Backpacking Taiwan

Hello to all seasoned and aspiring backpackers!

As a relatively unknown country, Taiwan is a paradise for backpackers and all of those who want to avoid crowds of tourists.

The best way to learn about the country’s history and background is to ask the locals, who are always happy to answer backpacker’s questions.

In addition to three original Chinese ethnic groups, there are also 14 indigenous peoples living on the island. This’ll be the perfect opportunity for you to experience their unchanged traditions up close and to admire magnificent buildings from different eras.

In short, backpacking in Taiwan is the perfect trip for you if you’re looking for diversity and variety. Get to know a completely new side of the Asian continent and get ready to discover all sorts of great treasures off the beaten path!

Our ideal backpacking itinerary of Taiwan will show you the most amazing corners of this country, between tradition and modernity. Let’s go!


Important Basics

Official Language ( Mandarin Chinese )
EnglishMandarin Chinese
HelloNǐhǎo
GoodbyeZài jiàn
Thank youXièxiè
YesShì
NoBù shì
Capital City

Taipei

Form of Government

Semi-presidential system

Best Time to Visit

March to May and September to November

Fun Facts
  • Boba Tea comes from Taiwan.
  • Taiwanese people love karaoke.
  • Taiwan’s national flower is the plum blossom.
  • In Taiwan, white symbolizes death.

Cities

Taipei

Located in the north of the island, Taiwan’s economic center has over 2.7 million residents. In addition to countless sights such as the Longshan Temple, Taipei offers exciting nightlife, lively shopping areas, and colorful markets – without the hectic atmosphere of a big city.

With a height of 508 meters, The Taipei World Financial Center "Taipei 101" is the highest building in the city and offers a breathtaking view of the capital. Stroll through the green Daan Park or explore the district Ximending, Taipei's Mini-Timesquare.

Discover the surroundings of Taipei on tour along the north coast. Visit the picturesque port city of Keelung, explore the Yehliu National Park, and visit its most famous field formation 'Queen's Head'.

The four-hour tour costs only €30 per person including transfer, entrance fee, and guide. Other popular destinations in the Taipei area are Yangmingshan National Park and the mountain village of Jiufen.

You can get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €15 a night at one of Taipei’s local hostels.

Hualien

Head to Hualien by train for about €8. You can leave the big city behind you and get your load of sunbathing on one of the many beautiful beaches, like Cisingtan Beach. This town on the east coast of Taiwan is the perfect starting point for excursions into the Taroko National Park. The most famous attraction of the area is the gigantic Taroko Gorge, which stretches for miles through the mountains.

There’s a road that crosses the gorge and connects western and eastern Taiwan. Alongside this route, you’ll find many of the reserve’s top sights and the starting points to various trekking points such as the Shakadang Trail and the Swallow Grotto Trail. Cross the gorge by car, bus, moped, or bicycle and discover the best viewpoints and photo spots of the Taroko National Park.

You can get a bed in an 8-person dorm for €14 a night at one of Hualien’s hostels.

Kenting

Our next stop is Kenting, which you can reach from Hualien by train and bus for about €15. The city is located in the middle of the Kenting National Park, which extends over the entire southern tip of the island state.

You’ll find numerous natural treasures, trekking routes, hidden bays, viewpoints, steep cliffs, and fascinating flora and fauna. Sunbathe on white sandy beaches overlooking the turquoise-blue ocean, visit the Oluanpi Lighthouse at the southernmost point of Taiwan or hike through lush green tropical forests.

Other places of interest include the Small Lagoon, the Kenting Road with its many restaurants, bars, and leisure facilities, and the Kenting Forest Recreation Area. This forest grows on coral stone.

You can stay the night in a hostel and get a bed in a 5-person dorm for €13 a night.

Kaohsiung

You can travel by bus from Kenting to Kaohsiung for about €5. Taiwan's second-largest city offers numerous sights such as Xiziwan Bay, the Tuntex Sky Tower, and the temples at Lotus Lake. The modern metropolis on the west coast of the country is also ideal for a great shopping trip.

We also recommend a visit to the colorful night markets and a walk along the banks of the Love River, where you’ll find cozy bars and restaurants with live music. A particular highlight is the offshore island Cijin, which you can reach by ferry from Kaohsiung. You will find fantastic beaches and an idyllic promenade where you can enjoy freshly caught fish and seafood in traditional restaurants.

Visit the old lighthouse and climb up the old fort in the north of the island. From there you have the best view over the whole island, the old town, and Kaohsiung harbor.

You can get a bed in an 8-person dorm for €10 a night at one of Kaohsiung’s hostels.

Penghu Islands

You’ll get from Kaohsiung to Penghu by ferry for €24. This is the main island of an archipelago, consisting of 64 mostly uninhabited volcanic islands in the west of Taiwan. Apart from Penghu, the most popular islands are Qimei, Ji-bei and Wangan and all together, they are ideal for island hopping.

You’ll find hip beach bars, relaxed restaurants, surf schools and windsurfing spots on countless white beaches. The island paradise also offers the possibility to discover the colorful underwater world of the South China Sea on snorkeling and diving excursions. Explore the picturesque landscape by bike or motor scooter, visit tranquil fishing villages and enjoy fresh fish dishes and watch the sunset. A

You can get a bed in a 10-person dorm for €16 a night at one of the local hostels.

Puli

You’ll fly from Penghu to Taichung and then travel to Puli. The flight and bus trip will cost you about €40 in total. This city in central Taiwan offers numerous sights such as the abstract Chung Tai Chan Monastery, the Bamboo Forest Zen Temple, and Carp Lake, from where you can hike to the geographical center of Taiwan on the Hutou Mountain.

However, the most popular destination is the Sun and Moon Lake in the area near Puli, which is located at an altitude of over 700 meters and surrounded by mountain peaks. The best view of the emerald green shimmering lake is from Wenwu Temple and Tze-en Pagoda.

The Sun and Moon Lake is not only the largest body of water but also home to the smallest indigenous tribe in the country. Explore the attractions around the picturesque lake on foot or rent a mountain bike. You’ll get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €17 a night in one of Puli’s hostels.

You can get back to Taipei by bus for about €25, where you can catch your flight back home.


Taipei

Taipei

Located in the north of the island, Taiwan’s economic center has over 2.7 million residents. In addition to countless sights such as the Longshan Temple, Taipei offers exciting nightlife, lively shopping areas, and colorful markets – without the hectic atmosphere of a big city.

With a height of 508 meters, The Taipei World Financial Center "Taipei 101" is the highest building in the city and offers a breathtaking view of the capital. Stroll through the green Daan Park or explore the district Ximending, Taipei's Mini-Timesquare.

Discover the surroundings of Taipei on tour along the north coast. Visit the picturesque port city of Keelung, explore the Yehliu National Park, and visit its most famous field formation 'Queen's Head'.

The four-hour tour costs only €30 per person including transfer, entrance fee, and guide. Other popular destinations in the Taipei area are Yangmingshan National Park and the mountain village of Jiufen.

You can get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €15 a night at one of Taipei’s local hostels.

Hualien

Hualien

Head to Hualien by train for about €8. You can leave the big city behind you and get your load of sunbathing on one of the many beautiful beaches, like Cisingtan Beach. This town on the east coast of Taiwan is the perfect starting point for excursions into the Taroko National Park. The most famous attraction of the area is the gigantic Taroko Gorge, which stretches for miles through the mountains.

There’s a road that crosses the gorge and connects western and eastern Taiwan. Alongside this route, you’ll find many of the reserve’s top sights and the starting points to various trekking points such as the Shakadang Trail and the Swallow Grotto Trail. Cross the gorge by car, bus, moped, or bicycle and discover the best viewpoints and photo spots of the Taroko National Park.

You can get a bed in an 8-person dorm for €14 a night at one of Hualien’s hostels.

Kenting

Kenting

Our next stop is Kenting, which you can reach from Hualien by train and bus for about €15. The city is located in the middle of the Kenting National Park, which extends over the entire southern tip of the island state.

You’ll find numerous natural treasures, trekking routes, hidden bays, viewpoints, steep cliffs, and fascinating flora and fauna. Sunbathe on white sandy beaches overlooking the turquoise-blue ocean, visit the Oluanpi Lighthouse at the southernmost point of Taiwan or hike through lush green tropical forests.

Other places of interest include the Small Lagoon, the Kenting Road with its many restaurants, bars, and leisure facilities, and the Kenting Forest Recreation Area. This forest grows on coral stone.

You can stay the night in a hostel and get a bed in a 5-person dorm for €13 a night.

Kaohsiung

Kaohsiung

You can travel by bus from Kenting to Kaohsiung for about €5. Taiwan's second-largest city offers numerous sights such as Xiziwan Bay, the Tuntex Sky Tower, and the temples at Lotus Lake. The modern metropolis on the west coast of the country is also ideal for a great shopping trip.

We also recommend a visit to the colorful night markets and a walk along the banks of the Love River, where you’ll find cozy bars and restaurants with live music. A particular highlight is the offshore island Cijin, which you can reach by ferry from Kaohsiung. You will find fantastic beaches and an idyllic promenade where you can enjoy freshly caught fish and seafood in traditional restaurants.

Visit the old lighthouse and climb up the old fort in the north of the island. From there you have the best view over the whole island, the old town, and Kaohsiung harbor.

You can get a bed in an 8-person dorm for €10 a night at one of Kaohsiung’s hostels.

Penghu Islands

Penghu Islands

You’ll get from Kaohsiung to Penghu by ferry for €24. This is the main island of an archipelago, consisting of 64 mostly uninhabited volcanic islands in the west of Taiwan. Apart from Penghu, the most popular islands are Qimei, Ji-bei and Wangan and all together, they are ideal for island hopping.

You’ll find hip beach bars, relaxed restaurants, surf schools and windsurfing spots on countless white beaches. The island paradise also offers the possibility to discover the colorful underwater world of the South China Sea on snorkeling and diving excursions. Explore the picturesque landscape by bike or motor scooter, visit tranquil fishing villages and enjoy fresh fish dishes and watch the sunset. A

You can get a bed in a 10-person dorm for €16 a night at one of the local hostels.

Puli

Puli

You’ll fly from Penghu to Taichung and then travel to Puli. The flight and bus trip will cost you about €40 in total. This city in central Taiwan offers numerous sights such as the abstract Chung Tai Chan Monastery, the Bamboo Forest Zen Temple, and Carp Lake, from where you can hike to the geographical center of Taiwan on the Hutou Mountain.

However, the most popular destination is the Sun and Moon Lake in the area near Puli, which is located at an altitude of over 700 meters and surrounded by mountain peaks. The best view of the emerald green shimmering lake is from Wenwu Temple and Tze-en Pagoda.

The Sun and Moon Lake is not only the largest body of water but also home to the smallest indigenous tribe in the country. Explore the attractions around the picturesque lake on foot or rent a mountain bike. You’ll get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €17 a night in one of Puli’s hostels.

You can get back to Taipei by bus for about €25, where you can catch your flight back home.

Taiwan Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home – Taipei
Home – Taipei
Flight
275
6-person dorm
15
2. Taipei
Taipei
-
6-person dorm
15
3. Taipei
Taipei
-
6-person dorm
15
4. Taipei – Hualien
Taipei – Hualien
Train
8
8-person dorm
14
5. Hualien
Hualien
-
8-person dorm
14
6. Hualien – Kenting
Hualien – Kenting
train+bus
15
5-person dorm
13
7. Kenting
Kenting
-
5-person dorm
13
8. Kenting
Kenting
-
5-person dorm
13
9. Kenting – Kaoshiung
Kenting – Kaoshiung
Bus
5
8-person dorm
10
10. Kaoshiung
Kaoshiung
-
8-person dorm
10
11. Kaoshiung – Penghu Islands
Kaoshiung – Penghu Islands
Ferry
24
10-person dorm
16
12. Port Barton – Tapik
Port Barton – Tapik
Minivan
15
Tent
7
13. Penghu Islands
Penghu Islands
-
Tent
7
14. Penghu Islands
Penghu Islands
-
Tent
7
15. Penghu Islands
Penghu Islands
-
Tent
7
16. Penghu Islands
Penghu Islands
-
Tent
7
17. Penghu Islands – Puli
Penghu Islands – Puli
Flight+Bus
40
6-person dorm
17
18. Puli
Puli
-
6-person dorm
17
19. Puli
Puli
-
6-person dorm
17
20. Puli – Taipei
Puli – Taipei
Bus+train
25
6-person dorm
15
21. Taipei – Home
Taipei – Home
Flight
275

Total price.

Flights 485,00
Transportation 82,00
Tours 34,00
Accommodation 293,00
Total894,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Dumplings: filled dumplings are the best breakfast in Taiwan. Add a spicy dip, and you have a traditional meal!

Chinese Pancakes: the absolute favourite breakfast in Taiwan. The dough is fried with spring onions, and if you like, you can just add few vegetables.

Soups

Beef soup:   the noodles are cooked in a spicy broth with lots of herbs. Typical Taiwanese spices are used, and thus, it is an absolute must eat!

Main Courses

Stink Tofu: tofu that is really called like that. You can try it, especially in Taipei. The dish comes with coleslaw and vegetables.

Grilled octopus:   you can also try this in Taiwan, it’s prepared on the grill and served with vegetables. 

Beef soup: a colorful mix of different Asian noodles and a lot of vegetables and beef! The locals love it, and we’re sure you will too.

Drinks & Snacks

Mochi: those small rice cakes are the best dessert in Taiwan. The sticky dough is eaten in small pieces of cake. Filled with red beans, this is a classic dessert!

Bread with spring onions: the perfect snack on the road is Taiwanese bread. Its dough is mixed with spring onions.

Taiwan

The exchange rate for 30 Taiwanese dollar (TWD) is around €0.96 (as of May 2022). YSee prices for certain products and the cost of living below:

Cost of Living

Food

Free Time

Personal hygiene

Dos

Compliments are greatly appreciated. Compliment the chef on their food! “Hen Hao Che” should become part of your vocabulary – the locals will always be happy to hear your compliments!

On the subway, you will see a blue seat. This is reserved for elderly people and should be kept free, even if it means that you have to stand.

Always hand over items with two hands, no matter what they are.

Don'ts

Don't chew gum, eat or drink in the MTR, which is the subway here. This is strictly forbidden.

The number 4 is taboo! Don't mention this number in front of any local and also make sure that you don't, for example, do something four times or give four things as a present. The number is associated with death!

You should also never mention the topic of death. It should not be mentioned in any context, because it is taboo for the locals.

Hugging is not so popular here. The Taiwanese are not very affectionate, and even friends often greet each other only with a light handshake or a friendly smile.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

(Not necessary)

Vaccine

Robert-Koch-Instituts

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be valid for at least six months beyond the duration of your stay. Please also inform yourself on the current entry regulations regarding the Corona virus. Current information about this can be found at the your country’s Foreign Office.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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