There are so many things to do in Taipei I wish we had more than a week to explore. Taipei is a long swath of urban sprawl with countless high rise buildings, apartments, and shops. However, it doesn’t feel like many cities we are familiar with in the West or other parts of Asia. Taipei is extremely livable with good public transportation, bike lanes, not too loud, manageable traffic, and a plethora of public spaces.
It only takes a few blocks to find a park or garden. Even our Airbnb in Taipei overlooked a small local park with a coffee shop to enjoy the beautiful weather outdoors in November.
Don’t think Taipei feels whitewashed though because they’re still alive with Taiwan’s unique culture. Come rush hour you’ll find an onslaught of motorbikes, easily the most popular form of transportation to remind you that you’re still in Asia. It’s interesting, eclectic, full of fantastic food finds, and things to do!
The Best Things to do in Taipei
Raohe Night Market
This is the perfect night out for any traveler looking for an authentic (but still exciting) Taiwanese city experience, especially if street food is on your agenda. Located right by Ciyou Temple, Raohe Night Market is central and easily accessible. The market has the most extensive variety of Taiwanese street foods – oyster omelets, deep-fried mushrooms, boba tea, you name it.
The market is a busy place on any night, but that only adds to the experience; it’s the perfect outing for anyone wanting to sample some local delicacies.
- Location: Raohe Street, Songshan District
- Insider Tip: Don’t miss out on the black pepper pork bun.
National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
This memorial hall was erected in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, the first president of the Republic of China, who died in 1975. The exterior colors are representative of the Republic’s flag, while the interiors are filled with vaulted ceilings and bronze busts. It’s not just a tourist attraction; democratic assemblies take place here regularly.
For those arriving by rail, it has its own station, so it’s easy to access.
- Location: No. 21號, Zhongshan South Road, Zhongzheng District
- Insider Tip: Don’t miss the changing of the guard every hour on the hour.
Arguably one of the country’s most famous temples, this should definitely be on your list of things to do in Taipei. Dating from the mid-1700s, it was built as a community center of sorts for Chinese immigrants. The stunning and detailed architecture is a sight to behold and definitely worth a visit.
The temple was bombed during the Second World War but quickly repaired following the attacks.
- Location: No. 211, Guangzhou Street, Wanhua District
- Insider Tip: There is no entrance fee, but donations are accepted to help maintain the grounds.
Beitou Hot Springs Museum
Though the Victorian exterior is unassuming, the inside of this museum is rich with history and has a fascinating story to tell. It was built in the early 1900s by the Japanese during their rule of Taiwan, and inspired by a specific bathhouse in Japan.
There are two levels to the museum. One contains the main bathhouse (no longer in service), and the second features a mix of history lessons, a tatami room, and a balcony.
- Location: No. 2, Zhongshan Road, Beitou District
- Insider Tip: This is a great precursor to visiting the Thermal Valley for a soak.
MaoKong is technically a city of its own, located atop a mountain overlooking Taipei city. It’s widely considered the best region for Oolong tea in the country, and there are teahouses scattered throughout the area where you can sit and sip on locally-grown teas.
The easiest way to ascend is via gondola (NT$120 each way for adults). The cars have been fitted with glass bottoms so you can see the sprawling natural scenes below as you climb higher. I hope you’re not afraid of heights!
- Location: Four stops: you catch it from the Taipei Zoo.
- Insider Tip: The gondola won’t run in poor weather.
Keelung: Miaokou Night Market
Keeling is located east of Taipei, along the country’s coastline. It was established by Taiwanese aboriginals and morphed into a critical location for military operations as the city was under the rule of varying countries throughout its history.
The Miaokou Night Market is its most popular attraction; it’s the best spot for traditional street food, and national dishes served street-style. It’s especially known for seafood (being a port city), so don’t miss out on things like thick crab soup and oyster omelets.
- Location: No. 20, Aisi Road, Ren’ai District, Keelung City
- Insider Tip: Trains from Taipei Main Station to Keelung are fast and frequent.
Hsing Tian Kong
Hsing Tian Kong is a popular temple in Zhongshan District. Visiting this temple is a must fo while in Temple as it is stunning on the inside and out.. This temple is devoted to Guan Yu, the patron god of businessmen, and is relatively recent in origin. If you come here during the day you’ll find plenty of people praying.
Also known as the Elephant Mountain Hike, Xiangshan Trail is a relatively low-exertion hike (if you really wanted to, you could probably do it in flip flops), with an incredibly rewarding view from the top. It takes only around 20 minutes to complete, and three viewpoints along the way are great for photo-stops (especially the ones with boulders you can sit on).
This is ticket-free and pretty much something you can do whenever—they even do night hikes!
- Location: Alley 342, Lane 150, Section 5, Xinyi Road
- Insider Tip: There are turn-offs along the trail, but keep to the right to stay on Xiangsheng and appreciate the three viewpoints.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Fun fact; though it’s now a park, this used to be a winery! It’s now the site of all kinds of creative gatherings – from theater productions and artwork installations to cultural events. Thanks to original buildings from its days as a winery, the entire place has a retro-chic vibe, with events taking place inside of modernized converted warehouses and the like.
Bring your camera; the combo of crawling greenery and concrete architecture makes for great photos.
- Location: No. 1, Section 1, Bade Road, Zhongzheng District
- Insider Tip: If you have kids, check out the child-friendly activities like making your own music box.
National Palace Museum
If you’re looking for a museum detailing Chinese history, look no further. The National Palace Museum is unchallenged in its collection of imperial Chinese historical artifacts; it contains over 700,000 individual pieces that span all of history, from the Neolithic Age to the present.
Many of the pieces are from the personal collections of the Chinese emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The sheer volume makes this museum one of the best places for this period of history.
- Location: No. 221, Sec 2, Zhi Shan Rd, Shilin District
- Insider Tip: Look for the Jadeite Cabbage while you’re there.
If you’re the kind of person who prefers the scenic route, don’t miss out on the Shifen Waterfall. Standing at around 40m tall, the pouring water creates a stunning rainbow as it empties into the lake below. The region was originally developed for mining coal; remnants of this historical time in Taiwan’s history remain in the form of the old railway station, and more traditional-style housing and economic communities.
- Location: 45 minutes east of Taipei’s city center
- Insider Tip: Visiting during the Lunar New Year (mid-February)? Don’t miss the Sky Lantern Festival in nearby Pingxi.
Wuji Tianyuan Temple
Wuji Tianyuan Temple is a very interesting temple in Taipei because it is a round temple. A Taoism temple worshipping Yu Huang Dadi this is a sight to see, especially during cherry blossom season.
If you’re looking for romantic things to do in Taipei try coming here as it’s one of the more unique things to do in the city.
Huaxi Street Night Market
You might also see this one called Snake Alley. Historically, until the 1990s, it was Taipei’s (legal!) Red Light District. Today, it’s primarily an evening street market selling some seriously excellent cuisine. From standing food shacks to sit-down restaurants, there’s a ton of food you can sample here, including bizarre delicacies you won’t find anywhere else, like turtle and snake blood, and wine made from the… ahem… nether regions of a male deer.
- Location: Huaxi Street, Wanhua District
- Insider Tip: Interested in spa treatments? This is a good place for affordable foot massages and pedicures.
This is probably one of Taipei’s top attractions, so add it to your list of things to do in Taipei. Formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Centre, it was previously the world’s tallest building (being a skyscraper) until being superseded by another in the UAE. The tip of the needle stands at 509m, and the building is designed to withstand typhoons and earthquakes (common in this part of the world).
Inside, you’ll find a shopping mall, restaurants, offices, and both indoor and outdoor observatories—with some of the best views of the city.
- Location: No. 7, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District
- Insider Tip: The elevator to the top is one of the world’s fastest.
Enjoy a Bubble Tea
Did you know that Taiwan is where the bubble tea craze began. It won’t take long to figure that out either as bubble tea stands are on almost every block in Taipei.
The traditional tea is an iced oolong tea with tapioca bubbles. Now they have every flavor imaginable from watermelon to taro and green tea to brown sugar. Lucky for us most places had a menu in English that we could point to even if the counter clerks could not speak English. Get a reusable bubble tea straw before you go!
If you’ve been dying to get out of the city, this one’s for you. The Qingtiangang Grassland are a flat expanse of grass in the heart of the Datun Mountains, developed from solidified lava that became a flat terrace. The area is surrounded by towering mountains, and with its rolling meadows, misty refreshing air, and stunning greenery, it’s a perfect daytime escape from the busy Taipei streets.
- Location: No. 246號, Lane 101, Jingshan Road, Shilin District
- Insider Tip: Guided tours are available, but if you choose to go it alone, be warned that there are several different routes with varied endpoints.
Shilin Night Market
Though Taipei has quite a few night markets, the Shilin Night Market is probably one of the largest and better known. While it has an incredible selection of street food (like most Asian night markets), it is unique in that it’s also a hotspot for some of the city’s best nightlife.
While you can sample similar delicacies as with other night markets (like fried buns and stinky tofu), this market also has a merchandise section where you can shop for souvenirs if you’re so inclined.
- Location: 111, No. 65, Section 5, Zhongshan North Road
- Insider Tip: There’s also a carnival aspect with game stalls.
Taipei Botanical Garden
Taipei Botanical Garden sits on eight hectares right in the center of the city. It used to be an important site for studying plants during the Japanese rule and therefore many different plant species were introduced here.
Now it’s a fantastic thing to do in Taipei if you’re looking to chill out by the Lotus Pond or the Chinese Zodiac Garden.
Wulai Old Street
Still wondering what to do in Taipei? Wulai Old Street has a slightly more orderly style than your average street market: the stalls are arranged into tidy rows giving an impression of neatness and order. You can still buy Taiwanese treats here like sticky rice balls and millet wine (great for gifts), but the area is also known for catering to travelers with regular performances of aboriginal song and dance.
- Location: No. 12號, Wulai Street, Wulai District
- Insider Tip: Check out the colorful WuLai bridge nearby, which leads to a little-known swimming hole used by locals.
Yangmingshan National Park
This national park packs a bigger punch than your average outdoor venture. It’s a pretty quick bus ride from the city center (if you’re driving, you’ll have to pay for parking), and you’ll be treated to sights like natural hot springs, sulfur crystals, lush, rolling hillsides, and valleys as far as you can see. Catch your breath at the little ponds scattered throughout the region (and keep an eye out for dragonflies).
- Location: North of Taipei City
- Insider Tip: Soak your feet at the Lengshuikeng hot spring to relax before heading back to town.
Daan Forest Park
This is sometimes called the Central Park of Taipei, and for good reason: it’s nearly 64 hectares and sits right smack in the middle of the city. Within this vast expanse, you’ll find pavilions, ponds, an amphitheater, playgrounds, and sporting grounds like courts and a skating rink.
It has its own MRT station, which in itself is beautiful: the entrance/exit point is a stunning atrium that is a good spot to hang out.
- Location: No. 1號, Section 2, Xinsheng South Road, Da’an District
- Insider Tip: On the weekends, there is a flower market as well as a jade market (among other things).
Dahu Park is best known for its enormous lake, giving it a more serene feeling than other inner-city parks in Taipei. It’s one of the best places to visit in Taipei for some rest and relaxation. The lake also has an adjacent pavilion, and a gorgeous bridge built in the traditional Chinese style that makes for some excellent photographs.
The park has a lot of amenities and activities for visitors, including fishing, swimming (in a heated pool), and picnicking. The park is easily accessed by the MRT Brown Line.
- Location: No. 31號, Section 5, Chenggong Road, Neihu District
- Insider Tip: With a mountainous backdrop, this is a beautiful sunset spot.
Jinbaoli Old Street
This area was originally home to Taiwanese aboriginals but became overtaken by Chinese immigrants. Today, little remains of the original aboriginal culture, but to any traveler, it is fascinating nonetheless. It’s a bustling area packed with both tourists and locals, thanks to an array of incredible food you will want to sample.
There are a lot of famous food stalls, including Hot Toffee Sweet Potato (caramelized sweet potato) and the duck restaurants. The area’s most highly-rated restaurant, Jinshan Duck Meat, is worth visiting (if you can get in).
- Location: Jinbaoli Street, Jinshan District
- Insider Tip: Guangan Temple is nearby, once you’ve had your fill of food.
The Red House
The octagonal Red House is an unusually Western-style building, so it will stand out compared to the traditional architecture surrounding it. Today, it serves primarily as a theater and exhibition center, hosting performances and art installations daily.
- Location: No. 10, Chengdu Road, Wanhua District
- Insider Tip: Behind the building is the city’s largest LGBT area, which contains an array of outdoor bars. It’s a perfect option after you visit the gallery to grab a great drink in a unique and lively area.
Day Trip to Jiufen
Jiufen is a small town and former mining community just outside of Taipei. The little mountain town was built by the Japanese in the early 1900s in a gold rush. It’s now turned into a large attraction for tourists and you’ll find lovely street markets and tea houses transporting you back in time. It’s even been said to be the inspiration for the ghost town in the beloved Japanese animated film Spirited Away.
A short wander around the streets and it’s easy to see the similarities; however, the creator Hayao Miyazaki has since dispelled the rumors saying the film has a wide scope of places for inspiration. If you haven’t seen Spirited Away, it’s a classic and you should definitely watch it before heading up to Jiufen.
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I love real books, but for traveling it can be easier to carry a lighter and more compact item like a Kindle. Plus, then you can download new books on the go!
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