Taiwan is a subtropical country located in the eastern region of Asia. The country is an island surrounded by bodies of water, including the East China Sea.

Despite the relatively small geographic scope, the country offers a number of attractions that speak about culture, history, and the communities, all of which are usually accessible from the capital – Taipei. With the Taipei Easy Card as your main travel buddy, here is a four-day itinerary that would give you a taste of the famous Formosa, the beautiful island.

Day 1: History and Geography at Northern Region

A few hours away from the busy streets of Taipei are the scenic terrains and landscapes — including mountain ranges, waterfalls and rock formations, among many others — that will make you appreciate the hidden beauty of Taiwan.

In the northern region of Taiwan lies the historical post-gold mining towns of Jiufen and Shifen. Jiufen Old Streets is a maze of lanes and alleyways that offer a variety of food and memorabilia that commemorate Taiwanese history and culture.

For anime fanatics, Jiufen Old Streets also resembles the picturesque scenes in the much-celebrated Japanese animated film Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki. With all narrow alleys, steep stairs, and red lanterns suspended high above the ground, you’ll feel like the film has come to life.

Red Lanterns of Jiufen Old Streets
Red Lanterns of Jiufen Old Streets

Meanwhile, Shifen Old Streets, located in Pingxi area, consists of narrow lanes and alleyways similar to Jiufen, but it’s located around the Shifen Railway Station.

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Much like Jiufen, the old streets were organized during the Japanese era. Now, the district is famous for the sky lanterns where tourists can write their wishes before setting their sky lanterns afloat.

Home along train tracksBridge between two placesAerial town viewThe northern region of Taipei is also filled with scenic landscapes, including the Yehlui Geopark and the Golden Waterfalls.

Famous for its sea-erosion landscape, the park is made up of various rock formations. Here you can see the Queen’s head, which depicts an image of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti.

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The northern region of Taiwan has more varied weather compared to the rest of the country, but the beauty within and around its mountains are a feast to the eyes!

Waters rushing down the mountainDay 2: Taipei Zoo and Bopiliao Historic Block

Taipei Zoo is located on the eastern side of Taipei, next to the mountainous terrains of Taiwan. The largest zoo in Asia, Taipei Zoo is a home to a variety of animals, including pandas and penguins.

Taipei Zoo frontPanda climbing on treeEasily accessible via the Taipei MRT Rapid Transit Subway, you can enter the park through the Maokong Gondola to get an elevated view of the eastern side of Taipei.

In the center of Taipei, the Bopiliao Historic Block portrays some of the oldest historical architecture in the midst of modern Taipei. Through the restoration of traditional shops and buildings, the site serves as a commemoration of Taiwanese traditional culture and history.

Traditional shops and buildingsJust a few minutes’ walk from the historic block is a famous old shrine in Taiwan, the Longshan Temple. The temple was built for worshipping Guanshiyin Buddha and other divine spirits. Chinese poems, verses, and lyrics have been posted on the signs, contributing a literary vibe to its spiritual and aesthetic values.

Longshan Temple in TaiwanDay 3: The Busy Streets of Taipei

Open the day with a chill hike – a not so easy trek through the steep staircases on a foggy morning – atop the Elephant Mountain. Also known as Nangang District Hiking Trail, Elephant Mountain gives an amazing view of Taipei City and the famous Taipei 101 building. If the day promises good weather, take a hike in the afternoon to catch the sunset.

Foggy morning on elephant mountainIf not, you can visit the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, although this tends to be crowded by tourists. The site was built to give tribute to the founder of Taiwan, Chiang Kai-Shek.

The memorial hall is guarded by the members of the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, and the Military Police and the duty rotates every hour. Just as in England, they call this the Changing of Guards.

Memorial hall viewTo cap off the day, we went to Xiangshan Park to witness the spectacular Taipei 101 fireworks display, which occurs every New Year’s Eve.

New Year's Eve Fireworks Display
New Year’s Eve Fireworks Display Taipei 101/JP David

Day 4: Night Market

What better way to end a trip than to roam the streets filled with merchandise and goods that you can bring back to your home country?

Before leaving Taipei Metro, we took the opportunity to roam around Taipei Cinema Park, which is filled with graffiti and wall art.

graffiti and wall artThe site, after being abandoned for more than three centuries, now houses various forms of public creative exhibitions. That includes wall art and, sometimes, street performances.

A few meters from the Cinema Park lies Ximending, also known as the Shibuya of Taipei. Here, a night market is established to offer various forms of goods, from food to clothing to gadgets.

Night market in TaipeiNight market in Taipei 02Taiwan may not be a popular destination, especially to Western travelers, but the country offers a variety of narratives. Whether it’s historical, political, geographical, religious, or economic, you’ll find something to interest you. The beautiful island is definitely a sight to behold, especially if you can include a trip to the provincial destinations a few hours away from the city.

You should also consider visiting the neighboring countries and traveling via AirAsia could be a good option. If you are a budget traveler, getting the best deals from AirAsia should be your priority!