If you travel to Taiwan at some day, maybe my itinerary and tips are able to help you.
In general: You’ll need adapter for electricity. Mosquitos are annoying but Taiwan is Malaria-free and there are just rare cases of Dengue. It turns „summer“ in April when lots of locals start to walk around in shorts. Still, bring a long sleeve if you stay indoors due to aircon. Meals at food courts of shopping malls and night markets is really cheap. Japenese food is excellent in Taiwan, Korean food is not on that level. Public transportation is really cheap and easily managable with knowledge of English only. Convenience stores can print for you, call taxis, most of the times they have free toilets and wifi, cash machines and café tables where you can sit down and enjoy a drink (this is why they are called convenience stores). Taiwanese people have early dinner, start at 5:30 or 6. Latest by 8, restaurants will be empty and oftentimes they have „last order“ times at around 8:15 or 8:30. Try the bubble tea as it’s so different from the one known in Germany and you can adjust sugar and ice. Taiwanese people are really friendly and caring. Most Taiwanese use umbrellas against the sun instead of sunscreen.
Itinerary for 10 days country trip:
We picked up the car at Taoyuan airport, making our way to north-east skipping Taipei. I didn’t drive in Taipei but after witnessing traffic and parking situation, I strongly recommend to avoid it if you can. First stop Lefu B&B in Yilan, takes about 2 hours drive from Taoyuan airport. Great B&B (big rooms, super clean), great host but bring cash. We stayed 1 night to prepare for the drive to Taroko National Park.
For the drive from there to Taroko, plan a day. The distance doesn’t look that far but the streets are narrow and twisty. But the drive is amazing as you drive along the coastline which has magnificent views. Stop as often as you can.
Next hotel: Silks Place Taroko. I know it’s really expensive but it’s one of the only hotels that is directly located in the Taroko NP and has a great rooftop pool and breakfast. Rooms are a bit old-fashioned but clean and big. Book a room with a view, it’s adorable. We stayed to 2 nights and Taroko NP was my personal highlight on that trip.
After Taroko, we took a narrow street to Sun Moon Lake in the heart of the country. Again plan enough time as there are so many great views and enjoy. Our hotel at Sun Moon Lake was Shui Sha Lian Hotel, and it was ok if you want to save money – but don’t expect anything great. There are plenty of hotels around, we stayed 2 nights. Sun Moon Lake was really pretty, lots of opportunities to hike, visit temples or pagodas.
Next stop was Alishan mountain. Taroko and Sun Moon Lake was not that touristy and crowded, but Alishan definitly is !!! Make sure that you do not visit at weekends as locals told me that they would rather not go than on weekends! Unfortunately it was raining and I was ill at that time, so I didn’t like it. Hotels and restaurants in the park are expensive and I cannot recommend any hotels or restaurants. If you go, be prepared to spend lots of money! If I had known before, I would have skipped it. Again, we also spend 2 nights here.
Final stop on our tour was Kenting in the very south. It looks like it’s a long way down there but a huge part of it is highway or street through some towns so you can go faster than in the narrow mountain streets. If possible, be there on the weekends because then the town gets vibrant and lively with street food and cocktails – but without getting too crowded. We stayed a 10 minutes walk away from town in Howard Beach Resort near the beach and with a pool. Free parking as well. We stayed 3 nights and make sure that you take your car and drive around the coast a bit, it’s beautiful.
On the last day, we drove up all the way to Taoyuan airport to return the car. It took about 7 hours (mostly on highways) but I preferred to do that instead of spending a night somewhere in the middle. I took an extra 2 days trip to Kaohsiung and it’s nice but I definitly preferred Taroko, Sun Moon Lake and Kenting. From Taoyuan airport, you can take the MRT into Taipei (about 40 minutes) and start your adventure there. Taipei is a great city with a lot to explore!
Summary: Driving in Taiwan is really easy. They don’t go that fast and drivers are generally friendly and patient. My highlight was Taroko as I love nature. I would have loved to stay longer there. Don’t forget to try all the good food they have, especially Taiwanese Hot Pot, Dumplings, Bubble Tea and Japanese Ramen soup. It was an essential part of my travel experience.
Enjoy your travels & be safe!