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 shuttle bus that also brings you to ShiFen.
Jiufen Old Street
Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224
14. ShiFen Waterfall and Old Street
The two main attractions within the Shi Fen area is the waterfall and the old street. This is usually paired with JiuFen Old Street, but if you only have half a day, head for the Half-Day Guided Tour.
ShiFen is one of the largest natural waterfall in Taiwan. It is quite a walk in so do put on a good pair of walking shoes!
226, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Pingxi District, 乾坑10號
ShiFen Old Street
When you see Taiwan tourism's videos of sky lanterns, it's here where you get to release it! The ShiFen Old Street sits on the old pebbled train tracks. Several vendors selling the sky lanterns align both sides of the tracks and you get to write your well-wishes before releasing them into the sky.
The vendors would also help you to take photographs at no cost, so this is definitely a great activity to do when you are there!
Shifen Old Street
226, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Pingxi District, 十分老街
15. Fisherman's Wharf
This is a beautiful place where many couples head to. It is almost like Singapore's Sentosa Cove area where you'll be close to the oceans and you can stroll along it.
Have a go also at the Taiwan's scooters from Tamsui Old Street to the Fisherman's Wharf! To get to Fisherman's Wharf, take the Tamsui-Xinyi Line to the last stop Tamsui Station and rent a scooter, or ride a ferry!
If you love hot springs, you'll definitely have to visit XinBeiTou. Unlike many of the natural hot springs region in Taiwan, as well as in other parts of the world, this region is readily accessible by metro because the Japanese created it into a hot spring resort.
Besides heading to the hot springs, there's also a lot to do there! Read also our 7 things to do at Taipei's Beitou Hot Springs.
17. Feast to your heart's content at the night markets!
The city comes alive at night! Unlike many other cities where shops open early and closes early as well, it isn't quite the same in Taipei. Especially at the Shi Lin area, shops only start to open in the late afternoon as they get ready for the throngs of locals and travellers who visit the night market. You'll see standees and carts and even the roads are closed for these stalls!
ShiLin Night Market
ShiLin is the largest and oldest night market in Taipei. There are countless of food stalls and souvenirs stores!
You may also be interested in: 8 things to eat at ShiLin Night Market, Taipei, Taiwan.
ShiLin Night Market
No. 101, Jihe Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
Nearest metro: Jiantan Station
RaoHe Night Market
This is a cosier night market with fewer stores but no less yummy! You have to try the pepper pork buns even with the long queues! Be patient and wait a little while before biting into it, the hot juices flow out and may scald your lips and tongue before you even know it!
RaoHe Night Market
Raohe Street, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105
Nearest metro: Songshan Station
Book to bring along:
If you love night markets as much as I do, you may consider reading the Ghost Month by Ed Lin, the first book in her Taipei Night Market series. Set in the month of August, which is also seen as the Ghost Month in the Lunar Calendar (a time to pay respects to those who have passed on and to avoid unlucky omens and superstitions. A quick and fun read, it is a great book to also learn a little more about the Chinese Beliefs of the Ghost Month.
18. Addiction Aquatic Development
Also known as the Tsujiki Market of Taipei, the Addiction Aquatic Development is an upscale fish and seafood market that also offers dining options.
You can either purchase the take-out and head to the outdoor area or dine at the standing sushi bar. We actually dined at the sushi bar and our advice? You'll probably have a much better experience if you purchase the take-out!
Why? Well, the food was good, but certainly not outstanding. Especially when you've already had sushi in Japan! We paid $70 for a sushi set plus some additional ones including ootoro and salmon roe.
Addiction Aquatic Development
No. 18號, Alley 2, Lane 410, Minzu East Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10491
Bonus: Late Night Activities in Taipei, Taiwan
Besides the night markets, there are still other late-night activities in Taipei, Taiwan. Yes, there are clubs, but we are just going to be a little more family-friendly here...
24 hours eslite book store
The Eslite Dunnan store is the only 24 hours bookstore in Taipei. It has a total of five-storeys that sells not just books, but craft items, and stationery. If you find yourself not being able to sleep at night, perhaps, this is the place to go. Grab a book, read, and hopefully fall asleep by then!
Eslite bookstores abound in Taipei, you can pretty much find one in Taipei and I really like that they sell a ton of English books so travellers will certainly find a book they fancy. If you have the time, head over to their Xinyi store as well. Here, even though it is not opened for 24 hours, you'll be able to find interesting products that can only be found in Taiwan!
No. 245, Section 1, Dunhua South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Nearest metro: ZhongXiao Dunhua
Book to purchase:
A Thousand Moons on a Thousand Rivers
When A Thousand Moons on a Thousand Rivers was first published in the 1980s, it was a massive bestseller. The book grants a detailed insight into how life was like in Taiwan in 1970s through the main character, Zhenguan, a young Taiwanese girl who is attracted to the big city and finds herself embarking on a journey of suffering and of love. The novel is a unique one as the author also adds a touch of Taiwanese traditional folk songs, Buddhist maxims, and jokes that allows the reader to catch a glimpse of Taiwanese family values and traditions.
Popular KTV chains like Party World and Holiday KTV opens till quite late as some Taiwanese enjoy relieving their stress through singing. Travellers that want to experience the KTV scene do not need to worry as most locations will have several English options to keep you busy.
Also, Asian karaoke can be quite intriguing to those who have yet to experience it. KTV houses would usually provide you with a private room that has your own stereo system in which you can enjoy your time singing and eating to your heart's content. Most KTV places are about 300NT dollars for the first three hours and larger chains usually are much more expensive. You'll be surprised that you won't want to go back when the three hours are up!
There, are you planning a trip to Taipei soon? There's just so much to do and eat! If you don't have that much time and only have a day to spare, read this one day itinerary!
This post was initially published on 9 May 2018 and has been updated on 21 March 2019 to reflect exciting new places we've discovered!
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