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Visiting Taiwan in February can be a little complicated because it is the month when the Lunar New Year holiday usually takes place. This can have a major impact on travel, but with a little advance planning, you can avoid the worst days to be on the road or trying to book hotels. To find out how to do that in greater detail than I’ll provide in this article, see my guide to planning a trip to Taiwan during Chinese New Year.
Besides New Year’s complications, the weather in Taipei in February is arguably the worst of the year. It’s cold, it’s wet, and the sky is always gray. Despite Chinese New Year being called the “Spring Festival”, February is the middle of winter in Taiwan. See here for my assessment of the best times of the year to visit Taipei.
On the plus side, spending February in Taiwan will give you the chance to experience the Lantern Festival, one of the most magical events of the year. The Yanshui Fireworks Festival, one of the most dangerous festivals in the world, takes place on the same night (see cover photo). What’s more, you can see cherry blossoms, soak in these awesome hot springs, and enjoy mild/warm weather in the south of Taiwan in February.
2021 Note: At present, no travelers are allowed to enter Taiwan. Only citizens, resident card holders, people moving there, or people visiting for emergency or important business reasons may apply to enter, and they must show a negative test from 72 hours before flying plus to 14 days of quarantine in an approved facility. This will not change before February 2021, as the government is being extra careful for the Lunar New Year holiday.
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Taipei Weather in February
I’m not going to lie: February weather in Taipei kind of sucks. It’s the coldest month of the year (along with January), with an average high temperature of 20°C (68°F) and low temperature of 14°C (57°F). But compared to January, it rains twice as much (average 170mm).
What this means that the sky is almost always gray in Taipei in February, and drizzling rain on more than half the days of the month makes the cold weather really get under your skin. The silver lining is that the hot springs in and around Taipei never feel better than they do in February.
What to Wear in Taipei in February
For sightseeing in Taipei in February, you’re going to want to wear long pants plus a few layers on top, including a jacket. For people who come from countries with colder climates, a light jacket or thick hoodie will likely suffice. You may even want to still pack a pair of shorts for unexpectedly warmer days, which can happen.
But for those who come from regions with climates similar to or more tropical than Taipei, then you’ll probably want to bring a winter jacket. Many locals even wear winter hats, gloves, and scarves on colder days in February.
Because rain is practically guaranteed during your trip, a rainproof outer layer is a smart idea, as is a collapsible umbrella (but those can easily be purchased at any convenience store in Taiwan).
Taiwan Weather in February
Once you get out of Taipei, the weather around Taiwan in February isn’t so bleak. Other parts of Northern Taiwan, including Yilan County, will have similar temperatures but not quite as much rain. Hualian and Taroko Gorge get less than 100mm in February, so your odds of dry weather are better, but there’s still a chance of getting wet.
To avoid the cool weather and rain, your best bet is to head further south. Taichung City is usually a few degrees warmer than Taipei and receives half the amount of rain that Taipei does in February.
In the far south, in cities like Tainan, Kaohsiung, Pingtung, and Taitung, there’s a very low chance of rain in February (for example, only 30mm in Tainan), and the average high temperature in February is a mild/slightly warm 24°C (75°F)
If you’re heading up to the high mountains, though, the temperature can plummet to freezing, and early February is one of the best times of the year to see snow on mountain peaks in Taiwan. Here are my suggestions on where to see snow in Taiwan.
What to wear in Taiwan in February
Even in the far south of Taiwan, it can still get quite cool at night, so you’ll want to bring some pants and warm outer layers. In the daytime, shorts and a T-shirt are usually enough for me. In Kenting, it’s possible to swim in the sea on fine days in February, not to mention the hot springs of the north, so definitely still bring your bathing suit if you plan to do either.
If you’re heading up to a high mountain area such as Cingjing Farm or Alishan National Scenic Area, you’ll want to prepare full-on winter gear, including a good jacket, winter hat, and gloves. You can also purchase these at Alishan village if you have to.
Taipei in February: Best Things to Do
You are especially going to want to include Beitou Hot Spring in your February itinerary; you can easily spend half or even a full day there by following my Beitou hot spring guide.
To go for a private hot spring soak without leaving the city center, you can rent a hot spring room at JSL Hotel for two hours.
Once you have an idea what you’d like to do in Taipei in February, it’s very important to look at your travel dates and consider whether these things will be open.
Lunar New Year falls on Friday, February 12 in 2021. This means most shops and restaurants in the country will close down the day before, remain closed for 3-4 days after, and gradually begin reopening the next week. These days can also be some of the hardest to travel around the country or to find hotel rooms in popular spots around the country.
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. In the weeks leading up to Lunar New Year, you can head to Dihua Street see the mobs of locals who flock there to buy New Year’s treats and supplies; the atmosphere is quite lively.
On New Year’s Day (February 12), the Grand Hyatt Taipei holds the city’s only public dragon and lion dance. It’s a fantastic, noisy event, and especially fun for kids. You can read about our stay at the Grand Hyatt Taipei with our kids, or read hotel reviews / see prices for staying there.
One event you can’t miss in Taipei in February 2021 is the Lantern Festival. This traditional holiday is celebrated on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, or February 26 in 2021. Starting around that date, and lasting for around two weeks, a different location in Taipei City every year will host a gorgeous display of huge lit up lanterns.
But the Lantern Festival event you are most likely to hear about is the Mass Sky Lantern Release, or Pingxi Lantern Festival. Pingxi is a tiny village in a remote area of New Taipei City. Hundreds of thousands of people flock there to see the timed lanterns releases, or to release their own lanterns with wishes written on them. It’s such a popular even that it is spread out over a few weeks, with two major mass release dates (usually the two Saturdays closest to the Lantern Festival date).
You can see cherry blossoms at various spots in Taipei in February. Tianyuan Temple in Danshui usually has its first round of cherry blossoms in February (a second wave of different ones come in March). See more details about this and other temples in my Taipei temples guide.
Other spots to see cherry blossoms in Taipei in February include Yangmingshan, LOHAS park (MRT Donghu station) and the Shenzhang Bridge bus stop south of Xindian (hop on the bus toward Wulai to get there, and continue on to Wulai Hot Spring if you get cold!) You can even seen a few cherry trees blooming at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in the city center.
There is also a tulip show at Chian Kai-Shek Residence Park in Shilin, usually held from mid-February to mid-March.
Taiwan in February: Best Places to Visit
Keeping in mind that there are certain days you’ll want to avoid traveling around Taiwan due to Lunar New Year crowds, you can follow my suggested Taiwan travel itinerary for planning your trip around the island.
Enjoy the thermal hot springs and aboriginal culture at Wulai in New Taipei City. In Yilan County, head straight to Jiaoxi hot spring, my favorite hot spring village in Taiwan. I also love remote Tai’an hot spring in Miaoli County. You can combine Tai’an with a visit to nearby Dahu, where strawberries are at their peak growing season in February and there are numerous U-Pick farms in town. Yet another hot spring to consider is the unique mud hot spring of Guanziling in Tainan county.
Taichung in Central Taiwan is slightly warmer and drier than Taipei, so it’s a decent time to explore. Here are the best things to do in Taichung, my recommended Taichung itinerary, and top Taichung day trips. Don’t miss Rainbow Village, the city’s most colorful attraction!
Wuling Farm in Taichung is one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Taiwan in February. Keep in mind that although it is located in Taichung (a city on the west coast of Taiwan), it is more easily accessed from the east coast.
Sun Moon Lake can be cold in February due to the higher elevation. If you go, make sure to consider getting a Sun Moon Lake pass, and here are my recommended Sun Moon Lake day tours. Cherry blossoms usually start appearing at Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village beside Sun Moon Lake in the last week of February, as well as at the Tainan Police Station in Tainan City.
All major cities (and many smaller towns) in Taiwan host their own Lantern Festivals (for displaying lanterns, not sky lantern releases). Some of the best ones are in Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung. Here I’ve compiled the dates for the Lantern Festivals in every city in Taiwan.
The enormous Fo Guang Shan Temple complex in Kaohsiung also holds a Festival of Light and Peace starting on Lunary New Year Day and lasting for several weeks. In 2021, it should begin on February 12.
For something truly insane, head to Yanshui, a district of Tainan City, on the same night as the Lantern Festival. There you can participate in one of the world’s most dangerous festivals, the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival. Click the link to read about how my father and I endured the festival with relatively few injuries, and all the info you need for attending.
It is possible to see snow in Taiwan in February, but you’ll need to head to the high mountains, such as Hehuanshan, Yushan, or Xueshan. See more information in my article on where to see snow in Taiwan. Snow at Alishan is rare but possible, and your chances of seeing the famous “sea of clouds” phenomenon at Alishan are higher in winter.
Conclusion: Is February a Good Time to Visit Taiwan?
While Taiwan’s weather in February are uninspiring, it’s a great month to see cherry blossoms or visit some of the country’s many hot springs. On top of that, the Lantern Festival is one of the top events of the year in Taiwan.
Whatever you do, just make sure to plan your trip carefully around the Lunar New Year holiday, when travel can become difficult and many things close on certain days.