10 Ways to Evade and Escape Taiwan’s Summer Heat

In a recent article on Summer in Taiwan, we made a few suggestions on how to embrace and enjoy Taiwan’s summer heat.

But for some people, embracing the heat isn’t always the best option, and this is nothing to be ashamed of. (Most Taiwanese people feel the same way!)

For these readers, we’d like to offer a few suggestions to help them escape Taiwan’s summer heat entirely.

night view of Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taipei. it’s the first museum in Taiwan built for contemporary art exhibitions.

1. Visit some big museums

For the culturally inclined traveler, Taipei offers few better ways to beat the heat than several leisurely-paced days on the city’s vibrant museum scene. Lovers of fine art can spend the better part of a day at the Fine Arts Museum. If contemporary art is more your thing, head down to the Museum of Contemporary Arts. History buffs can chill out at the National Museum of History, and of course no visit to Taipei would be complete without spending at least half a day at the National Palace Museum. Outside of Taipei, the Southern branch of the National Palace Museum in Chiayi offers an equally cool and far less crowded place to spend the day, while Tainan’s National Museum of Taiwan History is a great place to explore the history of Taiwan in air conditioned splendor.

photo credit to Miyahara

2. Visit some small museums

Once you’re done visiting some of Taiwan’s more well-known museum, spend a few days visiting some of the more specialized ones. Taipei has tons of these smaller, decidedly more obscure places of culture. The Miniatures Museum of Taiwan is a private museum dedicated to the art of minute craftsmanship that will leave you marveling at what can be achieved by artisans with supernaturally dexterous digits and way too free much. The Lin Liu-Hsin Puppet Theatre Museum has four floors of exhibits and attractions devoted to puppetry and an attached theater where performances are held. For the more seriously inclined, head out to Taiwan’s Museum of World Religions, which features exhibitions designed to illustrate the philosophies, ceremonies, rituals and cultures of ten of the world’s major religions.  There are tons of small museums outside of Taipei (though to be fair, some of these are more like gift shops with attached museums – we’re looking at you, Gukeng Honey Museum). However if you’re in Taichung, you should check out Miyahara, which, while not a museum, is a beautifully restored Japanese colonial-era eye hospital that now functions as a public space serving great ice cream. And if you’re into money, check out the Ling Tung Numismatic Museum, which displays currency from ancient to modern.

Artists perform a Chinese opera.

3. Catch an indoor performance

Generally spacious and always air-conditioned (sometimes overly, so bring a sweater), Taiwan’s indoor performance spaces are wonderful spots to simultaneously escape the heat and absorb some culture. Taipei Eye offers Authentic Traditional Chinese Performing Arts on a near-nightly basis. Performances for summer, 2018 include Journey to the West, Legend of the White Snake, The Monkey King Fights the Spider Goblin and more. The beautiful and modern National Taichung Theater has performances all year long, and with shopping venues and restaurants is a super-chill place to hang out as well. If you’re in Kaohsiung, catch a show at the Weiwuying National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, which boasts performances, workshops and much more.

photo credit to Dive Cube

4. Do some indoor scuba diving

Scuba diving is cool, but unless you’re going at night you’ll still have to deal with the sun on the way to your dive spot. If only there were someplace to go scuba diving indoors, perhaps an extremely deep diving pool surrounded by a comfortable hotel, complete with a restaurant and coffee shop where you can watch divers swim by while not diving yourself. File Taichung’s Dive Cube under Only In Taiwan Experiences: It’s the only hotel in the world that also has a fully functioning 21 meter dive pool.  Just opened in 2017, The Dive Cube is the only place in Taiwan (or the world) where you can go scuba diving without having to leave your hotel.

the Hayashi Department Store in Tainan.

5. Go shopping

In Taiwan, shopping is considered somewhere between hobby and art form, and like Hong Kong and Singapore (two even hotter places) shopping malls are one of the best places to beat the heat. In Taipei, the obvious choice for high end shopping is the Taipei 101 Mall, but if you’re looking for a more relaxed shopping experience, head over to Core Pacific City, the wonderfully weird spherical mall just a few blocks to the north. It’s got a decent food court and movie theater as well, both great spots for keeping cool. If it’s endless hours of subterranean wandering you’re after, the Taipei City Mall runs for miles beneath the city and has everything from restaurants and clothing stores to shops selling Japanese Anime-themed knick-knacks and stalls offering traditional Chinese massage. In Kaohsiung, the Dream Mall In the city’s Qianzhen District has the distinction of being the largest shopping mall in East Asia, while the Hayashi Department Store, or LinBaiHou in Tainan’s West Central District has the distinction of being that city’s oldest. (Read more: The Southwest Coast – Step Back into the Days and Ways of Taiwan’s Past )

6. Get a foot massage

In the cooler months our relaxation of choice – indoor and out – is to head for the nearest hot spring. In the summer, we go for a foot massage. In addition to the documented benefits of a good reflexology session, which include a general uptick in vim, vigor & overall well-being, chilling out in an air-conditioned foot massage parlor for the duration of a 60 minute session is almost worth the price of admission. Included in the price, of course, is a good foot soaking, so unless you want to put your super relaxed and now squeaky-clean feet back in your sweaty socks, you may wish to consider buying a fresh pair before your massage starts. Foot massage places are everywhere in Taiwan. Just look for these characters: 腳底按摩 (Jiaǒ Dǐ Àn Mó)

7. Get Crafty   

If keeping cool is your goal, you’re probably not going to want to hike around Dadaocheng for too long – at least not during the hottest part of the day. So time your visit to take maximum advantage of some of the the neighborhoods indoor craft activities, including learning how to make your own handcrafts at Inblooom or crafting (and eating) your own custom designed pastries at historic Lee cake.(Read more: 15 suggestions for a day in Dadaocheng) If you’re in central Taiwan, you can head to Lugang to learn to create various traditional Chinese objects d’art, including lanterns and traditional lion head masks. (Join MyTaiwanTour’s Vintage Taipei in Dadaocheng)

8. Take a cooking class

Though it seems counter-intuitive to want to spend time in the kitchen during the hottest part of the year, a few spots around Taiwan offer excellent, interactive cooking classes, and yes, the kitchens are always air conditioned. In Taipei, the Traditional Market Tour & Cooking Class is an immersive experience designed to give visitors a unique understanding and appreciation of Taiwanese cuisine, and includes both a market tour and a step by step lesson in a professional kitchen designed to teach students how to cook a healthy, three course Taiwanese meal. If you’re down south, you can head over to JZN Cooking Lab to learn how to bake traditional Taiwanese cakes; the ovens are hot, but the kitchen is kept cool. In both instances, students will be expected to dine on the fruits of their labor.

The Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center in Kaohsiung.

9. Seek the cool embrace of spirituality

While most Taiwanese Taoist temples are cool as in awesome, if there’s one thing they aren’t in the summer – at least during the daytime – it’s cool as in not warm. (Between the incense braziers and ghost money furnaces, the best you can hope for is shaded.) However, Buddhist meditation halls have a different vibe, and some are even partially air conditioned. If you want to make a day trip out of it, why not hit Taiwan’s biggest, the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center in Kaohsiung. While there’s plenty to see under the sun, many of the interior sections are kept at a Nirvana-like coolness all summer long. (Join MyTaiwanTour’s Southern Taiwan 5 Day Fun Tour to explore more in Fo Guang Shan)

10. Become completely nocturnal

Finally, if none of our other (mostly daytime) suggestions work for you, then you might want to consider taking some life advice from our friend the bat and become completely nocturnal. Sleep all day with a fan pointed your way, emerging only as the sun goes down to grab an early supper at the your friendly neighborhood night market. (Want to visit night markets with the locals? Join MyTaiwanTour’s Taipei Culinary Experience Tour.)

Afterwards, do a  pub crawl until the bars close (usually 2am, with some clubs thumping until dawn). About an hour before dawn is when the early morning urban crowd is most active, so head to the nearest park and practice Tai Chi with your elders until the sun comes rises. Grab yourself a danbing (egg pancake) and  luóbo gāo (radish cake) at the nearest breakfast joint and head indoors until the sun goes down on another day. (Drink like a local with locals now!)

Having escaped and evaded Taiwan’s summer heat, it’s time to embrace and enjoy it! Check out 12 Ways to Embrace and Enjoy Taiwan’s Summer Heat