As a small island nation in the Pacific Ocean, it is easy and convenient to visit many of Taiwan’s cities and towns. Beyond its capital city of Taipei, Taiwan is a special place filled with amazing scenery, people and food. There are many other cities in Taiwan worth exploring, and the good news is it’s easy to travel around this small island nation. No matter where you go in Taiwan, you are guaranteed to have an amazing time and learn a lot about the culture and history of this beautiful island nation.
To travel to cities such as Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, Hualien or Kaohsiung, use public buses or the MRT metro (only in Taipei and Taichung) to sight-see within these cities. Renting a scooter or car is recommended if you visit smaller cities such as Taitung and Pingtung. You must have an international driver’s licence to rent a scooter or car. Even though smaller cities and towns do not have the convenient public transit as larger cities, they are still worth visiting for amazing food, culture and gorgeous scenic destinations, especially on the east coast (think giant mountains with cliffsides dropping into the Pacific Ocean).
Getting Around Taiwan
Taiwan’s public transportation will take you anywhere you want to visit, with the High-Speed Rail (HSR) on the west coast and Taiwan Railways (TRA) on both the east and west coasts.
- The HSR only operates on the west coast because the east coast of Taiwan is too mountainous to have a high-speed train, and the TRA on the east coast travels significantly slower than the HSR, making it a safe mode of transportation on the east coast.
- The TRA is also more affordable than the HSR, so if you want to save money, you can still take the TRA on the west coast.
- HSR round trip tickets can reach up to 3000 NTD, while TRA ticket prices vary on destination but are less expensive than HSR tickets.
- You can also take long-distance buses if you’re on a tight budget, but the trains are faster and more convenient.
Cities in Taiwan
20 Taiwanese Cities And Towns To Visit In 2023
In the north, Taipei city is the capital of Taiwan.
This metropolis has fantastic and inexpensive public transportation, great hiking trails in the mountains surrounding the city, art and history museums, a fun nightlife with many clubs and bars to choose from, and of course, great shopping areas for souvenirs or anything else you may need.
Notable destinations include the National Palace Museum, featuring art pieces and artefacts from ancient China, Taipei 101, the tallest building in Taiwan and a beautiful feature in the city’s skyline.
Dihua Street is one of the oldest streets in Taiwan and is filled with souvenirs and traditional goods.
Elephant mountain is a hike with excellent views of Taipei 101 and the city.
There are also many night markets, such as Roahe, Shilin and Ningxia.
Recommended tour: Ultimate Taipei Sightseeing Tour
In southern Taiwan, Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s largest industrial centre.
Kaohsiung has numerous tourist attractions, such as renting a boat and enjoying a nice ride on the Love River, hiking at Shoushan (Mt. Shou), visiting the Xiziwan Bay, taking pictures at the scenic Lotus Pond, and exploring the Old City of Zuoying.
At nighttime, visit the Dome of Light, the world’s largest public art installation made from individual pieces of coloured glass created by renowned artist Narcissus Quagliata.
Scooter or taxi to the Fo Guang Mountain Monastery, which features a golden giant Buddha and many Buddha statues.
Recommended tour: Private Custom Kaohsiung Day Tour
Taichung was home to the Atayal aborigines and several Taiwanese Plains Aboriginal tribes (including the Taokas, Papora, Pazeh, Hoanya and Babuzas), hunter-gatherers who later lived by cultivating millet and taro.
Famous destinations include the serene Sun Moon Lake, the Gaomei Wetlands (go at sunset!) and the National Museum of Science.
Recommended tour: 1-Day Tour Taichung and Gaomaei
On Taiwan’s southwest coast, Tainan was the capital of Taiwan from 1683 to 1887 under the Qing Dynasty and was also the main port during Japanese colonisation.
Tainan is a rich historical city with centuries-old fortresses, temples, and landmarks like Chihkan Tower.
Chihkan Tower is an 18th-century Chinese complex with gardens, intricately carved towers and a temple erected on the foundations of Fort Provintia, a Dutch outpost from their colonisation period in the 1600s.
Tainan is a beautiful city to walk through, with temples everywhere and amazing restaurants.
It’s also famous in Taiwan for its yummy food, snacks, and night markets.
Recommended tour: Private 3-Day Southern Taiwan Tour.
5- New Taipei
New Taipei city surrounds Taipei city and is relatively newer in development.
New Taipei City has great hiking destinations, such as Yangming Mountain, which crosses over both Taipei and New Taipei.
Yangming Mountain National Park is one of Taiwan’s nine national parks in and is also an active volcanic site.
The mountain is also the residence of a water buffalo herd.
You can take pictures with them and watch them graze. Another destination in New Taipei city is Tamsui, the last MRT stop on the red line.
Tamsui has wonderful sunset views as it is where the Tamsui River meets the Pacific Ocean.
You can even take boat rides across the river to visit Dali, a small town with traditional snacks and a small beach.
New Taipei city is very close to Taipei city, so it is easy to visit both places on the same day.
Recommended tour: Northern Taiwan 3-Day Tour.
6- Hsin Chu
Hsin Chu is to the southwest of Taipei and can be visited from Taipei for a day trip.
Hsin Chu city has an amazing Glass Museum, which you should not miss.
This museum houses different glassworks, interactive displays, and a fun glass-blowing DIY workshop.
The Glass Museum is in Hsin Chu park, the most beautiful park in the city, and during the spring, this park is also an amazing cherry blossom viewing spot.
Another nice area to explore is Hsin Chu Moat park, especially at night to see pretty lights, stroll along the river bank, listen to live music and explore different food booths.
Taoyuan is east of Taipei and has the only international airport in Taiwan (so you will be in Taoyuan when you land).
Before you make your way to Taipei, make sure to visit some notable sites in this city, such as Longtan lake and its beautiful Buddhist Temple in the centre.
If you enjoy art, then visit the Daxi Wood Art Ecomuseum, home to the Craftsman Story House, built in 1941, and houses many different cultural items.
Carmine Gallery is another must-visit place that introduces Chinese artists to the international art scene and advocates for the coexistence of contemporary life and art culture.
If you prefer to see more traditional places, visit Daxi Old Street on Heping Road.
This street was created during Japanese colonisation and has Japanese baroque-style carvings in the shops, where you can buy wood carvings and other traditional souvenirs.
Sitting on the northeastern coast of Taiwan, Keelung not only has fun city vibes but also great beaches and scenery.
Keelung city has northern Taiwan’s largest port and is the second-largest in all of Taiwan after the port in Kaohsiung.
At night, after you visit the Miaoku night market and try Keelung’s famous paopaobing (a wonderful dessert that resembles ice cream but is made out of finely shaved ice).
Take a side detour to see the Khóo Tsú-song Old Mansion (the ruins of a 1913 house that is overgrown with vegetation) and make sure to go to the port square to see the ship lights and also the “Keelung” neon sign on the side of the mountain to the right side of the port.
Recommended tour: Yehliu Geopark and Keelung Harbor Guided Tour.
Hualien city sits between the Central Mountain Range and the Pacific Ocean to the east of Taipei, making it a stunning city with lots of nature and hiking.
Hualien is famous for Taroko Gorge, the largest marble canyon in the world.
Hike throughout the gorge and see towering marble cliffs, waterfalls, the turquoise Liwu River, and mountain-to-mountain suspension bridges.
If you love swimming in crystal clear water, you should also check out the Mugua River Gorge, with its beautiful forest, waterfalls and blue waters.
Afterwards, go for a walk along Coastal Highway 11 on the beach and then visit Hualien’s night market for dinner.
Recommended tour: Private Taroko Gorge Day Tour from Hualien.
Yilan is a city south of Taipei and to the east, right on the Pacific Ocean.
Yilan has it all: beautiful beaches such as WaiAo Beach, great trails in Taipingshan National Forest, and delicious food such as chicken thigh skewers at the Luodong night market.
You can also plan a tour and boat ride to Turtle Island in the north.
Yilan is also known for its plentiful and lush tea farms, where you can spend a morning picking tea and learning about the different growing methods, varieties and flavour profiles.
Many tea farms also have B&B, so you can relax near the mountains.
Recommended tour: Northern Taiwan (Taipei, New Taipei City, Yilan County) 3-Day Tour.
Located in southwestern Taiwan, Chiayi is the gateway to Alishan, a beautiful mountain range that is a top attraction.
Before going to Alishan, check out some cool destinations in Chiayi city, such as Hinoki Village, which were dormitories for the Forest Department Taiwan during the Japanese Colonial era.
Today, these dorms have been transformed into a fun forest, cultural and creative park featuring tea houses built from Taiwanese cypress trees and many retail boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
Another notable destination and a great place for photos is the Song of the Forest, a large-scale landmark made with local materials made by Chiayi artist Wang Wen-Shi.
Before you leave Chiayi, make sure you try their delicious turkey rice.
Pingtung City is south of Taitung in Pingtung county, home to the most southern point in Taiwan.
Pingtung is close to beautiful white sand beaches, where you can go surfing, snorkelling and scuba diving.
Drive or scooter from the city to Kenting National Park, Taiwan’s first National Park, and hike along beautiful forest paths with waterfalls.
From Pingtung, a stunning place to visit is the beautiful Xiaoliuqiu Island, a haven for the endangered green sea turtle.
You can snorkel and scuba dive with these peaceful animals, but touching them is illegal, so make sure you respect the turtles’ space.
You can rent electric bicycles, or ride a scooter around Xiaoliuqiu, or Little Xiaoliu or Lumbai Island, which also has excellent seafood restaurants and amazing mango shaved ice.
Pingtung is also known for culinary specialties, such as Linbian Township’s sweet black pearl wax apple, Wanluan’s tasty chewy pig’s feet, and Donggang’s savoury bluefin tuna.
Taitung is a must-visit city on the scenic east coast, which sits between a beautiful mountain range and the Pacific Ocean.
It’s convenient and easy to do typical city activities such as relaxing in cafes or tea shops and fun outdoor activities like hiking, swimming or soaking in hot springs.
Taitung city is known for its Tiehua Music/Culture Village, a cute area next to the Taitung stadium and old train track.
Tiehua is only open in the evenings, Thursday to Sunday, but some bars and restaurants in Tiehua have different opening times.
Tiehua features live music, artisan crafts, great handmade souvenirs, little snacks and the Tiehua hot air balloon lanterns that line the entire area.
Taitung is also home to five Indigenous groups, making it a great place to learn about Indigenous culture.
Rent a car or scooter when visiting Taitung, as there is not much public transportation in this small city.
There are coral reefs off the coast of Taitung, so bring your snorkel.
Taitung is also the gateway to some of Taiwan’s hidden gems:
Not far from the city to the north is Dulan, the surfing capital of Taiwan.
There are many hostels that have surfing instructors, lessons and equipment to rent. And when you’re tired from surfing, relax on soft black sand beaches.
Tip: Stay at the hostel where you are getting your lessons, so you don’t have to worry about transportation before your morning lessons.
Also to the north of Taitung, Chulu Pasture is a fun attraction for families, where you can feed horses and cows peacefully grazing in the green fields.
Green Island is a small island off the coast of Taitung and can be reached by boat from Fugang Harbor in Taitung.
You will need to bike, scooter, or rent a taxi once on the island because it does not have public transportation.
Green Island is known for its beautiful scenery and crystal-clear waters, making it an amazing scuba diving and snorkelling destination.
The coral reef at Green Island is a part of the same coral reef chain that creates the Great Barrier Reef.
Green Island does have a dark past, as it used to be where prisoners were sent during the White Terror.
Another stunning island off the coast of Taiwan, Orchid Island, is larger than Green Island and is the home of the Tao Aboriginal tribe.
Orchid Island is known for having the best preserved Indigenous culture in Taiwan, with its beautiful Tao-made handcrafted and painted canoes, which are not allowed to be taken off the island.
Orchid Island is volcanic, with massive mountain peaks and beautiful cliffs dropping into the ocean.
Snorkelling is a must here, while scuba diving is pricier than on other islands such as Green Island and Xiaoliuqiu.
Recommended tour: 5-Day Best of Taiwan.
Jiufen is a small town in the north that can be reached by public bus from Taipei city for a day trip.
Jiufen Old Street is an atmospheric narrow alley filled with tea houses, food stands, souvenir and pottery stores.
Red lanterns hang throughout the alleyway from the traditional-style buildings, making Jiufen look like a ghost village.
Fans of the anime film Spirited Away by Japanese director Miyazaki should visit (many shops have cute Spirited Away paraphernalia).
It also has amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and northern Taiwan’s mountains, making the many different tea or dessert shops the perfect places to try Taiwanese treats while enjoying the view.
Recommended tour: Jiufen Village and Northeast Coast Tour.
Chengong is on the east coast and is about a two-hour scooter drive to the north of Taitung city.
The drive from Taitung to Chenggong is a scenic one along the Pacific Ocean.
Chenggong is the town next to Sanxiantai, or the famous Dragon Bridge, a beautiful bridge resembling the curved body of traditional Chinese dragons between the mainland and a small islet that can be hiked.
Wear good walking shoes if you plan on doing the short hike because even though it is short, it is steep in some areas, and you also must walk over sharp volcanic rock.
If you go to the Dragon Bridge in the morning, you can enjoy one of Chenggong’s many seafood restaurants for lunch.
The seafood in Chenggong is incredibly fresh and affordable, but it should be noted that most restaurants are family-style, so make sure to go with a larger group so you can order more dishes.
Ruisui in southern Hualien County and is mainly populated by Taiwanese Aboriginal groups, the largest of which is the Amis.
Ruisui is a great place to learn about Amis culture and sustainable agricultural and fishing practices.
Agriculture is a major industry in Ruisui, and you can scooter around the rice fields and fruit orchards.
During March and April, pomelo flowers bloom and the air is fragrant.
You can also buy agricultural products that Indigenous farmers grow, such as alcohol and snacks made from millet.
Ruisui is also known for its beautiful hot springs and the Siouguluan River Basin, where you can kayak or tube down the river.
17- Magong City, Penghu Islands
Penghu is an island group of 90 islands on the western side of Taiwan and can only be accessed by plane or ferry.
Penghu is filled with history, culture, and fun outdoor activities, making it a great place to visit during your trip to Taiwan.
Penghu has many temples worth visiting, such as the Magong City God Temple, Tianhou Temple (the most famous in Penghu), and marvel at their beautiful colours and architecture.
Around Tianhou Temple, you can find some interesting art and relics on display from the Ming Dynasty.
At Magong City (where Magong City Temple is), you can walk around in little alleyways lined with traditional red lanterns and shop at various artisanal stores.
Afterwards, go to Shanshui Beach to swim and relax.
18- Nangan, Matsu Islands
Matsu is a group of islands between Taiwan and China and has historically been a military post for Taiwan.
Thousands of years ago, stone age peoples lived on these islands, and after they disappeared were later inhabited by Chinese fishermen from 900 to 1200 AD during the Song Dynasty.
Matsu is known for its fresh and savoury seafood and for the bioluminescence organisms in the Ocean (peak time is April).
Nangan is the capital but you’ll want to visit Qinbi Village in Beigan, known as the “Mediterranean Village” because of the architecture of the buildings and their location on the side of a mountain.
Most houses were built using Fujian and Fuzhou traditional style with local granite and sandstone found on the islands.
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