The island state of Taiwan has a subtropical monsoon climate, with wet, humid summers and short, relatively mild winters. Choosing when to go to Taiwan doesn’t have to be difficult. We’ve done the weather research for you, so you can find the ideal conditions to explore this fascinating destination and enjoy your visit.
Weather in Taiwan
Because of its location on the Tropic of Cancer, Taiwan’s weather is mostly subtropical, with pockets of tropical climate in the south. This means that the weather is warm and humid – but rain is common throughout the year. After all, that’s one of the reasons why Taiwan’s natural landscapes are so lush!
Taiwan has two rainy seasons that arrive at different times of the year and affect different areas. The southern part of the island is the first to experience the monsoon, with heavy rains hitting between May and September. Monsoon rains then move onto the north and northeast.
In addition to the monsoon, the country has a “plum rain” season, which typically runs between May and June. Plum rains are short and intense and come in fronts, which means it can rain for a few days or even weeks at the time, or not rain at all. These fronts are reliably forecast by the country’s Weather Bureau, so keep an eye on English-language newspapers for the latest updates.
When is the best time to visit Taiwan?
To decide when is the best time to travel to Taiwan, first you should consider your itinerary. Tourists travel to Taiwan all year round, so it all depends on what you plan to see and do.
For general travel, September, October, and November are the best months to visit. The summer is ideal for those interested in tropical beaches and island hopping. For culture and nature, visit during the spring. But winter is great for visiting Taipei also. In fact, there is no wrong time to visit Taiwan: you’ll find great food, spectacular nature, and vibrant city life throughout the year.
When to visit Taiwan in winter
Despite its subtropical climate, Taiwan’s winters can be colder than what most travellers expect. Average temperatures range between 15°C and 20°C - a big difference when compared to the 30°C+ temperatures at other times of the year. But winters here are not severe, and are definitely not as cold as they get in nearby Japan.
Winter weather in Taiwan can bring fog, cloudy skies, and cool temperatures, especially in the north. However, winter can also be the best time to visit Taiwan if you plan on exploring the country’s top urban destinations. There are plenty of things to see and do indoors in cities like Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Taichung. To sum up, winter in Taiwan can be chilly, but there’s nothing that a few layers of clothing can’t fix.
Visiting Taiwan in December — February
Winter weather varies across Taiwan. The further south you go, the warmer it will get, and vice versa. Average temperatures in Taipei and other areas of northern Taiwan hover around 15°C, but are lower during cold spells, which usually hit in January. On the other hand, winter temperatures rarely go below 20°C in southern areas like those surrounding Kenting National Park.
The winter months are great to discover Taipei’s top landmarks. Tourist numbers are low, so it’s easier to experience the city’s most relaxed side. While in the area, make sure to set a day aside to visit the Beitou hot springs. The springs can be easily reached by public transport, and they’re guaranteed to be a hit among both children and adults. If you’re after something similar but with an upscale touch, the cosy mountain retreats and resorts of central Taiwan will fit the bill. In total, there are more than 150 hot springs all over Taiwan.
Cherry blossom trees are in full bloom in January and February. The season attracts thousands of visitors to Taiwan every year. The photo opportunities are fabulous, and this may well be one of the highlights of your trip. Blooming dates are slightly different every year, but you can find online forecasts - hardly surprising, considering that this is super-efficient Taiwan! The best places to admire the colourful display of cherry blossom trees in or near Taipei are, Tianyuan Temple, Wulai, and Yangmingshan National Park.
If warm weather is what you’re after, southern Taiwan will not disappoint. Even in January, which is the coldest month of the year, temperatures stay balmy. This may be a good time to explore Kaohsiung, the country’s southernmost city and the gateway to tropical Taiwan.
When to visit Taiwan in spring
Spring is the ideal time to discover Taiwan’s natural and cultural heritage. Although the temperatures get gradually warmer between March and May, it will still be too cold to go for a swim. But there are other things that will keep you entertained: festivals, hikes, tea picking tours, and cycling trips are only some of them. One thing to remember: temperatures rise steadily between March and May, but so do the chances of rain, so make sure you have waterproof clothing when you head out.
Visiting Taiwan in March-May
During March, you can still catch the end of the cherry blossom season in central and southern Taiwan. Other exotic flowers will start to cover the hills and valleys surrounding Hualien, in eastern Taiwan. The botanical parks and gardens in Taipei, Chiayi, and Taichung are great places to spend a spring day out. And so is the Ta Shee Blooming Oasis, near Taoyuan.
Spring is also a fantastic time to visit the East Coast National Scenic Area. Stretching over 170 kilometres (over 100 miles) south of Hualien, this area offers impressive coastal views and a chance to learn about the country’s aboriginal cultures. This is the perfect destination for an active holiday or cycling adventure.
Alishan Mountain is another top spring destination in Taiwan. Tea culture is strong all over the country, but especially so in the highlands of central Taiwan. The weather here is perfect for tea plantations to thrive – and for tourists to sample the delicate flavours of local Oolong teas. There are other tea farms in the Wuhe plateau, near Hualien, and in the outskirts of Taipei.
The festival calendar is packed with interesting events during March and April. Some of the most eye-catching events include the International Fireworks Festival in Penghu, Baosheng Cultural Festival, and Bunun’s Ear Shooting Festival, one of Taiwan’s biggest indigenous ceremonies.
When to visit Taiwan in summer
Summer is considered the peak tourist season in Taiwan. The summer school break begins in July, so many local families will be on holiday at this time of the year. The same applies to travellers from nearby countries. Advance bookings are recommended if you visit Taiwan in the summer.
Taiwanese summers are hot and humid. Average temperatures are in the 30s, but it may feel hotter due to the humidity. If you find it hard to cope with subtropical summers, you may want to consider destinations in the mountain areas.
Prepare for wet monsoon weather if you visit during the summer. Rainfall is especially heavy in southern Taiwan. Moreover, summer storms in the form of tropical cyclones hit at least twice a year, and are more likely in late August and September. A packable rain jacket, umbrella, or waterproof poncho are a must-have for Taiwan travel!
Despite the rain, summer is beach time in Taiwan. The warm season is ideal for beach hopping trips and relaxing island holidays. And if you’re into watersports, this is the best time to travel to Taiwan.
Visiting Taiwan in June — August
Looking for a break from Taiwan’s humid summers? Then head to higher altitude areas. At 3,500 metres or nearly 13,000 feet, Jade Mountain is the island’s highest peak. The mountain is located in Yushan National Park, which is crisscrossed by hiking trails. If you come here, get ready for spectacular views of the park’s valleys, which quite literally become seas of clouds.
Another suggestion is visiting Puli, some 60 kilometres (37 miles) north of Yushan National Park. The town is a great base to explore the many attractions nearby, such as the impressive Chung Tai Chan monastery or Cinjing Farm. Puli is also the homeland of Taiwanese rice wine. The city’s wine museum and winery make for an interesting day trip.
If you’re more of a beach person, you’ll fall in love with the white sand beaches of Taiwan’s tropical south. Make sure to include Taimali and Fenghuisha in your itinerary! And if you have your own wheels, you’ll find breathtaking coves and bays all along the coast between Hualien and Taitung. With that said, the beaches in northern Taiwan are better for swimming, especially in late summer, when there’s a higher chance of typhoons hitting the south coast.
Still in beach mood? Then you may want to explore Taiwan’s tropical islands. Here are some destination suggestions:
- Orchid Island, also known as Lanyu. Connected to Taichung by plane and ferry, the island is home to some of Taiwan’s most stunning coastal scenery. And it’s also a scuba diving and snorkelling paradise!
- Turtle Island, which gets its name from its unusual shape. Turtle Island’s main draw is its active volcano – the only one in Taiwan. Low in population but rich in wildlife and natural beauty, Turtle Island is a great place to go on a dolphin or whale watching tour.
- Ludao, off the coast of Taitung. Sometimes called Green Island, Ludao is another volcanic island that offers an interesting mix of activities: hot spring baths, snorkelling, swimming, and hiking.
- The Kinmen archipelago, which is mostly known for its historical and architectural value. You could easily spend a few days exploring the island’s temples, museums, cultural villages, and of course sampling its distinctive cuisine.
When to visit Taiwan in fall
Weather-wise, September to November is considered the best time of the year to visit Taiwan. This season offers the perfect combination of cool and dry weather. During most of September, the south stays warm, but temperatures begin to cool down in northern Taiwan, although they’re still pleasant. Milder temperatures and less rain mean that this is a great time of the year for travellers who enjoy outdoor activities.
Visiting Taiwan in September — November
September and October are among the most photogenic months in Taiwan – at least where nature is concerned. In northern Taiwan, tree leaves start to change colour in mid-September, and the process gradually extends to southern areas over the following months. Some of the best places to spot this beautiful natural display include:
- Taroko Gorge, which can be visited as a day trip from Hualien.
- Aowanda Forest Recreational Area and its incredibly picturesque Maple Trail.
- Dasyueshan National Forest, which is also a great spot for bird watching.
Sun Moon Lake is always a great choice for anyone looking to enjoy some peace and quiet. But the magical charm of this site is even more powerful at this time of the year. Things to do here include taking boat trips, visiting traditional villages, or simply renting a scooter to see where the scenic roads will take you.
Our last suggestion for a fun day out at this time of the year is taking the Jiji Line. This is scenic train trip runs between the rustic village of Checheng and Ershui, located in the mountains south of Taichung. Along the way, you can stop at old logging towns, plum wine breweries, and historical tea houses.
And if you’re in Taiwan during the Mid Autumn Moon Festival, don’t forget to try the famous Taiwanese mooncakes -you’ll probably want to take some home with you! If you love exotic food and don’t know when to go to Taiwan, book your trip around this festival and you won’t be disappointed.
Festivals and holidays in Taiwan
One of Taiwan’s greatest attractions is the sheer range and depth of its festivals, all celebrated with a passion and fervour unique to the island. While the biggest ones are the traditional Chinese festivals – which double as public holidays – there is also an eclectic collection of religious festivals as well as an amazing array of time-honoured aboriginal celebrations.
The majority of cultural and religious festivals follow the Chinese lunar calendar. As such, the actual Gregorian calendar dates on which they are celebrated tend to fluctuate significantly each year – in our festivals calendar, we have listed them under the Gregorian calendar month in which they are usually celebrated, with a note of their actual Chinese lunar calendar dates. We also specify which are public holidays (P), during which banks and government and private offices are closed, though many shops and restaurants remain open.
Though Chinese traditional and religious festivals are routinely well publicized, many aboriginal celebrations remain closely guarded secrets, and even local tourism officials are often confused about or unaware of the actual dates on which they are observed. Villages typically stage their own celebrations, and tribal elders usually set the dates for these in accordance with a variety of factors. Further complicating this, established dates can be changed at the last minute in the face of inauspicious omens such as the sudden illness or death of a village elder. Finally, the truly authentic aboriginal celebrations are taken very seriously, with ancient rituals performed with pinpoint precision. As such, most tribes don’t want their traditions to become a spectacle for busloads of camera-toting tourists, so many – especially those along the east coast – make a concerted effort to hide their celebration dates from tourism officials. However, individual travellers or those in small groups are generally welcomed to events such as harvest festivals with open arms, often being invited to drink local spirits with the tribesmen. Those fortunate enough to experience these thriving cultures will learn about a side of Taiwan that most foreigners – and many Taiwanese – know precious little about, and it’s well worth the effort to seek them out.
Festivals calendar for Taiwan
Foundation Day/New Year’s Day Jan 1 (P). Marks the founding of the Republic of China in 1911, but also gives a nod to the beginning of the Gregorian calendar year. Offices and schools are shut, with many remaining closed on Jan 2 & 3.
Chinese New Year (chūn jié) Lunar Jan 1–3 (P). Taiwan’s most important festival, marking the start of the Chinese year. Celebrations centre mostly on family gatherings with lavish meals; “lucky” money in small red envelopes is exchanged; fairs and public parades are held.
Qingshui Zushi’s Birthday Lunar Jan 6. Commemorates the quasi-historic figure from Fujian, revered for his wisdom and munificence. Main ceremonies at Zushi Temple in Sanxia, outside Taipei, including the ritual slaying of “God Pigs”.
Jade Emperor’s Birthday Lunar Jan 9. Pays tribute to the chief Taoist deity, the head of celestial government thought to mirror that of imperial China. Main ceremonies at temples in Daxi, Taichung and Tainan.
Lantern Festival Lunar Jan 15. Marks the end of Chinese New Year festivities, but itself often lasts several days in big cities such as Taipei and Kaohsiung. Main activity is the public display of paper lanterns; in some cities, paper lanterns are launched into the sky, most famously during the Heavenly Lantern Festival in Pingxi; another popular event is the Beehive Rockets Festival in Yanshui near Tainan, where an almost 200-year tradition of setting off fireworks has transformed into an annual free-for-all.
Peace Memorial Day Feb 28 (P). Instituted in 1997, and also known as “2-28 Memorial Day”, it commemorates the 2-28 Incident.
Wenchang Dijun’s Birthday Lunar Feb 3. Pays respect to the god of literature or culture, revered by students and their parents ahead of exams. Offerings of incense and wishes are written on colourful paper placed in glass jars.
Mayasvi Festival Tsou tribe celebration of warriors returning from battle, with rituals giving thanks to the god of war and the god of heaven. Hosted annually in rotation between Dabang and Tefuye villages.
Guanyin’s Birthday Lunar Feb 19. The goddess of mercy’s birthday is celebrated at Buddhist temples throughout the country, but the main place to mark the occasion is Taipei’s Longshan Temple. The event is also marked at the Zizhu Temple in Neimen (near Kaohsiung), which holds a festival celebrating its 300-plus-year history as one of the most sacred sites for Taiwanese Buddhists. The festival features the island’s most important annual performances of the Song Jiang Battle Array, ritualized martial performing arts depicting symbolic battles with a variety of traditional weapons, including farm tools.
Youth Day March 29. Pays tribute to the more than one hundred of Sun Yat-sen’s revolutionaries who were killed in the failed Canton Uprising against the imperial Qing government on March 29, 1911. Taiwan’s president officiates at a public service at the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine in Taipei, and local governments hold similar ceremonies.
Queen Mother of the West’s Birthday Lunar March 3. Honours the highest-ranking female deity, often portrayed as the Jade Emperor’s wife. Main festivities in Hualien (where it is celebrated on Lunar 18/7), the centre of her cult in Taiwan.
Supreme Emperor of the Dark Heaven’s Birthday Lunar March 3. Pays respect to the controller of the elements, particularly fire. Worshipped at some four hundred temples throughout Taiwan.
Tomb Sweeping Day (qīngmíng) April 5 (P). Families visit cemeteries to clean graves of relatives and pay respects to their ancestors. In Taiwan, it’s celebrated on the anniversary of Chiang Kai-shek’s death. “Grave cakes” are offered and paper money is burnt.
Baosheng Dadi’s Birthday Lunar March 15. Marks the birthday of Baosheng Dadi, the “Great Emperor who Preserves Life”. Biggest celebration is held in Xuejia, north of Tainan.
Bunun Ear-shooting Festival Most important celebration of the Bunun tribe, traditionally a test of archery skills to mark the coming of age of the tribe’s males.
Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage This eight-day, seven-night pilgrimage comprises one of the world’s biggest religious festivals, with worshippers parading a caravan containing one of the island’s most revered Mazu deities around a circuit before returning it to its mother temple in Dajia. Always preceding Mazu’s birthday celebration, the pilgrimage is part of the month-long Dajia Mazu Culture Festival.
Mazu’s Birthday Lunar March 23. One of Taiwan’s most important folk festivals, celebrating the birthday of Mazu, goddess of the sea, the island’s most popular folk deity. Mazu deities are returned to their “mother temples” on this day to be blessed and increase their spiritual powers. The liveliest celebrations are held at Dajia’s Zhenlan Temple, Beigang’s Chaotian Temple and Lugang’s Tianhou Temple.
Labour Day May 1 (P). Celebrates workers’ rights and the eight-hour workday in line with international convention.
Cleansing Buddha Festival Lunar April 8. Celebrates the birth of Buddha in accordance with the Mahayana school. Worshippers flock to Buddhist temples island-wide, with monasteries such as Chung Tai Chan, Foguangshan and Dharma Drum hosting legions of devotees.
Tainan City God Birthday Lunar April 20. Main festivities are held at the venerated Tainan City God Temple.
Dragon Boat Festival (duānwŭ jié) Lunar May 5 (P). One of the three major Chinese holidays, featuring dragon boat races held in honour of the poet Qu Yuan who, according to legend, drowned himself in protest after being slandered by envious officials on this date in 280 BC. Races are held in most major cities with waterways – including international races in Taipei, Lugang and Keelung – but the most distinctly Taiwanese are the aboriginal-style races held in Erlong, near the east coast hot-springs resort of Jiaoxi.
Taipei City God Birthday Lunar May 13. Includes fireworks, elaborate dances by temple guardians and a lavish parade in which the deity is carried around the streets surrounding Taipei’s City God Temple.
Guan Di’s Birthday Lunar June 24. Honours one of Taiwan’s most admired deities, the red-faced patron of chivalrous warriors, misleadingly known as the god of war. Ceremonies held island-wide, but Taipei’s Xingtian Temple hosts the biggest.
Yimin Festival Lunar July. The most important annual observance of the Hakka people honours groups of Hakka militia from the late eighteenth century. The main celebration is held at the Yimin Temple in Fangliao, near Hsinchu, and is marked by offerings to ancestors, music and the ritual slaying of several dozen force-fed “God Pigs” – an increasingly controversial ceremony that is seldom witnessed by foreigners.
Ami Harvest Festival One of the most colourful aboriginal celebrations, centred on dancing, singing and coming-of-age rituals for young men. Although dates vary from year to year, the most important festival of the Ami tribe is generally held in late summer, often in August. Ask at villages north of Taitung.
Ghost Month Begins (guǐyuè) Lunar July 1. The time when the gates of hell are opened and spirits of “hungry ghosts” haunt the living. Daily rituals include burning of incense and paper money, while major festivals are held in Keelung, Toucheng and Hengchun at the middle and end of the month.
Ghost Festival (yúlán jié) Lunar July 15. Appeasement ceremonies held at temples across the island. Families offer flowers, fruit and three sacrificial offerings: chicken (or duck), pig and fish. Taiwan’s most famous is the Keelung Ghost Festival, where an elaborate night parade is held before thousands of glowing “water lanterns” are released onto the Keelung River.
Ghost Month Ends Midnight Lunar July 30. On the last day of Ghost Month, the gates of hell close and hungry ghosts return to the underworld. In the month’s last hour, contests called …qiǎng gū – in which men race to climb tall bamboo towers to collect meat and rice dumplings – are held; the most famous is in Toucheng near Yilan, while a similar event is also staged in Hengchun in the southwest.
Thao Pestle Music Festival Held during the seventh lunar month in Itashao Village on Sun Moon Lake, members of the Thao tribe – Taiwan’s smallest aboriginal group – pound grain into a stone mortar with bamboo pestles, creating a traditional harmony.
Armed Forces Day Sept 3. Honours all branches of Taiwan’s military while also marking the end of China’s eight-year War of Resistance against Japan. Big ceremonies at martyrs’ shrines around Taiwan and military parades in the big cities.
Teachers’ Day/Confucius’s Birthday Sept 28. Pays tribute to teachers on the birthday of China’s best-known educator and scholar, Confucius. Unique dawn ceremonies are held at Confucius temples nationwide, with the biggest at Taipei’s Confucius Temple.
Mid-Autumn Festival (zhōngqiūjié) Lunar Aug 15 (P). Also known as the “Moon Festival” – families gather in parks and scenic spots to admire what is regarded as the year’s most luminous moon and to share moon cakes and pomeloes. Since the festival coincides with the autumn harvest, the Taiwanese also mark it by making offerings to the Earth God for a bountiful harvest.
Double Ninth Day Lunar Aug 9. Nine is a number associated with yang, or male energy, and on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month certain qualities such as male strength are celebrated through a variety of activities, including hill walking and drinking chrysanthemum wine; kite-flying is also popular. In 1966, the day also was designated as “Senior Citizens Day”, and since then it has been viewed as a time to pay respects to the elderly.
Hualien Stone Sculpture Festival Highlights the work of local and international stone sculptors (see Hualien).
Sanyi Woodcarving Festival Held in Taiwan’s woodcarving capital to celebrate the craft. Includes ice sculpting and carving contests (see Sanyi).
National Day Oct 10 (P). Also known as “Double Tenth Day”, it commemorates the Wuchang Uprising that led to the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1911 by revolutionaries led by Sun Yat-sen. Military and public parades and fireworks displays are held in front of the Presidential Building in Taipei.
Retrocession Day Oct 25. Marks the official end of fifty years of Japanese colonial rule over Taiwan on October 25, 1945. The national flag is flown everywhere.
Austronesian Culture Festival International festival of aboriginal cultures in Taitung, designed to instil pride and preserve traditions, using the example of indigenous peoples such as the Maori of New Zealand.
Rukai Black Rice Festival The Rukai tribe’s major festival, named in honour of what was once their staple diet but is rarely seen today. Offerings are made for abundant harvests, and it’s a traditional time for marriage proposals and weddings. The biggest ceremony is held at Duona, usually in late November, in Maolin National Scenic Area.
Ritual of the Short Black People The most poignant expression of Saisiyat (“true people”) identity, meant to appease spirits of a people the tribe are believed to have exterminated. Major festival held every ten years, with a smaller one every other year.
Birth of Bodhidharma Lunar Oct 5. Honours the legendary Buddhist monk, also known as the Tripitaka Dharma Master, traditionally credited as the founder of the meditative Chan – or Zen as it’s known in Japan and the West – school of Buddhism. Rites performed at the Chung Tai Chan Monastery near Puli.
Sun Yat-sen’s Birthday Nov 12 (P). Marks the birthday of Sun Yat-sen, founder of the Republic of China and the Chinese Nationalist Party who is commonly known as the father of modern China.
Qingshan’s Birthday Lunar Oct 22. Celebrates the birthday of the King of Qingshan (Green Mountain), who is believed to ward off pestilence and dispense justice in the underworld. Ceremonies held at Taipei’s ornate Qingshan Temple.
Puyuma Ear-shooting Festival Celebration of the Puyuma tribe, traditionally a test of archery skills. Rituals held near Zhiben, to the south of Taitung.
Constitution Day Dec 25. Commemorates the passage of the Constitution of the Republic of China on December 25, 1946. The national flag is flown throughout the country, but these days Christmas is celebrated.