Visiting Taipei & Taiwan in May 2021

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Is May a good time to visit Taiwan? Sure, why not! May in Taiwan is the peak of spring in Taiwan, with rising temperatures foreshadowing the summer heat that is just around the corner.

The Plum Rain monsoon usually arrives in Taipei in the first half of May, bringing moderate rain for days on end. The rains move south from then, usually not reaching the south of Taiwan until late May or early June. It’s not as bad as it sounds though; the rains are seldom strong enough to have any significant impact on travel plans.

There are a decent number of Taipei events in May, and the enormous Matsu pilgrimage will take place in early May in 2021.

It is even possible to see fireflies right in Taipei in May, while gorgeous early-summer weather throughout the country is ideal for taking in Taiwan’s top attractions. It is also one of the best months to visit the offshore islands, so consider adding Penghu or Orchid Island to your Taiwan itinerary, both which feature great festivals in May.

To see how many compares to other months of the year, see my guide to the best months to visit Taiwan. Also read my general advice for visiting Taiwan here.

 

2021 Note: At the time of writing, international tourists are not permitted to enter Taiwan. I will update this space if any changes are made in the months leading up to May 2021.

 

Also read:

 

Taiwan travel planning group

 

– Here are my recommended hotels and hostels in Taipei, or find the best Airbnbs in Taiwan here.

– Use Klook to find great deals and discounts on various travel services and tickets in Taiwan. Sign up with my referral link to get a TWD100 voucher.

– Is a Taipei Unlimited Pass worth the money? Find out in my detailed review.

 

Taipei Weather in May

The cloudy Taipei weather in May
Overcast weather around Taipei 101

 

Also read: The Best Month to Visit Taipei

Summer is surely approaching in the month of May in Taipei, but the most intense heat has yet to arrive. The average high for May is 29°C (84°F), while the average low is 22°C (72°F).

The most important thing to note about the weather in Taipei in May is the arrival of the plum rain season. Named so because it coincides with the ripening of plums in Southern China, the East Asian Rainy Season usually hits Taipei sometime around the first half of May and can last into June.

When plum rains arrive, what usually happens is that it rains pretty much every day, sometimes for 1-2 weeks in a row. The rain tends to be heavier than winter drizzles in Taipei, but not as wild as a summer typhoon. The rains are not as intense or predictable as, for example, the Southeast Asian or Indian monsoons. I would call it a “mini-monsoon”. Some years, it’s barely even noticeable, but once in a while, the plum rains are heavy enough to cause minor flooding in some areas.

It isn’t necessarily always raining in Taipei in May and June, and sometimes the rains come later than usual (for example in 2018 they didn’t arrive until June). According to the average numbers, there are still 16 days every May WITHOUT rain, so it is still very possible to have gorgeous sunny weather in Taipei in May.

It rains an average of 235mm in Taipei in May, which is a big jump from April (180mm) and the winter months, but still not as much as in June (325mm) or the summer typhoon season.

Like in most months in Taipei and Taiwan, late afternoon is the most common time for rain to fall.

 

What to Wear in Taipei in May

Because Taipei is getting quite warm by May, you can pretty much pack summer clothes. However, due to the increased likelihood of rain, you’ll want to bring appropriate rain gear. Because of the higher temperatures, the plum rains don’t make you feel cold like winter rain in Taipei does; they are more like a mild annoyance than anything.

Umbrellas are a necessity at this time, but even if you don’t bring one from home, you can buy them from any convenience store for TWD 100-200 (USD3-6). Also, every time there’s a downpour, makeshift umbrella stands seem to magically appear all over the city.

 

Taiwan Weather in May

In the major cities & counties south of Taipei, such as Yilan, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung, summer has already arrived by May. It will still get a few degrees hotter in the coming months, but it’s practically there. In Tainan, the average high temperature in May is 31°C (88°F) and the average low is 24°C (75°F).

The plum rains don’t affect the south of Taiwan until later than in Taipei and the north. Usually the rain starts increasing in late May or early June. In Tainan the average precipitation in May is 175mm, which is more than double the figure from April (80mm), but still less than half what it will be in June (370mm).

 

What to wear in Taiwan in May

For traveling around the lowland areas and major cities of Taiwan in May, you can pretty much dress for summer. Think comfy shorts/skirts, T-shirts, a hat, sunglasses and lots of sunscreen.

If you’re coming toward the end of May, you might get some rain, but if you’re lucky, the plum rains won’t even arrive in the center and south of Taiwan until June. It’s still best to prepare for it just in case. A decent foldable umbrella is a smart thing to carry around, especially when venturing from the city, hiking, and so on.

 

Taipei in May: Best Things to Do

With summer just around the corner, May is a great month for exploring Taipei on foot and soaking up the early summer vibes. See my top five favorite Taipei neighborhoods in this article on the best things to do in Taipei (skip to #31-35), or feel free to consult my recommended Taipei itinerary for planning your trip.

Taipei’s parks and biking trails come alive as people come out to enjoy the early summer sun. On Yangmingshan, the calla lilies (see cover photo of this article) should be in full bloom throughout May at Zhuzihu, which is really a sight to behold.

 

Treausre Hill Artists Village, one of the best places to visit in Taipei in May
Treasure Hill Artist’s Village, which will have a Light Festival in May 2020

 

In the underground art scene, head to Treasure Hill, a vibrant arts community housed in a military veterans’ village by the riverside, hosted the Treasure Hill Light Festival from March 28 to May 10 last year. Keep an eye out for a similar event in 2021.

The Urban Nomad Film Festival usually begins in April and continues on into the first half of May.

In late May, fireflies can be seen in Da’An Park, Muzha Park, and Rongxing Park. The best time to see them is from 6-8 p.m. on non-rainy days.

 

Taipei Grand Mosque
Taipei Grand Mosque beside Da-An Park

 

May 13, 2021, marks the end of Ramadan, and a celebration is usually held to mark the date in Da’An Park. Taipei’s largest mosque, the Taipei Grand Mosque (see my article on the top temples and religious structures in Taipei) is right next to Da’An Park. You can expect cultural displays, markets, and more, catering to the thousands of Southeast Asian Muslims who live and work in Taipei.

If the rain gets bad, there are plenty of things to do indoors in Taipei, such as the National Palace Museum, doing KTV (karaoke) or MTV in Ximending, or visiting one of the Taipei’s many excellent art galleries.

 

Taiwan in May: Best Places to Visit

With near summer-like conditions, and lower chance of rain in most places in Central and Southern Taiwan (compared to Taipei), pretty much anywhere in Taiwan is great to visit in May.

Weather should be fine at Taroko Gorge (but do avoid visiting during or after heavy rains, for safety reasons) and other parts of Hualien, as well as Sun Moon Lake. Winter is over in the high mountain resorts such as Alishan and Cingjing Farm, but can still be quite cold in the early morning due to the elevation.

It’s a great month to head to the beaches around Taipei or pretty much anywhere in Taiwan; the weather is perfect, and the summer crowds have yet to show up (most locals don’t go to the beach until it’s really, really hot).

 

Heading to the beach is one of the best things to do in Taiwan in May
Hardly anybody is on the beach in May, even though the weather is perfect for it

 

In my opinion, May and June are the best months of the year to visit the offshore islands of Taiwan. My friends and I had a magnificent trip to Orchid Island in May. Regular flights from Taitung were up and running, the weather was perfect and hot enough to swim, but there were no almost no visitors there yet, Taiwanese or foreign. What’s more, this is the only time of year you can witness the Flying Fish Festival on Orchid Island.

Earthfest Revolutions, an underground psy-trance music festival, usually takes places twice a year, in May and September. The location is usually in Sanyi, Miaoli or Puli, Nantou. The dates for May 2020 have yet to be announced; stay tuned for more info.

The Penghu International Fireworks Festival usually takes place from April to June on the offshore archipelago of Penghu.

Buddha’s Birthday will be celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th lunar month (May 19, 2020). While this is not a major celebration like it is in some neighboring countries (see my article on the Lantern Festival in Busan, South Korea), you can expect major Buddhist monasteries in Taiwan such as Foguangshan in Kaohsiung to have some kind of festivities or special decorations.

On the 23rd day of the 3rd month on the lunar calendar (May 4, 2021), Taiwan celebrates the birthday of Matsu, goddess of fishermen and the sea. Matsu is the patron goddess of Taiwan and her birthday is celebrated with a raucous 10-day mass pilgrimage that attracts more than a million participants. The pilgrimage starts at ends at Zhenlan Temple in Dajia, Taichung, and traverses parts of Changhua, Yunlin, and Chiayi counties. The pilgrimage usually starts before her birthday and culminates on it.

 

Matsu PilgrimA traditional parade in Taipeiage, one of the most popular events in Taiwan in mid-spring

 

Conclusion: Is May a Good Time to Visit Taiwan?

In my opinion, no month is a bad month to visit Taiwan. Don’t let the plum rains scare you off from visiting Taiwan in May. They aren’t as bad as they sound, and when it rains in Taipei (which it kind of always does), people open their umbrellas, scooters riders throw on a rain jacket, and life goes on as normal. It’s part of the Taipei experience!

For the rest of Taiwan, May offers great early-summertime weather, but not as overwhelmingly hot as it will become in the coming months. It many ways, it’s quite an ideal time to visit Taiwan!

 

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