According to the tourist arrival numbers, December is the most popular month of the year to visit Taiwan. Does that surprise you?
Some of the reasons people may want to spend December in Taiwan include taking their Christmas holidays abroad, escaping from cold weather in Europe/North America, escaping hot weather in Southeast Asia, soaking in Taiwan’s amazing hot springs, or seeing autumn foliage in the mountains of Taiwan.
Christmas activities and one of the world’s most epic New Year’s Eve fireworks displays are the finishing touches that make December one of the best months to visit Taiwan.
Because it is the most popular month, and December 2023 is the first year since 2019 that Taiwan with have no COVID restrictions, expect serious crowds and sold-out hotels/trains. Book ASAP! New Year’s Eve long weekend is the busiest weekend of the year in Taiwan.
December is a transitional month between autumn and winter in Taiwan. Chilly winter weather usually arrives in Taipei around November and December, while the south of Taiwan remains pleasantly warm and dry in December.
For more general information, see these common FAQs about Taiwan.
Taipei in December: Best Things to Do
While Taipei may start to get fairly chilly in December, it surely won’t stop you from visiting any of the main Taipei attractions or night markets. Start planning your trip with my general Taipei city guide.
By far the best antidote to the cool weather is taking a dip in a thermal hot spring. Beitou hot spring is Taipei’s very own hot spring resort, first developed by the Japanese when they colonized Taiwan.
Read my guide to Beitou to find out the best hot spring spas and hot spring related attractions to explore in Beitou.
Another good way to warm up is by spending an evening enjoying all-you-can-eat hot pot with friends; most places have a two-hour time limit.
The Shilin Residence Chrysanthemum Show, which starts on November 24, 2023, will continue until December 10.
The annual Taipei Marathon usually takes place in mid December. In 2023, the date is December 17. It is a popular event for foreign participants to take part in. Recent years have seen over 100,000 runner takes part! In 2022, the race will take place on December 18.
In December, you can still some autumn foliage at Yangmingshan National Park (click the link to see my recommended viewing spots). But the park is usually a few degrees colder than Taipei and it is common to experience fog or rain up there, so dress especially warm!
Christmas Markets and Events in Taipei City
While Taiwanese families don’t celebrate Christmas, and Christmas is not public holiday, there are many places you can see Christmas lights (the biggest is Christmasland – see the next section).
In 2023, Christmas will be on a Monday. In Taiwan, many small shops, street food vendors, and a few attractions (National Palace Museum, Maokong Gondola, Beitou Hot Spring Museum, and Beitou Thermal Valley) close every Monday.
If you’re traveling to Taiwan with kids, you can sit on Santa’s lap at the Regent Taipei. This will take place Mon-Fr (14:00-17:00 and 18:00 to 21:00), Sat (12:00-17:00 and 18:00-22:00), and Sun (12:00-17:00 and 18:00-21:00).
Santa will be set up beside the largest Christmas tree in Taipei, inside the hotel. The tree is 15 meters tall and has over 27,000 bulbs!
This year there will be a small 3-minute light show by the Christmas tree, every day from Dec 2 to 25, 9 times per day at 12:15, 13:15, 14:15, 15:15, 16:15, 18:15, 19:15, 20:15, and 21:15.
Xinzhongshan Christmas Market (心中山聖誕市集) will take place every Friday (4 to 9 PM) and Saturday (2 to 9 PM) from Dec 1 to 31 at Zhongshan Linear Park (between Zhongshan and Shuanglian MRT stations.
The annual European Christmas Market has already passed. It was held on from Nov 30 to Dec 3 at Xiangti Avenue Plaza in Xinyi district.
You can usually see lots of Christmas lights around Taipei 101 shopping area in Xinyi District and at major department stores in the city.
The Christmas Fair at Gongguan Water Park will take place from November 25 to December 31, featuring lights and other activities. The main activity days are usually Saturdays during that time period.
If you’re looking for Christmas dinner in Taipei, here are some bars, restaurants, and hotels that offer Christmas dinner in Taipei.
Also check out this Christmas Food Festival at the covered Maji Square at Yuanshan MRT station on December 23. There will be live music and 8 Christmas food vendors.
Christmasland in New Taipei City
For the best of the best Christmas events in Taipei, you simply can’t miss Christmasland in Banqiao, New Taipei City. It takes place every day from Nov 17 to Jan 1.
There you’ll find yourself in the midst of completely over-the-top Christmas lights display, including tunnels of lights, Christmas concerts, and more.
The event takes place on the north and south sides of Banqiao train/MRT station plus a small area at Fuzhong MRT station (the next stop after Banqiao).
Beware that this event can be extremely crowded and noisy, with very long lines for activities. To avoid the worst crowds try to come on a weekday, and ideally not right around the festival begins, or on weekends closest to Christmas Day.
I’ve also covered Christmas events in other cities across Taiwan in my guide to spending winter in Taiwan.
New Year’s Eve in Taipei
Monday, January 1, 2024 will be a national holiday in Taiwan, so NYE will be a 3-day long weekend. This is one of the busiest weekends of the year for travel in Taiwan. Train tickets and hotel rooms can be very hard to get. Make sure to book early!
There are 3 major fireworks events in Taipei area. The earliest one will be the Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf firewors. The fireworks will start at exactly 8:24 PM and last precisely 13 minutes and 14 seconds. At midnight, besides the Taipei 101 fireworks, there’s also fireworks art Miramar Mall (the one with the large Ferris wheel).
The Taipei 101 fireworks and LED lights display on New Year’s Eve surely ranks as one of the world’s greatest. You’ll need to arrive in Xinyi District hours in advance to secure a decent spot (dress warm!) among the hundreds of thousands of spectators.
For many Taiwanese youths, the best place to take in the fireworks is the New Year’s Eve Bash held and Taipei City Hall Square, north of Taipei 101, which features concerts from some of the country’s top pop stars, and of course a view of the fireworks.
New Year’s Eve is a super busy and expensive night to party in Taipei. Most night clubs have steep cover charges, and you’ll need to get a ticket in advance or wait in a long line.
I’ve covered other New Year’s Eve events across Taiwan in my guide to visiting Taiwan in winter.
Welcoming the Near Year on the Coast
Every year, masses of people gather on the east coast of Taiwan to watch the first sunrise of the year. The most popular spot to do this is at Fulong, called the Fulong Welcome Sunrise Festival (福隆迎曙光).
Usually the beach will have some special lights, concerts, and additional late-night trains running from Taipei to Fulong for the event. Here’s my guide to Fulong and other beaches around Taipei.
Search for cooking classes in Taiwan for a fun winter activity. There are lots of different choices!
Taiwan in December: Best Places to Visit
If you’re planning to do a full tour around the country in December, then begin by consulting my recommended Taiwan itinerary for 1-3 weeks, and find more ideas on my list of the 50 best things to do in Taiwan.
Note that Taroko Gorge in Hualien is fine to visit in December, but do dress warm, and consider seeking out this secret hot spring. Further afield, hot spring lovers can also try Tai’an hot spring in Miaoli and Guanziling mud hot spring in Tainan.
For other awesome hot springs around Taiwan, see here!
Flower lovers should also consider checking out the Xinshe Flower Festival, held in Taichung in November and December. The 2023 dates for the event are November 11 to December 3 and the event featured a huge “floating” castle.
If you plan to be in Taichung for NYE, the city usually holds its main celebration and fireworks at Lihpao Village; see my article on the best Taichung Day trips for more information. Sun Moon Lake can be slightly chilly in December, but skies are often clear.
December is the start of the strawberry season in Taiwan. You can visit these strawberry farms in Dahu to try picking them yourself. After, head to nearby Taian hot spring to stay in one of its excellent hot spring hotels.
Tainan, Kaohsiung, Pingtung, and Taitung are lovely to explore in December, with warm weather and almost no rain. To observe flocks of Taiwanese Purple Crow butterflies, head to Maolin Scenic Area. Kaohsiung hosts two major New Year’s Eve celebrations and fireworks displays, at Dream Mall and E-Da.
December is, along with November, the best month to observe autumn foliage in Taiwan. In Taoyuan, the best spots include Bade Bald Cypress Forest (八德落羽松森林), Shimen Reservoir (石門水庫), and Lalashan (拉拉山).
In Yilan, try Mingchi National Scenic Area (明池國家森林遊樂區), but you’ll need to drive to get there. The forest paths and “Bong Bong Train” at the peak of Taipingshan (太平山) are also gorgeous spots for autumn foliage viewing.
In Taichung, Wuling Farm (武陵農場) has the best fall foliage, but remember that Wuling Farm is in the far east of Taichung, so it is actually more convenient to access from Yilan on the east coast than from central Taichung City on the west coast. Another option near Wuling Farm but further up the highway is Fushoushan Farm (福壽山農場).
Meanwhile, Aowanda (奧萬大) National Forest Recreation Area in Nantou County is one of the country’s most famous autumn foliage spots; if you make it that far, also stop in at Cingjing Farm. Xitou Nature Education Area (溪頭自然教育園區) is yet another prime spot for fall colors, and don’t miss Xitou Monster Village right next to it.
Down in Tainan, Hongye Park (紅葉公園) is the most well-known place to see beautiful fall colors. It is located adjacent to Guanziling (關子嶺), famous for its unique mud hot springs; taking a dip in the mud-colored water or rubbing the skin-smoothing mud on your face is an experience you can’t miss in Taiwan in December!
Taipei Weather in December
After the last few months of crisp, autumn weather, December officially marks the start of winter in Taipei. The average high temperature in Taipei in December is 21°C (70°F), while the average low is 15°C (59°F), which can be coolder than it sounds if you’re used to a dry climate.
While December can be cool, it is also the least rainy month of the year in Taipei, with only 75mm of rain (12 days with spots of rain, on average).
For this reason, purely in terms of weather, December is the most pleasant of the winter months in Taipei; January is noticeably colder, while February tends to be both rainy and cold. If you face rain during your December visit, here’s my are my suggested Taipei indoor activities.
In recent years, there have even been some freakishly warm (or even hot) days in Taipei in December, but that is not the norm.
What to Wear in Taipei in December
If you’re mainly staying in Taipei, then jeans plus a few layers on top are ideal. When the sun pokes out, you may find a T-shirt will suffice, but most of the time, you’ll probably want to have a hoodie or light jacket on as well, especially for going out in the evening. An thin outer layer which is both wind and waterproof is ideal.
Visitors from countries with tropical climates such as the Philippines or Southeast Asia may want to bring more winter-like attire, as Taipei in December may be quite a bit chillier than what you are used to.
Taiwan Weather in December
Most of Northern Taiwan has similar weather to Taipei in December, including Yilan and Taroko Gorge in Hualien County. What’s more, anywhere near the coast, including Yehliu Geopark and Jiufen, can be quite windy, making it feel even cooler.
If you intend to go autumn foliage viewing in the mountains, or to high mountain resorts such as Cingjing Farm or Alishan, then it’s going to be even colder. For example, Alishan can go down to 10°C (50°F) or lower in the early morning while you’re waiting for the famous sunrise.
The further south you head from Taipei, the warmer it will get. Taichung is usually a few degrees warmer than Taipei, while cities further south such as Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Taitung can be a few degrees warmer still.
In Kenting National Park, it is still possible to swim on the beach in December. If you love mild/warm weather, then December is one of the best times of the year to visit these parts of Taiwan.
What to wear in Taiwan in December
Shorts and a T-shirt are enough to get by in the far south of Taiwan in December, but for Taipei and especially for visiting any forests or high mountain areas, you’ll want full-length pants/jeans, and multiple layers to keep your body warm.
For watching the sunrise at Alishan, you’ll even want to have gloves and a winter hat. But if you forget to bring them, they do sell them there.
Conclusion: Is December a Good Time to Visit Taiwan?
Well the weather can be a little chilly in Taipei and the north of Taiwan in December, the sheer number of events in December in Taiwan can more than make up for it. What’s more, there’s hardly any rain across Taiwan in December, which makes it the best winter month in terms of weather.
From flowers and autumn foliage viewing in the mountains to some of the best Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations in Asia, it’s no wonder December is the most popular month of the year to visit Taiwan!