Best Taiwan Itinerary : Explore Yilan and Taipei in 8 Days

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From wondrous national park and pristine stoned beaches to buzzing cities and delicious food, Taiwan has everything you’d expect from a fantastic vacation.

When I first visited Taiwan back in 2011, it was only a short trip to visit some of the famous spots in Taipei because I was on a school trip. I was joining the school tour for a competition in Taiwan and we got to visit some of the top places in Taipei for about three days. Although it was a short trip, I ended up falling in love with Taiwan and yearned to come back to Taiwan ever since.

I finally got my chance to do it again 10 years later when I took a break after my degree studies. I visited along with my friends who moved to Taiwan for studies.

My impression of Taiwan is a country that has a lot of great food to offer and the people are very friendly and welcoming. This time, I had the opportunity to explore Taiwan’s natural side, which made me appreciate the island even more.

This Taiwan travel guide gets us to explore more on the nature side of Taiwan and also not forgetting the charming city lights in Taipei. It includes the itinerary of traveling in the North part and East coast of Taiwan.

Let’s dive in the tour with me!

Taiwan Itinerary : Day 1

I arrive at Tao Yuan Airport in the evening around 8pm. I took the flight from Penang International Airport to Taiwan and the journey was about 4 hours. It was the only direct flight available from Penang which was offered by China Airline and the in-flight meal was also included.

After the arrival and the quick custom process, head over to the train ticket office in the airport to get a train ticket. Take the Tze-Chiang Limited Express train from Taipei to the Luodong station. This express journey will send you to the Yilan county in 1 hour and 20 minutes.

When I arrived at Yilan, it was already late at night so I quickly meet up with my friend and check in our Airbnb room!

The first thing after check in is to explore the night market culture in Taiwan. We quickly keep the luggage in the room, and walk to the nearby LuoDong Night Market to grab some supper!

LuoDong Night Market is one of the must-visit places when in Yilan. There is a plenty of great local street foods to be found in the market. Some of the best and my favourites are : Green Onion Pancake (葱油煎饼),Yilan style sausage (粉肠), Peanut roll with ice cream (花生卷冰淇淋)and many more visitors can find in the market.

Taiwan Itinerary : Day 2

On the next day, we couldn’t wait to start our tour in Yilan!

We walk a few blocks to grab a quick breakfast at a cafe. Then, walked a few blocks more to the scooter rental shop to rent a scooter (woohoo!) Scooter is a popular transport in Taiwan and it has became a culture too! If you want to experience Taiwan like a local, start with riding a scooter is a great idea. Renting a scooter is rather easy and cheap. We found many scooter rental shop near every train stations in Taiwan. So once you got off from the train, head straight to the scooter rental shop to rent a scooter and start your journey!

National Centre For Traditional Arts

Taiwan travel guide : taiwan National center for traditional arts - things to know before going to taiwan
National Center for Traditional Arts

Located on the east of Luodong, the National Center for Traditional Arts is one of Yilan’s most popular tourist destinations. The 20-year-old, government-run centre is focused on Taiwan’s traditional arts development and conservation.

We easily spent a morning here as the centre is massive and a lot of things to see around. There are strolling paths outside and air-conditioned vending areas. The centre is incredibly lovely and bears a striking resemblance to classic Chinese art deco. We spent a wholesome of time taking pictures. The eye – catching decor is well worth sacrificing your camera film.

Additionally, there are some classes that visitors can learn traditional crafts like woodworking, jewellery design, local eateries, and handicrafts. We walked around and bought a lot of Taiwan traditional street food.

Taiwan Itinerary : Day 3

Taroko National Park (太鲁阁)

The third day of the trip takes us to the world-famous Taroko Gorge!

Located on Taiwan’s eastern coast, Taroko National Park is famous for a good reason. The park is not only one of the best places to visit in Taiwan, but it is also regarded as one of Asia’s most breathtakingly beautiful national parks.

Taroko Gorge - yilan itinerary
The crystal clear water in Taroko Gorge!

Taroko Gorge is massive, and it would normally take a 1-2 day trip to see everything in the park. The enormous mountains are one of this park’s most breathtaking views, and they continue to astound me to this day.

There are several ways to experience the natural park, including taking a guided tour, riding a bike across the area, or using the Taroko Bus Route’s unlimited pass. If you are not taking a tour, I suggest getting a Taroko Bus Route 1133A unlimited pass, which will take you to see the park’s highlights. Taking the public bus in Taroko requires you to adhere to the posted schedule, but it is a relatively inexpensive means of transport.

Yilan Itinerary: Yanzikou in Taroko Gorge
Yan Zi Kou Trail.

In my experience, the public bus is always on time and there are plenty enough seats available. However, be aware that the last bus slot returning you to the city is usually crowded.

Some of the highlights of Taroko Gorge:

  • Walk the Swallow Grotto Trail ( YanZiKou Trail): This is my favourite walking trail in the park. The grotto, located in the heart of the canyon, is a thin stretch of gorge with scenic beauty at every turn. The water of the Liwu River flowing between the canyons is a stunning Tiffany blue and that’s what caught my eyes!
  • Admiring the Tunnel of Nine Turns : You can take the bus and stop at this spot. The number 9 implies “many” in chinese interpretation. As a result, the name implies that the tunnel in this canyon was built with many twists and turns. Aside from admiring the architectural brilliance, the walking trail here will also lead you to Taroko’s most scenic view.
  • Eternal Spring Shrine : The shrine is a  memorial to the workers who died while constructing the park’s Cross-Island Highway. Though the shrine sits near the entrance of the park, the bus only stop here on the return trips. You can also go up the hill from the shrine which will lead you to the Guanyin Cave.
Taroko Gorge : Taiwan itinerary

Taiwan Itinerary : Day 4

After a day of natural park’s walking trail, we immerse ourself in a beach therapy on the fourth day of our trip!

Qingshui Cliffs (清水断崖)

As one of Taiwan’s “Eight Wonders,” the Qingshui Cliffs are high on the itinerary of both domestic and foreign visitors. The 21-kilometer-long Suhua Highway in eastern Taiwan, between Hualien and Yilan, is without a doubt one of the most beautiful highways in the world, with views of the Pacific Ocean along the steep cliffs.

QingShui Cliff : Taiwan Itinerary
The view from the observatory deck.

I am blessed that we explored the Qingshui Cliffs coastal highway on a scooter.

The views are priceless.

QIng Shui Cliff deck
QingShui Clidd Lookout Point

We stop by on the lookout point along the highway and take some photography from a high view of the ocean. If you want to get close up to the sea view, you may also walk to the beach (ChongDe Beach).

Taiwan travel guide : View from the lookout point at Qingshui cliff
Taiwan travel guide : The view from the Qing Shui Cliff Observatory deck.

Manbo Beach (曼波海滩)

After touring along the highways, we drove the scooter down to the south of Hualien. About 20 minutes of journey from highway to the country road scenes, we reached our next destination : Manbo Beach !

Stones stacked on Manbo Beach
Stones stacked on Manbo Beach.

Manbo beach is a lesser known beach attraction among the tourists but very popular in the locals. Fortunately, my friend who has been living here for about 4-5 years knows about this hidden paradise. This beach, according to my friend, is far more awesome than the popular QiXingTan beach.

One of the popular things to do here, other than enjoying the sounds of the wave, is to stack the special stones on the beach. Many stacked stone “statues” on the beach are still standing firm and we took a picture with one of the highest we found. It was really fun!

Manbo Beach Entrance sign
The entrance sign at Manbo Beach (曼波海滩)is so cute!

Next, we rode another 10 minutes to a nearby SanZhan River to have a chill!

Along the Sanzhan River, there are numerous beautiful and colourful pools, all with crystal blue colour of water!

The river is considered part of the Taroko Natural Park as it located at the southeast of the park. There are beautiful waterfall from the canyon if you hike up the trails but according to our research, you will need permit to enter the higher trail.

Eventually, we stayed at the lower part of the river and have fun at the pool there.

QiXing Tan Beach (七星潭)

From SanZhan River, further down to the south of Hualien, you will reach the touristy QiXingTan Beach.

Qi XIng Tan Beach
The gravels at Qi Xing Tan Beach.

The beach is strewn with white and black gravel that is soft to the touch.

Enjoy a romantic stroll on the shore at sunset, or rent a bike to tour along the coastal bikeway. The area is also an ideal spot for stargazing at the night due to its low pollution levels as compared to the other cities.

Taiwan Itinerary : Day 5

On the fifth day, we packed our belongings and boarded a train back to Taipei. The first stop of our Taipei Trip is KeeLung to meet another friend of mine.

Keelung Elephant Trunk Rock
The signature Elephant Trunk Rock.

KeeLung Elephant Trunk Rock (Shen' ao)

As the name implies, Elephant Trunk Rock is a rock shaped like an elephant trunk in the Shenao area of New Taipei City.

The rock with the elephant trunk shape is super cute! And the shape’s formation is entirely natural, dating back 10 to 20 million years. It is a rock arch at the top of the cliff, and its trunk appears to be lowered into the ocean to have some water. This place was once a military-controlled zone, the area only opened to the public in 2000.

The entrance to this phenomenal scene is free of charge. However, the trip to walk up to the destination is to hike up a dirt hillside which is quite a challenge. Good thing is that the path is short and we reach to the top in about 10 minutes.

On top of the cliff, you could see the tourists getting creative with their photography with the signature elephant trunk. Aside from the elephant trunk, there are also many rock formations that turned out into interesting shapes around the cliff.

WangYou Valley (忘忧谷)

WangYouGu is a valley in Keelung. The name of this valley is very interesting. The name’s literary meaning is “to forget all your difficulties and enjoy,” which I feel to be rather apt given that visiting WangYouGu will allow you to be mesmerised by its beauty and cause you to stop worrying about your problems.

Wangyougu
Wangyougu road sign.

The famous photo spot on the instagram is the white staircase leading up and down the valley. The walk and climb is rather short, for about 30 minutes without any stop, you will complete the trail.However, this location is simply too spectacular, and we ended up staying for nearly two hours just to stop and take pictures.

White staircase in Wangyou Alley

After a day of walking and climbing, we finally get to explore the night market culture again in Keelung.

Keelung Temple Street Night market got its name because it is located at Dianji Temple in the Keelung City. From there, it’s where all the culinary quintessence of the city is gathered. The street features a huge variety of food. You will be drooling over the more than 200 restaurants you can discover here, which provide everything from regional foods and seafood to sweets and well-known milk tea.

Keelung Temple Night Market
Keelung Temple Night Market is always crowded.
My favourite smoked corn
My favourite smoked corn.

One feature that distinguishes this night market from others in the city is the Tanglung design that runs along the street of the night market. It complements the Temple vibe, which is the night market’s distinguishing feature.

While in this market, look for these special dishes to try:

  • Keelung-style crab soup
  • Bainian Wujia Ding Bian Cuo
  • Smoked Corn
  • Grilled Oyster

The night market is open every day until midnight 12am, giving you plenty of time to explore as much as possible.

Taiwan Itinerary : Day 6

Miaokou Hong Cha (庙口红茶)

The first spot on our Day 6 is a breakfast spot! It is a famous shop which serve local breakfast in Hualien. It is one of the most delicious meals I had in Taiwan.

Breakfast at Miaokou Hong Cha is a must!

The shop is popular among the locals to come for breakfast every morning. We were lucky to be able to get a seat with a few minutes waiting. The Chinese omelette (蛋饼), which is regarded as Taiwan’s national breakfast, is unquestionably a meal that you must try. It is simple but utterly divine.

The best chinese omelette in Taiwan
The Chinese omelette (蛋饼) that I'm still cravingggg!

In Taiwan, it is simple to find a Chinese omelette, but not all of them are as delicious as this one. So, if you visit Keelung, don’t pass up the opportunity to try out these delicacies. I’m still drooling over it as I write this.

Head to Jiu Fen (九份)

After a satisfying breakfast, we travel to Jiu Fen, one of the most popular day trips in Taiwan. We travelled there by train from Keelung, and it took us 30 minutes to get there.

I always thought about how the town is named this way and on the way to Jiu Fen I googled up to understand the history. It turns out that the history behind the name Jiu Fen (九份)is pretty interesting. Back in Qing dynasty, it was a village that housed only nine families and every time they need to buy things from the town, they would request “nine portions” when then shipments arrived. As a result, the town’s name derives from the literary term “nine portions” and it remains in use until today.

ah gan yi yuyuan jiu fen
The storefront of Ah Gan Yi.
Taro Ball dessert
Taro Ball dessert - A must-have in Taiwan!

Jiu Fen has a unique geographical profile. The shops are built along the mountain’s incline, so there will be many steps and climbs as you tour Jiu Fen.

Siidcha
The scrumptious food and breathtaking view from Siidcha.

The journey to Jiu Fen was a lot of fun because the town had everything, from stunning scenery and history to Taiwanese foods and teahouses. The street is filled with delicious food. There are some of the exceptional ones that I strongly recommend you to go!

  • Ah Gan Yi Yu Yuan (阿甘姨芋圆): A must-try Taro ball dessert!
  • Nurseleader Luwei (护理长的店): a food shop selling braised cuisine that is extremely flavourful even without MSG.
  • Peanut Ice Cream Roll : One of my favourite Taiwan sweet snacks.
  • Amei Teahouse (阿妹茶楼) : Visit for tea and desserts. Or take a photo of the exquisite Chinese-style deco especially at night.
  • Siidcha (吾穀茶糧) : A Hakka delicacies restaurant. The food here is absolutely heavenly and the view from this restaurant is five stars!
The amazing view from Siidcha.

Apart from dining, Jiu Fen is also a great place to buy Taiwan souvenirs and handcrafts.

aMei Teahouse at night
The famous Ah Mei Teahouse at night.
The Nurseleader Leader braised food at Jiu Fen
The Nurse Leader braised food at Jiu Fen

Taiwan Itinerary : Day 7

https://travelwithgee.com/where-to-stay-in-taipei/After a night’s stay at Jiu Fen, we traveled to the New Taipei City for our last day trip. Checkout here for the best area to stay in Taipei!

Visit Taipei 101

My impression on Taipei 101 is the New Year Eve’s fireworks. At Taipei 101, there is a New Year’s countdown every year, and the fireworks that came from the tower were astounding. Without a doubt, Taipei 101 is at the top of my must-see list.

Taipei 101 is the most iconic landmark in Taipei and it is regarded as the 11th tallest building in the world. I could see the tower from everywhere when I was walking around Taipei.

Taipei 101 tower - Taiwan Bucket List
The iconic Taipei 101 Tower !

You can admire the tower from the outside or take one of the speediest elevator rides ever to the 89th floor, which should take about 30 seconds, and take in the incredible view of Taipei from such a high altitude. To access the observatory deck at the top of the tower, you have to purchase a ticket online or on-site on the 5th floor of the tower. You can now get a 100 TWD off for your Taipei 101 access from the link above with the code : GOTAIPEI100.

Shopping at Xi Men Ding (西门町)

Xi Men Ding is a reminiscent of Shinjuku in Japan but retaining its own Taiwanese identity. I initially felt as though I was in Japan Shinjuku when I arrived at Xi Men Ding. What a sense of déjà vu!

Xi Men Ding is a place with vibrant energy and it is a very famous hangout spots for youngsters. It is always crowded from day and night. However, I would suggest to come in later afternoon around 6pm or in the evening to enjoy some street delights.

Aside from the restaurants, Xi Men Ding is indeed a retail heaven. Along with the local street offerings, there are numerous retail stores. Because of its popularity and location in the heart of Taipei, I find that the price here is higher than in other parts of Taiwan.

We spent a good 3 hours in Xi Men Ding. Apart from the food and shopping, we were constantly captivated by the street performances and street arts in the alley.

Taiwan Itinerary : Day 8

It’s time to say good bye… and I will come back again!

On the last day of the trip, I grab breakfast with a friend at a local breakfast stall and say my goodbyes.

It was a fun trip and till we meet again!

FAQ

Do I need Visa to travel to Taiwan?

As over 130 countries are eligible for visa-free travel or visa on arrival, travelling to Taiwan is also pretty simple.

Check here for latest eligibility for visa-exempt to Taiwan.

(2022) Is Taiwan open for Tourism?

Most countries have been restricting tourists for the past two years due to the Covid-19 outbreak, and Taiwan is one of them. 

Finally, starting from 13th October 2022, Taiwan has opened borders to tourists and the arriving tourists no longer need to be quarantined. Tourists only need to undergo a seven-day period of self-initiated prevention after arrival. Check out more details on the latest update on Taiwan travel restrictions here.

When is the best time to visit Taiwan?

Taiwan actually has 4 seasons but usually the Taiwanese would only refer them as long summers and winters because the spring and autumn in Taiwan are comparatively brief. 

May to September is the long summer season while December to March is the winter. April and October are spring and autumn respectively.

The best time to visit Taiwan is September to November because the weather is cool and dry. If you plan to travel the whole of Taiwan, you may start the trip from north of Taiwan.

On my latest trip to Taiwan in July which is the hottest month of the year, the weather was extremely hot and remember to use sunblock if you are traveling in July.

How many days do you need to travel in Taiwan?

There are a lot to see and do in Taiwan. Ranging from national parks to vibrant cities. To fully travel around Taiwan for the first time, you will need at least 2 weeks. There are so many great food in Taiwan to explore, 2 weeks from Taipei to Tainan is just nice for a first timer.

How To Get Around Taiwan

The transportation systems in Taiwan is quite convenient from city to city. There are many modes of transports that you can utilize while traveling in Taiwan:

1.Taiwan High-Speed Rail (HSR)

Reaching high speeds of 300 kilometres per hour, HSR is the fastest means of transportation in Taiwan. It links 11 major cities in Taiwan including Taipei, Kaohsiung,  Taichung, Tainan and many more

2.Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)

Taiwan MRT system is branded as the Taiwan Metro. It is relatively cheaper and easier to get around in Taiwan major cities using MRT. When I was in Taipei, I use MRT as my main transportation mode. 

3. Taiwan Railway

Taiwan railway is a network of transport system that connect cities and counties in Taiwan. Although it is slower than THSR, but the unique scenery along the route makes it popular.

The train ride around the island is a very popular attraction which attracted many tourists and visitors to take on the train to witness the charming countryside. The most popular route is the Eastern route trains. Hence, book in advance before the slots sold out.

4. Scooter

Scooter is a very common and popular way of transport among the Taiwanese. There are many scooter rental shops near the train stations and renting a scooter in Taiwan is quite easy if you have international driving license. If you want to understand more about the process of scooter renting in Taiwan, I find this post relatively useful.

Read about my scooter road trip experience in Taiwan here.

Is Taiwan 110V or 220V?

Taiwan operates on a 110V supply voltage and 60Hz.

The plug and socket in Taiwan are of Type A and B.

Do they speak English in Taiwan?

The spoken language used in Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese and the written language in Taiwan is traditional Chinese. 

Not many people speak English in Taiwan overall. Generally, there are greater number of English speakers in Taipei compare to other parts of Taiwan. 

Travel Expenses in Taiwan

To me it is quite affordable to travel around Taiwan. The cost is comparable to the cost of traveling in some Southeast Asean countries like Malaysia and Thailand but cheaper than in Singapore.

The expenses vary between cities and counties. The expenses to travel in Taipei is relatively higher than in counties like Hualien and Yilan. Other than that, it also varies based on your travel style:

Accommodation:

The hotel rate in Taipei is about NTD 2000 (~USD 65) per night for a mid-range hotel. 

Transportation:

Transportation in Taiwan is not expensive. By using mix of railway and Taiwan Metro (MRT), I spent about NTD 300 (~ USD 10) a day averagely.

Meals:

The street food in Taiwan is cheap and amazing. Overall, I spent about NTD 1050 (~USD 30) a day on street food and cafes. If dine in at restaurant, you may set a budget of roughly NTD 2200 (~USD 65) a day.

Tours and Entrance Tickets:

There are actually quite a number of attractions in Taiwan are free entry such as Sun Moon Lake, Taroko National Park, Qi-Xing Tan and many more. 

However, if you want to join tour, there are extra charges such as the Taroko Gorge, Swallow Grotto, & Seven Star Lake Day Tour. 

 

I hope you find this Taipei and Yilan itinerary helpful for you to plan your trip to Taiwan.