Landscapes, nature and traditions in one incredible journey
Why visit Taiwan
Taiwan ecotravel is the perfect place if you are attracted by landscapes, nature, and traditions. Just make sure you are ready to stay for longer than expected on this beautiful island, that Portuguese sailors once called Ilha Formosa. Even though it is a small island, two weeks are the right length of stay to enjoy the cultural and landscape diversity.
No matter whether you are a surfer, a hiker, a cyclist or an urban traveler, you will find the perfect activity for you here. Among the nature spots along the North East Coast, the Taroko National Park, Jade mountain, Sun Moon Lake and urban hot spots on the west coast you can find your happy place.
Far away from over-tourism, a Taiwan ecotravel will be a true cultural experience. Visit Taiwan in spring or autumn to enjoy perfect weather!
Taiwan has 23 million inhabitants. Mountains cover 65% of Taiwan islands surface. To preserve the diversity of natural resources, flora and fauna, 9 National Parks and 13 National Scenic Areas in the island have been set up.
Also reducing plastic use and recycling waste have been the priority. In twenty years, Taiwan’s recycling rate rose from 0% to 55%. Carbon emissions are a big issue. There are not many green energy solutions, and nuclear energy is still an issue in Taiwan.
Taiwan is an island, so most tourists arrive by plane. There are some ferries from Okinawa and Macao that bring you to Kaoshiung, the second biggest city of Taiwan. If you come by plane, a less crowded option is to choose Kaoshiung International Airport (KHH). Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) is very busy, but only 40 mins per shuttle or MRT (Metro) to Taipei City. Some Asian airports also fly to Taipei City Airport (TSA).
It’s easy to travel around the island by public transportation. Many local trains leave Taipei multiple times a day. The High Speed Rail (HSR) connects all main cities along the west coast and brings you from Taipei to Kaoshiung in only 1.5 hours. MRT in Taipei and Kaoshiung are convenient, tourists can buy an “easy card” to get on bus, local shuttle and train systems easily. The easy card can also be used for renting U-bikes. Where to buy and top up? MRT station and convenient stores are all available for the service, and there are more than 10 thousand convenient stores running 24 hours in Taiwan.
Taiwan ecotravel is bike-friendly, it is allowed to take bikes on several trains and MRTs. For more information about cycling you can check Cycling Taiwan. If you want to rent a car, you will need an international driver licence, it’s available inside all HSR stations and some outside of train stations in popular destinations.
Tourism & People
Taiwanese love to share their cultural diversity, not only Han, Hakka and Southeast Asian people living on the island, but also 16 Indigenous tribes in Taiwan. These different cultures also bring religious diversity – with a good amount of Buddhists, vegetarian and organic restaurants are easy to find.
Democracy and freedom are deeply ingrained in this young country. Despite or maybe because of the high population density, Taiwan is a very safe country with good life quality and hygiene standards.
Travel tips from our editors
history by foot
If you like a quiet historical city walk, this is the best route. No matter how much time you have, you can explore the old Taipei city and taste traditional food on a half day walking tour. Start at North Gate (1884) near Taipei main station and visit the historical places nearby (Futai Mension, Post office, Train office, Mitsui Warehouse), continue to Dihua Street with where traditional facades of trading stalls and new year markets from Ching dynasty are well preserved. This old street is famous for its traditional Taiwanese cuisine, souvenir shops and temples. If you have limited time in Taipei, stay close to Ximen Station or near other stops along the blue MRT line. There are some eco hotels to stay in as well.
One hour on the train
to reach the seaside
Fulong station at the North East Coast is only one hour from Taipei by train. 10 walking minutes out of Fulong station, you will arrive at the coastline. If you spend a night or two in Fulong, you can enjoy outdoor activities like snorkeling, hiking, swimming, canoeing and much more. During certain seasons, artists create sand sculptures on the beach. Cycle along the coast to enjoy the landscape and explore small fishing villages. It’s always good to visit on week days.
Outside of Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake is beautiful and famous. It is crowded at the weekend. It would be good to visit on weekdays. And if you would like a quiet and local town nearby, JIJI is a good choice. It has a wooden historical train station and countryside scenery, with a local fruits industry. Around the end of April to the beginning of May, the firefly season is also a good time to visit.
National Park in
Yangminshan National Park is located in Taipei City. There are plenty of trails for a hike. If you have time for a day, it would be perfect to visit the city national park, where there are hot springs and volcano heat scenery . The public transportation is convenient; visitor can reach the park in one hour by bus from Taipei main station and Jiantan MRT station.
For separate waste disposal, each city has a different way of recycling. Following the signs on bins is the best way to help recycling. Abandoned batteries can recycled in most of the convenient stores’ counter (7-11). If you have the chance to stay in a residential area, you will see the unique Taiwanese waste truck. The policy in many areas says that waste bags are not allowed on the ground, thus, the waste truck usually drives around after dinner time and plays Beethoven music to remind people to bring their collected rubbish to the truck.
The Green Mark of Taiwan (Hotel Operator and Restaurant) was launched in 1992 in order to encourage companies to manufacture products that have less impact on the environment, reduce wastes and promote recycling.
The Taiwanese destinations, North East and Yilan Coast and Sun Moon Lake, are participating in the GD Awards & Certification Program.
The certification body CU-GSTC Hotel Certification – Control Union is accredited to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Hotels and Tour Operators. The CU-GSTC certify hotels which implemented the GSTC Hotels criteria.
Travelife is a leading training, management and certification initiative for tourism companies committed to reaching sustainability. The system is based on international standards such as ISO 26000 and GSTC-accredited.
"We have various religions, 16 indigenous tribe, and also different people living in the island. The landscape is really various if you travel from west to east and north to south: you will experience city, mountain area and seaside in an hour. Biodiversity is unique: there are 13 national parks in Taiwan. Many efforts are being made to better preserve the heritage, including indigenous rights, and for the ecological conservation".
Green Destination awarded places in Taiwan ecotravel are easily accessible by public transportation.
The destinations presented here are the best examples of responsible travelling experiences for your discovery tour of Formosa.
North East and Yilan Coast
Enjoy the breathtaking coastal views and historical hiking and biking trails in this Award-winning area. Discover the unique rock formations and golden sand on the local beaches.
Outdoor Activities and Local Experience
Have a walk along Fulong Beach and discover the area by bike, riding through the abandoned historical train tunnel as part of a 20km coastal biking trail. This route won the 2020 ITB-Award in the category Best of Asia-Pacific. Visit the Driftwood Sculpture Hall to see driftwood remains of precious native Taiwanese trees, symbol of the green spirit of Taiwan ecotravel. Pass by fishing villages to discover the traditional stone houses, listen to stories and taste local Gelidium Jelly drink; the squid noodle of locals.
Turtle Island and Dolphin Watching
If you have more time, continue on to the south part of NEYC and visit Turtle Island, a volcanic island from where you can watch dolphins on boat tours from Wushih Harbor Visitor Centre. Visitors can experience the scenery of Turtle Island with the extraordinary sight of a submarine vocano. If you are lucky enough, you will see whales swimming near Turtle Island. Also, you can go hiking on Turtle Island. Visitor can apply to land on Turtle Island for hiking. The Island has capacity control,so be sure to register before you visit.
Gold Fulong Shuttle Bus
If you only have 4 days for your Taiwan ecotravel, then you can try to stay in Fulong or Jinguashi/Jiufen, gold mining villages. The 2 attractions are only 60-90 mins bus/train to Taipei City. Gold Fulong Shuttle bus is the linkage between the two international attractions of Fulong – Sea Side activities and fishing villages. Jinguashi/Jiufen was a gold mining village with old streets and hiking trails around. Take Gold Fulong Shuttle Bus route, passengers can enjoy golden sunshine and blue ocean views, geological landscape.
Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake is famous for its natural alpine lake located in central Taiwan. The water comes from a high mountain river. Because of its special topography, the biggest “Hydropower System” with green energy in Taiwan was built here in 1934. Visitors will enjoy the natural outdoor activities, indigenous culture experience, historical tea plant stories and authentic Taiwanese countryside life in Sun Moon Lake area.
The lake is bounded by Lalu Island. The east side is shaped like a “sun” and the west side is shaped like a “moon”, hence the name Sun Moon Lake. The route around the lake is around 30km, and is slightly challenging due to the terrain; in addition, tourists who like leisurely paces can choose to ride the short-distance bicycle path to chase the wind. At Puli Township, which has high and low hills, every road is a challenge in itself. The winding road and the rolling mountain scenery complement each other, and you can ascend the beautiful sunrise of Jinlong Mountain.
Indigenous Tribe Experience
There are indigenous cultures of the Tribe Thao and Tribe Zhuoshui Bunun in the Sun Moon Lake area. Visitors can explore the authentic tribe life and feel the enthusiasm and vitality of the indigenous people. More information can be found here.
Authentic Local Country Life in JIJI Town
Jiji Railway Station is a historical station built in 1940 with cypress wood construction . It is the landmark of Jiji Town. If travellers want a more quiet and relaxing break, JIJI would be a good choice. The first CU-GSTC certified hotel is only a 5 minute walk from the JIJI train station. And bicycles can easily rented around the station. You can find farmers markets and lots of types of banana, which reveal the history of banana growing in JIJI. Tasting the fired banana skin and mini local banana species is fun.