Taiwan in 9 Days | Itinerary Ideas for Taipei and Taichung

I wish I could say that I’ve seen all of Taiwan in my nine-day trip. But that would be  unbelievable because of two things:

  1. This is my first solo trip abroad, and if you know me, you’d know I most likely spent the first few days of the trip figuring out maps (which I’m really bad at); and
  2. While I have the energy to adjust to different groups of people during out of town/country trips (i.e. workmates, church groups, friends, relatives), left alone, I am a very relaxed person. I’d rather stay and immerse myself in one or two places rather than cram and move from one place to another.

So, no. I did not see all of Taiwan, not even just the whole of Taipei. I know, I know, it’s a small country… a small city (!). But I don’t really mind visiting this small island again and again, like a friend I’m getting to know little by little.

Tourist-ready Taiwan

From the airport, all kinds of bus shuttles to different parts of the island await. Brochures with suggested itineraries, detailed maps, and bus and train schedules are available in at least six languages, including English. It worked that I’ve already read a lot of online travel blogs, and merely compared against the brochures the places of interest I determined to see.

My Itinerary

AirAsia and Cebu Pacific flights from MLA arrive past midnight at the Taoyuan Airport. If you need to purchase a local sim card or a pocket WiFi, expect to wait until 5:30 AM (the earliest booth to open is Counter 3 located at the right wing of the Arrival area in Terminal 1).

Day 1: I took the bus shuttle going to the Taiwan High Speed Rail Station (THSR). From there, I traveled to Taichung. After checking in my stuff at Mini West Hotel, I explored nearby museums and parks. As I’d only be spending a short time in Taichung, I made sure to experience its famous Fengjia Night Market.

Day 2: I went to see the Sun Moon Lake in the Nantou District. There’s a Nantou Bus ticketing office nearby the Taichung Railway Station. They sell round-trip tickets so the same bus company took me back to Taichung a little after sunset. I spent another evening at the Fengjia Night Market.

Day 3: I woke up a little late and got myself ready to travel to Taipei. I missed the right train stop on my way to the THSR so instead of getting to Taipei around 3 or 4 pm, I got there past 6 pm. From my hostel in the Zhongzheng District, I walked around Ximending until I’ve decided where to eat.

Day 4: I went to see the koalas and pandas in Taipei Zoo; challenged my fear of heights by riding the crystal cable car of the Maokong Gondola; had afternoon tea at the Maokong District; took advantage of the Klook discounted ride to the fastest elevator in the world–Taipei 101; and had dinner at Din Tai Fung.

Day 5: I visited the National Palace Museum and its little sister, the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigine, and went to watch people admire the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. Then I took a nap at the hostel to regain some energy for Ningxia Night Market.

Day 6: I joined TourMeAway’s Vintage Walking Tour which was centered in Dao Dao Cheng and Dihua Street. After the three-hour tour, I tagged along a fellow Filipina I met during the walking tour. We went to Beitou for a natural spa courtesy of its Thermal Valley and free hotspring pools. Then, we went to see the famous Rainbow Bridge at the Tamsui area. With Liezel, I had extra motivation to see more despite my tired legs (haha). We went to see the lights show in Ximending, then headed to Raohe Night Market for dinner.

Day 7: This time, I’m really tired so I made it a point to visit a park where I can just sit and read. I lost track of time at the Da’an Forest Park. When it got colder, and I got hungry, I went to see the Bopiliao Old Street which, to my pleasant surprise, was nearby Huaxi Night Market. It’s also in the same areas the Longshan Temple but I did not have time to see what’s inside. On my way to my hostel, I also chanced upon the Lantern Festival a few blocks from Ximending.

Day 8: Early in the morning, I left for Shifen and Pingxi to fly a sky lantern, and experience Taiwan’s countryside version of trains. I still had time to catch a bus to Jiufen but I had difficulty figuring out which bus to take so I settled in exploring Riufang before heading back to Taipei. I loved Ningxia Night Market so I spent another evening there.

Day 9: I went to three coffee shops where I spent the day taking some rest as I know that I’d be heading back straight to work after this exhilarating trip.

Places I wish I had time to see

I still wish I had more time to see more of Taipei, and its neighboring towns. Obviously, famous landmarks like the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, Yehliu Geopark, Taroko Gorge, Elephant Mountain among others are missing on my list. Based on what I’ve read and what the locals have told me, I plan to write and determine my Where-to-Next in Taiwan in this Taiwan 2017 blog series. By all means, feel free to share with me if you have recommendations, too.

But overall, I think the things I did and places I’ve visited were more than enough to convince me to love Taiwan second to my home, the Philippines. For that, it should not be a surprise when one of these days, you’d see me in Taiwan sooner than you’d expect.

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54 thoughts

    1. Hi Emily! I do not speak Mandarin either. But don’t worry, in Taipei, a lot of people speak English. Also, there is a designated Visitor Information center in almost every train station so you won’t find it difficult to ask questions. Plus, all buses and trains have audio recording of where you’re headed in Mandarin and English. 🙂

      Like

  1. Taichung i prefer zhong yi marketplace over feng jia. Plus they got a special store selling special drinks which you could order from a hidden menu.
    Taipei ximending got a famous bruised meat stall which is cheap and serve the best taste!
    I love ning xia too! One of the night market that’s not too tourist-based 🙂 taiwanese love that night market too haha
    Glad you have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your 9 days itinerary sounds great – despite having that feeling that you did not get the chance to explore it all :). Congratulations on your first solo travel abroad! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One day I’ll make it out here to see all the beautiful places you visited! Number one on that list would be to see those cute pandas you mentioned! I’ve never seen them in person, so I can’t wait 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A great post. I have never been to East Asia. Just South East Asia. your photos look incredible and it had definitely sparked an interest in me. It looks very interesting and full of culture. And lets be honest, I really just want to see the cuteeee Pandas.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is so useful, I just landed in Taipei and I will be in Taiwan for three weeks so I will be adding some of these places to my itinerary.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love how you love to immerse yourself in the culture and not run around crazy trying to see everything! I’m bad about doing that, but my travels are more about adventure and pushing my limits! This itinerary looks super laid back and perfect for a slow paced person!

    Liked by 1 person

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