Hot off the press! Taiwan has announced that starting February 20, 2023 – Hong Kong tourists can visit visa-free and there will be no cap on the maximum number of visitors. Let’s go to Taiwan!
Ranked as one of the safest countries in Southeast Asia, Taiwan is home to impressively friendly locals, especially when you have kids. The aubergine-shaped country is a kaleidoscope of colors with tea estates, high-altitude mountain forests, bustling cities, and almost endless Buddhist temples. The Taiwanese are naturally curious about other cultures and religions. They will do their best to help you if you need help along your way if you get lost or need assistance with a translation. With nine national parks full of hot springs, cloud-cloaked mountains, and perfectly white beaches, you’ll have endless adventures during your trip to this gloriously vibrant country. Travel through skyscraper-strewn cities, enjoy bustling markets, participate in chaotic religious festivals, drink tea in one of the many plantations, bathe in peaceful forested lagoons, or dive into the colorful gardens of the Taiwan Straight or the South China Sea.
Underrated and undiscovered, you are in for a real treat when exploring Taiwan. You’ll probably think of ‘Made in Taiwan’ when you consider its transformation to become one of the world’s wealthiest countries in the last 50 years. Taiwan has successfully preserved much of its civilizations and traditions, which are all but lost on its big brother, neighboring China. The Chinese, Western, Japanese, and indigenous peoples have heavily influenced this diverse country.
More guides on Taiwan with Kids:
Most tourists arrive in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. It's home to one of the tallest buildings in the world, second only to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, with the extraordinary National Palace Museum and some of the best restaurants, bars, and night markets.
Taipei affords easy access to many Instagram-worthy sites, including a cablecar journey to the teahouses of Maokong, the hot springs of Beitou, and the volcanic peaks of Yangmingshan National Park. The rugged northern coast, Yilan Coast National Scenic Area, and the Guanyinshan National Scenic Area are short trips away. Jiufen and Jinguashi are hugely popular for their 'time-stands-still' historic streets and plentiful teahouses. If you want to explore the southern coast, Hsinchu is an excellent base for journeys into Hakka Country. Shei-Pa National Park allows you to hike some of Taiwan's most prominent and memorable peaks. Taian Hot Springs is probably the island's most charming hot-spring resort.
Taiwan has a rich history and was held by the Chinese, Spanish and Dutch until the Japanese invaded in 1895. The new rulers built factories, railroads, and tunnels to support Japan's economy. The Japanese were ousted just after World War II. In 1949, Chiang Kai-shek, the Chinese Nationalist leader, fled the communist mainland to Taiwan, where he nurtured the Confucian society that remains today.
Night markets are considered an institution and are the best places to enjoy street food, stinky tofu, oyster pancakes, spiced chicken patties, pork and chive dumplings, sweet bubble tea, or honey-infused lemonade.
Check out the Little Steps ‘Taipei With Kids Guide For Families’, which includes accommodation recommendations in Taipei.
Wild terrain, wild tribes, and wild weather are synonymous with northern Taiwan. It was the last part of the island to be colonized by mainland Chinese; today, it's highly populated with Mandarin speakers.
Occupied by Hakka people who are descendants who migrated from Guangdong and western Fujian. Beipu is the most populated Hakka town in northern Taiwan, with the Yimin Temple at the heart of all religious activity. The small area of old buildings and teahouses gives it plenty of countryside charm. Within a few minutes of the central bus station on Zhongzheng Road, you'll discover the touristy area that's alive with shops and food stalls, including Lung Yuan Pastry Store, established in 1871, which specializes in making tasty sweet potato and taro cakes. All of the old buildings are chockful together around the temple. The buildings are mostly traditionally built with mud bricks. The charming Qing dynasty house in Zhingshu Tang has an unusual baroque façade. Many of these old houses are associated with tea producer Chiang A-Hsin who built the imposing two-story A-Hsin Jiang Residence, an intricate blend of Eastern and Western architecture.
At the end of Zhongzheng Road, the narrow alleyway has some of the most atmospheric tea houses, where you can sample léichá or ground tea. If you are in Léichá, try making a contemporary green tea mixed with a hand-ground paste made from peanuts, pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds. Serve with máshŭ; sticky rice rolled in ground peanuts. Delicious! There are plenty of homestays, bed and breakfasts, and small hotels, including the recommended Shan Xing Ji Ye Homestay.
Citian Temple, at the end of Beipu Street, was the first temple to be established in the area in 1830 to worship various gods, including the goddess of the sea, the god of the land, and the god of five grains. During the lantern festival, Beipu residents gather at the temple before climbing Xiuluan Mountain to worship the mountain god. Upon their return, the villagers guess riddles. In the second lunar month, the locals celebrate Guanyin's birthday in a vast worship ceremony. Hsinchu is a short but fast high-speed rail journey from Taipei and one of the wealthiest cities in the country due to the Science Park. In the heart of the city, there are remains of one of Taiwan's oldest cities. Reflect on the history as you dine at one of the many street food stalls. If you and the kids like history, visit the Glass Museum and explore the fascinating history of glass throughout the ages.
Another day trip from Taipei is Jiufen and Jinguashi. The historic gold mining town of Jiufen is accessible for a leisurely day of adventure. The town occupies a gorgeous hillside location with views over the north coast. Renowned for its pretty teahouses and delicious snack food, have lunch before you drive the 2-kilometer Mount Keelung Ridge to Jinguashi, which has a fascinating gold mining history dating back to 1889. Most attractions, Japanese buildings, old mining temples, and temple ruins are at the Gold Ecological Park. Visitors to the museum can pan for gold and wander through the display of wax figures and explosive sound effects. Qu Hi Home Stay is highly recommended by those that have stayed there.
Nestled between the mountains and a natural harbor, Keelung is picturesque, with numerous fortresses, an inheritance of the city's violent past, and a huge port that attracts cruise and cargo container ships. Visit the Xiandongyan Zuisheng Temple, otherwise known as the fairy cave, a natural sea cave and a mystical place of worship steeped in local legend. Historically, it was a natural refuge for local fishermen during regular north coast storms. If you can time your trip just right, attend the vibrant Keelung Zhongyuan Festival, or festival of the gods, the largest ghost festival celebration in all of Taiwan. It runs throughout August and has been added to the national cultural heritage list as an important folk custom. Head to Hotel Drizzle for a good night’s sleep in the contemporary hotel.
Attracting pilgrims since the Qing dynasty, the 242 square kilometers Lion’s Head Mountain Scenic Area is home to endless hiking trails and Buddhist temples clustered around the mountain and along the Zhonggang River Valley. Emei Lake is also worth checking out; the vast statue of Maitreya Buddha dominates the area. You can stay overnight at Fo Guang Shan, Taiwan’s largest monastery.
The northern coastline and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area are both easily accessible from Taipei and are famous for day visitors. Highlights include Dharma Drum Mountain Monastery and the modern sculptures at the Juming Museum. The park is on the cape and commands views across the bay to and Yangmingshan and Jinshan. You can hike to the headland, which you usually have to yourself so that you can explore the fascinating rocks and weird and wonderful geological formations such as the queen's head, candle, and mushroom rocks caused by centuries of seismic activity and weathering.
Keen hikers can also explore Bitou Cape and Longdong and the surfing hotspot of Daxi. Fulong is a beautiful area if you want to stay longer than a day. The entire area is accessible by bus and runs an impressive 102 kilometers from Nanya to Suao. One of the closest hotels is Yangmingshan Tien Lai Resort Hotel, just over 11 kilometers from the Guanyinshan National Scenic Area. The Golden Tulip FAB Hotel is close by.
Three spectacular routes crisscross the mountainous interior of Taiwan, connecting the western plains with the eastern coast. The northern route commences in the historic town of Daxi, a small town with two old streets lined with ornate Chinese baroque architecture crammed with pretty buildings housing craft shops, tea houses, and restaurants. The elaborate façades boast finely carved beams, and arches etched with the names of the companies that existed in 1912. The buildings are a fine example of this era. Pop into 56 Heping Road and try the dòugān, flavored and preserved tofu. Jump aboard the Pinxi Branch Rail Line, which winds its way along the Keelung River, through the old mining communities of Shifen and Pingxi to the village of Jingtong. Endless trails envelop the villages to the Putuo and Xiaizi mountains, the pinnacle of the latter is reached by steel ladders. The impressive scenery, waterfalls, hiking trails, and the annual Pingxi lantern festival at the beginning of the year attracts thousands visitors. The Westin Tashee Resort, Taoyuan, is highly recommended for families with children.
If you yearn to visit the breathtaking waterfalls at Shifen, try and avoid the weekends, which will be packed with local tourists! Look out for the Eyeglass Hole Waterfall, named after two hollows that have eroded into the rocks. The waterfalls are awe-inspiring after rainfall. In Miaoli, you’ll find Sanyi, the heart of Taiwan’s wood carving. Wander around the Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum or shop in one of the many stores and studios that sell woodcarvings, from religious icons to kitschy souvenirs. Fill your Instagram feed with images of the remains of the Longteng Bridge, historic Hakka tea houses, and beautiful hiking trails. Just over 10 kilometers away, you'll find Evergreen Laurel Hotel Keelung or various homestays closer to Shifen and Sanyi.
Spring is the best time to visit the Hakka village of Shengxing when the white tung flowers bloom. Originally a transportation hub for the camphor oil traders, it’s now purely a tourist destination that again gets busy at the weekends. Shei-Pa National Park is home to raging rivers and the jagged mountain peaks of the spectacular Xueshan range. The national park has seemingly endless peaks; over 50 are well over 3,000 meters above sea level. The highest peak is Xueshan or Snow Mountain, the second-tallest mountain in Northeast Asia. The precipitous Holy Ridge is one of the most celebrated in Taiwan. The trails are well-maintained and accessible throughout the year. The best time to hike is between October and December and February and April unless you are a highly experienced climber. Lishan Guest House is just over 17 kilometers from Shei-Pei National Park.
Constrained by the heavily populated cities in the north and the verdant plains of the south, central Taiwan is defined by compelling landscapes and the mighty central range mountains. You'll appreciate the magnificent beauty of Sun Moon Lake and Yusham, Northeastern Asia's tallest mountain.
One of the most energetic cities in Taiwan, Taichung is noted for its innovative teahouses and endless nightlife. The country's third-largest city and unofficial capital has a yesteryear charm with various protected historical attractions such as Jenn Lann Temple, Chenghuang Temple, Wanhe Temple, and the Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, the 921 Earthquake Museum, which houses a moving tribute to the devastating earthquake in 1999, Luce Memorial Chapel and Taichung City Cultural Affairs Bureau. Taiwan’s tea culture is prominent here, with an appealing mix of elegant classical teahouses and contemporary cafés.
The city's south is home to flat river plains nestled between the hills. The sea is rich in traditional culture and regular worship of the Taoist deity and patron saint, Mazu, the goddess of the sea. Dajira and Beigang are home to some of the most important Mazu temples in Taiwan, including the Beigang Chaotian Temple used for worshipping various spirits. Each year, you’ll be able to participate in the Dajia’s Mazu Pilgrimage, named one of the world's three biggest festivals and is on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The eight-night, nine-day procession follows the path of early immigrants with a chaotic backdrop of lion dances, fireworks, and stilt performers. There are several homestays and Airbnbs close by.
Once known as Ban Xian, Changhua is a historic town with many natural and cultural attractions, including the vast Buddha statue in Baguashan Mountain Natural Scenic Area, Confucius Temple, Wude Temple, and Nanyao Temple and Taiwan's only remaining railway roundhouse. Remember to try the stewed pork with rice, cats and mice noodles (not literally), and meatballs.
Taiwan's oldest town, Lugang, is a living museum of ancient buildings, narrow streets, temples, and master artisans. The town is renowned for its delicious seafood and diverse street food; enjoy wandering around the narrow lanes enjoy snacks from diverse vendors. Lugang means 'deer harbor,' a reference to the herds of deer that once roamed the plains but have been hunted to extinction. Lugang went into financial decline in the late nineteenth century as the harbor silted up and was closed to shipping companies. The town became a sleepy backwater until tourists gave the town a much-needed boost in the late 1970s. The Forte Hotel Changhua is one of the highest-rated in the area.
It’s worth exploring the mystical Alishan National Scenic Area during the autumnal months to be wowed by the thick clouds that shroud the mountain. The park is recovering after Typhoon Morakot in 2009. Hundreds of square kilometers of tea plantations and aboriginal villages pepper the landscapes. Alishan borders Yushan National Park, which offers challenging hiking experiences in the Central Mountain Range. The park is home to mammals, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles, birds, soaring mountains, and yawning river valleys. The park is well-known for the 3,952-metre Jade Mountain and the independent Bunan Tribe. Taiwanese conservationists who revere Yushan National Park have worked tirelessly since its conception in 1985 to protect its natural treasures. The park contains more than half of the island's endemic plant species and some of the continent's rarest animals, including the elusive Formosan black bear that wanders the foothills.
The pristine forested lands of Alishan Forest Recreation Area have numerous easy walking paths that lead you to viewing points of the surrounding mountains and the awe-inspiring sea of clouds. Schedule your visit between mid-March and mid-April, and you'll witness the cherry trees blossoming, but be aware that there will be crowds of people vying for the same view! See if you and the kids can learn a few Tsou words before you visit Alishan! One of the most common words is 'aveoveoyu,' pronounced 'a-view-view-you,' which means 'my heart is happy.' Tabakai bed and breakfast is highly rated for families!
One of the earliest cities in Taiwan, Chiayi, has many historical temples and lively markets. Immigrants from Fujian farms first settled here in 1621, and it’s since become known as the city of painting because of the Nativist art movement led by Wu Meiling and Chen Cheng-po. The Chiayi Botanical Gardens belong to the Forestry Experimental Institute of Agricultural Council, which strives to plant mahogany, Chinese fir, Brazil rubber trees, and blackboard trees, to create a secluded and peaceful environment for nature lovers. The Orient Luxury Hotel is in an ideal location for exploring the city.
Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan's largest emerald freshwater lake affording you breathtaking views; named because of its distinctive shape of the sun and a crescent moon. Stretching from Changhua to Sun Moon Lake, the Jiji Branch Rail Line is one of the country's four narrow-gauge railways. Preserved for tourists, the train chugs through the countryside, stopping at historical towns and the depleting countryside. The outer road is peppered with fascinating temples and pavilions, while the cable car allows incredible views across the entire lake. Swimming is only allowed one day per year, so you can expect thousands of swimmers to participate in the Sun Moon Lake Swimming Carnival in September. Until the early part of the century, the lake was a shallow marsh called Shuishalian. In 1919, the Japanese created a dam for hydroelectric power. They flooded the area in 1934, displacing the local Thao community to the southern shores. In 1999, the 921 Earthquake severely damaged much of the lakeside infrastructure, including hotels, restaurants, and hiking trails. It's been reformed and surpasses its former glory. Shui Bu Zi Farmhouse is a highly recommended homestay.
Puli is at the center of Taiwan and is home to the modern Chung Tai Chan Monastery and impressive local art. Founded by Grand Master Wei Chueh and designed by C Y Lee, the monastery is a complex dominated by a 150-meter central tower and 37 floors, surrounded by ancillary halls and a series of statues. Puli is an easy trip from Sun Moon Lake and offers an assortment of attractions, including Taiwan's famed lacquer, fine Chinese wines, and paper trading.
A world away from Taipei, the tropical south is packed with pineapple groves, sandy beaches, and betel nut plantations. The southern plains are home to Taiwan's oldest settlements, with inhabitants that are a bastion of Taiwanese culture preferring to speak Taiwanese in preference of Mandarin. The southern mountains are occupied by the remaining Bunan, Paiwan, and Rukai tribes. The high-spirited culture enjoys festivals, temple boat burning, and fireworks displays.
The former capital Tainan is bursting with elaborate temples, historical sites, and some of the best food in the entire country. Just a few kilometers from the southwest coast is the city recognized for its ancient monuments, worship, festivals, and rituals. Tainan was the last independent outpost of China's Ming dynasty. Anping is the coastal cultural heart of the old city with Five Canals, Confucius Temple, Dong-an Fang, and Chihkan, boasting the richest concentration of attractions, so spend at least a couple of days exploring this beautiful neighborhood.
The Southern Cross-Island Highway is a scenic route that cuts through the Maolin National Scenic Area, the slate-built Rukai village of Duona, and the thrilling mountain road to Wutai. Once an undersea coral reef, Kenting National Park is now a landscape of limestone caves, narrow canyons, and towering cliff walls home to macaques living in ancient banyan trees. You'll experience impressive views throughout the park or you can wander to the viewing tower. Beaches and world-class surf are accessible by scooters. Jump on a local boat and visit the nearby intriguing island of Little Liuqiu to discover the friendly locals, charming coastal scenery, and impressive geological formations. Little Steps loves the Little Piggy B&B.
Kaohsiung has transformed from a polluted industrial container port to a green city with verdant parks, waterfront cafés, art galleries and museums, all seamlessly connected by the state-of-the-art transportation system. Love River divides the city into two. Originally a shallow creek, the Japanese during the colonial era dredged it to become a canal names Kaohsiung River. In 1948, Love River Boat Company allowed local romantic couples to row up and down the river, hence the name change! The city has recently renovated the bridges that cross Love River; they now radiate pretty rainbows of light at night.
Exploring Kaohsiung is accessible on the LRT and MRT routes, linking the various historical buildings and attractions. The older neighborhoods of Cijin Island, Yancheng, and Zuoying, have plenty of historical sites, endless traditional food, and delicious snacks. Modern Kaohsiung has a bustling shopping district in the shadows of the impressive 85 Sky Tower which, when open, has impressive views over Kaohsiung City, Love River, and Kaohsiung Harbor.
If you are spending a few days here, head west to Gushan and explore the Caishan Natural Park, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Hamasen Railway Cultural Park, Martyrs' Shrine, and the Takao Railway Museum. Lotus Lake is further north in Zuoying, noted for Confucious Temple, the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, and the Spring and Autumn Pavillions. The best time to visit is in the late afternoon, just before the sunset is reflected on the lake. Nature lovers will appreciate Chaishan, home to a fickle tribe of resident monkeys! The area's most prominent landmark is Foguangshan Monastery, a vast complex of grand temple architecture, giant statues, shrines, and Buddhist art. It’s also home to the Foguangshan International Buddhist Order, founded in 1967 by Master Hsing Yun. Today, about 300 monks and nuns are part of an education complex with over 1,000 students. Remember to look at the towering Buddha statues and 14,800 small Buddha figurines lit by tiny lights. The Foguanshan Buddha Memorial Center houses the revered Buddha’s tooth artifact. The kids will love the Legend Hotel at Pier 2 and its colorfully painted themes.
Enveloped on three sides by the Pacific Ocean, the Taiwan Straight, the Luzon Straight, and the Kenting National Park peninsula is a paradise for sun, sand, and sea lovers. The hugely popular park takes much of the Hengchun Peninsula at the confluence of tectonic plates and fault lines. It is a complex network of mountains, steep cliffs, dunes, coral formations, and grassy meadows. The beaches are a huge draw, and it's relatively easy to find your own stretch to share with a few others. Kenting is a popular surfing destination, particularly from March to May. Much of the park remains peaceful despite millions of tourists visiting each year, most heading to Kenting Town and Nanwan. Held every April since 1995, Spring Scream, a five-day rock festival, attracts thousands of revelers. Little Steps loves the HUA B&B, which is pretty close to the national park.
You can find a beautiful blend of mountain scenery and aboriginal cultures in the Maolin National Scenic Area. Sadly, Typhoon Morakot extensively damaged the area in 2009, and some attractions remain off-limits to visitors. Duona was also severely hit, but the high suspension bridge remains intact. Various tours are available from Rukai Village, and the area remains one of the highlights of the south. It's a fascinating place to discover Rukai life and delicious cuisine cooked on barbeques or smooth, fire-heated slate slabs.
Take Highway 24 to the remote Wutai village, which winds through the spectacular western plains and mountains with breathtaking roadside waterfalls. Village life is peaceful with a helping of pure Rukai culture, stone-paved lanes, and friendly homestays. The 208-kilometer-long Southern cross-island highway from Tainan to the Guanshan Township in Taitung Country finally fully reopened in 2022, having been closed since the typhoon and later flooding. You'll experience pristine lakes, hot springs, cypress woods, the most beautiful rural countryside, and Yushan National Park, which affords views of Mount Jade. The Kaohsiung Grand Hotel is an excellent choice for overnight accommodation.
From the coastal highway from Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park, you’ll find the
Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, the largest lagoon on the southwest coast, and the fishing town of Donggang boast some of the finest seafood. Little Liuqiu Island, made of coral, curious rock formations, and caves, is ideal for a relaxing retreat from bustling city life. There are ample hotels, restaurants, and a gorgeous campsite if you want to stay a day to two. Before you reach Kenting National Park, you'll find Sizhongxi Hot Springs worth a detour. Country Route 99 has rejuvenating spaces and a pretty countryside peppered with Paiwan Villages. There are various homestays on and around Coral Island.
The flat, marshy coastline between the Hukou Wetlands and Tainan is renowned for Taiwan's most important religious sites, such as the Ciji Temple in the little town of Xuejia. The fabulous temple worships the God of Doctors was raised in 1701, and subsequent restorations include artwork by Taiwanese and Chinese masters, examples of Koji pottery, cursive script, and ceramic appliqué. There are also remains of the once thriving salt industry with vast numbers of oyster farms. A short drive from Nankunshen, Yanshui attracts some 300,000 thousands of visitors to its annual 'beehive' pyrotechnics display that is fired horizontally and directly into the crowds creating a cacophony of noise, smoke, and fire, making protective clothing essential! The tradition started in 1885 when locals paraded images of Guan Di to ward off a cholera epidemic. There's also a lantern festival in February. The Lakeshore Hotel in Tainan is excellent for families.
The cloud-piercing Central Range of mountains cut off the Eastern coast of Taiwan from the populated North and Western regions. Explore the geological wonders, plunging Qingshui Cliffs and Taroko Gorge in Taroko National Park and the picturesque landscapes in the East Coast National Scenic Area and East Rift Valley National Scenic Area, including activities such as diving, whitewater rafting, surfing, snorkeling, and hiking. The two main tourist-centric cities, Hualien and Taitung, offer tours to nearby attractions. Accessed by boat, Ludao and Lanyu are two exotic Pacific Islands. Ludao, or Green Island, was once an exile for political prisoners during the White Terror in the 1950s. Lanyu, otherwise known as Orchid Island, is home to the aboriginal Tao people. The East coast has seven recognized tribes, and their virtual isolation has allowed them to preserve their traditional beliefs, languages, and practices. Choose to visit this area during the festival period during July and August for an extraordinary insight into this seldom-seem side of Taiwan. Hotel Bayview has incredible views over the sea.
The East Coast National Scenic Area is a prime aboriginal territory scattered with rice paddies, herds of water buffalo, tranquil fishing villages, and some great surf breaks. You'll find Amis, Kavalan, and Sakiazya People throughout the area; visit ancient sites, experience traditional life and listen to stories of old. You should have whale watching on your bucket list! From the two charming fishing villages and harbors, Shiti and Chenggong, you could see the spinner, pantropical spotted, Risso's, Fraser's, and bottlenose dolphins, sperm, killer, and pilot whales. Find a good captain, and he should give you a tour of the landmarks along the coast. To fully enjoy exploring, it's recommended that you hire some form of transport or a driver. David Samstrong Lite homestay has impressive reviews!
The East Rift Valley National Scenic Area is a magical haven of hot springs nestled between the Coastal Mountain Range and the eastern fringe of the central ranges. The Xiuguluan River is famed for its exhilarating whitewater rafting. The river runs through a deep gorge flanked by vertical cliffs giving you an immense sense of perspective. The 24-kilometer rafting route offers thrills and spills, particularly after heavy rain. Yihe Golden Homestay has excellent reviews.
Gracefully located on the mountain-fringed plains, Hualien is the ideal base for expeditions to Taroko National Park. As one of the largest producers of marble, the elegant stone is used city-wide to adorn temples, the airport, train stations, and even pavements. You'll find an impressive array of teahouses and restaurants to try locally-produced teas and delicious local specialties. Today's modern city has a population of around 100,000 mainland, Hakka, Hoklo, and aboriginal people.
Lanyu, a volcanic island, is one of Taiwan's most prized places. The velvet-green mountain, surrounded by grainy beaches and the most beautiful coral reefs in Asia, is home to the seafaring Tao people, who have managed to preserve much of their 800-year time-honored traditions and remarkable heritage. They are staunch protectors of the inimitable nature on the island. Visiting Lanyu is truly like stepping back in time. The main attractions are the Tao villages, with their signature subterranean houses, loincloth-wearing elders, intricately hand-carved canoes, and rich tropical scenery. Each year, Lanyu is alive with traditional colorful festivities, including The Flying Fish, the coming-of-age ceremony for young Tao men, the Millet Harvest Festival, an extravaganza featuring a dreamlike dervish-inspired dance performed by long-haired Tao women and an ancient dance by men and the Boat Launching Festivals performed when villagers unveil a newly completed canoe.
Flourishing with tropical flora and boasting jaw-dropping coral and marine life, Ludao is thought of as a Pacific gem. Initially the principal place of exile for political prisoners and the site of Ludao Lodge, where tens of thousands of prisoners were held without trial, it's now well known for its pristine reefs, snorkeling, and diving. It's home to one of the two natural saltwater hot springs, Zhaori Hot Springs. The island tends to be very busy during the summer months, and during the winter, many of the attractions are closed due to inclement weather. If you are lucky, you can see the once-hunted Sika deer. If you are interested in the history of the White Terror, visit the Green Island Human Rights Culture Park. Use the Azure Hotel in Hualien as a base for exploring.
Between an open plain, lush mountains, and the Pacific, Taitung has a laid-back vibe and is home to the famous Zhiben Hot Springs and the Zhiben Forest Recreation Area, which offers some leisurely hiking options. Use this as a base for exploring the rugged coast and the outlying islands. Framed by the seaside cliffs and inland mountains, Taroko National Park is one of Taiwan’s top tourist destinations.
Taroko Gorge stretches 20 kilometers through marble walls that soar above the Liwu River. Crystal-clear waterfalls plunge dramatically over the rock faces while lush vegetation hangs on for dear life. A string of easy hiking trails weaves along the winding road affording breathtaking views. The park is also home to some of Taiwan’s most challenging mountain climbs up the rugged Qilai Ridge and Nanhushan. Ensure you have your camera at the ready for the Qingshui Cliffs that plummet theatrically into the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean below. The 21-kilometer coastline takes you between the hamlets of Chongde and Heren. Named after the Truku aboriginal tribe, they are known for their hunting and weaving skills. The park was closed for a while after the devastation of Typhoon Morakot. Little Steps loves the Silks Place Taroko hotel as a base.