15 of the top things to do in Taiwan: experience the best of this beautiful island


Taiwan is a country with more facets than the 11-headed Guanyin you’ll see inside its temples. On any one trip you could be cycling between skyscrapers, drinking coffee at plantations, sun-bathing, forest-bathing, soaring on luscious homegrown whisky, or reeling from rocket fireworks or the repertoire of a night market. The options are endless. 

So whether you’re a first-time visitor or coming back for more, and making up your mind on what to do might just be the hardest part of your trip. Here are some of the best experiences in Taiwan. 

Get the inside scoop on the latest cultural happenings all over the world delivered weekly to your inbox with our email newsletter. An Asian woman prays and bows her head in a templeTemples offer a glimpse into spiritual life in Taiwan © iStockphoto / Getty Images

1. Take your pick of 15,000 temples

Pick a couple, if not more. Whether incense-filled and packed to the eaves with idols and art or a dusky roadside shrine, whether Taoist, Buddhist, Confucian or folk, temples offer a fascinating glimpse into Taiwan’s spiritual life. You’ll see devotees, including a surprising number of young people, praying and giving thanks. They burn joss paper for the departed, toss moon blocks to seek divine guidance on whether to buy a car, and make offerings of guava, orchids and sesame crackers to a pantheon of deities. During festivals, temples offer up a smoky and noisy slice of local life. On quiet days, with their relics, sculptures and caisson ceilings, temples are museums in their own right. 

Both Tainan and Lukang are home to a wealth of old structures, from understated Confucius temples to Mazu temples rich in southern Chinese folk decorative art. Some favorites from all over…

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