I was yawning and struggling to keep my eyes open as our flight descended into Taiwan.

It was our second delayed flight of the day/night and we had been scheduled to arrive in Taipei’s Taoyuan airport at around midnight. Now, it was early morning.

We’d have long missed the bullet train we’d booked to take us halfway down the Taiwanese coastline to the city of Taichung.

We’d have to re-ticket as well as pick up our tourist Easy Transit Cards and phone SIMs.

And then, from my window seat, something amazing happened.

My eyes grew wide and my breath became a gasp as a bright burnt-orange ball of light emerged from the dark sleepy mountainous backbone of Taiwan.

And I was suddenly enormously grateful for all our delays.

Because without them it wouldn’t have been possible to receive this gift.

The gift of seeing sunrise over Taiwan.

First Light. Sunrise over Taiwan: The Backpacking Housewife
First light over Taiwan

Table of Contents

Taiwan – Travel Guide

I love travelling in Asia and I’d been curious about travel to Taiwan for a while.

To me, Taiwan, as a tourist destination, still felt kind of new and unexplored compared to – for example – the popularity of Japan and South Korea.

I recognised it as somewhere kind of unique in Asia and it was definitely on my radar.

But, it wasn’t until the island’s disputed connection to China became recent news, that my traveller’s instinct told me I needed to go there sooner rather than later.

Taiwan is a country in East Asia officially known as the Republic of China (ROC) except that Taiwan has been governed independently of China since 1949. To understand the complicated current politics BBC News have a simple guide.

China And Taiwan – A Really Simple Guide

I am not at all interested in politics. But I’d felt the same gut instinct about visiting Hong Kong.

Taiwan is a country in East Asia officially known as the Republic of China (ROC)


Also, while travelling this past year, on two separate occasions while in Utila Honduras and in Thailand, I’d happened to meet and get to know some lovely people from Taiwan.

I’d really enjoyed talking with them and asking about their country.

I wanted to know which cities they were from (Taichung and Kaohsiung) and where we should go and what should we see as tourists in Taiwan.

Taiwan doesn’t look that big on a map.

I suggested we take a week to explore Taiwan after our trip to South Korea in a couple of months’ time?


From chatting to my new Taiwanese friends and checking out a Taiwan travel guide, it was quickly established, one week wasn’t going to cut it.

Not if the backpacking husband and I wanted to travel along the length of the island while stopping off to explore all the sights along the way.

Our Taiwan travel guide told us we must see the majestic mountains, the national parks and lakes and experience the Taiwanese culture, the museums and markets and temples. We must sample the tea houses and the amazing food.

Taiwanese cuisine is a magical meld of Chinese and Japanese influences.

Taiwan is renowned, I’m told on great authority, for its street markets and Michelin Star street food!

And I loved the sound of it all.

I also loved the enthusiasm and warm affection with which my new friends spoke of their home country.

Then to top it all, it was mentioned that – should we travel to Taiwan in February on the 15th day of the first lunar month – then The Taiwan Lantern Festival was being held in Taipei, for the very first time in twenty-three years.

This year’s theme was to celebrate the Year of The Rabbit and the festival was completely FREE to attend.

Taiwan Lantern Festival – Year of the Rabbit!

You can find out more about the next Taiwan Lantern Festival on the Taiwan Tourism Website.

I immediately began planning a trip to Taiwan in early February – before our planned trip to South Korea.

Our itinerary would include travelling down the coast on a bullet train and stopping off at all the cities and places we wanted to see long the way before heading back to the capital city of Taipei in time to experience the The Lantern Festival.

Wow. What an amazing trip!

So please do join me on a fabulous travel adventure where we get to spend twelve days/ten nights exploring Taiwan!

TAIWAN TRAVEL ITINERARY - Taiwan travel guide & 12 night itinerary #travel #taiwan #taiwanguide
Highlights of Taiwan: 12 Day Itinerary


In this Taiwan travel guide we first travel south through to Taichung City, where we stay for three nights before moving further south to the port city of Kaohsiung for another three nights. After that we took the train all the way up north and back to the Capital City of Taipei for a four nights stay – just in time for The Lantern Festival.


First off, let’s experience train travel using the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR).

The Taiwanese 300kph ‘bullet train’ can take you the length of the island’s west coast from Taipei to Kaohsiung in just one day.

Taiwan Travel High Speed Rail
Click on the image to read the post


In this post, I talk about the prepaid tourist transport card. Read my Taiwan travel post Do I Need An Easy Card?

It explains how and where The Easy Card works and how to get one. I’ll also show you how easy it is to travel independently and safely (it’s one of the safest countries in the world) around Taiwan with helpful links to transport services.

Taiwan Travel Easy card
Click on the image to read the post


GOOD MORNING TAIWAN #travel #taiwan #taichung #taichungcity
Good Morning Taiwan!

TAICHUNG CITY: There is SO much to see and do in Taiwan’s second largest city.

CHUN SHUI TANG: The original tea shop that invested the now world-famous Bubble or ‘Pearl’ Tea.

TAICHUNG PARK: Join me for a morning walk around the lake in the oldest park in Taichung City.

THE EARTHQUAKE MUSEUM: Find out about the 1999 earthquake and the engineering practices that can now make tall buildings earthquake proof.

FENG CHAI NIGHT MARKET: Come with us to experience the famous Night Market in Taichung!


Kaohsiung: Liuhe Night Market

KAOHSIUNG CITY: This large port city in the southern bay of Taiwan sits on the Love River with its romantic waterfront park.

THE DOME OF LIGHT: The city also boasts a unique light show, with the world’s largest public art installation made from individual pieces of coloured glass, with ‘The Dome of Light’ being a feature of the Formosa Boulevard MRT Station in Kaohsiung.

CIJIN ISLAND: Join us on a day trip from Kaohsiung by ferry over to tiny Cijin Island.

LIUHE NIGHT MARKET: And, of course, in Kaohsiung, we couldn’t miss the Liuhe Night Market!


TAIPEI: We travelled back up to Taipei on the bullet train directly from Kaohsiung. We stayed for four nights in the city centre and explored using the metro trains, buses, and by doing lots of walking.

ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN: Also, it was wonderful to take a leisurely hike out to Elephant Mountain for a fantastic view of Taipei City.

TAIPEI 101 TOWER:  An absolute highlight was visiting the Taipei 101 Tower which was the world’s tallest building when it first opened in 2004. During the Lantern Festival, seeing The Taipei 101 Tower lit up and animated with bouncing pink rabbits in keeping with the theme of The Year of The Rabbit was also a spectacular sight!

MICHELIN STAR STREET FOOD: In this post, come with us on a food fest in search of Michelin starred street food at the most famous street food market in Taiwan – The Ningxia Market!

THE LANTERN FESTIVAL: The main event was, of course, the Lantern Festival. Don’t miss this post in which we perused the event park in the daytime and then went back after dark to experience the full light show extravaganza!


Have you ever travelled to Taiwan?

If not, is Taiwan on your travel radar?

I hope you’ll go on to read all my Taiwan travel guides!

If you’ve found them helpful do let me know in the comments!

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