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Summer in Taiwan is a season that I deeply loathe yet still look forward to every year. The summer weather in Taiwan is at its most extreme, with crushing heat, humidity, and a sprinkling of typhoons that wreak death and destruction on the island nation.
Yet enduring a summer in Taiwan, along with its associated rituals (hitting the beach, gorging on shaved ice, jumping into rivers, ice cold beers from ridiculously air-conditioned convenience stores) is, in my opinion, the quintessential Taiwan experience.
Having spent 10+ summers in Taiwan, I somehow become less instead of more used to it every year. Most locals hate it, yet somehow many of my expat friends in Taiwan love it more than any other season.
In this article, I’m going to cover everything you might want to know about visiting Taipei in summer or Taiwan in summer, including the Taipei summer weather, Taiwan summer weather, how to prepare for typhoons, what to wear, how to avoid the heat, and the best places to visit around the country in summer.
For more general information about traveling in Taiwan, see my Taiwan travel guide.
When Is Summer in Taiwan?
Generally speaking, June to September can be considered summer in Taiwan, with July and August being the peak of summer. You can read more specific details for each summer month in my guides to June in Taiwan, July in Taiwan, August in Taiwan, and September in Taiwan.
Like in most countries, students in Taiwan take a summer break in July and August. However, many of them attend summer classes during these months.
Because summer is too hot for comfort in Taiwan, it is not the tourist high season. In fact, the country doesn’t really have a high or low season; tourist numbers go up and down by the month.
Taipei Summer Weather
By the beginning of summer in early June, the East Asian Monsoon (also known as Plum Rain) has usually left Taipei and headed to the south of the country, but sometimes these rains spill into early June in Taipei.
After that, the city gets hotter and muggier by the day, culminating with the hottest month of the year in Taiwan: July. The average high temperature in July in Taipei is 34° (93°F), with humidity that makes it feel 5-10 degrees hotter.
This weather continues on into August, and finally begins subsiding (only by a few degrees) in September.
Because Taipei sits in a kind of kind of bowl surrounded by hills, the city traps heat and humidity, often resulting in heavy but brief late afternoon downpours. The city is also usually affected by several typhoons per summer (see more on that below).
The humid concrete jungle of Taipei absorbs heat in the daytime, then continues emitting it at night, so temperatures only drop by a few degrees after the sun sets.
You can read about the various seasons in the Taiwanese capital in my guide to the best months to visit Taipei.
Taiwan Summer Weather
Most major cities and lowlands areas of Taiwan have weather almost identical to Taipei in summer. The difference between the subtropical north (which lies above the Tropic of Cancer) and the tropical south (which lies below the Tropic of Cancer) is less marked in summer than it is in winter, when the capital gets noticeably chillier than the south.
The Plum Rain usually brings heavy rain to the south of the Taiwan in June.
Areas that are higher in elevation are less hot in summer. Sun Moon Lake, which sits at 748 meters, is usually a few degrees cooler, while high mountain resorts like Alishan (2500 meters) and Cingjing Farm (1750 meters) provide the perfect escapes from the heat, at around 25°C (77°F) in the daytime and 16°C (61°F) in the early morning; you will even need a light jacket to get up for that famous sunrise at Alishan!
Summer Typhoons in Taiwan
Taiwan receives on average 3-4 major typhoons per summer. This can vary of course; in 2018 virtually no major typhoons directly hit Taiwan.
The first major typhoon can comes as early as June, but usually arrives in July, and sometimes not even until August. Historically, August and September receive the most typhoons, while they can comes as late as October or even November. There is a common perception that the ones that come later in the season tend to be more powerful.
Some of the largest typhoons in recent history have been Typhoon Morakot (August 2009), Typhoon Soudelor (August 2015) and Typhoon Megi (September 2016). Morakot was the deadliest in Taiwan’s history, killing 789 people, most of whom died when an entire village in Kaohsiung was covered in a landslide. Soudelor is one of the few that hit Taipei City directly, causing the largest blackout in Taiwan’s history, while Megi was not far behind.
Typhoons usually have the most serious impact on the north coast, east coast, and far south (including Yilan County, Hualien County, Taitung County, Pingtung, Kaohsiung, and Tainan) and in the high mountains. By contrast, cities and counties on the central west coast of Taiwan, including Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Changhua, and Yunlin are less seriously impacted because they are shielded by the Central Mountain Range.
If you happen to be traveling in Taiwan when a typhoon is approaching, it is important to stay informed by watching the news and talking to locals. On the evening before a typhoon hits, the local government of every city and county will decide whether to declare a mandatory day off from school and work. If this happens, you should stock up on food and stay in for the entire next day.
If you have plans to visit anywhere on the east coast, landslide-prone areas like Taroko Gorge, or somewhere in the high mountains, you may have to rearrange your itinerary at the last minute. If in doubt, ask locals for advice. One time my family and I were on Green Island off the east coast of Taiwan when a large typhoon was approaching. The local authorities asked all tourists to leave the island and we lost one day of our trip. Better safe than sorry!
While this may sound rather terrifying, cities in Taiwan are constructed to withstand typhoons. So long as you stay in during a typhoon, you will be fine, and it can be an awesome experience to hear the wind and rain howling outside or to watch it from a well protected balcony or window.
What to Wear in Summer in Taiwan
Because Taiwanese summers are so hot and sticky, it is best to wear clothing that is thin, light, comfortable, and dries quickly in case you get sweaty or wet from rain. A hat, sunglasses, and lights scarf or sarong for your shoulders are also musts.
While it’s tempting (and socially acceptable in Taiwan) to show lots of skin, it’s also important to protect your skin from the intense UV rays. I’ve got some wicked sunburns from going to the beach or riverside in summer in Taiwan, and that’s even with applying sunscreen multiple times.
The Taiwanese are very casual when it comes to attire; shorts, flip flops, and tank tops are the standard attire for young men in summer, while local women love short shorts but tend to be slightly more conservative on top. It’s never OK to go barefoot in Taiwan, and going shirtless for men will get you nothing but stares.
Because you are practically guaranteed to experience short bouts of heavy rain, carrying an umbrella is essential, but they are cheap and widely sold in Taiwan. Thin ponchos are also available in convenience stores.
Things to Do in Taipei in Summer
Soaring summer temperatures can make exploring the city on foot painful in summer. Fortunately, the Taipei MRT is fully air-conditioned and gets you close to just about anywhere you’d want to visit. Air-conditioned convenience stores are also found on nearly every block and often have seating areas.
There are loads of indoor attractions to be enjoyed in Taipei as well. Taipei 101 Observatory, National Palace Museum, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of World Religions, and Eslite Bookstore are but a few examples. For more ideas, see my list of 50 things to do in Taipei and follow my recommended Taipei itinerary.
For outdoor attractions, such as Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Ximending, or the many temples of Taipei, I suggest getting there early in the day to beat the heat. Rest or do indoor activities in the midday, then head out again in the early evening to explore Taipei’s many night markets (but heads up that they can still be quite hot & steamy in the evening).
In June, the Dragon Boat Festival is an entertaining event, with races taking place at Dajia Riverside Park in Taipei and Bitan in New Taipei City. See my guide to Taipei in June for the festival dates in upcoming years.
For a wild cultural event, check out the City God’s Parade at Xiahai City God Tempel in Dadaocheng (July 3, 2020 and June 22, 2021).
Best Places to Visit around Taiwan in Summer
There are loads of day trips from Taipei to choose from, many of which will bring you into the cooler hills around the city. Jiufen Old Street and Shifen Waterfall are two of the most popular. There are also numerous beaches within 1-2.5 hours of Taipei. Beware of the sun in the midday, though. Skin can burn in minutes in Taiwan’s intense summer sun. All the major beaches provide large umbrellas for a fee. It is also important to stay hydrated.
At Fulong Beach, the Fulong International Sand Sculpture and Art Festival takes place from April to August, while the free Hohaiyan Rock Music Festival is usually held in July or August.
For the best water parks in Taiwan, try Leofoo Village in Hsinchu (one hour drive from Taipei), Jumbo Wave Water Park at Window on China Theme Park in Taoyuan, Mala Bay at Lihpao Village in Taichung (see more info in my guide to the best day trips from Taichung), Dongshan River Water Park in Yilan, and Vicky the Waterpark at Janfusun in Yunlin County.
River tracing is a more adventurous water-based activity in Taiwan; some of the most popular places to do in include Wulai in New Taipei City, Yilan County, Hualien County, and Taitung County. You can join a guided river trace here, here, or here.
Taroko Gorge is as hot as anywhere else in summer, but does have more shade in places. Avoid visiting it during or after heavy rain, especially typhoons.
One way to escape the intense head of the cities in summer is to head to the mountains. Sun Moon Lake is slightly cooler, while high mountain resorts like Alishan and Qingjing Farm are the perfect retreat (see how to get to Alishan and how to get to Qingjing Farm). Sun Moon Lake also hosts an annual mass swim, usually in September. It is the only day of the year you can swim in the lake; make sure to register online in advance.
In the far south, Kenting National Park has the best beaches, or try Dulan for surfing.
The Taitung International Hot Air Balloon Festival is an incredible event that takes place on the Luye Highland; the 2020 dates are July 11 to August 30. You can sign up to ride a hot air balloon in Taitung here.
The offshore islands, like everywhere else in Taiwan, are hot, hot, hot in summer (I personally prefer visiting them in spring or autumn). Despite the summer heat, that’s when most domestic tourists visit them, so they can be more crowded.
Try Green Island for the most tropical vibes and good scuba diving. You can also scuba dive at Orchid Island, see turtles at Xiaoliuqiu, or go sailing or island hopping at Penghu. The Penghu International Fireworks Festival, normally held in spring, will take place from July 6 to September 3 in 2020.
Ghost Month, when locals believe that the spirits of the deceased return, usually takes place in August to September. The main rituals and festivities take place in Keelung City; see more info in my guide to Taiwan in August. The Mid-Autumn Festival usually comes in September (October 1, 2020, Sept. 21, 2021 and September 10, 2022) and is a time when locals enjoy moon cakes and barbecues on the street.
Find more ideas for things to do in Taiwan, consult my Taiwan itinerary for 1-3 weeks for planning your trip, or read about how I traveled around Taiwan with my two young kids.
Conclusion: Is Summer a Good Time to Visit Taiwan?
Summer in Taiwan will appeal most to people who don’t mind intense, tropical heat and who love water-based activities. There are loads of events and activities to choose from, and you can experience the Taiwanese climate at its most intense.
The threat of typhoons is very real, but shouldn’t prevent you from planning a trip to Taiwan in summer. Just take the recommended precautions, and bear in mind the tiny possibility that you may have to make a last-minute change to your itinerary.