When most people think of Taiwan, the first city that comes to mind is Taipei. Taipei is indeed a great place to live, but the truth is, Taiwan has so many great cities, each with something new to offer. In this article I will break down each city in terms of size, cost of living, public transit, climate, and overall fun to help you make the right choice. In truth, the best cities to live in Taiwan are really a matter of what kind of life you are looking for.
Taiwan’s Major Cities
|City||Population (2021)||Size (KM2)|
Taipei is by far the largest metro area in terms of population.
Taichung is the second largest, with Kaohsiung and Taoyuan coming in third and fourth respectively.
Cost of Living
Generally, the cost of living in northern cities (Taipei & Taoyuan) is higher than in southern cities (Tainan, Chuiyi, & Kaohsiung). Below is the average monthly cost of living for local residents of each major Taiwanese city, according to DBS bank.
Average Monthly Cost of Living
Taipei comes in as the most expensive city to live in, at over $1,000USD a month, followed by Taichung and Taoyuan.
Taitung is the cheapest city to live in, followed by Tainan and Hualien.
Having personally lived in Tainan as a college student, I can say that by sticking to a budget these numbers are realistic. Remember that these are the average costs. If you are planning to eat food from your home country, travel, party, or shop, these prices can be much higher.
|City||Metro Lines (# of Stations)||High-Speed Rail||Major International Airport|
Taipei is by far the number one city in terms of public transit. With the most metro lines and convenient high-speed rail, it makes getting around the city, and greater Taiwan easy. Not to mention SongShan International airport in the city center for easy international travel.
Taoyuan is also a great city in terms of public transit thanks to its close links to Taipei. A quick ride on the Train, MRT, or shuttle bus can take you to Taipei City center. Most of all, Taoyuan is home to Taiwan’s largest international airport with direct MRT and High-Speed Rail access.
Kaohsiung is another of the best cities to live in Taiwan for public transit. Although the metro is only half the size of Taipei’s, Kaohsiung’s MRT will get you to most of the major city landmarks and destinations. Also, the city has a major international airport directly accessible via the MRT, with cheap and frequent flights around Asia.
Taichung is another notable contender with its newly opened MRT line and completely Free city busses! Sadly, the airport is quite far from the city, with no convenient links.
Climate in Taiwan’s Cities
One of the biggest differences between the major Taiwan cities is weather and climate. The North of Taiwan is known for its hot summers and cool winters, with the South known for its all-year sunny summer weather. The North is also famous for its clouds and rain with the South mostly dry and sunny. The best cities to live in Taiwan for climate will ultimately come down to your personal preference.
Summer and Winter Average Temperatures
|City||Winter High / Low(°C)||Summer High / Low(°C)||Days of Rain/Year|
|Taipei||19° / 13°||34° / 26°||166|
|Taoyuan||19° / 13°||34° / 26°||165|
|Taichung||22° / 12°||33° / 25°||116|
|Chiayi||22° / 12°||33° / 25°||108|
|Tainan||22° / 14°||32° / 27°||87|
|Kaohsiung||24° / 15°||32° / 26°||89|
|Taitung||22° / 17°||32° / 26°||125|
|Hualien||21° / 15°||32° / 25°||214|
|Yilan||19° / 13°||33° / 25°||195|
Taipei and Taoyuan average 34°C (93°F) in the hottest months, with Taichung, Chiayi, and Yilan following closely behind.
Hualien 32°C (89°F), followed by Kaohsiung, and Taitung.
Kaohsiung averages 24°C (75°F) in the coldest months, with Taitung, and Tainan following behind.
Taipei averages 19°C (66°F) in the coldest months, followed by Taichung and Chiayi.
Kaohsiung and the South
Summer weather year-round, with warmer winters and cooler summers.
Taipei and the North
Bigger seasonal shifts with cooler winters and hotter summers.
It is important to take Taiwan’s high humidity into account compared to your home country. In Taiwan, 19°C with humidity feels much colder (quite uncomfortable actually) than in northern climates, and 34°C can feel much hotter than you might be used to.
Rain and Sun
Hualian is the Rainiest city with 214 days of the year, followed up by Yilan, Taipei, and Taoyuan.
Tainan is the Sunniest city with only 87 days of rain, with Kaohsiung and Chiayi following up.
This last category is a bit difficult to quantify and really comes down to your personal preferences. Having lived and traveled throughout Taiwan, I can try and highlight the good and bad of each city. These are the best cities to live in Taiwan based on nightlife, food, culture, nature, and overall fun.
- Taipei is the undisputed champion in Taiwanese clubs, bars, and nightlife. Any day of the week you can find an event or party going on – and the selection of quality clubs and niche bars is almost endless.
- Taoyuan comes in a close second due to its easy access to Taipei. Within less than an hour, you can take a train or subway to central Taipei and experience all the city has to offer. Yilan is similarly just outside of Taipei and has frequent trains and busses to Taipei City Center in within 1 hour.
- Taichung comes in third thanks to its young population and a great selection of bars and clubs. It is Taiwan’s second-largest city and has a quickly growing nightlife scene.
- Kaohsiung has a few good bars and clubs, but in general, outside of Taipei and Taichung, the nightlife is not very notable in the smaller cities.
Food and Culture
- Taipei is the food and culture capital of Taiwan. With an international population, you have access to any cuisine around the world, not to mention some of the best Taiwanese and Chinese cuisines and history. The sheer amount of restaurants, night markets, street food, and bubble tea shops is enough to last you a lifetime (or a few years at least). Taipei also has the best shopping and entertainment with department stores and international brands in most major neighborhoods. As Taiwan’s Capital, it also houses the countries largest museums, memorials, and cultural sites.
- Tainan is the most famous city in Taiwan in terms of food and history. As the old Capital of Taiwan, it is the heart of traditional Taiwanese food culture. Tainan boasts numerous night markets, as well as a number of local specialties like Oyster Omelets, Pork Braised Rice, and Coffin Bread. It’s not uncommon to wander the old Tainan streets and come across a cute cafe or restaurant tucked away waiting to be discovered. The city has a historical feel with buildings ranging in style from Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese. Tainan is one of the best cities to live in Taiwan in terms of culture and history.
- Most other cities in Taiwan have a rich selection of Taiwanese foods and local tourist sites. Other major cities like Taichung and Kaohsiung also have plenty to explore (and eat) – and the smaller cities like Chiayi and Taitung also have their unique feel.
No matter where you are in Taiwan, most cities have easy access to nature. Each Taiwanese city has its unique geography, with some cities offering their own specialty.
- Kaohsiung might best the best city in Taiwan in terms of beaches, thanks to its city center located right on the ocean. Kaohsiung’s largest university NSYSU is the only national Taiwan university to be located directly on the Beach! Not to mention Cijin island is a 5-minute ferry from the city, boasting a 5KM stretch of beaches, restaurants, and bike paths. As the southernmost city, it is warm enough to swim 9 months out of the year. Best of all, Kaohsiung has a direct bus to Kenting, Taiwan’s most famous beach vacation town, and is less than 1 hour to Liuqiu Island – a famous vacation spot.
- Taitung is another East coast city that has very similar beaches to Hualien. People in Taitung are big on ocean activities like scuba diving and surfing thanks to the city being right ton the ocean. Best of all, Taitung has long-distance ferries to Taiwan’s outer islands – Green Island and Orchid Island. These are known for some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in Taiwan.
- Tainan is another West coast city located diectely on the ocean. Its large, sandy beaches are only a 20-minute drive from the city center. The water here is warm 9 months out of the year and it’s not uncommon to see wind sufers, beach parties, and BBQs on the weekeends.
- Hualien is another Taiwan city located right on the ocean. Compared to more touristy places, beaches in Hualien are mostly natural and not commercialized. This makes them great for surfing, snorkeling, and a quiet day outside. Sadly, most beach on the East coast are rock and pebble beaches. So if you want sand, look on the west coast.
Mountains and Hiking
- Hualien is the perfect city if you want to be right in the center of nature. With beaches on one side and mountains on the other, Hualien has some of the best hiking, camping, and outdoor recreation in Taiwan. Thanks to its close proximity to Taroko National Park, and its countless trails and campsites, it is truly an outdoor lover’s dream.
- Taitung has geography very similar to Hualian, again with beaches to the East and mountains and forests to the west. Taitung is truly a city surrounded by nature and is close to the famous Hiking area, Dulan. If you are into hiking, camping and outdoor activities, Taitung is a great choice.
- Taipei might be the biggest city in Taiwan, but once you leave the city limits you are immediately greeted by nature. It is easy to take a bus or subway less than an hour to a mountain or national park. Some popular destinations are the Massive YangMing Shan National park, and Wulai with its natural hot springs.
- Kaohsiung is unique in that one minute you can be in the busy downtown, or lounging on the beach, and within a 10 minute walk, find yourself climbing one of the city’s tallest mountains. Shoushan and Chaishan National Park are located right off the MRT and offer amazing views of the city and ocean. Not to mention numerous waterfalls and hiking trails just a short scooter trip to the East.
English and Chinese Speaking Cities
For some people moving to Taiwan, language might be a big factor in choosing where to live. If you are coming here to work short-term, with little Chinese language experience, then English-friendly cities might be important. If you are planning to come to Taiwan to study, or stay long-term, living in a city surrounded by the local language is the best way to learn!
English-Friendly Taiwanese Cities
Taipei is definitely the most English-friendly city in Taiwan. In general, most young people have a good English language ability and are happy to help. Most staff and stores also have English service and default to English if they see you are not local. It is definitely possible to live in Taipei for years with little to no Chinese ability. For people who are not comfortable speaking Chinese, Taipei is very English-friendly.
Taoyuan and Taichung are a good fit if you want some English, but more chances to practice Chinese. Due to their proximity to Taipei and more international feel, these cities have a good amount of English, but also give you a little bit of a challenge.
Immersive Chinese Speaking Cities
Most cities outside of Taipei (and especially smaller cities) will be the best places to fully immerse yourself in the Chinese language. Places like Tainan, Chiayi, Taitung, and even Kaohsiung are very local with much fewer foreigners. People here are also generally shy to speak English, and will most often default to Chinese when they see you. This can be great if you really want to practice and improve your Chinese quickly (you will probably pick up some Taiwanese along the way too)!
What are the best cities to live in Taiwan?
So what are the best cities to live in in Taiwan? The answer really comes down to what kind of life you are looking for. For those looking for the big metropolis, with great nightlife, lots to see and do, but don’t mind rainy weather and a higher cost of living, Taipei is a great bet!
If you are looking for a slower pace of life with beaches, sun, a chance to learn Chinese, or for a more local Taiwan feel, then Tainan or Kaohsiung would be a great choice!
If instead, you are looking to live on the cheap in a small city, somewhere close to nature, then Taitung or Hualien just might be the place for you!
These are just some of the most popular picks for the best cities to live in Taiwan, but of course, there are many other cities to choose from. If you have any questions about where to live or something to add, please let leave your thoughts in the comments below!