I haven’t been to Taiwan in nearly ten years before this trip, but I couldn’t have wished for a better time to return. The season of Fall / Winter in Taiwan is as charming as it gets! Much as I enjoy springtime blooms, my heart has this special place for fall colors and the cool weather that whispers wintertime feelings.
Winter in Taiwan is rather mild, and its distinction against autumn is practically a blur. Together they create the perfect weather for sightseeing: Cool, but not teeth-chatteringly so. It makes Taiwan the ideal place and December the ideal time for fashionable coats, but minus the need to dress so bulkily. Snow in Taiwan is only limited to the highest mountains, so there’s no fear of harsh winters here.
When I first came to Taiwan ten years ago, it was with my grandmother. We traveled all over Taiwan by bus and the highlight of that trip was freezing my butt off at Alishan! My memories from that time are still somewhat intact, so I can say for a fact that I have never been to nearly all of the places in our itinerary this time.
Visiting these new places felt like I was experiencing Fall / Winter in Taiwan for the very first time all over again. And though our stops were short, they were super sweet for my soul and my eyes! Oh, glorious fall colors! And because I want you all to appreciate Taiwan in its orange and red outfit, here are the lovely experiences I highly highly recommend for a lovely Fall / Winter in Taiwan.
Scroll down to see more snaps and read a bit of information on each place!
1. Basking in autumn colors at Qingjing Farm
This list isn’t ranked by most to least favorite, but if it were, Qingjing Farm would be number one. I mean, LOOK AT THAT VIEW! Need I say more? Inspired by the Swiss landscape, Qingjing Farm is an amazing escape from the bustle of city life. The 260-kilometer travel from Taipei is worth it, especially if you are a fan of nature. Whether you walk around the 760-hectare farm or stop to feed the sheep, the peaceful bliss this place gives off simply feels so good.
You won’t even need to resist the urge to twirl on the grass and sing, ‘The hills are alive!’
I always thought that I would only get a chance to be in an environment like this if I journeyed to Europe. Turns out it will only take me over an hour’s flight! I can totally sit here for hours just taking it all in, and in between, it only makes sense to have photoshoots at a place like this right? There were tons of couples doing their pre-wedding shoots here, so I suggest you also take advantage of the beautiful fall colors and jump right in with your camera. I know we did!
Entry: NT$ 160 on weekdays, NT$ 200 on Holidays and Weekends (For adults)
Hours: 08:00 AM to 05:00 PM
[READ MORE: Qingjing Farm]
2. Feeling like royalty at XinShe Castle
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a European chateau where you can sip wine while looking at the gorgeous autumn foliage, then XinShe Castle is the place to do it.
Located at a very mountainous area of Taichung is this little piece of land that feels like a completely different universe altogether. It’s like stepping into a portal and ending up at this fairytale manor compound complete with a mini forest and a winery of its own. It still blows my mind that places like Qingjing Farm and XinShe Castle exist within Taiwan alone.
There isn’t a lot of information available as to the who’s and why’s of XinShe Castle. It’s officially called a resort but there are no places of lodging here, so if you decide to engage in some drinking do keep that in mind haha! There is a restaurant that serves French cuisine and another that serves Chinese food here, alongside some souvenir shops. If you ask me though, the best part is wandering through the gardens and the stretch of wood within the property.
Entry: TW$ 250
Hours: 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM
[READ MORE: XinShe Castle]
3. Playing guess the rock at Yehliu Geopark
Ironically, the magnificent rock formations found at Yehliu Geopark are products of natural erosion. Each time the waves beat against the coastline, it causes a chemical effect that breaks the rocks down bit by bit. Somehow from all that destruction, these wonders are created. I mean, you get rocks shaped like fried chicken, slippers, and even a proud Queen’s Head. To say that it’s an interesting place would be an understatement!
I really enjoyed my time here interpreting the rock formations and appreciating the view. Many of the rocks look undeniably like the objects they are meant to resemble, but some of them require a bit of imagination and the right point of view. There’s even an island filled with alien mushroom rocks here.
The only sad part about this place is that since all the stones are undergoing natural erosion, there will come a time when we must bid goodbye to them. I hear the Queen’s Head, the highlight of this Park, has its days numbered. 🙁 I hope you all visit here soon!
Entry: NT$ 80 (For adults)
Hours: 08:00 AM to 05:00 PM
[READ MORE: Yehliu Geopark]
4. Witnessing tradition and modernity coexist at Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village
The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village ranks high among the most unique theme parks I’ve ever visited. On one side of the park is a culture village in its literal sense, where you can immerse yourself in Taiwan’s culture and aboriginal peoples. On the other side is an amusement park with wild rides and a roller coaster that set my adrenaline pumping. Oh, and on another side is a European Garden plus mansion.
They have taken the phrase ‘something for everyone’ really seriously!
I love that Taiwan continues to foster its indigenous people’s culture. All ten aboriginal groups are represented here in the FACV so this is as good a place as any to learn about them all! The fun performances and activities they share with visitors makes the experience more dynamic as well. Take a peek at what it’s like through this video:
Entry: NT$ 850 (For adults)
Hours: 09:30 AM to 05:00 PM (Ticket booth up to 03:00 PM only)
[READ MORE: Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village]
5. Enjoying a quiet moment at Sun Moon Lake
I debated for a bit whether I should include this because we honestly didn’t get to do much during our little visit to Sun Moon Lake. It was too foggy for anything, including appreciating the views, but since our tickets for the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village includes a free roundtrip ride on the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, it seemed only logical to USE IT! The ferry rides are paid separately though.
There are three different piers you can dock in to explore three different areas in Sun Moon Lake. If the day is a bit too foggy to appreciate views and temples, you can always go for a food trip. Here’s a great blog post about the different places you can visit. I am planning a return when the weather is better so expect a guide then. 😉
Entry: NT$ 300 roundtrip ropeway pass (Free for ticket-holders of the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village), NT$ 100 to 300 for ferry ticket
Hours: 10:30 AM to 04:00 PM
[READ MORE: Sun Moon Lake]
6. Falling in love with the unique charms of Jiufen
Despite being constantly described as the inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Spirited Away’, Jiufen is a place that is special in its own right. The countless alleyways are always filled with surprises, and with the number of food stalls here, you can just let your nose do the leading. I really love the ambiance of this place. It feels like you’re in a movie set! A movie set with lots of interesting objects and yummy food, that is. And people… Lots and lots of people!
Here in Jiufen, the stalls that sell the Peanut Ice Cream Rolls always have a queue. These are basically crushed peanuts with scoops of ice cream and some cilantro rolled inside a spring roll wrapper. Really good stuff! When you explore this place, keep an eye out for lines at the stalls. It’s highly likely the food is good where there is a long line, so as a general rule, I suggest you join in if you have the time.
Hours: Depends on the shops
[READ MORE: Jiufen]
7. Sending wishes to the sky at Shifen
Shifen is often the location that is lumped together with Jiufen for a day-trip from Taipei. Even though this place also has a market that offers up some good food, the highlight here is the sky lantern activity. You purchase these lanterns for about TW$ 200, write your wishes on them, and some people will help you to let them fly.
It’s a truly novel activity, but boy is it ever so popular! The fact that you stand in the middle of an active train track surrounded by all these old house just to fly these babies adds to the unique experience!
Hours: Depends on the shops
[READ MORE: Shifen]
8. Taking a serene stroll at the Cihu Memorial
This Memorial Park is where the mausoleum of the late President Chiang Kai Shek is located. Apart from that, it has become a sculpture park as well. There was a time when people practically worshipped Chiang Kai Shek and over 43,000 statues of him were erected all over Taiwan, in front of schools, or shrines, etc. Eventually, these statues were removed and some of them, about 200, found their way here.
To be entirely honest, I found the sculpture garden a little creepy. I much preferred spending time at the lake.
Cihu (慈湖), literally “benevolence lake”, is said to be one of Chiang Kai Shek’s favorite places. Apparently it reminded him of his hometown in China. He loved it so much he even had a residence built nearby. In the main hall of this old residence is where his remains now lie, with armed guards posted outside.
I really enjoy the view of this lake myself. It gives this entire place a solemn feeling, and yet if by some miracle you didn’t know this was a mausoleum, you might even say this place is magically serene. You can even feel it in the way the black swans glide across the lake while calming music plays from a radio on the deck.
Hours: 08:00 AM to 05:00 PM
9. Visiting the night markets
No trip is complete without a visit to Taiwan’s numerous and popular night markets. We managed only to check out Ximending in Taipei and Feng Chia in Taichung briefly. If you’re looking for interesting food items that are not too expensive and are unique, then you MUST explore the night markets. (Imagine grilled potatoes with cheese and noodles and loads of flavorful fried chicken fillets!)
Aside from food, you can also check out the apparel stores here. In Ximending, there are a lot of international brands present, but I noticed the Feng Chia Night Market has more of those smaller local brands mixed in.
My brother and I like buying from the local clothing brand 50% Fifty Percent because the prices for their clothes are super affordable, especially when on sale. The quality is pretty good too! You can also find lots of beauty stores like the 86 Shop here. I highly suggest you grab some Dr. Morita face masks!
Hours: 04:00 PM to 12:00 AM
10. Gorging yourself on Taiwanese specialties
Without a doubt, Taiwan can make you gain some pounds. Were it not for all the walking I did, I would’ve gained lots of pounds from eating all the awesome food! I personally enjoy Taiwanese food more than I do Cantonese food, not to mention it’s cheaper to go on a food trip in Taiwan. We had lots of delicious hot pot dishes with mushrooms and fresh veggies!
Another thing I have always loved about Taiwan is their fruit scene. Oh my goodness this country grows some really good fruits! I always get my fill of Mountain Apples or 蓮霧 (better known in the Philippines as macopa) when I’m here, but I honestly could not care less what fruit you give me as long as the Taiwanese grew it. I will eat it!
And finally, you cannot leave Taiwan without getting your fill of Taiwanese Milk Tea! I would suggest trying the brands that are not widely available locally, like 50Lan (50嵐) and their small pearls that make for a more fun chewing experience! Even their ShareTea is different from what we have here in Manila. I will stop talking about milk tea now because having cravings at 11 in the evening is not good.
[READ MORE: Recommended Taiwanese snacks to take home]
Taiwan is an amazing country and it’s clear that I have so much ground left to cover and explore. Still, it was nice to get to see the gorgeous autumn colors, feel the cool winter breeze on my face, and enjoy all the milk tea and yummy food that I did during this trip. It was bitin, to say the least. Luckily Taiwan is so close!
If you haven’t yet been to Taiwan, I hope this post has convinced you to book your ticket to experience fall / winter in Taiwan for yourself! Who knows, maybe you’ll catch a rainbow too! 😉
For tips on how to dress and prepare for the winter weather, check out THIS POST. If you enjoyed this post, do follow me on social media for more. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. See you around! 🙂