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9-Day Classic Tour Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrival at Taipei International Airport and explore Taipei
- Fly into Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport near Taipei.
- Depending on time available and weather, this may include a look at Taipei Botanical Garden, a visit to Taipei 101 and its observatory for sunset views over the city, a soak in a hot spring, or a stroll around Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (a landmark dedicated to Taiwan and Nationalist China’s former leader).
- Visiting the fabulous National Palace Museum is an option, especially if you’re arriving on a Friday or Saturdays when it stays open to 9pm (closing time on other days is 6.30pm ).
- Overnight in Taipei City
Day 2 – Explore areas surrounding Taipei
- If you’ve already seen the magnificent National Palace Museum, then we suggest a thorough look at the living-and-breathing culture that’s visible in Wanhua, one of the oldest and most interesting parts of Taipei. Here we can find the city’s best-known hall of worship, Longshan Temple.
- If the hills are calling to you, we can drive up to Yangmingshan National Park via Martyrs Shrine, where the hourly changing of the guard is a display of breathtaking precision. On Yangmingshan we can enjoy the view over coffee and cake at Grass Mountain Chateau.
- If you’re in Taipei on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday, taking in a show at Taipei EYE is an option. To finish up the evening, we can bring you to that most Taiwanese of places: A local night market, where tasty snack foods are sold by outdoors vendors. A former residence of Chiang Kai-shek, it was built in 1920; even after a complete renovation less than a decade ago, it continues to look thoroughly Japanese, right down to the sliding doors.
- Overnight in Taipei City
Day 3 – Taroko Gorge National Park
- We recommend making a reasonably early start and eating a hearty breakfast because we have a four-hour drive ahead of us.
- The journey can be broken with a stop at the hot springs park in Jiaoxi in Yilan County, or a walk on the windswept Pacific-facing beach at Dongao. A good option for lunch en route is the acclaimed aboriginal restaurant Dageeli.
- Arriving in Taroko National Park around 2pm will give us time to visit the Eternal Spring Shrine and the Yanzikou Trail (Swallow Grotto) before checking into our preferred hotel at 4pm. The property has excellent food and spa services, outdoor and indoor pools, and is a short walk from Xiangde Temple.
Day 4 – Taroko Gorge National Park
- Today can be as energetic or as lazy as you like. Depending on your enthusiasm for walking and your passion for stunning natural landscapes, we can take you along the flat but very pretty Baiyang Trail, the more challenging hike up to Lianhua Pond, or to the Lushui Trail to glimpse macaques.
- If you’re the kind of person happy to enjoy the national park from a car seat, we’ll drive you to the finest vantage points, and have lunch at Buluowan, a former Truku aboriginal settlement where there are demonstrations of indigenous handicrafts.
Day 5 – Sun Moon Lake
- After breakfast, we’ll head into the higher reaches of Taroko National Park, stopping if you like for hot ginger tea at Bilu Sacred Tree, a 50m high, 3,200-year-old Lunta fir.
- We’ll make regular stops, including one at the road’s highest point (3,275m above sea level), so you can photograph the gorgeous scenery and stretch your legs. Lunch can be a feast of roast chicken and mountain vegetables – or a simple picnic nearly two miles above sea level.
- We expect to get you to the lakeshore around 4pm, in time for a delightful boat cruise around Sun Moon Lake to enjoy views of the water and the surrounding mountains.
Day 6 –
Sun Moon Lake
- Almost everyone agrees that just after daybreak, as the sun climbs up over the nearby peaks, is a splendid moment to appreciate the beauty of Sun Moon Lake – but of course it’s up to you whether you want to sleep in or not.
- After breakfast and a tour of lakeside attractions like Cien Pagoda (built on the orders of Chiang Kai-shek to honour his late mother), we can lead you through fun activities like cycling along the bike path, gentle hikes, or visiting the nearby Antique Assam Tea Farm (a restored Japanese-era tea plantation which is as educational as it is scenic).
- The cable car which links the lakeshore with the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village theme park offers splendid views of the area, and if you’re traveling with youngsters they’ll likely want to spend some time enjoying the park’s many distractions.
Day 7 – Lugu Tea District to Tainan
- Moving south after breakfast, one option is a lengthy stop in the tea-growing district of Lugu, to immerse ourselves in one of Taiwan’s most beautiful bamboo forests, and lunch on bamboo, mountain chicken, and vegetables grown locally. We can, of course, sample some of the fine oolong teas that have won a global reputation.
- Culture vultures may prefer Lukang to Lugu. For much of the 18th century, Lukang was Taiwan’s second-largest town and one of the island’s key trading centres. But when the harbour silted up and the Japanese decided to build roads and railways elsewhere, it began to tumble down the rankings. Sidelined by the modern industrial economy, Lukang retains a great deal of its physical past, including two of Taiwan’s most impressive temples, narrow alleys and characterful merchants’ abodes.
- We should reach Tainan – the city that served as Taiwan’s capital for more than 200 years and remains a bastion of tradition – in time for you to take a rest in your hotel before dinner. Taiwan’s south has its own specialities and we’ll enjoy some of these. After, if you’ve the energy, we can take you for a walking tour to such attractions as Shennong Street and Chihkan Tower, both of which are delightful in the evening.
Day 8 – Tainan
- A good part of the day will be spent in Anping, the seaside community where Tainan – and Han Chinese culture in Taiwan – began. The main attraction here is Fort Zeelandia, the stronghold built by the Dutch East India Company in the the early 1630s. It’s perhaps the best place to learn about the Netherlands’ brief but historically critical occupation of the Tainan area. Nearby stands Anping Tree House, a 19th-century warehouse invaded by huge banyan trees. This beguiling place has even been dubbed ‘Tainan’s Angkor Wat’
- Next up is a tour of central Tainan, where the density of relics and historical curiosities is stupendous. The Confucius Temple is an austerely beautiful academy-cum-house of worship. It and several other places of interest are open until late in the evening, and especially atmospheric after dark, so it doesn’t matter if we move very slowly. And if you fancy a nightcap, we know just the place.
Day 9 – Wrap up
- Whatever time your flight out, we’ll help you make the very most of your final day in Taiwan. The rural south has a host of attractions which we can take you to before putting you on a bullet train to the airport at Tainan HSR Station.
- Alternatively, you can board the train at Chiayi HSR Station. For a final serving of culture before going north, we can tour the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum, which has superb permanent displays on tea culture, Asian textiles and Buddhist Art.