Despite its small size, Taiwan is an island packed full of surprises. This 12-day itinerary offers the best of what this charming state has to offer, from the ever-impressive 21st-century metropolis of Taipei, to the untouched village life throughout the countryside that has seldom seen change over the years. Start your adventure with three days in the capital, before making your way to the island's historical southern city of Tainan via bullet train. You'll then leave modern civilisation behind as you head along a hundred-year-old train route in Alishan, before cruising over postcard-perfect Sun Moon Lake, and finally exploring the stunning national parks of Taroko.
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This first day will be spent mostly in transition. After arriving in Tokyo, you’ll be connected to an onwards flight to Taipei for a late evening arrival. The first night will be spent in style at the five-star Mandarin Oriental, in the ultra-luxurious Club City Suite which offers some stunning views of the city skyline.
After an international buffet breakfast, it’s time to explore the Taiwanese capital for the first time. Guided stop-offs include the National Palace Museum, the bustling commercial hub of Dihua Old Street and a traditional Buddhist temple. Following a seafood dinner, you’re free to explore the city at night, with recommendations including the Taipei 101 Observatory or Raohe Street Market for a taste of local life.
Another day of touring around the capital will take you to Jiufen, a small mountainous town famous for its quaint winding roads and local life. After exploring Jiufen, there’s opportunity to visit Yehliu Geopark, Fort Santo Domingo and the famous Fisherman’s Wharf, a stunning spot especially at sunset. After dinner at Shillin Night Market, you’re free to explore the rest of this fascinating market in the evening.
A half day of touring awaits on day four, with a trip to Yingee Ceramics Museum and Yingee Old Street both on the morning’s itinerary. After a cafe lunch, it’s time to board the bullet train to Tainan, the oldest city in Taiwan. The journey takes less than two hours, meaning you’ll have the afternoon and evening to explore this pretty southern city before checking-in to the elegant Shangri-La hotel.
This full day of touring Tainan includes visits to an ancient shrine, the 17th-century Confucian Temple, Ten Drum Culture Village in the suburbs and the impressive Chihkan Towers, home to a vibrant night market selling local produce. Dinner is set in a classic-style Chinese teahouse. Bellies full, you’ll be transferred back to the Shangri-La to rest up after a long day of sightseeing.
It’s time to leave Tainan behind, and in the morning you’ll depart for Chiayi Train Station and journey along the atmospheric, 100-year-old Alishan Railway Train Ride, passing through dense forests and past local village life. After the two-hour journey, you’ll be picked up and taken to your hotel in Alishan Park. You’re then free to explore this natural park on foot for the rest of the day.
A 9am pickup from your hotel takes you to Sun Moon Lake, with plenty of opportunities for some sightseeing along the scenic route. The lake itself is quite incredible, with a towering mountain creating a majestic backdrop to the azure waters. The area is situated at 2,454 feet above sea level and has long been inhabited by groups of Taiwanese Aboriginals. Check in to your hotel in the evening and have a leisurely dinner.
First up on the day’s itinerary is a tranquil boat tour of the huge lake, which on a clear day will reflect the sunlight for miles. You can get a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding mountain region at Sun Moon Lake Ropeway and Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village and there’s also time to see an ancient monastery - one of the largest in the country.
Prepare yourself with a big breakfast by the lake, ready for a four-hour journey to Taroko, a region famous for its vast parks, forests and natural beauty. Your drive will take you through Aowanda National Forest as well as Hehuanshan National Forest, which both boast some incredible mountain views as well as some precarious rocky roads. Check in to your River View Suite at Silks hotel before an evening dinner.
This whole day is dedicated visiting all the must-see spots around this beautiful region of Taiwan, with visits to waterfalls at Taroko Gorge, the brilliant-red washed Marble Bridge and a local shrine. The route through the park passes local villages, temples and markets that you can spend as much or as little time as you need. Arrive back at the same hotel before a relaxing evening dinner to wind down another full day.
The morning of this penultimate day can be spent at your own leisure, relaxing in the hotel grounds or venturing out on foot to explore this picturesque area further. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and prepare yourself for the five-hour trip back to Taipei. You’ll arrive in time for first-class dinner back at the Mandarin Oriental in the Taiwanese capital.
Enjoy the Mandarin Oriental’s world-class breakfast buffet one last time before checking out of the hotel just after sunrise. Private transportation will take you to the international airport of Taiwan where you’ll take an onwards flight to Tokyo for lunch. Wave goodbye to Taiwan, and we wish you safe travels for your next exciting adventure.
The utterly stunning Mandarin Oriental Taipei stands shining over Dun Hua North Road in central Taipei. Just a short distance from both Songshan Airport Station and from Nanjing East Road MRT station, this architectural marvel is within easy reach of the city and all its delights. Nearby attractions certain to interest guests include Taipei Arena, Taipei Fine Art Museum, a number of beautiful riverside parks and the city’s shopping district with Taipei 101. Within the hotel are a range of opulent rooms and suites to suit all tastes, sumptuously decorated and well equipped for comfort and luxury. Guests can choose between three formal restaurants serving a range of cuisines from around the world, while the hotel’s bar and cake shop serve delightful little treats. What’s more, the pool, spa and lounge encourage guests to relax and unwind, while the fitness center is perfect for invigorating workouts.
Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel in Tainan, southern Taiwan, combines luxury, comfort and first-rate services and facilities all conveniently located in downtown Tainan, within walking distance from the city center. The hotel’s rooms are some of the most spacious in Tainan and have a variety of features including en-suite bathrooms, televisions, satellite/cable channels, refrigerators, desks, bathrobes and deluxe toiletries. The hotel’s amenities range from a spa, fitness center, outdoor pool, sauna, and steam room to five-star restaurants, a bar and a pub. Guests can also take advantage of the laundry/dry cleaning, babysitting and 24-hour room services.
This is widely acknowledged as the best hotel available in the Alishan forest recreation area. Surrounded by unparalleled natural beauty, including hillsides covered in cherry blossom and neat green tea fields, the hotel provides the perfect base from which to explore and marvel. What’s more, it is located just a short stroll from the Alishan railway, for easy access to all the sights and places of interest in the park. The two elegant towers comprise the Historic House and the Modern House and the guest rooms are chic and sumptuously decorated with comfortable and convenient amenities across the board. Alishan House boasts an on-site restaurant famed for its authentic and delicious Chinese food, while the charming coffee shop is the ideal spot for a little pick-me-up at breakfast time. The outdoor star terrace is aptly named; perhaps the highlight of the property, it affords stunning views of the cloud sea, especially at sunset.
This large, sleek, contemporary Chinese style hotel offers sweeping vistas of Taroko Gorge and its surrounding mountainside. The hotel has many five-star well-being facilities including an indoor and outdoor pool, a spa, sauna and gym with fitness classes. The hotel’s deluxe rooms are well-furnished with modern amenities and private balconies overlooking either the nearby mountains or the river below. Diners may enjoy Chinese or international dishes al-fresco amongst the rugged gorge edges, or inside in the elegant restaurant with two private rooms. In the evenings, guests can indulge in a few after dinner drinks and star gazing at the Fire Place bar -complete with stylish outdoor heaters.