Explore the best of Taiwan's Natural Wonders
Fly into Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport near Taipei. By the time you’ve transferred to your hotel in the capital, we’ll have finalised a plan for the rest of the day that matches your interests and energy levels. Depending on time available and weather, this may include a look at Taipei Botanical Garden, or one of the popular short hikes on Elephant Mountain. Visiting the fabulous National Palace Museum is an option, especially if you’re arriving on a Friday or Saturdays when it stays open to 9pm (closing time is 6.30pm on other days). Alternatively, you may want nothing more strenuous than a soak in a hot spring, a visit to Taipei 101 and its observatory for sunset views over the city, or a stroll around Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (a landmark dedicated to Taiwan and Nationalist China’s former leader).
We recommend making a reasonably early start and eating a hearty breakfast because we have a four-hour drive ahead of us. The journey can be broken with a stop at the hot & cold springs park in Jiaoxi in Yilan County, or a walk on the windswept Pacific-facing beach at Dongao. A good option for lunch en route is the acclaimed aboriginal restaurant Dageeli. Arriving in Taroko National Park around 2pm will give us time to visit the Eternal Spring Shrine and the Yanzikou Trail (Swallow Grotto) before checking into our preferred hotel at 4pm. The property has excellent food and spa services, outdoor and indoor pools, and is a short walk from Xiangde Temple.
Today can be as energetic as you like. Depending on your enthusiasm for walking and your passion for stunning natural landscapes, we can take you along the flat but very pretty Baiyang Trail, the more challenging hike up to Lianhua Pond, or to the Lushui Trail to glimpse macaques. If you’re the kind of person happy to enjoy the national park from a car seat, we’ll drive you to the best vantage points, and have lunch at Buluowan, a former Truku aboriginal settlement where there are demonstrations of indigenous handicrafts.
After breakfast, we’ll head into the higher reaches of Taroko National Park, stopping if you like for hot ginger tea at Bilu Sacred Tree, a 50m high, 3,200-year-old Lunta fir. We’ll make regular stops, including one at the road’s highest point (3,275m above sea level), so you can photograph the gorgeous scenery and stretch your legs. Lunch can be a feast of roast chicken and mountain vegetables – or a simple picnic nearly two miles above sea level. We expect to get you to the lakeshore around 4pm, in time for a delightful cruise on a private boat to enjoy views of the water and the surrounding mountains.
Whatever time your flight out, we’ll help you make the very most of your final day in Taiwan. Almost everyone agrees that just after daybreak, as the sun climbs up over the nearby peaks, is a splendid moment to appreciate the beauty of Sun Moon Lake. Depending on your schedule, we’ll visit Cien Pagoda (built on the orders of Chiang Kai-shek to honour his late mother) and perhaps a pair of temples that preserve relics associated with Xuan Zang, a Buddhist monk revered for traveling from China to India in 7th century and translating religious texts. The drive from the lake to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport takes around two-and-a-half hours, and from the freeway you’ll see a mix of rural and urban environments. In Taiwan, you’re never very far from the city, nor are you ever far from nature.