This post was updated in December 2019.
Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, with the famous Taipei 101 tower, countless restaurants, night markets, beautiful temples, impressive buildings, lots of shopping opportunities and more.
There truly are countless things to do in Taipei, and while I’m not usually one to spend a long time in a big city, I absolutely loved our 12 days in Taipei and wished we could have stayed longer!
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The best things to do in Taipei
In this Taipei travel guide you’ll find:
- Things to know when planning a trip to Taipei
- What to do in Taipei
- How to visit Taipei on a budget
So let’s get started and explore Taipei…
Things to know before traveling to Taipei
Spring and Autumn are a great time to visit Taipei. We visited in May and while we did experience some rain, the weather was excellent on most days.
As is true for the whole of Taiwan, Taipei is hot and humid during Summer (June until August). I personally prefer to stay away from cities when temperatures rise above 30 degrees and spend my time at a beach instead.
If you don’t mind lower temperatures, you can visit Taipei in winter as well. It doesn’t get that cold (around 10 degrees Celsius) and there are great discounts to be had on accommodation as this is low season.
The official currency in Taiwan is the New Taiwan dollar (NT$). Here you can find the current exchange rates, at the time of writing €1 is approximately 34NT$ and $1 approximately 30NT$.
Notes are available in denominations of NT$100, NT$200, NT$500, NT$1000 and NT$2000. Coins exist in units of NT$1, NT$5, NT$10, NT$20 and NT$50.
The MRT network in Taipei is extensive, cheap and easy to use. You can buy single tickets, however, the easiest way to travel by MRT in Taipei is buying an EasyCard or iPASS.
These electronic cards can be topped up in most convenience stores and will save you a lot of time as you don’t have to keep buying new tickets each time you travel on the subway. Click here for the official MRT map.
Yes, you can! It’s actually a great way to travel around the city, though for bigger distances I’d recommend using the MRT.
In order to use these bikes you have to register, you can read more about the Youbike system here. Don’t forget to download the app, it’s in Chinese but you’ll still be able to use the map with all the Youbike stations.
25 awesome things to do in and around Taipei
1. Marvel at the 509 meters tall Taipei 101
Taipei 101 is visible from pretty much everywhere in the city and a beautiful building from every angle. We didn’t go up, but there are several ways to visit the tower. You can go to the observation deck on the 91st floor, the admission fee is 500 NT per person (buy your online ticket here).
Alternatively, you can visit Starbucks at the 35th floor. Read the Starbucks instructions below:
2. Hike the Elephant mountain trail
One of the best Taipei activities is hiking to the top of the Elephant Mountain. It’s a relatively easy 15-minute hike to the top of this 183-meter high hill, but I was still very sweaty at the top because of the humidity. Nevertheless, the views over Taipei are amazing!
3. Admire the colorful Confucius Temple
I’ve seen a lot of temples, but I really liked our visit to the Confucius Temple because of the interesting (and fun) 4D shows about the history of Confucianism and the temple itself.
Don’t forget to check the sign with golden letters at the main hall of the temple. This sign was written by the famous Chiang Kai-shek (read more below) and states: Educate without Discrimination.
4. Visit the Dalongdong Baoan Temple
Since we were already in the area we also visited the beautifully renovated Dalongdong Baoan temple (next to the Confucius Temple).
The construction of this beautiful temple started in 1804 and throughout the years, many extensions were added, resulting in the extensive complex you can visit today.
Between April and June, there are many traditional performance arts taking place, so if you happen to visit during this period it’s even more worthwhile to pay this temple a visit!
5. Stroll along Dihua Street
Along this 800-meter long shopping street, you will find lots of Chinese shops with traditional Chinese herbs and medicines, colorful boutique hotels and artsy places to explore!
Dihua Street is located in Dadaocheng, the oldest surviving neighborhood of Taipei. Many houses were built around the 1850s and the red brick buildings and symmetric arches are beautiful to look at.
Please note Dihua Street gets very busy around Chinese New Year.
6. Visit the National Taiwan Craft Research building
We arrived too late to go to the rooftop terrace (with organic buffet restaurants), but the outside of the building was beautiful as well!
If you plan your visit better than we did (the center is opened between 9:30 am and 5:30 pm every day of the week except on Mondays), you can admire not only the building itself but several exhibits as well.
There are beautifully designed Taiwanese gifts on display, such as chopsticks, jewelry, and ceramics. A nice place to spend an hour or two!
7. Feel tiny at the Chang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
During your travels across Taiwan, you will undoubtedly come across the name of Chang Kai-Shek. Chang Kai-Shek was the leader of Taiwan for an impressive 25 years. Loved by some but hated by most due to the period known as the ‘White Terror’ during which more than 140,000 Taiwanese were taken prisoner, he remains the longest-ruling leader of Taiwan until this day.
For important people, they tend to built important buildings, which they certainly did in Taipei. The Chang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is immense, I felt so teeny tiny in comparison…
Don’t miss the changing of the guards which takes places every hour on the hour from 10am to 4pm.
8. Admire the Gate of Great Centrality and Perfect Uprightness
One of the best activities in Taipei is a visit to the Gate of Great Centrality and Perfect Uprightness (such an original name;-). The lights went on at 7 pm and made for a beautiful sight!
The National Concert Hall and the National Theater are also part of the Chang Kai-Shek complex and are equally impressive buildings. We visited the Chang Kai-Shek Memorial complex on a busy night and I enjoyed just sitting there and do some people watching.
9. Explore the arty farty Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Another fun thing to do in Taipei is a visit to Huashan 1914 Creative Park. Originally this place was a winery, which produced sake (Taiwan was under Japanese rule at the time) and ginseng wines.
After years of abandonment and decay, it was saved from demolition and redeveloped by several creative minds. There are now lots of cafes, fancy restaurants, and exhibitions. And some very green buildings as you can see in the picture above!
10. Go for a stroll in Da’an Forest Park
Da’an Forest Park is one of the best parks to visit in Taipei. We spent a Sunday morning strolling around this green spot in busy Taipei.
There is a pond, a greenhouse, many different birds and a playground for children, making this a great place to visit as a family. As we were walking around we came across many Taiwanese families picnicking in the park. Too bad we didn’t bring brunch…
11. Watch the Dragon Boat Race
If you happen to be in Taipei in June, be sure to check if your visit coincides with the Dragon Boat Festival!
This annual festival held at Dajia Riverside Park is so much fun to visit! It’s a public holiday and a fun day out for many Taiwanese families. Watching the races is very exciting and the boats are beautiful.
There are also several performances, food trucks and a friendly festive atmosphere. Highly recommended if you are in Taipei during this unique event!
12. Visit the National Palace Museum
I’m not that much of an art lover, however, I do like beautiful buildings and the National Palace Museum is certainly one that falls into this category.
Even though the museum is enormous, it’s still not nearly big enough to display the entire collection of the museum (entrance fee is 250NT per person).
13. Visit the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
The National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall is another massive construction (29,464 square meters!), they don’t do small buildings in Taiwan!
14. Go to the cinema and watch a movie on a rainy day
We were in Taipei at the start of typhoon season (June – October) and went to the movies on a rainy day. I love going to the cinema and doing so in another country is even more fun because of the crazy commercials;-).
There are plenty of movie theatres in Taipei, many showing new international movies. It’s a great way to spend a rainy (or just lazy) afternoon!
15. Take a day trip to Tamsui
A great day trip from Taipei is Tamsui (at the end of the red subway line). There are many things to see in this lovely suburb by the ocean, you can easily spend an entire day here!
16. Take a day trip to Beitou
One of my favorite countries in the world is Japan and the suburb Beitou strongly reminded me of Japan. Not surprising since this area was developed during the Japanese rule in Taiwan.
The Japanese love their hot springs and Beitou happens to be an area with thermal activity. There are lots of things to see and do in this little village and we spent a full day here.
17. Take a day trip to Wulai
Wulai was recommended to us by several locals and if it had not been pouring we probably would have stayed the entire day. We did not let the rain keep us from walking to the Wulai waterfall, but a longer hike (there are several in the area) did not seem like the best idea.
Wulai is beautiful though, the water has an amazing blue color and the forest is super green. Probably from all the rain;-).
18. Take a day trip to Maokong
Maokong is a pretty little village on the outskirts of Taipei. Located on top of a mountain it can be accessed by gondola (buy your ticket online here) or by bus and offers a stunning view over Taipei city.
We forgot to check the schedule of the gondola (a little heads up: it’s closed on Mondays) so we took the bus (S10) to Maokong village instead. The bus leaves from Taipei Zoo MRT station and costs 15NT per person.
From Maokong village we hiked to the Silver Stream Waterfall, also called the Yinhe Cave. It was a lovely hike through the forest and we didn’t see anyone else on the trail!
Maokong is known for the cultivation of high-quality tea and there are many teahouses in the village. If you want to get away from busy Taipei, Maokong is a great place to spend a day!
19. Drink Taiwanese cocktails at Shangri-La’s Marco Polo bar
The Shangri-La is the tallest hotel in Taipei and their Marco Polo bar offers a grand view of the city and Taipei 101. They have an amazing selection of cocktails made with typical Taiwanese fruits such as taro and wax apple. The perfect place to have a drink!
20. Eat delicious Italian food at Shangri-La’s Marco Polo restaurant
For me, food is one of the most important reasons to travel and the Italian dinner we had at the Marco Polo restaurant in the Shangri-La hotel was absolutely amazing. Each dish was beautifully presented and created with so much love and attention to detail
From the locally sourced mozzarella (made by the only Taiwanese artisan cheese shop, the owner learned how to make the perfect cheese in Italy) to the olive oil cake (for which the recipe was handed down to the chef by his Italian grandmother), everything was delicious!
21. Eat abura soba that tastes like it does in Japan
I’m absolutely obsessed with a Japanese dish called Abura Soba, you can wake me up any time for a bowl of this utter deliciousness!
Whenever we are in a big city with Japanese restaurants, the first thing I do is scour the internet to see if there is one selling abura soba. In Taipei there was and it was delicious… You can find more information and the address here.
22. Eat the best dumplings ever (nope, not at Din Tai Fung)
Oh these dumplings… Best. Dumplings. Ever. This local shop is run by a very friendly family and quite famous in the area, every morning people would queue up to get their daily dumpling dose.
We gladly joined the queue because these dumplings are simply divine. A basket of 8 dumplings costs 50NT (a lot less than at Din Tai Fung). Check out their Facebook page here.
Dumplings are a staple at any night market in Taipei, so you’re guaranteed to come across these delicious and addictive little favor bombs during your Taipei itinerary.
23. Eat lots of beef noodle soup
During our stay in Taipei, we sampled a lot of beef noodles, both dry and with soup. I marked our 3 favorite spots on the map. The Yong Kang Beef Noodles is mentioned in the Taiwan Lonely Planet but the other 2 are local finds…
24. Relax at the E.R.C. Cafe
This cool spot was very close to our second Airbnb apartment and served the most delicious Oreo milkshakes. We spent several relaxing afternoons there…
25. Explore Taipei by bike
To burn off all that delicious food, we used the Youbike (Taipei’s public bike rental system) a lot! A great place for cycling is the bicycle path along the river, you can go all the way to Tamsui!
Places to visit in Taipei: where to find them?
I marked all the Taipei attractions and highlights mentioned above in this map so it’s easy for you to find them. I also added the Airbnbs we stayed at and transport information (Taoyuan airport, MRT and Youbike stations).
Taipei travel budget
Here is a short breakdown of our average daily expenses in Taipei. We spent 12 days in Taipei in total and as you can see above we did a lot of sightseeing in and around the capital city.
We also ate lots of delicious food, traveled by MRT and Youbike and stayed at two really nice places via Airbnb. How much did we spend in Taipei?
Only €55 per day as a couple (€27,50 per person)! In the table below you can see how we spent our money in Taipei.
Accommodation discount: if you have never traveled with Airbnb before you can get €30 of your first Airbnb stay with this link!
I already wrote about the best food we had in Taipei. As you can see in the budget breakdown we spent most of our money on food, but that only makes sense in Taipei: the capital of food.
Awesome activities in Taipei: in conclusion
As you have seen in this post there are lots of Taipei tourist attractions! The only paid activities we did were going to the movies (270NT per person) and visiting the British Consulate Residence, Fort San Domingo and Hobe Fort in Tamsui (80NT per person for a combination ticket offering entrance to these 3 sites). The rest of the things we did were free!
You can download the list of things to see in Taipei below.
I hope this Taipei travel guide has given you inspiration what to do in Taipei! Do you want to read more about traveling in Taiwan? Check out my other posts here.