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7-Day Taiwan Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

taiwan dongmen market

I’ve been back from Taiwan for almost two weeks now, and I’m still dreaming about the stinky tofu I ate at the Ningxia Night Market. Even though I haven’t lived in Taiwan since middle school, I’ve gone back nearly every year since and hold the place very near and dear to my heart. In this 7-day Taiwan itinerary guide, I’m excited to share with you what I think is the best way to see Taiwan for the first time, experience its culture, the people, and famously, its food. I’ll also share some recommendations that shows you a more modern side of Taiwan – a.k.a. you’ll be getting cafe and bar recs from me!

tokidoki cafe taiwan

Day 1: Get a Taste of Taiwan

No matter where you’re flying into Taiwan from, chances are you’re in need of an energy boost and want to have a nice first meal upon your arrival in Taiwan. Most international flights will land in Taipei so I recommend you start your 7-day itinerary eating your way through Taiwan’s capital city.

I’ll share recommendations below for breakfast, lunch and dinner so pick what works based on when you are landing.

Taiwanese breakfast dan bing

One of my favorite things to eat while visiting Taiwan is Dan Bing. These are crepe-like dishes where egg is wrapped in a scallion pancake. Additional toppings like pork floss and ham can also be added. Make sure to also order some soy milk to go with it! You can choose whether or not you want it sweetened and ice or hot. A spot like 瑞麟美而美 (Gmaps) is a great place to get Dan Bing!

You can’t say you’ve been to Taiwan without ever having tried the Beef Noodle Soup. This quintessential Taiwanese dish consists of sliced beef (and sometimes tendon) and chewy noodles in a rich spiced broth is a good option for lunch. Many places in Taipei serve Beef Noodle Soup. Usually the simpler and more pared down the restaurant looks, the better the Beef Noodle Soup probably is. And you won’t go wrong with a place that has a long line out the door.

ningxia night market

Lastly, the best spot to get dinner/late-night in Taiwan is at a night market. There are 30 night markets in Taipei alone, and they’re not only great places to get a taste of the diversity of Taiwanese cuisine. They’re also filled with fun activities that are guaranteed to keep you entertained.

For a more extensive food guide, check out my blog post here:

Day 2: Elephant Mountain, National Palace Museum, Taipei 101

elephant mountain taiwan 7 day itinerary

Get a View of Taipei from Elephant Mountain

Start day two of your 7-day Taiwan trip early by hiking up Elephant Mountain. Elephant Mountain can be easily accessed via the MRT. The hike is famous for its view of Taipei 101 and Taipei City from the peak. It’s so so pretty up there!

I recommend going at sunrise rather than sunset to beat the crowds. Alan and I left our hotel on an Uber at 4:30am and started hiking up Elephant Mountain at 5. I think we saw five people total along the way so we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves!

Keep in mind that even though the hike isn’t long, it’s pretty much just stair after stair. So make sure you are mentally ready to take on that challenge or take the appropriate breaks. Definitely bring a water bottle (here’s my current favorite) and a selfie stick. And unless you’re going in the fall or winter, you won’t need a light jacket cuz it’s so hot in Taiwan.

After you’re back from Elephant Mountain, get some coffee and brick toast at Buzi – I recommend the grapefruit espresso. Then head back to your hotel for a shower and nap before afternoon activities.

National Palace Museum

jadeite cabbage national palace museum taipei

The National Palace Museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of ancient Chinese artifacts, calligraphy, paintings, and porcelain. All objects were brought over from China in the late 1940s.

Some of the things you’ll be able to see at the National Palace Museum include the jade cabbage and pork belly. What I found the most impressive was the collection of pottery and porcelain that was used thousands of years ago. The intricacies of the designs amazes me.

You can get there via subway, or what’s probably easier is by Taxi/Uber.

Taipei 101

taipei 101 best things to do in taiwan

In the evening, check out Taipei 101, the tallest building in Taiwan and the third tallest in Asia. The first couple floors have tons of shopping and it’s also a good place to shop for gifts to bring home to friends and family. If you’re in Taiwan during New Years Eve, be sure to check out the Taipei 101 fireworks – it’s a spectacle!

Day 3: Yilan, Taroko National Park

Taiwan’s terrain consists of high mountains and vast oceans. One of the best ways to experience that is to drive (or take a train) along the east coast of Taiwan.

For those driving from Taipei, start early on day 3 of your 7-day Taiwan itinerary and head out around 8:30am. Drive 1 hour and 20 minutes and arrive at Fenniaolin Fish Harbor in Su’ao Township for your first stop. Here, you’ll see lush mountains emerging from blue waters. There’s not much to do here besides taking in the views, so I’d spend maybe 20 minutes here to stretch your legs and take some pictures.

taroko national park

Next, you’ll keep driving south to arrive at Taroko National Park. The best thing to do at Taroko National Park is to walk along the trail that features large boulders, a peaceful stream, and you may even see a monkey or two. My mom described the scenery as similar to Yosemite in California.

Wanderer Tip: Taroko National Park was one of the areas impacted by the earthquake that happened earlier this month. Check the national park’s website for the latest traveling tips and safety information.

qingshui cliff

I also recommend checking out Qingshui Cliff. Buluowan Bridge is also a popular attraction near Taroko National Park and worth checking out if you have time.

After spending a couple hours at the national park and surrounding attractions, drive 30 minutes to Hualien and stay the night there.

I provide a slightly alternate route to the one outlined above. It may work out better especially if you plan on continuing on to Taichung City. I also have a few recommendations on Things to do in Hualien outlined in the Hualien section.

Day 4: Hualien, Return to Taipei

Spend the first half of day 4 touring Hualien, checking out one of the many cute local coffee shops.

After lunch, start driving back to Taipei, and you’ll arrive just in time to check in to your hotel for the night!

Day 5: Spend a Chill Day in Taipei, Go Shopping

After doing so much for the first four days, including traveling to a whole other city in Taiwan, spend day 5 of your 7-day Taiwan itinerary hanging out in Taipei, chilling at cafes, and shopping for souvenirs.

Go Shopping in Taipei

  • Taipei East District (Gmaps) – Open air shops, clothes
  • ATT 4 Fun (GMaps) – Shopping mall with trendy brands
  • Ximengting – Bustling area with restaurants and shops, popular among students
  • Taipei City Mall (Gmaps) – This is an underground shopping mall with shops simliar to what you would find at Ximengting and Taipei East District. Really cool to checkout and experience Taipei’s expansive underground system!
  • Lai Hao (Gmaps) – Souvenir Shopping

Pamper Yourself

  • Get your nails done! Japanese nail design is very popular in Taiwan. They will often ask you to book a reservation and you can do so by phone or through the line app.
  • Get a haircut These often come with amazing head massages so I highly recommend this for a relaxing afternoon in Taipei!

Go Bar Hopping

sidebar taipei

If you still have the energy at this point, check out a bar or two. Despite its size, Taiwan’s bar scene has kept up with some of the best in the world. Here are some bars I recommend checking out.

  • Sidebar – gin bar, tell them what you like and they’ll make you something,menu looks like homepage of Netflix. with hidden gin tasting room
  • Fourplay
  • Imbibe

Day 6: Jiufen

jiufen things to do in taiwan

Source: https://maps.google.com/maps/contrib/116032821313488721843

Now that you’ve had a full day to relax in Taipei, it’s time to go on another day trip to the famous Jiufen. Jiufen is a mountain town in northeastern Taiwan, and takes about 80 minutes to go to from Taipei’s city center.

If you’re a fan of the Studio Ghibli film Spirited Away, you’ll be able to experience a very similar scenery as the one you see in the movie in Jiufen! The best way to get to Jiufen is by taking a direct bus from Taipei. Keelung Bus 1062 leaves near Exit 2 of the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station.

Wanderer Tip: Moovit is a good app to use and keep track of bus routes and timetables.

Day 7: Enjoy a Taiwanese Breakfast Brunch, Head to the Airport

Taiwan is filled with amazing buffets where a variety of cuisines is served – think steak, pasta, Taiwanese braised pork rice (lou rou fan). These buffets are usually offered by high-end hotels. The Regent Hotel and Grand Hyatt are both great options for experiencing Taiwanese buffets and seats can be reserved in advance.

How to Get Around in Taiwan

taiwan travel guide

Take the MRT

Taipei, where you’ll be spending most of your time has an extensive MRT system. It’s similar to the subway system in New York or the Tube in London.

The best way to pay for the MRT is by using an Easycard. When you arrive at the airport, you’ll see booths where you can purchase an Easycard. Otherwise, you can also get these at convenience stores throughout Taiwan. The Easycard can also be used for buses and the High Speed Rail. You can even pay for things with it in some places. It’s super convenient and a must-have when visiting Taiwan.

Ubus (link)

If you plan on visiting other cities in Taiwan, such as Taichung and Kaosiung, Ubus is a convenient way to get to your destination.

High Speed Rail (link)

For a faster ride inter-city, you can also take the High Speed Rail. Just be prepared to pay more.

Uber/taxi (link)

Another convenient way to get around is by Uber-ing everywhere. You can also hail taxis easily in larger cities in Taiwan.

by Car

If you plan on driving to scenic places by yourself, renting a car may be the best option.Pin this post for later!

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taiwan 7-day itinerary pinterest

Thing to Pack for Your 7-Day Taiwan Trip

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