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Birding Taiwan

Birding Taiwan, Covid statement

If you are interested in Birding Taiwan, come and join us at Kaiyote Tours!

Birding Taiwan, The Heart of Asia

Time to Travel to Taiwan: No visa required, officially bi-lingual with English as the second language, and non-stop flights from many cities in the United States. Check out more info about our tours and travel to Taiwan: 

Taiwan is a very special place and is one of our favorite places!  If you are a birder, in Taiwan you will find 32 endemic species, with nearly 700 species in total.  If you are a nature lover, besides the beautiful birds, you will find wonderful forests, canyons, mountains, stunning coastlines, lots of butterflies, fantastic local people, many interesting mammals, and great food!!  If you are a hiker, you will find great trails through the forests, mountains, and river canyons.  

Taiwan is a small island located 110 miles off the coast of southeastern China. Although Taiwan maintains its own independent government, it is officially: “The Republic of China”. Taiwan is about 1.5 times larger than the state of New Hampshire and has a population of nearly 24 million people. Taipei is the capital city and is located in the northern part of the country and 9.3 million people live in the Taipei–Keelung–Taoyuan metropolitan area. Artifacts dating back 30,000 years have been found on the island and the Taiwanese Aboriginals have lived in Taiwan for 6,000 years. Over the past centuries, there have been many occupying forces; the Dutch, Spanish, and Japanese, with China having the most control and influence. Today 85% of the population identifies as Han Chinese. Most Taiwanese are either Buddhist or Taoist and freedom of religion is in the constitution.

Taiwan is a mountainous country with over 268 peaks above 9,800 feet across the subtropical zone.  Yushan (Jade Mountain, Mount Yu) is the highest point at 12,966 feet, 3,952m.  Taiwan’s culture is a blend of indigenous, Chinese, and Japanese influences that travelers can actually experience through tasting the island’s creative culinary scene. Taiwan is also an advocate for human rights and is the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. Enjoy a vacation in this scenic paradise. Don’t miss out on this colorful and vibrant travel destination!

Through all the years of changes, the one thing that has not changed is the Taiwanese people's love of nature. Taiwan has 10 national parks covering a total of 1.9 million acres and every county has local forest preserves and parks. Taiwan is dominated by forested mountains and has 18 National Forest Recreation areas. The island is criss-crossed with a network of well-maintained hiking trails. Taiwan has 65 different fire-fly species, which are a beloved insect and protected in the country. Taiwan is home to abundant bio-diversity. Nearly 700 different bird species, 61 mammal species (including the endemic Formosan White-throated black bear), 92 reptile species, 30 amphibian species, 400 butterfly species and over 4,000 vascular plant species.

Taiwan is a very modern and developed country with all the conveniences and luxuries anyone could need. About 10 million foreign tourists visit Taiwan every year and the country has the best hotels and restaurants for a great travel experience. It is a free, democratic, and progressive society. You can visit Taiwan without having to get a visa in advance and much of the country is bi-lingual with English as the second language. Taiwan has a fantastic infrastructure including a wonderful rail system with bullet trains traveling 185 mph. We will take the train several times on the Taiwan tour, and it is a very nice and relaxing experience to travel on the trains. According to the U.S. Department of State, violent crime against foreigners is unusual, and overall violent crime rates in Taiwan are among the lowest in the world. Taiwan has modern medical facilities, with state-of-the-art equipment available at many hospitals and clinics. For many of the other countries we travel to, these things are not always the case and so there are no excuses not to go to Taiwan!

Birding Taiwan dates

  Printable Bird List 
(Checklist of birds that we have seen on this trip)

Map of the travel route here:  Taiwan Map  (this map will enlarge when clicked on, opens a new page)

  • Fairy Pitta Tour:  May 27 - June 5, 2024 (10 days). This very special tour will spend 2-days in the Huben area to view the Fairy Pitta and endemic species.  There will be 2-days of birding at Huisun National Forest for endemics, with additional days at Taipei regional parks for viewing resident and migratory birds. Price:  $4,950 per person double occupancy, with an additional $1,150 for single occupancy.  Spots left = 0
  • November 6 - 20 2024 (15 days). This tour focuses on endemics.  The birding areas we visit also have opportunities for hiking.  The itinerary is slightly different than the one posted below.  Please contact us for details. Rate per person = $4,920 for double occupancy. Single occupancy is an extra $1,050. Spots left = 6
  • Okinawa, December 4 - 13, 2024 (10 days). This tour starts and ends in Taipei and visits the Japanese island of Okinawa.  More details to be posted soon.  Please contact us if you are interested in signing up. There will be four birding days in Taiwan, four birding days on Okinawa, and free time for visiting cultural sites.  Price:  $4,850 per person double occupancy, with an additional $900 for single occupancy. Spots left = 5
  • March 7 - 22, 2025 (16 days). This is our full tour as described in the itinerary below. This tour focuses on birding and viewing endemics, and the birding areas we visit also have opportunities for hiking. Spots left = 10
  • Fairy Pitta 2025:  May 15 - 30, 2025 (16 days). This very special tour will spend extra time in the Huben area to view the Fairy Pitta and other endemic species. The itinerary will be very similar to the one posted below, but we will visit the locations in a different order.  Spots left = 10
  • Group Size: 10 travelers plus guides
  • Trip Length: 16 days
  • Rates Rate per person = $5,120 for double occupancy for 16-day tour. Single occupancy is an extra $1,150.
  • Rates include: Domestic transfers, lodging, breakfast, lunch, dinner, scheduled group tours, park entrance fees and basic travel insurance.
  • Not included: International airfare, customs & immigration fees and visas, alcohol, trip cancellation insurance.
  • Adventure level:  Moderate because of high altitude and stairs, please check "Welcome" page for definition. 

High Altitude:  Please be aware that this trip has two lodging nights at 5,700 feet (Ren'ai) and two nights at 7,500 feet (Dasyueshan). The Dasyueshan area has many stairs and a high point of 9,000 feet for a day trip on the mountain.  Ren'ai has a high point of 10,750 for a day trip to Hehuanshan pass, which is the highest point on the Taiwan highway system.  If you are concerned about the high altitude, you can skip the day trips to the higher elevations and stay at the hotel for the day.  The hotel areas are lovely locations to spend the day. 

Travel Dates:  Because of the extreme time change and long flight, you are welcome to arrive a day early.  I will still be able to meet you at the airport and make the arrangements for early arrival at the hotel.  By arriving early, you will be well rested when the tour starts, and you will also be able to see more of Taipei and we will go birding and touring every day.  The only added expense for you will be the extra nights at the hotel, (which is about $150/night per room), and your food. 

Special offer:  Included with your trip (one per room) is a copy of the field guide “Birds of Taiwan”, by Wild Bird Society of Taipei.  You will receive this when you reserve your trip so you will have time to study the beautiful birds of Taiwan. 

Don't miss the Blue Magpie Video at the bottom of the page

Basic Itinerary: 

Day 1:   Arrival in Taiwan
Flights are overnight with arrival on day one. Flights arrive in Taipei at the Taoyuan International Airport (TPE), and you will be greeted at the airport and shuttled to the Rido Hotel in the Da'an neighborhood in Taipei, where we will spend 2-nights.  Just across the street from the hotel is Da'an Park, which is a great place for walking and viewing local birds such as the Taiwan Barbet, Common Kingfisher, Black Drongo, Malayan Night-Heron, Spotted Dove, Grey Treepie, Black Bulbul, Crested Goshawk, Light-vented Bulbul, Black Bulbul, and Swinhoe's White-eye.

Day 2:   Taipei 
Taipei is full of wonderful parks for walking and birding; it also has great museums and monuments.  In the morning we will visit the Taipei Botanical Gardens and here we will find the endemic, Black-necklaced Scimitar Babbler.  The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Park has beautiful gardens and birds:  Brown Shrike, Oriental Turtle Dove, Eurasian Magpie, Black Bulbul, Pale Thrush, Asian Glossy Starling, and Black-collared Starling. And directly across the street from our hotel is Da'an Park, which has a bird list of 165 species.  Evergreen Shipping has a very impressive Maritime Museum, one of the best in the world, and we usually have lunch here.

Day 3:  Hualien
From Taipei it is a 3-hour drive down the spectacular east coast of Taiwan to the city of Hualien.  We will take our time with numerous stops along the way for birding and viewing the Pacific scenery.  Hualien is located at the base of Taroko Gorge National Park.  We will be staying at the Dream House B&B for 2-nights.  This small hotel is located in a wooded area where we will see numerous birds including the Slaty-legged Crake and the Maroon Oriole.  

Day 4:  Taroko Gorge
Taroko Gorge National Park is one of the largest marble canyons in the world.  The day will be spent birding, walking, and getting to know the geological and cultural history of this natural wonder. The cutest bird here is the Little Forktail and this is also a good location for finding the Brown Dipper. Birds to add to the list:  Styan's Bulbul, White-breasted Waterhen, Red-collared Dove, Blue Rock Thrush, Javan Myna, Crested Myna, and Oriental Honey Buzzard.   

Day 5:  Keelung
In the morning we will visit the Hualien waterfront, estuary, and beach for more birding and walking along the shoreline.  This area is good for shorebirds and raptors.  From Hualien we will make our way back up the coast to another coastal town called Keelung, which is a 2-hour drive north of Hualien.  The Keelung area has several national reserves for geological wonders and birding.  We will be spending 1-night at the Hotel Begins 倉箱蜜境文旅

Day 6:  Hsinchu
From Keelung it is a 1.5 hour drive to Hsinchu area, located along the west coast, and here we will find numerous wetlands, estuaries, and pond areas for viewing waterfowl and shorebirds. Along the way from Keelung to Hsinchu we will stop at a few birding sites close to Taipei. We will spend 1-night at a hotel close to the Hsinchu estuary. 

Day 7:  Dasyueshan
From Hsinchu, it is a 1.5 hour drive to Dasyueshan National Forest where we will be spending two nights at Dasyueshan Lodge located within the recreation area at 7,500 feet.  Dasyueshan is a mountain paradise with great wildlife viewing, birding, and many miles of great hiking trails. On our way, we will stop at a few wetland areas in the Hsinchu area to view shorebirds and waterfowl.  Once we get within the Dasyueshan area, there will be great viewing of both the Mikado Pheasant and Swinhoe's Pheasant, as well as the Yellow Tit, Eurasian Jay, Taiwan Fulvetta, Eurasian Nutcracker, and White-eared Sibia.  

Day 8:  Dasyueshan
We will spend the day on the mountain ranging in elevations from 6,100 – 7,900 feet.  You will have options to go birding, hiking and/or relaxing at the lodge and visitor center.  There are nearly 20 endemic species at Dasyueshan, and this area is home to numerous mammals including the Formosa Rock Macaque (Taiwanese Rock Monkey), giant flying squirrels, barking deer, serow, and we will see these animals both during the daylight hours and during night-time exploring.  Dasyueshan is a birding hot spot for Taiwan and also an important hiking area for locals.  We will have a full day to see all the important bird species. 

Day 9:  Guoxing and Huisun
It is a 2-hour drive to the next location at Guoxing and here we will stay at the Pei Kong Creek Resort, located along the Pei Kong River, which has several hot spring pools and a large swimming pool for relaxing. The river is beautiful, and we will see the Common Kingfisher and Plumbeous Redstart.  But most impressive here is the "sky-walk" suspension bridge, which offers a great vantage point for birding and viewing very interesting insects. Although this area is not listed as a birding hot spot, it should be.  In the evening hundreds of bats take flight from their riverbank roost, while Great Egrets, Medium Egrets, Malayan Herons, and Little Egrets come home to roost.  Other birds seen at this location:  Black Kite, Taiwan Barbet, Taiwan Blue Magpie, Taiwan Whistling Thrush, Grey Wagtail, and Black-naped Monarch just to name a few.... 

Day 10:  Huisun
A short 20-minute drive from the resort is the Huisun National Forest Park and it is your choice to spend the day hiking, birding, or relaxing at the hammock park in the forest gardens. We will spend a full day at the park. There are numerous butterfly species here and flocks of Taiwan Blue Magpie.  Gray Treepies gather to feed and bath in the gardens. Huisun is one of our favorite places in Taiwan. This area is great for endemic species and birds in general including Taiwan Bamboo Partridge, Swinhoe's Pheasant, Taiwan Fulvetta, Chestnut-bellied Tit, and also Grey-chinned Minivets, Fulvettas and Laughing-thrushes. There are great walking trails and waterfalls here as well. 

Day 11:  Qingjing Farm
From Guoxing, it is a 1.5 hour drive the to the Qingjing Farm area.  We will not be staying at the farm, but close by at the Dream Forest Villa for 2-nights.  The Qingjing and Ren'ai area is located at 5,700 feet. This is a birding hot spot for high elevation birds.  Besides great birding and wildlife viewing, there are many miles of great hiking trails here as well.  

Day 12:  Qingjing Farm
A full day birding in the Ren'ai, Qingjing, and Hehuanshan areas where we will see the Taiwan Rose Finch and the Taiwan Bullfinch, (both endemics), as well as many other high altitude birds like the Alpine Accentor.  From Ren'ai it is an amazing drive up to Hehuanshan pass, which is the highest point on the Taiwan highway system at 10,750 feet. 

Day 13:  Budai
From Qingjing, it is a 2-hour drive the fishing village of Budai  In the morning there will be a stop in Huben and the local temple for viewing birds like the Black Eagle, Oriental Magpie, Black-necklaced Scimitar Babbler, and Green-backed Tit.  We will arrive in Budai in the late afternoon where we will stay at the Ocean Hotel for 2-nights.  Budai is a fun town.  It is a fishing village, where they also farm oysters.  There are great restaurants here and we always have a great time after a full day of birding.   Here we will see terns and gulls by the thousands:  Black-headed Gulls, White-winged Terns, Whiskered Terns, and Caspian Terns. The southwest coast is also an important wintering ground for thousands of shorebirds and vagrants and rarities can often be found as well.

Day 14:  Budai
The area of Budai is along the southeastern coast of Taiwan and is a bird watchers paradise with numerous marshes, reserves, canals, and salt flats for viewing birds.  The gem of them all is the Black-faced Spoonbill Reserve where numerous other species can be seen including Sacred Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, and many species of shore birds.  The activity choices for the day are birding and/or hiking.  In the evening near the oyster farms, sometimes as many as 20,000 whiskered terns come to roost and it is an amazing site to watch as the sun sets.  Budai is a close to several significant historical and cultural areas.  The day will be spent viewing birds and getting to know the Budai and Beimen townships.  A few of our favorite shore birds that we see are Cinnamon Bittern, Yellow Bittern, Greater Painted Snipe, and thousands of shorebirds.  Please check the bird list for details. 

Day 15: Taipei
Our travels will have brought us to southern Taiwan near the city Tainan, the oldest city and former capitol city of Taiwan, established by the Qing Dynasty in 1683.   The Nankunshen Temple, which is one of the largest temples in Taiwan, is located just outside the village of Beimen.  There will be time for birding and visiting temples.  Many of the temples in Taiwan are very elaborate Taoist Temples.  Everywhere we travel to in Taiwan, you will find birds. In the late afternoon, we will take the high speed train (185 mph) back to Taipei where will be staying at the Rido Hotel across the street from the Da'an Park for 1-night.   

Day 16:  Fly Home 
There will be a shuttle to the airport for flights home.

Our local guide for Kaiyote Tours

Jian Long Wu

 

Jian Long Wu lives in Taipei and is a freelance bird guide and translator.  Wu, as he likes to be called, translated the field guide “Birds of Taiwan”, written by the Wild Bird Society of Taipei from Chinese to English.  He is also the eBird regional reviewer for Taiwan and its islands including Kinmen and Matsu.  We have one of the top birders as our local guide. Jian Long Wu lived in Minneapolis for two years. 

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