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; like most Asian cities, it’s relatively cheap. After spending a couple of weeks exploring Taipei and everything this incredible city offers, we’ve compiled this list of the best things to do in Taipei.
The charming old town of Jiufen was once famed for its prosperous gold rush and mining activities. Its old street is now a tourist magnet. Visitors indulge in local specialties such as glutinous rice cakes, peanut ice cream, and fish balls between souvenir shopping. The A-Mei Tea House is one of the most prominent landmarks in Jiufen and offers great tea and views! The nearby Gold Ecological Park in Jinguashi and hiking to the top of Keelung Mountain are other popular Jiufen activities.
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.
A short 30-minute drive from Taipei, the Beitou Hot Springs harnesses 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 colorful 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: less expensive public hot springs, 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 located within the park.
Shifen is famous for its old street and 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 colorful lanterns bearing their wishes in life.
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, just over 509 meters tall. The iconic building is instantly recognizable and is visible 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 incredible, and we had a lot of fun spotting different parts of the city, including Elephant Mountain. One unique aspect of Taipei 101 is the massive 660-tonne wind damper on the 88th floor. You can view the massive yellow damper, which helps Taipei 101 stay upright during your visit.
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.
Although most people only climb part of the trail to the first few viewpoints on Elephant Mountain, the Xiangshan Trail 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. You can continue on the picturesque Baoshan Trail and loop back to the Xiangshan trail. This loop takes a few hours, so we recommend you start the hike early in the day and take lots of food and water.
Ximending was our favorite neighborhood in Taipei, and where we chose to base ourselves for most of the time we spent in Taipei. As a result, it was one of the city’s first areas to be pedestrianized. 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, the Red House, Taipei Tianhou Temple, and Zhongshan Hall. Some of the city’s best food options are also here – we’ve included our favorites in this list!
Also known as the Red House or the Ximen Red House, this historic theatre is in modern Ximinding. The entrance hall of the Red House details the area’s history going back to the 1800s. Make sure to visit inside, as there is a cool market with boutique stores selling quirky local handmade souvenirs and art products: one of the coolest was a stall selling keychains made from repurposed computer motherboards.
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 Taipei’s most important historical sites and is the only remaining gate to look as it did during the Qing dynasty.
Located on Chengdu Road in the center of Ximending is the ornate temple of Tianhou. This small but beautiful temple offers quiet solitude from the craziness of the shopping district. Dedicated to the sea goddess, Mazu, the temple is one of our favourites in Taipei due to the beautiful colors and decorative walls of the interior of the temple.
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 honor 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 symbolize Chiang’s age at the time of his death.
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 is a short ride on the subway. Shilin Night Market is a great place to spend an evening exploring the maze of streets and the delicious food the night market offers. 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 favorites, with the crispy fried chicken a must-try in Taiwan.
Raohe was our favorite night market in Taipei as it had the best food selection and lots of random shops where you could buy souvenirs. Located east of Taipei at the end of the Songshan line. Raohe is a single-street night market 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 just inside the entrance of Raohe Night Market. And is one of the tastiest street foods we’ve eaten on our travels. They are 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
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
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!
The Modern Toilet Restaurant is one of the best novelty restaurants we’ve visited and one of the strongest! This restaurant is all things toilet-themed. From the toilet seats to the toilet bowl-styled foods, visiting 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!
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 flavors. But one of the most popular and delicious is made by a Tiger Sugar chain. Unlike other bubble milk teas that only contain milk and tapioca. Tiger Sugar adds dark brown sugar syrup for a delicious taste and unique look.
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 favorite was the Tian Jin Flaky Scallion Pancake, where the delicious pancake command usually commands long queues.
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.
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 neighborhood 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.
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 worth a visit as it’s not only beautiful. But relatively few tourists make it there. 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 offers.
The Dalongdong Baoan Temple, is also known as the Taipei Baoan Temple. It is located just around the corner from the Confucius Temple. This intricate wooden temple has been restored a number of times. And was recognized in 2003 by UNESCO for its cultural-historical conservation.
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.
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 died during the civil war.