Taiwan is one of the best countries in Asia for traveling with kids. Expat parents who live in Taipei and families who visit consistently rave about how child-friendly it is.
What makes Taiwan so good for traveling with kids? To begin, it is one of the safest countries in the world. Second, Taiwan is famous for convenience. Third, the country has an incredible transportation system. Finally, the kindness and hospitality of locals, especially towards parents and foreigners, makes traveling with kids a great experience.
My son and daughter were born and raised in Taipei. Below I’ll give some tips for planning your family trip to Taiwan. For further information, see a more detailed version of this article about planning a trip around Taiwan with kids and my list of 25 fun things to do with kids in Taipei.
GETTING AROUND WITH KIDS
It is super convenient to get around the country with kids. The Taipei MRT is clean, efficient, and passengers are super polite. The dark blue seats are reserved for the needy, including pregnant mothers or travelers with very young kids.
From the airport to Taipei, the new Airport MRT line is suitable for kids. On this line and the Taipei MRT, children under 6 (or under 115 cm) travel free.
Trains and buses
The same rule applies for all regular trains and most buses between cities. Kids under 6 or 115cm are free. Kids 115-150cm or under 12 pay half price for a seat. However, for kids under 6, if you want your child to have his or her own seat, you will have to buy a children’s (half-price) ticket. Otherwise, your child must sit in your lap. Tickets for trains go on sale two weeks in advance and often sell out. You can reserve them online, at 7-11, or at train stations.
High Speed Rail
The same rules as above apply for the HSR. Note that while the HSR is much faster and a smoother ride, all the stations (except for Taipei) are located outside of city centers. You can buy your tickets 5-28 days in advance to get an early bird discount, but you can always get on a non-reserved ticket at the last minute.
THINGS TO DO IN TAIPEI
Most visitors spend 2-3 days in Taipei during their Taiwan trip. Some of the most popular tourist attractions can be fun with kids. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is good for family photos. Ximending has funky shops and poo-poo themed Modern Toilet restaurant. Our kids especially like going up to the 89th floor observation deck at Taipei 101 for grand views over the city.
A popular choice for parents is a day trip to Taipei Zoo, followed by the Maokong Gondola next to it. If your kids are brave enough, line up for a “Crystal Cabin”, which has glass floors.
In winter, we love going to Beitou, the only hot spring area that is accessible by the MRT. The best choice with kids is to get a private room at one of the hot spring hotels around the Beitou park. You also have to check out Hell Valley, which looks like the time of the dinosaurs.
KID FRIENDLY PLACES AROUND TAIWAN
With only one week in Taiwan, many visitors choose to spend most of their time in Taipei, with a trip to Hualien to see Taroko Gorge. This stunningly dramatic narrow gorge is one of the country’s top scenic attractions, and it’s perfectly manageable with kids.
The train ride to Hualien is very popular, so definitely try to book it in advance. You can choose to stay in Hualien City or Xincheng. Xincheng is closer to Taroko Gorge, but Hualien City has more hotels and restaurants. With kids, it’s best to have a private driver to Taroko Gorge, so you can choose the most suitable stops in Taroko Gorge and stay for as short or long as you want at each one. Most hotels can arrange drivers, and the cost is around NT2500 for a day.
With two weeks in Taiwan, you could probably do a full circle trip around the island. After staying in Taipei and Hualien, you can continue to Taitung. This remote county is famous for its quaint rural scenery, with gorgeous rice paddies in the East Rift Valley backed by peaks of the Central Mountain Range.
Guanshan is one good choice, famous for its town circuit bicycle path. It’s an easy cycling route, and you can rent bikes for kids or whole family bicycles. Another good choice is Luye. If you visit Luye, where the Hot Air Balloon Festival in summer is a fantastic experience for kids!
Continuing along, Kaohsiung is another stop you should consider. Southern Taiwan’s largest city is revitalizing its waterfronts, with a great arts district called Pier 2 Art Center. You can also spot wild macaques on the mountains beside the city, where you’ll also find Kaohsiung Zoo. Finally, Taroko Park is a great amusement park and department store devoted to kids’ rides and activities, suitable for very young kids or older ones.
I would probably skip Tainan, famous for temples and historical sites, with kids, and instead head to one or both of the scenic attractions Alishan and Sun Moon Lake. Alishan is the country’s most famous mountain resort, and our kids really loved going there. There are easy walking trails, and it’s really exciting to take the Alishan Forest Railway within the national scenic area. However, be aware that the line from Chiayi only goes halfway to Alishan, so you have to take a bus on a very winding road for the rest of the way. Your kids may not like it if they experience carsickness.
Finally, Sun Moon Lake is a popular attraction and fun for kids. Ours loved riding the Sun Moon Ropeway, which offers stunning lake views, and goes to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Center and amusement park.
That should be more than enough ideas to plan a great family trip in Taiwan. I hope you enjoy your time here!
Nick Kembel is the author of Taiwan in the Eyes of a Foreigner and creator of Spiritual Travels, a website devoted to mindful travel and destinations in Asia.