7 Ways to Celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival Without Getting in a Boat

The more colorful the boat, the better
The more colorful the boat, the better | © Tom Hilton / Flickr
Ciaran McEneaney

The Dragon Boat Festival should be about one thing and one thing only – dragon boats. But this is Taiwan, where festivals are steeped in history, culture, religion, and, of course, cuisine. So, here are a few ways to celebrate this auspicious day without getting wet.

Loved by over 40s

Learn about Qu Yuan

The Dragon Boat Festival actually has quite a sad backstory. The festival began as a way to commemorate the passing of a Chinese poet and minister. Qu Yuan committed suicide after suffering at the hands of his peers, who spread false rumors about him destroying his reputation in the process. He threw himself into a river and, although some fishermen raced to his aid, they were too late. The locals then threw rice dumplings (zongzi) into the river to stop fish from eating his body. It’s a rather depressing tale, but one that has inspired a festival that is now celebrated throughout the world.

Stand an egg on its end

Believe it or not, legend has it that at midday on Dragon Boat Festival day, you can balance an egg on its end. And yes, it does actually work! They say that if you can make an egg stand up on this day, you will have good luck for the year. The reason it works is probably due to the fact that it’s the summer solstice, and at around noon on this day the sun’s pull on the Earth is at its strongest. And eggs apparently stand on end because of it.

Standing an egg is said to be good luck

Wear a Xiang Bao

A Xiang Bao is a perfumed sachet that kids often wear during the festival, but it’s okay for adults to wear them, too. They are believed to be good luck and to help ward off evil spirits, and have the added bonus of keeping pesky mosquitoes at bay. This traditional craft is usually made out of cloth, ribbon, or paper, and filled with fragrant herbs and powders more commonly associated with Chinese medicine.

Watch the races

Dragon Boat races take place throughout the world during the festival, and, of course, in Taiwan there are plenty of places to catch a race or two. Here, there are international competitions with boats coming from all over the world to compete against local teams. It’s a great spectacle, and tourists can usually find a race on in any of the major cities.

Dragon boat races are very competitive

Hang Calamus on the door to ward off evil

Most festivals in Taiwan have some kind of custom to ward off evil, and Dragon Boat Festival actually has two: the Xiang Bao mentioned earlier, and hanging of Calamus and Moxa outside the house. These plants are said to be particularly pungent to evil spirits, and so hanging both outside the front door of the house has become one of the most traditional customs for the holiday.

Eat with the family

No festival in Taiwan is complete without a family meal, and although Dragon Boat Festival isn’t quite the reunion type of celebration that Moon Festival and Chinese New Year are, it’s still a great excuse for a family get-together. As a public holiday, it’s also an excellent opportunity for locals to visit their hometown, especially if the holiday falls near the weekend.

Eat Zongzi

This is without a doubt the most notable of all the traditions surrounding this holiday. Locals simply cannot let the day pass without eating this glutinous sticky rice dish. Zongzi in Taiwan fall into two categories – sweet and savory. The savory variety is the most popular and usually contain nuts, egg, and meat. Both are triangular in shape, wrapped in bamboo leaves, tied together with string, and taste delicious.

Homemade Zongzi
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.