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Backpacking in Taiwan

Over 23 million Taiwanese live on the island of Taiwan in the South China Sea. The island is just 36,000 square kilometres in size and thus has the dimensions of Switzerland. Imagine the few million Swiss compared to the 23 million Taiwanese on the same terrain. It will be narrow.

Not for nothing is Taiwan one of the densest regions in the world. But that doesn’t immediately mean that the Taiwanese are laying on top of each other. There are also deserted regions on the usually rather hilly island. On your backpacker trip you will travel through a country where tradition and modernity meet with full force.

Backpacking in Taiwan - Sonnenuntergang

Backpacking in Taiwan – Sunset

Before the Chinese on the mainland (except those in Hong Kong) even knew what gadgets, PC games, games and the like are, Taiwan was already world market leader in this sector. The Tiger State is one of the most technically and socio-culturally developed in the world. But although Taiwan can keep up completely with all Western European states through industrialization and traffic technology, travel and life there is much cheaper.

On average it can be assumed that the cost of living is half cheaper than in New York. You won’t have to do without any amenities when backpacking through Taiwan. Internet freaks get their money’s worth because Taiwan was the first country where W-Lan is free on the whole territory. There are over 4400 hotspots on the island (how many are there in Switzerland?). The post goes around the clock. If you think that New York is the city, that never sleeps, you haven’t been to Taiwan yet. Almost all shops are open 24 hours a day, all year round.

One wonders when the inhabitants take a break? Especially on the night markets, life pulsates into the early hours of the morning. Over 300 of them are said to be spread all over the island. You can try there the most exotic “delicacies” like snake blood and other delicacies for little money. However, despite its various Asian influences, the local cuisine is considered an Eldorado for vegetarians.

You can easily get money in all the smaller and larger cities. And you don’t need a lot of fear to have your money. Even at night the island is considered very safe. Women travelling alone shouldn’t have any problems either. However, the climate has it in itself. In summer it can get hot, while in winter it gets ice-cold. Don’t be surprised if you meet Hello Kitty Marketing at every corner. Somehow the Taiwanese Hello Kitty are dependent. There’s even a Hello Kitty-branded beer.

Culture in Taiwan

Backpacking in Taiwan - Kultur

Backpacking in Taiwan – Culture

The culture in Taiwan is a healthy mix of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity and some others. There is little evidence of discrimination. Even homosexuals do not have to fear any disadvantages. However, the inhabitants are quite superstitious. You should already know some cultural rites. The number four is not mentioned gladly.

Big boozing with blackouts, are not welcome at all. That doesn’t mean that the Taiwanese don’t take one to their chest. Small gifts are given at every opportunity. This is customary. You should know that usually no tip is required. Also pay attention to the rules of conduct in the temples. It is best to take an example from the locals. They will show you how and when to bow. Shoes off, if you are invited somewhere privately. This is part of the standard program.

Backpacker Route in Taiwan

Although the country is not large compared to most other Asian countries, there are a number of locations worth seeing. Whether culturally or geographically, Taiwan offers a variety of exciting backpacking spots in the mountains and on the water.

Route 1: The classic (15-20 days)

  • 3 days at least to explore the capital Taipei. Plus excursion to the Hsinchu Silicone Valley of Asia.
  • 2-3 days have fun in Hualien, one of the cities where life pulsates around the clock.
  • Experience the city of Puli in the middle of Taiwan for 2 days. From there you can also trek and discover the mountains and the Sun Moon Lake.
  • 2 days in Tainan. In the former capital the old cultural heritage of the country awaits you.
  • 1 day visit to Shifen Falls and the nearby ancient mining towns of Jinguashi and Jiufen, which are listed monuments.
  • 1 day drive from Hsinchu to the land of the Hakka minority.
  • 2 days trekking and mountaineering in the Shei-Pa National Park. If you want to recover a little from the strains, you can stop at the Taian Hot Springs.
  • Spend 2 days in Taichung and enjoy the exciting nightlife. The old tea houses are also worth a visit. Quite near the city, in Changhua stands a mighty Buddha statue.
  • 2 days Lugang experience. There you will find a wide range of traditional handicrafts.

Route 2: Backpacker Intensive Trip (up to 40 days and more)

  • 3 days at least to explore the capital Taipei. Plus excursion to the Hsinchu Silicone Valley of Asia.
  • 2-3 days have fun in Hualien, one of the cities where life pulsates around the clock.
  • Experience the city of Puli in the middle of Taiwan for 2 days. From there you can also trek and explore the mountains and the Sun Moon Lake.
  • 2 days in Tainan. In the former capital the old cultural heritage of the country awaits you.
  • 1 day visit of the Shifen waterfalls and the nearby old mining towns Jinguashi and Jiufen, which are under monument protection.
  • 1 day drive from Hsinchu to the land of the Hakka minority.
  • 2 days trekking and mountaineering in the Shei-Pa National Park. If you want to relax a bit, you can stop at the Taian Hot Springs.
  • Spend 2 days in Taichung and enjoy the exciting nightlife. The old tea houses are also worth a visit. Quite near the city, in Changhua stands a mighty Buddha statue.
  • 2 days Lugang experience. There you will find a wide range of traditional handicrafts.
  • 1 day to the magnificent Chung Tai Chan Monastery
  • 2 days exploring Yushan National Park.
  • 3 days Kaohsiung. In the lively big city you will encounter green areas, parks, temples and a rich offer of culinary delights.
  • 2 days driving the Cross-Island Highway in the Kenting National Park.
  • Experience 2 days of gorges and bizarre rock formations in the Taroko National Park.
  • 1 day rafting adventure on the Xiuguluan River.
  • 5 days island hopping to Penghu, Matsu, Kinmen and others.

Travel times in Taiwan

Wimps come only in summer, but Taiwan has its charms also in winter. Despite the small terrain, the climate is extremely diverse. This has to do with the mountains in the interior and the location of the island within the monsoon belt. In order not to complicate the matter, it can be assumed that it pours from May to September, but only when the typhoons from the South China Sea pull in, it gets bad.

Winter can get cold in the mountain regions. What else one finds less in such latitudes. In any case, the sun often shines, regardless of the season. On average, you can expect 6 hours of sunshine per day in winter and 8 hours per day in summer when backpacking in Taiwan.

Backpacker Budget in Taiwan

Budget in Taiwan

Budget in Taiwan

The travel and living costs in Taiwan are more than acceptable not only related to the region. 100 Taiwanese dollars are around the 3 euro. Life in Taiwan is half cheaper than in New York. A meal in a small simple restaurant costs around 3-5 Euro. Half a litre of good local beer costs half as much. For imported beer you pay twice as much.

A Coke costs about 70 Cent, a coffee the same. If you take the city bus, you have to reckon with hardly countable prices in Euros. A monthly pass costs around 30 euros. If you get into a taxi the start tariff starts at 2,3 Euro. Then per kilometer about 10 Cent. An alternative in the capital Taipei is the Metro. If the single ticket is too expensive for you, then buy the multi-ride tickets.

Buses in Taiwan

Buses run through the whole country. All companies are privately owned. Price comparisons are worthwhile. In addition, there is a special tourist shuttle on, which takes you to the highlights.

Domestic fares in Taiwan

Although it is hardly worthwhile for backpackers to take a domestic flight because of the short distances, you can check out the prices at UNI Air and TransAsia Airways on the websites in case you have to go fast. Some small islands like o Penghu and Matsu can only be reached by plane from the domestic airport Song Shan in the capital.

Train travel in Taiwan

By train you can explore the country cheaply and comfortably. Either you take the Taiwan High Speed Rail HSR or you travel Slow Travel with the Taiwan Railway Administration. A bus ride can be a bit cheaper. The high-speed train races the entire west coast from the capital and stops at all major cities. Calculate about 45 Euro for a single ticket from Taipei to Zuoying in the tourist class. You can also book your tickets online on the homepage

Alternatives are hitchhiking, renting your own car and discovering the country with rented scooters. If you want to discover Taiwan more actively in backpacking, get on your bike. And if the power runs out, it is no problem to ride back with the bikes in the train. You can rent the bikes in one city and give them away in another, similar to rental car providers. Giant Bicycles Corporation is such a company that makes this possible.

Backpacker Unterkünfte in Taiwan

Taiwan is certainly not the cheapest travel destination in Asia, but not the most expensive either. However, on your backpacker trip you will travel through one of the most advanced countries in the region – at least as far as the tourist infrastructure is concerned. In Taiwan you’ll find everything from the cheap dosshouse to the sophisticated 5 and 6 star hotels. Hotels are not prohibitively expensive. It is well worth considering, especially if you are travelling in pairs instead of staying in a hostel in a 3 or even 4 star hotel.

There’s not much more you can do for a top room in a prime location. Clean middle class hotel rooms in the middle of the city or also close to visitor highlights are already available on certain hotel booking portals for 30 euros per room. If you have to spend 10-15 euros on a bed in a dorm of a hostel, you should think twice about it. At least before the long return flight it’s worth it to have a good time. According to Hostelwold, the average bed prices in a dorm of a hostel in Taiwan are as follows:

  • Taipei 15 Euro
  • Kaohsiung 13 -14 Euro
  • Taichung 11 Euro
  • Hualia 14 Euro
  • Tainan 15-17 Euro
  • Kenting 15-17 Euro
  • Taitung 15 Euro
  • Ilan 14-15 Euro
  • Chiayi 15-17 Euro
  • New Taipei Jiufen 15-19 Euro

Overnight alternatives are motels at the main road entrances and exits. The rooms are at least in middle-class hotel format, but much cheaper. You can also look around for private accommodation. These cost more or less in the Bed and Breakfast Style depending upon execution. On the well-known mediator sides you will find in any case a whole lot of rooms, apartments and even penthouses or studio flats.

Camping in Taiwan

Camping in Taiwan is well known. There are campsites on the Shuangxi River and other locations, including national parks. However, for safety reasons you should always pitch your tent on an official site. But hardly anyone will prevent you from camping in the wilderness.

Backpacker Trips, Tips & Highlights in Taiwan

Taiwan is certainly not only one of the most progressive and consumer-friendly countries in the Asian region. When strolling through the streets teeming with people in the capital Taipei, especially in the evening in the neon lights glittering streets you can feel just as well in Hong Kong or New York. How much of Taiwan’s social life takes place in the evenings and at night. You’ll find out when you’ve stumbled across one of the more than 300 night markets all over the island.

Discover the country by bus, train or hire a scooter. With the mopeds you can also quickly get to the remote regions. Cycling is also an alternative thanks to the well-developed rental network. If you do backpacking in Taiwan in spring, you have to go to Yangmingshan, where the cherry blossom takes place. It couldn’t be more romantic. In the same region and also in Beitou and Wulai you can do something really good for your body in the thermal baths. And also the nature parks have it in themselves. You can even do Iceland hopping.

Backpacking in Taiwan - Panorama

Backpacking in Taiwan – Panorama

Backpacker Highlights in Taiwan

The absolute highlight are the night markets. Where else can you get a sip of snake blood to drink? Also find out when the colorful Dragon Boat Festival will take place. The date changes from year to year. Those who like the latest technical gadgets will have no problems getting them in the countless tech supermarkets at dumping prices compared to Europe.

On the night markets, trading is a must. However, this does not apply to the shops and supermarkets. In Taiwan you can make real bargains by buying jade while backpacking through the country. But attention! Only the connoisseur knows! Only the connoisseur knows how to distinguish fakes from good stones. If you are looking for traditional healing concepts, then buy the Lingzhi mushroom. It seems to cure pretty much every disease.

Backpacker insider tips in Taiwan

Taiwan is one of the most densely populated regions in the world. However, this does not mean that the whole country is overcrowded by people. Of the 23 million Taiwanese, a large part live around the capital and in 3-5 other urban centers. So there are still enough deserted regions. Few visitors are taken to the fascinating mountain region Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area, which is located about two hours by car or four train plus a few bus hours from the capital in the northwest of the island.

Exotic plants, crystal clear waterfalls and exciting jungle treks await you there. You experience the original Hakka culture almost like in old times in Sanyi. Worth seeing is the Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum. In the village you can stay overnight with the locals at home and make contacts. The Shihmen Reservoir, which expands in the middle reaches of the Dahan River, is a really quaint place. The view from the 133 m high dam will surely knock your socks off.

Backpacking in Taiwan - Night Market

Backpacking in Taiwan – Night Market

Food & Drinks in Taiwan

The range of food and drink in Taiwan is pretty much tailored to every taste. Carnivores get their money’s worth as well as vegetarians, vegans and others. A number of Chinese cuisines are merging in Tawain to form an almost unmanageable overall offering. The locals are very fond of fruits that thrive excellently due to the subtropical climate, as well as seafood and fish and eggs in any form. But the Europeans have also left their mark on the local cuisine. The connoisseur will already discover one or two Portuguese touches. The menus are inexpensive and rich as well.

Food in Taiwan

It goes without saying that in such a consumer-oriented society that doesn’t want to miss any trends, you will also find the branches of well-known fast food chains. But why take a backpacker trip to Taiwan if you want to eat McD…. there? Check out the different soups with meat, fish and seafood inlays. During your backpacking trip you also have the opportunity to treat yourself to an oyster omelette for little money.

The proteins will literally jump off your plate. Other local delicacies are the local sausages and fruit specialities. What does not grow on the island is imported cheaply from the nearby tropics. In Yonghe, a district of Taipei, you have to try the fresh soy milk. The district is famous for it. There are a number of Buddhist vegetarian restaurants in Taiwan called su-shi tsan-ting.

Drinking in Taiwan

The Taiwanese are proud of their beer, although the country does not have a long tradition of brewing. Nevertheless, the local broth has a good taste. The real specialties are the High Mountain Oolong tea, which thrives in the mountainous interior of the country. If you want to get it right, you can go for the local alcohol clubs, which include Kaoliang liqueur, which can have up to 65 percent alcohol.

The different types of rice wine are less strong. Some varieties are considered the best in the world. Pearl milk tea, also known as boba tea, is a local beverage treat. Coffee and above all soy milk are other beverages that inspire with good quality. Not to forget the many fresh fruit juices.

Backpacking in Taiwan - Temple

Backpacking in Taiwan – Temple

Backpacker Visa und Vaccinations in Taiwan

The best right at the front. If you are a German citizen, you don’t need a visa for stays on the island that extend up to 90 days. But you will need other documents to enter Taiwan.

For the entry you need the following documents:

  • Passport: Yes
  • Temporary Passport: Yes
  • Identity card: No
  • Temporary identity card: No
  • Children’s passport: Yes
  • Still valid child ID according to old: Yes

As anywhere in the world, your travel documents must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry. Otherwise you will not be admitted.


You don’t need a visa if you want to stay up to 90 days in the country, but a valid passport plus possibly a confirmed return or onward flight ticket.

Vaccinations & medical advice

Especially in the rainy season during the monsoon season, dengue diseases are a frequent occurrence in Taiwan, especially in the Kaohsiung region. Good mosquito protection is therefore essential. Otherwise you should have the usual vaccinations. Backpacking in Taiwan provides you with first-class medical care. Nevertheless the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), the measles, Tstsugamushi fever (Scrub Typhus) and quite rarely the Japanese encephalitis are known.

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