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– See these unmissable Taiwan experiences and how to visit Taipei with kids.
– Also see my guides to the best hotels, hostels, temples, beaches, hikes, and night markets in Taipei.
– Consider getting a Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass. Here’s my full review of the pass. Alternatively, just get an EasyCard like most locals do. Learn how EasyCard works here.
– If you happen to be in Taipei for the Lunar New Year holiday, find out what’s open & closed and my suggestions for things to do in Taipei during Chinese New Year.
Table of Contents
Arriving in Taipei
The first day’s schedule is going to depend largely on what time you arrive. You’ll also want to consider ordering a SIM card or WiFi device for pick up when you arrive (note the opening hours). The airport also has free WiFi.
Most people ride the Taoyuan Airport MRT from the either airport terminal to Taipei Main Station. The ride only costs TWD 160 and takes 35 or 50 minutes (every second one is express). At Taipei Main Station, you can connect to the Taipei MRT for getting to your hotel. There’s also a bus from the airport, which is slightly cheaper.
The Airport MRT and buses only run from around 6 AM to midnight. If you’re arriving late at night, you’re only option for getting to the city will be by taxi or private transfer. A taxi to the city is usually around TWD 1000 to 1200, while the private transfer may be slightly cheaper. You don’t need to tip drivers in Taiwan. You can also rent a car at the airport, but exploring Taipei by car is not convenient.
How to pay for the Airport MRT? Most people just buy an EasyCard at the station when they arrive. This card can be used for all MRTs and local city buses in Taiwan, taxis, some ferries, and convenience stores. It has a TWD 100 non-refundable deposit, plus however much money you load onto it. You can also order your card on Klook, but it’s the same price as buying it at the station.
If you get an Unlimited Fun Pass, it can’t be used for the Airport MRT.
If you need luggage storage, there are large locals in Taipei Main Station for daytime use only, or this luggage center near the station for overnight storage.
WARNING: This itinerary packs in a lot! If you are coming in on a long flight, or you prefer to travel slowly, then you may want to considering cutting out a thing or two. But I’d rather give you too much info than not enough!
Taipei 2 Day Itinerary: Day One
I’ve devised the below itinerary assuming you’ve got two full days in Taipei, so you’ll be starting bright and early on day one!
8 AM: Longshan Temple
Access: Longshan Temple MRT, open 6 am to 10 pm, free.
9 AM: Taiwanese breakfast
Now that you are up and in full tourist mode, it’s time to fill your belly before the long day ahead. Head to Yonghe Four Seas Soy Milk King (永和四海豆漿大王—萬華店) at #320 Kangding Road, Wanhua District (108台北市萬華區康定路320號), a short walk southeast of Longshan Temple, for some classic Taiwanese breakfast.
Breakfast menus in Taiwan are all similar, with items liked steamed buns, fantuan (sticky rice rolls), dan bing (thin green onion crepes), white radish cakes, breakfast burgers, toasted sandwiches, and soy milk or milk tea. You can learn all about Taiwanese breakfasts in my detailed guide to Taiwanese food!
Foodie Alert! There are some really awesome cooking courses available in Taipei, covering many types of food and diets. See here to find the best food and cooking courses in Taipei.
10 AM: CKS Memorial Hall
Next, before it starts getting to hot out (unless you’re visiting Taiwan in winter), hop on the MRT one stop east to Ximen on the blue line and then two stops south on the green line to reach Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
If you like walking, you could also just walk there in 20 minutes, making stops at Bopiliao Historical Block and Xiaonanmen Old City Gate along the way.
CKS is a huge square that features three monumental buildings. The namesake building is the Chiang-kai Shek Memorial Hall, a large white and blue building that is one of Taipei’s most famous landmarks. It is built for the president of the Republic of China who fled China to Taiwan in 1949. The square also has the National Theater and Concert Hall, which are built in classical Chinese style.
These striking buildings make for great photos, especially when shot from the gate (Arch of Liberty Square) on Zhongshan South Road. There’s a small museum dedicated to CKS’s life on the ground floor or the monument.
You can see the changing of the guard every hour on the hour from 9 to 5.
11-1: Explore Ximending and lunch
2 PM: Hua Shan 1914 Creative Park
Taiwan is known for its creative arts villages, which are often housed in old factories or buildings. Huashan 1914 Creative Park is one of the most famous ones. It is housed in an old Japanese sake factory dating to (you guessed it) 1914.
Hua Shan is a fun place to explore and take photos, free of charge. You can see lots of artwork, some small shops and cafes, a picnic space at the back, and especially on weekends, there are often little markets or exhibitions. Visitors with kids should try the indoor playcenter inside Wooderful life 華山店.
Get to Huashan from Zhongxiao Xinsheng MRT station. It’s on the blue line, so it’s a straight shot from Ximending. Exit 1 is closest to Huashan.
4 PM: Elephant Mountain or Taipei 101
Elephant Mountain is just one stop past Taipei 101 on the MRT, and the views are arguably better because, well, you can get Taipei 101 in your shot!
Taipei 101, once the tallest building in the world, is tourist central, and the line at the 5F entrance for the Taipei 101 Observatory on the 89st floor can easily take an hour, so factor that in to your timing. Book your tickets here for a discount, and choose the express entry option if you want to skip the line.
The elevators going up are the 3rd fastest in the world. The 360-degree views are awesome! Also check out the 730-ton stabilizing ball in the middle, which keeps Taipei 101 from falling. There are also some good souvenir shops up there, as well as a cafe.
If you time it right, you can observe the sunset from the mountain or observatory and watch city coming to life with lights in the early evening.
The Taipei 101 Observatory is the most expensive item included on the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass. So if you get the pass, make sure to do this, otherwise the pass wouldn’t be worth the money.
You can learn some cool facts about Taipei 101 in my list of interesting Taiwan facts!
7 PM: Linjiang Street (Tontghua) Night Market
Whether you hiked Elephant Mountain or braved the crowds at Taipei 101, your tummy is probably rumbling now. Take the MRT one stop or walk down Xinyi Rd. to Linjiang Street Night Market.
Despite it’s location in ritzy Eastern Taipei near upscale department stores, City Hall, Taipei 101, and the World Trade Center, Tonghua Night Market features super local and traditional foods. Here’s your chance to try famous Taiwanese foods like stinky tofu and guabao. Read my specific recommended food stalls there in my guide to Taipei’s night markets.
The market goes north to south from Xinyi Rd. to Tonghua rd., with more restaurants south of the entrance gate and also west on Tonghua road.
9 PM: Time for a Drink
If you somehow still have energy, try one of Taipei’s “secret” speakeasy style bars. Alchemy and Ounce are nearby, while movie theater-themed Hankou 60 is on Movie Theater Street in Ximending. You might want to dress up for these.
Beer lovers can try one of the city’s many craft beer bars, with top choices including Red Point Brewing and the several taprooms run by Taihu Brewing. If you’re on a budget, then do what most local expats do: get beers at 7-11 and wander the streets. Anywhere you go in Taipei is totally safe, even on your own at night!
Taipei Two Day Itinerary: Day 2
Assuming you didn’t go too hard on the betel nut cocktails the night before, we’re up bright and early again for another full day of exploring Taipei. I’ll be giving you a few different options here, for different styles of traveler.
9 AM: National Palace Museum
Start your sightseeing at the National Palace Museum, which has the largest collection of Chinese art and artifacts in the world. With 700,000 ancient artifacts in its permanent collection, the National Palace Museum is huge, and there’s always some kind of interestin temporary exhibit; check the museum website for what’s on now.
The last time I visited, there was a really cool exhibit that brought a collection of ancient Chinese scrolls to life by animating them on screens, with the little characters and animals in the scene moving around. Even the museum building itself is grandiose and worth a few shots.
Book your tickets online for a small discount. This deal includes the Shung Ye Aboriginal Museum next door, while this 4-hour city tour includes the National Palace Museum and a few other impressive buildings in the area.
To get there, there are several buses from this bus stop at Shilin MRT station, or you hop in a cab from there.
National Palace Museum opens at 9 AM. It is closed on Mondays. For lunch, see the 1 PM stop below. If you can’t make it that far, there are several restaurants around Shilin MRT station.
9 AM Option 2: Dihua Street and Addiction Aquatic
Dihua Street in Dadaocheng neighborhood is considered the oldest street in Taipei. The street is known for its many traditional Chinese herb and medicine shops, temples, large fabric market, and other traditional items. Dadaocheng is also the best place for buying tea in Taipei.
See my free walking tour guide of Dihua Street for all my recommendations!
Dihua Street can be accessed from either Beimen MRT on the green line or Zhongshan MRT on the red line. It’s about a 10-minute walk from either one. Some shops don’t open until around 10 am.
Addiction Aquatic is a luxury seafood market. It is a must for seafood lovers or foodies visiting Taipei! There are multiple dining options there, from stand-up sushi bar and sushi hot pot to seafood barbecue and take-away sushi sets. Even if you’re not eating, it’s an interesting place to visit. Here’s my full guide to Addiction Aquatic.
To get there from Dihua Street, it would be easiest to just hop in a taxi and show the driver the address in Mandarin. By MRT, you’ll need to walk back to one of the stations (10 min), ride it to Xingtian Temple MRT, then walk another 10 minutes. If you do this, make sure to visit Xingtian Temple on the way.
1 PM: Beitou Hot Spring
First developed by the Japanese, it’s the only hot spring area directly accessible by MRT and the most famous of Taiwan’s many thermal hot springs. See my full guide to Beitou for my recommended spots for lunch, things to do, and best private and public hot springs. Like National Palace Museum, several things in Beitou are closed on Mondays.
To get there, simply ride the red line north to Beitou station, then transfer to the two-stop pink MRT line. The pink line goes slowly uphill from Beitou to Xinbeitou station, where the hot spring village is located. You can smell the sulphur from the hot springs before you get there!
3 PM: (Optional) Guandu Temple
If you find you’ve got the time, Guandu Temple is a cool stop on the way to the next spot.
While Longshan Temple is the most popular for tourists in Taipei, Guandu Temple north of Beitou is my personal favorite temple in Taipei City. Founded in 1661, it is almost 100 years older than Longshan Temple, making it one of the oldest temples in Taipei and the oldest Matsu Temple in northern Taiwan.
The reason I love Guandu Temple is because in addition to the usual amazingly intricate details, colors, and carvings characteristic of Taiwanese temples, this one has an 80-meter tunnel filled with 28 gods that leads to a river lookout with a 1000-arm Guanyin Statue. You can also climb up the stairs to a hill behind the temple and admire the impressive exterior facade, making this temple unique among Taipei temples and really fun to visit.
The temple is about a 10-minute walk from Guandu MRT station.
4:00 PM: Tamsui
5 PM: Fisherman’s Wharf & Lovers Bridge
To get back, you can ride the river ferry or a bus back to Tamsui for accessing the MRT. Another option is to ride the new Danhai LRT from Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf Station to Honsgshulin station then transfer to the red MRT line back to Taipei.
7:30 PM: Shilin Night Market or Din Tai Fung
If you can make it, try to head back to Taipei for the best dinner options. If you need a snack to survive, try Tamsui Night Market, near Tamsui MRT, before you get back on the MRT.
Option 1 is Shilin Night Market, Taipei’s most famous night market. Get off at Shilin or Jiantan MRT station on the red line to access it. Shilin is Taipei’s most touristy night market, thus it was also the hardest hit by the pandemic. Some stalls didn’t survive, so it’s not quite as large as it used to be. Alternative choices that are more local, but you’ll need to travel a little further, are Ningxia Night Market and Raohe Night Market.
Another dinner option is Din Tai Fung, Taipei’s most famous restaurant chain. The specialty is Shanghai-style xiaolongbao (soup dumplings). The most convenient one for this trip is the Mitsukoshi Nanxi location near Zhongshan MRT. Expect a line to get in, and there are no reservations.
This popular Taipei night tour also includes dinner at Din Tai Fung.
If you want a guaranteed seat and some delicious pan-fried local fare washed down with cheap Taiwan beer, head to one of the many “quick fry” restaurants on Chang An West Road between Zhongshan North Road and Xinsheng North Road (also near Zhongshan MRT). These are classic local spots for eating and drinking the night away.
For more eating ideas, see my guide to the best restaurants in Taipei.
Planning a Day Trip out of Taipei?
After your two days in Taipei are up, definitely consider making a day trip out of the city! There are more choices than you can imagine – here I recommend 40 of the best Taipei day trips.
Jiufen and Shifen are two of the most popular choices. See my detailed guide to Jiufen and this article on how to get to Shifen and Jiufen from Taipei. I also highly recommend these beaches around Taipei if you’re visiting Taiwan in summer, or hot springs like Wulai or Jiaoxi if you’re visiting Taiwan in winter.
There are also some great amusement parks and waterparks within easy reach of Taipei!
Here is another travel writer’s article on best things to do in Taipei.
Where to Stay in Taipei
Choosing where to stay in Taipei is not easy because there are just so many choices and great neighborhoods. That’s why I’ve created this detailed guide to the best neighborhoods and hotels in Taipei, with recommendations for all budget levels. I’ll also summarize some of the best ones below.
Old Door Hostel: Another stylish hostel with awesome and very private, capsule-like dorms just north of Taipei Main Station, with a little bar on site. (see on Agoda / Booking / HostelWorld / TripAdvisor).
АrТrее Ноtеl (ѕее оn Аgоdа / Вооkіng / Кlооk / ТrірАdvіѕоr) іѕ а bоutіquе hоtеl near Taipei Arena; іt lооkѕ рrеttу nоrmаl оn thе оutѕіdе, but соnсеаlѕ јunglе-lіkе ѕрасеѕ оn thе іnѕіdе. They’ve also got family rooms.
СіtуІnn Ноtеl Таіреі Ѕtаtіоn Вrаnсh ІІІ (ѕее оn Аgоdа / Вооkіng / Кlооk / ТrірАdvіѕоr) іѕ vеrу сlоѕе tо Таіреі Маіn Ѕtаtіоn. Іt іѕ vеrу nеw, сlеаn, соzу, аnd соlоrful. Іf іt’ѕ full, thеrе’ѕ аlѕо а Вrаnсh І аnd Вrаnсh ІІ.
W Hotel: Where did Lady Gaga stay in Taipei? At the W, of course. This is Taipei’s newest, funkiest, and most fashionable luxury hotel. Even if you don’t stay, come for a fancy drink at their 10F pool or try to get seats for one of the awesome restaurants. (see on Agoda / TripAdvisor / Booking)
The Okura Prestige: This central 5-star choice features great city views and a heated rooftop pool. Located just north of Taipei Main Station and several shopping malls. (see on Agoda / TripAdvisor / Booking)
Grand Hyatt Taipei (see on Agoda / Booking / TripAdvisor) This classic Taipei institution features views of Taipei 101, which is just a block away, an excellent buffet restaurant, and we loved our kids’ glamping experience there!
Thanks for reading, and feel free to ask any questions in the comments below!