Taiwan Cities Recommendations and their highlights – Tainan, Taipei, Hua Lian and more

Taiwan is a beautiful country in East Asia…

Taroko Gorge

This small but gorgeous island is located near other nature infused countries such as Yangtze and Okinawa, and given its lush nature and outdoors, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are periodic showers and changing weather here in Taiwan (the Middle easterners love this!).

Beauty of Taiwan

The island of Taiwan is long and narrow and takes about 14 hours to complete 1 full route all around the country. Alternatively, people can commute around by high speed rail. This was a huge plus for us because we wanted to stay in different parts of Taiwan during our 3 months here and get to visit places that are less accessible or in the outskirts.

A highly recommended suggestion would also be to rent a scooter here in Taiwan. Its harder for foreigners to rent it for long periods of time for a discounted rate, but if you get to know more local friends over time, they can help you with it;) Trust me, having a scooter makes the experiences so much better and the people in the cities of Tainan and Hualian drive slowly and very considerately.

Taiwan City of Choice Option 1: Tainan

As the oldest city in Taiwan with the most rich culture/ ressonable cost and living and also the foodie capital, it was our 1st choice city to stay in our 1st 3 months here.

What to see in and do in Tainan City

Guanziling and its hotsprings

Although there are many hot springs throughout Taiwan, the hot springs located at Guanziling is one of the most known, especially for the mud springs. Since the mountain is rich in minerals, the water in the springs are like a natural cosmetic for the Taiwanese. Everything from your face to your toes will feel fresh and new after a dip in these lovelly hot springs.

It is even better to do this after a day of rock climbing nearby. End off the night with a feast of the famous oven roasted chicken.

Tainan Park (or also known as Zhongshan Park)

The locals may know it as Zhongshan Park but it is recently known as Tainan Park. Cez comes here for a run every other day, and on days we join him, we add on other aspects such as reading by the lake, catching up with calls with loved ones will watching old elderly men feeding the fish and big old tortoises. The park has a really nice pagoda in the middle connected by a bridge, and we can walk on it and enjoy the peacefulness of the surroundings.

Taijiang National Park

Another great park we visited was the Taijiang National Park which you can cycle to from Tainan city and go through a really nice scenic trail going pass the mangrove.

Scenic Cycling Path at sunset going towards Taijiang National Park
Sunset along the Tainan landscape
Sunset along the Tainan landscape
Looks like trash at first glance. It is actually empty oyster shells, which is very common sight here
Looks like trash at first glance. It is actually empty oyster shells, which is very common sight here at Taijiang Park

Jingzaijiao Tile Paved Salt Fields

For a relaxing evening with a stunning sunset view, check out Jingzaijiao Tile Paved Salt Fields. Yes it is really piles of salt here..also a perfect instagram spot!

Anping Treehouse

The Anping Treehouse mixes a little bit of Mother Nature and the force of man-made structures. Old and huge bayan trees are entwined in what was once the Tait & Co warehouse. We also spent time walking through the Anping District which includes the old traditional Anping Fort Gate and Old Street.

City Option 2: Hualian City

Hua lien is the perfect place that encompass nature and city life. We were here for 1 month after we came back from Vietnam for a visa run.

The serene scenery here is breathtaking. The calm rice fields and gentle mountains just create a sense of peace and serenity within us.

What to see and do in Hualien County

1. Bike through Taroko National Park

The stunning Taroko National Park covers more than 92,000 hectares of land and was established in 1937.  We rented a bike for a day and rode over here from Hua lian city.

We saw many beautiful sights along the way such as the Liufang bridge, the gorges, the Swallow Grotto trail, the tunnel of nine turns and the cliffs of Zhuilu and Qingshui. We also explored a really nice temple look out point from the top where we can ring the big bell in the temple.

Taroko Gorge

In my opinion, the best way to get a great scenic experience is get around on your own pace by scooter. For days where you have more time on hand, you can also cycle towards the gorge along the coast from Tainan city. There are a lot of cycling tracks available and clearly labeled to help you get around and find the cycling route. Make it a point to stop at the super beautiful park in between Hualien city towards the gorge.

Stunning pretty rice fields of Hualien county

River Tracing

One of the coolest things to do in Hualian is River Tracing. It is a mixture of climbing, canyoning and hiking rolled into one. This sport was first created in Japan to reach a level of outdoor adventures among Mother Nature’s stunning terrains.  

Stunning cascading waterfall at a new rock climbing spot  near Hualian.
Stunning cascading waterfall at a new rock climbing spot near Hualian

3. Option 3: Long Dong (Jiu Fen)

Hiking and rock climbing are among the best adventures to embark on in the quiet fishing village of Long Dong. A hike through the Tea Pot Mountains is an easy path that will give you plenty of exercise and stunning views.
We were able to see the coastal mountains and the sparkling sea. Sightseeing in this fishing village is even more beautiful at night as all the fishing boats bulbs are lighted and getting ready for night fishing.
One nice touch about Taiwan is that the lanterns throughout the city light up the night sky along with the moon and stars. There is especially more lanterns and decorations during Chinese new year festivals.

Rock Climbing on sand stone rock in longdong jiufen in taiwan
Rock Climbing on sand stone rock in longdong jiufen in taiwan

4. City Option: Kaohsiung (Kaoshiong)

The southern coastal city of Kaohsiung is no stranger to tourists, beautiful weather and tons of outdoor activities. The city borders the Central Mountain Range, which certainly gave us an advantage when it came to choosing different outdoor activities. Walk along the Kaohsiung Harbor and Lotus Pond with your family and loved ones is a good relaxing activity, especially after a long day of work.

Things to do in Khaosiung

Visit the Moon at Moon World

One of the most  breathtaking terrains in Kaohsiung is Moon World. This area is considered the “badlands” by the locals but not because they are evil or something like that. The formation of this terrain is made from volcanic eruptions and mud volcanoes.

We visited during a wrong season as they were under construction and a lot of the paths were closed, but now it should be opened again to welcome visitors!

LOVE Lookout Point at Shoushan

Wanting a good workout and hike, we could not resist to check out the highest point in Kaoshiung – Shoushan LOVE Lookout. This “lovers” deck has plaques with over 30 different languages to spell out love, how romantic is that?

After that, a great follow up would be to go back down from the mountain and do a relaxing walk or picnic along the Love River.

Art Trail at Pier 2 District

Our trip also included a visit to the Pier 2 Art District. Previously an old warehouse and train depot, now it has been transformed to have local artisans and vintage shops display their work at the craft markets. The art décor throughout this district is unique and splattered along different murals and buildings.

5. City Option: Taipei

Relax at the Hot Springs

Since it takes less than half a day to drive around the country of Taiwan, we couldn’t leave without visiting the capital, Taipei City. As I previously mentioned, hot springs are spread throughout the country. Aside from the amazing Guanziling hot springs, I recommend going to the Beitou hot springs as well. You can choose from three types of hot springs: a green, white or iron sulfur. Some of the best hotels that offer these treatments are the Beitou Hot Springs Resort and Grand View Resort.

Hiking to Tangming Mountains

For a real adventure in the outdoors, I suggest you go on a hiking trip to the Tangming Mountains. These mountains are found at the Yangmingshan National Park. Here, we were able to see different wildlife and stunning flora. Aside from a hiking adventure, a relaxing view of a cascading waterfall will surely brighten up your morning in New Taipei. The Wulai waterfall is over 80 meters high, has an observatory deck and accessibile via wulai Scenic Train.

Looking for Hikes that aren’t too strenous Then find out why Elephant Mountain in Taipei is a one of the best Day Hikes for Beginners in Asia.

Elephant Mountain in Taipei
Elephant Mountain in Taipei

6. Indoor and Outdoor Rock Climbing in Taiwan

Rock Climbing Adventure in Hualian
Rock Climbing Adventure in Hualian

Dragon Cave Cliffs ( Long Dong Climbing)

Long Dong was one of the most scenic places to visit in Taiwan, especially having the pacific ocean view behind you while rock climbing. We were able to choose terrains that were more rugged and the sandstone rocks/cliffs held the perfect texture for climbing. In my opinion, Dragon Cave is the highlight climbing spot in all of Taiwan.

Climbing at Yushan National Park in Kaoshiung

Another place to go on a climbing adventure is at Yushan National Park in Kaohsiung. This park is home to five peaks that allow hikers and climbers to experience a perfect rock-climbing adventure and has a main peak is almost 13,000 ft tall.

Guanzhiiling Rock Climbing

Guanzhiling was the most frequent place I climbed at in my 2 months in Tainan. It is a nice remote area, peaceful and away from the crowds, and you can climb in sheer enjoyment and listen to the birds chipping away.

Indoor Rock Climbing Gyms in Taiwan

We are no stranger to indoor gyms. Sometimes when the weather does not act according to our plans and we need to rectify the situation. There are two awesome indoor gyms in Taiwan we visited that offer rock climbing fun!

Bonus Bouldering Rock Climbing Gym in Hua lian

The first is the Bonus Bouldering Gym in Hualian. The gym is clean, beautifully designed with murals and perfect for beginners to boulders, top rope and lead climbers.

High Fun Rock Climbing Gym in Tainan

The second but no lesser is the High Fun Gym in Tainan. Both of these gyms have extremely nice and warm staff who would go the extra mile to share tips with you about climbing places in Taiwan or around them, even if it doesn’t benefit them directly. One of the staff called Sting even became our personal friend and we went rock climbing with him in Kaoshiung and Guan Zhi Ling.

Outdoor Climbing and Bouldering Gym in Tainan

We had the privilege to climb at 2 outdoor places in Tainan. The 1st one was National Cheng Kung University School Climbing wall once a week when they open it to the public.

Another was a super cool place started by a seasoned and international route setter called Chew. The gym is located at his crib and its a really nice outdoor boulder he created all by himself. Super cool bouldering structure!!

Rehai and Beitou Cliffs

While in the capital city of Taipei, there are still nearby hiking and climbing spots available just at the outskirts of the city. Two of the most convenient and popular cliffs to climb are the Rehai cliff and Beitou in Taipei. Mount Daneng in Beitou is the perfect mountain to check out for advanced mountain climbers. However, always come prepared and with proper research, gear or a local guide before you embark on such activities.

7. Delicious Foods to eat in Taiwan

Food Galore at Taiwan Night Markets

Taiwan is well-known for its Night Markets Galore. Some of the most spectacular night markets include Shilin Night Market in Taipei and Kaisyuan and Junzuan in Kaohsiung markets. The latter two markets are the largest and recently opened in 2013. Delicious food is served at these night markets such as Stinky Beancurd (a specialty), Charcoal roasted corn on the cob, Xio Long Bao dumplings and deep fried chicken steak on a stick! The Street snacks of pearl milk tea (bubble tea as I better know it for) and takoyaki balls at Kaohsiung’s Rui Feng Night Market are to die for! I personally loved eating all these incredible street food and sweets here in Taiwan.

Old Eating Houses and food stalls

As you make your way through Taiwan, I must recommend that you eat Beef Noodles at Lin Dong Fang Niu Rou Mian in Zhongzheng District in Taipei. They are an authentic Taiwanese dish that will excite your taste buds with a mix of spice, savoury rich broth and pickled vegtables. In Taninan City, you can eat at lot of local small Old Eating Houses.
Small street vendors are available to serve the public along the streets of Tainan and they are chalk-filled with dan zai noodles, rouzao fan and fried milkfish.

Hot Pots and Steamboats

One of the best hotpots in Taipei are Haiao Hong Mai, which has been in business for over 30 years! However, I had some really incredible ones at Kaosiung and Hualian as well, which the hotpot is in the black stone pot and they fry the garlic and butter before pouring in the soup. The thought of it makes me hungry!

Alright, we have come to the end but is it really the end? I bet you are dying to catch a glimpse of the hot springs in Taiwan or the Moon World in Koahsiung. You don’t have to pick your favorite place, all the places in Taiwan can be your favorite. But I do recommend visiting for an extended period of time that way you can travel more around the island and explore the best outdoor adventures.  

Beautiful view in Hualian
Beautiful view in Hualian

How many outdoor places in Taiwan can you mark your footsteps in?  

taiwan rock climbing best spots

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Jeanne Takenaka
    April 26, 2019 at 12:27 am

    Wow, Taiwan is beautiful. I’ve been to a few spots in Asia, but you brought Taiwan alive for me. What a life you have to be able to travel and share your adventures and photos.

    I loved this one!

    • Reply
      Lydia Yang
      April 30, 2019 at 4:50 pm

      Thanks Jeanne! Indeed Taiwan is really beautiful and definitely a place to visit in Asia when you get the chance.

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