Taiwan is an amazing place and Sarah and I were surprised at how wonderfully diverse it is. From the metropolis of Taipei to wide-open landscapes and everything in between, Taiwan enchanted. Making beautiful images of Taiwan was actually quite easy because this place is a photographers dream. Because Taiwan is a small island, you can be making interesting street photos in the city and, just a few hours later, setting up your tripod in a tea field making landscape photos.
23 Gorgeous Pictures of Taiwan from Our Independent Tour
Dalongdong Baoan Temple, Taipei
This photograph was taken at the stunning Baoan Temple in Taipei which is located in the Dalongdong Cultural and Historical District. Baoan Temple was originally built as a wooden shrine in 1742, but has been rebuilt and renovated numerous times over the years and since 2003 has been part of UNESCO.
Dalongdong Baoan Temple is dedicated to Baosheng Dadi, a Taoist Saint. We have visited many temples during our travels, and this one was a particular favourite. The Baion Temple really is a must-see for everyone visiting Taipei.
How to get to Dalongdong Baoan Temple
The Dalongdong Baoan Temple is easy to get to using the MRT. Take the Red Line no 2 to Yuanshan Station. Don’t worry, the signs on the MRT are written in English as well as Chinese. Leave the station through Exit 2. Walk down Kulun Street, turn right when you reach Dalong St, go past the Confucius Temple, left at Hami Street and you will see the temple on the right.
You won’t get lost, the Taiwanese will know if you’re in this part of the city, that you are looking for the Baoan Temple, Taipei and will point you in the right direction.
Best View of Taipei is From Elephant Mountain
For views of Taipei city, many people head to the indoor observatory on the 89th floor or if it’s a nice day, the outdoor observatory on the 91st floor of the Taipei 101 building. Cost is NT$ 600 (about $20) per person. But as the Taipei 101 is such a famous landmark of Taipei City, you really want it in your photo. So for a great photo of Taipei city, don’t head to Taipei 101, take a hike up to the top of Elephant Mountain. Great views and it’s free, a perfect combination.
It will only take about 20 minutes or so to climb to the top of Elephant Mountain, and there are lots of stairs. But anyone of average fitness will have no trouble hiking the trail to the top.
The best time to climb Elephant Mountain is late afternoon, great for sunsets and night photography. But be warned, the trail can get busy at weekends.
How to get to Elephant Mountain In Taipei
From Taipei 101:
it’s just a 15-minute walk, and it’s signposted.
Take the MRT to Xiangshan Station, the terminus station for Red Line 2. Levar from exit 2, and follow signs along the edge of the park.
You can also borrow a bike from in front of Taipei 101 and drop it off at the Youbike. The station at the base of Elephant Mountain.
Lantern Festival Taipei
We were really pleased to learn that we would be in Taipei when the Lantern Festival was on.
When is the Taipei Lantern Festival
The Lantern Festival takes place on the 15th day of the first lunar month, so around February or March time.
At the Lantern Festival, there were many beautiful colourful lanterns in all shapes and sizes. It’s a fun place to explore for a couple of hours. The festival is held over a few days at the Taipei Expo Park.
How to get to Taipei Expo Park
The Lantern Festival is easily reached by MRT Yuanshan Station. Take exit number 1 and follow the crowds.
The Alishan National Scenic Area is a beautiful mountain region. The natural scenery here is just stunning. It’s a very popular place to visit in the summer because of its cool fresh air and incredible scenery. It’s also famous for its oolong tea. The oolong tea plantations are found at altitudes between 1000-2300 metres. The mountain climate here with its fog and cool temperatures are just perfect for growing oolong tea. The water used for irrigation comes from the pure mountain springs.
Be sure to wake up for sunrise to experience the sea of clouds.
How to get to Alisha National Scenic Area
Take the train to Chiayi City. There are fast trains to Chiayi City from the main cities in Taiwan such as Taipei and Kaohsiung. There are also regular slower trains from other towns. The fast trains and regular trains arrive at different stations. If arriving at the regular train station as we did, the buses, minivans and taxis to Alishan depart from in front of the train station.
The fast trains to Chiayi City arrive at a station a little further out of the city. It’s possible to take buses from there to Alishan too.
Exploring the East Coast of Taiwan
To explore the stunning east coast of Taiwan, it’s a lot easier to have your own transport. There are buses that ply the route but being able to stop to take photos wherever and whenever you want, having your own transportation will be so much easier. We rented a motorcycle from Hualien for a few days. In theory, you should have a Taiwanese license, but there are a couple of rental places that ignore that rule.
There are two routes to follow south of Hualien heading towards Taitung. Take Highway 11 which follows the Pacific coastline through the East Coast National Scenic Area. You will pass through fishing villages, rice paddies and just incredible coastline. A photographer’s dream.
Yuli Sea Plates Bikeway
When we visited Taiwan, we were training for the London Marathon, so we ran rather than rode bikes along the bikeway. It’s flat and ten kilometres in length with a nice coffee shop at the end, perfect for a break during our run! On the way, we came across this interesting section where the Eurasian Plate meets the Philippine Sea Plate.
Close to Yuli, there are many places to hike and hot springs to relax in.
How to get to Yuli Taiwan
We took the train. Yuli is on the main Hualien to Taitung Line. There are also fast trains from Taipei which take around three hours.
Xingang Fishing Market Chenggong
If you like fish, you must go here. Knowing fish was our favourite food, the owner of the guesthouse where we were staying took us to the Xingang Fishing Market in Chenggong. It was fascinating to watch the fish that had been caught that day being unloaded and then watching the rather rowdy auction that takes place between the fisherman and the buyers.
Our guesthouse owner encouraged us to explore and take photos while he ordered the best sushi we have ever had to this day in our life. He wanted us out of the way while he shopped as the price for tourists is usually more expensive than for locals. Even just writing this brings back fantastic memories of the fish, I’m salivating just thinking about this.
How to get to Xingang Fish Market, Chenggong
We went by car, but there are regular buses that run along the east coast.
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Dulan is a cute, quiet coastal town just 20 kilometres north of Taitung City. It’s a lovely chilled out place to hang out for a few days.
While waiting for our bus back to Taitung City, we popped into a coffee shop. We just loved the look of concentration on the barista’s face as she made a delicious cup of coffee for us. The one time you want a bus to turn up late to thoroughly enjoy the aroma and taste, nah, of course, it’s on time that day.
All of the guesthouse owners in Taiwan were so welcoming. The owners of our guest house in Dulan took us for a lovely Taiwanese lunch in a local restaurant.
Tainan is Taiwan’s oldest city, and during imperial times, it was the capital city of Taiwan. When we told people we met in Taiwan that we were visiting Tainan, ‘oh it’s a beautiful city, it has the best food in Taiwan’. So our expectations were high and to be honest at first we were a bit disappointed, it looked like a scruffy Chinese city. But after a few days exploring the old streets, discovering temples and trying the local foods, Tainan really grew on us.
How to get to Tainan
From Taipei: By high-speed train from Taipei to Taiwan. Journey time one hour 45 minutes.
By normal train, takes around four to six hours.
By bus, takes around four to five hours.
From Kaohsiung: High-speed train takes just 15 minutes.
Regular train 40 to 50 minutes.
By bus, around one hour.
Nanya Rocks aka Nanya Peculiar Rocks
The incredible rock formations of Nanya Rocks are located at KM 81.5 on Highway 2 aka the Coast Highway. The Nanya Rocks are located south of Jinguashi and close to Jiufen, where we were staying. It’s a stunning piece of coastline, and if you only have a short time in Taiwan, it’s really worth taking at least a day trip out here to explore the area.
How to get to Nanya Rocks
We jumped in a local taxi from Jiufen, but apparently, there is a bus that you can take from Taipei.
Jiufen Old Town, Taiwan
Jiufen is a gorgeous old town. It’s proximity to Taipei means that many people visit as a day trip, but it’s really worth staying a night or two. Jiufen is even lovelier once the crowds have left.
Gold was discovered in Jiufen during the Japanese occupation in 1893, and right up until the 1950s, Jiufen was a prosperous gold mining town. Today, the focus is on tourism. With its narrow streets and alleyways, charming coffee shops and views of the Pacific Ocean, Jiufen is now a popular tourist destination so do try to avoid visiting on weekends when it’s at its busiest.
How to Get to Jiufen
From Taipei, the easiest way by public transport to get to Jiufen is to take a train from Taipei Main Station to Riufang and then take the bus to Jiufen. The bus stop for Jiufen is a 200m walk from the train station but it is signposted, and there will be plenty of others heading in that direction so you won’t get lost. The bus will drop you off just a very short walk from Jiufen Old Street.
It’s also possible to take a bus all the way from Taipei.
We both really loved Taiwan and even considered moving there. There are so many more places than what we have listed here to see and do, but we just wanted to share our favourite photographs from Taiwan with you.