January is one of the least popular months of the year to visit Taiwan. This doesn’t necessarily mean that winter is a bad time to visit Taiwan, nor does it mean winter is the “low season”.
In fact, Taiwan doesn’t really have a ‘low’ or ‘high’ tourist season; the numbers fluctuate on a monthly basis. January is the second least popular month of the year to visit Taiwan, but it comes right after the most popular month, December, according to pre-COVID tourist arrival numbers.
Part of the reason is that January is kind of a lull between Christmas/New Year’s Eve celebrations in December, and the traditional Lunar New Year holiday, which often takes place in February. However, in 2023, Chinese New Year will actually come in late January, bringing some excitement (but also some travel difficulties) to this month.
In terms of weather, January is the first true month of winter in Taiwan, as December is more of a transitional month from autumn to winter.
One fun aspect of visiting Taiwan in January is that you can observe locals beginning to prepare for the most important holiday of the year, the Lunar New Year. Cherry blossoms also start making an appearance in a few places in Taipei in January, and it’s also the perfect time for visiting hot springs in Taiwan.
Taipei in January: Best Things to Do
Start by perusing my Taipei city guide for planning out your trip.
See my Taipei 3-day itinerary for more info on how to plan your time in the capital, things to do in Taipei with kids, and my guide to where to stay in Taipei for the best neighborhoods and accommodations.
You may also want to consider getting a Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass, which can save you some money if you use if enough.
January is particularly suitable for visiting Beitou Hot Spring village in Taipei, not only for soaking in the thermal springs but also for exploring the various Japanese-era buildings in the area. See my guide to Beitou for all the information.
Taipei’s famous night markets also serve all kinds of hearty, body warming stews and others foods in winter.
New Year’s Day and Republic Day (both celebrated on January 1) are a national holiday in Taiwan. Depending on the year and which day it falls on, the government usually makes it into a long weekend. For example, if New Year’s day is on a Thursday, they will usually give the Friday off as well, then make people work the following Saturday to “make up for it.”
Consider this when making travel plans (train tickets can be hard to get and hotels can be full), but not as many locals travel around for this long weekend compared to others.
In 2023, Dec 31 to Jan 2 were a 4-day long weekend. However, Taiwanese had to work and go to school on Saturday, Jan 7 to “make up for” the additional day they got off.
Book your hotels in Taiwan early if traveling around the Lunar New Year!
In January, students are wrapping up their fall school semesters. They usually begin their winter break 2-3 weeks before the Lunar New Year. In 2023, that means students will be off for for much of January. Meanwhile, workers are beginning to prepare for the (traditional) year’s end by attending company weiya parties in the weeks leading up to the Lunar New Year.
In the weeks leading up to Lunar New Year, you can visit Dihua Street or Nanmen Market in Taipei to observe flocks of locals shopping for New Year’s goodies. These markets can get VERY BUSY and crowded, especially on the two weekends before the LNY holiday begins.
Lunar New Year (or “Chinese New Year”), which will take place on January 22, 2023 is a complicated time to visit Taiwan. This year, most Taiwanese will have Friday, January 20 until Sunday, January 29 off, which is the longest holiday of the year for most workers and students.
In short, most shops and restaurants in the country will close down on Lunar New Year’s Eve (January 21) remain closed for 3-4 days, and gradually begin reopen in the subsequent days. It can be very difficult to find train tickets throughout the holiday, and destinations around the country became packed with local people in the second half of the holiday.
For a detailed list of exactly what attractions will be open or closed in Taipei, and the ideal days for traveling out of the city, see my guide to visiting Taipei during Chinese New Year. Also, here’s my long list of possible day trips from Taipei, many of which could be done during Lunar New Year, but some, such as Jiufen, which will be mostly closed.
Unfortunately, there are very few Lunar New Year-related activities for visitors in Taipei. One notable one is the excellent dragon and lion dance performance that takes place in the lobby of Grand Hyatt Taipei (near Taipei 101), usually at 11 AM on New Year’s Day (Jan 22, 2023).
Cherry blossoms usually first start appearing in parts of Taipei and New Taipei City in late January. The best places to try in late January are Pingjing Street Lane 42 on Yangmingshan and Wulai Hot Spring village in New Taipei City, near Wulai Waterfall.
Other famous cherry blossoms viewing locations won’t have blooming flowers until February and March.
Taiwan in January: Best Places to Visit
For planning your trip around Taiwan, begin by consulting my suggested Taiwan itineraries and things to do in Taiwan with kids. You can also find more activity suggestions in my list of 50 Taiwan attractions.
Chilly weather in the north means that natural attractions such as Yehliu Geopark, Shifen Waterfall, and Taroko Gorge are less enticing to visit, but you shouldn’t let that stop you. While in Taroko, consider trekking down to this remote, semi-closed hot spring.
Beyond the greater Taipei region, some other great hot spring areas around Taiwan include Ruisui in Hualien, Zhiben in Taitung, Tai’an in Miaoli, or Guanziling mud hot springs in Tainan. Here are my 20 favorite Taiwanese hot springs.
At Foguangshan Kaohsiung, the largest monastery in Taiwan, the incredible New Year Festival of Light and Peace usually starts on Lunar New Year’s Day and last for several weeks.
Sun Moon Lake in Nantou can be a little chilly out on the water, but is still fine to visit. Also be sure to read about the various Sun Moon Lake passes, and consider one my recommended Sun Moon Lake tours if you are short on time.
If you want a chance of seeing snow in Taiwan, you’ll need to either drive up to the country’s highest navigable pass to Hehuanshan.
This is not a trip to be taken lightly. The road can become dangerous with snow on it, not to mention super crowded as many Taiwanese try to drive up and see the snow. It is usually required to have special chains on your tires. You can also usually see snow by doing a multi-day trek to Yushan (Jade Mountain) or Xueshan (Snow Mountain).
It’s sometimes possible to see snow at Alishan in Chiayi, but this is quite rare (I only saw frost on the ground when I went in winter). If you do go up there, and especially if you plan to rise early for the famous sunrise, you need to dress very warmly.
On the plus side, your chances of seeing the famed sea of clouds phenomenon at sunrise are higher in winter. Also read my guide to getting to Alishan from anywhere in Taiwan.
Taipei Weather in January
January is the coldest month of the year in Taipei. The average high temperature is 19°C (66°F), while the average low is 10°C (50°F).
While this may not seem that low if you are coming from somewhere with a drier climate, 10°C can feel surprisingly cold in humid, subtropical Taipei. It’s the kind of damp cold that gets under your skin. What’s more, most homes and even hotels don’t have internal heating, so it can feel just as cool indoors.
On the plus side, January is more favorable than February purely in terms of weather, as the latter has the same temperatures but twice as much chances of rain. Taipei only receives an average of 85mm of rain in January, one of the lowest of the year. When it does come, though, it is the kind of light, drizzling rain that seems to go on and on, making it feel even colder, and the sky seems to be gray more often than not.
If you do encounter any rain on your trip, see my guide to the best indoor activities in Taipei.
What to Wear in Taipei in January
For visiting Taipei in January, you’re going to want to wear long pants plus a few layers on top, including a jacket. For people who are used to very cold weather, a light jacket or hoodie will suffice. You may even want to still pack a pair of shorts for unexpectedly warm days.
But for those who come from regions with warmer climates such as Southeast Asia, then you’ll probably want to bring a good winter jacket. Many local Taiwanese even wear winter hats, gloves, and scarves on colder days in January. Choosing a waterproof jacket is a good idea, too, because things take forever to dry in Taipei.
Taiwan Weather in January
In January, other parts of Northern Taiwan, including Yilan county, experience the same weather as Taipei. If you’re going near the coast, such as Yehliu Geopark or Jiufen Old Street, the wind can make it feel even cooler.
Hualien County, including Taroko Gorge, is usually a couple degrees warmer than Taipei in January. The same can be said about Taichung City on the west coast, but Taichung has even less chances of rain, with an average of only 35mm per month in January.
Heading to the far south of Taiwan, the average high temperature in Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Pingtung is a pleasant 23-24°C (73-75°F). Meanwhile, Sun Moon Lake in Nantou can be cooler like Taipei due to the elevation, while high mountain resorts like Cingjing Farm and Alishan can drop to near freezing.
It’s even possible to see snow in Taiwan in January; see my detailed guide to winter in Taiwan for the best places to see snow in Taiwan. Despite the photo of Alishan covered in snow above, it is extremely rare to see snow there in winter.
What to wear in Taiwan in January
How to dress in Taiwan in January is going to highly depend on where you are going. Assuming your are covering different parts of the country, you’ll probably want to bring a combination of winter clothes (jeans, jacket, warm hat) and summer clothes for warmer days in the south.
You can still go to the beach and swim at Kenting or go surfing in Dulan in January, or you may want to visit hot springs in the north, so make sure to bring a bathing suit as well.
If you’re heading to the high mountains, you’ll want to bring full-on winter gear. Winter hats and gloves can be purchased at the Alishan tourist village if you forget.
Conclusion: Is January a Good Time to Visit Taiwan?
Cold weather in Taiwan in January, particularly in Taipei, seems to turn off a lot of tourists. It’s also kind of a limbo period between New Year’s Eve and Lunar New Year with few notable events.
However, if you don’t mind the cool weather, love hot springs, have an adventurous spirit, are escaping a much colder winter in your own country, or want to avoid the crowds of more popular months, then January might just be the month for you.