One of the most incredible cities in Asia, there are endless things to do in Taipei, a diverse and chaotic city with an eclectic mix of influences. We spent our days eating delicious street food in one of the many night markets, exploring the ancient temples and admiring the views from Taipei’s many vantage points. The city has a world-class transport system and like most Asian cities it’s relatively cheap. After spending a week exploring Taipei and everything this incredible city has to offer, we’ve put together this list of the best things to do in Taipei. We hope you have as much fun exploring Taipei as we did!
The Best Things to do in Taipei
Sim Card and Internet
As with most countries, having mobile data during a trip is invaluable for navigation and research. There are lots of options on arrival at Taipei’s Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) – we reserved a Chunghwa Telecom 4g sim through Klook who offer a slightly discounted rate on the airport price – check prices now!
Taiwan itinerary tip: the Chunghwa desk only opens at 8am so make sure your flight times will work if you reserve in advance.
1 | Taipei 101
Once the tallest building in the world, the towering skyscraper of Taipei 101 is the jewel in the crown of Taipei. Designed to resemble a giant bamboo stick, and at just over 509 metres tall, the iconic building is instantly recognisable and is visible from everywhere in the city. The Taipei 101 observation decks are one of the most popular places to visit in Taipei.
The outdoor observation deck on the 91st floor offers panoramic views across the city and the surrounding mountains. The views are really incredible and we had a lot of fun spotting different parts of the city, including Elephant Mountain.
One really unique aspect of Taipei 101 is the massive 660-tonne wind damper that is located on the 88th floor. You can actually view the massive yellow damper which helps Taipei 101 stay upright during your visit.
We booked our tickets for Taipei 101 via Klook and highly recommend it. You can reserve your timeslot in advance and for the best price using the Klook app. Simply purchase your ticket using the app and scan the code from your phone at the ticket office. It’s super simple and avoids waiting in extra lines when Taipei 101 gets busy. Taiwan activities were mostly discounted when we booked in advance – check prices now!
Where to Stay in Taipei
There are many great accommodation options in Taipei to suit all budgets, however we highly recommend staying in the general area of Ximending. The area is packed with restaurants and offers great access to the city via the Ximen MTR metro station. When visiting Taipei we’d also recommend a hotel in close proximity to the MRT as it’s the easiest and fastest way to get around the city.
- CityInn Hotel Plus: Ximending Branch – we stayed in the CityInn Ximending branch and highly recommend both the location and the hotel. Rooms are compact but fantastic value, service is excellent and the hotel is just a few moments walk from the MRT, a Taipei essential – check prices now!
- Taipei Garden Hotel –another great option located close to Longshan Temple and Ximending – check prices now!
- Dandy Hotel, Daan Park – clean, comfortable and located across the street from Taipei’s biggest park, Daan Forest Park – check prices now!
2 | Elephant Mountain
While Taipei 101 has incredible views of Taipei, our favourite views of the city are from the viewing decks on Elephant Mountain. The hike up Elephant mountain is one of the best things to do in Tapei and we loved its sunset vantage point. The hike to the top only takes around 15-20 minutes from the park entrance.
To get to the hike entrance, take the subway to Xiangshan Station and a short 5-10 minute walk through the Xiangshan Park takes you to the entrance of the Xiangshan Trail.
Things to do in Taipei tip: The best time to hike Elephant mountain is for sunrise or in the late afternoon just before sunset. This allows you to hike in the cooler hours and to experience the sun setting across Taipei. Make sure to bring water and bug spray.
3 | The Hiking Trails: Xiangshan and Baoshan Trails
Although most people only climb part of the trail to the first few viewpoints on Elephant Mountain, the Xiangshan Trail actually continues across the entire peak. If you have time we highly recommend hiking the trail to Yongchungang Park on the far side of the mountain. From here you can continue on the picturesque Baoshan Trail and loop back to the Xiangshan trail. Obviously, this loops takes a few hours, so we recommend you start the hike early in the day and take lots of food and water.
4 | Starbucks in Taipei 101 Tower
Taipei also offers the opportunity to visit the highest Starbucks in the world. Located on the 35th floor of Taipei 101, this Starbucks is not open to the general public as it is located in an office building. However, if you ask your hotel they will make a reservation for you and give you the details you need to gain entry.
The views are actually pretty spectacular from the window seats and you can enjoy a nice coffee and treat while admiring Taipei below. We recommend booking a slot at Starbucks around 1 hour before sunset. This will allow you to watch the sunset over the city from the window seats!
Best things to do in Taipei tip: There’s no charge for a ticket but Starbucks do enforce a minimum spend of NT $200 per customer. Reservations are made by phone and it’s best to ask your hotel to arrange as you need to speak Mandarin.
5 | Old Town / Ximending Shopping district
Ximending was our favourite neighbourhood in Taipei and where we chose to base ourselves for most of the time we spent in Taipei. It was one of the first areas of the city to be pedestrianised and as a result, it is packed with great shopping and food options. Here you can get the best food that the city has to offer and some of the best foot massages in the country!
Historic buildings are dotted throughout the area including the historic theatre known as the Red House, Taipei Tianhou Temple and Zhongshan Hall.
Some of the city’s best food options are also located here – we’ve included our favourites in this list!
6 | Red House Theatre
Also known as the Red House or the Ximen Red House, this historic theatre is located in the heart of modern Ximinding. The entrance hall of the Red House details the history of the area going back to the 1800’s. Make sure to visit inside as there is a cool market with boutique stores selling quirky local hand made souvenirs and art products: one of the coolest was a stall selling keychains made from repurposed computer motherboards.
7 | The North Gate
One of the 5 historic gates to the city, The North Gate was once one of the main entrances to historic Taipei. It’s one of the most important historical sites in Taipei and is also the only remaining gate to look as it did during the Qing dynasty.
8 | Taipei Tianhou Temple
Locate on Chengdu Road in the centre of Ximending is the ornate temple of Tianhou. This small but beautiful temple offers a quiet solitude from the craziness of the shopping district. Dedicated to the sea goddess, Mazu, the temple is one of our favourite in Taipei due to the beautiful colours and decorative walls of the interior of the temple.
9 | Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, in what is officially known as Liberty Square, is one of the most breathtaking sights Taipei. The square is massive at almost 250,000 square meters and is home to the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the National Concert Hall. One of our favourite views in Taipei is that of Liberty Square from outside the massive white entrance arches.
The CKS Memorial Hall is one of Taipei’s most prominent landmarks and was erected in honour of the first President of Taiwan, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek. The 8 sides of the CKS Memorial Hall represent the fortune and wealth associated with the number 8 in Chinese culture and the 89 steps are symbolic of Chiang’s age at the time of his death.
Best things to do in Taipei Tip: The best time to visit Liberty Square is early in the morning. You’ll get to experience the plaza when it’s quiet and to witness the raising of the flag which happens each morning.
Taipei Night markets
Taipei is home to a number of night markets and each of them is worth a visit during your time in Taiwan. Our three favourite night markets in Taipei are:
10 | Shilin Night Market
Shilin is Taipei’s largest night market and is top of most visitors list of places to see in the capital. Located in the north of the city and a short ride on the subway, Shilin Night Market is a great place to spend an evening exploring the maze of streets and delicious food the night market has to offer.
Make sure to try the Taiwanese Sausage Wrapped in Sticky Rice Bun at the Bin Small Sausage in Large Sausage stand. It’s so good it received a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide! The Hot Star fried chicken stall was another of our favourites with the crispy fried chicken a must-try in Taiwan.
There’s a lot more to Shilin than just food and you can do everything from playing arcade games to praying in the temple located in the centre of the market.
11 | Raohe Night Market Pepper porked buns
Raohe was our favourite night market in Taipei as it had the best selection of food and lots of random shops where you can buy souvenirs. Located in the east of Taipei at the end of the Songshan line, Raohe is a single street night market and packed with many different types of Taiwanese street food.
Raohe is home to the best food we had in Taiwan, the delicious peppered pork bun! The Fuzhou Shizu Black Pepper Bun stall is located just inside the entrance of Raohe Night Market is one of the tastiest street foods we’ve eaten on our travels They are simply incredible and the stall has long lines to match the incredible taste. Along with the Chen Dong Pork Ribs Medicinal Herbs Soup and Shi Boss Spicy Tofu, the peppered pork buns hold a Bib Gourmand and all three stalls are hugely popular.
Best things to do in Taipei tip: Make sure to check out the Rainbow Bridge on the river beside the Rahoe market as well as the Songshan Ciyou Temple at the entrance. The detailing on the inside of the temple is exquisite.
12 | Guangzhou Street Night Market
The Guangzhou Street Night Market is a short walk from Ximending. This night market is not as big as Raohe or Shilin, however, there are lots of food options. Its location close to Ximending means its easy to visit without getting on the subway if you are staying in the area
Taiwanese food is pretty amazing and, alongside the delicious stalls in the night market, Taipei is home to some of the best.
13 | Hot Star Chicken, Ximending
Fried chicken is huge in Taipei and one of the best is Hot Star chicken. They have branches throughout the city and one of the most popular is in Ximending. It’s fast, delicious and comforting food!
14 | Modern Toilet Restaurant
The Modern Toilet Restaurant is one of the best novelty restaurants we’ve visited and definitely one of the strangest! This restaurant is all things toilet-themed, from the actual toilet seats to the toilet bowl styled foods, a visit to the Modern Toilet Restaurant will make you laugh and cringe in equal amounts. Drinking beer from an imitation bedpan and eating poo themed ice cream while sitting on full-sized toilets is an experience we won’t forget!
15 | Fuhong Beef Noodle Soup
The Fuhung noodle restaurant located just north of Ximending is home to some of the best noodles we’ve ever had. The steaming hot noodles are served in a mouthwatering broth and the dish is amazing. This unassuming café is packed with locals and the occasional tourist so don’t expect anyone to speak English.
Best things to do in Taipei tip: bring a picture of your desired dish to help with the order process! The locals, using hand gestures, kindly explained to us how to flavour the dish for maximum taste!
16 | Din Tai Fung Fuxing Restaurant
Din Tai Fung is famous in Taiwan for its dumplings and they have a number of restaurants across the city. Touted as the original xiao long bao house, the first Taipei branch opened on Xinyi Road in 1972 and typically has long queues. We visited the restaurant in Fuxing which is located in the basement of a large shopping mall right beside the Zhongxiao Fuxing metro station.
The restaurant kitchen has windows facing out to the shopping centre so you can see the chefs preparing the dumplings with amazing speed and precision.
Things to do in Taipei Tip: The restaurant can get really busy at peak times with long wait times. You can get the dumplings to take away (which is what we did) and avoid the long wait!
17 | Bubble Tea
Taiwan is known as the home of Bubble tea (or Boba/pearl milk tea) and Taipei is home to some of the best in the country. Bubble tea comes in many different types and flavours but one of the most popular and delicious is made by a chain called Tiger Sugar. Unlike other bubble milk teas which only contain milk and tapioca, Tiger Sugar adds dark brown sugar syrup for a delicious taste and a unique look to the tea.
18 | Yongkang Street
Yongkang Street is a Taipei food mecca with cafes, restaurants and street carts selling some of the best food in Taipei. The mouthwatering options include the original Din Tai Fung soup dumplings, beef noodles, pork ribs and mango ice shaving desserts. Our favourite was the Tian Jin Flaky Scallion Pancake where the delicious pancakes command usually command long queues.
19 | Nishi Honganji Bell Tower & Relics
Located in southern Ximending is Plaza 406, the site of the former Japanese temple of Nishi Honganji. The original temple is gone as it was burned down in a fire years ago, but the bell tower has been rebuilt and the original bell recast in its place. The square is a relaxing open space in the craziness of Ximending.
20 | Bopiliao Old Street
Known as the cultural center of Taipei, Bopiliao Old Street is steeped in history. During the 19th Century, Bopiliao street was the commercial center of Taipei and coal was the principal trade. The Taiwanese government restored the area in the early 2000s to preserve and protect its legacy.
21 | 228 Peace Memorial Park
228 Peace Memorial Park is a quiet unassuming park a short walk from Ximending. it is dedicated to the victims of the anti-government uprising that took place on February 28th, 1947. The uprising was violently quashed by the Republic of China Government at that time, leading to the deaths of between 5,000 and 28,000 Taiwanese people.
The park contains a number of memorials, from the poignant massacre monument to the Taipei 228 memorial museum. It’s easy to spend a few hours relaxing in the park and taking in the history of the area.
There are many beautiful temples dotted around Taipei and it’s easy to visit them using the super-efficient Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). Here are our favourites that we discovered during our time in Taipei.
22 | Longshan Temple
Taiwan’s most famous and well-loved temple, Longshan Temple, is a must-visit in Taipei. Built in 1738, the temple is located in the heart of the city in the historic neighbourhood of Wanhua and is dedicated to a mix of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian faiths. The temple and its grounds are beautiful and it’s fascinating to watch and listen to the worshippers praying and making offerings in a haze of incense and burning candles.
Best things to do in Taipei tip: Many visitors participate in a fortune telling ritual which involves stones, a stick, a fortune sheet and a lady who interprets the outcome!
23 | Taipei Confucius Temple
Based on the original Confucius Temple in Qufu, China, the Taipei Confucius Temple is one of the most ornate in Taipei. A short walk from the Yuanshan MTR Station, this surprisingly large temple complex is really worth a visit as it’s not only beautiful but relatively few tourists make it to the complex. We visited just before closing after sunset and almost had the place to ourselves. Entry is free and you can easily spend an hour exploring everything this temple has to offer.
24 | Dalongdong Baoan Temple
The Dalongdong Baoan Temple, also known as the Taipei Baoan Temple, is located just around the corner from the Confucius Temple. This intricate wooden temple has been restored a number of times and was recognised in 2003 by UNESCO for its cultural-historical conservation.
25 | National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine
The imposing National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine is located close to the river and is dedicated to the soldiers killed during the Chinese Civil War. The shrine holds 390,000 spirit tablets representing the soldiers who lost their lives during the civil war.
26 | Daan Park
Daan Forest Park is the largest park in Taipei and is Taiwan’s equivalent to New York Central Park. The park is massive and is full of green spaces and water features and is a lovely spot to relax in the city for a few hours.
Short trips from Taipei
There are a number of awesome things to see that are located just outside Taipei.
27 | Beitou Hot Springs Resort
A short 30-minute drive from Taipei, the Beitou Hot Springs harness the geothermal energy of the active Yang Ming Shan Volcano. Beitou is a popular hot spring area and a great day trip from the busy city. It is accessible via the colourful pink line between Beitou and Xinbeitou, where the hot springs are located.
There is a wide range of options for bathing in the hot springs: there are less expensive public hot springs as well as private baths and upscale hotels and resorts. As well as bathing, the scenic Beitou Hot Spring Park is beautiful to explore together with the Hot Spring Museum and Library which are located within the park.
28 | Shifen Railway
Shifen is famous for both its old street and its scenic waterfall and is a wonderful stop close to Taipei. We loved exploring the old streets of Shifen, located around the railway track: it is here where visitors congregate to release colourful lanterns bearing their wishes in life.
The nearby Shifen Waterfall is also a treat: the cascading waterfall is especially beautiful after it rains and a rainbow often breaks out over the waterfall.
29 | Jiufen
The charming old town of Jiufen was once famed for its prosperous gold rush and gold mining activities. Its old street is now a tourist magnet with visitors indulging in local specialties such as glutinous rice cakes, peanut ice cream and fish balls in between souvenir shopping. The A-Mei Tea House is one of the most prominent landmarks in Jiufen and offers both great tea and great views! The nearby Gold Ecological Park in Jinguashi and hiking to the top of Keelung Mountain are other popular Jiufen activities.
Best things to do in Taipei Tip: we visited Jiufen, Shiefen and Yeuhliu Geo Park using our rental car. If you prefer to use a tour, Klook offers a great shuttle bus options which ferry passengers between the key sights of Jiufen, Shifen and the Yehliu Geo Park on the North East coast of Taiwan – click here to reserve shuttle bus tickets!
30 | Yehliu Geopark
Nestled on Yehliu Cape, the Yehliu Geopark contains a fascinating collection of unique geological formations in an otherworldly landscape created by sea erosion. The rocks are named in reference to what they resemble: the most famous formation is the Queen’s Head which usually has a long queue for photos. Other formations include the Dragon’s Head, Sea Candles, Mushroom Rocks and Kissing Rocks.