Toucheng Leisure Farm: Less than 1 hour outside of Taipei by bus the Toucheng Leisure Farm is an excellent farm stay option for families that came highly recommended to us by other families as well. We chose to do a 3 day 2-night package that was too expensive, a bit disorganized but a real highlight for the kids. On the farm, there is fishing, farm animals, a wonderful little lake, hiking trails, dogs and an international experience. It is best to book this by phone when you call ask for Tina.
3. Hualien and the Taroko Gorge (3 nights)
Hualien is eastern Taiwan’s second largest city and one of the more pleasant small towns in Taiwan. We used it as a base camp to visit the Taroko Gorge as the range of food and accommodation is greater. Budget travellers will find everything they need near the train station including a host of budget car rental centers.
Taroko National Park hike water curtain
Where we stayed:Formosa Backpacker: They have a wonderful family room upstairs with 4 beds at a decent price. Great location!
Outside the Formosa Backpackers Lodge in Hualien
Taroko National Park
Just 15km north of Hualien sits Taroko National Park, Taiwan’s top tourist destination. With its marble-walled canyons, lush vegetation and mountainous landscape, Taroko really puts the formosa (beautiful) in Ilha Formosa. The park covers 1200 sq km and rises from sea level in the east to over 3700m further west. In fact, Taroko is 90% mountainous with 27 peaks over 3000m. Almost all the bio-geographical zones in Taiwan are represented here, providing a sanctuary for half the island’s plant and animal species. The blue-green Liwu River cuts through the centre, forging deep slitted valleys and ravines before emptying into the sea. In one stretch it forms Taroko Gorge, an 18km marble-walled canyon that many consider one of Asia’s scenic wonders.
Hikes for Kids in the Taroko Gorge
Baiyang Waterfall: This 2.1km trail to Baiyang Waterfall is one of the most popular short walks in the park so be sure to get on it early. Just before the falls, the trail splits to Water Curtain Cave (Shuǐ Lián Dòng). Don’t miss this section of man-made tunnel where water rushes out from faults in the ceiling in beautiful showers. The trailhead for the falls is 700m up the main road from Tienhsiang. Look for the entrance, a narrow 380m-long tunnel carved into the side of the mountain, just before the end of the car tunnel. Bring a torch as this and other tunnels are quite dark inside.
Hiking in Taroko National Park Swallow Grotto Trail
Swallow Grotto: Along this half kilometre slice of the old highway (starting at Km178), the gorge twists and towers in one of its most colourful and narrow sections. It’s a superb location for taking pictures. It’s best to visit here before noon as tour buses literally fill the entire stretch later in the day. If you are driving
Eternal Spring Shrine: Not far from the park administration centre, overlooking the Liwu River from a cliff-side perch, sits this haunting shrine, dedicated to the 450 workers who lost their lives building the highway.ion.
4. Yulin (2 nights)
At the Wisdom Garden Homestay in Hualien and the Taroko Gorge
Where we stayed: Wisdom Garden Homestay a beautiful retreat with wonderful hosts. If you are lucky to be in the area on the weekday you can book last minute otherwise make sure to call in advance. We used that is a home base as we toured the Taroko Gorge.
A day hike in Yushan National Park
4. Kenting National Park (3 nights)
Great mid-week destination for families in Kenting
Where we stayed: Kenting Stony Brook Hotel – Make sure you book the “hotel” and not the fancy villas. This place is spectacular and you can get excellent rates mid-week, forget the weekend unless you want to spend a months worth of your budget on a one-night accommodation. Wifi: Excellent
Kenting National Park occupies the Hengchun Peninsula (the entire southern tip of Taiwan) and draws flocks of visitors who came to swim, surf, snorkel and dive, visit museums, hike and enjoy a little nightlife – all year round. The average January temperature is 21 ° C and it’s usually warm enough for you to swim. In July it can get to a scorching 38 ° C. Low mountains and hilly terraces prevail over much of the land in the park, along with rugged high cliffs and sandy deserts. The swimming beaches with yellow sands and turquoise waters are wonderfully suited to recreation, and sightseeing on a scooter or bicycle is highly enjoyable. The park is a sanctuary for wildlife, including the reintroduced sika deer. In autumn, migratory raptors can be spotted overhead in the tens of thousands, and these are just a few of the 310 bird species recorded in the park. The national park covers 180 sq km. At the time of writing only the area of Eluanbi required entrance fees.
While you are in Taiwan make sure you get your surf on Jialeshui:
The waters around Jialeshui and the nuclear power plant at Nanwan have the best surfing waves. Jialeshui is by far the more laid-back and less crowded of the two. You can hire surfboards (NT $ 800 per day) almost everywhere.
Hanging 10 in Kenting Taiwan
Rarely overcrowded like many famous surf beaches throughout the world tend to be, Jialeshui is a fantastic place to learn how to surf. Several surf shack hostels in the area provide lessons, board rentals and transportation to and from the beach. As surfing is relatively new to Taiwan and Jialeshui is well off the beaten path, the attitude of the locals is extremely relaxed. Here, it’s extremely rare to find veterans barking at you to steer clear of their area. With small numbers of bodies and boards in the water, there are more than enough waves to satisfy everyone. For more seasoned boarders, Jialeshui can produce some sizable swell and even small barrels at times. Normally, the biggest swells occur from June to August; however, this is just a general rule, as waves are usually consistent year round and large waves can be generated by violent off-coast storms in the Pacific at almost any time.
For those who aren’t interested in lessons or transportation, Jialeshui is easy to reach by scooter (approximately $5-10 USD per day) from anywhere in the Kenting area, and a small surf shack just a short ride down the road from the beach offers board (beginner foam, long and short) and vest rentals at a reasonable price – usually in the neighbourhood of 300-500 New Taiwanese Dollars (NTD) for the day (approx. $10-17 USD). Across the road from the board shop, a small snack shop and restaurant provides food, refreshments and respite from the sun when you’re in need of a break.
5. Maolin Recreational Area (2 nights)
The drawcard of this mountainous recreation area (www.maolin-nsa.gov.tw) is the Purple Butterfly Valley, one of 15 overwintering sites that stretch across southern Taiwan from Maolin to Dawu in Taitung. But even if you are there in the off season Maolin will not disappoint with its pristine mountain landscapes, vertiginously high suspension bridges, waterfalls, natural swimming pools and strong Rukai aboriginal culture in this remote yet beautiful valley.
Celebrating Dragon Day with the locals in Maolin Taiwan
Where we stayed: The highlight for our family was the De En Gorge Guesthouse: This is a fabulous, family friendly guesthouse run by a friendly local family that offers good ecotours in English, De En Gorge Guesthouse is the default accommodation in Maolin. Camping is permitted on the grass bluff (per person NT $ 200; bring your own equipment), while the cabins, made of gray stone, offer some modern comfort. This region may seem a bit off the beaten track, but it isn’t so hard to negotiat. On the weekends the waterfall swimming holes can become extremely crowded. To get to the guesthouse head up County Rd 132 until you see the signs for Maolin Valley (Màolíngǔ, also Maolin Gorge). Turn right down a side road and cross the bridge. When the road ends at a fork, head left and up about 1km. The first building you see is the guesthouse.
Wifi: There is surprisingly excellent WiFi in the central dining area and cafe.
The kids had a blast playing with the locals. It was a great experience.
6. Sun Moon Lake (3 nights)
Renting bikes on Sun Moon Lake
Where we stayed: Harbor Resort Hotela basic hotel with good mid-week rates with prime real estate in Sun Moon Lake.
Although this is a tourist hot spot Sun Moon Lake is the perfect place to get your family on rental bikes in a safe environment where they won’t be made into pancakes by unruly motorists. There are nice nature trails along with some beautiful temples and great places for picnic lunches.