Taiwan, once called Formosa, is in East Asia and is an island nation bordered by no less than 3 seas – the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea.
There are several smaller islands dotted around, but Taiwan is the largest and most mountainous. Whilst the People’s Republic of China (PROC) claims the island as part of its territory, Taiwan is controlled by its own governing laws and regulations.
Most of the 24 million (census 2020) residents are of Chinese origin, and only 2.38% of the population are indigenous Taiwanese.
As a country, it’s roughly the size of Belgium, but far more densely populated, with the north and west coasts being the main areas of residency. Covered in forests and mountainous peaks, it is a spectacular place to visit for scenery and culture.
In this article, we’ll look at the key locations in Taiwan more closely. In the meantime, to apply for your visa to visit this beautiful East Asian island, simply click here.
- 1 Where Is Taiwan Located Relative to China?
- 2 Where Is Taipei?
- 3 Popular Destinations in Taiwan
- 4 Where Is Jade Mountain Located and Why Should You Go There?
- 5 Are Sun Moon Lake and the Ancient Cypress Forests of Alishan Located Nearby?
- 6 Where Is Yilan Located and What Can You Do There?
- 7 Where Is Penghu, Taiwan Located?
- 8 Where Is Pingtung, Taiwan Located?
- 9 Is Keelung Worth a Visit?
- 10 Where Is Maioli in Taiwan and Why Should I Visit?
- 11 What Things Can I Do in Chiayi?
Where Is Taiwan Located Relative to China?
The only geographical element that divides the country from China is the Taiwan Strait, making their distance apart only around 176km (110m).
Flight time from Taiwan to mainland China is around 1 hour and 15 minutes, with the nearest Chinese airport being Fuzhou. These flights operate from Taipei Taoyuan and days, times and carriers vary. They are known as ‘cross-strait charters’.
Otherwise, the most economical way to arrive is by a ferry crossing. This can take up to 10 hours, or there’s an overnight crossing from Taiwan’s port city Keelung to Xiamen’s Dongdu Ferry Terminal in China.
Alternatively, if you really want to travel by sea, there is a fast hydrofoil service, taking 3 hours from Taipei (Taichung) to Pingtan. Always check the available days and times, as these can vary.
Where Is Taipei?
The capital of Taiwan is Taipei, located in the north of the island, a modern bustling city that some say reminds them of Japan. It is part of an area called New Taipei City, only 25km (16 miles) from the northernmost port of Keelung. Situated on an ancient waterbed, formerly a lake, Taipei is also bordered by 3 different rivers.
Popular Destinations in Taiwan
There are many places to visit in this country, some scenic and some of historical interest. Here are some of the most popular destinations. We have given you their location and what you will most enjoy seeing!
Where Is Jade Mountain Located and Why Should You Go There?
Jade Mountain is located near the country’s centre in Yushan National Park, which has over 30 peaks to climb of varying heights. One huge thing for the local Taiwanese (some say it is on their bucket list) is to hike to the summit of this famed mountain!
Jade Mountain is the highest peak in the Park at just under 4,000m. It is not a climb for the fainthearted, and it is advisable to attempt it over a few days with stops on the way.
However, when you reach the summit, it will seem so worthwhile, as the vista is incredible. Around 1.5m people visit Jade Mountain a year and, due to its popularity, it is imperative to book your trip several months in advance.
To visit Jade Mountain, you will need a park permit and a mountain permit. Details of how to obtain these are listed on Taiwan’s national park permits website. Permits are afforded by lottery, so get your dates sorted well in advance.
To complete your trip to the area, and to ease your sore bones after such a hike, try to include a visit to the hot springs at Dongpu, situated near a northwestern entrance to the National Park. There is plenty of accommodation here from lodges to spa hotels, but it is wise to book before you arrive.
A guided tour is advisable, as the locals know the area like the back of their hand. You have a stronger chance of getting your permits approved if you travel in smaller numbers, or book through a tour operator who will have pre-booked spaces available for you.
Are Sun Moon Lake and the Ancient Cypress Forests of Alishan Located Nearby?
Yes, many people combine these 2 destinations with Jade Mountain to make the most of this mountainous and lake-filled area. You can cycle around the lake or sample the world-famous Alishan Teas, known as the ‘Champagne of Oolong Tea’!
It is strongly recommended to combine this wonderful area, and to take around 7 days to do so, including all 3 destinations.
Where Is Yilan Located and What Can You Do There?
Yilan County is in the northeast of Taiwan and it’s easily accessible by road, around 59km from Taipei. It is a diverse and interesting area, with something for everyone, including cultural sites. There are many day trips from Taipei, bookable in advance. You can try the following:
- If you are a foodie:
- Enjoy a trip to a bee farm and taste the glorious honey.
- Visit the BaJia Fish Farm and learn how Taiwanese flavours are created.
- If you are a whisky lover, try a trip to the Kavalan Distillery.
- Visit the night market at Luodong for an insight into the Taiwanese food and lifestyle!
- If you love all things ‘water’, Plum Blossom Lake is picturesque, as are the waterfalls located at the Limen Shipan Forest and the hot springs at Jiaoxi.
- For culture and artistic interest, most visitor’s flock to Jimi’s Square. Jimi is a well-known illustrator of books, and sculptures have been created from his stories. It is a whimsical and magical place and somewhat unique throughout the world.
Where Is Penghu, Taiwan Located?
Penghu is part of an archipelago comprising of around 90 islands, located in the Taiwan Strait. You can arrive by air, then by taking a ferry. Obviously, as an island it has beaches, which is ideal if you’re looking to catch some rays somewhere off the beaten track!
Where Is Pingtung, Taiwan Located?
Pingtung is a county located in the southeast. It attracts tourists for its beaches, landscape, birdwatching, stargazing and, on top of this, the best paragliding facilities in Taiwan.
So if you are an outdoor kind of person, this would be a suitable break from the main cities. The Taiwan Strait is located to the west, while the overwhelming Pacific Ocean lies to the east. The climate here is spring-like all year round.
Is Keelung Worth a Visit?
Keelung is a portside town in the northeast, well worth a visit for its deep harbour, perfect for fishing and the markets that surround it. You will see hundreds and hundreds of fish species that you’ve likely never seen before and watch some of the locals cooking these varieties.
Away from the harbour, there are backstreets of historic interest and plenty of temples. Take a guided tour if you visit, as the guides are generally locals and have a wealth of knowledge. This is a popular place if you are an intrepid fisherman, as you can book day- and night-time fishing trips and catch some intriguing fish!
Where Is Maioli in Taiwan and Why Should I Visit?
Maioli is situated in western Taiwan and attracts over 6 million visitors per year. The main points of interest in this county are Lions Head Mountain (locally known as Shitoushan) and Quan-Hua Temple which, whilst an ancient structure, is by no means the oldest in Taiwan.
Nearby Maioli is culturally significant with plenty to see and do. A 3-day trip is highly recommended to encompass all there is to enjoy. You can sample some traditional Hakka food, known for its salty and fragrant flavours, plus clever use of spices such as ginger, soy and garlic. There’s also rice wine, with an abundance of rice and pork as the base foods.
Elsewhere, there are plenty of temples and shrines of touristic interest, pretty parks and flower centres and even a skywalk and amusement park.
What Things Can I Do in Chiayi?
Chiayi is not the first place that springs to mind when visiting the country, but it is worth it. Chiayi is in the southwest of the island, on the north side of the Chianan Plain, and it follows along the Tropic of Cancer.
Have a cup of tea at the top of the Chiayi Tower with ease, as there is no queuing and no crowds, while the view is great. Also, enjoy a 25-minute walk out to the magical Lantan Lake for relaxation.
Culturally, a visit to the Chiayi Municipal Museum of the Chiayi Cultural Centre will be of interest. Foodies will enjoy a trip to the Wenhua Night Market, providing local snacks and delicacies, as well as other goods being traded by the intrepid hawkers.
With this information, we hope you have a clear idea both of where Taiwan is on the map, as well as where to find some of this East Asian country’s chief destinations and tourist spots. Have an excellent trip!