A two-week road trip is the best way to see Taiwan up close and personal, and this complete road circuit starts and ends in Taipei.
little island nation captures the extremes of its high central mountains and long coastlines. It doesn’t take much time to realize why road-tripping this Island is so popular.
Enjoy misty mountains, sandy and craggy beaches, while having some delicious local food along the way.
Taiwan is an easy East-Asian road trip through a subtropical island that everyone should try.
If you want to rent a car in Taiwan, you just need to ensure you have the proper credentials. You’ll need your passport and an international driver’s license.
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If you are just spending one night in Taipei, consider what your priorities are. Do you want to spend your time in the modern Xinyi district? Or, do you want to visit a temple and a night market? Then Songshan with Raohe night market should be your destination. Want to see old Taipei? Wanhua and Datong districts will have the destinations you are looking for.
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Wake up and start your drive to Taichung. Taichung is more spread out and less vertical than Taipei. A couple of places to visit here would be Rainbow Village, very touristy and great for IG, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts is also a great place to check out. The Feng Chia Night Market should definitely be your stop for refueling.
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Qingjing Farm was established on February 20th, 1961, and is more than just a place to go and see some sheep. The drive here itself is half the experience as you constantly gain altitude as you climb into the mountains. If you are traveling during the spring you can see peach blossom, pear bloom, and apple bloom. The visual of the misty mountains surrounding this little sheep farm is worth the visit in itself.
Related: Taipei Alternatives: Explore Taiwan’s East Coast Instead
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Sun Moon Lake lies in the lower hills of Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range. Surrounded by low mountain forest, foot trails, and the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village devoted to aboriginal history there is much to explore. You can choose to spend one day or two here. Choosing two may be ideal for the more relaxed traveler. Giving an extra day to the Alishan National Park leg would allow for more hiking.
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Alishan National Park is located on Alishan Mountain. Alishan is home to tea plantations, aboriginal culture, old railways, and amazing sights. You could spend a day here taking in its beauty, enjoying some tea, while looking around at the stunning vistas. If you choose to spend your extra day here, then plan to spend that day hiking to the summit.
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Tainan is known as the foodie capital of Taiwan, and even if you consider yourself to only have a passing interest in food, you still need to take the time to stop by here. The city itself is quite pleasant, smaller than Taipei and Kaohsiung with a bit more aesthetic quality. Check out some of the restaurants linked below, and take some time to visit the beach, perhaps walk through the first Confucius temple in Taiwan, or maybe stroll along the canals and partake in the active city life.
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Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s second-largest city and largest port. It’s a much more sprawling city than Taipei and is much more car-friendly. While in Kaohsiung you can enjoy sights like Lianchi (Lotus) Lake with its scenic towers and bridges. Blueprint Culture & Creative Park is also a nice place to go and see some live performances as well as some local art. Snag some seafood while you’re here too! It is a port city.
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Kenting is a popular beach destination for travelers from other parts of Taipei. It is a place to go snorkeling as well to enjoy a few waves. There are several great choices for beaches here as well as landmarks to take some photos of. There’s the national forest rec area too if you aren’t feeling the beach. You can also find the spot where the South China Sea meets the Pacific.
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Taitung is a slow-paced coastal city in southeastern Taiwan. You will find many coastal attractions like Sanxiantai or Xiouyeliu easily accessible by car. Also, Taitung Forest Park and Taitung Sea Side Park are nice visits from inside the city. There are some good local tea houses to check out as well!
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The drive to Hualien will likely be, in itself, a spectacular experience as you pass between the narrow valley between the Central Mountain Range and the smaller and coastal Hai’an Range. Hualien is a fun little city with much to do in terms of outdoor activities. With a car, it wouldn’t be a problem to visit Sixty Rock Mountain. If you want to stay near the city, Dongdamen Night Market and 太平洋海濱公園 (a seaside park) are worth visiting too.
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You will want to plan a whole day around this, and with your own car, you will find it easy to navigate between the different trailheads. There are many here and they are all beautiful, so pick a few that match your ability level and just enjoy the day in one of Taiwan’s most stunning locations.
Related: Explore Northeast Taiwan: Mountain Towns & Seaside Cities
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Before venturing through the at times gridlocked tunnels back into Taipei, take a moment to enjoy a hot spring resort and some good food. There are many hot spring resorts to choose from here, and many little restaurants in what is the go-to escape city for those living in Taipei. Wake up early and try to catch the sunrise over Wai’ao beach before you finally make your way back to Taipei.
Next: ‘Taipei’s Backyard’: Meet Yilan, A Touristy Taipei Alternative
I am a writer and traveler who is originally from Northampton Massachusetts in the US. I have lived in Taiwan for five years and have used it as a home base to travel around Asia. Besides living in Asia, I spend a year living in and traveling around Seattle in the Pacific Northwest.


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