Perfect for that Taiwan road trip you've been planning

  • By KKday
  • | Oct 22, 2018

Taiwan is a beautiful country full of bustling cities, spectacular mountain attractions, and old cultural towns. On your next trip to this island country, don’t just stay in Taipei City (although it’s a great city to explore). Squeeze in a trip to these lesser explored, but highly accessible spots that make for ideal road trip destinations.

Northern Taiwan: Jiufen, Shifen, and Yehliu

Jiufen Grand Teahouse

Just 45-minutes away from Taipei, you can discover the unique Taiwanese charm of the country’s northern towns. Your first stop will be to Yehliu Geopark, a coast filled with bizarre rock formations shaped by years of ocean waves and erosion.

Afterwards, head over to Shifen. This former coal mining town was a major stop for the Pingxi Train line; nowadays the train runs mostly for tourists. Here, travelers can write their dreams and wishes on a traditional sky lantern and watch them float into the sky.

Make a final stop to Jiufen, an old gold mining town that serves as the inspiration to Hayao Miyazaki’s movie, Spirited Away. Wander through the streets filled with generations-owned stores, before heading to The Grand Teahouse.

Taichung: Alishan Forest

Alishan Forest Railway

Alishan National Park is Taiwan’s most popular park, and it’s easy to see why. It’s mostly made up of lush mountains used for planting Taiwan’s famous Oolong tea. Don’t leave without having a cup (or several).

Within the park is a vintage, narrow-gauge train that was used during the Japanese occupation to deforest the mountains. Conservation laws have largely made the train obsolete, so it now runs for tourism purposes.

Enjoy a ride on the Alishan Forest Railway, and head to the Alishan Forest Recreational Area. Follow any of the different trails that’ll take you deep into the mountain and marvel where you will stumble upon thousand-year-old trees, tranquil ponds, and all sorts of other interesting sights.

From Taipei, you’ll have to take the High Speed Rail and get off at either Taichung or Chiayi, but the ride only takes about 40 minutes.

Qingjing Farm

Qingjing Farm

Another underrated Taiwan tour is a trip to Cingjing Farm in Taichung. This family-friendly destination is a great place to for the summer. Trade Taipei’s humid weather for cool mountain climate, and delight at the sight of all the adorable sheep.

Head over to the Green Green Grassland, or Taiwan’s “Foggy Eden” and see a sprawling grasslands, orchards, lush forests, and acres of colorful flowers. Stop by Hehuan Mountain, one of Taiwan’s tallest mountain areas. See snow-capped peaks, hike lightly along picturesque trails, and visit the charming tea-growing villages nearby.

Yangmingshan National Park

Yangmingshan National Park Qingtiangang Trail

Last but certainly not least on our list is Yangmingshan National Park. Of all the tours listed, this is probably the most accessible to Taipei City through public bus or MRT.

Yangmingshan is an oasis of nature just outside Taipei. The park is full of beginner-friendly hiking trails, flower gardens, and mountain sights. Trek to Xiaoyoukeng a post-volcanic geological park that’s about 805 meters above sea level. It’s famous for the mountain-side sulfur gas exhaust and hot springs. The views here are stunning, with certain vantage points overlooking Taipei and beyond.

Or, trek through the Qingtiangang Grasslands Trail which is just miles and miles of idyllic landscapes that are so high up, you can almost touch the clouds.

The area was formed from lava flows when Mt. Zhugao erupted, shaping this mountain-top flatland. The grasslands stretch on for miles and miles, you’ll completely forget about the city.

There’s so much to explore when you’re in Taiwan. Get out of the city, even for just a day, and see some of the country’s underrated gems.

A version of this story first appeared on KKday as Beautiful places you must visit outside Taipei.