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9-Day Luxury Tour Itinerary
Day 1 – Taipei City
- Fly into Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport near Taipei. By the time we reach your hotel in the capital, we’ll have finalised a plan for the rest of the day that matches your interests and energy levels. Depending on time available, this may include a thorough look at Wanhua, one of the oldest and most interesting parts of Taipei, and home to its best known hall of worship, Longshan Temple, or a wander through the traditional neighbourhood of Dihua Street. The latter, famous for its baroque-revival architecture, is not far from the gorgeous Baoan Temple.
- 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 is on other days is 6.30pm ). Alternatively, you may want nothing more strenuous than a stroll around Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, a landmark dedicated to the Nationalist Chinese leader who was Taiwan’s president 1949-1975.
Day 2 – Tamsui River District
- After breakfast in your hotel, we’ll head to the northern part of the city for the Martyrs Shrine, where the hourly changing of the guard is a display of breathtaking precision. Then it’s off to Xinbeitou, where the 1895-1945 Japanese colonization of Taiwan left an especially heavy imprint in terms of architecture and hot-springs culture. Taking a dip in one of the area’s many springs is a real pleasure; if you’d like to do this, let us know in advance and we’ll arrange a top-notch private room with room-service lunch if you like.
- The historic riverside town Tamsui was home to tea traders, diplomats and other Westerners during the 19th century. Now it’s much loved by tourists who come for the sunset and historic landmarks like Fort San Domingo (built by the Dutch on the site of a Spanish stockade, then later occupied by the British). If time allows, we can drive up the north coast before returning to the city centre via a very scenic road through Yangmingshan National Park.
- Back in the heart of the city, your wish is of course our command. Shopping, tea tasting and foot massages can all be arranged given a little notice.
Day 3 – Taroko National Park
- We have a four-hour drive ahead of us, but the journey can be broken with a stop at the hot & cold 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 restaurant Dageeli, where we’ll sample some of the best Austronesian indigenous cuisine available anywhere in Taiwan.
- 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 Silks Place, 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 Hiking
- 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 best vantage points, and have lunch at Buluowan, a former Truku aboriginal settlement where there are demonstrations of indigenous handicrafts.
Day 5 – Scenic Drive to 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 cruise in a private boat to enjoy views of the water and the surrounding mountains. After dinner, you’ll have time to relax in the opulent lakeside splendour of The Lalu.
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. Whenever you’re ready, we’ll likely visit Cien Pagoda (built on the orders of Chiang Kai-shek to honour his late mother) and perhaps a pair of temples that preserve relics associated with Xuan Zang, a Buddhist monk revered for travelling from China to India in 7th century and translating religious texts.
- Lunch can be at Jindu (a restaurant where presidents and celebrities often dine) in the nearby town of Puli. After the feast you many want to stretch your legs, so we’ll bring you to the Antique Assam Tea Farm, a restored Japanese-era tea plantation which is as educational as it is scenic; tea tastings are a highlight. Alternatively, we can take the cable car from the lakeshore to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village theme park to enjoy some splendid panoramas.
Day 7 – Lugu Tea District and 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 the most delicate of these. After, if you’ve the energy, we can take you to such attractions as Shennong Street and Chihkan Tower, both of which are delightful in the evening.
Day 8 – Tainan Ancient City
- 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.