Baishawan is one of the nicest beaches in northern Taiwan. The sand is white, the water shallow (and warm in the summer), and it is relatively well kept and clean. Due to its proximity to Taipei, it sees lots of visitors especially from foreigners. Swimming, sunbathing, surfing, and kite surfing are all popular activities at this beach.
Baishawan (literally White Sand Bay) was formed roughly 800,000 years ago by volcanoes spewing lava into the ocean creating Fuigui Cape. Later coral grew near the shoreline, which makes up for most of the white sand seen on the beach today. The white sandy beach extends about one kilometer along the coast. Now it is one of the most popular destinations on the north coast of Taiwan. Because of its proximity to Taipei, there are sure to be many visitors, and because Taipei has the highest concentration of foreigners, be prepared to see a lot of other foreigners as well.
How to Get There:
By Bus: Take Keelung bus from either Danshui MRT station or Keelung TRA station.
You can also take the yellow and white North Coast Shuttle Bus to Baishawan station.
By Car: Drive on provincial highway 2 out of Danshui to the northeast, or out of Keelung to the northwest. The beach area is near Sanzhi District 三芝區.
Parking: Free. There is a parking lot in front of the main entrance. If this is full, you can park along the road next to it.
Cold Shower: 20 NT
Hot Shower: 40 NT
Foot Wash: 10 NT
If the main showers next to the visitors center are closed, there are other paid showers to the north and south, but without hot water.
May, June, and October 9AM - 5PM
July, August, and September 9AM - 6PM
Map: Please see below:
Kinmen's Juguang Tower is like an introduction for the rest of the island. Much of the island's history and culture can be understood just by a quick walk through these halls. The tower also provides a nice view of Kinmen and Xiamen Harbor.
Juguang Tower was completed in 1953, originally built to commemorate the battles of Guningtou and the 823 Artillery War (aka Second Taiwan Strait Crisis), two battles in which the KMT forces held back the Communists from invasion. It was built in Nanjing style, the original capital of the ROC. The tower is three stories high with galleries and historic exhibits throughout its halls. Now the tower also has many exhibitions featuring the local art and culture of the Kinmen people. Often it is the first stop for tourists visiting Kinmen.
How to Get There:
Take Xihai Road Sec. 3 south out of Kincheng, then turn left onto Xianheng Road.
Hours: 8 AM - 10 PM every day.
Map: Please see below:
Alishan National Scenic Area is one of the most famous mountain areas in Taiwan (aka Mount Ali, or Ali Mountain). Formerly a timber harvesting area during the Japanese Era, it still has a working rail system for park visitors to ride around the mountain. The mountain villages, ancient forests, waterfalls, hiking destinations, and tea plantations have made it a popular destination for tourists. It is also a popular destination to see the sunrise over a sea of clouds. Overall, it is one of the most iconic and well known mountain destinations in Taiwan.
Alishan is a high mountain area over 2,000 meters above sea level in central Taiwan. The first settlers in the Alishan region were the Tsuo aboriginal tribe. Chinese settlers did not move into the area until the 1900s. After the Japanese took over Taiwan in the late 1800s, they discovered large quantities of cypress trees in the area and sought to harvest them. They built railways in order to transport lumber down the mountains, part of which stands today as the Alishan Forest Railway.
By 1970 logging resources had been depleted and the area began to rely on tourism as the major economic driver in the area. High mountain tea and wasabi are also major industries in there. The Alishan highway was completed in 1980, which made the surrounding area more accessible for tourism. In 2001, the Alishan National Scenic Area was officially established.
The railway was damaged in 2009 by typhoon Morakat but was reopened again in 2014, and is currently running as of 2018.
How to get There:
The best way to get to Alishan is from Chiayi. There are a number of transportation options.
By Train: You have to book the tickets the day before and they have been known to sell out. For more information on how to book train tickets up the mountain check out this blog by Travel Taiwan.
By Bus: King Bus goes directly to Alishan from Taipei Main Station but this bus leaves early and is expensive. You can also take a bus from Chiayi Main Bus station.
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial Highway 18 east out of Chiayi City, then make your way up the mountain for about over an hour until you reach Alishan Scenic Area.
If your GPS tells you to go up the one lane roads to Alishan, do not. For safety, stay on the two lane Highway 18.
The road to Alishan is known to often have thick fog. You do not want to be stuck on a super steep one lane road with thick fog, so stay on the main two-lane highway.
You can rent a scooter for cheap in front of the Chiayi Train Station. I would suggest getting at least a large 125 cc scooter that can make it up the mountain. Some rental shops do not even require to see a license. Also be aware there is a gas stations in the first town up the mountain road, so make sure you fill up there if you are getting low. Getting to Alishan could take most of your gas tank.
Hours: Open 24-hours a day all year round (so you can go to see the sunrise at 3 AM).
Recreation Area Price: 300 NT for foreigners, 200 NT for Taiwan nationals. Parking is 100 NT for cars and 20 NT for scooters.
Map: please see below
Maoshan Tower is an ancient pagoda dating to the 14th century AD that sits on top of a hill on the southwest side of Kinmen Island. From the top of the hill, one can see pristine views of the Xiamen Harbor, the Taiwan strait, and Kinmen Island. The hike takes about 10 minutes and is definitely worth a stop on your trip to Kinmen.
Brief Historic Background:
There are three ancient towers in Kinmen: Wentaibao Tower, Daoying Tower, and Maoshan Tower. The towers were originally built in the Ming Dynasty by Jiang Xiahou 江夏侯 under the Hongwu Emperor (1368-1398 AD) for military purposes to ward off pirates, and to act as landmarks for ships (kind of like lighthouses). Maoshan Tower was built in 1387 AD.
The tower also served as target for the PRC during the 823 Artillery War in 1958, killing many soldiers stationed around the tower. To make it less of a target for the communists, it was taken down for a few years. During deconstruction, a few people were crushed by the stones (the local people said this was due to the wrath of the ancestors). However, sometime around the end of martial law in Taiwan, the tower was rebuilt to its current form.
The tower was struck by lightning in 1997 causing some damage, so the Kinmen City Government installed a lightning rod on top of the tower.
How to get There:
By Scooter or Car: On Kinmen Island, take Xihai Raod Section 1 西海路一段 south past Shuitou Village and you will see it on top of a prominent hill.
Map: Please see below:
Guishan Island (literally Turtle Mountain Island) is a turtle shaped island off the coast of Yilan in Eastern Taiwan. Once inhabited by fisherman, it is now a coast guard base, but is open for day tours. The island tour includes beautiful sea cliffs, hiking, a lake, abandoned village, military tunnels, and whale watching just offshore.
Turtle Island has been inhabited since at least the Qing Dyansty. When the ROC took over Taiwan, the island had one elementary school and no hospital. Many people relied simply on religion to cure their sicknesses. During typhoons, the dock would sometimes be destroyed, leaving the island without food for days or weeks. Also, there was way more men on the island than women, and it was hard to convince prospective wives from Taiwan to go live an such a remote island with harsh conditions. As a result, the government relocated everyone living on Turtle Island to the main island of Taiwan in Toucheng township of Yilan in 1977. The people could have chose to stay, but they went without protest. The ROC then made the island into a restricted military base. In 2000, the Island was opened for tourism, the military aspects of the island were phased down, and it was made into an ecological reserve. Now the island allows for Tourists to come during the day, but no one is allowed to stay overnight.
How to get there:
The only way to get there is by boat from Wushih Harbor in Yilan.
To get to Wushih Harbor from Taipei, you can take the TRA train to Toucheng station, and then take a taxi from there. Otherwise you can drive on National Highway 5 to Toucheng; there is free parking at the harbor (drive to the very end of the harbor).
You can purchase a ticket at the harbor or book online in advance via My Taiwan Tour or a similar website.
Whale watching on a boat around the island: 800-1000 NT per person.
Once around the island on a boat and 2 hour tour of the island: 800-1000 NT per person.
Whale watching and island tour: 1200+ NT
Island tour including hiking to the top of the island: 1200+ NT
For more information, look other tour/ferry sties or book a personalized tour with My Taiwan Tour.
Hours: 2-4 hour tours start from 8:00 AM or later and end in the afternoon until about 4:00 PM.
When to go: March-November. These tours are generally closed from December to February due to rough seas and cold weather.
Map of Guishan Island:
Floral Seas in Taiwan (aka sea of flowers; flower sea; flower/floral ocean) are a popular attraction for locals all around the island. Many farmers actually harvest these flowers during winter months and allow tourists to come take photos with a backdrop of and ocean of flowers, usually for free. If you'd like to take a few photos of these places, there are quite a few options.
You can find fields of flowers all over rural Taiwan during winter. For the more touristy places, you can to search 花海 into Google Maps and a bunch of places should pop up.
Floral Seas that I have visited include Guanshan Floral Sea, Liugui Floral Sea, and Xinshe Sea of Flowers. Another one is 60 Stone Mountain (see our full blog on 60 Stone Mountain here).
When are floral seas open?
Liugui Flower Sea: December-February
60 Stone Mountain: July-September
Others: go find them! Floral seas can be found literally all over Taiwan.
Maps: please see below:
Guanshan Floral Sea:
Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with any hotel or hostel in Taiwan. The following FAQ is only based on our opinion after years of booking accommodation in Taiwan, and should not be considered absolute fact.
What is the best website for hotel booking in Taiwan?
Agoda. From my own experience, they are the cheapest, provide the best quality listings, and have incredible customer service. They once gave me my money back for a hostel (which did not have free cancellation) just because there was an earthquake in Hualien the day before. Also, they gave my money back on a room that had a shared bathroom because it wasn’t obvious from the listing.
What is the average price of a hotel in Taiwan?
According to Hikersbay.com, the average price of a hotel in Taiwan is 2,197 TWD.
In our experience, a fair price for a hotel in Taiwan that I like to stick to is around 1,500 TWD (about 45 USD).
What is the average price range for hotels in Taiwan?
The following prices are from personal experience booking over tens of hotels in Taiwan over 5 years (Please note 1000 NT is roughly equal to 31 USD):
Typically, the cheapest of the cheap hotels will go from 700-1000 NT
Lower range Hotels will go from 1000-1700 NT
Mid Range Hotels will go from 1500-2500 NT
High Class Hotels will go from 2500-5000 NT
Super Fancy Hotels will go from 5000-30,000+ NT per night!
Please note these prices also vary by location.
Sixty Stone mountain (aka Liushidan Mountain) is a beautiful flower and mountain landscape on the eastern flank of the eastern rift valley in Hualien County. The annual Daylily flower blooms and amazing views of the Eastern Rift Valley attract thousands of tourists each summer. Some of the picturesque and beautiful views anywhere in Taiwan can be seen from this mountain.
The main crop on Sixty Stone Mountain is the Orange Daylily (aka tawny dayliliy, hemerocallis, golden needle flower, etc.). Orange Daylily is a nutrient and iron-rich plant, and is traditionally used as a garnish, spice, and preservative. In addition it is also added as raw materiel for rice paper and Chines medicine. You can buy dried bags of the stuff all over the mountain and surrounding areas.
According to some of the locals, Sixty Stone Mountain gets its name from the fact that instead of producing 50 stones (or dan, measure of flowers) per field, the fields on this mountain can produce 60 stones. Other people say that it is because during the Japanese Era, all the trees were cut down and there were 60 large boulders left on the mountain.
Nowadays the Mountain is a major tourist attraction, and has been highly marketed by the Taiwan tourism bureau. You can find pictures from this mountain on almost any Taiwan tourism brochure.
How to get there:
BY Car/Scooter: Take highway 9 south from Hualien. When you reach Dongzhu, there will be a sign to Sixty Stone Mountain just after the police station. The road up the mountain is small and closes after 6:00 PM. Only cars, small vans, and scooters are allowed up the road.
There are many tour groups that offer van rides up the mountain.
Hours: Technically open 24/7.
When to go: We suggest going during the Orange Daylily flowering season, which is from about July to September. If you go from 3-5 PM you should see an awesome view of the sunset if the weather is good.
Map: Please see below:
Sanxiantai is one of the most beautiful spots on the East Coast, an area full of beautiful geology and natural scenery. It is known for its iconic arching footbridge that leads to the island of the three immortals (Sanxiantai, literally three immortals platform). The ocean views and unique rock formations make it an ideal place to take a stroll and enjoy nature's beauty.
Sanxiantai island is mostly made of coral and volcanic rocks. The wind and waves over time have turned the rocks into unique shapes, including tunnels, holes, and crevasses. According to Amis tribal legend, a sea dragon once lived here. According to Han Chinese legend, three of the eight immortals (Toaist Deities having power over life and evil) rested on the island, leaving three pairs of footprints.
How to get there: From Taipei, take national highway 5 down to Yilan, then travel from Highway 9 to Hualien, then take highway 11 south along the coast. It will be on the left.
Also available by bus from Hualien or Taitung, though this may take a few hours.
Price: Free, but parking is 50-60 NT for cars and around 15-20 NT for scooters.
Hours: 24 hours a day.
Map: Please see below:
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.