Taiwan Itinerary for First-timers: My 6D5N Trip to Taichung & Taipei

Taiwan Itinerary for First-timers: My 6D5N Trip to Taichung & Taipei

Taiwan's enchanting scenery and street food make us eager to return!

Visiting Taiwan has always been on my bucket list. This gorgeous island is widely known for its scenic natural beauty, culinary delights, and warm hospitality. But what’s even better? It’s one of the most budget-friendly travel destinations in Asia! For my first trip to Taiwan, I decided to explore both Taichung and Taipei over six days. Join me as I share my travel tips and itinerary across the beautiful Ilha Formosa!

Also read: 10 Budget-Friendly Airbnb Homes in Taipei for Your Next Taiwan Trip

My Taiwan itinerary and travel tips

Day 1: Arrival in Taoyuan, and taking the HSR to Taichung

After arriving at Taoyuan International Airport, my friend and I took the Taiwan High-Speed Rail (HSR) to the Taichung HSR Station. Our hotel in Taichung, HiRiver Hotel, is conveniently located within walking distance from the Taichung MRT station, which can be reached via the local train from Xinwuri Station within Taichung HSR Station. The price per night is approximately RM267 (~US$56.63 or S$76.67). Despite the limited space, we found the hotel room clean, and our overall stay was comfortable.

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We then headed to the first attraction of the night: Miyahara, by foot. Originally constructed with red brick, this establishment was once the largest ophthalmology clinic in Taichung during the Japanese colonial period. Today, it serves as a dessert shop and restaurant offering ice cream, bubble tea, chocolates, and Taiwan’s famous pineapple cakes. 

While retaining its classic architecture, the interior has been artfully redesigned to evoke the ambience of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series! For ice cream, I highly recommend the passion fruit and tea flavours. The portion is also pretty huge!

Next, we explored Yizhong Street Night Market, which is about a 25-minute walk from Miyahara. Brimming with street eats, restaurants, and clothing stores, it’s no wonder this place is a favourite among locals and tourists alike. It was here that I tried Taiwanese bubble tea and stinky tofu for the first time, and they certainly lived up to expectations — delicious!

TripZilla tip: Upon arrival in Taiwan, I recommend getting an EasyCard (aka Yoyo Card) from any convenience store. This versatile smart card can be used for various purposes, such as accessing all metro systems and making payments at convenience stores and select restaurants.

Day 2: Visiting Qingjing Farm and the famous Fengchia Night Market

On day two of my Taiwan itinerary, we began with a trip to Qingjing Farm. I booked a day tour through KKDay, which provided transportation from the train station to Qingjing Farm. During our visit, most cherry trees had already turned green, so I suggest planning your trip for mid to late February if you’re hoping to see the landscape adorned with pink blooms.

Nestled in Nantou County, Qingjing Farm sprawls along the spine of a mountain range, where charming sheep and horses roam freely. We enjoyed a horse riding show before wandering around the farm and feeding the sheep. The view was spectacular!

In addition, Qingjing Farm offers numerous eateries and stalls where you can savour local delicacies such as Taiwanese sausage, bamboo shoot soup, and fried noodles. They also cater to Muslim-friendly options. Then, we delighted in a sheep shearing show before leaving.

Our next stop was Gaomei Wetlands, a picturesque flatland with wind turbines renowned for its gorgeous sunset views. Unfortunately, there was no sunset during our visit, but we still managed to capture some cool photos and brought back some local snacks.

In the evening, we returned to Taichung city centre and embarked on a food-hunting adventure around Fengchia Night Market. We were bedazzled by the array of food choices and numerous bubble tea stores! You can also find cute souvenirs to bring home, and they’re priced slightly cheaper than those in Taipei.

We indulged in a hearty bowl of beef noodles at Zun Pin Original Soup Beef Noodles. Tucked away in an alley in Fengchia, this shop offers one of the best beef noodles I’ve ever had! The broth is rich in flavour, and the beef is tender and aromatic. I also packed some famous Taiwanese street food such as Da Chang Bao Xiao Chang (barbequed sausage wrapped in glutinous rice bun) as supper.

Day 3: City walking in Taichung, then taking the train to Taipei

In the morning, we relished a beloved local delicacy that has been cherished for decades — Taiwanese rou yuan at Taichung Rou Yuan. Also known as bak wan, these are delicious meat fillings wrapped in a unique dough made from sweet potato flour and rice flour, lightly fried and served with soy sauce paste.

Then, we decided to visit the birthplace of bubble tea, Chun Shui Tang. I like how accessible the city is, allowing us to reach almost any destination on foot or by bus. At Chun Shui Tang, we ordered the traditional bubble tea, served in a tall glass. However, I found the pearls a bit smaller than expected.

We had a little more time to spare, so we explored the National Taiwan Museum of Comics nearby. Situated amidst lush trees, this museum offers free entry and boasts a cosy atmosphere. All the exhibitions are housed in 15 historic Japanese-style buildings, showcasing artworks created by artists from Taiwan and Japan. While I’m not a huge comic fan myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the overall atmosphere, especially the sight of a large and beautiful bougainvillaea tree that was in bloom!

After checking out of our hotel in Taichung, we boarded a bus to the HSR Station. From there, we took the train to Taipei, which was approximately an hour-long journey. Our hotel in Taipei is called Lin Inn TMS, a budget-friendly hotel that’s within walking distance of Taipei Main Station. It’s located on the fourth floor of a building, with room prices starting from around RM255 (~US$54.14 or S$73.27) per night.

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We also visited the Ximending shopping district and enjoyed a hot pot buffet for dinner. At first glance, Ximending reminded me of the bustling streets depicted in Korean dramas, while the food offerings leaned more towards Japanese-style cuisine.

TripZilla tip: In Taiwan, buses won’t stop unless you flag them down with your hand or if someone on board requests to alight. Take note of this if you’re relying on the buses when travelling within Taiwan.

Day 4: A day trip exploring Yehliu Geopark, Shifen, and Jiufen

Day 4 of this Taiwan itinerary was personally a highlight of the trip for me. We covered some of the top places to go near Taipei in a single day. We booked a day tour through the KKDay platform, which included visits to Yehliu Geopark, Shifen, and Jiufen. While you can explore these places independently, we found the tour more convenient as it provided transportation.

For those unfamiliar with Yehliu Geopark, it’s a geological wonder along the coastline, where nature, through wind and waves, has created extraordinary rock formations for thousands of years. Here, I finally encountered the iconic Queen’s Head, a majestic mushroom-shaped rock formation which resembles Queen Elizabeth with a long slender neck and exquisite facial features!

TripZilla tip: The queue to take pictures with Queen’s Head can take over 20 minutes. I recommend saving time and exploring other adorable rock formations, such as the Mischievous Princess Head instead.

Our next destination of the day was Shifen, a lively old street nestled around old railway tracks, widely known for its waterfall and flying sky lanterns. Even though we did not visit the waterfall, the bustling atmosphere and sky full of lanterns were truly charming! 

Here, visitors can write down their wishes on the lanterns and release them to the sky. The old railway track is lined with numerous vendors offering souvenirs, beverages, and delicious local Taiwanese snacks like fried chicken, too.

It didn’t take too long for us to get to Jiufen from Shifen. It was around evening when we arrived at Jiufen, and I was extremely excited to check out the town adorned with glowing red lanterns. Rumour had it that this old town even served as the inspiration for the beloved Ghibli Studios movie — Spirited Away!

We strolled around the town and encountered many cute cats. We also tried out taro balls, a local dessert that comes in both hot and cold variations. Despite the stunning vistas, I was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of people that day. The crowds were a little bit too much to navigate comfortably.

After picking up some locally made plum wine and snacks as souvenirs, we safely arrived at the Taipei city. We then headed to Ningxia Night Market, a night market which is said to be less touristy and is well-known for more authentic food choices.

Here, we indulged in street snacks like stinky tofu, stir fry octopus, and Taiwanese peanut ice cream roll, before calling it a day. The peanut ice cream roll stood out to me! It contains ice cream, crushed peanuts, and coriander — all the most unexpected ingredients wrapped in a crepe. Surprisingly, the taste isn’t too weird, but rather delectable! 

Day 5: Checking out The Palace Museum, and hunting for cherry blossoms

On Day 5, we began our morning with a fresh bowl of oyster vermicelli, also known as orh ah mee sua at Mianxian Chen near Taipei Main Station. This popular dish features wheat vermicelli cooked in a thick, flavourful soup, topped with plump oysters, coriander, and homemade chilli sauce. It was quite tasty! 

On the way to the bus station, I couldn’t resist joining a queue for a local favourite known as pepper cakes. These savoury Fuzhou pork buns were too tempting to pass up, so I indulged in some myself.

Then, we finally arrived at the National Palace Museum after more than an hour of travel by bus. I was disappointed to learn that the museum’s most famous jade sculpture, the Jadeite Cabbage, was not on display that day. 

Nevertheless, we still cherished our time at the museum, marvelling at the beauty of ancient artefacts such as bronze vessels, hand-painted vases, and jade collections spanning various dynasties. 

We also got to take a close look at the Meat-Shaped Stone, the second most famous art piece of the museum. This unique stone is actually a piece of jasper, intricately carved and dyed to resemble a piece of Dongpo pork belly, created by an anonymous Qing dynasty artist nearly two centuries ago. It was fascinating to see such sophisticated craftsmanship up close.

Our next stop was Yangmingshan National Park, a massive park known for hiking and admiring flora such as cherry blossoms, calla lilies, and silver grass. 

Because of our limited time, we had to forgo many of the park’s attractions and only ventured into the entrance area adorned with white cherry trees. As it was nearing the end of cherry blossom season in Taipei, I was grateful to still have the opportunity to admire and capture photos with them!

In the evening, we took the bus from Yangmingshan to Zhongshan District, one of Taipei’s coolest and trendiest neighbourhoods and shopping districts. Here, you’ll be greeted by tons of cafes, restaurants, and shopping malls. 

We had a fun time grocery shopping at Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Nanxi Store One. Since it was already pretty late, we only managed to try out a few of the pizzerias and bubble tea shops nearby. 

TripZilla tip: I personally feel like Zhongshan district is a much better place to eat and shop than Ximending. For anyone looking for a foodie adventure or retail therapy in Taipei, you know where to go!

Later at midnight, we strolled from our hotel to Yong He Soy Milk for supper. Renowned for its delicious egg rolls and traditional Taiwanese soy milk, this spot truly lived up to our expectations!

Day 6: Enjoying our last bites in Taipei

On our final day in Taipei, we made sure to visit another must-see landmark: Taipei 101. More than admiring its architectural splendour, we were looking forward to tasting the renowned Ichiran Ramen. Almost everyone around me who has tried it said it’s delicious, and I couldn’t agree more after my first sip of the ramen broth!

P.S. Ichiran Ramen is a Japanese chain restaurant specialising in tonkotsu ramen.

Before we departed, we spent some time browsing for souvenirs at the Taoyuan International Airport. Among Taiwan’s most popular souvenirs, we picked up sun cakes, aka tai yang bing, and pineapple cakes. I highly recommend the pineapple cakes from the brand Sunny Hills — they have won over even the pickiest dessert lovers (like my friend!).

Also read: 15 Reasons Why Japan Lovers Will Also Love Taiwan!

And there you have it, my Taiwan itinerary exploring Taichung and Taipei which I hope will be a helpful guide for first-time visitors to this charming island! The breathtaking nature and city vistas, along with scrumptious street food, were definitely highlights of this trip. I believe you’ll find exploring Taiwan as enjoyable as I did! For more travel guides and places to visit around the world, check out our Facebook and Instagram.

All images are credited to Cecelia Chang.

About Author

Cecelia Chang
Cecelia Chang

Born in a new village in Selangor, Malaysia, Cecelia loves three things in life: Good food, good views, and good deals. She also enjoys exploring new places and experiencing new things on her travels.