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9-Day Senior Tour Itinerary
Day 1 – Taipei City
- Fly into Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport near Taipei. By the time you’ve transferred to 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 and weather, this may include a look at Taipei Botanical Garden, a stroll around Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (a landmark dedicated to Taiwan and Nationalist China’s former leader), or simply unwinding in a hot spring.
Day 2 – National Palace Museum and Yangmingshan Park
- We’ll spend as much of the day inside the magnificent National Palace Museum as you want, taking lunch if it suits your plans at the museum’s Silks Palace restaurant. The remainder of the day will be given over to touring sights in the northern part of the city. It’s a short hop from the museum to the Martyrs Shrine, where the hourly changing of the guard is a display of breathtaking precision.
- If the hills near this part of the capital are calling to you, we can drive up to Grass Mountain Chateau in Yangmingshan National Park. 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. Another late-afternoon option is the observatory at Taipei 101 for sunset views over the city and beyond. Taipei 101 is in the heart of Xinyi District, the city’s most modern shopping area, so you can get some souvenir- and gift-buying done.
- If you’re in Taipei on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday, think about taking in a show at Taipei EYE. 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.
Day 3 – Tamsui Northern Coast
- Today we’ll take a look at Taiwan’s rugged north coast, and there are various we can get you there. If you’d like to see Yangmingshan National Park, whose dramatic peaks were shaped by volcanic action millions of years ago, we can as drive you “up and over” to Taiwan’s north coast.
- Another approach is through Tamsui. This historic riverside town was home to tea traders, diplomats and other Westerners during the 19th century. One of the most visible landmarks is the castle-like Fort San Domingo, built by the Dutch on the site of a Spanish stockade, then later occupied by the British. A fun thing to do while in Tamsui is take the ferry across the estuary to Bali, an even smaller town.
- After Tamsui and Bali, we can enjoy seafood at nearby Fuji Fishing Harbour, or continue northeast along the coast, stopping wherever you want to take in the view or stretch your legs. Visiting a hot spring is another option, Jinshan on the north coast and the Yangmingshan area being riddled with places where naturally-heated mineral water rises to the surface.
Day 4 – Taroko 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 & 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 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 5 – Taroko Gorge
- Today can be as energetic or as low-key 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, 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 6 – 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 boat cruise around Sun Moon Lake to enjoy views of the water and the surrounding mountains.
Day 7 – Sun Moon Lake and Tainan
- 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 brief tour of lakeside attractions like Cien Pagoda (built on the orders of Chiang Kai-shek to honour his late mother) we’ll say our goodbyes to the lake and head south to Tainan.
- Tainan served as Taiwan’s capital for more than 200 years and remains a bastion of tradition. We’ll check you into your hotel before dinner, and because the city is famous for its ‘little eats’, we’ll lay out all the options from fine dining to scrumptious street snacks. Afterwards, a craft beer on atmospheric Shennong Street or a coffee in the garden of Chihkan Tower (one of two forts built by the Dutch in the 17th century) are delightful ways to end 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, so it doesn’t matter if we move very slowly because you want to try as many of the street snacks Tainan is famous for as possible.
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 at Tainan HSR Station. One is Xinhua Old Street, an authentic merchants’ thoroughfare from the 1920s. Another is Chimei Museum. Built around a local tycoon’s eclectic personal acquisitions, the museum has a world-class collection of violins, weapons and armour from Asia and Europe, plus sculptures and oil paintings of international significance.
- Alternatively, you can board the train at Chiayi HSR Station after taking a look at the bucolic little town of Yanshui (the Roman Catholic church is like nothing you’ve ever seen, and the private home known as the Octagon will have you reaching for your camera). For a final serving of culture, we can tour the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum, which has superb permanent displays on tea culture, Asian textiles and Buddhist Art.
- Tour duration: 9 days
- Tour departs from Taipei, Taiwan – Pick up from your hotel/B&B