Looking for the ultimate 8 day Taiwan itinerary? Taiwan is the perfect destination for anyone looking to experience a unique and exciting culture, hike in beautiful national parks, eat lots of dumplings, and drink lots of boba tea!
This travel guide will help you plan a 8-day trip in Taiwan from Kaohsiung up to Taipei. Learn the best things to see and do in Taiwan, where to stay, and tips from my personal experience as a solo female traveler!
- Taking the Airport Metro
- Eat at a Night Market
- Where to Eat in Kaohsiung
- Where to Stay in Kaohsiung
- Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
- Zuoying Tzu Chi Palace
- Spring and Autumn Pavilions
- Five Mile Pavilion
- Zuoying Yuandi Temple
- Kaohsiung City Temple of Confucius
- Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts
- Pier-2 Art Center
- Hamasen Railway Cultural Park
- Other Things To do Near Pier 2 Art Center
- Liuhe Night Market
- Ferry to Xuanguang Wharf
- Xuanguang Temple
- Xuan Zang Temple
- Ci'en Pagoda
- Ita Thao Pier Market
- Where to Eat in Shuishe
- Where to Stay in Shuishe
- Sunrise at Zhaowu Wharf
- Hike Maolan Mountain Trail
- 30km Bike Ride Around Sun Moon Lake
- Sunset at Wenwu Temple
- Lungshan Temple
- The Red House
- Ximending Night Market
- Where to Eat in Taipei
- Where to Stay in Taipei
- CookInn Taiwan Cooking Class
- Liberty Square (Liberty Square Arch, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, and National Theater)
- Huashan 1914 Creative Park
- Hot Pot
- Depart from Taoyuan International Airport
How to Get to Taiwan
Where to Fly From
Since I was already traveling throughout southeast Asia, I flew directly from Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) in the Philippines to Kaohsiung International Airport (KHH) in Taiwan with Air Asia. The flight is only 1 hour and 45 minutes.
I decided to fly into Kaohsiung and travel one way up to Taipei! You can also follow this itinerary in the opposite direction.
Taiwan Itinerary Map
My 8 Day Taiwan Itinerary as a Solo Female Traveler
DAY 1: Arrive in Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s second-largest city and it’s a great place to start your trip, especially if you don’t want to backtrack.
This Taiwanese city is known for its towering pagodas and colorful temples, flourishing creative scene, and stunning urban landscapes.
After dark, the city comes alive with its neon-lit signs and the sounds and smells of its famous night markets. Here you can find a mouth-watering array of street food, from savory dumplings to sweet desserts.
Taking the Airport Metro
After arriving in Kaohsiung, I hopped on the Kaohsiung Airport Metro red line to Sanduo Shopping District Station as this was the closest metro station to my accommodations. The journey took about 15 minutes.
The metro ticket cost NT$30 (less than $1 USD) and it was actually a coin! It was so unique as I’d never experienced that before. You can purchase tickets at the MRT ticket machines or at the MRT stations.
Eat at a Night Market
After I checked into my accommodations, my first order of business was to get food. I walked to the Xingzhong Night Market to find some dinner. I only ended up ordering a drink, which I didn’t really know what it was because nothing was written in English. It ended up tasting like a frozen green beer with milk in it. I wouldn’t have ordered it again even if I knew how to!
I continued walking around until I stopped at the restaurantㄐㄐ叫吐司, which was right next to my hostel. I saw a lot of people eating there so decided to try it. I ended up getting a huge bowl of hot pot noodles for only $3 USD! It was so good.
Taiwan is infamous for its night markets! It’s a foodies dream and I was so excited to eat my way though this country. I recommend going to as many as you can and trying different street food.
Where to Eat in Kaohsiung
- Liuhe Night Market
- Ruifeng Night Market
- Guanghua Night Market
- Lingya/Ziqiang Night Market
Where to Stay in Kaohsiung
Flyinn Hostel – I booked a private room so I could have some peace and quiet. It cost $42 USD for 2 nights and included breakfast (they no longer serve breakfast here).
DAY 2: Lotus Pond & Kaohsiung Museum
Today, you will head to the Zuoying District, which is where you’ll find the Lotus Pond, an artificial lake with lotus plants and surrounding temples.
This is one of the best things to do in Kaohsiung so you don’t want to miss it while you’re here. You can walk around the entire lake and stop at every temple and pagoda to learn about Taiwanese culture and religion.
Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas are one of the first structures you’ll notice at the Lotus Pond. The pagodas, which are an iconic symbol of the city, are entered through the gaping mouths of the giant creatures. It’s said that walking in through the dragon and out through the tiger will bring you good luck!
Zuoying Tzu Chi Palace
Facing the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas is the Zuoying Tzu Chi Palace. This ancient Daoist (Taoist) temple, also known as the Baosheng Emperor Temple, can be traced back to the late Ming Dynasty.
You can visit this stunning temple to worship or to take photos. Remember to follow proper etiquette. If you need a snack, you can find lots of fresh fruit or juice stands in front of the temple. I tried a sugar apple and it was so refreshing!
Spring and Autumn Pavilions
The Spring and Autumn Pavilions are a set of four-story, octagon-shaped temples. At the front of the pavilion, there is a Guanyin statue riding a dragon.
According to local legend, Guanyin, Goddess of Compassion, appeared in the sky in front of the two pavilions riding a dragon and then asked the devotees to build a statue to commemorate the event.
You’ll also find a tortoise pond near the entrance of the pavilion.
Five Mile Pavilion
Connected to the Spring and Autumn Pavilions by a long bridge is the Five Mile Pavilion. This traditional Chinese pavilion is only two stories high, but the view is worth it.
Zuoying Yuandi Temple
Zuoying Yuandi Temple is a 72-meter-tall statue dedicated to Yuandi, the Heavenly Emperor. The statue was built in 1992 and is one of the largest statues in Taiwan.
This statue is a popular place for worship. People come to the statue to pray for good luck and health. If you are feeling lucky, you may receive a good fortune or a golden egg with a lucky item inside of it.
Kaohsiung City Temple of Confucius
The last stop on your walk around the Lotus Pond is Kaohsiung City Temple of Confucius, a Confucian temple built in 1684 during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing dynasty.
The temple is a large complex with many buildings and courtyards. The main hall of the temple is dedicated to Confucius and is decorated with colorful murals and sculptures. The temple also has a number of other halls dedicated to other Confucian scholars, as well as a library and a museum.
Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts
From the Lotus Pond, you can walk to Xin Zuoying Station and take a shuttle to the Museum of Fine Arts Station. Once you reach the station, you can walk to the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts).
The Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (KMFA) is one of the largest museums in Taiwan. It was founded in 1994 and is a part of the 40-hectare Neiweipi Cultural Park.
The museum houses a collection of over 12,000 works of art from around the world, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and installation art. The museum also has a number of educational programs, including art classes, lectures, and workshops.
When I visited I experienced a virtual reality exhibition where I practiced calligraphy. It was super fun!
You can visit the museum from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and admission is free.
DAY 3: Yancheng District
On day 3 of your 8 day Taiwan itinerary, you will head to the Yancheng District, which is where you’ll find creative spaces and street art at the Pier-2 Art Center.
To reach Pier 2 Art Center, take the orange line on the KMRT to Yangchengpu Station (exit 1), or take the Light Rail tram to Dayi Pier-2 station.
Pier-2 Art Center
Pier-2 Art Center is a creative park and art center located in the former warehouse district of Kaohsiung. The center is home to a variety of art exhibitions, performances, and events.
It is also a popular spot for photography and shopping with hundreds of shops, cafes, artist studios, music venues, breweries, and bars to visit.
Honestly, this area is huge so I recommend walking around the Penglai Area and the Dayong Area to see all of the street art, murals, and sculptures. There’s so much to discover!
Some places to check out include Kaohsiung Port Warehouse No. 2, Banana Pier, Kaohsiung Water Garden, Kaohsiung Harbor Museum, HOLO Park, Dayi Warehouse, Dayi Park, Big Harbor Warehouse 410, and the Kaohsiung Big Port Bridge.
Hamasen Railway Cultural Park
On the west side of Pier 2, you’ll find the Hamasen Railway Cultural Park, an open-air park that has displays of old trains as well as other large sculptures, like a giant suitcase, placed along the old tracks.
The park used to be the Kaohsiung Port Station, Kaohsiung’s first railway station. Today, it has been transformed into the Takao Railway Museum. Here, you can also take mini-train rides and view model railways.
Other Things To do Near Pier 2 Art Center
If you’re looking for additional things to do in the area, you can take a ferry to Qijin Island, walk across the Sky Balcony observation deck, or take panoramic photos from the nearby Shoushan LOVE Lookout.
Liuhe Night Market
On the way back to your hotel, eat dinner at another night market. The Liuhe Night Market is located next to Formosa Boulevard Station. I ate a whole bag of dumplings and the most incredible sweet potatoes.
DAY 4: Kaohsiung to Sun Moon Lake
Today, you will leave Kaohsiung and make your way to Sun Moon Lake. The best way to get to Sun Moon Lake is to take the high-speed rail from HSR Zuoying Station into Taichung, which takes about 45 minutes and costs NT$701 ($23 USD) for a non-reserved seat.
From inside the HSR Taichung Station, you’ll want to catch a bus to Sun Moon Lake. Go to the 1st floor, Exit 5, and catch the 6670 Sun Moon Lake Route B bus. The bus departs every hour from 7:18 a.m. to 10:18 p.m. and takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to get to Sun Moon Lake. The bus costs NT$193 ($6.30 USD) one-way.
The bus will drop you off in Shuishe in front of the Shuishe Visitor’s Center. Shuishe is the main tourist village and you can walk, take a taxi, or hop on a ferry to reach your accommodations from here.
Ferry to Xuanguang Wharf
After checking into your accommodations, take the ferry from Shuishe Wharf to Xuanguang Wharf. The ferry ride from Shiushe to Xuanguang Wharf takes about 30 minutes and costs NT$120 for adults. I recommend booking in advance if you are traveling during peak season.
Keep your eyes peeled as you pass by Lalu Island, which is sacred to the local Thao people.
After a short walk from the wharf, you’ll see Xuanguang Temple right in front of you. Xuanguang Temple is a small Buddhist temple with scenic views of Sun Moon Lake, a stone marker, and a famous stall selling tea eggs. Supposedly, they have really good tea eggs here but I didn’t try any.
Xuan Zang Temple
Take the 青龍山 Qinglong Mountain Trail behind the Xuanguang Temple to make your way to Xuan Zang Temple. The hike up takes about 20 minutes, but if you don’t want to hike you can catch the bus.
Xuan Zang Temple is a Buddhist temple dedicated to Xuanzang. The views of Sun Moon Lake from here are amazing!
Now, make your way toward Ci’en Pagoda. From the parking lot, you can follow the Ci’en Pagoda Trail until you reach the 43-meter-tall Ci’en Pagoda.
You can walk to the top of the pagoda to get panoramic views of Sun Moon Lake. It’s about 570 meters of stairs, and the views are worth it.
This pagoda is beautiful and it was my favorite sight of the day! I loved taking photos here.
Ita Thao Pier Market
Now, it’s time for dinner! Head to the Ita Thao village by foot or car. It was a beautiful day, so I decided to walk, which took less than an hour.
In the middle of Ita Thao is the Ita Thao Shopping District. This area is full of shops and street vendors. The amount of delicious-looking food to eat was amazing!
I ended up trying a tofu sandwich, muah chee (similar to mochi), bubble tea, and lots of mochi balls! Everything was so good, but the muah chee with condensed milk on it was my favorite.
From here, take the ferry from Yidashao Wharf back to Shuishe. Make sure to double-check the timetables, so you don’t miss the last ferry back!
Where to Eat in Shuishe
- Old Papa Black Tea
- Shan Hu Kitchen
- 湖光軒 The Lakeview Chinese Restaurant
- A Feng Shi Restaurant
- 日月潭遊牧 Nomad Day Café
- 敝姓鍋 – 南投日月潭店
Where to Stay in Shuishe
Deer Traveler Hostel – I booked a 4-bed female dorm, which was perfect for a solo female traveler. It cost $31 USD each night. Shuishe is a convenient location to stay while exploring Sun Moon Lake.
DAY 5: Sun Moon Lake
Sunrise at Zhaowu Wharf
Rise and shine, sleepyheads! You only have to walk 10 minutes from Shuishe to the Zhaowu Wharf to experience one of the best places to see the sunrise at Sun Moon Lake!
As you stand on the edge of the wharf you can watch the sunrise over the horizon. The sky is ablaze with color, and the water reflects the light like a mirror. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
Hike Maolan Mountain Trail
After you grab breakfast, head up Mt. Maolan Trail for an easy walk to a weather observatory and lovely views of the lake.
The 3 km trail follows a paved road and man-made steps most of the way. You’ll hike by tea plantations and likely come across a troop of monkeys! They actually made me nervous and I tried not to look them in the eye when I was passing by.
It’ll take you less than an hour to reach the summit of Maolan Mountain at 1020 m (3,346 ft). From the top, you can see as far as Puli.
30km Bike Ride Around Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake is the largest lake in Taiwan and cycling around it is a great way to see some of Taiwan’s beautiful scenery and get some exercise at the same time.
Sun Moon Lake Bicycle Trail has been named one of the world’s most beautiful cycling trails. The 30km loop around the lake is mostly flat, making it a great option for cyclists of all levels. You can even rent an electric bike, making any hills super easy to climb!
Usually, rentals are for 2.5 hours, but you can book a longer session if you want more time to visit the temples and Taiwanese villages along the way or are a bit slower on a bicycle.
From Shuishe, you’ll follow the 400-meter-long water bicycle path, which is a lovely boardwalk but it is really crowded here and you will probably need to walk your bike across this section.
Along the bike route, you’ll pass Shuishe Dam, Sun Moon Lake outlet, Yongjie Concentric Bridge, Xiangshan Viewing Platform, Tousheba, Crescent Bay, Huantan No. 1 Tunnel, Sun Moon Lake cable car, and other scenic spots.
Don’t forget to stop in Ita Thao again for some tasty food!
Sunset at Wenwu Temple
On the northeastern side of the lake is Wenwu Temple, a huge Chinese-style Taoist temple containing three halls.
The first hall is a shrine devoted to the First Ancestor Kaiji and the God of Literature. The central hall is devoted to Martial Gods, Lord Guan and Lord Yue. The rear hall is dedicated to Confucius. At the front of the temple are a pair of Chinese guardian lions.
Leading up the temple from the bottom of the mountain is a set of 366 steps known as the Year of Steps, also nicknamed the “Stairway to Heaven”. Each step represents one day of the year and climbing the entire stairway symbolizes the passing of a year. A date is carved on each of the stone steps, along with the names of internationally famous people who were born on the corresponding date.
Wenwu Temple is one of the best places to see the sunset at Sun Moon Lake. I recommend staying here until the sun goes down, before cruising your way back to Shuishe.
DAY 6: Sun Moon Lake to Taipei
Originally, I wanted to head east to Taroko National Park from Sun Moon Lake, but I guess there isn’t any public transport this way due to the mountainous route. So, I decided to head up to Taipei.
To get to Taipei from Sun Moon Lake, you can take the same 6670 bus from Shuishe to HSR Taichung Station. Then you catch a high-speed rail to HSR Taipei Station. It takes about 45 minutes and tickets cost NT$ 675 ($22 USD) for a non-reserved seat.
Here is my 3 day Taipei itinerary.
My first stop after I checked into my hostel was Dadaocheng, the oldest district in Taipei. The oldest street in Dadaocheng is Dihua Street, which is lined with traditional Chinese shops selling everything from tea to fabric to medicinal herbs. The street is also home to a number of temples, including the Xiahai City God Temple and the Dadaocheng Cischeng Temple.
I loved wandering around this district and spending time in all of the incredible museums, art galleries, shops, and cafes. Of course, I had to get some tea here. I also picked up a couple of gifts, including table placemats and the best-smelling soap ever from Da Chun’s Soap.
Lungshan Temple is one of the oldest as well as the most visited temples in Taipei. The temple is beautiful and it’s an incredible place to photograph. The temple is decorated with intricate carvings and paintings, including dragons and phoenixes in the main hall. The temple also has a number of courtyards and gardens, which provide a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city.
The Red House
The Red House was built in 1908 as a public market and later served as a theater and opera house. Today, the Red House is a multifunctional cultural center that hosts a variety of events, including theater performances, exhibitions, and workshops. If you’re interested in arts and crafts, this is a great place to add to your Taipei itinerary. Admission is free.
Ximending Night Market
End your evening with another night market! The Ximending Night Market can be found right next to The Red House. You’ll find a wide variety of food stalls, selling everything from Taiwanese street food to international cuisine. Some of the most popular dishes at the night market include stinky tofu, bubble tea, and oyster omelets. There are also a number of shops selling clothes, souvenirs, and electronics.
Every time I went to a different night market, I would try something new. One of my favorite dishes was sweet potato balls covered in cheese powder! Try them if you can see them!
Where to Eat in Taipei
- Shilin Night Market
- Raohe Street Night Market
- Meng Xia Street Night Market
- Gongguan Night Market
- Huaxi Street Night Market
Where to Stay in Taipei
Meander Taipei Hostel – I booked a 4-bed female dorm, which was perfect for a solo female traveler. It cost $26 USD each night.
DAY 7: Taipei
Mount Qixing Main Peak
Start your morning with a hike to the top of the highest point in Taipei. At an elevation of 3,675 feet (1,120 meters), Mount Qixing Main Peak is located in Yangmingshan National Park, and the hike to the top can be completed in about 2 hours. The trail is well-marked and there are a number of rest stops along the way.
The views from the top of Mount Qixing Main Peak are stunning. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The summit is also home to a number of temples and shrines, which offer a place to rest and reflect.
To get here, you can either take a taxi or take the MRT to the Xiangshan Station.
Taiwan Design Museum
I’m really interested in design, so I had to visit the Taiwan Design Museum in the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. This museum focuses on creative design and showcases the history of Taiwanese design development. The museum has a permanent collection of over 10,000 design objects, as well as a rotating schedule of temporary exhibitions. One of the exhibitions I really enjoyed was just a room full of different chairs!
Taipei 101 Shopping Center
If you’re interested in high-end brands like Chanel, Dior, Gucci, and Versace, then you’ll want to visit Taipei 101 Shopping Center. The building itself actually used to be the tallest in the world. Inside there are also a lot of different restaurants to check out.
Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market is one of the most popular night markets in Taipei, Taiwan. It is located in the Raohe District and is open from 5:00 PM to 12:00 AM, seven days a week. Some dishes to try at the market are Taiwanese sausage, fried chicken, and mango shaved ice.
DAY 8: Taipei
CookInn Taiwan Cooking Class
A Taiwanese cooking class was at the top of my list of things to do in Taiwan. I ended up booking a 3-hour Taiwanese Xiao Long Bao & Noodles cooking class with CookInn Taiwan. We learned how to make some juicy soup dumplings, braised beef noodle soup, cucumber salad, and bubble milk tea, my favorite!
We started off the class with a trip to the local market to pick up all of the ingredients we needed for the recipes. It was such a cool experience! To be honest, I still haven’t made Xiao Long Bao at home because it’s such a process!
Liberty Square (Liberty Square Arch, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, and National Theater)
After your cooking class, make your way to the Zhongzheng District. Here you’ll find Liberty Square, a public plaza that serves as a major site for public gatherings in Taipei and is home to three major landmarks: the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the National Concert Hall, and the National Theater.
At the east end of Liberty Square stands the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, a large, white marble building that was built in 1976 to commemorate the former president of the Republic of China.
The National Concert Hall is a modern concert hall that was built in 1987. The hall hosts a variety of concerts throughout the year, featuring both local and international artists.
The National Theater is a traditional Chinese theater that was built in 1997. The theater hosts a variety of performances throughout the year, including operas, ballets, and plays.
Liberty Square is surrounded by a park, which makes it a great place to take a walk and admire the architecture. The park has a number of benches, tables, and playgrounds, and it is also home to a number of trees and flowers. The ponds are even filled with colorful koi.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
If you’re interested in art, design, and culture, add Huashan 1914 Creative Park to your Taipei itinerary. This multi-purpose park in the Zhongzheng District, originally built as a sake brewery, was redeveloped into a creative park and opened to the public in 1999.
The park is home to a variety of art galleries, museums, shops, restaurants, and cafes. There are also a number of event spaces that host a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, and exhibitions.
You can’t leave Taiwan without trying hot pot. I met up with a few friends that I met at the hostel I stayed at and we went out for my last meal in Taipei. We ended up sharing hot pot at Wenting Hotpot Restaurant, which was close to our accommodations. We tried two different broths and a mix of meat and veggies and it was so tasty! There are many hot pot restaurants around Taipei, so just go to one near to you with a 4.5+ star rating on Google.
Depart from Taoyuan International Airport
Taoyuan International Airport is the main airport in Taiwan. It’s located about 40 kilometers from Taipei. You can take a taxi, bus, or train to the airport from Taipei.
No matter what you choose to do, you are sure to have a wonderful time in Taiwan!
Tips For Traveling in Taiwan
Solo Female Travel Safety
Taiwan is a relatively safe country, but it’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions against petty theft. As a solo female traveler, I felt incredibly safe the whole time. I loved how easy the public transportation made it to get around.
Taiwan uses the New Taiwan Dollar (NT$). You can exchange your currency at banks or currency exchange bureaus. I like to pull out cash at ATMs in the airport as you’ll usually get the best rates.
Best Time to Visit Taiwan
The best time to visit Taiwan is during the spring (March-May) or fall (September-November). The weather is mild during these seasons, and there are fewer tourists. During the summer (June-August), be prepared for hot and humid weather. I visited in early December and enjoyed it.
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Do you have any questions about my 8 day Taiwan itinerary? Leave them in the comments section!