With over 23 million people squeezed into just under 14 thousand square miles, Taiwan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Located to the east of China, Taiwan isn’t just Taipei 101. It’s a nation island with a vast array of things to explore, from quaint temples, piquant museums, and bustling nightlife. On top of that, being an island meant that there is no shortage of wondrous scenery around the nation.
Travelling to Taiwan has always been fascinating. Although the nation’s politics has been complicated, it has proven itself to be an economic maestro, an Asian tiger, a pride of the entire Asia. In terms of culture and history, although some influences from overbroad are palpable, the country is still unique and special in its own way.
It’s understandable how popular the country has become considering the versatility that it has for tourism. With everything a traveller could dream of packed neatly in an island, a trip to Taiwan will surely satisfy even the most difficult travellers. But the real question is, can we even go to Taiwan.
Taiwan, similar to every other country, has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the country has fared quite well, it still isn’t entirely safe to travel internationally now. However, if you want a holiday to Taiwan, you must have a good grasp of travel restrictions to Taiwan. Keep with us to update the latest information on Taiwan travel advice before planning a trip to Taiwan.
COVID Situation in Taiwan
If anything, Taiwan is one of the best in the world when it comes to handling the spread of the virus. Thanks to the political leadership, preemptive strike, transparent information, and a cooperative and united public have all been vital to Taiwan’s success in suppressing the rampant virus.
Upon the initial outbreak of the pandemic, at the end of 2019 and early 2020, when news about a new unknown pathogen emerging in Wuhan, China, surfaced, the Taiwan government was prompt in executing precautionary plans. The 2003 SARS crisis has taught them invaluable and expensive lessons, one of which was about handling the next eventual epidemic, especially if its inception were set in China, given the proximity and ties of the nation to Taiwan.
As of 2022, Taiwan has witnessed two waves of COVID-19, and is in the midst of a third one. By and large, the nation has fared incredibly well in the face of the rampaging virus by its quick and meticulous response. As a result, as of October 2021, it was ranked lowest when it comes to confirmed contractions and second lowest in terms of death per 100,000 population among OECD countries.
Image from Johns Hopkins University Centre for Systems Science and Engineering
Considering its geopolitical position as the source of the virus, this was truly remarkable.
As of March 2022, it currently ranks 212nd in cases per 1 million population 192nd deaths in deaths per 1 million cases. With a reported population rate of 76,7% rate, the nation is now on its way to slowly reopen its borders for tourism purposes. In fact, it was announced by Taiwan's Health Minister Chen Shih-Chung on March 7 that the mandatory quarantine period will be shortened from 10 days to 7 days. "We are prepared to shorten the quarantine period even further,” he added, considering the COVID situation in Taiwan specifically and the world collectively have been looking up day by day.
Taiwan Entry Requirement - All about Taiwan restrictions
Before arriving in Taiwan, all foreign nationals must have obtained the necessary entry permits and a visa. Everyone must follow all quarantine and testing requirements on arrival.
Screening on arrival
All passengers arriving or transiting in Taiwan must present proof of a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test performed within two calendar days of boarding their flight. The test will be calculated using the "specimen collection date" rather than the test report date. Any exception due to exceptional circumstances will necessitate prior approval prior to departure.
A negative test certificate must be issued by a recognised medical institution in the home country and must include the following information:
- Full name as detailed on passport;
- Date of birth / passport’s number;
- Specimen collection date and test report date;
- Virus’ name, test method, and test result.
If you’re fully vaccinated, you can enter Taiwan once you have obtained the right type of entry permissions and a visa. Even if you’re not fully vaccinated, you can still enter the country, provided that you’ve obtained the correct entry permissions and a visa, as there are no additional safety measures.
Best Time To Travel Taiwan
It’s tough to suggest a one perfect timeframe to visit Taiwan tourist spots. Because of its location on the Tropic of Cancer, Taiwan enjoys a subtropical-tropical climate, which means that the weather will generally be warm and humid all year round. Expect rain too, especially in monsoon season.
However, the general consensus would recommend a visit to Taiwan during October to April, when the country is typically dry and wet. On top of that, March marks the start of the cherry blossom season. Before October, there will be heavy precipitation, as well as the traditional typhoon season dragging on to September, meanwhile another rain season known as “plum season”, known for its short but intense and sudden rainfall, commences during early summer.
10 Best Places To Visit in Taiwan
While it’s truly unfair to only know of Taipei through Taipei 101, there must be some kind of reason behind it, isn’t there? Well, it isn’t anything too complicated. Taipei is Taiwan’s capital and is the most developed city in the entire nation.
Taipei 101, Taiwan. Image from Unsplash
Taipei is the number one must-visit spot in Taiwan, hands down. It abounds with things to see and do. Not only is this the economic centre of the nation, but it is also the cultural hub, with a thriving art and gastronomy scene.
The food is exciting, the architecture is splendid, there’s no shortage of places to visit in Taipei. But most importantly, you got to set foot in Taipei 101. This building has once held the title for the tallest skyscraper in the world. On the top floors of this towering menace, you’ll get a breath-taking vista of this full-fledged capital city.
Taipei travel isn’t just that. It has so much more to offer. There are restaurants, shopping malls, bars around the city famous for a lively nightlife. There are also other tourist attractions such as the Taipei Zoo, the Botanical Garden, the temple of Hsing Tian Kong, etc for families to visit.
To tap into the rich and authentic culture of Taipei and Taiwan in general, head for the night markets. Raohe Street Night Market is one of the most popular night markets in the country. It offers great food and entertainment. Countless other museums are also worth visiting, like the National Palace Museum for instance. Here, you can dive deep into the rich heritage of Taiwan.
Sun Moon Lake
Just a two-hour drive away from Taipei, Sun Moon Lake is the largest body of water in the nation of Taiwan, and it’s also one of the best places to go in Taiwan.
Image from Unsplash
Legend has it that the Thao tribe, one of aboriginal tribes of Taiwan, discovered this lake while hunting a white deer through the forest. As the deer led them to this beautiful and fish-abundant lake, it has been immortalised as a marble statue on Lalu Island, an island in the centre of the lake. The lake was named as such because the east side of the lake resembles a sun while the west side resembles a moon.
There are a great many things to do in this lake. Hotels, resorts, restaurants, shops, bars are abundant in the vicinity of the lake, catering to every last need of any visitors.
While swimming is prohibited, there’s still plenty of things you can do here. For example, you can go sailing on a lake, go hiking or biking around the lake, or take a boat trip to take in the sensational scenery. Besides the main attraction, there are some fine temples for people to spend some quality time contemplating.
Taroko National Park
It’s majestic and alluring, Taroko National is an absolute must-visit when it comes to a Taiwan trip.
Image from CNN
Located eastward of Taiwan, Taroko National Park is one of nine national parks in the nation, covering an area of twelve hundred square kilometres, with 27 peaks towering over 3000 metres. This park encapsulates any and everything that Taiwan’s geographical diversity has to offer, but the focal point of this massive park is the eponymous marble-walled gorge that stretches 18 kilometres that mounts the park aside the sinuous Liwu River.
Adventurers will fall in love with this place and its wide variety of activities that they can partake in. They can enjoy river-rafting on the jade blue river, hiking on the eerily stunning trails of the mountains, or just bathing in the Baiyang waterfalls.
Although the view is scarily gorgeous anywhere within this national park, all shall pale in comparison to the show-stopping grace Eternal Spring Shrine and the Swallow Grotto. If you can, we’d highly suggest you visit this park during the Taroko Music Festival, an annual music festival, where you can enjoy classic musicals over stunning views of the park.
Located to the South of Taiwan, Tainan is the oldest town in the nation and is commonly referred to as the “Capital city” for it has once served as the capital of Imperial Taiwan - an unmissable place in a Taiwan vacation.
Anping Old Fort, Tainan. Image from Travel Tainan
Being the longest-standing town of the nation makes Tainan quite a historic town. Yet, it’s taking on a mantle of a bustling tourist hub. With more than 400 years of rich history under its belt, Tainan truly epitomises the greatest traits of a Taiwanese city.
Anping district is what everyone should be heading towards once they arrive at Tainan. Anping Old Street is up there as one of the must-sees. It’s a nod to the Anping of the old: old houses, old architecture, old, attached houses, old electric metres on old, stained walls, but the food and people there are always fresh and lively.
A stone throw away stands the Anping Old Port. It’s so massive that it can be seen from afar. Built in the 1620s by the Dutch East India Company, it was meant to serve as an international trade centre. But now, it’s just a tourist attraction, but a fascinating one, nonetheless.
The Anping Treehouse is right around the corner as well. This place is actually an abandoned warehouse, in which banyan trees begin to thrive, creating what is now a gnarly yet thrilling scenery, one that is almost ripped straight out of a horror movie.
Being one of the oldest towns in Taiwan, Lukang is renowned for its well-preserved cultural and historical heritages.
A trip to Lukang would be far from complete without a visit to Lukang Old Street. It was once the main business district of old Lukang. Back in the day, Lukang old town was a thriving port during the Qing dynasty in the 1600s. It remained a preposterous town until the assault of the Japanese in 1895. Lukang literally means “deer harbour”, a homage to export of deerskin during the Dutch Colonial Period.
Lukang Old Street, Lukang. Image from Just Taiwan Tour
Although its growth hasn’t been up to par compared to some other cities in Taiwan, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. Many of its historic buildings as well as 200 temples remain virtually intact, among which are Longshan temple and Tianhou temple, with Longshan temple being the largest temple in Lukang, hailed as the Hall of Taiwanese Art & Culture and the Treasure of Chinese Architecture.
Alishan National Scenic Area
Located towards the east of Taiwan’s Chiayi County, rising up to 2500 metre above sea level, Alishan National Scenic Area is a wonderful tourist hotspot and is perfect for Taiwan sightseeing.
Image from Viator
For well over a hundred years, Alisan has been the most popular resort in the country. Alisan is a massif of mountain peaks at the average height of 2500 metre. Originally, this area was inhabited by aboriginals, until 1912 when the Japanese opened the Alishan Forest Railway to log cypress trees in the area. Eventually it isn’t the cypress tree that is logged, it’s the tourist. With the influx of tourists comes fame, and in no time, Alisan has become a major tourist destination for Taiwan.
Alisan is popular for countless reasons, one of which is its calm temperature all year round. Thanks to its altitude, it’s always around 10 degrees lower than the lowlands, making it a perfect retreat place during hot seasons.
Kenting National Park
With long and brilliantly white, crystal-clear ocean, undulating mountains, lush green forest, Kenting National Park is a sight to see in Taiwan.
Image from Taiwan Scene
Although there are 8 other national parks in Taiwan, Kenting National Park still makes a name for itself thanks to its being the only tropical national park in Taiwan, which means the park boasts a wide range of flora and fauna species. There are a total of 35 enlisted mountains in this area, the tallest and most prominent of which is Wanlideshan, which stands at more than 500 metre tall.
The landscape is fascinating yet peculiar in its own right. It’s split in two regions, with the Hengchun Longitudinal Valley Plain being the dividing line. The white plateaus of coral and sawed-off hills occupy the south of the park, while the north is dominated with rolling hills and untampered wilderness.
The huge Eluanbi Lighthouse is quite popular among tourists, as it offers a panoramic view of the area. If possible, time your visit with the Spring Scream festival to bathe in the marvellous combination of both music and scenery.
The main island in a group of islands between Taiwan and China, formerly infamous for being the forefront battlefield between the Nationalists and Communists in 1949, but currently famous for being a budding tourist magnet.
Image from CNN
Kinmen literally translates to “Golden Gate”, which goes to show the economic and political importance the place has been holding. As such, it has been under military administration for some 43 years. Only until the early 2000s did the Beijing Government make some effort to open up Kinmen’s borders, and it has been thriving ever since.
Being an island, Kinmen is literally encased with wonderful beaches, so much so that it’s sometimes referred to as “the park in the sea”. Part of the reason why it’s referred to as a park is also because there’s a wide variety of flora, forests, and nature reserves. Kinmen National Park is also a popular spot to visit.
A nice and peaceful town that isn’t too far off from central Taipei, Wulai is famous for its indigenous culture, hot springs, and stunning mountain scenery.
A waterfall in Wulai. Image from Unsplash
Wulai is home to the Atayal tribe, the third largest indigenous group that is native to Taiwan. If you want to learn more about their fascinating culture, head over to the Wulai Atayal Museum, where the traditions of the Atayal tribe, such as hunting, weaving, facial tattooing, and more, are exhibited.
Aside from that, Wulai is most famous for its incredible hot springs. The name Wulai actually derives from the Atayal phrase that means “hot and poisonous”, which is used by tribe hunters to refer to the steam coming from the hot springs. But don’t let the name scare you! The hot springs here are hot (indeed) but they are anything but poisonous. In fact, they are extremely refreshing and are believed to provide beneficial properties to the skin. Don’t miss the waterfall area, too!
Being the third most populous city as well as second largest city in Taiwan, Kaohsiung city is a bustling city that is full of vigour.
Image from Taiwan News
In many ways, Kaohsiung is similar to Taipei as a tourist hotspot. It’s filled with restaurants, bars, and pubs, night markets, etc, which makes it a perfect match for youngsters who enjoy the thrill of night life exploration.
Taiwan is famous (infamous?) for what is known as the “Xiaochi” “small eats” culture. Essentially, it is the local street food that often comes in small portions so that people can try multiple dishes in one meal. This style is especially apparent in cities like Kaohsiung where “night market” is almost synonymous to its name.
Can I travel to Taiwan from the US?
Yes, you can. As mentioned above, while there are strict safety measures for any foreigners entering the country, Taiwan doesn’t preclude anyone from entering the country provided that they often have the proper documents. Do check with the CDC to update the latest information.
Are the restaurants and bars open in Taiwan?
Yes, they are. In fact, restrictions have been lifted all the way since last year following the subsidence of the second wave of Coronavirus in Taiwan. Now, people can enter food establishments, but they must make sure that they have their masks on prior and after dining.