For those who are thinking about what to do in Taiwan, I've got you covered, with some amazing inspiration for your Taiwan itinerary.
Just like my career journey (ex-lawyer turned travel blogger), my travel suggestions for Taiwan are always off-the-beaten-path. Taiwan is home to the best little-known wonders in Asia, and this (secret) bucket list is full of the country's best - yet unsung - places to go, things to do, and experiences to have.
So, fasten your seat belt and get ready to be wowed because these are some sure-fire things you have to do in Taiwan before you die. And I'll bet you've never heard of them ;)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Farm-to-Table Culinary Experiences with Taiwan's indigenous tribes
Hunting, Camping, and Learning Survival Skills with the Bunun Tribe
Make Coffee the Traditional Way with the Leye (Lalauya) Tribe
1. Flyboarding (水上飛板) on the North Coast
Taiwan's northern coast is amazing by itself, but these beach towns also offer some fantastic seaside activities that are guaranteed to make a splash. Particularly, flyboarding is becoming more and more popular, with tourists flocking to the coast of northern Taiwan to catch some waves. With a gentle breeze cooling your face and the sun kissing your back, you may feel as if you're flying.
Flyboarding is a fantastic addition to your Taiwan itinerary, but if you haven't tried it before, it may seem quite intimidating at first. But, with a professional guide on hand, flyboarding is about as safe and relaxing as you're going to find in the great outdoors. The LeBay Company is my go-to recommendation for flyboarding in Taiwan. It is equipped with five professional instructors who offer a wide variety of exciting water sports for anyone looking to have an exhilarating adventure in northern Taiwan.
Click here to read more about my first-time flyboarding experience in Taiwan.
2. Stand-up Paddleboarding (立式划槳) on the North Coast
Taiwan's north coast provides pristine beaches, blue-green waters, sea caves, and other interesting features that were formed by centuries of water, wind, and sand. And stand-up paddleboarding is the perfect way to enjoy it all. This water sport is fairly new in Taiwan, but it is gaining ground in the water sports world and catching the attention of many.
SUP will allow you to witness the magnificent coast and waters of Taiwan while getting a good workout. Whether you are a landlubber looking to get your toes wet in the world of water sports or a veteran sea-goer looking for new ways to have fun, stand-up paddleboarding is the activity for you. You can make a reservation with a trusted service provider like Breeze SUP to have a SUP experience you will never forget.
Click here to read more about SUP in Taiwan.
3. Chishang Rice Fields (池上伯朗大道)
Chishang is a haven for slow travelers who wish to discover the unspoiled beauty of Taiwan and indulge in their love of nature. This small, picturesque town is known for its gorgeous rice fields, which will immerse you in nothing but a gorgeous scene of the green and golden brown hues of the rice plants swaying in the wind.
Rice is grown pretty much everywhere in Taiwan, but among them, Chishang stands out as one of the most scenic places in Taiwan. It's a great place to witness the epitome of sustainable tourism, as it's devoid of honking vehicles and crowds of tourists. If you are willing to walk or ride a bike through the vastness of the rice fields and quiet roads, you will be greeted by a place where time stands still, and your worries evaporate away.
4. Farm-to-Table Culinary Experiences with Taiwan's indigenous tribes (紅糯米田野餐桌)
No Taiwan bucket list is complete without an authentic farm-to-table experience where you can see and taste what Taiwan has to offer. Taking a gastronomical tour will allow you to enjoy the freshest seasonal produce, sample the unique flavors that Taiwan is known for, and hear first-hand from the farmers how their produce is cultivated, harvested, and transformed into wonderful creations.
Don't miss the Tafalong tribe's Red Glutinous Rice Paddy Picnic (紅糯米田野餐桌), a one-day, slow travel experience that includes:
1) Edible wild greens market tour (野菜市集尋寶)
2) Amis culinary arts classroom (阿美廚藝教室)
3) DIY: Red Glutinous Rice Wine Peppered Pickle Hot Paste (手作酒釀辣椒)
4) Guided cultural tour (文化導覽)
5) Traditional tribal songs (歌謠表演)
It's a great way to get a first-hand look at the source of your food while also supporting sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices. The indigenous, farm-to-table food scene is flourishing, and you have various options to choose from that are sure to quench your appetite. Read more about these experiences here.
5. Hunting, Camping, and Learning Survival Skills with the Bunun Tribe
The Bunun tribe is an indigenous tribe in Taiwan that has subsisted through hunting, farming, and gathering for centuries. The ancestral home of the Bunun people was in the mountains of Taiwan, but one clan was forced to relocate to the coastal valley of Fengbin during the Japanese colonial era. Although the tribe has gone through many changes in its lifestyle and culture, they still maintain many of the basic activities that have helped them survive for hundreds of years.
This is a one-of-a-kind Taiwan bucket list activity that offers you the chance to connect with the local population of Bunun people and learn many survival skills like hunting, climbing, camping, archery, and even tightrope walking.
Click here to discover more indigenous villages in Taiwan.
6. Making Glutinous Rice Wine with the Gangkou Clan
Sumi Dongi runs the Glutinous Rice Winery, where everyone can learn about the precious brewing culture of the indigenous Amis tribe. In addition to tasting glutinous rice wine, visitors can participate in the production of distillery yeast and glutinous rice wine. In the Gangkou clan, there are 16 ina, or “aunties,” who can brew glutinous rice wine. Each ina gives the rice wine a unique taste that tells a different story. Sumi Dongi claims that “to make your wine taste good, you must be happy when making it.”
After returning to her hometown, Sumi Dongi began to create art and investigate tribal literature and history. She has also been promoting tribal culture for many years. The movie “Wawa No Cidal” is based on her story of reviving the culture of “ocean rice” in the Gangkou clan. In addition, she works with the design brand “Kamaro’an” to restore the umbrella sedge plant.
Address: No. 117-2, Shitiwan, Gangkou Village, Fengbin Township, Hualien County
7. Bayan Hot Springs (八煙溫泉露頭)
A stop at Bayan Hot Springs is a fantastic addition to your Taiwan bucket list, hidden within the Yangmingshan forest. This beautifully cascading series of waterfalls and pools are relaxing and rejuvenating and feels a world away from urban living. These Bayan Hot Springs are mostly unknown, thereby leaving you feeling as if you have stumbled upon a secret paradise on this incredible island.
However, the springs are technically illegal to enter, and you'll find the warning sign at the south entrance. Despite the warning sign, many people are willing to risk a fine just to soak in the glorious pools at these incredible hot springs because of how stunning they are.
8. Taichung Rainbow Village (台中彩虹眷村)
The Taichung Rainbow Village undoubtedly deserves a spot on your Taiwan bucket list because of its artistic and historic value. This not-so-secret rainbow village has been dominating social media feeds for years and is fast becoming one of the country's most popular tourist attractions and one of the best things to do in Taiwan.
This colorful village was brought to life by the 94-year-old veteran Huang Yung-fu, who's popularly known as "Rainbow Grandpa." Declining the offer of $2 million NTD and an offer for new housing, he opted to stay in his old house and simply paint it rainbow colors. Not only his house but also every building on his block is now coated in Mr. Huang's signature rainbow colors. I can assure you that a visit to the Taichung Rainbow Village will definitely bring a grin to your face and brighten up your day.
Click below to catch a glimpse of my journey to the Taichung Rainbow Village, or read more about Rainbow Grandpa's inspiring story here.
UPDATE: Sadly, Rainbow Grandpa's Rainbow Village is temporarily closed due to recent vandalism and controversy. Click here for updates.
9. Make Coffee the Traditional Way with the Leye (Lalauya) Tribe (不插電咖啡體驗)
Located in Alishan Township, Leye (Lalauya) village 樂野部落 is a place that you must go to if you want to experience making coffee the traditional way. The word "Lalauya" in their language alludes to the dense maple forest that once covered the territory the tribe now inhabits before it was decimated by the wood industry and coffee plantations.
Adding a stop to the Leye Village to your Taiwan bucket list will offer you an "Unplugged DIY Coffee Experience," where you'll learn how to make traditional coffee the way locals used to before the days of automatic drip machines and Starbucks.
I hope you found this Taiwan bucket list useful in planning your Taiwan trip, which will teach you new things, help you get to know the island better, and bring you fun while opening your eyes to a different side of Taiwan. This Taiwan itinerary will give you a chance to try indigenous delicacies, explore hidden gems, try traditional arts and crafts, and immerse yourself in cultural activities as well as exhilarating adventures.
Which bucket-list items surprised you? Let me know in the comments below!