By Mariza Lange from Hoponworld
Outdoor Family Adventures In Taiwan Are Everywhere
Taiwan is probably not the first place that comes to mind when considering an adventure-filled family vacation. But what if I told you that outdoor family adventures in Taiwan are located all over this little island? Would you actually believe me? I’m quite certain that by the end of this guide you will.
Dubbed Ilha Formosa by Portuguese sailors back in the 1500s, meaning “beautiful island,” Taiwan packs the perfect mix of beautiful hikes through thick verdant jungles sprinkled with waterfalls, terrific cycling routes, excellent snorkeling opportunities, and so much more. Put more simply, Taiwan is full of family friendly outdoor activities. If you have any questions/comments, leave them below, and then go discover Taiwan with your own family!
5 Of The Best Family Friendly Adventures In Taiwan
1. Family Friendly Hiking – Taiwan’s Grand Canyon
There is no shortage of excellent hiking trails in Taiwan. Taroko Gorge National Park located in Taiwan’s east rift valley is right up there with the best of them! If this is not yet on your travel bucket list, you’ll definitely want to add it! This beautiful 19km long national park is full of gorgeous scenery. Moreover, it’s a must-visit place for many different outdoor family adventures in Taiwan.
There are several hiking trails. They vary in length and difficulty level. Therefore, Taroko Gorge is a perfect introduction to the family friendly outdoor adventure scene in Taiwan, and a perfect place to begin your Taiwan trip!
The Shakadang Trail Is Easy
If you’re looking for something not too demanding, the Shakadang Trail is an excellent starting point. This 4km hike takes you past azure-colored pools, lush jungles, and interesting rock formations. The entire trail takes about 3-4 hours round trip to complete, depending on your fitness level. Still, it’s a well-trodden path with not too much elevation gain. This would be a good choice if you have younger children.
The Zhuili Old Road Trail Is A Bit More Difficult
In contrast, if you’ve got older kids, consider the Zhuili Old Road Trail. Locals regard this as the most notorious hike in the gorge. The trek takes roughly 4-5 hours to complete round trip and offers sweeping views no matter which way you turn.
With that being said, you should know that it is quite a daring hike along high rising cliffs. Therefore, you should really only attempt it with kids older than six years of age. As an aside, only 96 entry permits are issued per day for this hike and 156 on weekends. So, make sure to apply for a permit online well in advance.
2. Family Snorkeling Adventure – Sea Turtles In Xiaoliuqui
After exploring Taiwan’s east coast via Taroko Gorge, consider heading to Xiaoliuqiu (Lambai Island). It’s a tiny coral island located a 25-minute ferry ride off the shore of Taiwan’s southwest coast. Aside from it being the perfect place to get acquainted with Taiwan’s rich underwater world, it is also another one of the many family friendly outdoor adventures in Taiwan.
On Xiaoliuqui you’ll find waters full of colorful fish and the most kaleidoscopic coral reefs imaginable. But that’s not all! As Taiwan’s largest coral reef island, it is also a protected area and home to dozens of endangered sea turtles. Since the waters are the ideal temperature year-round, it’s the perfect spot to add to your must-do outdoor family adventures in Taiwan list!
Now, you don’t necessarily need to get your feet wet to spot sea turtles in Xiaoliuqui. However, the best way to get an up-close look at these gentle giants is on a snorkeling adventure. If you have older kids, consider SCUBA diving here too! There are all kinds of snorkeling tours available across the island, so it’s pretty easy to join one. However, if you prefer exploring the marine world at your leisure, it is also possible to rent gear at one of the many dive shops in town.
3. Cycle Around Sun Moon Lake – Taiwan’s Largest Natural Lake
Named the 5th best cycling route in the world by CNN, Sun Moon Lake is a serene oasis neatly tucked away in central Taiwan. It’s surrounded by lush green mountains and dotted with temples and pagodas. As the largest natural lake on the island, Sun Moon Lake is the perfect place to get away from the hustle-bustle and enjoy one of the best family friendly outdoor adventures in Taiwan.
Cycling, Hiking, Kayaking And More
There are heaps of outdoorsy things to do like boating, hiking, kayaking, and SUP. But tackling the 3-hour bicycle ride around the lake is undeniably a must. Besides being fun, it’s a great way to see the lake from all angles! Moreover, the 30-km route offers exceptional views over the water and mountains. And, if this route simply whets your appetite for cycling, if you’ve got old enough children, you can consider cycling around the whole island of Taiwan!
For rentals and gear, you’ll find tons of bicycle shops at Shuishe Village, the main tourist area. Prices vary but expect, at the time of writing, to pay around NT$300-500 for an electric bike, and NT$100-200 for a pedal bike.
4. A Walk Through Ancient And Magical Forests – Alishan National Forest Area
No collection of outdoor family adventures in Taiwan would be complete without including a walk amid the century-old cypress trees of the Alishan National Forest Area. In the Alishan Mountain Range, you’ll be surrounded by 18 mountains with an elevation ranging between 300 to 2600 m (980 to 8530 ft). This enchanting ancient forest is another spot to enjoy a bit of hiking in Taiwan.
Most of the National Park trails are easy to complete on foot. However, there are also shuttle buses. If you want a real treat however, consider riding the amazing little Alishan forest railway. It will take you and your kids on a spectacular train ride through this verdant and misty national forest!
Watch The Sunrise From Within Alishan National Forest
If you and your family are tired from your other adventures all over Taiwan, Alishan is the perfect spot to simply soak up some nature. It’s also where you can watch one of the most magnificent sunrises in all of Taiwan. While there are some incredible hiking opportunities, most people visit here to catch the famous Alishan sunrise at the Zhushan Sunrise Observation Deck or at the Duigaoyue Sunrise Platform.
To get to the observation decks, you’ll need to take the Forest Railway. Since you’ll have to wake up quite early, it’s best to spend a night in the national forest area. Tickets for the train ride are only sold one day in advance between 1 pm-4 pm at the Alishan Forest Railway Station, so remember to time your visit!
5. Soak In A Hot Spring – Plenty Of Options All Over
One of the best outdoor family adventures in Taiwan has to be unwinding in a hot spring. The best part, there are several excellent hot springs a stone’s throw from bustling Taipei City. While most visitors to Taipei head to Beitou Hot Springs, it’s worth taking a day trip to the beautiful little aboriginal village of Wulai.
Located less than an hour’s bus drive from Taipei City, Wulai is a charming village surrounded by green mountains. It’s home to natural hot springs, gushing waterfalls, and beautiful mountain hikes. The town is chock-full of hot spring hotels where, at the time of writing, you can get a private tub for less than NT$1000 to soak in for a few hours.
However, if you are traveling on a slightly tighter budget, it is perfectly okay to do what the locals do! Simply find a quiet spot along the river where you can kick-back for a few hours for free!
Enjoy Your Own Outdoor Family Adventures In Taiwan!
While these are just a handful of the many Taiwan adventures that you and your family can enjoy, we hope this guide has inspired you to consider this little gem of an island for your next outdoor family adventure! If you have any questions/comments, leave them below, and we’ll get back to you in a flash!
Mariza is a South African expat who has been living in Taiwan for the past nine years. When she’s not juggling work, you’ll probably find her unwinding on Taiwan’s gorgeous beaches, snorkeling at one of the offshore islands, hunting for waterfalls, or enjoying a cuppa somewhere in Taipei. On her blog, Hoponworld, she shares in-depth destination guides and heaps of tips and tricks to help travelers travel better in Taiwan and Asia.