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The best things to do in Taipei, Taiwan? I’ve got you covered!
We recently spent over two weeks in Taiwan, a week of which was spent exploring the vibrant city of Taipei. I had visited Taipei once before, but on this trip I truly fell in love with this lush green concrete jungle.
The city is full of energy and yet so peaceful at the same time, with tons of easily accessible hikes and parks. And there is no shortage of amazing delicious eats to enjoy.
Before we dive into the article, here are some popular tours in and around Taipei if you are in a rush:
Top-5 popular tours in Taipei
Things to know before visiting Taipei
- Buy an EasyCard for easy access to Taiwan’s public transportation system. Otherwise, make sure to have exact change when boarding buses. You will need to buy and reload your EasyCard with cash only. This can be done at any train station, 7/11 or FamilyMart.
- Many locals do not speak English and you will find menus that are only in Mandarin Chinese. Download a translator app to help you navigate these situations. Basic phrases in Mandarin also go a long way!
- Anytime you shop (even at 7/11) you will get a receipt with a barcode. Locals can use this to enter a lottery. Non-locals cannot enter, but you can donate your receipt to local volunteer organizations. Look out for collection bins in the city.
- When ordering an Uber, a metered taxi is usually cheaper than a set-rate car.
- Most food stalls at the night markets are cash only.
- Google Maps is not a reliable source for bus schedules, but works well for both bus and metro route planning.
- The Taro soft serve ice cream from FamilyMart is delicious. Eat it everyday. Thank me later!
Must-do activities in Taipei
Taipei is a vibrant city with tons of things to do for any type of traveler. Whether you’re looking to explore the city’s many temples, dive into the Taiwanese street food, or escape the city for the nearby green mountains, this list covers it all.
Let’s dive into all of the best things to do in this amazing city in Taiwan.
1. Stroll Taipei’s night markets
Taipei is full of night markets offering food stalls with some of the best food in the city. We went to a different night market almost every evening of our trip. Night markets are a great way to sample so many different types of local foods. Prices tend to be super reasonable, so don’t be afraid to try new things!
Here are a few of my favorite night markets:
- Nanjichang Night Market
- Linjiang Night Market
- Raohe Night Market
- Shilin Night Market
- Huaxi Street Night Market
- Dongmen Food Market (morning market)
2. Hike to Elephant Peak for sunset (one of the best things to do in Taipei!!)
One of the best and easiest hikes in Taipei is Elephant Peak. Accessible by the MRT at the Xiangshan station, it is an easy 20 to 30 minute climb for one of the best views of the city.
I recommend visiting just before sunset to capture the sun setting over Taipei 101 and the Taipei City skyline. The trails are definitely crowded, but still absolutely worth it in my opinion.
You’ll find a number of cute cafes at the trailhead to refuel before or after your hike.
3. Check out the view from Taipei 101
Take the high-speed elevator 101 floors up to the top of Taipei 101 for one of the best 360 degree views of Taipei City. If you’re planning to dine at Din Tai Fung, one of Taipei’s most popular restaurants, you can grab a ticket and then head to the observatory while you wait for a table.
The observatory deck is open daily from 10AM – 9PM.
Tickets for Taipei 101 start at 600 NT ($18.50 USD) for entrance to the 89th floor, and combined tickets starting at 980 NT ($30 USD) for both the 89th and 101st floors.
Although we didn’t make it up to the top on our visit, we have heard great things about the experience!
4. Join a local food tour
By far one of our favorite things that we did in Taipei was joining a private street food tour with With Locals. Our guide June was incredibly knowledgeable and not only taught us so much about the Taiwanese food culture, but about the country’s unique history as well.
If you only do one tour in Taipei, make it this one! And definitely chose June, the witty chef, as your guide.
5. Try local Taiwanese dishes such as Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings) and Beef Noodle Soup
Taipei is such an amazing food city, with so many incredible local dishes to try. The list is neverending, but here are a few of my favorite dishes in Taipei and where to try them.
- XIao Long Bao (soup dumplings) – 正好鮮肉小籠湯包 or Din Tai Fung
- Braised Beef Noodle Soup – Niu Dian Beef Noodles or Lao Shandong Homemade Noodles
- Scallion Pancake – Tian Jin Onion Pancake
- Braised Pork Rice – Formosa Chang
- Taiwanese Fried Chicken – Shilin Night Market
- Bubble (Boba) Tea – 魚池貳壹-西門店
- Fish Ball Soup – Ya Fung Fishball
Also, if you’re feeling brave then I recommend trying the Stinky Tofu. Personally it wasn’t my favorite, but I’m glad that we gave it a try.
You can also join a food tour to try the best street food in Taipei. Reminder, don’t forget to book your tour with June for the best experience!
Here are a few of my favorite restaurants in Taipei:
- Gan Mei Alley
- Tian Jin Onion Pancake
- Niu Dian Beef Noodles
- Lao Shandong Homemade Noodles
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6. Escape the city for the trails of Yangmingshan park
If you love to hike then Taipei is the city for you. Hop on a bus or MRT (Taiwan’s metro line) and you’ll reach the mountains in as short as an hour from Taipei City. Taiwan sees a high number of rainy days, making the surrounding areas green and lush, perfect for hiking.
We hiked to the peaks of Datunshan and eventually made our way over to Erziping, in Yangmingshan. The multi-peak hike of Datunshan, or Mt. Datun, is easily one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Taipei. It is a great
There are endless trails to hike and explore in this area.
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7. Learn about Taipei’s history at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
This monument was built to honor Taiwan’s former leader, Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang played a crucial role in the Chinese Civil War and the establishment of the Republic of China in Taiwan after the Chinese Communist Party’s victory on the mainland.
Although a somewhat controversial political figure due to his authoritarian rule, it is a monument that is rich in history.
8. Take a walk through the Botanical Gardens
Plant lovers? This one is for you.
The Botanical Gardens of Taipei have a rich history dating back to the Qing Dynasty, when it was first established as a research and cultivation center. It is a beautiful and peaceful area to explore, filled with plants, greenhouses, and streams.
The gardens are located in the Wanhua District, not far from the Longshan Temple.
Best part? Like many of the other best things to do in Taipei, a visit to the Botanical Garden is completely free.
9. Attend a local baseball game
By far one of the most fun things that we did in Taipei was attending a baseball game for Taipei’s local team – the Guardians. The games are played at Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium in New Taipei City.
Tickets start around $15 USD, and are a great way to enjoy and immerse yourself in the local culture.
10. Ride the Maokong Gondola
The Maokong Gondola is one of the most popular things to do in Taipei. The gondola starts at the Taipei Zoo Station and ends at the Maokong Station. The gondola is about 2.7 miles long and takes about 20-30 minutes for the full journey.
Tickets can be purchased for either the standard gondola or the glass floor gondola. Ticket prices vary based on the number of stops made.
In Maokong you’ll find a number of places to drink local tea, hiking trails, and great views of the city.
11. Visit the National Palace Museum
The National Palace Museum is a must on any visit to Taipei. Located in the Shilin district, the museum boasts one of the most extensive collections Chinese art and historical artifacts in the world.
Although this museum was established in 1965 in Taiwan, many of the artifacts came over from the original Palace Museum that was previously established in Beijing.
12. Join a free walking tour with GuruWalks
One of the best things to do in Taipei, or any new city for that matter, is to join a free walking tour. A free walking tour, or more appropriately named a way-what-you-wish walking tour is an amazing way to get to know a new city.
These tours are an excellent way to discover a city through the eyes of a local.
13. Admire the Longshan Temple
Longshan Temple is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Taipei.
The area surrounding the temple is actually the neighborhood in Taipei with the highest number of homeless people. However, you would never know it because the homeless in Taipei are cared for way better than many other cities. Visitors to Longshan Temple can give donations, which are then used to give free meals to the homeless in the nearby vegetarian restaurants.
14. Visit the Lin An Tai Historical House and Museum
Lin An Tai Ancestral House is another must-visit spot in Taipei. This preserved historical house serves as a museum and culture site, preserving Taipei’s history.
The house was built in the 19th century during the Qing Dynasty. The house is a classic example of southern Chinese residential architecture.
Surrounding the house you’ll find beautiful gardens, ponds, and bridges.
Entry is free to both the gardens and the historical house.
15. Shop in Ximending
Ximending is one of the trendier neighborhoods in Taipei, with a bustling nightlife and lots of shopping. It is a great neighborhood to base yourself in in Taipei, as it is close to the main train station and well-connected to the rest of the city.
16. Take a day trip (or overnight trip) to Jiufen
Probably the most popular day trip from Taipei is the one to Jiufen. You can reach Jiufen from Taipei in just about an hour from Taipei City. From Taipei Main Station you can take the local train line (the TRA) 45 minutes to Ruifeng. You do not need to book these tickets in advance, and can simply use your EasyCard to board the train. Once you arrive in Ruifeng you can reach Jiufen in 10-15 minutes by bus or taxi.
Personally I would recommend spending a few nights here and exploring the beautiful surrounding areas. Some of the best hikes in Taiwan are located near Jiufen.
Here are the most popular things to do in Jiufen:
- Visit a traditional tea house (we went to Amei Tea House)
- Try Taro balls
- Wander the Old Street of Jiufen
- Hike Teapot Mountain
17. Take a day trip to Alishan National Forest Area
Another great trip from Taipei is to the Alishan National Forest Area. Personally I wouldn’t recommend it as a day trip, since there is so much to explore in the area, but it is doable if you’re short on time.
Alishan is absolutely beautiful and a must-visit for hiking lovers. The park itself isn’t huge and most of the trails can be hiked in a single day.
From Taipei you can take the HSR train to Chiayi. From here you have the option of taking the train or the shuttle bus. Train tickets must be purchased in advance, but bus tickets are purchased on board with your EasyCard. Make sure to check updated bus tables since the bus doesn’t run too often.
If you do plan to visit for a few days, I recommend basing yourself in Shizhuo. It is about 45 minutes by bus or taxi from Alishan. You’ll find more affordable lodging options, way less crowds, and some amazing hiking trails through the tea fields.
We stayed at SunRise 23.5 and had an amazing experience.
18. Try local teas – bubble teas, milk teas, and high mountain teas
The Taiwanese love their teas. Whether you’re typically a tea drinker or not, I highly recommend you try some tea (in all of its forms).
- High Mountain Tea – if you go to Alishan area, this is a great place to try it. Otherwise, check out Jing Sheng Yu
- Bubble tea – although now popular in the US, bubble tea (or boba tea) is originally from Taiwan. You’ll find shops all over the city, but I recommend 魚池貳壹-西門店.
- Milk tea – Taiwanese black tea is typically served sweet with milk. You can find it at most breakfast spots (sometimes served with soy milk), or you can find tons of varieties at 7/11 or FamilyMart.
19. Enjoy a drink at one of the best bars in Asia
Taiwan is home to the one of the best bars in Asia, the 24th best bar to be precise. Interested in checking it out? Make a reservation at AHA Saloon to try one of their famous cocktails.
Note there is a minimum consumption amount per guest, with that minimum being higher on weekend nights.
20. Sample a traditional Taiwanese breakfast
While in Taipei, I highly recommend trying a traditional Taiwanese breakfast. Here are a few things you can expect to eat for breakfast in Taipei:
- You tiao – fried breadstick
- Fan tuan – sticky rice roll, filled with meats or veggies
- Soy milk – served hot or cold, sweetened or unsweetened
- Dan bing – Taiwanese breakfast crepe – often filled with cheese, scallions, and bacon
- Bao – buns filled with meats or veggies
- Shao bing – a flaky pastry like sandwich filled with egg, meats, and cheese
21. Try Taiwan’s local liquor – Kaoliang
If you want to try Taiwan’s local liquor, have a sip of Kaoliang. This clear liquor is known for it’s high alcohol content. It is often drank straight, but some locals recommended adding some water to cut some of the intense liquor flavor.
Best Things to do in Taipei
- Stroll Taipei’s night markets
- Hike to Elephant Peak for sunset
- Check out the view from Taipei 101
- Join a local food tour
- Try local Taiwanese dishes
- Hike in Yangmingshan Park
- Visit Chiang Kai-shek Memorial
- Take a walk through the Botanical Gardens
- Attend a local baseball game
- Ride the Maokong Gondola
- Visit the National Palace Museum
- Join a free walking tour
- Admire the Longshan Temple
- Visit the Lin An Tai Historical House
- Go shopping in Ximending
- Take a day trip to Jiufen
- Take a trip to Alishan National Forest Area
- Try local teas
- Sample a traditional Taiwanese breakfast
Where to stay in Taipei
We based ourselves in Ximending during our week in Taipei. It was a great base since it was close to Taipei Main Station, close to the Ximen MRT station, and had tons of shops, restaurants and night markets just a short walk away.
Here is a link to the airbnb that we stayed at.
Some other top-rated hotels in Taipei:
Getting to Taipei
Taipei is actually one of the easiest cities in Asia to get to if you are traveling from the US, with direct flights to Taipei’s airport. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) is the primary gateway to Taipei. Located just 35-40 minutes by train outside of the city center, it is the most common way travelers arrive into Taipei. You’ll find flights from all over the world.
If you’re already in Taiwan, you can take the High-Speed Rail (HSR) from cities like Kaohsiung, Taichung, and Hualien directly to Taipei Main Station. We took the HSR from Taipei to Chaiyi and it was super fast, affordable, and easy to navigate.
Getting around Taipei
Taipei is a relatively walkable city. You can explore many neighborhoods on foot, and even easily travel between neighborhoods. if you’re looking to travel further distances you have a few options:
- MRT – Taipei’s metro system is super easy and convenient to use, with affordable tickets. I highly recommend purchasing an EasyCard. The cards cost 100 NT ($3 USD) and can be topped off at any station or 7/11.
- Bus system – Taipei also has an extensive bus system, which may be more convenient depending on where you are staying. You can use your EasyCard to ride the buses in Taipei, and throughout Taiwan.
- Taxis – We found taxis in Taipei to be relatively affordable, compared to other major cities. They were often more affordable than rideshare apps like Uber. Make sure to ride in metered taxis.
- Rental bike – You can rent a bike using your phone through YouBike, which is another fun way to explore the city.
If you’re planning a trip outside of the Taipei area, you can book your tickets in advance through 12go. Once purchased you will need to redeem your tickets both through the THSR website and in-person on the day of your train.
Best time to visit Taipei
While you can technically visit Taipei year-round, the best time to visit is in the spring (March-May) or fall (late September-October). Summers tend to be hot and humid, while winters are typically very rainy.
We visited in mid October and had great weather throughout, with just a bit of rain during our two week trip.