Taiwan is an amazing place to ring in the New Year. Whether you’re a night owl looking to usher out the old and ring in the new with drinks and fanfare as the clock strikes midnight, or a morning person looking to watch the greet the first sunrise of the new year from some exotic, magical location, you’ll find what you’re looking for on our fair island. And thanks to the island’s small size, great transportation, and 24/7 availability of good coffee, you can easily do both, if you’re so inclined.
In this article we’ll be diving into a few ways to spend the New Years holiday in Taiwan, starting with what’s probably the most well known of New Year’s Eve pastimes:
1.Watching the Taipei 101 Fireworks Display
If you’re in the capital, the blocks surrounding Taipei 101 arethe place to be in the hours before, during and immediately following the calendar switch. Taipei’s iconic tower is always something to see as the clock strikes midnight, offering a combined fireworks display and light show that may just be the best in the world. Naturally, the area surrounding Taipei’s iconic tower is extremely crowded, not as bad as Times Square, but definitely, no place for the claustrophobic, as tens of thousands of party-goers gather to carouse amidst the glow and noise. If that’s your cup of Oolong, enjoy! (Read more:Running Up 101: The Ultimate Taipei Experience)
If, however, you’re looking for a bit more of a bucolic scene, join Taipei’s hiking set on a night hike up nearby Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain), from whose lofty yet easy-to-reach peak you’ll be able to get an even better view of the midnight show than you would from ground level. Best of all, once the show is over you’ll be able to hike back into town as opposed to elbow past ten thousand fellow revelers to catch a taxi or hit the MRT. (Read more:Moving Mountains: An Australian Hiker Moves in Taipei)
2.Presidential Palace Flag Raising Ceremony
If you’re planning to stay up all night to watch the sun come up in the city, a good place to end up after a few hours of pre-dawn bar-hopping is the Presidential Palace, just west of the southern end of 2/28 Peace Park. The first flag raising of the new year is especially poignant, and usually draws dignitaries from around Taiwan. If bar-hopping isn’t your thing, you can spend the hours between the fireworks festival and the ceremony exploring the city by foot, bus or MRT. (Read more:6 things to do in Taipei that should be on every visitor’s bucket list)
3.First Sunrise of the New Year
For our money, the more serene (and certainly more contemplative) way to spend the first day of the new year is by greeting the dawn in by finding the most beautiful spot possible and staying there until the sun comes up. This isn’t much of a challenge in Taiwan, as half of our coastline faces due east. If you’re already on Taiwan’s eastern shore, you’ll have your pick of beautiful spots from which to watch 2019’s first dawn. Probably the best of these within shouting distance of Taipei is Fulong Beach.
4.Fulong Happiness Train / Sunrise Music Festival
Visitors looking to catch both the 101 fireworks show and sunrise over the Pacific can catch the Fulong Happiness Train from Taipei Main Station, which leaves about 90 minutes after the fireworks end and reaches Fulong beach at 3:30am. Once there, the party continues as riders are greeted with a drum performance put on by the student of Gongliao High School. As the sun rises, the show continues as nature takes over and the sun rises over the magnificent scenery of the Northeast coast while local musicians perform the annual Sunrise Music festival organized by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau.
5.Sunrise on Qixingtan Beach
Should you find yourself celebrating new year’s eve in Eastern Taiwan’s Hualien county (Hualien’s seaside Dongdamen Night Market is pretty mellow spot to spend the night) you’ll be within striking of Qixingtan Beach, a lovely spot where the beautiful blue sky meets the seemingly endless Pacific ocean. It’s a peaceful spot to watch the first sunrise of the year, with quiet birdsong and the unique Rice Krispies crackle of waves lapping on the gravel beach broken only occasionally by the distant roar of an F-16 fighter jet taking off from the nearby Hualien Air Force Base. (Read more: Coastal Hualien – Taiwan’s “Secret” Backyard Garden)
6.Taitung: Sunrise at Sanxiantai
If the holiday evening brings you to Taitung, the best spot to greet the dawn is from the famous arched bridges of Sanxiantai in Chenggong township. Always a popular destination for those looking to see a fabulous sunrise, last year Sanxiantai hosted a Dawn Market and Dawn Coastal Concert sponsored by the local government. While we don’t know whether they’ll be repeating the event in 2019, we can say for certain that unless it’s raining, you’ll be in good company if you head there to watch the sun come up on the morning of January first. (Read more: Six Spots in Taitung Worth Visiting)
7.Dawn in Alishan
Though the coast may be the obvious place for folks looking to greet the first dawn of the new year, it isn’t the only choice. In fact, some say that the most beautiful spot to watch the sunrise in Taiwan is theAlishan Forest Recreation Area, and on this point, you’ll get no argument from the countless people who’ve made the pre-dawn pilgrimage to watch the sunrise over the sea of clouds rolling through the valley below. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the park plays host to an annual Sunrise Impression Concert on the Zhushan viewing platform, allowing visitors who make the pre-dawn trek to be moved by the sound of beautiful music as they greet the first sun rays of the new year from an altitude of 2500 feet. (Read more: Alishan: Where the Sun Starts Its Day – A Journey into High-Mountain Alishan National Scenic Area)
8.Greet the First Dawn from Way Above the Clouds
But what if 2500 feet isn’t quite a lofty enough altitude from which to view the year’s first sunrise? Perhaps the loftiest – and definitely most unique – way to greet the first dawn of 2019 in Taiwan is to book a spot on MyTaiwanTour’s exclusive 2019 Private Chartered Dawn Flight. Offered only once a year, the tour brings guests from Taipei in a chartered jet with catered food and beverages on special predawn flight down the eastern coast to witness the first sunrise of the new year from different angles at an altitude of 25,000 feet. Landing after dawn in scenic Taitung, participants will be treated to a breakfast feast featuring local dishes, freshly brewed coffee and more. (Read more: First Dawn Flight, Tribal Rites and Beautiful Taitung: A Unique Way to Spend New Years in Taiwan)
Guests on the tour will then have the option of returning to Taipei on an 8:40 AM flight or spending the day taking part in the traditional new years activities of the local Puyuma tribe, exploring the scenic beauty of Taitung and (of course) eating lots of amazing food before heading back to Taipei that evening. (Spend the first day of 2019 basking in the culture by joining 2019 First Dawn Flight & New Year’s Day Eastern Beauty Experience)