Travel to the heart of tantalising Taiwan.

Welcome to one of Asia's most exciting up-and-coming destinations. Breathtaking coastline, lush green landscapes and tranquil temples are only the beginning of this eclectic adventure. Kick off in Taipei, where heritage charm meets cosmopolitan buzz, and make your way to the idyllic Sun Moon Lake, a hiking and cycling paradise. The city of Hualien boasts mountain trails, marble gorges and Pacific Ocean panoramas right on its doorstep, while Yilan is a wonderland of creative farms and hot springs. Along the way, get behind-the-scenes glimpses of local industries, enjoy hands-on food activities, and experience an older, slower Taiwan – from Lukang's Longshan Temple to the marvellous wooden sculptures of Miaoli.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Taipei, Taiwan
Finish
Taipei, Taiwan
Country
Taiwan
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
CJSA
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Get behind the scenes of Taiwan's exciting food culture – go oyster picking in Wangong, sip Yuchih black tea at a plantation, and cook spring onion pancakes with your own hand-picked ingredients

  • Become a 'Sweet Potato Mama' as you join a street-food merchant on their daily routine. This is both a unique experience and a great cause, with proceeds going to the Genesis Social Welfare Foundation

  • Hike, ride and kayak around the stunning Sun Moon Lake. Taiwan's one and only natural lagoon doubles as one of the world's top cycling spots

  • Scenes like the Qingshui Cliffs make Taiwan one of the hottest new destinations for nature-lovers. Snap a photo of these rugged bluffs as they drop dramatically into the sparkling blue Pacific Ocean

  • Named after the local Truku word for 'magnificent' and 'splendid', Taroko Gorge more than lives up to its name. The Shakadang Trail is a hiker's dream, a shadowy world of coastal cliffs and marble canyons

Is this trip right for you?

  • We use mainly private transport between destinations on this trip to enable us to pack as many highlights as we can into each day. When in Taipei you can expect plenty of walking and making use of the efficient metro system.

  • Due to geography and road infrastructure we need to return to Taipei on Day 5 of our itinerary before exploring the west coast of the country.

  • There are a number of opportunities for hiking, cycling and kayaking on this trip. While these are not strenuous, they do require a good overall level of fitness.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2017 to 31 December 2017. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Welcome to Taiwan! Your adventure begins in the densely-populated, beautifully located capital. You can arrive at any time today, as there are no activities planned until a welcome meeting at 6pm. Your leader will leave a note for you at reception detailing the time and place of this important meeting. Head out for an optional dinner with your fellow group members this evening. If you arrive early in Taipei, get out and discover the excellent museums, or perhaps visit the hot springs at Yangmingshan National Park. And of course, when the sun goes down out pop the street food stalls. Ningxia Night Market is one well known hot spot, but you can easily find vendors selling everything from pan-fried buns to pearl milk tea just about everywhere!
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Explore Taipei this morning using the city's excellent metro system as well as on foot. We start by visiting Sweet Potato Mama - a social enterprise managed by the Genesis Social Welfare Foundation. The sweet potato is more than just a food in Taiwan — it’s a quintessential part of Taiwanese culture. There are many sayings and proverbs about the sweet potato, and even the country is said to be shaped like one. But most of all, the sweet potato is a popular street food snack. By providing the space, training, and equipment needed, the foundation helps "Sweet Potato Mamas" to start their own businesses. The foundation also provides the first bag of sweet potatoes to women free of charge, to help get the business going. Thanks to receiving these necessities, women can typically start their own business within as little as one week. We will join the Mamas to learn how to prepare and sell sweet potatoes and have the opportunity to interact with plenty of customers who stop by. We will then take a stroll through the Dihua Street zone to get a sense of Taipei's merchant past, browse traditional local wares as well as see how new, young, hip entrepreneurs are revitalising the area. Enjoy perhaps your first cup of Taiwanese tea here in one of the oldest tea shops. In your free time, perhaps check out the Shilin Night Market tonight.




Included Activities
  • Taipei - Dihua Street walk
  • Taipei - Sweet Potato Mama visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Leave Taipei behind today travel to Hualien (approximately 2–3 hours). Though it's the second largest city in Taiwan, it's best known for its beautiful natural surrounds - the rift valley plain which lies just besides a mountain range and a rocky seashore overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This nearby countryside is also one of the most beautiful natural environments in Taiwan. We visit the Qingshui Cliff (a spectacular 1,000-metre-long cliff that drops almost vertically into the sea) and then continue to Taroko National Park, where we might spot swallows nesting on the cliff. Take a walk on the Shakadang or Baiyang Trail (dependent on local conditions). The Shakadang Trail, also known as the "Mysterious Valley Trail" follows a gentle stream through imposing marble boulders and a Truku tribal village. Entry to the village isn't permitted, but there is sometimes a small market selling indigenous foods and handicrafts. The Baiyang Trail takes you through waterfalls and through a number of tunnels where a flashlight might be handy. Both walks are around 90 mins round trip. In the evening there are more night markets to explore back in Hualien. Some local specialties are coffin bread (a thick fluffy french toast with fillings), "exploding" chicken rolls, spring onion pancake "bombs" and oyster omlettes. There are also plenty of local aboriginal foods to try such as bamboo rice, wild bore on stone plates, birds nest fern and flying fish. You certainly won't go hungry here!
Included Activities
  • Taroko Gorge - Shakadang or Baiyang Trail walk
  • Hualien - Night Market
  • Hualien - Qingshui Cliff
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Visit the Seven Star Lake (Qixingtan). This was once a thriving fishing village, and nowadays the beach is a popular spot thanks to its abundance of natural beauty. Walk around and take in the beautiful beachside scenery. If there's time, you can hire a bike and cycle the trail that follows the coastline.Today we will also visit a spring onion farm to see how one of Taiwan's favourite ingredients is grown. Don some gum boots and get grubby in the fields to pick some spring onions and then learn how to cook them into delicious pancakes, one of the country's best loved snacks. Return to Yilan for the night.

Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yilan - Spring onion farm & cooking class
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Head out on the water this morning with a boat trip around Gueishan (Turtle) Island. From March to September it's possible to spot dolphins (sometimes even in their hundreds!) and more rarely, whales. The boat trip usually lasts around 3 hours. Back on land, drive to the former gold mining centre of Jiufen, whose architecture is said to be the inspiration for the town in the Studio Ghibli film, Spirited Away. The Old Town here is full of beautiful old buildings lining the hillsides. Sit down with a cup of tea at a 100 year old teahouse or just browse the snack and craft shops. Some specialty snacks to try are fish balls, herbal or molasses cakes and taro balls. Stay in Yilan tonight. 
Included Activities
  • Jiufen - Old Town walk
  • Turtle Island - Boat tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Today's destination is Sun Moon Lake, perhaps the most iconic destination in Taiwan. We will take a walk along the Ci'en Pagoda Trail (around 1 hour) to view the lake from above. You can also climb to the top of the 46m high pagoda for an extra vantage point. This beautiful body of water is the largest and only natural lake in the country. Its southern part is shaped like a new moon, and the northern part is like to be a sun, hence the name. Later we will also have the chance to cycle some of the scenic paths that trace the lake shores (approximately 1-2 hours). Stay in a guesthouse in Puli tonight.
Included Activities
  • Sun Moon Lake - Ci'en Pagoda Trail walk
  • Sun Moon Lake - Bike ride
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After breakfast this morning we visit the Chung Tai Chan Monastery in Puli. Built relatively recently, it is a unique combination Chinese and Western architectural styles and an impressive sight. We will have a guided tour with one of the resident nuns here. Drive to the Hugosum Tea Farm next for an insight into the production of Taiwan's beloved black tea. Not only will you see how it is grown here, but you will also have the opportunity to roll your own leaves wich will then be dried and packaged on site for you to take a taste of Taiwan home wih you. Later this afternoon, embark on a kayaking trip on the calm, serene waters of Sun Moon Lake. Spend another night in our guesthouse tonight. 
Included Activities
  • Puli - Chung Tai Chan Monastery
  • Puli - Hugosum Tea Farm
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Head to the flat and fertile land of Changhua county today, sometimes known as the 'breadbasket' of Taiwan. Stop at charming Lukang and take a short walking tour to see some of the beautiful heritage buildings that line the winding streets. Visit a local family who still produce handmade thin noodles the traditional way by hand stretching and hanging them to dry outside in the courtyards (depending on the weather). Grab a few packets to take home with you - even more delicious once your realise all the hard work and care that goes into making them. Next up is the Longshan Temple and its beautiful grounds. Today we also visit the fishing village of Wanggong where there is the chance to go oyster picking, discover mangroves filled with water birds, fiddler crabs and mudskippers, and of course, sample plenty of local seafood including clams, crabs and oysters. Travel on to Taichung where we stay the night. Our hotel is close to the Fenchia Night Market if you are still hungry!
Included Activities
  • Lukang - Longshan Temple
  • Wanggong - Oyster picking
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Visit Miaoli, a town known for its wood sculpture, rail history, lakeside views and delicious Hakka cuisine. Discover some of its most charming attributes on a city tour. You will visit the remains of Longteng Bridge which serves as a vivid reminder of the 1935 earthquake. Head to the Sanyi area and discover the wood sculptures of the Old Street before making the drive back to Taipei. Perhaps meet up with your leader and group for a final optional dinner tonight. Many travellers recommend finishing their time in Taiwan with a visit to the Taipei 101 Observation Deck for a magnificent view over the city at night. 
Included Activities
  • Miaoli - Wood Sculpture Old Street
  • Miaoli - Longteng Bridge
Optional Activities
  • Taipei - Taipei 101 Observation Deck - TWD600
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning. There are no activities planned for the day, and you're free to leave the hotel at any time. Additional accommodation can be arranged if you are extending your stay.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

9 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Private Bus, Metro, Public Bus, Bike, Taxi, Boat

Accommodation

Hotel (6 nights), Guesthouse (3 nights)

Included activities

  • Taipei - Dihua Street walk
  • Taipei - Sweet Potato Mama visit
  • Taroko Gorge - Shakadang or Baiyang Trail walk
  • Hualien - Night Market
  • Hualien - Qingshui Cliff
  • Yilan - Spring onion farm & cooking class
  • Jiufen - Old Town walk
  • Turtle Island - Boat tour
  • Sun Moon Lake - Ci'en Pagoda Trail walk
  • Sun Moon Lake - Bike ride
  • Puli - Chung Tai Chan Monastery
  • Puli - Hugosum Tea Farm
  • Lukang - Longshan Temple
  • Wanggong - Oyster picking
  • Miaoli - Wood Sculpture Old Street
  • Miaoli - Longteng Bridge

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our Explore Taiwan trips score an average of 4.25 out of 5 based on 4 reviews in the last year.

Explore Taiwan, May 2017

Warren Beavis

Explore Taiwan, April 2017

Naomi Davies