectacular on a clear day. Although it is sunny in Taipei, the Yangmingshan National Park may be covered in clouds. An alternative is the Guanyinshan National Scenic Area on the opposite of the Tamsui River in the Bali District. The trailhead starts at the visitor center to the top of Yinghan Peak. The view from the summit of the 609 m high Yinghan to Yangmingshan and Taipei City is stunning. Watch the skyline in the evening and walk the easy trail back. Bring a torch for the descent.
Depending on your fitness level you need half an hour up to an hour for the ascent mostly just a steep climb on steps. If you are into hiking, there are a couple of trails at Guanyinshan. Ample parking is available around the visitor center where you find facilities as well. Close the top of Yinghan are also restrooms.
Crowds at Guanyinshan: During the weekend many residents climb up here doing their exercises but very view tourists only. During the week the walk is less frequented. We climbed up twice and had nice chats with Taipei residents.
How to get to Guanyinshan: Easy to reach by car even during the weekend. By public transport take the orange line until Luzhou Station (last station) and take the O20 Taipei City Real Time Bus to Lyngyun Temple. Visitor Center Google Maps
Dalongdong Baoan Temple and Confucius Temple
Left: Dalongdong Baoan Temple. Right: Confucius Temple
Both are close to MRT (red line) Yuanshan. The Baoan Temple is the most impressive shrine in Taipei. It's the only Taiwanese temple with the Unesco Cultural Heritage Preservation Award. Open from 6.30 am to 10.30 pm daily - entrance free. Take some time at the Confucius Temple to learn more about the Confucian Six Arts. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 8.30 am to 9 pm and Sundays until 5 pm – entrance free.
One of the most popular attractions in Taipei. You get here via MRT red line until Daan, then change into brown line BR last exit Taipei Zoo. The gondola was built in 2007 and is 4 amazing km long. The views are spectacular to the jungle and Taipei City. There are 30 cabins or so all equipped with a glass bottom. When you arrive at Maokong, you first have to queue for a ticket where your gondola time is mentioned. There are two lines to queue, one for the ordinary cabins and one for the glass bottom cabins. Come early weekdays at 9 am and weekends at 8.30 am to avoid queuing for hours. They don't operate on Mondays.
The Best Hotels in Taipei
We highly recommend a hotel close to the MRT red line in Taipei. We'd chosen the Papersun in Shilin at our second visit close to the red line, the Shilin Night Market, and the Huarong Day Market. For us perfectly and quietly located where breakfast was included. They prepare an excellent coffee for you with self-roasted coffee beans in the afternoon. These rooms are newly renovated former dormitory rooms.
Other great hotel options along the red line:
- Dandy Hotel-Daan Park Branch; The hotel is located on the opposite of a forest park in walking distance to the red line and restaurants. Airport shuttle is available which was very helpful for us on our first visit. Breakfast is included and the staff is just wonderful.
- Folio Daan Taipei; The hotel has also an excellent location with restaurants nearby. The rooms are spacious and comfortable some even with a balcony. Airport shuttle is available. The Daan metro station is right around the corner.
More Places to Visit (Around Taipei)
There are awesome places around Taipei often easy to reach by public transport or rental car. To experience the lush vegetation of Taiwan you don't need to travel far. Taipei is an impressive city, but the surroundings give you an idea of the nature Taiwan has to offer.
Photo by Andrew Haimerl on Unsplash
The trailhead is just a 10 km drive from Elephant Trunk Rock. Location Teapot Mountain trailhead at the Jinguashi Gold Ecological Museum on Google Maps.
Trail duration; roughly four hours in a slow pace included are stops for taking pics. Exposed hike, not well marked and maintained, pretty hot on a sunny day and slippery if it's raining. The trail can be slippery and muddy. The northeast of Taiwan experiences the most precipitation. More details about the hike.
Shenao Elephant Trunk Rock
Parking at the Shenao Fishing Harbour. The harbour is quite popular for seafood, and it's crowded at lunchtime as well as at low tide. Elephant Trunk is more well known by Taiwanese people and gets busy from Friday midday onwards. The rock formations are similar to Yehliu Geopark but not that overrun. Access to the peninsula around low tide only. It's an outstanding alternative if you like to avoid the masses of tourists at Yehliu. Location Elephant Trunk Google Maps
"Little or small Yehliu" before the Elephant Trunk Rock
Special Tip: Make a stop at the famous Nanya Rock along the north-east coast road #2. Pretty busy and popular for wedding pictures. Location Nanya Rock Google Maps
Wulai Waterfall and Hot Springs
Wulai is located 25 km south of Taipei. It’s a popular hot spring area. It takes 20 minutes for the 1.6 km walk from Wuxi town to the picturesque 80 m high Wulai Waterfall. A little railway, in former times used to transport timber, leads to the falls as well.
During weekends Wulai is packed with locals. Wulai is popular for the hot spring spas, but you can also experience these natural hot springs in the river without an entrance fee.
You get to Wulai easily by car; ample parking is available. With public transport from Taipei take the green line to Xindian and from here bus 849. It may take an hour to get to Wulai. Location Wulai Parking Google Maps
Food Markets Night and Day
One of the most culinary highlights in Taiwan are the daily food markets often night markets with budget prices around the island. Very popular is the Keelung night market northeast of Taipei. This market is open 24 hours and offers one of the richest varieties of food.
We loved the Shilin Night Market and the Huarong Market, a local day market one km north of the night market. Shilin Night Market and Huarong Day Market Google Maps Nevertheless, there are so many night markets around Taipei with plenty of choices for Asian food freshly prepared.
Our tip for Shilin: Stay in the Papersun Hotel which is located in the middle of the night and day market in walking distance to the red MRT line.
Transport in Taipei
The Taipei Metro MRT operates from 6 until 24. It's very convenient to use especially during rain. The Metro Main Station is mega huge with shops and a huge variety of food. Our favorite store is a sushi shop. One package for 100 Nt; less than 3 Euro.
There are five different lines available, and you can get almost everywhere. The red line in the center was the one we used most. You get with Tamsui-Xinyi Line to Yuanshan, Chiang Kai-shek, the TWTC, and Elephant Mountain Hill. The different lines frequently depart every view minutes at least every ten minutes at day time. Taipei Metro passes for 24h/48h/ 72h are available. Metro Map and Timetable
Central Taiwan – Mountain Area
Hiking in General in Taiwan
Taiwan has plenty of not well-marked hiking trails in the pure wilderness. These tracks are often used by locals therefore, it’s helpful having a mobile hiking app like “Locus Pro”. Although everything was in Chinese we always figured out the correct trail back to our car. Some walks are well marked even in English. There are always popular hikes closed for years due to extensive typhoon damage. A permit is requested for longer and famous hikes especially trails situated 3.000 m above sea level. For some hikes like in the Taroko Gorge, you need to apply for a permit minimum three days before at the Taroko National Headquarter and at the police as well. In other parks, it's one or two days before you plan to hike. The police want to inspect your hiking gear before handing over a permit. If you hike with a Taiwanese resident it’s easier to get the permit. We experienced that the mentioned duration for hiking trails in National Parks and Forest Recreation Areas was often too high. Usually, you need half of the time or even less.
… More great insight for Taiwan will be added here very soon. Especially for the central and southern part, as well as tips for camping and rental cars.