A family Itinerary for Taiwan must include the highlight, Taipei. It’s so extensive we dedicated an entire article for it.

Jiufen

Jiufen is a small Japanese built village perched on the side of the mountains about 1 hour northeast of Taipei. Although quite touristy, it is definitely worth the visit. The streets throughout Jiufen main area are filled with teahouses, Chinese and Japanese cafes, souvenir shops and unique art and craft shops. If you’re a food lover, you will be spoilt for choice by the endless local food stalls. Surrounded by lush green mountains and views through to the ocean, waterfalls and surrounded by temples, Jiufen should be at the top of any itinerary.

Accommodation: We stayed in a local guesthouse only a 5 minute walk to the centre of town. We recommend staying close to Jishan Street – the main street. At either end of the street are wonderful B&BS, that are within walking distance of the main attractions. At times, Jiufen can be overwhelming with the amount of visitors. Due to its proximity to Taipei, alot of local tourists spend the day here. Ensure you stay in a place with adequate space to relax to escape the bustle of the town. The views are spectacular and a patio or balcony is ideal for a place like Jiufen.

Strollers: The roads are suitable for strollers, however, be prepared for large crowds through the narrow main street.  Prior to arriving in Jiufen we were a little concerned as to what to do with a toddler. Once we were there, that thought completely left our mind. Our toddler loved walking through the main street, getting entertained by all the locals who were infatuated with him, sampling out all the local foods, looking at all the dogs in strollers, the amazing Japanese anime shops and all the lights, sounds and smells that surrounded him.

The optimal way to getting around Jiufen If your child is small enough to fit inside, is a backpack carrier,  There are lots of quick eateries to grab a variety of local cuisine on the go. There are small informal restaurants accessed by the main alley that specialise in a certain dish and usually a small variety of staple meals. We recommend the restaurants off the main stairs linking Shengping Theater and Jishan Street. The restaurants here are more spacious and usually have views overlooking the valley, most are child friendly offering high chairs if needed. Some even have outdoor terraces – an afternoon drink at one of these places is also a must.

It was like an adventure land for him. Something so different to anything he has experienced in Sydney. We did day trips out to the beautiful mountain surrounds and spectacular Golden waterfall. You can get a local bus, however, (due to very bad morning sickness on that day) we got a taxi to take us to a few stops. They charged by the metre, but we negotiated a lower price if we could have the taxi for half a day, we paid around $30 Australian dollars.

We also visited the Qiungyun Temple. We had seen it on the opposing mountain from our guesthouse and we knew we had to visit! We walked to the Temple using the backpack carrier, which took around 45 minutes. Once there we were greeted by a beautiful Taiwanese lady who was very eager to show us around the temple. It was spectacular. The views from each tier were breathtaking. We spent around an hour inside the temple and on the way out, our son spotted a playground! Yes a playground on the grounds of the temple.

With children, the most convenient way to get to Jiufen is either by Taxi or Uber. Most Uber drivers in Taipei are willing to take the trip, averaging at around 45 minutes and costing roughly AUD $30. If you have a great Taxi driver whilst exploring Taipei, it could also be good to strike up an arrangement in the days leading up to your stay in Jiufen. Never lock in a deal as you can try a number of drivers throughout your stay. Get their number and call a day or two in advance to your trip. Alternatively, you can catch the train from Taipei to Ruifang for TWD 40.00 from Songshan Station. From Ruifang it’s a 7km / 19 min taxi ride to Jiufen.

Ruifang

Ruifang was a day trip/stop over spot from Jiufen to Hualien. We spent the day there while waiting for the train to Hualien. Ruifang station was great. We purchased our tickets, left our luggage in a storage station. There was a parents room at the station as well, where we were able to change nappy and feed. They are very child friendly in Taiwan. We had no plans for Ruifang, so we wandered the streets and got lost. We walked through several street markets, found a play ground, and walked along the river. It was a beautiful little town. Especially for a stop over.

Hualien

Picture breathtaking mountain surrounds, cobblestone beaches, palm trees, rivers, dumplings and temples! Tick tick tick. Hualien is beautiful. We stayed for 5 days and we never wanted to leave. We got the train from Ruifang (east of Taipei) down to Hualien and a taxi to our guesthouse. The train ride was amazing. Beautiful high cliffs and mountains on one side, and ocean on the other. It was almost like being in an uninhabited Hawaii. The train ride itself took hours, so we made sure we packed lots of snacks, books and activities for our son. We were situated right on the river overlooking the town and mountain surrounds. It was spectacular. We arrived late in the evening, but we could not wait to get up and explore the next day. The Taiwanese family we stayed with were lovely and helped us plan our day trips each evening. Hualien town is very pram friendly, with footpaths on each street.

East Gate night market – It’s mayhem late in the evening, get there early and sample all the different varieties of local cuisine. Taking kids is a challenge but it’s definitely worth it! There are some dinner spots with tables, if you can grab a table, it’s an awesome spot to watch the crowds while enjoying some delicious food and drinks.

Shin Kong Chao Feng ranchthis is about a $500 taxi ride from hualien station. A mini zoo, meets manicured gardens. An odd place, but our son loved it, and the drive out there was beautiful. You can rent a bicycle (some have baby seats) or golf buggy (we opted for this) and you can drive around at your leisure throughout the park. There is an eclectic mix of European sculptures, manicured gardens, dinosaur statues, racoons labeled as red pandas, camels, peacocks, sloths and toucans, to name a few. You can feed the baby calves at the cow section located at the furthest part of the ranch. There is a small cafe and souvenir shop located next to the calf feeding where you can get an ice cream or milkshake. Go to the small playground (or flying fox for the older kids). As I said, it was an odd place. Nothing I have ever experienced, but our son loved it.

Warning: There is a small zoo that holds an astonishing amount of animals. At times, some of the pens are quiet small and thought it was quite cruel. The “Red Pandas” are just bleached racoons.

Qixingtan Beach – A spectacular cobblestone beach with breathtaking mountain surrounds. A picturesque park of the country which kids will love. I would not recommend swimming in the water – although there were many people who were. There seemed to be strong undercurrents and maybe not suitable for young kids. We may have just caught it on a bad day, but research when you get there to see the conditions. On the foreshore there are plenty of market stall holders selling local foods and taiwanese souvenirs, fresh coconuts and kites. It made for a beautiful half day trip from Hualien city. You can also add a brief stop if you’re on your way to Taroko gorge.

Taroko Gorge – No doubt, if you’re in Hualien, you’re probably there for the main attraction, taroko Gorge. There is really only one way to do it with kids while optimising time and see as much as you can and that is to spend the money and hire a taxi for the day; buses are unreliable and take too long to get from place to place. A taxi will cost between $2000NTD and $3000NTD for the day and can organised with your hotel or guesthouse. There are a number of sights in the Gorge to stop and visit. The main sights are:

  1. Shakadang Trail. Tip: Just walk a little ways up to the aboriginal food stalls and return to make the most of your time if you only have a day.
  2. The Eternal Spring Shrine
  3. Baiyang waterfall trail Tip: Take a torch, there are some tunnels and they can be slippery in places.
  4. Taroko Swallow Grotto Trail
  5. Tianxiang (Tienhsiang) Recreation Area Tip: Good spot for lunch.

Kaohsiung

Kaohsiung is one of those big cities that you can be surprised by the unxpected. It’s the perfect city to get lost in, there is a wide variety of sightseeing options and we loved walking the streets and be witness to the Taiwanese lifestyle. We stayed close to the Sanduo Shopping District Station and it’s a great access point for all the main sights in the city.

Pier 2 Art District – This spot is perfect for an afternoon stroll. Its essentially a waterside district that has come to life with art installations and displays. There are small makers markets and food stalls. And at sunset, the park near the Takao Railway Museum comes alive with Kite flyers and stalls selling different Bubble dispensers. The sunset here is incredible and the whole area is filled with life. It is a definite must-do location for a visit to Kaohsiung.

Kaohsiung Eye Ferris wheel – There is a mall in the City that has a large ferris Wheel. This is a great small trip to take with spectacular views. There are also some rides and games on the roof that shares the ferris Wheel. A great spot to take the kids.

Lianchi (Lotus) Lake – The lake here has a good variety of temples and pagodas. Grand in scale, the two that stand out are the Dragon Tiger Tower and the Spring and Autumn Pavilion. These can be found in any guidebook and are fun to explore. Get here by taxi, the bus trip from town can be quite lengthy.

Qijin Island. Get a taxi from the Gushan Ferry Pier Station to the ferry wharf and get the slow ferry across to Qijin island. There is an old street with markets and restaurants that connects the wharf to the main part of the beach. There is not much open in the morning and the island comes alive at night. We recommend lunch and an afternoon exploring the markets. There is a path along the beach front with various art installations and statues. The beach is calm in spot but we’d recommend avoiding full body submersion since it’s in quite close proximity to the main harbour and the city. Add Qijin Island to the itinerary, it’s a good little adventure.

Tainan

There is no shortage of sightseeing activities in Tainan. It is a surprising town filled with life, culture and history. It’s a very unique place in Taiwan, the things you can see here cannot be found elsewhere in the country. Although it’s mostly bursting at the seams with energy, some areas are peaceful, quiet and calm. We loved Taiwan, and so did our son. Running the laneways and walking the streets can fill the hours in this unique part of the country.

The greatest aspect of Tainan is the FOOD. This is the epicentre for so many local dishes. Our tip is to try as many different varieties of local food as possible. From Scallion pancakes, Pork dumplings, and almost every damned noodle dish under the sun. It’s a foodies

Delight and it is a place we would recommend visiting above all else, for the food. It’s hard to take kids to a restaurant for a long meal to sample the food. But here, you don’t have to. Simply walk from shop to shop trying one of each offering. We did this every night in Tainan and it was a spectacular way to tick it off the list.

Anping – A must-do thing in Tainan is getting lost in Anping District. Be sure to find the old Street and the Treehouse. The old Street is filled with market stalls and restaurants. The Treehouse is an Old Colonial administration office and warehouse that is now over-grown by trees. The site is breathtaking and the enormity of the tree makes for some great photography opportunities. Exploring these two things alone will fill a whole afternoon. The mornings can be quiet and it mainly comes to life around lunch.  It’s a great spot in tainan to explore and the streets and alleyways are bursting with life.

Taijiang National Park – Less than an hours drive from Tainan is the Taijiang National Park. At the very least, make the boat ride through the mangroves at the Sicao Green Tunnel. It’s a quick fun boat ride that shows off the ecology of the Park. Couple this visit with the Sicao Dazhong Temple next door. Its grand in scale and has some very impressive woodwork. It’s perfect for some temple photography.

Streets and Laneways – There are a stack of interstong old timey alleyways and walking streets with various shops and food stalls. Shennong Street is an instagrammers delight, the photos of doorways and old wooden windows are great. Guohua St is where the food is at, come here at night and get everything on offer if you can stomach it.

Tip: Lonely Planet travel guide has a great walking guide of Tainan.

Kenting

Kenting is situated within a national park, which means that commercial and industrial companies can not occupy the land. This makes it one of the most beautiful untouched parts of Taiwan. Pristine unspoiled white sandy beaches with natural sand dunes, lined with palm trees,  picturesque mountain surrounds and natural unpolluted lakes and rivers. Have i caught your attention yet? We stayed in Kenting for 7 nights. My morning sickness had well and truly set in and the thought of staying in a busy city was the last thing I wanted to do. So we extended our trip here, and we are so glad we did. It was a very unique beach holiday. Something I previously did not expect when thinking about Taiwan.

 

We stayed in Howard Beach Resort think for the price and the hotel description we were expecting a little more than what we got. In saying that, it was exactly what we needed. It had a huge pool and a large kids pool, 2 x spas and ample seating areas. There are not many places in Kenting with Beach frontage, Howard’s has a tunnel that links the pool and the beach under the main road. It’s odd, but it’s still very easily accessible. I would recommend staging next door at Caesars.

The beach here, Little Bay Beach, is perfect with calm waters, beach furniture and a small beach bar that serves light snacks and drinks. Alcohol and soft drinks can also be purchased by the ladies with the ice coolers. We spent most of our time at the beach, which was beautiful unspoilt, unpolluted and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the main town. At night, the main road is transformed into a street market, so many different types of food and drinks to sample. There are also a variety of permanent restaurants selling local and western cuisine. There are also parlour and carnival games here to try out. It’s a good way to spend the evenings in Kenting.

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