Planning a Trip to Vietnam: 10 Step Travel Checklist

Planning a trip to Vietnam seems intimidating at first: the country is deceptively large, with so many incredible sights to see spread out all the way from north to south.

Of course, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and Hanoi loom large on your itinerary wishlist, but other destinations – from Phu Quoc islands in the south to Da Nang and Hoi An and Hue on the central coast to Sapa and Halong Bay in the North – also beg for inclusion on the itinerary.

Add to that a perplexing currency with way too many zeros, a tonal language that’s hard to learn, and a visa requirement for virtually all visitors and you may be a bit overwhelmed with both excitement and confusion when it’s time to plan a Vietnam trip.

But planning a trip to Vietnam doesn’t have to be incredibly difficult, and it’s worth every minute of planning.

I’ve traveled there twice and I’ve spent a total of 5 weeks exploring the country and seen so many incredible places in the country. It’s one of my favorite countries in Asia by far, with incredible food, kind people, beautiful landscapes, and did I mention the food?!

So with all that being said, I’ll walk you quickly through the steps to planning a perfect trip easily through this Vietnam travel checklist, so you can tackle your trip planning one step at a time.

Planning a Trip to Vietnam in 10 Simple Steps

Step 1: Check visa requirements

One of the first places people get intimidated when planning a trip to Vietnam is that many countries who aren’t used to needing a visa to travel suddenly do.

If you’re American, European, Canadian, or Australian, you may find yourself in a visa process for the first time in your life!

Only a handful of fellow Southeast Asian countries are visa-free (plus Chile, as an interesting outlier!), and some European countries are visa-free only if your trip is less than 15 days. If you’re unsure if you need a visa or not, research the destination for your nationality.

However, don’t get too stressed: the Vietnam visa process is actually rather easy, and you can now apply for the e-visa online.

The e-visa takes 3 days to process and costs just $25 USD for a single-entry visa valid for 30 days. If doing a simple single-entry e-visa, you can just proceed straight to immigration with your e-visa without needing to pick up your visa on arrival.

If you need a multi-entry visa, you will need  to apply for the visa on arrival online ($25-50 USD depending on country), and you can pick it up when you arrive at the airport in Vietnam.This is the process I did on my last trip to Vietnam, and it only took about 30 minutes at the airport.

Step 2: Book your tickets

Once you’ve got your e-visa all sorted, it’s time to figure out your flights! The main airports in the country are Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon and Hanoi. I suggest looking into flights into both locations, though arrival in Ho Chi Minh City from overseas tends to be cheaper. You can find more information about Vietnam’s different airports here.

On my last trip to Vietnam, I booked a ticket from Sofia, Bulgaria to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam via Qatar Airways for approximately $550 USD roundtrip.

I generally use Google Flights searching for flights as I find their search engine to be the most intuitive, but Skyscanner has good search functionality as well.

You may want to take this time to decide if you want to book tickets for any travel within the country as well. Vietnam is a long, long country: the road distance between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi is 1,700 km, a 31 hour drive in Vietnam traffic terms!

(Oh, and side note: you probably shouldn’t plan to drive in Vietnam if you want to stay sane. That’s best left to professionals – and the Vietnamese!)

So if you want to visit both the northern and southern parts of Vietnam, you’ll probably need at least one or two domestic flights as well. But we’ll get into this a bit in the next section.

Step 3: Decide your Vietnam itinerary!

This is the most fun part, but it can also be the most overwhelming: planning your Vietnam itinerary!

I’ll throw out a few suggestions for you based on my own time there.

If you only have one week in Vietnam, I suggest sticking to the Northern part of Vietnam. Fly into Hanoi and spend at least 3 days there, and plan for day trips or overnight trips to Ha Long Bay and/or Sapa, depending on your preferences.

If you have two weeks in Vietnam, I would suggest doing the North and Central part of Vietnam. Take your Hanoi-Halong Bay-Sapa itinerary and add Hue (optional), Da Nang, and Hoi An to it.

If visiting Hue, you can take an overnight train to save time, taking an overnight train from Hanoi to Hue, and then a daytime train from Hue to Da Nang, which is in my opinion one of the prettiest train rides I’ve ever taken!

If you have two weeks in Vietnam but can’t imagine skipping Saigon, you could also spend one week based around the North and then fly down south for a few days in Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta.

I absolutely love Ho Chi Minh City and spent three weeks there, but I admit it’s light on sights compared to Hanoi and other places in the North of Vietnam. It’s really cool if you want to see the heart of modern Vietnam and the country’s biggest metropolis, but if you’re more interested in landscapes and historic sights, I’d suggest spending more time in the North.

If you have three weeks in Vietnam or even a month, that’s perfect! You won’t have to make any concessions and you can visit pretty much all of the major destinations in the country if you don’t mind zipping around the country by train and plane quite a bit.

Step 4: Budget your trip

A trip to Vietnam can really be on any budget spectrum. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s one of the most budget-friendly places you can travel – but if you love a bit of luxury, you certainly will be able to indulge in that in Vietnam as well.

If you’re backpacking the country, you can definitely travel for about $20 USD a day, and on $30 USD a day you’ll be living like a king (think private room in a hostel and 3 meals out a day). It’s a pretty comfortable country to backpack in, and when I traveled Vietnam on a budget, I never felt like I was making any big sacrifices.

If you have a mid-range budget, you’ll be able to enjoy the country even more on $50-75 USD a day per person. Think 4-star hotels for $30 a night for a couple, amazing massages for $10-15 an hour, and eating in upscale restaurants instead of street food for a handful of meals (though of course, no matter your budget, you should definitely indulge in the street food scene! It’s one of the best parts of Vietnam!).

If you have a luxury budget, the sky’s the limit! Stay at the finest hotels, take only private tours, eat at the finest restaurants, and you’ll still find yourself struggling to max out your credit card.

I recommend deciding in advance what you want to spend in total, breaking that into a per-day, per-person cost. Allocate about 1/3 of that for accommodations, 1/3 for activities, and 1/3 for incidentals and extras like shopping, transportation between cities, and meals. That should give you a good benchmark for how to budget for Vietnam.

Step 5: Plan Your Activities

I love and hate tours in Vietnam.

On one hand, the tours save you a lot of hassle that would be nearly impossible to surmount independently: you probably don’t want to drive in Vietnam, and public transportation can be a tough nut to crack.

On the other, tours often can feel like you’re being ferried around from one point of sale to the next, often with uncomfortable experiences along the way, like an unexpected captive animal encounter or a really pushy market experience.

Despite my reservations with some of my Vietnam tours, I do recommend booking tour experiences while in Vietnam. It saves unbelievable time and headache, and it does provide a lot of local insight: just be prepared to dislike about 10% of your itinerary and you’ll be much happier having that baseline expectation.

Best Tours in Hanoi

Best Tours in Hoi An

Best Tours in Ho Chi Minh City

Step 6: Book your accommodations

Next step is to plan where you’re going to stay! This will depend largely on your budget and itinerary.

Keep in mind too when booking accommodations that many Vietnamese cities are very large and spread out! Location is important, so I recommend sorting your searches by closeness to a desired central attraction.

For example, Ho Chi Minh City has 24 districts – and District 1, the central district, is huge! I was staying in District 1, but I was still about a 30-minute walk or 20-minute cab ride to the central area with the Independence Palace and Notre Dame Cathedral.

Hanoi is similar, and it’s easy to accidentally book something on the other side of the city! So I suggest searching by location first and then amenities second. While transportation around Vietnam is inexpensive, it is time-consuming and occasionally frustrating due to all the traffic, so I suggest being as close as possible to the heart of the action!

Step 7: Research any vaccinations you may need & prepare a travel medicine kit

I’m American, so the CDC is my guideline when checking travel vaccinations for international travel. The website recommends checking that you’re up-to-date in terms of boosters for the following common vaccinations: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), tetanus, chickenpox, and polio. This is standard for any trip.

They also recommend Hepatitis A and typhoid, both of which can be gotten from contaminated food or water.

If you’re traveling in rural areas of Vietnam, you may need to take anti-malarials. However, malaria is not present in any of the cities, and it’s rare in the Mekong Delta area, so it’s unlikely that you would need anti-malarials. I’ve never taken anti-malarials in Vietnam. Bug bite prevention is likely enough.

You should, though, pack your own travel medicine kit! While you can find pharmacies in Vietnam, you may not find the exact brands you want or it may be frustrating to deal with a language barrier while feeling ill.

My travel medicine kit always includes stomach tablets like Pepto-Bismol, motion sickness pills, painkillers, and rehydration packets. I also include sunscreen, mosquito repellent, a topical antibiotic, a few alcohol wipes, and band-aids in my mini kit.

Also, research a few private hospitals before going. My first trip to Vietnam, my friend got really bad food poisoning and needed to spend a few hours in the hospital with an IV drip. It was stressful trying to find the information at the moment to get her to the right place where we knew they would speak English and we wouldn’t have any communication problems.

It’s unlikely you’ll get sick on your trip, but having the name of a hospital in each city you plan to visit in case of emergency will ease your mind.

Step 8: Pack your bags!

It’s almost time to go – so logically, next step is to start packing for Vietnam!

I won’t get into it in too much detail here as I have a detailed packing list for Vietnam here, but I’ll give you a quick rundown here.

Depending on where you’re going in Vietnam and when, you’ll likely pack quite differently. In summer in Vietnam, almost everywhere is hot – though in Sapa, you might find it can get quite chilly (I found myself wishing I had a heater one night in August!), and air conditioning in vehicles can be intense, so you’ll definitely want to pack a few cozy things to warm you up, even if most days will be sticky and humid.

Waterproof shoes and a waterproof jacket are essential for downpours which happen all throughout the year in Vietnam. Trust me when I say I’ve never seen rain like I have in Vietnam, and you don’t want to be wearing sneakers when you’re suddenly ankle-deep in rain!

If you’re visiting Vietnam in winter (December-March), you’ll need cool-weather clothing for the North, though the South will still be quite humid and hot.

Keep in mind that Vietnamese people tend to dress a bit on the conservative side and don’t love it when people show tons of skin, so aim for loose, flowy fabric rather than short shorts and skimpy tank tops. It’s actually more comfortable to wear and it’s more respectful to the culture.

Finally, Vietnam is absolutely notorious for its pickpockets. I was nearly pickpocketed in broad daylight walking in a park in Hanoi – luckily, my friend noticed the guy grabbing for my backpack and literally swatted his hand away!

I recommend this backpack with locking zippers which is made by PacSafe. It has some great security features: metal mesh under the surface that makes it slash-proof, inter-locking zippers that can then be threaded into a hard-to-open clasp, and RFID blockers so no one can steal your card data. It’s also very subtle and doesn’t look like a tempting, expensive bag, while also having visual cues that say “I’m hard to steal from, and frankly not worth it”. I’m obsessed.

Another safety note: one of the most common crimes in Vietnam is mobile phone theft, particularly by people on scooters who will snatch your phone on a street corner and zoom away. Never look at your phone while facing the street. I always found a discreet area and turned to the wall while I checked something on my phone.

Step 9: Prep for your arrival

There are a few things you should do prior to arriving in Vietnam that will make your trip start off on the right foot.

1) Download Google Maps offline for the city you’re arriving in. Just in case you don’t have data or don’t buy a SIM card right away, it’s extremely helpful!

2) Book a shuttle to get you to your hotel to save you stress and time. Here’s a trusted shuttle option from Hanoi Airport and one from Ho Chi Minh City Airport.

3) Buy a SIM card online in advance so you can easily access data while you’re traveling.

4) Have some cash in USD in case you have any issues with withdrawing money from the ATM upon arrival, or if you get flagged for fraud. Try to avoid this by notifiying your bank of your travel plans before leaving.

Step 10: Don’t forget travel insurance!

This is last on this list so that it’s first in your mind: you really ought to have travel insurance for your trip to Vietnam!

I’ve been a customer of World Nomads for years, and I love the peace of mind it gives me in case an emergency, accident, illness, or theft impacts my travels.

While Vietnam is a very safe country to travel overall, there are risks inherent to everyday travel, as well as a few risks specific to Vietnam (namely, food poisoning and pickpocketing/phone theft), and travel insurance backs you up in all those cases.

Get a free quote for your trip here.

12 Stunning Things to Do in Sapa, Vietnam

Sapa is one of the most photogenic hill station towns in northern Vietnam. It has everything you should expect for the adventure of a lifetime.

It has the highest mountain in the country, a stunning national park, beautiful rice terraces, and unique ethnic cultural experiences.

To soak up the highlights of Sapa, I would recommend the below activities as the best things to do in Sapa.

The Best Things to Do in Sapa

1. Trek along Muong Hoa Valley

Trekking is often the main draw for why people head to Sapa. With a wide range of mountain trails, Sapa has a lot to offer for any kind of hiker, from amateur to professional.

If you take a day tour from Sapa, then it’s best to start from Cat-Cat village, following the less-visited trail snaking through the local rice plantations to reach Lao Chai village.

If you’d rather combine trekking with a homestay, Ta Van is a great overnight destination. After seeing the rice terraces, uncovering the traditional life of Black Hmong people (an ethnic minority local to the area), Ta Van village offers a very serene atmosphere where you will be tempted by the hospitality of Giay people.

2. Ride the Cable Car to Fansipan Mountain

Your Sapa trip is incomplete without a visit to Fansipan mountain!

At an elevation of 3,143 meters above sea level, Fansipan is an iconic sight that you should definitely put at the top of your list of things to do in Sapa.

The easiest way to reach the top of this mountain is definitely taking a cable car ride. Over the course of 15 minutes, you’ll have the chance to enjoy a birds-eye view over the lush valley where many fascinating villages are located along the river.

The best time to take the cable car ride is in the morning or late afternoon so that you can behold the cloud covering the nearby mountains!

3. Visit Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall)

Technically, this is the highest waterfall in Sapa. The water cascades from Lo Sui Tung Peak, measuring more than 100 meters high with 3 tiers.

You may not be able to swim here, but your trip will be made well worth it by the awe-inspiring mountain panorama and falls.

There are food stalls right at the foothill so if you are curious about trying local Sapa food, this is a nice place to do it!

4. Ride a Scooter to Tram Ton Pass

Tram Ton Pass holds the record of being the highest pass in the country. Over a 15 kilometer trip, you’ll move from an elevation of 1600 meters up to 1900 meters quickly.

Undoubtedly, a motorcycle or scooter ride is the best way to experience the road. Doing so, you are free to drop by Silver Waterfall, sampling Sapa’s fruit garden, or travel further along 50 kilometers of the pass.

5. Taste Local Cuisine at Sapa Market

The food in Sapa is aromatic and distinctive from other regions of Vietnam.

Bring an adventurous spirit so you don’t regret not trying its famous salmon, horse hotpot, or seven-color sticky rice. The food in Sapa market comes from many different communities with different cooking techniques and traditions, which leads to a diverse array of foods you can sample.

For the real foodie, Sapa has some other options, from fine dining restaurants to cooking classes.

6. Learn about the Red Dzao Life in Ta Phin Village


While touring Sapa, it’s important to participate in sustainable tourism that preserves elements of local culture.

One of the most rewarding places to do that is Ta Phin Village. Here, you can see how Red Dzao women sew their colorful custom designs and create their eye-catching handicrafts.

Another well-known traditional work that happens only in Ta Phin is making herbal medicine, an interesting experience for curious travelers!

7. Find the French Colonial Relics

Sapa Town was first established by the French in 1902 as a summer escape from the humid climate in other parts of Vietnam. These days, you can still find some of the remarkable landmarks that remain from the French colonial era.

The very first piece of colonial architecture you should see is the central church. Known as the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, this church was the practicing hub for Christians in the area. There are many other sites that reflect the style of French architecture, scattered across various communities in the Sapa region.

Another faded ruin worth seeking out is Ta Phin monastery. Though it is now abandoned, it has a really beautiful structure.

8. Join a Hmong Sewing Class

Want to learn something useful while in Sapa? Sign up for a sewing class at Indigo Cat Center.

Enjoy learning about the art of batik and be impressed by the attractive traditional patterns that Hmong people have been designing as part of their culture.

To take part in this workshop, you’ll need to book directly at their shop in Sapa town before heading to the “classroom” in Ta Van village.

9. Hike Ham Rong Mountain

Although Sapa has developed very fast, there is still one place that remains unchanged: the Ham Rong mountain.

This ecotourism site recalls the legend of Sapa, where according to the lore, a dragon returned to the sky from this mountain.

You can also watch cultural performances which take place at intervals throughout the day.

10. Shop Local at a Weekly Market

The most colorful markets in the area do not happen in Sapa town. You’ll need to travel to the adjacent district of Bat Xa or the further side of Lao Cai province where Coc Ly, Lung Khau Nhin, or Bac Ha market take place.

Depending on the day of the week, certain markets operate: Cao Son Market (Wednesday), Coc Ly Market (Tuesday), Bac Ha market (Sunday), and Si Ma Cai market (Saturday).

11. Treat Yourself to a Night at Topas Ecolodge

Listed as one of the most unique lodges in the world according to National Geographic, Topas Ecolodge provides dramatic views over the Hoang Lien Son National Park from its pristine infinity pool.

Imagine waking up with the morning fog right in front of your window, like you’re floating in a cloud, and closing each night with a mesmerizing sunset while sipping a cocktail in the mountains.

12. Take a Photography Tour

Capturing the authentic charm of Sapa is the dream of many photographers.

You may not be able to do that without a local guide, who can help you find the best photo spots, translate to ask for consent for photographs and give you pointers on how to improve your craft.

About Tan Nguyen

Tan is a Sapa local and an adventure-addicted traveler who is eager to see unique places. He enjoys traveling off the beaten track and blogs about his adventures at Travel to Work.

Vietnam Bucket List: 15 Places to Visit in Vietnam

Vietnam is a very diverse and beautiful country with something to offer everyone. The country is long, spanning several climates and geographies, meaning that there are so many different places to visit in Vietnam that feel vastly different from the next.

Nature-minded travelers like its cascading rice terraces in the north. Others prefer embracing the romance of Hoi An ancient town or relaxing on golden sands beside turquoise water on the Phu Quoc islands.

Whether you are looking for nature, culture, food, or just pure relaxation: Vietnam has something to offer you.

Here are some of the most remarkable destinations in Vietnam, all worthy of a spot on your Vietnam bucket list.

The 15 Best Places to Visit in Vietnam

Hanoi

The range of cultural sites in Hanoi is extraordinary, from the quaint Old Quarter to its fascinating ethnology museum, from the crumbling French colonial style Opera to the ancient Tran Quoc temple.

The capital of Vietnam is probably the ultimate foodie destination as well! From world-class noodles to the more adventurous grilled pigeon, the food cooked up by the local street vendors in Hanoi is truly some of the tastiest food you’ll find in Vietnam.

Ha Long Bay

This Unesco World Heritage Site needs no explanation, only photos! It is simply one of the must-see places in Vietnam for most travelers. With 1600 karst islands, Ha Long Bay is pretty much a screensaver-perfect backdrop come to life.

On a cruise in Ha Long, every photo is magic: picture vivid shapes of islands reflecting on its emerald waters. It needs no photoshop: imposing rocks, clear lagoons, water-level caves — it’s out of this world.

To make the most of your Vietnam tour, it is recommended to choose a 3-day trip or longer. You will be able to explore the more untouched parts of this magnificent natural wonder, ones that day-trippers and overnight visitors miss.

You can also visit lesser-visited places in the region like Cat Ba in order to have a more off the beaten path experience.

Ninh Binh

With various scenic back roads, beguiling historic sites and its status as UNESCO World Heritage site, Ninh Binh has something to please any visitor — even the most sophisticated ones.

If you enjoy cycling, the 24 km flat terrain around Hoa Lu ancient capital is a must-do. If you’re more a fan of wildlife, Cuc Phuong National Park will fill your days with impressive wildlife photography and inspiring landscapes.

When it comes to time to relax, seat on a sampan ride to observe the picture-perfect Ngo Dong river floating past.

Sapa

The best Vietnam views belong to Sapa, as it is home to Fansipan Mountain, the highest peak in the Indochina region (which today encompasses Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos). Thanks to the new arrival of the cable car, capturing Sapa’s panorama from above has become even easier.

For decades, it has been a magnet for trekkers and those in search of learning more about the culture of the many ethnic minority groups who call Sapa home.

The main charm of Sapa comes from its neighboring communities which you can only access through its breathtaking hiking networks. Some of the Sapa highlights you should put on your Vietnam bucket list: Lao Chai rice terraces, Ban Ho Valley, Cat Cat Waterfall, and Love Waterfall.

Unquestionably, the best way to appreciate Sapa’s scenery is to take a tour package with a homestay option to get a real sense of Sapa’s culture.

Ha Giang

No place in Vietnam can beat Ha Giang for road tripping! Each district of this province is tempting enough to tackle.

From Hoang Su Phi to Dong Van, you’ll have opportunity to delve into the national heritage of Ha Giang rice terraces and go through awe-inspiring pass of Ma Pi Leng.

There is another reason that you’ll feel in love with Ha Giang: its hospitality. No matter where you travel in the region, people are welcoming and happy to show you their life.

Do not miss Dong Van market which happens only on Sundays, serving as a beautiful meeting point for local hill tribes including the Hmong, Tay, and Dzao minorities.

Phong Nha National Park

Lying deep in the Truong Son mountain range, Phong Nha National Park has been stealing a bit of the spotlight in Vietnam’s tourism scene in recent years.

Since 2009, when the largest cave in the world was discovered in this national park, Phong Nha has become one of the hottest places for adventure and ecotourism in all of Asia.

To take part in a trek to Son Doong, you even need to register months in advance and pay quite a bit — we’re talking thousands in permit and excursion fees — making it a pricey but gorgeous addition to your Vietnam bucket list.

Hue

For a taste of old Vietnam, visit Hue, the last imperial city that served as Vietnam’s capital from 1802 to 1945.

The city is a perfect introduction to learning more about Vietnam’s feudal era, especially the Nguyen Dynasty. A visit to the Forbidden City, Khai Dinh Tomb, and Thien Mu Pagoda are all Hue musts: they are like stepping back into a time machine.

However, Hue has not its attractions but plenty of other excursions to enjoy to make your time in Hue even more memorable. Take a pleasant Huong river cruise, learn about traditional bonsai, attend a royal cooking class to learn to cook Vietnamese food fit for a king, or dive into Hue’s performing arts scene.

Hoi An

If you want to enjoy the most romantic place to visit in Vietnam, Hoi An is the place to be. If you’re choosing Vietnam as a honeymoon destination, Hoi An simply must be on your trip itinerary.

It has a beautiful location by the picturesque Thu Bon river, and it’s conveniently located next to the pristine sandy beaches of An Bang and Cua Dai.

Hoi An has a long tradition with the arts, and you’ll find opportunities to engage with its craft scene such as observing colorful lantern workshop and silk weaving houses.

Hoi An isn’t lacking a diverse and unique food scene, either! Many dishes are regional to Hoi An including tasty Cao Lau, Banh Bao Banh Vac (aka white rose dumplings), and aromatic Com Ga are widely available — often just for less than $2 USD a plate!

Con Dao Archipelago

With its tranquil lagoons, dense tropical jungles, and an incredible marine national park, this part of Vietnam has a landscape as dramatic as its history.

During the French era, it was a well-known prison and a military base. Nowadays, it’s a much more light-hearted place! Con Dao boasts the ultimate laid-back atmosphere with plenty of secluded, paradisiacal beaches.

It seems there is no better place to find your own slice of paradise without tourists than this archipelago, especially now that the secret is out about Pho Quoc!

Touring relatively unexplored islands is very much a possibility here, since 14 out of 15 are uninhabited and only visited by boat trippers.

Dalat

Dalat is arguably one of the most romantic places to visit in Vietnam, perhaps tied with Hoi An. With its crumbling French colonial relics, pine forests, beautiful lake, and mild weather, it seems a world away from other parts of Vietnam.

For those who enjoy adventurous activities, Dalat spoils for choice. From jungle safaris to navigating thrilling waterfalls, there is always something adventurous close at hand.

It’s also one of the most Instagrammable places in Vietnam! Head to the Buddhist Hand, Lang Biang mountain, or Datanla and Pongour waterfalls.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Your trip to Vietnam would be incomplete without including the southern hub of Ho Chi Minh City. The contrast between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi is stark, and while I love both cities, it’s certainly worth visiting both to compare the two and have a sense of what modern Vietnam looks like.

Although the city is very busy with millions of motorbikes and high buildings, it has no shortage of enchanting attractions.

To start your day, enjoy a guided walk in District One where French architecture remained unchanged like centuries ago — checking out the old Postal Office, Opera House, City Hall, Notre Dame Cathedral, and other colonial-era architecture.

Then, in the afternoon, learn about the history of the Vietnam War by exploring the tunnels of Cu Chi. Follow this up with a visit to the somber but worthwhile War Museum, where you can learn about the catastrophic consequences of the Vietnam War. Be prepared to be moved.

When you feel a little hungry, embark on a motorbike food tour to sample all the best dishes that Ho Chi Minh has! It’s a little scary to first get on the motorbike, but you quickly adjust to – and even enjoy! – the chaos of Saigon traffic.

The fun does not stop at sunset: nowhere else in Vietnam has such wide range of karaoke, night markets, restaurants, and bars.

Can Tho

Not sure where else to go in southern Vietnam? Head to Can Tho, where the fantastic floating market appears on the mighty Mekong river.

Save some time to mingle with locals in Ong Temple, where you’ll get a true insight into the local religious culture.

If you have the time, a 3-day trip combining all the Mekong Delta’s must-sees is a great way to spend some time, especially if you’re a craft lover! These trips often include visits to typical traditional workshops where you can learn more about Vietnamese handicrafts and souvenirs.

Nha Trang

When you ask the Vietnamese their favorite beach destination in Vietnam, Nha Trang will likely be their answer! The city itself beckons with charming fishing markets, gorgeous beaches, and vibrant life.

If you can, save some time to travel offshore from Nha Trang to one of its pristine nearby islands where you can go diving, swim, or simply relax on a sun-kissed beach.

Tasty and delicious seafood abounds here as well!

Phu Quoc

As soon as you kick off your sandals, step on the powdery sand, and behold the blue, transparent waters that surround Phu Quoc, you’ll understand why Phu Quoc is the premier beach hopping destination in Vietnam.

Some great places to hang out in this vibrant island chain are Suoi Tranh stream and Phu Quoc National Park, but there are also countless beaches worth exploring and discovering for yourself.

While the main islands have already started having a big tourism wave, there are still many islets which have barely been touched by mass tourism to explore in the Phu Quoc archipelago.

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12 Best Day Trips From Ubud

Bali is a paradisiacal holiday destination filled with unbelievable sights; gushing waterfalls, palm-tree-lined beaches, and luxurious resorts.

Ubud, the spiritual capital of the island, is a popular place to visit in Bali. While there are many activities to do in Ubud, holidayers should also get out of Ubud to see some of the more untouched regions of Bali. Its central location makes it perfect for epic Bali day trips!

So make like Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love and make Ubud your base for day trips in Bali. Here are the 12 best day trips from Ubud.

Best Day Trips From Ubud

Tegallalang Rice Terraces and Tirta Empul

Tagallalang Rice Terraces are a must-see in Bali and the perfect place to visit if you’re an avid Instagrammer. The terraces are filled with lush greenery and palm trees which create a picturesque backdrop to your photos.

There is a cafe here which is a great spot to stop at for some specialty coffees. Entry into the terraces is 15,000 IDR.

Tegallalang is home to the infamous Bali swings. Take part in this unique experience swinging into the canyon. There are also massive bird nests to fit groups of people for photo opportunities. Entry into the terraces and to ride the swing will cost 500,000 IDR.

Batu Bolong Beach and Tanah Lot

Canggu is one of my favorite places in Bali, and in recent years, has gained recognition as the place for expats, surfers, and budget travelers. The two most popular things to do in Canggu are hanging out on Batu Bolong Beach and visiting Tanah Lot Temple.

Batu Bolong Beach is the place to go if you want to surf. There are calmer parts of Batu Bolong Beach, making it a very popular spot to learn how to surf. Lining the beach, you’ll see many surfboard hire stalls, most of which will offer lessons for all abilities.

If surfing isn’t quite your thing, Finn’s Beach Club is a relaxing way to spend your time in Canggu. This top spot has four pools, luxurious sun loungers, and the best cocktails.

If you get hungry, there are some great restaurants in Canggu – the food scene in Canggu is top-notch. There is a huge selection of smoothie bowls, plant-based foods, warungs (traditional casual Indonesian restaurants), and more. 

Tanah Lot Temple is one of the best places to view the sunset on the island. This sacred temple is perched atop a small mountain, surrounded by the sea. Entry is 60,000 IDR, which is only possible during low tide.

Aling-Aling Waterfalls

The Aling-Aling Waterfalls is one of the best places to visit in Bali for adrenaline junkies, and it’s one of the hidden gems in Bali if you want to avoid crowds. The waterfalls are seen on a half-day hike which will take you to up to seven waterfalls. 

Cliff jumpers drop up to 35 meters in the water! If this seems a little too daring for you, there are a couple of lower drops, at five and 15 meters. It is recommended to take a guide with you to show you the safer places to jump, but the waterfalls are commonly done as a self-guided tour as there are adequate sign-posting and pathways. 

The easiest way to visit Aling-Aling is to book a shared tour online which will include return transport and a guide at the waterfalls.

Munduk Waterfalls and Ulun Danu Beratan Temple

Munduk is an underrated region of Bali. Munduk contrasts the popular hotspots in Bali in the number of tourists – in the few days we stayed here, we barely saw any tourists! 

There are plenty of exciting things to do in Munduk. The best attractions in Munduk are their waterfalls. There’s a half-day trek to explore their four waterfalls, either guided or self-guided through averagely marked paths. 

The best place to start is at Melanting Cottages. First, you’ll come across Labuhan Kebo Waterfall which will be deep enough to swim in during the wet season. Then, head to Red Coral and Melanting (my favourite of the four). The last waterfall on the hike is Golden Valley Waterfall, where you can dine at a cafe with a view.

After your hike, head to the neighbouring town of Bedugul for one of the most spectacular temples in Bali. Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is commonly photographed and is used by Bali tourism board to promote tourism to the island.

The temple ‘floats’ in Beratan Lake surrounded by gorgeous red flowers and manicured gardens. Entrance into the temple grounds will cost 50,000 IDR.

Mt Batur Sunrise Trek

Trekking Mt Batur was my favorite Bali experience. The views at the summit of the active volcano were breathtaking, and it was such a rewarding morning. We were picked up from Ubud at 2:30 am, then at around 4 am we started climbing the mountain with our guide. It took us around 70 minutes to climb to the top.

When we reached the summit, our guide even made us sandwiches, a hot drink, and a banana. The sandwiches contained egg which had been boiled in volcanic steam! After that climb, the warm drink and food were all we needed. 

As for the difficulty of the hike, this would be suitable for almost anyone. We saw people of all ages hiking. The hike, albeit challenging, isn’t too long. The part that makes the hike difficult is that it is steep and rocky, which may not fare well with those nursing lower limb injuries. 

If you’re lucky like we were, the sky may be clear enough for you to see Mt Rinjani on Lombok, the neighboring island to Bali.

Sekumpul Waterfalls

Sekumpul is another set of waterfalls perfect for cliff jumping. It is located in Northern Bali, relatively close to Aling-Aling. These waterfalls are grand and absolutely massive. As well as cliff jumping, there are areas where you can go rock sliding too.

There are tours that visit both Sekumpul and Aling-Aling waterfalls in one day, but I would recommend choosing one of the two. The treks and times at the waterfalls will feel quite rushed in order to fit in both waterfalls, including transport time in between.

Nusa Penida Island

Some of the most stunning views in Bali can be seen from Nusa Penida Island. 

The most common route is the west coast of the island. The first stop will be Kelingking Beach, with the iconic view of the cliff shaped like a t-rex. Then, make your way to Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach which are both within walking distance of each other. The last stop of the day will be Crystal Bay for snorkelling, swimming, and relaxing on the beach with a cold beer.

Either hire a driver for the day or hire a scooter if you’re a confident driver. This will allow you to see the sights of the island.

To get to Nusa Penida, head to the port in Sanur. The port at Sanur Beach will feature a row of stalls with all the ferry companies. Choose a reputable company and buy your tickets there. Doing so will save you money – a return ticket should cost 300,000 IDR, whereas online, you could pay up to double this amount.

Bear in mind Nusa Penida gets very crowded from 10:30 am onwards. For this reason, take the earliest ferry possible. Some companies leave as early as 7:30 am.

Tukad Cepung and Sidemen

As if a waterfall wasn’t spectacular enough, Tukad Cepung is a waterfall inside a cave, with sunlight passing through to create light shafts. Located less than an hour away from Ubud, it’s definitely worth a trip. 

If you’re looking for a waterfall to swim in, this one definitely isn’t for you. We made this mistake as the water is only mid-calf deep, but it did make for a great photo spot.

The walk to get to the waterfall doesn’t take too long at around 10 minutes. There are steps and a small river to cross, so bring sandals or water shoes.

Time your visit between 9 am and 10 am, as this is when you’ll find see the sunlight peeking into the cave. It also isn’t so busy at this time, you’ll only have to wait five minutes or so for a photo.

Sidemen is a town just 30 mins further from the waterfall. This is another hidden gem with a rice field, vibrant markets and some great Indonesian cuisine. You could easily spend a few hours here exploring the town in a less touristed part of Bali.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

There are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bali: Pakerisan Valley, Taman Ayun Temple, and Jatiluwih Rice Terraces. The Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are located in central Bali, in between Ubud and Munduk.

The rice fields are impressive, extending as far as the eye can see, and the mountains backdrop the rice fields perfectly. There are multiple walking tracks at Jatiluwih, all of varying distances. The shortest walk is just over one kilometre, where the longest of the walk is around five kilometres.

My favorite part of visiting Jatiluwih is the lack of people. Due to its location, Jatiluwih isn’t a huge tourist attraction, which means you can walk through the terraces almost without seeing another soul. 

Entry costs 40,000 IDR.

Taman Ayun and Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest

Taman Ayun Temple is another one of Bali’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is located just half an hour from Ubud Town. Built in the 17th Century, there are similarities in the buildings to Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, which was completed around the same time period. The temple belongs to the Mengwi Royalty.

A moat and trimmed gardens encircle the temple, which make for a great place to go on a walk. Like all Hindu temples in Bali, make sure to dress appropriately, covering your knees and shoulders. Sarongs are available at the entrance if needed.

Entry into the temple is 20,000 IDR.

 Drive further west for 20 minutes to reach Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest. This monkey forest is similar to that in Ubud Town, but a lot less touristed. The forest also contains a temple named Pura Dalem Kahyangan Kedaton.

You’ll find the long-tailed macaques there. They’re quite docile here, but they still have a spark of cheekiness. Remember to keep your belongings secure. If possible, put your sunglasses, hats, and drink bottles in your bag. 
Entrance into the monkey forest will cost you 50,000 IDR.

Tegenungan Waterfall and Hidden Canyon

Tegenungan Waterfall is one of the closest waterfalls to Ubud, at only 30 minutes from the main town. It’s a great place for a dip. The water is a little murkier than some of the waterfalls in Northern Bali, but it’s still a perfectly safe place to swim. There will usually be a guard on duty to ensure you don’t get too close to the waterfall itself which is quite powerful.

The walk down to the waterfall will only take around five minutes. There is an iconic Bali swing here, as well as a cafe for food.

Hidden Canyon Beji Guwang is only around 15 minutes from Tegenungan, so visiting these locations in one day works well. It isn’t quite a hidden gem of Bali anymore, but it is much less busy than some of the major tourist attractions. 

You’ll be doing a lot of climbing, walking and wading through water, so bring appropriate shoes. Water shoes are your best bet but sandals with grip should suffice. A local guide will accompany you to guide you around the canyon.

Entrance fees start at 200,000 IDR, but are heavily discounted with the more people there are in your group.

Bias Tugel Beach

Located just one hour away from Ubud is a little piece of paradise. Bias Tugel Beach features turquoise waters, white sand, and black volcanic rock.

This small stretch of beach is an excellent place to go for a day-long getaway. It’ll only take a couple of minutes to walk down to the bay, which is a nice change from some of the beaches in Bali like Suluban Beach and Tegal Wangi Beach.

The water is crystal clear for snorkelling and exploring the marine life. The calmer the water on the day, the more fish you will see.

Head to the local warungs nearby for an authentic Balinese lunch.

About the Author

Delilah is a travel blogger making her way around the world. Follow her adventures on her travel blog, Instagram and Pinterest.

A Perfect 2 Days in Hong Kong Itinerary

Note: This is a guest post by Ingrid of Ingrid Zen Moments

Hong Kong is such a bustling city you’ll find it hard to spend only 2 days in Hong Kong exploring.

After living for 7 months in the financial heart of Asia, I can easily say that even with a perfect 2 day Hong Kong itinerary, you can only scratch the surface.

However, many might not visit it as a standalone destination in Asia, linking it to one or many other places around, and 48 hours in Hong Kong may be all you have. In that case, follow me along as I show you everything you shouldn’t miss in 2 days in Hong Kong!

When to visit Hong Kong

As it is an Asian destination, many might think Hong Kong is a tropical country. The matter of fact is that Hong Kong actually has 4 distinct seasons, even though winters are not as cold as the ones in the more Northern countries.

With a mostly humid climate, summers in Hong Kong are terribly hot, and you might even find it hard to breathe outside. And let’s not even think about walking around from one place to the other during the day!

Thus, the best time to plan your trip to Hong Kong might be somewhere between October and May. Bear in mind that temperatures can get somewhere around 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) during December and January; therefore, having a light jacket in your bag is a good idea.

Where to stay in Hong Kong

If I were to spend only 2 days in Hong Kong, I would definitely go for a central location that would offer me the possibility to get around easily and to tick off many of the popular attractions in a short period of time.

It is, of course, easy to get around in Hong Kong, and using the MTR will get you almost anywhere in less than 30 minutes, especially on the island. However, I would still choose to stay anywhere between Tin Hau and Sheung Wan during my first visit to Hong Kong.

When picking a place to stay in Hong Kong, I would highly recommend booking a room with a harbor view because it is hard to find one just like it anywhere else

Getting around Hong Kong

There are so many great options of how to get around Hong Kong and everything featured on this 2 day Hong Kong itinerary is easily reached.

The MTR system is very good and will get you from one point to the other very fast.

A great experience to have is taking the tram that runs in the Northern part of Hong Kong Island from one corner to the other.

On top of that, the double-decker buses and the small green buses connect many other points that are not reachable by MTR or tram.

Getting an Octopus card would be the most efficient way of paying for your travels, no matter the transportation option you choose.

Day 1 of your Hong Kong Itinerary– explore Hong Kong Island

If you’re into Instagrammable places, start your day on the Eastern side of the island, at the Monster Mansion in Quarry Bay.

You can drink your coffee at one of the best coffee shops in Hong Kong, % Arabica, take a few pictures, and maybe do a bit of hiking into the woods behind the famous building.

If not, you can take the tram and head towards Wan Chai. Go upstairs and sit in the front and you’ll get to have a great view of the city.

Get off in Wan Chai and don’t miss out on the Blue House Cluster – an iconic historic building hosting now a community center and residential apartments, sitting next to an Orange house and a Yellow one.

Only a few steps away from the colorful cluster, you must not miss the glass elevator in Hopewell Center that goes from the 17th to the 56th floor.

From there, walk your way to Central and don’t miss out on the beautiful view you get from Tamar Park or one of the piers at Central Pier. Go on the Hong Kong Observation Wheel and take in the stunning view – you’ll see this city is all about that kind of view you can never get enough of.

Next, head towards Pedder Street and make your way to the Old Police Station (Tai Kwun) on Hollywood Road, now a Center for Heritage and Arts.

Walking along on Hollywood Road towards the Western part of the island, you’ll pass by many lively bars, restaurants, and hip places. Get lost on the labyrinth of streets and stop to admire the street art you’ll find at every step of the way.

On the intersection of Ladder Street and Hollywood Road, you’ll find the famous and very photogenic Man Mo Temple. Once you’ve seen it, you can take the streets down to the streets filled with antique stores. I could spend hours just wandering around discovering dazzling precious bits of history!

Head back to Central and take the famous peak tram all the way to the tallest peak in Hong Kong. Maybe one of the most touristic things to do in town, seeing the harbor from above, especially for sunset, is something anybody should do while in Hong Kong.

The tram climbs a considerably steep hill, and you’ll want to sit down or hold on tight even though the trip won’t be long.

Once at the Peak, walk around Lugard Road for some of the most knockout views of Hong Kong, or simply climb the Peak Tower for the Sky Terrace offering a 360-degree view over both sides of the island. Stay for dinner at one of the highest restaurants in town!

Head back to town and go for an evening drink at one of the coolest sky bars in Hong Kong: Wooloomoolo or Alto in Wan Chai, or my favorite – Sugar in Quarry Bay.

Day 2 in Hong Kong– Cross over to Kowloon

 On your second day in Hong Kong, take the MTR and cross over to Kowloon – the more traditional part of this cosmopolitan Asian town.

Start your day at the Nan Lian Garden and the Chi Lin Nunnery in a tranquil setting and a typical Chinese garden filled with lotus ponds and bonsais.

From there, you can walk to the famous picture-perfect Choi Hung estate. Its name literally means “rainbow” and it’s one of the places you often see in pictures from Hong Kong.

The next attraction you’ll want to see in the area is the Wong Tai Sin Temple, with its stunning pond and garden hidden in the back of the temples away from the noise of the town.

Take the MTR and make your way to the Flower Market where you’ll find plenty of colorful distractions. You’ll see Hongkongers really like their flowers, thus the market occupies a large area!

If you’re not into flowers, skip it and go directly to Jordan with its streets filled with those iconic neon lights, and the famous Jordan Temple Street Night Market.

Make your way to Tsim Sha Tsui (or TST as people call it). After admiring the work of art Musea K11 mall, walk along the Avenue of Stars and find a perfect spot for the Symphony of Lights show taking place every day from 8 PM with a stunning view over Victoria Harbor from Kowloon (check the details here).

You can also take the ferry to cross over to Hong Kong Island and admire the lit – up buildings, or head over to the highest hotel in the world – The Ritz Carlton Hotel – for drinks at Ozone and end the night in style.

Where to eat in Hong Kong

I would start by saying that my first encounter with the food in Hong Kong was an experience I wasn’t expecting. Maybe it was because the Chinese food we have in Europe is very different than what you can find in Hong Kong.

Later on, I would understand that the local food is Cantonese, something you don’t really find in many places where I come from.

When you want to go really local, try one of the many “cha chaan teng”, which translates as tea restaurants. These are places where local people eat on a daily basis, where you will get to taste some of the famous local dishes such as fried noodles or rice, fried wonton or wonton soup, congee, or steamed pork buns. Food comes typically served with Hong Kon –style milk tea, lemon tea, or simply hot water.

If you prefer eating something more Western-style, you shouldn’t worry because there are plenty of options in town. It is worth knowing though that you will need to be prepared to pay more in these places!

About the Author

Ingrid is a travel blogger and book lover on the constant search of places and experiences that bring joy to life. She is originally from Romania, currently living the expat life in Hong Kong, with Italy in her heart. You can follow her stories on IngridZenMoments.

11 Crucial Tips for Traveling to Japan

Japan is such a wonderful country! “The land of the rising sun”, of cool toilets (yes, you might have heard about those!), of awesome food and of an evident culture of respect.

With a good balance between modern technologies and traditions, Japan is mostly known for its delicious food, its advanced technology and efficiency, and the contrast between traditional buildings and futuristic architectural projects.

11 Top Tips for Traveling to Japan

How Long Should You Spend in Japan?

An ideal time to spend in Japan would be at least 2 weeks, during which you could visit the main cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. If you have limited time, such as 5 days, you might want to restrict yourself to seeing just one of these cities.

A month would mean that you have more time to spend in each destination, and also the chance to discover places out of the city, such as Tsumago and Mount Fuji. You might also like to explore the island destinations of Ōkunoshima (rabbit island!) and Hokkaido (great for skiing in the winter!).

When to Go to Japan

The good thing is that Japan is beautiful in every season, and you’ll get different experiences depending on when you decide to go.

During the spring, you’ll be able to see the wonderful cherry blossoms in bloom and participate in many festivals around the country. Keep in mind that this season, even if you get the best temperatures, prices get quite inflated.

During the summer it is quite hot and humid, but you could see fireworks shows and you might considering climb Mount Fuji (in July). In autumn you’ll have less crowds and lots of colorful leaves on the streets. In winter you might want to ski or to see the cute little towns getting covered with snow.

Language

Although many people in Tokyo and main tourist areas may speak English, Japanese is the main language and is widely spoken. Learning a few polite phrases will help to get you far and you will be welcomed by the locals!

Tradition and Culture

Remember that when you travel to Japan you are arriving in a country where traditions and culture might be very different from what you are used to. But you should always mind them to show respect. For example, try to bow back when someone bows to you.

You might not want to delve so deep into Japanese culture that you know all of the different types of bows, but just try your best. Locals will understand it and really appreciate it.

I suggest you pick up a Japan travel guidebook before you go and flip through it, as you’ll learn a few of the cultural missteps to avoid.

Additionally, it is important to remember that in Japan, tipping is not common, and it might actually be considered offensive.

Budgeting Tips for Traveling to Japan

As you might already know, Japan is not the cheapest country to travel to. Yes, it might have perfectly functioning and comfortable transportation, but it comes at a cost.

If you want to save some money, you should take the 7 day JR pass (Japan Rail Pass), which allows you to access any JR line in the country. Prices start from around $275 USD (as of July 2019). This comes handy and worth it especially if you’re planning to visit Japan and visit more than one city and get to know the country a bit more.

On the other hand, if you only want to stay in Tokyo you might consider purchasing single tickets: it will probably be more convenient. But if you want them, you need to order them online at JRailPass.com, don’t forget!

Cash vs. Card in Japan

To continue with the money talk, keep in mind that Japan is still mainly a cash country.

While major credit cards will work in hotel chains, some restaurants or shops in bigger cities, if you’re willing to see more of Japan, it is recommended to take some cash. 7- Bank is the one that usually offers the best exchange rates.

(Editor’s note: I often struggled to find an ATM that accepted my American card, but usually I could find one that dispensed cash at a 7/11, which are everywhere in Japan!)

Food in Japan

We talked about Japan being expensive but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.

For example, there are a lot of pretty cheap ramen, yakitori, and ikazaya spots. Izakayas are a place to drink and eat: a mixture of a pub and a cheap restaurant, where you can have a nice and social night! 1000 Yen meals are possible to find if you search – this is around $8.50 USD.

Convenience Stores

Additionally, Japan and Asia in general offer real convenience at convenience stores.

They are open 24/7, and you can buy pretty much everything, even though in Japan the most interesting would be the food section!

(Editor’s Note: 7/11 and Family Mart are the most common; a few things you have to try are onigiri rice snacks, bento boxed meals, and matcha green tea KitKat bars!)

Accommodations

Accommodation is usually the most expensive part of traveling to Japan. Some actually go for the claustrophobic capsule hotels, which might turn out to be an experience on its own!

For budget travelers, the price of dorm beds often starts around $24 USD, which is more than double the price of beds in South East Asia.

You might have better luck picking an Airbnb in Tokyo or other Japanese cities as opposed to traditional hotels, which tend to be more expensive.

It’s completely normal to pay over $120 USD per night in Japan. The Ritz Carlton comes in at a whopping $850 USD per night on average!

Best Places to Visit in Japan

When traveling in Japan, the best cities to visit, which will give you a good view of the country overall are Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hakone. Tokyo is a very interesting city, which offers some different (crazy) experiences, diverse neighborhoods and where you could try out some amazing food.

Kyoto is filled with culture and temples, a destination where you will see more of the traditional side to Japan. Some of the best temples in Kyoto include Kiyomizu-Dera, Tenryuji, and the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

In Hakone, you can relax in an onsen (hot tub) with the scenery of the Mount Fuji! Hakone is located in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park west of Tokyo. It’s a mountainous town and also famous for the Hakone Shrine – the Shinto temple with a ‘Torii gate’ looking over Lake Ashi.

Nature in Japan

If you want to experience the beautiful nature Japan has to offer to its visitors, you might want to go out of the cities. Waterfalls, lakes, mountains… if you are a nature lover, you’ll find loads to do.

Hiking trails, monkeys, and bears: Japan is not only about the skyscrapers and the crazy technology!

Now that you know just a little bit more about Japan and have read some of the top tips for traveling to Japan, go ahead and book your trip. It is a fascinating and charming country which you won’t get disappointed by!

Author Bio:  Amy spends her time predominantly exploring Europe, North Africa, and Southeast Asia. She has an MA in South Asian studies from The University of Manchester and is now based in Liverpool, UK with her husband and Patterdale terrier, Blake. Her interest in world religion means that she is frequently temple-seeking! Always on the hunt for cathedrals, temples, mosques and historical sites, she loves to portray this in her work. For more blogs from Amy, see her travel sites: Temple Seeker, Game of Thrones Travel, and Globo Trav.

One Day in Taipei: A Perfect Layover in Taipei

Taipei is a place where rich culture and history are woven together with a very modern cityscape and excellent infrastructure. But if you only have one day in Taipei, don’t worry! There are a lot of great places to visit in Taipei – so much so that I’ve outlined a five-day itinerary here. But if you only have 24 hours in Taipei, you can still see quite a bit of the city thanks to this streamlined itinerary.

I’ve curated this itinerary to be specifically designed for people on a layover in Taipei or who just have a short stop in Taipei on a wider Taiwan itinerary.

I have organized this itinerary so that you can visit these Taipei attractions easily via the ridiculously well-organized MRT (no need for a guided tour) in a logical fashion. Most of the locations I have chosen are free, though some have entry fees and to save time, I’ll recommend a few skip-the-line options for some popular sites. Every place on this list is within a short walk of the MRT, so it’s really easy to get from place to place – and it gets easier if you buy your Easy Card in advance online which you can then pick up at the airport.

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Planning a short visit to Taipei? This guide to the best things to do in Taipei in a day is for you! This Taipei layover guide will help you maximize your Taipei itinerary, from Taipei 101 to the night markets to photography & Instagram spots to shopping to hiking Elephant Mountain & everything in between!

Taipei travel | Taipei Food | Taipei photography | Taipei City
Planning a short visit to Taipei? This guide to the best things to do in Taipei in a day is for you! This Taipei layover guide will help you maximize your Taipei itinerary, from Taipei 101 to the night markets to photography & Instagram spots to shopping to hiking Elephant Mountain & everything in between!

Taipei travel | Taipei Food | Taipei photography | Taipei City

Getting into Taipei from the Airport

I’ve written an extremely detailed guide to getting from the Taipei airport to the city center, which you can read here.

I’ll recap your option briefly here so this can be an all-in-one reference.

MRT: The most popular way to get into Taipei and the fastest (and nearly the cheapest!). It takes 35 minutes on the express line. Note that the MRT only operates from 6 AM until midnight. You can prebook a one-way or roundtrip ticket here and get a free surprise! The cost of the fare is NT$ 160 (around US$ 5) to Taipei Main Station.

Bus: The best way to get into Taipei if you’re on a budget or are traveling after midnight and before 6 AM. Two buses can drop you near the Taipei Main Station – Bus 1819 and 1961. Only the Kuo Kang Bus 1819 is available 24/7, making it one of the two choices you have between midnight and 6 AM. There are 15 to 20-minute intervals between each bus. Bus 1819 has a fare of NT$ 140 (around $5 USD). You can prebook Kuo Kang bus tickets online here.

Airport Transfer: The best way to get into Taipei if you’re pressed for time and don’t want to stress public transit. It’s cheaper to pre-book a transfer than to take a taxi from the airport. A regular airport transfer will just cost you around NT$ 800 (around $25 USD) so you can save NT$ 200 (around $6 USD) from the typical airport taxi fare. However, it’s a little pricier at night, closer to NT$ 1,000 (around $33 USD). Check out rates and pre-book a cheap airport transfer here.

One Day in Taipei Itinerary

Start the day at Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple is a fantastic place to start your one day in Taipei, as they are open as early as 6 in the morning and it only takes around 7 minutes from Taipei Main Station, where you’ll likely start your Taipei layover.

Longshan Temple is over 300 years old and was originally built as a gathering place for settlers from Fujian, China. It is one of the most visited temples in Taiwan. While the temple is in fantastic condition today, it has been through a lot — it even survived a bombing raid during World War II.

There is a dedicated MRT Station for Longshan Temple on the blue MRT line. Once you exit at the Longshan Temple station, keep an eye out for the signage which will tell you which exit you should take to arrive at Longshan easily.

Location: No. 211, Guangzhou Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10853

Cost: Free! (Donations are accepted to help maintain the facility)

Visit the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

The next place you can visit is Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (which opens at 9 AM). It is only 15-20 minutes away from the Longshan Temple MRT Station. To get here, go to the Ximen MRT Station where you’ll transfer to the green MRT line, which will take you to CKS Memorial Hall Station.

The architecture is colorful and you will see a lot of students who practice their performances in dancing and singing here. You will see a lot of reds from the pillars and intricate roofs, and blues from the buildings situated in the area. There are temples, wide gardens, and parks that will add up to your experience of CKS Memorial Hall.

The vending machines here serve ice cold milk in a can with flavors like papaya, watermelon, and chrysanthemum – perfect to quench your thirst if you visit during the summer.

Location: No. 21, Zhongshan S. Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Visit the Buddhist Shandao Temple

From CKS Memorial Hall, you can quickly drop by the largest Buddhist temple in Taipei, Shandao Temple. Just take the red line at CKS Memorial Hall back to Taipei Main Station, then transfer to the Shandao Temple MRT Station. It will take you around 20 minutes of travel.

There is not much to see in the modern temple, but it is worth seeing the three statues of Buddha inside — you will be surprised by how big they are!

Location: No.23, Section 1, Zhongxiao East Road, Taipei, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Check out the majestic Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall was created in tribute to commemorate the founder (and also called the Father of Taiwan) of modern China, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen.

This is on the same blue line from Shandao Temple MRT Station, so it’s quite easy to get to.

You will mostly see items and relics that are related to the life of Dr. Sun. As you walk around, you will see beautifully landscaped gardens where people love to exercise and fly kites on windy days. You can really take nice photos and selfies here so you better get your cameras or smartphones handy!

There is also a Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall in Guangzhou, China and it has a huge similarity to the one in Taipei. He must have really contributed a lot to the Chinese and Taiwanese people to be given tribute in that way!

Location: No.505, Sec. 4, Ren’ai Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City 110, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Go up, up, up at Taipei 101

Your Taipei trip will not be complete if you do not visit Taipei 101, which is just 8 minutes from Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall Station by MRT.

It is an icon of modern Taiwan that has blue-green glass walls that look like a bamboo pole with eight nodes (this was intentional, as eight is a lucky number in Taiwanese culture). The view from the observatory is breathtaking — and it should be, considering it used to be the tallest building in the world before Dubai’s Burj Khalifa unseated it!

There are self-service lanes in the location, just be prepared for long lines. Since you only have one day in Taipei, I strongly recommend you book a skip-the-line ticket. There is a surcharge, but it can save you an hour or more in line. For me, I think it’s worth it, but your opinion (and budget) may vary.

If that’s too much, you can pre-book your ticket at a small discount, but it won’t let you have access to the fast track elevator; you’ll just skip the line to buy the tickets, which is usually not so long.

Location: No. 7, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110

Cost: A discount admission ticket to the observatory is $NTD 550 (around $19 USD), or about $NTD 1,000 for the fast-pass ( $32 USD). It is $NTD 600 if you buy it in person at Taipei 101.

Climb Elephant Mountain for a stunning view

The best view of Taipei City and the Taipei 101 building is Elephant Mountain. While I generally recommend going for sunset (both because of the afternoon heat and the views are more impressive), if you have only one day in Taipei I don’t recommend going back and forth so much so you might as well go while you are closeby.

Make sure to wear your running or hiking shoes as there are steep paths that you need to climb up. It only takes about 20 minutes, but it is straight up, so it can be quite tiring especially if it’s particularly hot out. It’s worth it, though. The view will make you feel like you have conquered Taipei successfully!

Pro Tip: There is a spot on top of the boulders if you walk up a little higher from the viewing platform, which is a beloved photo spot in Taipei where you can get the best Instagram photos!

Location: Lane 150, Songren Rd., Taipei, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Visit the charming Lin An Tai Historical House & Museum

Now that you’ve seen Taipei’s most touristic spot, let’s get off the beaten path a bit. Very few tourists know about Lin An Tai, it is a historical gem that’s good for the ‘gram.

The entrance is free and there aren’t many visitors as well so you will really have time to appreciate the quiet and beautiful scenery. It is filled with antique items that show a lot about its history. You will notice that there is a pond in front which was used before as a water source for drinking, lowering the summer heat, as well as defense.

It will give you a glimpse into what was it like to live as a wealthy person back in the 1800s. Locals love taking wedding photos here, so you may see some wedding dresses and tuxes!

Location: No.5, Binjiang Street, Taipei 10491, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Marvel at the treasures of the National Palace Museum

On the same red line, you can go to the Shilin MRT Station where there are minibusses (No. 18 and 19) that can take you to the National Palace Museum.

You will see a spectacular view of its architecture as well as some relics that were once in the Forbidden City of China in Beijing. It is said that not all of the relics are displayed for public viewing (there’s already a lot), so that means there is a huge collection of ancient artifacts stored and not seen by the public!

Some of the popular ones are the Carved Olive-Stone Boat, Jadeite Cabbage and the Meat-Shaped Stone. There are also beautiful gardens nearby that you can stroll around as well and snap some great Taipei Instagram photos!

Location: No. 221, Sec 2, Zhi Shan Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan

Cost: The entrance fee is $NTD 350 (around $12 USD)

Have an early dinner at Shilin Night Market

If you would love to buy some souvenirs or just grab some street food, Shilin Night Market is the best place to go.

Once you arrive at the Shilin MRT Station (you can take the same minibusses back) you can just follow the directions from the street signs — and it will be a quick 10-minute walk.

Does frying milk sound weird to you? You will be surprised that in Taiwan, they do fry milk! It is one of the sweet and yummy street foods in Shilin, aside from the crispy and savory Pork Paper (which is a slice of very thin pork that looks like a meat jerky).

Another thing to watch out are Frog Eggs drink: it is not what you think it is, but rather just a simple bubble tea (the tapioca pearls resemble frog eggs). Keep walking and you might just see some cool things along the way!

Location: No.101, Jihe Rd., Shilin Dist., Taipei City 111, Taiwan 

Cost: There is no fee to enter the night market, and dishes range in price but are generally under $NTD 100 ($3 USD).

Relax and unwind at the Beitou Hot Springs

If you feel that you are tired from walking all day – especially after hiking Elephant Mountain – you can try the hot springs at Beitou. It’s still along same red line of the MRT, going to XinBeitou Station (you have to transfer at Beitou as the line will continue onwards to Tamsui if you don’t get off).

You can enjoy dipping in the warm spring waters either at the public hot springs or by purchasing a day pass from one of the hotels. The fanciest hot spring is the one at Grand View Taipei, which was designed by the famous architect of the Taipei 101 – you can purchase a day pass here, and it’s open until the late evening (though it’s recommended to arrive before 9 PM so you have enough time to enjoy the market). It’s a wonderful alternate way to see Taipei all lit up at night while everyone else is at Elephant Mountain or Taipei 101!

In some hot spring resorts, there are airport shuttles provided, which will make it very convenient for you to get back to whichever terminal you are bound!

Cost: Varies depending on the hot springs

Optionally, make a final stop at the Ximending Shopping District & Night Market

An additional place you can visit if you would love to purchase some unique finds or souvenirs before you leave Taipei is Ximen. It’s a perfect final stop if you’re on a Taipei layover, because it is only 5 minutes from Taipei Main Station.

This is known as the “Harajuku of Taiwan.” You can shop till you drop because the night market and the big brand stores are generally open until 1 AM.

You may also check the Red House (a former movie house with two floors) which is one of the top sites to see in the area, you can find unique world-class clothing, jewelry, delicious desserts, and furniture here.

Location:  No. 14, Emei Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108

Cost: No fee to enter the night market

When’s The Best Time to Visit Taiwan? Weather & Season Guide

If you ask a local when is the best time to visit Taiwan, you won’t get a straight answer.

Each season offers different activities and landscapes, unique festivals and weather patterns, and distinct pluses and minuses. The best time to visit Taiwan ends up depending on what you want, and so knowing that is key to deciding what you want to do.

There are so many things you can do in Taiwan that are dependent on the different seasons. To truly answer the best time to visit Taiwan, you just have to basically know what you want to do so that you can select the perfect season to book that trip.

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Want to travel Taiwan - but you don’t know the best time to visit Taiwan? This guide to seasons, weather, and festivals in Taiwan will help you! Whether you want to visit Taiwan in winter for the Lantern festival and hot springs, Taiwan in spring for its cherry blossoms and photography opportunities, Taiwan in summer for its beaches and national parks, or Taiwan in fall for its nature, hiking, and pretty foliage, there’s so many wonderful things to do in Taiwan in all seasons!
Want to travel Taiwan - but you don’t know the best time to visit Taiwan? This guide to seasons, weather, and festivals in Taiwan will help you! Whether you want to visit Taiwan in winter for the Lantern festival and hot springs, Taiwan in spring for its cherry blossoms and photography opportunities, Taiwan in summer for its beaches and national parks, or Taiwan in fall for its nature, hiking, and pretty foliage, there’s so many wonderful things to do in Taiwan in all seasons!

If you want to see turquoise water, white sand beaches, and pristine seascapes, then summer is the perfect time to visit. If you like long walks and hiking amongst a kaleidoscope of rust-colored trees, then autumn will be best. If soaking in warm hot springs is something you enjoy, then winter (which is rather mild in Taiwan) will be a delight for you. And if you’re rabid for cherry blossoms, then you can’t miss visiting in spring.

As you can see, every season offers a memorable experience, so it’s more of a matter of picking the experience that most resonates with your interests and travel style. To further narrow down when to visit Taiwan, I have listed some key information about each season that can help you plan your trip.

Summer (June – August)

As an island, many people would think that Taiwan is a perfect island getaway and thus perfect to visit during the summer. However, there are pros and cons to this.

Budget travelers will enjoy slightly cheaper flights and accommodation in Taiwan during the summer season; however, this is for a reason, as this is also the time of the year when it can be very hot and humid! In fact, now and then, there are strong typhoons which hit the country in the summer.

Be sure to check online weather forecasts before booking that Taiwan trip and be sure to bring proper rain gear (I always bring my Marmot PreCip jacket and a compact travel umbrella). It is better to be prepared because raincoats and umbrellas can be quite expensive!

The temperature can rise up to around 97°F (around 36°C), though temperatures around 93°F (around 34°C) are more common. However, that doesn’t factor for the punishing humidity, which can push the heat index into the 100s°F (nearly 40°C!).

If you visit Taiwan in summer, you should bring lightweight and comfortable clothes (I have more suggestions on my Taiwan packing list here). Quick-drying fabrics like linen and silk will do better than clothing that stays damp like cotton. Whatever you do — get ready to sweat from the heat! Think of it as a free sauna that you can never escape from.

However, if you can brave the high temperatures, the warm weather just tells you that it is the perfect time to visit Taiwan’s beaches!

If possible, try to go during a weekday so that you will not encounter a big crowd, but regardless of the day of the week, expect a lot of local students because they are on summer break from July until August.

Kenting National Park in the very far south of Taiwan is a fantastic option. One of the most popular beaches there is Little Bay (Xiaowan) but frankly, you can barely go wrong with anywhere in Kenting!

The nearest beach you can go from Taipei Main Station is Fulong Beach. It is only a quick ride on the TRA (Taiwan Railways Administration).  You will be surprised once the ocean waves hit you with the refreshingly cold (but not freezing) water!

There is an entrance fee to the beach, approximately $NTD 100 (around $3.50 USD). If you’re visiting sometime between mid-April and mid-July, there is the Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival going on that you may want to check. Make sure to bring food or try the popular Fulong Bento, as there is only one café once you enter the premises.

If you are the type of person who loves serene views of nature and lovely beaches, then I would strongly recommend getting out of Taipei and heading to one of the beautiful islands of Taiwan. The most gorgeous islands are Xiao Liuqiu, Lanyu Island (Orchid Island), Matsu Island, and the Penghu Islands.

The most interesting of the bunch is perhaps Penghu, an archipelago of islands. One of its townships is Qimei Island, which is popular for the Twin-Heart Stone Weir, which is actually a fish trap. It’s a popular spot for Instagram lovers!

Virtually all of these beautiful islands will make you feel like you are in a time capsule away from the city. The culture is well-preserved and not a lot of tourists are there, due to the limited capacity of people these small islands can accommodate.

Lastly, who says you can’t enjoy springs during the summer? While Taiwan is famous for its ubiquitous hot springs, cold springs are also a thing in Taiwan! There are a few ones like the Su’ao Cold Spring in Yilan and the Sishierfeng Cold Spring in Miaoli.

Fall (September – November)

If pressed, Taiwanese people might say that this is the best time of the year to visit Taiwan. The weather starts to cool down and it is perfect for trekking or hiking. Temperatures can go from 68-79°F (around 20-26°C).

Flights and accommodation costs can skyrocket rather high during this season, and September is generally considered the most expensive time to visit. Budget travelers should veer away during this season. There is also less rainfall when compared to summer and spring.

Landscapes start to flourish, with leaves turning to beautiful shades of red, brown and yellow. A significant holiday during this season is the Moon Festival or the Mid-Autumn Festival. Moon cakes and Taiwanese BBQ treats will be served under the full moon!

My selection of day trips from Taipei is perfect for this season, as the weather isn’t too hot to base yourself out of the capital and Taiwan’s lush countryside isn’t a far ride away. Plus, it’s finally not too hot to explore!

I asked a Taiwanese local what was the best place to go to during this season, and he recommended the Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area. I personally have not been there (yet), but it just looks amazing in photos!

Winter (December – February)

December is when the temperatures start to drop. It can go as low as 50°F (around 10°C). The coldest month of the year is January; however, I spent two weeks in January in Taiwan, and I found the weather rather lovely. Taiwan is not as cold as the winter in most western countries, and it is definitely warmer than other East Asian countries such as China, Japan, and South Korea!

If you are from North America, and you want to experience a warmer winter (but not stifling heat and humidity the way you would in Southeast Asia), then it will be a good idea to travel to Taiwan at this time of the year. Snow is rare, and when it does snow, it’s only in some mountainous areas.

This is the perfect time to get your cozy and warm clothing ready! It is important to wear the right clothing so you can enjoy walking around. Again, I’ve covered winter in Taiwan clothing recommendations on my Taiwan packing list.

However, while December and January are more affordable months to travel, keep in mind that flights and accommodation inflate like crazy in February due to the Chinese Lunar New Year. This holiday is very festive and unique, so it’s definitely worth visiting if you don’t mind paying higher prices! The famous Pingxi Lantern Festival takes place on the last day of Lunar New Year, and it’s a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

If you’re on a budget, aim for December or January. Shopaholics will love the latter part of January, where stores will showcase a ton of overwhelming discounts. However, during the Lunar New Year holidays (which can last for a week around early February), stores are mostly closed.

The Lunar New Year is the best time to visit Elephant Mountain – thank me because you will be amazed by a view of Taipei 101 complemented by fireworks!

There are a ton of hot springs, especially in Beitou, where you have the unique opportunity to stay at a hot spring hotel — many with your own personal hot spring!

Upon arrival at the Beitou MRT station, a monument with the hot spring spirits will welcome you. Local people will flock to several hot springs, so expect a crowd at the public ones. You can try to pre-book online (I recommend this day package at the best hot spring hotel in Beitou, designed by the architect of the Taipei 101!) to avoid long lines, or even worse, not being able to enjoy a good hot spring.

Spring (March – May)

Spring marks the season when the flora of Taiwan are gorgeously blooming! This means you can enjoy having Instagram-worthy pictures with stunning pink cherry blossoms and hydrangeas.

Yangmingshan National Park is one of the best places to find cherry blossoms, but there are other national parks and scenic areas such as Alishan, Wulai, and Wuling Farm as well where you might be able to find them. Another popular spot that’s easy to get to from Taipei is the Tian Yuan Temple in Danshui, which is beautiful when the cherry blossoms erupt.

If you are planning to have a less expensive trip while enjoying the weather, then this is the perfect time to visit, although the peak cherry blossom season can be a bit more expensive than the rest of spring. Spring is not as warm and humid as the summer season and not as rainy as well, though May is when the rainy season starts to kick in.

Generally, temperatures can go around 75°F (around 24°C) and some national parks in mountainous areas can have temperatures going around 68°F (around 20°C).

In terms of festivals, the Swimming Carnival of Sun Moon Lake takes place during this season, and it brings accommodations near the park in high demand. I would strongly suggest planning everything beforehand should you wish to attend this event!

Strolling around Jiufen and Shifen Old Streets will be a spectacular choice during this time of year — not too hot, nor too cold, nor too many tourists! You can check my article about traveling Shifen and Jiufen here.

General Notes about Festivals and Holidays in Taiwan

Taiwan has two calendars: the national calendar and the lunar calendar. While most of the time they follow the national calendar, for most holidays and festivals they follow the Chinese lunar calendar.

The holidays and festivities are sure to give you a taste of Taiwan’s culture at its finest, but keep in mind that there is a cost equivalent to this experience!

Pin This Guide to the Best Time to Visit Taiwan!

Want to travel Taiwan - but you don’t know the best time to visit Taiwan? This guide to seasons, weather, and festivals in Taiwan will help you! Whether you want to visit Taiwan in winter for the Lantern festival and hot springs, Taiwan in spring for its cherry blossoms and photography opportunities, Taiwan in summer for its beaches and national parks, or Taiwan in fall for its nature, hiking, and pretty foliage, there’s so many wonderful things to do in Taiwan in all seasons!
Want to travel Taiwan - but you don’t know the best time to visit Taiwan? This guide to seasons, weather, and festivals in Taiwan will help you! Whether you want to visit Taiwan in winter for the Lantern festival and hot springs, Taiwan in spring for its cherry blossoms and photography opportunities, Taiwan in summer for its beaches and national parks, or Taiwan in fall for its nature, hiking, and pretty foliage, there’s so many wonderful things to do in Taiwan in all seasons!

Where to Stay in Taichung: Accommodations & Hotels You’ll Love!

Taichung is one of the most interesting cities in Taiwan. Culture, cuisine, creativity – it’s got it all. Better yet, Taichung is still not so busy with tourists, who tend to stay in Taipei.

However, Taichung is rather spread out, and there is no central MRT system like in Taipei that makes it easy to zip around. There are public buses, but it can be confusing to figure out, especially if you’re only there for a few days (I ended up relying on Uber on my time there out of frustration/laziness). So picking the best Taichung neighborhood is essential to maximizing your time in Taichung – otherwise, you’ll spend either a lot of time or money on transit.

Whether you’re interested in exploring the Instagram heaven of Rainbow Village, the foodie hotspot of Fengjia Night Market, or tasting the delicious pineapple cakes at Miyahara, this guide to where to stay in Taichung will help you pick the perfect base for your Taichung adventures.

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Visiting Taichung, Taiwan? Whether you visit for the street food, Miyahara shop, art galleries, city life, or photography spots, there’s so much to do in Taichung. The real question is where to stay in Taichung! If you want to be in the city center or near Fengjia Night Market, whether you want epic views or to be close to a park, or if you want to be where all the best Instagram spots , shopping, and cafes are — this guide will help you pick the best Taichung hotels and accommodations!
Visiting Taichung, Taiwan? Whether you visit for the street food, Miyahara shop, art galleries, city life, or photography spots, there’s so much to do in Taichung. The real question is where to stay in Taichung! If you want to be in the city center or near Fengjia Night Market, whether you want epic views or to be close to a park, or if you want to be where all the best Instagram spots , shopping, and cafes are — this guide will help you pick the best Taichung hotels and accommodations!

Where to Stay in Taichung: Neighborhood by Neighborhood

West District

Most of the activities in the entire district are mainly cultural and educational. The area was once mostly farmlands, but the rise of population led the government to change those farms into residential areas. It is the second smallest district in Taichung which is divided into 25 villages with a population of around 115,000.

Popular attractions include the Taichung Shiyakusho, Shenji New Village, National Museum of Natural Science, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung Prefectural Hall Park and the Da Dun Cultural Center. It is also home to the most popular shopping center in Taichung, SOGO Department Store.

Budget: Stray Birds Taichung Hostel

Stray Birds Taichung Hostel is strategically situated near the artsy spots, museums, and malls in the West District. The hostel has very clean and quiet rooms, which are either shared or private, that you may choose from. If you are worried about privacy in a hostel, don’t stress — there are cubicles that separate each bunk bed.

Previous guests reported they that they were able to access their gadgets anywhere because outlets are present almost everywhere – a millennial’s dream. Safety and security is a priority in their facilities: every gate in each story is locked, and lockers are available in every room.

Congee (Chinese rice porridge) and toast are served daily for breakfast, but if you want to try something else, then there are many delicious cafes nearby the hotel. You can also relax in their huge lounge, because they have things to keep boredom at bay, like board games, puzzles, books, and DVDs.

You should note that all the bathrooms are shared, but there is a separate dry area where you can sit and fix your hair or do make-up. If this is something that does not bother you, then it is a very budget-friendly place to stay in Taipei! Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Mid-range: Green Hotel

The name itself tells you that its main theme: it’s extremely environmentally-friendly! It has won first place in Taichung for having the lowest carbon-producing hotel.

Both the exterior and interior of the hotel are modern and touches of nature are visible everywhere (aside from the leaf motif scattered all over the place, giving another meaning to the green name).

The hotel believes that nature has its own way of giving a stress-free and relaxed atmosphere that gives positive energy to their guests. They have multiple room configurations that are simple and neat with most of the amenities you need like a TV, refrigerator, and work desk. If you need some assistance, then they have a 24-hour service desk that can help you with any tours, concierge, luggage storage or a simple task like photocopying or faxing.

The bathroom walls are made from clear glass but they have curtains to cover it if in case you need to. There is a designated area for smokers because the entire property is non-smoking. Instead of walking to nearby locations, you may borrow their bikes for free and check out nearby attractions like the National Museum of Science, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and the Calligraphy Greenway. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Luxury: The Landis Taichung (Hotel ONE Taichung)

The hotel is on the top of the Shr-Hwa International Tower (considered as the tallest building in Taichung), so expect picturesque views of the city especially at night.

They have 202 spacious and comfortable rooms and suites that are inspired by the warm colors of fall, warm wood tones as well as yellow and orange details. The beds are comfortable with gorgeously quilted headboards.

Each room has a multi-function workstation, a 40-inch-wide TV and a multi-channel surround sound that you can connect to your laptop. You can also book meetings at their business center – perfect for business travelers! You will notice an iPad in the room which can be used to control the lights and A/C. And of course, a minibar is present in all their Deluxe Studio rooms.

The hotel is a perfect combination of technology and style! Other features are a bar, restaurant, café, currency exchange center and fitness center inside the location. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

East District

This district used to be home to many factories like sugar, rubber, iron, textile, and other food-related products. Traditional crafts and products are still quite popular here. For souvenir items and gifts, you can shop at the Taichung Central Department store.

It houses 21 temples; one of them is the famous Lecheng Temple, which is a place to pay tribute to the sea goddess Mazu. Dongsheng Bridge can also be found here, and it is filled with beautiful LED lights at night.

Budget: MINI Hotels

If you are traveling with a limited budget, then this is the right choice for something that’s in the East District. Do not expect huge beds and spacious areas, because the hotel prides itself on being a mini hotel.

I would not recommend it to claustrophobic people! It has private compact rooms which will be perfect for solo travelers and good for couples who don’t mind staying in close quarters.

Guests have recommended it to other travelers because the location offers easy access to all sorts of attractions, like the Taroko Mall, Carrefour, Miyahara Dessert Store, Taichung City Hall, and Taichung Chenghuang Temple. The Zhongxiao Road Market can also be reached by foot in 15 minutes, you can try all sorts of foods from Japanese to local, and they are in some stalls with long lines of people waiting for their turn to buy. (Pro tip: always line up behind some locals! The food will be fresher and the Taiwanese are serious foodies, so they won’t wait for no reason!).

What you will love the most is the view from the rooftop of the hotel where you can sit and relax in the coffee table chairs — good if you need a break from your mini room! They have colorful themed walls in the hallways alongside wooden furniture that are inspired by vintage pieces. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Mid-range: Old School

Unlike the name suggests, Old School is rather new on the Taichung hotel scene. It was opened in 2017 so most of the facilities still have that new look and feel.

It is an excellent choice due to its short distance to night markets, malls and the Taichung Railway Station (only a 6-minute walk). The interiors are modern and the lobby has clear glass panels that showcase the outdoor façade garden. Some even say that the hotel is very good for those taking pictures for their Instagram!

The rooms somehow give you a shabby chic ambiance with its wooden furnishings that matches the pure white sheets. You can tell how modern the hotel is by its USB charging ports — which makes it very convenient if you forget to bring your universal plug adapter. They also have a private indoor parking lot for free.

Foodies will be thrilled with their breakfast because they also serve tasty local breakfast food (not just boring Western continental breakfasts)! What guests loved the most is their service and can-do attitude of all the staff. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Luxury: Inhouse Hotel Taichung

At first, you will notice outside that the Inhouse Hotel Taichung resembles an old office building, but the interior will surprise you, because it honestly looks gorgeous inside. The lobby has a luxurious feel, with sparkling chandeliers and beautiful marble floors. The moment you walk in, they will welcome you with a warm cup of tea. It’s that kind of personalized luxury!

The hotel has a wide array of rooms that have elegant stylish interiors which are complemented by teak wood and polished details. The rooms are also huge and cozy, with a private bathroom and tub, plus all toiletries are available.

You are also provided with a mini-fridge so you can store some food, and you may also request for groceries to be delivered directly to your room for an additional charge. They have a fantastic and filling buffet breakfast included, helping you start your day. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Central District

It is the smallest but the busiest neighborhood in Taichung. It used to be considered as the center of businesses and industry in Taichung, and that’s the reason why a lot of people still work or live here.

Most of the infrastructures and roads date back to the Japanese era, making it one of the earliest-developed areas in the city. Due to this, most of the roads are narrow and it is quite difficult for new businesses to establish. The government is trying their best to find new ways on how to develop the city while maintaining the rich culture and local industries to thrive.

One of its night markets, Second Market, has been in operations since 1917. A delicacy you shouldn’t miss are suncakes, which are pastries made from malt, stored in fancy boxes, and given as gifts (or eaten all to yourself — I won’t judge).

Budget: Loosha Hostel

Loosha Hostel has both private rooms (standard twin) and dormitory type rooms (either for females only or mixed). Common areas include a shared kitchen and lounge available 24 hours, where you can make use of their fridge, toaster, microwave and water dispenser and recreational materials like board games, table tennis, and pool.

Luggage storage and laundry are also available. If you have brought a car with you, parking fees are at NT$ 100 (around $4 USD) per day. You can stay at the hostel for only $20 USD per night in one of their sleek dormitory rooms. The breakfast is quite fancy for a budget hostel, and guests were surprised!

If you are going to book a shared dormitory room, be aware that the bathrooms are a bit far. If this bothers you, then it is best to get a standard room with a private bathroom. Solo female travelers felt safe because the ladies’ dormitory rooms are separated and has a keycard feature before you can access. I would definitely recommend this to female backpackers. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Mid-Range: P&F Hotel

The hotel integrates elements from the past into its modern architecture. The rooms are spacious and have simple neutral tones.

People traveling for business, who do not wish to spend so much but need a professional and quiet atmosphere, will enjoy the working desk as well as the overall quiet, professional vibe of the hotel. The ensuite bathroom is also complete with free toiletries and hairdryer. They serve free breakfast and you can choose from Asian or Western food — either served fresh and hot every morning!

A short walk away from the hotel, you can check the Shin Sei Green Waterway at night and see the beautiful romantic dandelion lamps lit across the river.

A good thing about the hotel is that it is surrounded by a couple of 24-hour convenience stores, so if you get hungry late at night, you can surely buy something to eat. You can also use their Gogoro (which is a Taiwanese electric bike) if you want to go somewhere and it is free-of-charge; just make sure you have a local license if you are going to drive far! Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Luxury: 1969 Blue Sky Hotel

The décor of the hotel is mostly inspired by vintage pieces from the era of the hotel’s theme. It has eight floors that will bring you back to the time when the first man landed on the moon and the Beatles hits were everywhere on the radios. Truly a blast from the past!

They have beautifully combined old and modern accents (and a little bit of art deco and steampunk) into clean rooms that have closet storages, comfortable beds, and work desks. Some rooms do not have a city view, so you would need to check before you book. Bathroom spaces have dry and wet areas, all with Majolica style tiles on the floor. You may also ask for assistance from their service desk if you need any local tips or for them to help in calling a taxi or figuring out transit.

A pro tip would be to pre-book your stay during their off-peak season because you can avail it for as low as US$ 63 – you get the benefits of a luxury stay with the price of a mid-range hotel! Usual rates of the hotel can go from US$ 80 – US$ 140 per night. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

North District

The North District lies between the Central and Beitun districts. You will see many universities and high schools in this urban district, and locals consider this as one of the best places to live and study.

There’s the Yizhong Street Market, which is not as big as Fengjia but still has fantastic selection, where you can find some awesome snacks like the traditional Fengren shaved ice.

Some of the other popular tourist spots in the North District are the Taichung Broadcasting Bureau, Taichung Confucian Temple, Taichung Martyr’s Shrine, and Taichung Park.

Budget: Yizhong Stay

The pride of the hotel is their terrace where you can have a view of the city. The rooms are also soundproof (which is quite hard to find in most budget private rooms) and they have good ventilation and lighting. Guests have loved the cleanliness of the place, from the toilets to the rooms. They have an ensuite bathroom complete with toiletries – you are really making the most out of your budget here! A bonus note for people with allergies: it is hypoallergenic!

A thing to note is that they do not have elevators. If you have brought heavy luggage, then you may ask for assistance from their service desk which is also available 24 hours. Keep in mind that they only accept cash as a form of payment; unfortunately, credit cards are not accepted. Be sure to check your map and the hotel’s address so you will not get lost, because some guests have found it a bit hard to locate. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Mid-Range: Lailai Hotel

The hotel’s location is in an active yet quiet part of the city. The hotel is popular for business travelers, due to its features like function rooms for business meetings, conferences, and seminars. They have simple and elegant rooms with duvet-covered beds and premium pillows. Large windows also help provide sunshine during the morning and wonderful night views of Taichung.

Despite being in a busy street intersection in Sanmin Road, the rooms are very quiet. You can also enjoy the complete fitness equipment of World Gym on the second floor without an additional charge.

Just be reminded, that they do not have an in-house restaurant, but there are plenty to choose from nearby that you may try. The night market is just opposite the hotel and you may want to go for a 10-minute walk to the Confucius Temple Martyr’s Shrine.

They also have superb wellness facilities like steam rooms, hot tubs, and a sauna. If this is your last day of vacation, then you can book an airport transfer at the hotel for an additional fee. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Luxury: Inhouse Hotel Grand

The Inhouse Group of hotels promise an exciting, luxurious and comfortable stay in their boutique hotels, in most of the best locations in Taiwan, this is why I am recommending them again!

Another is the Inhouse Hotel Grand in the North District of Taichung. It is perfectly located near popular attractions such as the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. The lobby has luxurious and elegant decors, and you will notice driftwood chairs alongside vibrant floral-printed carpets and potted indoor bonsais. The soundproof rooms have southern provincial French style with ensuite bathrooms and tubs.

Most of the amenities like swimming pool, fitness center, and parking are inclusive of your stay. There is also something for everyone on their breakfast, but it is mostly continental, so keep that in mind if you are looking for local fare — you may want to go out and explore the cafés and restaurants outside instead.

An accessibility note: they have great facilities for guests with disabilities like Braille, emergency cords in the bathroom, and wheelchair access. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Xitun District

The word Xitun means western village. History traces that developments all started within Xitun Road, which is now considered as one of the oldest roads. The very popular Fengjia Night Market is in this district. The pork and seafood dumplings from Shuan Shian Pao Cha Dan Shao are a must-try here!

Industries in this location have grown quite well, and so it is now considered as the business center of Taichung due to the Central District’s limited capability for accepting new establishments. Most popular in this area are the shops that utilize old buildings in creating themed shops and cafés, one of Taiwan’s quirkiest but coolest ways to spend time.

Budget: Fengjia Tonight Hostel

The location of the hostel is basically in the Fengjia Night Market itself. The rooms are simple and have enough space for solo travelers as well as couples. They do not have a front desk, but the owner is always around and guests have said that he is very nice. It is important to contact them if you will be arriving later than 9 PM!

They do not provide extra beds (even at a fee) but children are welcome. Credit cards are not accepted (make sure to bring cash with you) but rest assured that the price is really affordable!

The best time to visit night markets are around 9 in the evening. Staying near Fengjia will make it easier for you to explore everything without the worry of missing public transportation. Taichung does not have buses available for 24 hours, so if you’re out late, you will end up needing a cab. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Mid-Range: 28 Shu Xiang Hotel

The hotel is quite stylish, combining natural and artificial décor elements in the lobby and public areas, while their rooms observe a minimalist style. All rooms have a balcony so you get to see some view in the morning or evening. They provide eco-friendly shampoos, shower gels and hand wash.

The lounge has some snacks and drinks that you can enjoy when you feel like relaxing for a bit. Their outdoor area is really nice because it has a picnic area, outdoor al fresco dining area, sun terrace, and a balcony. You will feel like royalty, because breakfast is served straight to your room!

However, they do not have a 24-hour service desk and rooms are limited (only 24 rooms). It is important to make reservations as the location is very good. A lot of the guests loved their stay and mentioned that they feel like the hotel has a heart of its own. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Luxury: La Vida Hotel

The reason behind the hotel’s name is their belief in happiness in life, because they want everyone to enjoy their trip. The hotel’s lobby encourages that happiness, featuring beautiful interior design made of wood, iron craft, and high-quality stone. You will also notice a huge garden wall with hanging plants outside. The hotel focuses on cultivating comfort and creating a quiet environment for you to relax in.

You can choose from standard, business, and quadruple rooms. Rooms are also inclusive of a mini fridge, 46-inch smart TV, walk-in shower, bathtub, and bidet. You can also call your loved ones internationally for free!

There is a variety of food (from Asian to Western dishes) that you can choose for breakfast; this means you will not get tired of seeing the same menu being served daily. It is also close to the Fengjia Night Market so you can get some local drinks and food to try and mix up your luxury with some budget-friendly local culture. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.