Without knowing anything about your personal situation, I’d says odds are relatively good that you’ll be able to visit Taiwan in 2021. This comes, however, with a caveat. You see, while the country started re-opening its borders to business travelers and students in late 2020, and expressed interest in allowing tourists in again as soon as possible, it slammed its border shut again in January 2021, in response to “new variants” of Covid-19 from the UK, South Africa and other places.
To be sure, if the ability to cross the border was based simply on the (excellent) Taiwan coronavirus response, you’d already be there. With this being said, given recent news about vaccines, and in spite of innuendo about mutations and variants, I anticipate Taiwan’s borders will be open to most (vaccinated) travelers in autumn or winter 2021.
Whether you’re urgently trying to figure out when you can travel to Taiwan again, or are more generally curious about visiting amazing Taiwan destinations next year, I hope you’ll continue reading.
REMINDER: On March 1, 2021, Taiwan reverted to its December 2020 border policy. Foreign travelers traveling to Taiwan for most non-tourism purposes are allowed to enter the country, so long as they obtain prior authorization and quarantine for a period of between 5-14 days on arrival. I’ll update this page when and if things change!
How Covid-19 Went Down in Taiwan
2020 provided many clues about what it might look like to visit Taiwan in 2021. After containing coronavirus in winter and spring, Taiwan began rolling back its entry ban (which, unlike the one in Japan, never applied to legal foreign residents) in summer; the first beneficiaries were business travelers from Asia-Pacific nations. These travelers (and later students/workers) needed to quarantine for a period determined by their country of origin. While early 2021 border closures in Taiwan and elsewhere remain a setback, I don’t anticipate they will affect global vaccine rollout (and thus, abatement of the pandemic) in a meaningful way.
Assuming the fundamentals of coronavirus in Taiwan don’t change dramatically between now and then, and that vaccine distribution and administration proceeds as swimmingly as development has done, I expect quarantine-free tourism to Taiwan to resume sometime between September-December 2021. This means that travelers to Taiwan (assuming they’ve been vaccinated) will be able to spend 2 weeks in Taiwan as they would’ve done prior to March 2020, when the border initially closed.
FAQ About Taiwan Tourism Moving Forward
Is Taiwan open for tourism?
Taiwan is not open to tourists, but it is open to many other people. As of March 2021, the Taiwan border closure only applies to tourists. This was in stark contrast to other Asian countries like China and Japan, whose borders remain hermetically sealed for all intents and purposes, more than half a year after Taiwan’s began re-opening.
Are there flights to Taiwan?
No matter when you visit Taiwan in 2021, flights shouldn’t be an issue. The country’s two main carriers (EVA Air and China Airlines) have maintained a relatively robust flight schedule, with nonstop service links to North America, Europe and elsewhere in Asia. A notable exception, at least since January 2021, is the indefinite suspension of all flights from the UK to Taiwan.
When will Taiwan re-open?
Although the Taiwan Tourism Bureau had stated a wish to begin re-opening to tourism in October 2020, it’s clear as of March 2021 that this timetable was not realistic. Life on the ground in Taiwan after coronavirus will likely look the same as it does now, but I imagine (vaccinated) tourists will be allowed only once mass vaccination has begun around the world. I would recommend planning travel to Taiwan for the last quarter of 2021 and beyond.
Do I have to quarantine in Taiwan?
Foreigners who are able to enter Taiwan as of March 2021 will need to quarantine for up to 14 days upon arrival, with few exceptions. Additionally, all travelers to Taiwan (including Taiwanese nationals) will need to test negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours of arrival in the country. I would imagine that when you visit Taiwan in 2021, a certificate of vaccination against Covid-19 will exempt you from the need to quarantine.
Is Taiwan worth visiting?
Yes, but I say that as someone who literally created a website in order to inspire foreigners to visit Taiwan. My own lack of objectivity notwithstanding, I do imagine the reasons to visit Taiwan I’ve presented through my dozens of Taiwan blog posts speak for themselves.
The Latest on Taiwan’s Border Closure
While the Taiwan travel ban persists for tourists, the slow easing of restrictions for business travelers and students offers hope—or at least it did, before it was halted in January 2021. Indeed, while Taiwan seems to be moving the discussion of its border status forward as of March 2021, it’s important for all of us to temper our expectations. Taiwan Tourism Bureau expressed in May 2020 that it would like to begin welcoming foreign tourists again that October; this was before Covid resurged worldwide throughout June and July (and, in an even bigger way, in the Northern Hemisphere, starting in autumn).
The good news, whether you want to visit Taiwan in 2021 or prefer to wait until 2022 when things are truly “back to normal,” is that coronavirus will soon be tamed by science and technology. Indeed, now that more than have a dozen vaccines have been approved or authorized around the world, an actual end to the pandemic is in sight for the first time. If these positive trends continue, Taiwan (and other countries) will fully re-open its borders before we know it.
Where to Go in Taiwan in 2021
The capital city of Taipei is where your 2021 trip to Taiwan will almost certainly begin—why not stay awhile? Explore the traditional tourist trail that runs from Longshan Temple in Ximen along Xinyi Road to Elephant Mountain and its Taipei 101 overlook, or go off the beaten path on historical Dihua Street or in the hot spring-filled Beitou district.
East Coast Scenic Route
The good news? The cities of Hualien and Taitung along Taiwan’s east coast are both fantastic destinations in and of themselves. The better news? If you can spare an extra day or two when you visit Taiwan in 2021, it’s more than worth your while to rent a car and drive between them, whether that takes you inland to Taroko Gorge, along to highlights of the East Coast Scenic Route such as Taimali Beach and Sanxiantai, aka Bridge of the Three Immmortals.
Just like the middle child any many families, the central Taiwanese city of Taichung often gets overlooked for its more ambitious big brother Taiwan, and its more rambunctious southern neighbors like Tainan and Kaohsiung. All three of these places are fantastic, but Taichung deserves a visit, even if you simply explore its understated (but huge) city center, cooling off with a bubble tea at Chun Shui Tang (where the world-famous drink was born) before heading to Sun Moon Lake for the day.
Though popular among Taiwanese (especially those who live in Taipei), Yilan is probably not first on your list of places to visit Taiwan in 2021. However, whether you catch rays (or surf) at Wai’ao Beach, take a day trip to scenic Turtle Island, eat your way through Luodong Night Market, look out on colorful Nanfang’ao Harbor or hike through Taipingshan Forest, I think you’ll find that Yilan is far more than just an urban escape.
Closer to the Chinese city of Xiamen than Taipei (or anywhere in Taiwan), the Kinmen islands are as much a symbolic bridge between the Communist mainland and the Free Republic of Taiwan as a physical one, whether you explore various war-related paraphernalia, or travel farther back in time amid iconic Southern Min-style houses. Depending on when in 2021 you visit Kinmen (and whether or not you have a Chinese visa), you may be able to take a ferry to Xiamen and compare the two!
Stay Up to Date With Taiwan Travel Restrictions
Taiwan entry restrictions aren’t changing in an especially rapid fashion, but a sudden change in medical news could lead to an acceleration on the border front. With this being said, I’d recommend not following the news too closely. Doing so can lead you to anticipate outcomes that, while logically congruent for ordinary people, are far too sensible for the idiot politicians controlling them. I speak from experience; trust me.
Likewise, irrespective of when you think you’ll visit Taiwan again, you should also be careful about where you get your news. While Taiwan News is the most ubiquitous English-language news source, its staff write with an air of sensationalism, which often obscures facts and undermines the publication’s credibility. Focus Taiwan, on the other hand, tends to be have less breaking news, in spite of generally being more factual.
The Bottom Line
Want to visit Taiwan in 2021? I’m somewhat confident you’ll be able to do so. Taiwan has been keen to increase its international tourism profile for years; the country won’t want to squander the increased brand awareness its handling of the coronavirus pandemic has gained it. What’s still unclear is what inbound tourism will look like in 2021. Will you simply need to test at the border, or will you need to provide proof you’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19? Absent these, will you need to quarantine? Will that even be an option? Regardless of what ends up happening, consider hiring me to plan your trip to Taiwan. I’ll sweat all the ever-changing details!