18 things to do and eat in Taipei, Taiwan
Updated: Apr 10, 2019
Aside from the fact that Taiwan is not a recognised nation by the United Nations and is now known as the Republic of China, there are lots to do in Taipei, its capital. (Well, can you call it the capital if it is not technically a country country?).
1. Taipei 101
This is a super tall skyscraper and is was the world's tallest building until the Burj Khalifa overtook it in 2010. The name of the tower is suggestive of the fact that it has 101 floors above ground. Taipei 101 is an extremely popular tourist attraction and there's always a queue to head up to the observatory deck. But we manage to find a hack!
Since the observatory tower from 9am, head to Taipei 101 around 8.50am and you'll be one of the first few to enter the tower! Most of the other tourists will arrive in their tour buses around 9.30am and the queue will be extremely long after that. Since we were arrived in Taipei on an early flight, we manage to get to 101 early and were the first to enter the observatory tower. We got to enjoy the beautiful view of the city without having to "fight" for space and pictures with the other tourists!
On our way down, wow, the queue was incredibly long and it was barely even 10am. So, should you wish to skip the queues, head to Taipei 101 slightly before the opening hours! If you are really not a morning person and still do not wish to join the snaking lines, purchase a discounted priority pass ticket online!
No. 7, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Nearest metro: Taipei 101 / World Trade Center
Feast at Din Tai Fung
While at Taipei 101, you may also wish to drop by Din Tai Fung to have a taste of the Taiwanese chain that serves amazing Xiao Long Bao and La Mian.
It originated here, so we definitely will need to taste Din Tai Fung! Many of the outlets often have long queues so do avoid the peak lunch periods (i.e. lunch and dinner) to try delicious food without having to queue for too long!
Din Tai Fun's menu is slightly different when in Taipei and it tastes slightly better than that in Singapore. You can even purchase a Taipei Night tour that brings you to the Lungshan Temple, a night market, and Din Tai Fung for dinner!
Din Tai Fung (several outlets)
110, Taiwan, Taipei City, Xinyi District, City Hall Rd, 45號台北101購物中心
Nearest metro: Taipei 101 / World Trade Center
2. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall
The memorial hall was built as a tribute to the founder of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-Sen. It is about a 15-minute walk from Taipei 101. The hall holds several displays of the history and contributions of Sun. Every hour, you'll also be able to watch the changing of guards ceremony.
Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall
No. 505, Section 4, Ren'ai Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Nearest metro: Sun Yan-Sen Memorial Hall
3. National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
The National Chiang Kai-Shek memorial hall is erected for the former President of the Republic of China. The grounds of the memorial is simply beautiful, vast and huge.
National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
No. 21, Zhongshan South Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Nearest metro: Dongmen Station
4. Explore the Historical District
Taipei's historical district consists of several well-preserved old buildings such as the Xi Men Ding Red House, Longshan Temple, and the Bo Pi Liao Historical Block. These are all located walking distance from one another but if you really can't walk for long stretches (1.6 kilometres), you can hop onto the metro!
There's also a Free Walking Tour of the Historical District that you can book online if you would like to find out more about these historical architecture!
XiMenDing Red House
First up, the Xi Men Ding Red House is Taiwan's first public market that is built in 1908. It is designed by a western-styled architecture Kondo Juro, that really makes it stand out from the rest of the buildings in the area. The red house is shaped like an octagon, which is also seen as an auspicious shape by the Chinese and Taiwanese. Now, it holds several boutique shops selling souvenirs, as well as a tea shop.
The Red House
No. 10, Chengdu Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Nearest metro: XiMenDing
Longshan Temple (龍山寺)
Take a metro one stop down to Long Shan Temple station. When you exit the metro (exit 1), take a walk across Bangka Park, or through the underground street, and you'll get to the Long Shan Temple.
The Mengjia LongShan Temple was built in 1738 by Fujian settlers as a gathering place for the Chinese settlers in Taiwan. Also the most well known temple in Taiwan, it is located in the old village of the Wanda District. Even though it was built so many years ago, the temple has withstood the test of time, even through several natural disasters and wars.
For instance, during World War II in the Raid on Taipei, the temple was badly destroyed by American bombers as they accused the Japanese of hiding weapons in the temple. Since then, Taipei residents have continually restored, renovated, and improved the temple as well as its surrounding areas. As such, the temple now has become a pride of Taiwanese temples, worshipping a combination of Taoist, Buddhist, and deities.
Entrance to the temple is free and you can walk around the temple grounds to gaze at the colourful lanterns they have put up. At the back, it is where devotees offer up their offerings and donations.
Long Shan Temple
No. 211, Guangzhou Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10853
Nearest metro: Long Shan Temple Station
Bo Pi Liao Historical Block (剝皮寮)
Just a short 2-minute walk away from the Longshan Temple, the BoPiLiao historical block was originally the main pathway that connects the Longshan Temple to the Guting area (presently known as the Shi Da Night Market). The government has now preserved this area as a historical and cultural region where travellers get to admire the various architectural styles.
In the late 1800s, during the Qing Dynasty period, BoPiLiao was also one of the most prosperous and busiest commercial regions in Taipei. The architecture of this area is a blend of various styles, reflecting the history of Taiwan as it was passed from one colonial power to another. These styles included the Southern Fujianese, the Chinese Qing Dynasty, the Japanese, the Republic of China, as well as some modern Western architectural styles. To protect the legacy and history of this area, the Taipei City government worked hard to restore the historical buildings and even established the Heritage and Culture Education Centre.
Admission to the historical block is free and it is a little-known area that not many tourists visit. It is also a lovely place for #instagramworthy photographs due to the red brick walls and stone-paved paths. It is interesting to actually see a nicely preserved old edifice in the midst of the changing streets.
Bo Pi Liao Historical Block (剝皮寮)
Lane 173, Kangding Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Nearest metro: Longshan Temple Station
Book to bring along:
Taiwan Tales: One Country, Eight Stories: A Multicultural Perspective
Taiwan Tales: One Country, Eight Stories: A Multicultural Perspective is a collection of eight short stories by various authors that tell the story of Taiwan from their point of view. For those who don't like reading at length, this would be a great short read that you can complete during all the transits!
5. Feast and Shop at XiMenDing
XiMenDing is where most of the young crowd is! There's so many shops and food stalls at and here's one nightlife spot that you absolutely need to be at. That being said, XiMenDing is also a great place to stay as it is close to most of the other attractions in Taipei.
Ah Zong Mian Xian
Yes, you can't leave Taipei without having this! Succulent and tasty pig's intestines with a slightly sour and spicy kick to it. Sadly, when we last visited Taipei in 2019, we realised that they closed their Shi Lin Night Market outlet so I guess it is down to the one at Xi Men Ding?
Ah Zong Mian Xian
No. 8-1, Emei Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Nearest metro: XiMenDing
Read also our post on: 9 things to eat in XiMenDing, Taipei, Taiwan.
Xi Men Ding is also the best place to Stay in Taipei!
The XiMenDing district is extremely accessible to many of the other areas in Taipei. We tried staying also at the Taipei Main Station area but still very much preferred living in Xi Men Ding! We stayed at the cosy Orange Hotel XiMen when in Xi Men Ding. This is a chain boutique hotel and it is located just a short 5-minute walk from the XiMenDing MTR Exit 1. Because of the close proximity to XiMenDing, we were also able to explore and walk the streets till late everyday! We paid about $104 SGD per night.
Orange Hotel Xi Men Ding
108, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District, 中華路一段166號之2
Nearest metro: Xi Men Ding
6. Go budget Shopping in Taipei
Besides Ximending, there are quite a number of places where you can get your budget shopping fix in Taipei.
Taipei Main Station
The Taipei Main Station is another area in Taiwan that boasts a lot of shops and restaurants. Not just on the ground level, but down below, the Taipei Main Station also has one of the most extensive underground malls. Should you be staying close to the Taipei Main Station, remember your exit number as it may get really confusing underground and you may even get lost with the plethora of pathways within the station.
Taipei City Mall (Taipei Main Underground Shopping Street)
We're not that much of a shopper but it was still interesting to browse through the shops. For those who enjoy affordable and fast Taiwanese fashion, you've got to head here! This place is almost like a Chatuchak or Platinum Mall of Bangkok and you will definitely need to haggle your way to cheaper prices!
Taipei City Mall
100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District, Section 1, Shimin Boulevard, 100號
Nearest metro: Taipei Main Station
Wufenpu Shopping District
Wufenpu is a shopping outlet and maze located near the Songshan metro station. Lanes and alleys are full of racks of clothings and accessories. Even though most of the store carries women’s clothing, there are some for men too! Shopping here carries some form of risks as the little alleys do not deter the motorbikes to go through the winding pathways.
Wufenpu Shopping District
Alley 9, Lane 443, Yongji Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
7. Hua Shan 1914 Creative Park
Another off-the-beaten-track destination in Taipei is the Hua Shan Creative Park. This is a place that #travellerswithhcildren would want to go as you'll find exhibitions of all sorts, like Line friends. Here, you'll find a sanrio store with creative standees and backdrops that you can take all sorts of photographs in. There are also interesting stores here featuring Taiwanese entrepreneurs and designers. You'll get one-of-a-kind products ranging from accessories, clothes, bags, to homeware.
Hua Shan 1914 Creative Park
No. 1, Section 1, Bade Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Nearest metro: Shandao Temple
8. IT Shopping at Guang Hua Digital Plaza and Syntrend
When we talk about shopping it is usually related to clothes, bags, and accessories for the ladies. But for the men (women can too!), you can go crazy at the Guang Hua Digital Plaza and Syntrend as you look at all your IT gadgets.
Guang Hua Digital Plaza is a little like Singapore's Sim Lim Square where you get various electronic stores that sell anything from handphone cases to computer spare parts. It is 6 storey high with a food court at the ground floor for you to rest after the entire day of shopping. Syntrend, located right next to the digital plaza, is a more up-scale mall with the more well-known brands. Head over if you are looking for interesting IT gadgets. Should you need more electronics, the Guang Hua Electronic Plaza is located across the road.
Guang Hua Digital Plaza
No. 8號, Section 3, Civic Blvd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Nearest metro: ZhongXiao XinSheng
9. Admire flowers at YangMingShan National Park
Located in the north of Taipei City, Yangmingshan national park is the home to numerous hiking trails, plants, wildlife, hot springs and flowers! No matter when you head to Yangmingshan, there is definitely something different to see!
The scenery of the park changes according to the seasons; during the flowering season in February and March, cherry blossoms and rhododendrons fill the mountain slopes, welcoming Spring! So you don't just get to see cherry blossoms in Japan or in Korea, but in Taiwan too! The main flower site is at the flower clock of the Yangmingshan National Park. We were fortunate to visit just before the cherry blossoms wither, and it was a beautiful sight!
In October, the mountains are covered with a golden red hue by maple leaves. Autumn rains then also bring along beautiful rainbows. Even when in winter where there is an absence of flowers, the cold monsoon weather create clouds puffs that gives the mountain a misty and mysterious feel. On much colder days, there may even be snow falling on the mountains.
To get to the park via public transport, it does require quite a number of changes. The easiest way is to take a metro to Jiantan Station where you will have to transfer to bus 260 or minibus number 5.
The entire journey can take close to an hour so if you do not want to waste that time transferring and riding the bus that usually does not have sufficient seats, you may want to purchase the Yangmingshan Shuttle Bus that whisk you from Ximen to the various attractions in the national park! You could also combine it with a hot springs trip (pickup from your hotel in Taipei) as the area there is known to have great baths, with the water containing healing minerals.
Read more about Yangmingshan in our blog post: Day Trip to Yangmingshan National Park, Taipei.
Yangmingshan National Park (Flower Clock)
112, Taiwan, Taipei City, Beitou District
Nearest metro: Jiantan or Beitou station
Go on day trips!
Taipei is also a good base to cover the surrounding regions. We've covered 3 day trips out of Taipei City Centre extensively but will also list out the attractions right here! :)
10. Nanya Rock Formation
Most tourists won't visit the Nanya Rock Formation but it is a wonderful natural landscape that is worth the trip to the North of Taipei.
224, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Ruifang District, 北部濱海公路224號
11. Yin Yang Sea
Close to the Nanya Rock, you'll also be able to see the unique Yin Yang Sea that has an interesting mix of yellow and blue! The reason for this mix of colour is due to the mining activities that were done eons ago, depositing ferric ions into the sea. Check out the orangey-brown stones at the side of the sea!
Yin Yang Sea
224, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Ruifang District
12. Golden Waterfall
The Golden Waterfall is named after the metal deposits from the gold mines that gave it its brownish gold colour. But the actual waterfall isn't as golden as this!
Golden Waterfall (lower stream)
Jinshui Road, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224
Golden Waterfall Geopark
224, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Ruifang District, 102縣道224號
13. Jiu Fen Old Street
A popular tourist attraction, be prepared to rub shoulders with many other travellers here. Nonetheless, it is still worth a visit to see the small little stores and taste the various foods available. To get here, you can either take the public transport bus number Keelung 1062 from ZhongXiao Fuxing station to get to Jiufen Old street (1 hour), or simply get on a <