Taiwan boasts loads of fun activities and adventures no matter what season you choose to visit. And wintertime is no exception. If you’re looking to experience the very best things to do in Taiwan in winter, this post will put you on the right track.
While Taiwan might not be the typical winter wonderland, there are still loads to do during the colder months. And to help you find the best winter activities, I’ve gathered all my insider tips from years of living in Taiwan (10 to be exact) to bring you this ultimate list of things to do in Taiwan in winter.
In this Taiwan winter guide, I’ll show you the best things to do in Taiwan in the winter and provide you with information on how to prepare best for your trip to Taiwan in winter. Ready? Let’s go!
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When is Winter in Taiwan
Winter in Taiwan runs through the months of December, January, and February, with January being the coldest month.
The winter season only really kicks off after December 25. Before Christmas, the weather in Taiwan is still pretty nice, and there’s still a good chance to experience a couple of sunny days. After Christmas, though, Taiwan starts to get cold, daylight hours shrink, and average temperatures start to drop.
While the temperatures vary by month and location, in general, though, you can expect colder temperatures in northern Taiwan while the south will be much warmer.
In Taipei, winter highs typically hover around 16°C and lows around 14°C. However, wind chills often whip through the city, skies are grey, and it can drizzle for days. As a result, it often feels much colder.
In contrast, the climate is much more favorable in the south of Taiwan. Winter in Kaohsiung offers ideal weather conditions with average temperatures ranging between 22°C-24°C. Kenting also enjoys great winter weather. So much so that you can still bask in the golden shores of Kenting National Park.
Taichung is another great place to visit during winter in Taiwan. It does not rain as much as in the north of Taiwan so expect relatively dry weather with temperatures a few degrees higher than Taipei.
However, if you’re heading to high altitude regions like Alishan, Hehuanshan, Yushan, Snow Mountain, and the likes, brace yourself! Temperatures often dip below 5°C here, and there’s also a good chance to see snow at some of these spots.
15 Awesome Things to Do in Taiwan in Winter
See the Christmas Displays
Christmas is an unofficial holiday in Taiwan, meaning kids still need to go to school, and people still need to work.
As a result, finding that special Christmas feeling in Taiwan might not be as easy as you think. With that said, though, in recent years, Taiwan has really beefed up its Xmas game. In fact, you’re likely to see beautifully decorated Christmas trees and hear Christmas carols in almost every shopping mall across the island. Some of the best displays can be seen at the Breeze Center in Songshan District and Taipei 101 in Xinyi District in Taipei City.
However, for a truly magical Christmas experience, hop on a train to Banqiao. Every year, an extravagant Christmas event called Christmasland is hosted at the plaza between Banqiao Station Square and New Taipei Civic Plaza. Hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights and decorations adorn the area creating the most wonderful Christmas setting imaginable. With colorful light shows, sparkling tunnels of lights, live performances, and even a Christmas market, it’s arguably one of the best places to experience Christmas in Taiwan.
Just a heads up, try to avoid weekends as the crowds and wannabe influencers can be a real pain. Christmasland ran from November 11 in 2022 until January 2, 2023. Check out the official Christmasland website for future events.
Ring in the New Year
New Year’s Eve celebrations can be witnessed throughout Taiwan, with most cities having some sort of firework displays.
If you’re visiting Taipei during this celebration, head to Taipei 101 – home to one of the most extravagant pyrotechnic events in the world.
Some 16,000 fireworks were fired off Taipei 101 tower over 5 minutes last New Year’s Eve. The show featured a 360-degree digital display, beam lights, lasers, multimedia animations and special effects fireworks.
If crowds aren’t for you, head up to Elephant Mountain. Here you’ll be able to get an incredible view of the tower and lower-lying city. Just a heads up, it’s still going to be busy. So make sure to go early to grab a spot on one of the boulders. Bring some snacks and drinks, and more importantly, remember to dress warmly.
Celebrate Chinese New Year
Much like Christmas in the western world, Chinese New Year is the biggest and most important annual celebration in Taiwan.
Each year, colorfully decorated streets, exciting street parades, and endless firework displays burst out all over Taiwan to celebrate the arrival of the Chinese New Year.
The Lunar New Year holidays span several days, usually falling somewhere in late January or early February. If you’re visiting Taiwan during CNY, it’s important to know exactly when this holiday is as it will likely impact your trip quite a bit. The dates are based on the Lunar Calendar, meaning it will change each year on the Western Gregorian calendar. In 2023, the Lunar New Year runs from January 20-29, with Chinese New Year’s Eve falling on January 21.
Chinese New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are usually the most important days during this celebration. Family members travel from near and far to spend time with their family and feast on a wide variety of delicious traditional foods. Unlike Christmas, families in Taiwan don’t give each other gifts during Chinese New Year. Instead, it’s customary to give children a hong bao (a red envelope filled with money) and for working sons and daughters to give a hong bao to their parents.
CNY is also a great time to go shopping. And on Chinese New Year’s Eve, many shops stay open until midnight. Expect the streets to be brimming with shoppers buying new clothes (many of them in red as it’s believed to bring good luck).
Visiting Taiwan During Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is a really lovely time to be in Taiwan, but it’s not exactly tourist-friendly. For starters, many shops and attractions close during the festivities. Secondly, hotel rooms fill up quickly, and prices are often much higher than traveling during the low season. And lastly, traffic is a nightmare, with public transport packed throughout the holiday. In fact, getting a seat on a train is virtually impossible unless you’ve booked one in advance.
Therefore if you must visit Taiwan during CNY, book your hotel room at least a few months in advance. Normal train tickets can be booked 14 days in advance, while HSR tickets can be booked up to 28 days.
Enjoy Lantern Festival
Lantern Festival is one of the most iconic festivals to attend during wintertime in Taiwan.
Every year a different city in Taiwan is selected to host the annual Taiwan Lantern Festival. The event showcases dozens of colorful lanterns in all shapes and sizes imaginable. It’s usually quite a big deal with thousands of people coming to see these beautiful artworks.
In 2023, Taipei City will host the Taiwan Lantern Festival with various exhibitions around town. The Central Exhibition Area will be at National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, but there will also be displays at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, Xinyi and the Eastern District commercial area. The festival is expected to run from February 5 to 19, with roughly 300 lanterns on display.
Although the annual event will take place in Taipei, you’ll still be able to see lanterns elsewhere in Taiwan as many cities have smaller displays.
Attend the Pingxi Lantern Festival
Another fun thing to do in Taiwan in winter is the Pingxi Lantern Festival (not to be confused with the lantern festival above).
The Pingxi Lantern Festival celebrates the ancient custom of releasing thousands of glowing lanterns carrying special wishes into the sky. (Usually during the first full moon of the new lunar year).
The festival is held in Shifen, a former mining town in Pingxi District, New Taipei City. And it usually runs over a few days leading up to and after the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar. The dates change every year, but it normally falls somewhere in January or February, depending on the Lunar Calendar.
If you want to attend, know that this is one of the busiest festivals in Taiwan. Proper planning is recommended as it will be a long and tiresome journey to get there and back. Trains fill up quickly, and your chances of finding accommodation in Shifen during the festival will be almost impossible. If you must stay overnight, your best chance of finding a hotel room will be in nearby Jiufen or Keelung.
The 2023 Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival will be held at Shifen Sky Lantern Square on Feb 5, and on Feb 11 at Pingxi Junior High School. The festival will run from 6-8:30 pm at both venues. For more details, see the official website.
Soak in a Hot Spring
When the weather in Taiwan starts to cool down, grab your swimming cap and slip into one of the country’s more than 150 hot springs.
Taiwan has one of the highest concentrations of hot springs globally, so you won’t need to look too far to find one. While almost every county in Taiwan has some form of hot spring, you’ll find the highest concentration of them in the northern parts of the island and near the central mountain range.
Best Hot Springs in Taiwan
- Beitou is the most popular hot spring area in Taiwan due to its proximity to Taipei. Here you’ll find a good selection of cheap public pools and lavish hotels such as The Gaia Hotel Taipei and Radium Kagaya International Hotel.
- Wulai is a famous aboriginal village and an easy day trip from Taipei. There are some great mid-range spring hotels here like Pause Landis Resort Wulai, but try Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort if you’re looking for the ultimate luxury stay!
- Jiuzhize Hot Springs near Taipingshan in Yilan is Taiwan’s most Instagrammable hot spring! The resort has dozens of small outdoor rock pools that look like tiny tubs where you can enjoy a soak while admiring the gorgeous mountain scenery.
- Ruisui Hot Spring is the most famous hot spring resort on the East Coast and a must-visit Hualien attraction. This charming Japanese-style hot spring resort dates back to 1919. Unlike other hot springs in Taiwan, Ruisui’s water is rich in iron, giving the water a yellowish tint.
- For something completely different, check out Guanziling Mud Hot Spring in Tainan. Here you’ll find muddy spring water and loads of outdoor activities to keep you busy.
- Zhaori Hot Spring on Green Island is another cool one to check out if you’re a more adventurous traveler. What truly makes this hot spring so special is that it is one of only three saltwater hot springs in the world! However, know that Taiwan’s offshore islands are not ideal travel destinations during the winter months. Getting there will be hard, and it will be windy!
Eat Hot Pot
There’s no better way to warm up on a chilly winter’s day than with a piping hot, super delicious hot pot!
Hot pot is one of my favorite Taiwanese foods, and I eat it all the time (even in summer). It is basically a soup-based dish where diners toss uncooked ingredients like tofu, vegetables, meat, and seafood into a huge broth-filled pot on a burner and simmer it for a few minutes. When the food is ready, you simply scoop it out and dip it into a spicy soy and shacha sauce.
There are dozens of hot pot restaurants all over Taiwan, and you won’t need to venture too far to find one. Most hot pot restaurants are all-you-can-eat joints, but there are plenty of big hot pot restaurants and single diner hot pot spots too. Each hot pot restaurant is unique, though. Most have their own signature broth, and some even offer high-quality ingredients and imported meat cuts.
If you like spicy food, don’t miss Mala Hot Pot in Taipei. They have multiple branches all over the city, but it’s best to make a reservation beforehand. Some other noteworthy hot pot places to check out in Taipei include Orange Shabu (a Japanese-style hot pot restaurant) and Wu Lao Guo, famous for their creamy tofu pot. And, if you happen to be in Hsinchu, check out this secret hot pot place. They make the best ginger chicken hot pot in town!
Visit a Night Market
Visiting Taiwan’s night markets is a must any time of year. And in wintertime, stuffing your face with delicious street food is yet another great way to warm up.
Besides the most famous night markets in Taiwan, many smaller markets pop up all over the country during the Chinese New Year celebrations. Grab some luwei (food stewed in spices and soy sauce), piping hot fried chicken, or a bowl of tangyuan (glutinous rice balls stuffed with a sweet filling and served in a hot syrup), and you’ll be ready to brave the cold weather for hours!
See Snow at Hehuanshan
One of the first questions travelers to Taiwan ask is whether it snows in Taiwan. In short, yes, it does! However, snow in Taiwan is very rare. And to see it, you’ll need to head to one of the country’s gorgeous mountaintops.
The most famous place to see snow in Taiwan is Hehuanshan, a stunning high alpine area in central Taiwan. Hehuanshan sits at an elevation of 3416 meters and borders Hualien and Nantou counties. The peak is accessed via the Wuling Pass, which runs right through it and also happens to be the highest assessable road in Taiwan at 3275m. Due to the high elevation, you’re almost guaranteed to see snow here, and in 2021 the first snow already started to fall on December 27.
The easiest way to get to Hehuanshan National Forest Recreation Area is via Cingjing Farm – a dreamy mountaintop resort located roughly 1700 meters above sea level. However, it’s also possible to get there via Taroko Gorge National Park on the outskirts of Hualien.
It’s easy to visit Cingjing independently; and you can read my detailed guide on how to get to Cingjing here. However, if you prefer to join a guided tour, this Cingjing & Hehuanshan day tour is a great option.
Besides Hehuanshan, there are a few other places to see snow in Taiwan. These include Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area in Yilan, Snow Mountain in Taichung, and Yushan (Taiwan’s highest peak) in Nantou.
Witness the First Cherry Blossoms
While cherry blossom season is only in full swing towards mid-February, there are a couple of places where you can spot the first arrivals as early as January.
In Taipei, head to Pingjing Street Lane 42 in Shihlin District. Cherry blossoms are in full bloom here towards the end of January. Also, don’t miss the beautiful Yoshino cherries at Wuji Tianyuan Temple in February.
In Nantou, cherry blossoms start to bloom at Cingjing Farm and the Formosa Aboriginal Cultural Village in Sun Moon Lake in early February.
Wuling Farm is another must-visit place for cherry blossom viewing, but it’s also one of the hardest places to reach. Consider joining this Wuling Farm day tour from Taipei if you don’t have wheels. But be warned, the bus ride takes several hours.
Other famous places to view blooms include the Alishan National Forest Recreation Area, Sun Link Sea, Hsinchu City, and Changhua. For more info, also read my guide on where to see cherry blossoms in Taiwan.
Head South for Winter Sun
If the constant chilly weather gets too much for you, grab your swimsuit and head down to southern Taiwan for some winter sun.
Kenting, in particular, is a great place to enjoy pleasant weather with lots of sunshine. While it will be cooler than in the summer, you’ll still be able to squeeze in all of the very best things to do in Kenting. Since Kenting is a popular go-to spot year-round, it’s best to book accommodation a few weeks before your trip. See my top picks for Kenting hotels here.
Go Strawberry Picking
Miaoli County is a beautiful mountainous area located in central Taiwan and borders Hsinchu and Taichung. The county is famous for several attractions such as the Longteng Broken Bridge, Miaoli Hakka Roundhouse, Shei-Pa National Park, to name a few. However, one of Miaoli’s biggest draws is undeniably its sprawling strawberry farms where visitors can pick their very own strawberries.
Since strawberry season coincides with winter in Taiwan, it’s a great winter activity! For the best experience, head to the tiny township of Dahu, where you can easily get off the main tourist track and spend hours visiting strawberry picking farms, sampling the fruits of your labor, and trying all kinds of strawberry-inspired snacks like strawberry-glazed sausages, strawberry beer, sweets, cakes, mochi, ice cream, and more!
Go Freediving in Xiaoliuqiu
Xiaoliuqiu is one of Taiwan’s most beautiful offshore coral islands, located a short ferry ride from Kaohsiung.
This tiny island has so much to do and see that you could easily spend days here without getting bored. One of Xiaoliuqiu’s biggest draws is the chance to swim with green sea turtles. But other highlights include exploring the geological caves, snorkeling, SUP, and kayaking.
However, if you’re into freediving, then you’ll definitely want to head out to Xiaoliuqiu during winter in Taiwan. While Xiaoliuqiu’s winter weather might not be as great as during the warmer months, winter is actually one of the best times for freediving. Not only will you practically have the island all to yourself, but the visibility is also much better during this season as it does not rain as much.
Visit Maolin Purple Butterfly Valley
Every year thousands of Purple Crow Butterflies migrate to the south of Taiwan, where they settle during the winter months. And the best place to see them up close is in Maolin National Scenic Area (aka Purple Butterfly Valley), near Kaohsiung.
Interestingly, the Taiwan Purple Crow Butterfly is one of only two winter migrating butterflies in the world. The other is the Mexican Monarch Butterfly. If you’re keen to learn more about them, you can join a guided tour when visiting the park. The guides will take you to all the best spots where you’re guaranteed to see dozens of beautiful butterflies.
The best time to visit Maolin Purple Butterfly Valley is between November and March. Come in the morning for the best chance to see them.
Brave the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival
The Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival is one of the strangest (and most dangerous) celebrations in Taiwan and is actually the third largest folk celebration globally.
Yanshui Beehive Festival is a religious festival that occurs every year on Lantern Festival Day. It celebrates the god of war, Guang Di, who is believed to have warded off a devastating cholera epidemic during the late 1800s.
What really sets this festival apart from others is that people walk among huge beehive structures packed with firecrackers and wait for them to be set off into the crowds.
I haven’t personally attended (and doubt I ever will, as I have no desire to be hit with fireworks), but if you’re brave enough, you can read more here on Nick’s blog. The beehive festival runs from February 4-5 in 2023.
What to Wear in Taiwan in Winter
Many blogs define Taiwan’s wintertime as mild, but as someone who has lived in Taiwan for more than a decade, please take that little snippet with a pinch of salt. Taiwan can get quite chilly, especially in the north, along the east coast, and in mountainous areas.
While winter in Taiwan might not be as harsh as in other places like the US or Europe, you still need to prepare for cold weather and pack accordingly.
In general, layers are the way to go. Make sure to pack some thermal vests, long-sleeve shirts, and a couple of sweaters. A decent thermal jacket (or down jacket) is also key for keeping out the wind. Packing gloves, a hat, and a scarf is also a good idea.
Know that it will probably rain at some point during your Taiwan winter itinerary. But, since it’s easy to pick up an umbrella or raincoat at any convenience store, there’s really no need to pack these items.
If you’re heading to mountainous areas or hiking in Taiwan, you’ll want to pack suitable winter clothing. Don’t forget to bring a warm coat and hiking boots.
You won’t need much more than a light sweater or jacket if you’re heading south. The weather is typically much warmer here and you’ll likely get by with t’s and shorts. With that said, it’s still a good idea to pack a few warm things (just in case)!
For more tips, also see my Taiwan packing list.
Should You Visit Taiwan in Winter?
Winter in Taiwan is not for everyone. But if you don’t mind the cold weather, there’s plenty to keep you busy both indoors and outdoors. Whether you want to soak in a hot spring, play in the snow, partake in one of the festivals or find some winter sun down south, visiting Taiwan during winter can be just as rewarding as any other season!
There you have it! That wraps up this guide to all of the best things to do in Taiwan in winter. Did your favorite Taiwan winter activities make my list? If not, let me know in the comments below so that I can try them out this winter in Taiwan!
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