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Traveler’s Guide To Quirky Taiwan


by Penelope Mcelwee



Welcome to Taiwan, a vibrant and diverse island nation in East Asia. Known for its stunning landscapes, rich history, and delicious cuisine, Taiwan offers a unique travel experience that is sure to captivate any adventurer. But beyond its well-known attractions, Taiwan is also home to a myriad of quirks and eccentricities that add an extra layer of charm to your journey.


In this traveler’s guide to quirky Taiwan, we will take you on a delightful exploration of the offbeat and unconventional side of this fascinating country. From strange accommodations to bizarre street food, from funky night markets to spooky attractions, Taiwan has it all for those seeking a truly memorable experience.


So pack your curiosity and sense of adventure, and get ready to embark on an extraordinary journey through the quirkiest aspects of Taiwan. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, there’s no doubt that these unique encounters will leave you with unforgettable memories and stories to share.


Quirky Accommodation Options

When it comes to accommodations, Taiwan offers a range of options that go beyond the traditional hotel stay. For those seeking a truly unique experience, you can find some delightfully quirky and offbeat places to rest your head.


One popular choice is staying in a themed hotel or guesthouse. From Hello Kitty-themed rooms to retro 80s designs, these accommodations provide a whimsical and immersive experience. You can even find hotels designed to resemble airplanes or trains, allowing you to fulfill your childhood dreams of being a pilot or conductor.


If you’re looking for something even more unconventional, Taiwan also has a growing number of “glamping” destinations. Imagine spending the night in a luxury tent tucked away in the lush mountains or alongside a tranquil beach. These glamorous camping sites offer the perfect blend of nature and comfort, allowing you to reconnect with the great outdoors without sacrificing modern amenities.


For the adventurous souls, Taiwan also offers the opportunity to try out a “motel” experience. Contrary to the conventional meaning of a motel, these unique accommodations cater to a particular clientele. Often featuring eye-catching exteriors and lavish themed rooms, they offer a level of privacy and excitement that is hard to find elsewhere.


Additionally, Taiwan is famous for its unique homestay experiences. You can opt to stay with a local family and immerse yourself in their culture and daily lives. From traditional houses in rural villages to modern apartments in the heart of the city, these homestays offer an authentic insight into Taiwanese way of life.


No matter which quirky accommodation you choose, these unconventional options will undoubtedly enhance your travel experience in Taiwan. So why settle for the ordinary when you can have an extraordinary stay?


Unconventional Transportation

When it comes to getting around in Taiwan, there are plenty of unconventional transportation options that add a fun and adventurous twist to your journey.


One of the most unique ways to explore Taiwan is by hopping on a “bao-bao,” which is a small, brightly decorated, and open-air passenger vehicle. Bao-baos are commonly found in the coastal areas, offering scenic rides along the coastline while enjoying the fresh sea breeze.


For a truly unforgettable experience, consider taking a ride on a “sanlunche,” which is a three-wheeled bicycle with a passenger carriage at the front. It’s a popular mode of transportation in some of Taiwan’s rural areas, allowing you to leisurely explore the picturesque countryside while pedaling alongside friendly locals.


If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, why not take a ride on a “YouBike”? This public bicycle sharing system can be found in major cities across Taiwan and is a convenient and eco-friendly way to get around. Rent a bike, explore the city at your own pace, and enjoy the freedom of discovering hidden gems while staying active.


Another unconventional transportation option that Taiwan has to offer is the “Maokong Gondola.” This cable car system provides breathtaking views of Taipei’s skyline and takes you to the scenic Maokong mountain area, where you can enjoy tea plantations, quaint teahouses, and stunning panoramic vistas.


Lastly, don’t miss the opportunity to ride on a “Ding Ding” tram in Taipei. These nostalgic and charming trams have been a part of the city’s transportation system since the early 20th century. Hop on and take a leisurely ride, marveling at the mix of modern and historical architecture along the way.


From bao-baos to YouBikes, Taiwan’s unconventional transportation options offer a delightful and memorable way to explore the country. So why not step outside the ordinary and embark on a unique transportation adventure during your visit?


Bizarre Street Food

Taiwan is a food lover’s paradise, and its street food scene is no exception. While you’ll find plenty of delicious and familiar treats, Taiwan also offers a range of bizarre and unconventional street food options that will challenge your taste buds.


One must-try street food item is stinky tofu. With its pungent odor and distinct flavor, stinky tofu is a beloved and polarizing dish in Taiwan. It’s deep-fried and often served with a variety of sauces and condiments. Give it a try, and you might just discover a new taste sensation.


For the more adventurous eaters, Taiwan offers unique snacks like deep-fried tarantulas and scorpions! These arachnids are skewered, coated in batter, and fried until crispy. It’s definitely a dish that will test your culinary courage.


Another peculiar street food that you might encounter is pig’s blood cake. Made from congealed pig’s blood and rice, this cake is steamed and then cut into thick slices. It’s typically topped with peanut powder, cilantro, and chili sauce, creating a combination of flavors that may surprise you.


If you’re looking for a sweet and strange treat, try the “iron egg.” These marinated quail eggs are simmered in a savory broth and then braised until they develop a chewy and almost leathery texture. It’s an unusual snack that is surprisingly addictive.


And let’s not forget about the unique drinks you can find on Taiwan’s streets. From bubble tea with tapioca pearls to freshly squeezed sugarcane juice, the beverage options are endless. You can even find exotic flavors like strawberry milk with cream and salted plum soda to quench your thirst.


Sampling bizarre street food in Taiwan is not just about the taste; it’s about embracing the culture and experiencing something out of the ordinary. So be adventurous, open your palate to new flavors, and dive into the world of Taiwanese street food.


Offbeat Art and Culture

Taiwan is a country that celebrates creativity and embraces artistic expression. Alongside its rich cultural heritage, you’ll find a thriving offbeat art and culture scene that showcases the unique and unexpected.


One of the must-visit destinations for art enthusiasts is the Pier-2 Art Center in Kaohsiung. Located in a former warehouse district, this creative hub has been transformed into a vibrant space filled with art installations, galleries, and studios. Immerse yourself in the eclectic mix of contemporary and experimental artworks, and even participate in hands-on workshops.


Taipei is also home to the renowned Huashan 1914 Creative Park. This former industrial complex has been revitalized into a cultural and creative space, hosting art exhibitions, live performances, and markets. Stroll through its charming courtyards, discover unique art installations, and get inspired by the diverse range of artistic expressions.


For a more unconventional cultural experience, visit the Nuit Blanche Taipei. This annual event transforms the city into an all-night cultural extravaganza, featuring light installations, interactive art displays, performances, and more. It’s a captivating and immersive event that invites you to explore the city in a whole new light.


But art and culture in Taiwan go beyond the conventional gallery spaces. Take a stroll through the streets of Taipei’s Ximending district, and you’ll encounter a vibrant mix of graffiti, murals, and street performances. The area buzzes with energy and creativity, where art and culture thrive in the open air.


Additionally, you can find quirky and unconventional museums scattered throughout the country. From the bizarre collections of the Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art to the whimsical exhibits at the Puppetry Art Center of Taipei, Taiwan’s museums offer a range of offbeat experiences that will leave you fascinated and entertained.


Taiwan’s offbeat art and culture scene encourages exploration, provokes thought, and invites participation. So, whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or simply curious about unique cultural experiences, Taiwan has a myriad of offbeat venues and events that are sure to captivate your imagination.


Funky Night Markets

When the sun sets, Taiwan’s night markets come alive with a vibrant energy and a plethora of tasty treats, unique shopping experiences, and lively atmosphere. These lively marketplaces offer a glimpse into the heart and soul of Taiwan’s local culture and are a must-visit for any traveler looking to immerse themselves in the country’s lively street scene.


Shilin Night Market in Taipei is an iconic destination that should not be missed. The largest and most famous night market in the city, Shilin offers a dizzying array of food stalls, clothing boutiques, and carnival games. Indulge in the famous crispy chicken, savor a bowl of stinky tofu, or try a refreshing bubble tea as you wander through the bustling streets.


Tainan Flower Night Market in Tainan is another popular choice. Known for its unique and trendy fashion stalls, this night market attracts fashion-forward locals and trendsetters. Explore the trendy boutiques, discover the latest styles, and find one-of-a-kind pieces that will make your wardrobe pop.


If you’re in Kaohsiung, head to the Ruifeng Night Market. This sprawling market is known for its diverse selection of street food, from savory grilled skewers to sweet and refreshing desserts. Shop for trendy clothes, accessories, and gadgets, and enjoy the colorful ambiance and energetic atmosphere.


For a different kind of night market experience, visit Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival in Tainan. Held annually in February, this festival is famous for its unique tradition of setting off massive amounts of fireworks in the streets. It’s an exhilarating and awe-inspiring spectacle that attracts thousands of visitors every year.


One of the quirkiest night markets in Taiwan is Miaokou Night Market in Keelung. Famous for its seafood offerings, you can sample a wide variety of fresh and delicious seafood dishes, including the famous Keelung-style tempura. Explore the narrow streets, indulge in culinary delights, and soak up the lively atmosphere of this charming night market.


Whether you’re a food lover, shopaholic, or just someone looking to soak up the local atmosphere, Taiwan’s funky night markets have something for everyone. So come hungry, ready to shop, and prepared to be swept away by the sights, sounds, and flavors of Taiwan’s vibrant night markets.


Spooky and Strange Attractions

For those seeking a thrill or a taste of the macabre, Taiwan has a range of spooky and strange attractions that are sure to send shivers down your spine. From haunted houses to eerie temples, these offbeat destinations offer a unique and unforgettable experience.


If you’re a fan of haunted houses, head to the famous Ghost House in Beitou. This spooky attraction is known for its realistic and bone-chilling portrayal of the supernatural. Brace yourself for encounters with ghastly apparitions, disorienting illusions, and unexpected scares as you navigate your way through the haunted corridors.


For a different kind of supernatural encounter, visit the temple of Zushi in Sanxia. This unique temple is home to dozens of realistic and life-sized statues of deities, historical figures, and mythical creatures. The eeriness of the statues combined with dim lighting and incense creates an atmosphere that is both mystical and haunting.


Another intriguing destination is the Wulai Atayal Museum, located in the mountainous region of Wulai. This museum showcases the art, history, and culture of the indigenous Atayal tribe. Explore the exhibits, learn about the legends and myths of the tribe, and get a glimpse into their spiritual beliefs and practices.


If you’re up for a spine-tingling adventure, venture to the Ruifang district in New Taipei City. Here you’ll find the infamous “Yin Yang Sea,” where the contrasting colors of the water are said to represent the battle between good and evil. The sight is hauntingly beautiful and leaves visitors awe-struck.


Lastly, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Thousand Island Lake (Qiandao Lake) in Taiwan’s eastern county of Yilan. It’s a place of mystery and intrigue, with submerged villages creating an ethereal and eerie landscape. Take a boat ride across the lake and witness the ghostly silhouettes of submerged buildings peeking out of the dark waters.


Taiwan’s spooky and strange attractions offer a glimpse into the country’s supernatural beliefs, folklore, and historical mysteries. So if you’re ready to embrace the unknown and delve into the world of the eerie, add these offbeat destinations to your itinerary and prepare for an unforgettable journey into the darker side of Taiwan.


Unique Shopping Experiences

Shopping in Taiwan is not just about big malls and mainstream brands. The country offers a range of unique shopping experiences that cater to those looking for something out of the ordinary. From quirky markets to specialized stores, Taiwan has it all for the adventurous shopper.


One must-visit destination is the sprawling Guanghua Digital Plaza in Taipei. This multi-story complex is a haven for tech enthusiasts, offering a wide array of electronic gadgets, computer components, and accessories. Whether you’re looking for the latest smartphone or need to upgrade your gaming setup, Guanghua Digital Plaza has you covered.


For those interested in traditional crafts and arts, a visit to Taipei’s Dihua Street is a must. This historic street is lined with shops selling traditional Chinese medicine, herbs, dried goods, and unique handicrafts. Stroll along the vibrant street, browse through the traditional stores, and immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Taiwan.


If you’re a fan of vintage and second-hand goods, head to Taipei’s Shida Night Market. This bustling market is dotted with small shops and stalls selling all kinds of pre-loved clothes, shoes, and accessories. Dig through the racks and you might just find a hidden gem or a unique piece that fits your style.


For a truly offbeat shopping experience, explore the Rainbow Village in Taichung. This vibrant and colorful village was once under threat of demolition but was saved by a resident who decided to paint the walls with whimsical drawings and characters. Now it’s an open-air art gallery where you can find unique artwork and crafts created by the village’s artist-inhabitant.


If you’re a fan of quirky and cute items, a visit to one of Taiwan’s many character stores is a must. These stores feature a wide range of merchandise featuring popular characters like Hello Kitty, Line Friends, and Gudetama. From stationery and clothing to home decor and plush toys, you can find all sorts of adorable goodies to bring home as souvenirs or gifts.


From tech gadgets to traditional crafts, vintage finds to adorable character merchandise, Taiwan offers a myriad of unique shopping experiences. So put on your shopping shoes, explore the lesser-known corners of the country, and discover treasures that can’t be found anywhere else.


Quirky Festivals

Taiwan is known for its vibrant and unique festivals that celebrate everything from culture and tradition to the whimsical and peculiar. These offbeat festivals offer a glimpse into Taiwan’s eclectic and lively spirit, and are a delightful addition to any traveler’s itinerary.


One of the most famous quirky festivals in Taiwan is the annual Lantern Festival. Held on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, this festival showcases elaborate lantern displays in various shapes and sizes. From giant lantern art installations to mesmerizing sky lantern releases, the Lantern Festival is a visual feast that illuminates the night sky.


If you’re in Tainan, be sure to visit during the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival. Held annually on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, this festival is unlike any other. Thousands of fireworks attached to huge frames are ignited, creating a mesmerizing and adrenaline-fueled experience as participants brave the “bee stings” of fireworks to seek good fortune and blessings.


For those fascinated by the peculiar, the Taiwan International Balloon Festival is a must-see. Held in Taitung, this festival features mesmerizing hot air balloon displays, colorful parades, and exciting activities. Immerse yourself in the dreamlike atmosphere as you witness hundreds of vibrant balloons take to the sky.


For a more cultural experience, visit the Mazu Pilgrimage Festival in Dajia. This vibrant religious event honors the goddess Mazu, with a massive procession that spans several days. Witness devotees carrying an iconic Mazu statue through the streets, accompanied by traditional music, dynamic performances, and a joyous atmosphere.


If you’re a fan of quirky and surreal art, the Yilan Green Onion Festival is an event you won’t want to miss. This whimsical festival celebrates the humble green onion with all sorts of creative and bizarre exhibitions, including onion art installations, onion-themed food tasting, and quirky contests.


From lanterns and fireworks to balloons and green onions, Taiwan’s quirky festivals are a testament to the country’s vibrant and unique cultural heritage. So join in the festivities, immerse yourself in Taiwan’s lively spirit, and create unforgettable memories during these eccentric celebrations.


Unexpected Natural Wonders

Taiwan is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, from majestic mountains to pristine coastlines. While many of these natural wonders are well-known, the country also boasts some unexpected and offbeat gems that will leave you in awe.


One such wonder is the Rainbow Village in Nantun, Taichung. This small village was transformed by a local veteran who used vibrant and whimsical paintings to save it from demolition. Every corner of the village is adorned with colorful artwork, creating a vibrant and enchanting atmosphere that feels like stepping into a fairytale.


Another hidden gem is the Yehliu Geopark, located along Taiwan’s northern coast. This geological wonderland is known for its unique rock formations, including the famous “Queen’s Head” – a rock formation that resembles the profile of an elegant queen. Take a leisurely stroll through the park and marvel at the various rock formations sculpted by nature over thousands of years.


For a unique beach experience, head to the Shuangliu Beach on Xiaoliuqiu Island. Here you’ll find a beach covered in naturally formed star-shaped rocks, known as the “Starlyu.” During low tide, these star-shaped rocks emerge from the sand, creating a breathtaking and otherworldly sight.


Another unexpected natural wonder in Taiwan is the Thousand Island Lake (Qiandao Lake) in Yilan County. This serene lake is dotted with countless tiny islets, each covered in lush greenery. The sight of these small islands scattered across the vast expanse of water is nothing short of mesmerizing.


For a surreal and otherworldly experience, visit the Maolin Butterfly Valley in Kaohsiung. Each winter, millions of purple and orange-colored Euploea butterflies migrate to the valley, creating an ethereal spectacle as they fill the sky. Witnessing this natural phenomenon is a truly magical experience.


From vibrant villages and unique rock formations to star-shaped beaches and butterfly-filled valleys, Taiwan’s unexpected natural wonders offer a glimpse into the country’s diverse and awe-inspiring landscapes. So venture off the beaten path and discover these hidden gems that will leave you in awe of Taiwan’s natural beauty.



Taiwan is a country that never fails to surprise and delight visitors with its quirky and offbeat offerings. From unique accommodations to unconventional transportation options, from bizarre street food to offbeat art and culture, and from funky night markets to spooky and strange attractions, Taiwan is a treasure trove of experiences that cater to the adventurous and curious souls.


Whether you’re immersing yourself in the vibrant art scene, sampling the unusual street food, exploring hidden natural wonders, or simply wandering through the lively night markets, Taiwan provides a unique and immersive travel experience that goes beyond the conventional.


Embrace the unexpected, let your senses lead the way, and uncover the fascinating quirks that make Taiwan such a captivating destination. From the innovative technology hubs to the traditional temples, the bustling cities to the tranquil countryside, there’s something unique and extraordinary to discover at every turn.


So, whether you’re an intrepid traveler seeking one-of-a-kind adventures or a curious soul looking to step off the well-trodden path, Taiwan welcomes you with open arms. Embrace the quirkiness, indulge in the unconventional, and prepare yourself for a journey like no other in the captivating and culturally rich island nation of Taiwan.