After our first trip to Taiwan, during which we spent only a few days in Taipei, we promised ourselves to come back the next time with more time to explore the island during a road trip through Taiwan. No sooner said than done – and it was the best decision! Taiwan surprised us and left us speechless numerous times! In this post, I’ll tell you the perfect itinerary for your unforgettable road trip in Taiwan. As always, I’ve marked all the places on a map at the end of this post so you can find all my tips for Taiwan quickly and easily.

How many days should you plan for your Taiwan road trip?

Depending on how tightly you want to plan your program, I would recommend one week to ten days for this itinerary through Taiwan.

When is the best time to travel to Taiwan?

Basically, a trip to Taiwan can be very beautiful throughout the year. In the summer it is relatively hot and humid, but we ourselves have made this tour in August and found the weather still bearable. However, due to the typhoon season in the summer there can be sporadic heavy rainfall. In winter it gets relatively cool, especially in the north.

The ideal time to travel to Taiwan is therefore spring and autumn, when temperatures are pleasant and rainfall is (usually) low.

Payment in Taiwan

Payment in Taiwan is made in the New Taiwan Dollar. One Euro is equivalent to about 35 TWD. Foreign credit cards are not accepted everywhere, especially outside the capital Taipei. Therefore, you should always have enough cash on you, because even in some of the smaller hotels we could only pay cash.

Standing on top of the Cien Pagoda in front of the Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan
Sitting in front of a temple in Taipei

The perfect Taiwan Road Trip Itinerary

Taiwan Road Trip – First Stop: Taipei

On a round trip through Taiwan, the exciting capital Taipei must not be missed. It already impressed us during our first trip to Taiwan. So before you jump in your rental car and start your tour around the island, I would recommend spending a few days in Taipei. 

These are the must see spots in Taipei:

  • The Taipei101

    The landmark of the city and with a height of 508m currently the tenth tallest building in the world. Its shape is supposed to remind you of a bamboo pole. The skyscraper houses a shopping mall and the observation deck on the 101st floor is also open to visitors. For 600 TWD (about 17€) per adult, the best view over Taipei can be enjoyed – this is particularly impressive at sunset.

Overlooking the iconic Taipei101 from a breakfast table on top of a rooftop in Taipei, Taiwan
overlooking the skyline of Taipei from the top of the Taipei101 observatory
  • Elephant Mountain

    You would like to enjoy a dreamlike view over Taipei – but with Taipei101 in the skyline? No problem: Elephant Mountain is my absolute highlight in Taipei. Although you will get a little sweaty on the climb, the view is well worth it and is suitable for all ages and fitness levels.

    How to find the Elephant Mountain Trail in Taipei?

    The Elephant Mountain is called Xiangshan in Mandarin and is located in the Xinyi District. I’ve marked the exact location of the starting point on my Taiwan map at the end of this post. It’s best to get an Uber or taxi to drop you off and then follow the stairs uphill at the entrance sign – you can’t miss it. After about 30 minutes, you’ll reach five large boulders that offer the best views and are ideal for a photo spot. Further up you will also find a viewing platform with benches. Elephant Mountain is a popular route, so the trail is busy at all times of the day – even before sunrise. Most visitors, however, are local joggers who do not linger for photos. The best light for photographing is at sunset or sunrise – even though you won’t have a direct view of the rising sun.

the elephant Mountain View point in Taipei overlooking the iconic Taipei101 skyscraper
the elephant Mountain View point in Taipei overlooking the iconic Taipei101 skyscraper
  • Chiang Kai Shek Memorial

    After Taipei101, this is probably the most famous sight in Taipei: the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial. Chiang Kai Shek was the last president of the Republic of China before the Communist Party took power in 1949. He fled to Taiwan, where he ruled as president until his death.
    Both the huge white memorial is impressive and the entire surrounding park, which invites you to take a walk. Admission is free and every full hour an impressive changing of the guard takes place in the hall, in front of the large bronze statue of the former president.

sitting in front of the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial in Taipei
overlooking Taipei from the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial in Taiwan
  • Longshan Temple

    The most beautiful temple in Taipei for me is the Chinese Longshan Temple, built in 1738. It is located in a lively neighborhood, but is a true oasis of calm, in which even a waterfall was built. A visit is especially impressive after sunset, when the lanterns glow and immerse the temple in a mystical light.

  • Night Market

    A visit to Taipei would not be complete without visiting a night market. There are numerous of them scattered around the city. They are not only ideal for eating and snacking but also for shopping and marveling! Well known are for example the Ximending Night Market (directly at the Longshan Temple) or the Shilin Market.

Taiwan Road Trip – Second Stop: The Sun Moon Lake

The first stop on the perfect raod trip through Taiwan is the enchanting Sun Moon Lake, which is located 240km south of Taipei and can be reached by car in 2.5 hours. Taiwan’s largest lake owes its name to its shape, which is supposed to remind of a sun and a moon from above. Although this  requires a lot of imagination. The lake is surrounded by green mountains and magical temples. A road leads once around the entire lake.

Here are some stops you should not miss:

  • Wenwu Temple

    The colorful Wenwu Temple is the ideal first stop at Sun Moon Lake. It is located at the northernmost tip of the lake, closest to Taipei. During a visit, not only the architecture can be admired, but also the view over the lake.

The Wenwu Temple at the Sun Moon Lake is a must visit during a Taiwan Road Trip
the entrance gate of the Wenwu temple in Taiwan
  • Ropeway

    Unfortunately, we missed this stop because we were too late. A ropeway leads from Sun Moon Lake up the mountains to a viewpoint. The last ticket is sold already at 3:30 pm, so it’s best to plan this activity for noon. The cost is 350 NTD (about 10€) per adult.

  • Cien Pagoda

    This is my favorite stop along the Sun Moon Lake: The Cien Pagoda. The tower was built in 1971 and offers a great view over the lake. The detailed Chinese architectural style is also great for photos. The tower can be reached from the parking lot after a short hike. We were here in the late afternoon and had the pagoda almost to ourselves. This is because there is a sign at the parking lot that the last ascent is 4pm, however we were there long after that and the tower was still open (there is no cashier or entry booth). The later in the afternoon you come, the more beautiful the golden light will be.

The Cien Pagoda at the Sun Moon Lake is a must see during a Taiwan Road Trip
Standing on top of the Cien Pagoda in Taiwan, overlooking the Sun Moon Lake
  • Xiangshan Jetty

    For sunset we were at the Xianshang jetty, which is located above the water. So you get to see a whole new perspective of the lake, surrounded by the panorama of the mountains. The entrance is free and you can park your car at the Xiangshan Visitor Center and enjoy the short walk to the Scenic Overlook.

Standing on a jetty over the Sun Moon Lake during sunset
The Sun Moon Lake with the mountains in the background, Taiwan Rundreise

How many days should you plan for Sun Moon Lake during your Taiwan road trip:

One full day

Hotel recommendation:

→ Luxury: The Lalu Hotel – with chic Zen-style suites and villas overlooking the lake.
→ Mid-range: The Sun Moon Lake Hotel
→ Budget: The Crystal Jade Chalet

Taiwan Road Trip – Third stop: The Sun-Link-Sea Nature Park

For me, this was the biggest surprise during our Taiwan road trip: The Songlong Rock Waterfall in the Sun-Link-Sea Nature Park. Although the waterfall is one of the most impressive natural spectacles of this mystical park, it has many more enchanted paths through the forest, suspension bridges, waterfalls and more to offer. I would therefore recommend you to plan a whole day. However, if you don’t have much time, it’s also worth visiting for half a day.

Sun-Link-Sea Park is located high up in the mountains of central Taiwan in Nantou County, so the climate is cooler than on the coasts and clouds hanging in the mountains usually make for rainy, humid weather. But this is what makes the magic of this place so special!

You park your car at the visitor center. Here you will get a map with all the highlights and hiking routes and a bus will take you deeper into the forest to the remote spots. Songlong Rock Waterfall is just a few minutes walk from the last bus stop. It is an enchanted place, which reminds me a lot of Iceland, because the waterfall falls along a half-open moss-covered cave! An absolute insider tip in Taiwan, which even many locals don’t know about yet.

Walking in a red tree over a wooden bridge in fron of a waterfall in Taiwan, The Songlong rock Waterfall can't be missed on your Taiwan Itinerary
Walking in a red tree over a wooden bridge in fron of a waterfall in Taiwan, The Songlong rock Waterfall can't be missed on your Taiwan Itinerary

→ Tip: The waterfall looks most beautiful in spring and summer after a heavy rainfall. The water flow is not as strong all year round as it was during our visit.

Price: 250 NTD (about 7€) per adult PLUS 100 NTD (about 3€) parking fee per car.

How many days should you plan for Sun-Link-Sea Park during your Taiwan tour:

One day or at least half a day

Hotel recommendation:

→ Budget: The Sheng Shine Forest Resort – A small family-run hotel by the forest with delicious breakfast.

Taiwan Round Trip – Fourth Stop: Tainan

Our fourth stop on our round trip around Taiwan was supposed to be the city of Tainan. Due to extreme downpours before and during our stay, this unfortunately fell literally into the water… some attractions were completely flooded.

For this reason, we decided to go directly to the next stop on our Taiwan tour.

City view of Tainan in Taiwan

Taiwan Round Trip – Fifth Stop: Kaohsiung 

Kaohsiung is the capital of the south and with 2.7 million inhabitants, more people live here than in Taipei. The Lotus Pond with the adjacent Confucius Temple is the biggest attraction of the city. It is a large pond, in the size of a lake, on which there are colorful temples and gigantic statues. Unfortunately, we had some bad luck during our visit, because the numerous lotus was just faded in the summer and the famous Dragon & Tiger Pagodas  closed for construction. However, a walk around the pond to the Confucius Temple is still worthwhile, because there is a lot to discover.

overlooking the lotus pond in Kaohsiung with a colorful statue in the water
The lotus pond in Kaohsiung in Taiwan with a colorful dragon statue

Food Tips for Kaohsiung:

  • Jianbing Crepes – hearty Chinese street food eaten for breakfast / lunch. I marked the best store (the name of the restaurant is only in Mandarin) in my Taiwan map. Price per dish under 5€
  • Gang Yuan Beef Noodle Restaurant (120NT$ – 3,40€) – the best noodle soup in Kaohsiung.
  • MyCofi Kaohsiung – the world famous 3D latte in the shape of dogs. The cost is around 350NT$ (10€), due to the detailed work, but the result was super cute and the coffee very good!

How many days should you plan for Kaohsiung during your Taiwan road trip:

Half a day to a full day (we planned one day together for Kaohsiung and Kenting National Park).

Hotel recommendation:

→ Mid-range: The Fullon Poshtel Kaohsiung

Taiwan Road Trip – Sixth stop: Kenting National Park  

At the southern tip of Taiwan is the oldest national park in the country: Kenting National Park is known for its limestone formations and caves. A complete tour through the national park takes about 2-3 hours and besides geological formations, you can also marvel at mystical banyan trees, whose roots have even snaked through the rock over the years. The most famous inhabitants of the park are rock monkeys and deer.

Entrance fee: 150 TWD (about 4-5€) per adult

Tip: If the weather is nice and you have enough time, you can also find great beaches to relax and swim on the Kenting coast. The most beautiful of them is Xiaowan beach (also called Small Bay). It is located at the Cesar Park Resort, but it is free of charge for any visitor.

Hotel recommendation in Kenting:

→ Mid-range: Howard Beach Resort – right on Kenting beach with pool

→ Budget: Hai Yuan Bungalow II

Taiwan Road Trip – Seventh Stop: The Taroko National Park

The 19 kilometer long Taroko Gorge is the most famous and popular natural attraction in Taiwan! And for good reason: During a trip through the Taroko National Park you feel as if you had suddenly landed in Norway. Nature and hiking fans are guaranteed to feel at home here. There are routes suitable for beginners as well as others for the more adventurous hikers.

Here are some stops in Taroko National Park that you should not miss: 

  • Eternal Spring Shrine: This shrine is built around a small waterfall so that it seems as if the water is coming out of the small temple. The view is best from the parking lot and a short path through a tunnel leads up to the temple.
  • The Tunnel of Nine Turns: The road is to be driven along by car and is the most beautiful road section in the national park, because the road leads through a half-open tunnel under the kilometer-long rock face along. A dreamlike view!
The Eternal Spring Shrine in the Taroko National Park in Taiwan has to be on your itinerary

Eternal Spring Shrine

The Tunnel of Nine Turns is one of the most beautiful places in the Taroko Gorge and can't be missed on your Taiwan Road Trip Itinerary

Tunnel of Nine Turns

  • Yuewangting Suspension Bridge: This suspension bridge crosses Taroko Gorge and overlooks a waterfall cascading down the cliff face.
  • Zhuilu Old Road Trail: The most famous and impressive hiking trail in the national park. Although the round trip is only 6km long, a permit is required for the hike, as the trail is very narrow in some places and runs directly along the gorge. Since access is limited, you should arrange your permit well in advance of your tour in Taiwan. You can apply at the earliest four months and at the latest 35 days before your planned hike: → You can find the link to get your permit here!

How many days should you plan for Taroko National Park: One full day

Entrance fee: Free

Tip: When you arrive, be sure to check with the Visitor Center to see which trails are closed and what times certain tunnels are open!

A Suspension bridge in the Taroko Gorge National Park in Taiwan

Yuewangting Suspension Bridge

The entrance of the Zhuilu Old Road Trail in the Taroko Gorge National Park

Zhuilu Old Road Trail Start

Taiwan Road Trip – last Stop: Jiufen

Before our round trip around Taiwan ends back in Taipei, we planned a last detour to Jiufen on the last day. The small town is located north, 45 minutes outside the capital and is a popular destination for a day trip. Jiufen became famous because of the anime movie Spirited Away, which is said to have been inspired by Jiufen, even though it is set in Japan. Some people find it too touristy, but in my opinion it’s still worth a visit. You can enjoy the view in the cute little tea houses or sip on a traditional boba milk tea while strolling through the streets.

a narrow alley in Jiufen, Taiwan with red lampions
Sitting in a Tea House in Jiufen and overlooking the landscape of Taiwan

How much time should you plan for Jiufen: Half a day to a maximum of a whole day, you can stay overnight in Taipei.

Tip: When driving from Taipei to Jiufen, you will pass by Gongbei Temple. It is a very quiet but beautiful temple, which is ideal for a short visit.

I really hope that a Taiwan road trip is on your bucket list! The country is, in my opinion, far too underestimated and can easily keep up with the better known destinations in Asia. But this also has a good side, most places, especially outside the capital Taipei you will have all to yourself and you won’t have to worry about huge crowds of tourists.

Feel free to comment or message me on Instagram if you have any other questions for your travel planning!

My Taiwan Map for your Road Trip:

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The Perfect Taiwan Road Trip Itinerary with map, Taiwan Rundreise
The Perfect Taiwan Road Trip Itinerary with map, Taiwan Rundreise


  • 14. February 2024

    Do I understand correctly that this itinerary took more or less 7 days?


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