Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, breakfasts and some lunches or snacks while touring. Optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.
Arrive hungry and remember to pack your taste buds as this ultimate foodie tour of Taiwan takes your tongue on a tantalizing journey to the island’s best culinary destinations. Graze at night market street food stalls given the nod by Michelin’s Bib Gourmand, roast your own beans at an aboriginal coffee plantation, learn how to make signature xiao long bao at a five-star restaurant, dine on experimental fusion cuisine with a local chef at his Taipei apartment-studio, swill award-winning local whisky… then make sure you leave room for dessert! Taiwan has never tasted so good.
Upon arrival into Taiwan, you’ll meet your guide and driver at the airport and transfer to your accommodation, the Mandarin Oriental Taipei. This luxury city-center property is the capital’s finest five-star hotel and facilities include temperature-controlled outdoor pool, a spa featuring a steam and sauna, as well as six dining and drinking options: Ya Ge (classic Cantonese cuisine) Bencotto (Italian cuisine), Café Un Deux Trois (international), The Jade Lounge (afternoon tea), M.O. Bar (Art Deco bar with world-class cocktails) and the Mandarin Cake Shop
However, you won’t need to dine at the Mandarin Oriental this evening. Instead, you’ll warm up your taste buds to Taiwanese cuisine with a tour of Taipei’s most esteemed street food stalls. Graze around Taipei’s famous night markets, visiting vendors that boast Michelin’s Bib Gourmand accreditation. Your guide will introduce you to dishes such as beef noodles and beef entrails soup, Fuzhou black pepper buns and chen tung pork ribs medicinal herbal soup.
On your first full day in Taipei you’ll try your hand at making one of Taiwan’s famous dishes, xiao long bao (soup dumplings) at a five-star restaurant brand that boasts Bib Gourmand status. Under guidance from the chef, learn the trick of how to get the soup into the dumpling, cook by steaming, then tuck into your creations while they're still hot!
Next, you’ll head out of the city to Wulai, a small town just a 45-minute drive from the capital, nestled in the mountains and well-known for its aboriginal culture and hot springs. The tribe here is descended from the Taiyals, the headhunters of Taiwan. While in Wulai, plunge in the clean, odorless hot springs, shop for hand-woven cloth and taste aboriginal specialties such as roasted boar, barrel-roasted chicken, sticky rice cooked in bamboo and aboriginal-style fried vegetables. The food of aborigines is often overlooked, but the enduring tastes of the island’s indigenous settlers hold a special place in the Taiwanese palette.
Next, you’ll head to Beipu, Hsinchu (around 1 hour 15 minutes from Taipei) for a Hakka cuisine tour. The Hakka are Taiwan’s second-largest ethnic group, representing almost 20% of the population, and Hakka villages can be found scattered across the island. The Hakka people have a fascinating history, having migrated from the mountains of central China to other parts of the country, Taiwan and Southeast Asia too. One of the best places to try Hakka cuisine is in Beipu, a small township in the county of Hsinchu, considered the “Hakka capital” of Taiwan. Hakka dishes to try include flat noodles, radish buns, Hakka mochi, pounded tea, wild ginger lily rice dumplings, ginger pork intestines and sweet potato or taro cakes.
Continue your education on Hakka culture by exploring nearby Miaoli, an off-the-beaten-path county located between Hsinchu and Taichung. Visit the Hakka Roundhouse, cycle around Mingde Reservoir and ascend Lion’s Head Mountain – just a few of the things to do in Miaoli. If you’re visiting during April or May, don’t miss the pretty tung blossoms that fall, covering the streets like a blanket of snow – tung blossoms are very significant in Hakka culture.
Leave Taipei and embark on a scenic road trip down Taiwan’s east coast to Taroko National Park. The journey takes around three hours, though we recommend you break up the drive with a stop in Yilan to visit the award-winning Kavalan Distillery, followed by a local fishing village for a seafood lunch with a view.
In the afternoon, enjoy a banquet of indigenous delicacies with the Taibalang tribe, one of Taiwan's 10 aboriginal ethnic groups. The Taibalang live on the East Coast and East Rift Valley of Taiwan and the name "Taibalang" translates as "crab," as the group is named for the river crabs found in this region. First, you’ll visit a local market to buy freshly-picked vegetables and other ingredients, then you’ll enjoy a barbecue, featuring meats caught by the tribe’s hunters. Other dishes to try include sticky rice balls and seasonal vegetable soup.
Your accommodation for the next two nights is Silks Place Taroko, set deep in the lush landscape of Taroko National Park. A world away from the skyscrapers of Taipei City, this spot is the perfect place to unwind and breathe in Taiwan’s natural beauty. Enjoy a local aboriginal performance at the Fire Pit, then sip on a “Cocktails Combo” of 16 shot-glass-sized cocktails inspired by Taiwan’s indigenous groups, set on a wooden board shaped into a map of the island.
Spend the day working off those calories and exploring a lesser-visited side of Taiwan, Taroko National Park. Choose from one of the region’s excellent hikes - Baiyang Waterfall, Shuilan Cave, or Shakadang Trail – then pay a visit to Tienhsiang Village. This small village is a popular stop for those exploring the area. If you’re feeling up to it, hike up the suspension bridge to the Hsiangte Temple, located on the highest point in town. Then, stop at the plum garden for a rest - the plum blossoms are beautiful when they are in bloom in December and January.
Start your morning with a cup of morning Joe with a visit to an organic coffee farm in Hualien County run by one of Taiwan’s indigenous tribes. Here, you can sample tribal cuisine with farm-to-table dining, learn about Taiwan’s indigenous cultures and roast your own coffee beans the traditional way. The Pacific Ocean view is ideal for relaxing and enjoying your well-earned, personally-roasted cup of coffee, ready for your train ride from Hualien back to Taipei.
Once you’re rested and settled back into Taipei, glam up for the evening and take a tour of Taipei’s best bars, including those that feature on the prestigious World’s Best and Asia’s Best Bars lists. Describe your tastes and a cocktail is handcrafted for you by mixologists who seem to read your mind to create your perfect drink. Slip into a quiet speakeasy to experience Taipei’s cool and exclusive drinks scene for those in the know, or even try a “cocktail on draft” at one of the city’s quirkiest bars. Chat to award-winning bartenders and sip on original Taiwanese creations made using local ingredients.
Meet with a local chef who specializes fusion cuisine for a guided market tour and private lunch at his Taiwanese-style apartment. Observe how to pick the freshest ingredients, chat with the chef about his experimental cooking style as he prepares your meal, then enjoy a menu of Taiwanese-Western fusion dishes as part of a private hosted lunch.
Spend your final evening in Taipei enjoying a whisky tasting session. Taiwan’s award-winning Kavalan Distillery, based in Yilan, has come to the capital in the form of a new whisky bar. Here, you can try three types of World Champion Whisky, plus a “cask to glass” self-tap service (this bar is reportedly the only one in the world where you can tap whisky from an oak barrel).