Taiwan is a beautiful country and 7 days is definitely not enough to see everything, but it was certainly enough time to explore some of the highlights. I compiled a Taiwan travel guide, which should be helpful for anyone looking to see Taipei and Taroko Gorge.
We arrived late in Taipei on a Scoot flight and hopped in a non-metered taxi, which was actually cheaper than the metered taxi. It cost us 1000 Taiwan dollars, this was the only option since public transport wasn’t running and we didn’t want to wait another few hours for 3:00am bus. We grabbed some street food and went to bed.
Day 2- Yehliu and Jiufen
The next day we headed out to Yehliu the bus #1815 left from the Sogo department store and took around 1 hour and 20 minutes to reach Yehliu. From there it is just a short walk to the park. Once you arrive at the park there is a bunch of beautiful rock formations to look at and a nice hike along the ocean side. You can easily spend 1-3 hours here depending on how much you want to do and see. It was extremely hot the day we went so our hike was cut short a bit. After Yehliu we took a bus to Keelung, which seemed like a pretty nice city, but we just transferred to another bus and head to Jiufen. The city was extremely disappointing to my friends and I. It was a bit after dinnertime and everything was closing up. There was nothing to do here and it was a bit of a hassle to get there using the public transport. It was pretty much just one street of food and shops. I wished we would of stayed in Keelung instead and then went back to Taipei.
Day 3- Beitou hot springs and Shilin Night market
(Beitou Hot Springs in Taipei)
Today we headed to the Beitou hot springs. Getting there is easy and Beitou is one of the stops on the metro. To get closer to the hot springs take the metro one more stop further to Xinbeitou Metro Station, which is in walking distance from the hot springs. There are a few free museums around the hot springs, but none of them were overly interesting. It was another hot day in Taipei, so we were wondering how it would feel in the hot springs. To our surprise it was extremely enjoyable and relaxing. If you don’t have a towel or a swimsuit they sell them at the hot springs. There are a variety of temperatures and even cold springs. You apparently start in cold then go to hot and work your way up to the hottest spring. We put our feet in the hottest one and it was way to hot for us to handle. Only a few locals were able to relax in the hottest spring. After about an hour or so in the springs we headed to the Shilin night market. This is also a metro stop on the same line as Beitou, so it is easy to do both in one trip. The Shilin night market is one of the best places to try out a ton of street food and also boast some great restaurants. The oyster omelette was one of my favorites. Make sure you wash it down with some bubble tea!
Food Note: We also had a Gua Bao pork sandwich. Make sure you try this delicious combination of pork and soft bread, it was delicious.
Night Life- Tonight we went to see Swanky Tunes DJ at club Spark. Club Spark is one of the best clubs in Taipei and seemed to always be the most packed club in the ATT 101 building. The drinks, music, people and atmosphere were perfect for a good night out.
Day 4- 101 Tower, Din Tai Fung and Elephant Hill
(View from Elephant Hill in Taipei)
I recommend not going to the 101 or Din Tai Fung on the weekend since it was packed. Unfortunately, this was our only option and we had no other choice. We first got our waiting ticket for Din Tai Fung and it was about an hour wait. While we were waiting we headed to get our tickets for the 101 lookout. The tickets cost 500 Taiwan dollars and you can get a 50 TWD off if you’re a student. After you buy your ticket they give you a time to come back at. (Don’t worry though; you will wait in line no matter what. It took us about an hour to get up and 45 minutes to exit the tower). While we waited though we had a delicious lunch and Din Tai Fung. I recommend ordering a bunch of types and sampling as much as possible. After lunch we headed up to the 101 tower, as soon as you walk in you get an audio guide. I was a bit disappointed with the view from the tower and the observation deck was closed due to the weather. Also, there was a lot of stuff still under construction. Since the 101 building is way taller than the rest of the skyline, there is not much of a view. TIP* If you want a free view just head to the Starbucks on the 35th floor.
Elephant Mountain was one of my favorite spots in Taipei. The hike was beautiful and we timed it so we could see the sunset. I highly suggest timing the hike to see the transition from night to day. The hike was not too bad, but we were all a bit hungover and it was pretty humid out.
Nightlife: Tonight we headed to club Myst, which is also located in the ATT Building and is another good club in Taipei. There are 3 or 4 clubs all in one area so it is easy to see which one has the best event going on. We never made it to Luxy, but it is apparently also a top club.
Day 5- Relaxing in Hualien
We took the fast train to Hualien, which took around 3 hours and was a fairly comfortable ride. After we arrived at our hostel we rented bicycles and went out for dinner. There is not much to see in Hualien besides the night market, which is a lot of fun and full of delectable delicacies. The first night we opted for some beer and steaks. All the food is reasonably priced and a lot cheaper compared to Taipei. We didn’t experience much nightlife here, but we did discover a dancing class underneath a bridge while walking to the beach at night.
Day 6- Scooters and Taroko Gorge
(Jumping around Taroko Gorge Gate)
If you go to Taroko gorge you NEED to rent a scooter. This is by far the best way to experience the beautiful national park. If you do a tour or rent a car you will not be able to see nearly as much. The scooters are extremely safe to drive from Hualien and there is even a scooter lane on the highway. It did drizzle for a bit, but luckily we had great weather the rest of the time. There are tons of scooter rentals near the train station in Hualien and the prices fluctuate, we paid 500 TWD for ours. You need a passport to rent them; they just took a photo of ours and then held onto my driver’s license. The process was pretty easy and we filled up the bikes, which cost about $2 USD and this lasted us the entire day. Make sure you grab a map of Taroko Gorge because it is pretty massive. If you want to do hiking there are plenty of trails, we did a few short ones but mainly just stuck to looks outs and viewpoints.
After a long day riding we grabbed some food back in Hualien and caught up on some much needed sleep.
Day 7- Off to Malaysia
We returned our bikes back to the rental shop and headed back to Taipei airport and took off for Malaysia. Taiwan was an amazing experience and I think 7 days was the perfect amount to experience Taipei , Taroko Gorge and Hualien.
Comment by Don
Don November 4, 2014 at 12:35 am
Hey, just wondering did you require an international licence to hire a scooter out in Hualien? Many have mentioned that it’s necessary.
Comment by SwigMeetsWorld
SwigMeetsWorld November 4, 2014 at 9:32 am
It wasn’t necessary for us, none of us in our group had an international license. They just asked to take copy of our passport and held on to a photo ID. They seemed pretty relaxed about any sort of actual rules/regulations. Have a great trip!
Comment by Lianne
Lianne February 11, 2015 at 8:26 pm
Great writeup! I thought Yehliu would be too far for a day trip from Taiwan, but guess not! I was looking forward to Jiufen actually. That’s too bad you found it disappointing. Thanks for the tips.
Comment by SwigMeetsWorld
SwigMeetsWorld February 12, 2015 at 12:32 am
Some people I talked to really liked it, but it wasn’t for me. It was just a bit of traveling for nothing that spectacular in my opinion!