7 day Taiwan Itinerary – A drive through scenic Taiwan

7 day Taiwan Itinerary – A drive through scenic Taiwan

Living in Okinawa, Taiwan is a must. The flight is short, the country is beautiful and the food is delicious. Within two hours you are taken away from the slow island life and transported in the hustle of completely different country. Still, 7 days in Taiwan, or anywhere really, is never enough. There are things that I wish we could have fit in but when spring break is only a week long, you have to take what you can get and make the most of it. We enjoyed Taiwan and all it has to offer. We had 6.5 jam-packed days of trekking, eating and photographing with a half day for a hangover recovery!

Here is our scenic, 7 day Taiwan Itinerary


East Coast of Taiwan. cliffs, beaches, green, blue, cliff roads, taiwan, 7 day taiwan itinerary
East Coast of Taiwan, such a stunning drive.

Day One:

Our flight landed at 9am. What a perfect time right?! You are able to leave the airport, get settled in and start exploring by noon. We headed to our car rental and immediately set out on our east coast adventure. Our destination for the day was Hualien City. We allotted ourselves around 7 hours a day to reach our resting points. Each would take approximately 3 hours to drive straight through but we wanted to leave time for photos, eating and getting our feet wet (literally, it rained often) in Taiwan’s beautiful landscapes.

  • A little warning about driving in Taiwan: They are not part of the Geneva Convention. This means that technically an Internationals Driver’s License is not recognized, as the kind man in the Okinawa License Office told me. However, we talked to our car rental agency through email prior and as long as it had a Chinese translation they were not concerned. Please do the same so your whole plan isn’t squashed within an hour of your arrival! We used CarPlus and loved them.
  • There isn’t much in terms of major sites along this route, we did stop at a quiet temple with a mountain backdrop on one side and a huge factory on the other. Otherwise just be prepared to want to stop at every pull off and take in the beauty of it all.
  • Once in Hualien, enjoy the city. They have a great night market with food and carnival games, tasty restaurants and a few bars. Eat the spicy grilled corn and the pepper bun, called Hujiao bing.

We stayed at AirBnB’s for the most of this trip. For Hualien, I recommend 林(Forest) place. We stayed here for two nights. Loved the location and Forest was a perfect host. 

Taroko National Park, Taiwan, river and mountains, blue and green landscape, taiwan,
A view from Lushui Trail

Day Two

We picked Hualien for many reasons but the main one was the proximity to the Taroko National Park. This is the top travel destination in Taiwan, besides Taipei and upon entering you know why. Just …WHOA. The whole gorge is about 11 miles long. Don’t do this trip thinking it will take you about a half day to do it. We spent from sunrise to sunset in this park and left still wanting more. Soaking in every detail we could. Pictures don’t do it justice, so you should totally go and check it out.

  • This park is huge, a day won’t cover everything so prepare a list of trails you want to hike and make sure they are open. 2 of the 3 trails we were interested in were closed! Check their website for details. That being said we hiked 2 of the 3 trails… hmm.  Wade and I are more of the “ask for forgiveness type.” My mother can attest to this, with our elopement and all.
  • We gobbled up an amazing western diner-style breakfast at Country Mother’s heading out of Hualien before our long day. Make sure you eat well and bring snacks and water. There isn’t much inside the park, plus you may not get to it depending on the road conditions.
  • For dinner, we ate pork dumpling soup. We were on the hunt for soup dumplings but… language barriers. However, this soup was incredible and I craved it several times on the rest of our trip. I couldn’t tell you a name but in my map there is a pin.

rice paddies, taiwan, rt 9, east coast,, mountains, green, green landscapes.
Rt 9
taiwan, east coast, rt 11, ocean and mountains
Rt 11

Day Three

Back in the car! This day was lots of fun, we finished driving most of the east coast and actually ran out of sunlight at the end of our trip. It rained of course but as a general rule, this is what happens in Taiwan, so just go with it. (Late summer, early fall is the best time to go) Our end destination was for Taitung City. To get there we decided to weave back and forth from Rt 9 to Rt 11.

  • After leaving Hualien we came across signs for a tourist spot, Lintienshan. Yea, we weren’t sure what that was either. Turns out it was an old logging village, founded during the Japanese occupation. We enjoyed walking around and it was free. Free is good.
  • Lunch was delicious at 我的咖啡廳 (My Cafe). They serve traditional Taiwanese/Chinese food.
  • Rt 9 is lined on either side with mountains and is actually the more traveled road of the two. It leads you through little villages and towns, where you will find gas stations and food. Rt. 11 has steep cliffs on one side, crystal colored water on the other.  How does a person choose between the two!?! We didn’t and you don’t have to either. In fact, I insist you don’t because our favorite roads were the ones we took to get from one to the other.
  • Towards dusk, we came upon Shihtiping. Truthfully not too much to see here, especially being from New England. This major attraction had huge rocks with some crashing waves. I wasn’t impressed but hey, I was also getting POURED on so my mood may have been affected.
  • Instead of Shihtiping, I wish we had time to go to Liushidanshan. Apparently, it is a beautiful farm, that blooms orange day lilies from August to September. Great views of fields and mountain. :::sigh:::

We stayed at JJ’s place in Taitung city. Just a room with a bed, all we needed.  The city was dirty and didn’t have much going on for tourist. We did arrive after sunset and left before sunrise, though, so we may have missed something. I would recommend staying in Donghe Township. It was cleaner, a little closer and had a really good vibe.

sightseeing taiwan, taiwan waterfalls, 7 day taiwan itinerary, girl and waterfall, redhead at waterfallDay Four

Annnnd we’re back in the car. This time will be our last day with it. The weather wasn’t crazy cooperative until today so we planned to make the most out of it. Our destination was Maolin county. I do wish we had an extra night here. There was still so much to see.

  • We continued our east coast drive down Rt 9. We crossed the island to drive down some of rt. 26 on the west coast and entered Kenting National Park. This area of the island is flatter and has more farm land. The fruit grown here is unique and delicious. Kenting National Park is also where you are actually able to swim. Taiwan does not allow many spots for swimming along the east coast. The tides are strong and just like the land, there are steep dropoffs within the ocean.
  • We ate a yummy bagel sandwich lunch at Here149 cafe, located not far from the park.
  • We visited a “temple”. I don’t know the name of this one either. When I translate the name is says “Urban and rural car system.” HA! Either way, the grounds were great to check out. The details inside were just as beautiful as the outside.
  • We started driving to Maolin County. A beautiful section of Taiwan with more great hiking trails, waterfalls and lots and lots and lots of butterflies. In the winter ( Nov – Mar) billions of purple butterflies can be found here.
  • For dinner, we hit up the night market in the next town over, Qishan. This was my favorite night market. I believe it is fairly new but we had some really tasty food here. Little fried donuts, fresh fruit juice (you can find this at most markets, I wish we didn’t wait so long to try it.), an ice cream peanut brittle cilantro filled crepe, the list goes on. It was great and worth the 10-minute drive from our room.

We stayed at Rabbit Paul BnB. Named after the owner’s rabbit, we loved this BnB. The surrounding area was rice paddies and you could hear a running stream from our window. 

oh Jeez.
oh Jeez. Only photo of this day!!

Day Five

We left our room with a little extra time but mainly used the highway to get to Kaohsiung City. We dropped off our trusty car right at the train station and hopped the bullet train to head back to Taipei. The train took a little over 2 hours to get there; very convenient. From there we dropped our bags and headed straight for an expat bar!

  • From Maolin to Kaohsiung take about an hour on the highway. There are tolls on this road but you won’t have to stop and pay them. Each car has a sticker that gets charged and you pay after dropping the rental. Our total for the trip was NTD $102, which equals about $3 bucks American.
  • Expat bar :  On Tap. Great food, great beer, too many shots. ? I love expat bars when traveling. Sure, local bars are fun and it’s great to get to know the locals,  but talking to locals after a few drinks can be hard and even tiring. Sometimes it is nice to sit and talk to other English speakers about their experiences in travel and moving abroad. We let loose here and with a tinge of regret since we spent the next half of the day recovering. oops.

We stayed at Cyrille’s studio apartment for our time in Taipei. It was in the Da’an district which I highly recommend. A college area of the city with great restaurants, near some sights, including Taipei 101.

street dancing taipei, taipei nightlife, taipei 101 at night, 7 day taiwan itinerary
There were packs of people, all ages practicing their moves on the steps of the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall

Day Six

We nursed our hangovers in the morning then headed out mid-afternoon for some recovery food. We took it slow this day, given the circumstances but often Wade and I just wander city streets with no real goals. Maybe you shouldn’t do this in some parts of the world but I love South east Asia for this reason. I just always feel safe.

  • Beef Noodle and beef wrapped pancake at Pin Chaun Lan. Good stuff, perfect hangover food.
  • Taipei 101 was great. Even in the fog. It was nice up there for sure, but there is a “secret” starbucks on the 35th floor. Not the same as the 85th floor but in the fog, it might have given clearer views of the city for photos plus it’s free! Otherwise up on top there is a 360 view of the city and mountains.
  • I’m sure you have been wondering, “where are those soup dumplings?”. Well we went to the place everyone goes, Din Tai Fung. It’s good, worth the hype.
  • The rest of the night we roamed around the 101 area, Da’an district and watched the dancers practice at National Dr.Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.

tiger mountain trail, taipei, 7 day taiwan itinerary, taipei 101, taipei city overlook
The view of Taipei from Tiger Mountain trail.≠–8

Day Seven

This was my second favorite day in Taiwan. There are lots of things to do in Taipei and Wade and I are planning to go back to stay in the city for a long weekend but this week we wanted to do some hiking.

  • Seeing as we lost a solid morning yesterday we decided to wake up for sunrise and climb the tiger mountain Trail. What a great surprise right in the city. We took a cab since it was so early. The whole trail took about 40 minutes. Most travelers do the “Elephant trail” but we wanted something a little longer and a little quieter. The end of the trail will lead you to a bustling street market where you will find locals selling and purchasing their meat, veggies after getting their hair cut. ? ?
  • After a quick breakfast at a coffee shop, we headed to the zoo for the Gondola ride to Maoking. The ride takes about a half hour and raises you high above the city. We took the first ride of the day at 9am, which I recommend, we were able to roam the tea village in the quiet before the loads of tour buses.
  • We spent our few remaining hours sipping local tea and walking the trails in Maokong, before heading to the airport.

Google Map of P.O.I. talked about on this page

Whew, that was a lot. We had a great time in Taiwan, but I can’t lie, I was saddened many times on this trip because of the weather. I couldn’t do the country justice in my photos. Not only is the scenery amazing but the local people both Taiwanese and the aboriginals were so kind to us. We will be heading back for a long weekend before we say goodbye to Okinawa. It is hard not to go back with the flight so convenient and short.

Until then, Xièxiè Taiwan!!


  • Rachael says:

    I love that you guys didn’t just go to Taipei but did such a great drive! Looks awesome! I really need to get to Taiwan ASAP

    • Forever Fernweh says:

      Thanks Rachael! Taiwan is such a compact country that it was great to see other parts and the smaller villages outside of the city. I really recommend that. It is such a beautiful country, even right outside the city there are some great trails and things to do.

  • Laura says:

    Omg what a great idea to rent your own car and do a road trip!!
    Now i’m kind of hoping we get to go back to Taiwan so we can do this!

    • Forever Fernweh says:

      Laura, you absolutely should! I always recommend renting a car whenever possible. I love having the control over my vacation… maybe that says something about me ??

  • Fantastic post! You got my mind filled up with fernweh! 😉

  • Satya says:

    Thanks Fernweh, appreciate the details. You have helped us a great deal in planning our own one week drive in Taiwan.
    We need more people,like you in every field.

  • Ankita Kumar says:

    Great post! Loved the details you have included, so helpful. And lovely pictures. Happy travels 🙂

  • Taiwan seems to be a country which offers a lot. They are doing a lot of promotion in my country India. I hope to be there soon. I loved the pictures of East Coast road and Lushui Trail. I didn’t know about these!

  • Local Nomads says:

    We spent a week in Taipei last month! Wanted to go to Hualien and Taroko, but there was a typhoon while we were there. So, we ended up spending two days just hanging out at our hostel with the other travelers who were in the same boat! You had me on the edge of my seat wondering if you’d end up getting your soup dumplings…You’re right DTF is so worth fighting the crowds over. We went to the other location, away from Taipei 101. While still crowded, I think it was a bit less so. Great post, great photos! If you have time, stop by our blog for our Taipei 101 gallery. We scored some beauties up there. 😉

    • Forever Fernweh says:

      My mom just visited and we had a typhoon as well. Such a bummer sometimes! I’m happy to see your 101 pictures turned out!! It was the tallest building I’ve been in and a little dizzying at times.

  • Sudipto says:

    With this long article of yours, you have made Taiwan a really special place for us. I never knew it rained so much there. How much did the food cost you per meal??

    • Forever Fernweh says:

      Taiwan is cheaper than the US and European countries but not dirt cheap. An average meal for the two of us ranged from 20 – 30 USD.

  • Emma says:

    Heading there next February so will save this and use it as inspiration! Thanks so much ?

  • Luca says:

    Too bad the weather was not that good, for what I can see some places are really beautiful also with that dim light, so I can’t imagine how they should be in full splendor!
    I’ve never thought about driving in a South-Asian country so I didn’t know about the uselessness of an international driving license. I’m wondering what should I do to have a Chinese version of it, in order to eventually drive!

    • Forever Fernweh says:

      Usually, when receiving an international permit, a small booklet is attached to translate it in most languages including Chinese. 🙂

  • Emily says:

    I’ve heard only good things about Taiwan and its hiking. When our kids are a bit bigger we plan to take them and I think a road trip is the way to go! It looks beautiful despite the weather 🙂

  • Lee Rosales says:

    Ohhh! International drivers license is not recognized in Taiwan? You could have saved a lot if you can rent a car instead of commuting the fact that your destinations are far from the city proper.
    So, much did you soend for the u days trip in USD?

    • Forever Fernweh says:

      We did rent a car for 6.5 days so that cost of roughly $700. That was the biggest expense of our trip! I honestly don’t remember our total for the trip. I need to be better at tracking those types of things.

  • Wow. There are really a lot to do in such a small country. I have only been to Taiwan when I had a layover and I could say that there’s still way more to see. Thanks for posting this sample itinerary so we can use it as a guide.

    • Forever Fernweh says:

      If you have a layover again, I highly recommend Maoking. Its a great view of the city and gives you a good sense of what the rest of the country is about but still commutable from the airport. 🙂

  • Gareth says:

    My girlfriend and I are currently living in China and are setting out ideas for destinations for the forthcoming national holidays and I think it’s safe to say you’ve just put Taiwan in the lead! Certainly, given that our visit will be frustratingly short, these kind of itineraries are invaluable and while we understand it’s impossible to take in everything the island has to offer, we at least hope to take in some of these highlights. Those coastal routes looks spectacular almost beyond words and thanks for the great tips!

    • Forever Fernweh says:

      Oh yay! I’m happy to inspire! Many come here for just a long weekend, Taiwan has a great bullet train for getting around. I can’t say enough about the Taroko Gorge, so please take a day trip there, you will not regret it.

  • This was such an awesome read. Your photgraphy is awesome! I spent the last year living in Mainland China, but didnt get a chance to make it to Taiwan. Just means I will be going back!! 😀

    • Forever Fernweh says:

      Oh I really hope to get to China in the near future. The landscapes there seems so unreal. I’ll be checking your blog for some ideas.

  • Ahhh Taiwan! I love this!! We’ve never visited yet but this is a great itinerary! Your photos are amazing too!Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Lindon Lee says:

    Never expected such views of landscape could be found there. You really have stunning photographs, really! And it looks that you had an amazing stay in Taiwan with your detailed itinerary. 🙂

  • Lovely. I never knew there are so many places to visit in Taiwan. Thanks for the detailed itinerary. I will copy paste it in on my trip to Taiwan. Great photographs.

  • Sarah says:

    This was such a good re-cap. Honestly, Taiwan has not really been on my radar, but your post could convince me otherwise! I love to be able to rent a car and drive in other places. It’s so much more fun (albeit a bit more dangerous) than going on tour buses. Sorry the weather wasn’t better, but it didn’t effect your photos-they are beautiful!

    • Forever Fernweh says:

      Only because we live so close did I even think about visiting. Now I can not wait to go back. The food was crazy good and they have some amazing hiking that I would love to take advantage of as well. I’m happy I inspired you!

  • You guys sure covered a lot of ground in 7 days. Airbnbs are the best. We’ve never tried them in a non English speaking country though. Did you have any problems finding them or communicating with the hosts?

    • Forever Fernweh says:

      There was only one on this trip that was a little difficult, JJ’s place. Otherwise, any Airbnb we have used international has been easy to find and communicate with. When searching, you can easily find the host that have good English skills based on their information and Bio’s. What I love about Asian cultures is their hospitality, all of our host have always greeted us so warmly and have been invaluable in terms of help and information of the area. You should try one next time!

  • Sia says:

    Thanks for putting together such a lovely scenic guide! Some really amazing places and photos! Great tip for the driving license, I had no idea that you cannot use the international. Where do you even get it translated in Chinese? Do you do that beforehand? I got interested in the night market as well, just my thing to do!

    • Forever Fernweh says:

      Usually, when you receive your international license, a small booklet comes attached and it translates everything in a variety of languages, one of which was Chinese; It seems to cover all the major ones. The license only last for 1 year though, but it has come in handy a few times.

  • I tend to think of Taiwan as a small island revolving around one big city. What a beautiful way to dispel those misconceptions! Those emerald green paddy fields remnd me of my ancestral village.

  • Mansi K. says:

    Nicely written trip report with just the right amount of detail and some great tips. I had this image of Taiwan being somewhat like Hong Kong…for no apparent reason…that completely changed after reading this post. It looks so much more beautiful! All the photos are just fabulous. I’m going to add it to my bucket list!

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