When Portuguese sailors first saw Taiwan off the starboard bow in 1544 they christened it Ilha Formosa, the 'Beautiful Island'. And can you blame them? For 400 years communists, capitalists, imperialists and everyone in between have fought over its mist-shrouded forests, soaring peaks and plunging coastal cliffs. These days it’s definitely a case of ‘come for the adventure, stay for the stir-fries’, with some of the best fusion cuisine around, top road cycling, excellent mountain trekking and world-class coffee to boot. Technically it’s known as the Republic of China, but in the last 40 years this little green island has carved out its own destiny, one that’s definitely ‘made in Taiwan’.

Taiwan Tours & Travel

All our Taiwan trips

USD $2,435
CAD $2,855
AUD $3,095
EUR €2,115
GBP £1,550
NZD $3,285
ZAR R28,160
CHF FR2,165
Discover up-and-coming Taiwan, a land of lush green landscapes, breathtaking Pacific coastal cliffs, tranquil temples...

Taiwan trip reviews

Our Taiwan trips score an average of 4.8 out of 5 based on 5 reviews in the last year.

Classic Taiwan , October 2015

Cristina Scarabello

Classic Taiwan , October 2015

Jenny Hagger

Articles on Taiwan

Why Taiwan is Asia’s next big food destination

Posted on Fri, 29 Jan 2016

From small eats (‘xiao chi’) on the street, to Michelin-starred restaurants and chefs, Taiwan has it covered.

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Travelling as a vegan? These are the 7 countries to visit

Posted on Mon, 16 Nov 2015

With vegan-diets becoming more common on a global scale, travellers are starting to look for an alternative.

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5 Reasons Taiwan is Asia’s hottest new destination

Posted on Wed, 29 Oct 2014

Seen the best of Asia? Not yet you haven't. Check our our 5 reasons why Taiwan is the continent's hottest new destination.

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Backstage pass: 8 of the best festivals in Asia

Posted on Fri, 26 Sep 2014

Shakespeare once said, ‘The sauce to meat is ceremony; meeting were bare without it.’ Basically this translates to, ‘Festivals, they’re pretty cool, eh?’ And those Elizabethans really knew how to party, so I’m inclined to agree with his opinion. Ceremonies and festivals are the cultural glue that binds us as people.

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About Taiwan

At a glance

Capital city: Taipei
Population: 23.3 million
Language: Mandarin
Currency: TWD
Time zone: (GMT+08:00) Taipei
Electricity: Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin)
Dialing code: +886

Best time to visit Taiwan

While there’s really no bad time to visit Taiwan, some months are more predictable than others. September to November is the best time to visit, when you’ll find balmy nights, rich autumn foliage and off-peak prices. Travelling in spring (March to May) is down to luck: it could be clear skies, monsoonal rain or even a sandstorm blown over from China. Swimming is best mid-year (June to August) when the weather can heat up, but there is always the small risk of typhoons.

Geography and environment

lake in taiwan
Taiwan is a little like South America with its spine-like ridge of (often impassable) mountains running south-west through the centre of the island. The beauty of this setup is that topography and environment can change very quickly. You can be cycling through low-lying rice paddies around Taitung one day, traversing the high forest passes of Yushan the next, then finishing up on the white northern beaches around Fuguei Cape. Generally the central national parks and east coast are the most spectacular regions; the west coast is flat and highly developed with urban areas spreading over the river basins and flood plains that lead to the sea.

Top Picks

Top 5 Attractions in Taiwan

1. Sun Moon Lake

One of Asia’s best-kept secrets, Sun Moon Lake is easily the equal of any Como, Bled or Windermere. It’s a huge blue oasis hidden among the green peaks of Taiwan’s central mountain ranges. By day it’s merely beautiful, but in the blue-gold light of dawn, with mists rolling over the water and local fisherman paddling past, it’s like something out of a fairy tale.

2. Taroko Gorge

They have to shoot a James Bond chase scene through here, that’s all there is to it. Taroko Gorge was made for the cinema. It’s a winding maze of looming marble crags, huge cut-out roads tunnelling right into the mountains, rushing river gorges and looping alpine passes. If you are ever being chased by gangsters in your supercar, you want it to be here.

3. Qingshui Cliffs

Just google an image of ‘Qingshui Cliffs’ before we continue. All done? Now you know what we’re talking about. They’re basically a 21 km stretch of sheer jungle-covered cliffs plunging straight into the East China Sea, with a tiny highway clinging on about halfway up. This is not a journey for vertigo-sufferers, but for fans of jaw-dropping natural wonders, it’s a must-do.

4. Taipei

An easy one to tick off, since it’ll probably be your first stop in Taiwan. The northern city of Taipei is the island’s capital, and offers a beating, chaotic counterpoint to the Zen-like beauty of the southern national parks. If you think it’s crazy by day, just wait until night, when a neon glow lights the sky and lantern-lit markets spring up in the colourful Songshan district.

5. Penghu Islands

Penghu is one of Taiwan’s hidden gems, an archipelago of 90 islands between the mainland and China. They’re remote, but worth the journey, with brilliant beaches devoid of crowds, glorious temples, towering basalt columns and genuine old-fashioned Chinese hospitality. Penghu is also a windsurfing mecca and a nesting ground for rare green sea turtles. Not bad for one tiny volcanic island chain.

FAQs on Taiwan

Australia: No - not required
Belgium: No - not required
Canada: No - not required
Germany: No - not required
Ireland: No - not required
Netherlands: No - not required
New Zealand: No - not required
South Africa: Yes - required in advance
Switzerland: No - not required
United Kingdom: No - not required
USA: No - not required
Tipping is not a city in Taiwan, nor is it really common practice, except perhaps in the more high-class hotels. Most restaurants have a service charge built into the price, and taxi drivers will usually return your change to you.
As one of Asia’s more tech-savvy destinations, cyber cafes are common in the major cities. Free Wi-Fi can also usually be found at the local library.
Mobile phone coverage is excellent in Taiwan, apart from some of the more remote mountain areas. Ensure global roaming is activated before leaving home if you wish to use your mobile while travelling.
Modern flushing toilets are commonplace in Taiwan, although it can be hard to find a public toilet in the large cities.
Beer = 50 TWD
Simple lunch at a cafe = 60 TWD
Dinner in a restaurant = 150 TWD
Street meal = 40 TWD
Train ticket = 20 TWD
Bottle of water = 19 TWD
Water in Taiwan is usually filtered, and therefore safe, but use your common sense. Restaurants will generally filter their water, as will most of the drinking fountains. If you can’t find these in the more rural areas, bring some purification tablets to treat the water.
Most hotels and department stores accept VISA and Mastercard, but Diners and AMEX are not usually accepted. For restaurants and small stores, cash is the normal form of payment.
ATM access in Taiwan is exceptional, with most of their ATMs able to withdraw money from anywhere in the world using the Plus or Cirrus system. There is usually a TWD 20,000 limit for cash withdrawals.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year’s Day
Jan 30 Chinese New Year’s Eve
Jan 31-Feb 4 Chinese New Year
Feb 14 Lantern Festival
Feb 28 Peace Memorial Day
Apr 4 Children’s Day
Apr 5 Tomb Sweeping Day
May 1 Labour Day
Jun 2 Dragon Boat Festival
Sep 8 Mid Autumn Festival
Oct 2 Double Ninth Day
Oct 10 National Day

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Taiwan Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Taiwan

1. Be considerate of Taiwan’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.

3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

4. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!

5. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

6. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

7. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

8. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, especially children.

9. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
A Thousand Moons on a Thousand RiversHsiao Li-Hung
Forbidden Nation: A History of TaiwanJonathan Manthorpe
Four Years Without SocksChris Murphy
Orphan of AsiaWu Zhuoliu