Taiwan’s bustling, vivacious, food-loving capital has something for everyone. Whether you want to explore Taipei’s history, arts, fantastic temples, or nature, or perhaps you just want to suntan on one of the best beaches around Taipei, or eat your heart out at Taipei’s famed night markets, this city’s got you covered.
Having called Taipei home for over a decade, there’s no way I could make this a short article. Choosing only 10 or 15 things to do in Taipei simply would not do this enchanting, multi-faceted metropolis justice; this article is so long that it could practically be published as a guidebook!
If you’re planning your Taipei trip, here are my personal recommendations for the best hostels, hotels, and areas to stay in Taipei.
If you’re only in town for a few days and wondering what to do in Taipei, you’ll probably want to start with the first 15 items on the list: top Taipei attractions. For information on how to fit these recommendations into your travel plan, check out my Taipei 2 day, Taipei 3 day or Taipei 4 day itinerary.
For #16-30, I’ll introduce 15 lesser known places to visit in Taipei that you’ll want to consider if you’ve got a little more time in the city. These may also appeal more to travelers who care less about the big tourist attractions.
Entries #31-35 are my favorite 5 Taipei neighborhoods to explore on foot. Next up, since Taipei is a foodie’s paradise, I’ve devoted spots #36-45 to the best Taipei food experiences, including the best cooking classes in Taipei. Finally, this last five spots are the 5 best hikes in the greater Taipei area.
You may also want to check out my article that covers the whole country, 50 Unmissable Things to Do in Taiwan, and find out how to piece it all together in my recommended Taiwan itinerary for 1, 2, or 3 weeks.
If you’re visiting with kids, don’t miss my articles on things to do in Taipei with kids and how to travel around Taiwan with kids. For your travels beyond Taipei, here are my complete guides to Taroko Gorge, Sun Moon Lake, and Alishan.
Top Taipei Attractions
The first 15 entries are the most popular Taipei attractions that visitors tend to include on their itineraries. If you are only in Taipei for a few days, start with these.
1. Survey the City from Taipei 101
Once the world’s tallest building (2004-2010), Taipei 101 is Taiwan’s most iconic structure and is shaped like a stalk of bamboo. It retains the titles for tallest green building and having the world’s highest Starbucks.
The best way to experience Taipei 101 is to ride the world’s fastest elevator up to the observation deck on the 89th to 91st floors. Save money when you order your entrance tickets online or skip the long lines with this Taipei 101 priority pass.
Make sure to check out the 720-ton stabilizer ball hanging in the center, which prevents Taipei from falling during earthquakes. Also check out the videos playing around it showing the gigantic ball swinging during one big earthquake!
Access: Taipei 101 MRT station
2. Photograph CKS Memorial Hall
Probably the second most recognizable building in Taipei is the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (捷運中正紀念堂). The imposing blue and white structure was built in 1980 to honor the former dictator and contains a small museum about CKS.
CKS Memorial Hall sits in 240,000m2 Liberty Square, which also houses the classical-Chinese style National Theater and National Concert Hall. For the best view, head to Liberty Square Arch on the Western side of the square.
The square sometimes hosts public events or Instagram-worthy art installations like this one.
Access: CKS Memorial Hall MRT station
3. Immerse Yourself in Chinese History & Culture at National Palace Museum
Often described as the most important museum in the Chinese-speaking world, the National Palace Museum (國立故宮博物院) houses nearly 700,000 artifacts (about 3000 can be displayed at any given time) spanning 8000 years of Chinese history.
The museum’s origins are tied to the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City of Beijing, from where many of the artifacts were carried across China and to Taiwan in the final years of the Chinese Civil War.
Some of the most famous pieces include a piece of jade shaped like cabbage and a meat-shaped stone. We always find the Chinese scrolls particularly impressive. There is also a small kids’ section and regular rotating exhibits. Also check out the Shung Ye Aboriginal Museum next door. If you plan to visit both, you can save money by booking this combined ticket online.
Access: Access: Take bus R30 from Shilin MRT station. Open 8:30-6:30 (to 9:00 on Fridays and Saturdays), admission NT350, National Palace and Shung Ye Museum combined ticket NT400.
4. Soak in Thermal Waters at Beitou Hot Spring
First developed by the Japanese during the Japanese colonial occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945), the hot spring village around Xinbeitou MRT in Beitou district, usually called Beitou Hot Spring (北投溫泉) is Taipei City’s only hot spring resort (OK, there’s one more secret one, see #17 below). Here’s my detailed guide to Beitou Hot Spring.
Visiting Beitou is one of my favorite things to do in Taipei, and you can easily spend a half day there. Top sights & activities include the Beitou Hot Spring Museum, Beitou Geothermal Valley (Hell Valley), soaking in a historic Japanese bathhouse or a private hot spring room, and eating hot spring ramen.
Some top hot spring choices include a private bathhouse or public spring at Gaia Hotel, or Spring City Resort (with this great online deal-nearly 50% off regular entrance) for families and those who prefer to wear bathing suits. See my complete list of recommendations for all budgets in my Beitou article linked above.
Beitou is also included on this Beitou and Yangmingshan tour.
Access: Take the red MRT line to Beitou station and transfer on the two stop pink line to Xinbeitou station.
5. Observe the Changing of the Guards at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
Built in 1972, SYS Memorial Hall predates CKS Memorial Hall and commemorates the founding father of the Republic of China. Between the two, CKS is more visually striking so it should be higher on your list, but SYS is still worth a stop if you have time, especially for the hourly changing of the guards in the main entrance hall.
Like CKS Memorial Hall, the large square around it is a popular place for a stroll or for teens to practice their dance moves.
Access: Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall MRT station
6. See Temples, Temples, and More Temples
Taiwanese temples are beautifully ornate, colorful, and incense-filled places of active worship. Most of them combine influences from Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and folk religion, and visitors are always welcome to enter. See my detailed guide to the best Taiwanese temples in Taipei for my 30 favorite ones!
The city’s most important temples are found in Old Taipei, or Wanhua district, also known as Bangka in Taiwanese or Monga. Longshan Temple is the most famous and always at the top of every traveler’s list, but Qingshui Temple, Qingshan Temple, and Tianhou Temple are all worth checking out.
Outside of Wanhua, other top temples to visit include the Taipei Confucius Temple, Bao An Temple, Songshan Ciyou temple beside Raohe Night Market (see #26), incense-free Xingtian Temple, and Guandu Temple, which features a tunnel through a hill, further north toward Danshui (see #35).
7. Have a Picnic at Huashan 1914 Creative Arts Park
Built in (you guessed it) 1914 as a Japanese sake brewery and later camphor refinement mill, the facility was closed in 1987. 10 years later it was transformed into an arts and culture center called Huashan 1914 Creative Arts Park (華山1914文化創意產業園區; most locals simply call it Huashan), one of the first in a trend of re-purposing old buildings for such uses that has caught on across Taiwan.
The old factory walls and smokestacks of Huashan make cool backgrounds for photos, while the huge lawn out back is a favorite spot for Taipei residents to have a picnic. There’s always some kind of art exhibit or event going on here, especially on weekends, as well as a few restaurants and cafés.
Access: 5-minute walk from Zhongxiao Xinsheng MRT.
8. Hop of the Glass-Floor Gondola to Maokong
Head to the end of the Taipei Zoo MRT line to go for a ride on the Maokong Gondola. The 4-kilomter trip into the hills in the southeast of Taipei takes approximately 30 minutes. To made the best of the highly scenic ride, make sure to get in the correct line for the glass bottomed “Crystal Cabins”!
The gondola includes four stations: the boarding station near the MRT, a stop that connects to the Taipei Zoo, Zhinan Temple (which is worth it to see the large temple with an incredible view over the city), and Maokong.
The ride will take you over fields of Baozhong oolong tea (learn more in my guide to tea in Taiwan), and at the top there are several traditional tea houses with views and hiking trails such as the one to Silver Stream Cave and Waterfall.
You can save money with this deal which includes 24-hour Taipei double decker sightseeing bus ticket and tickets for the Maokong Gondola.
Price: NT120 (one-way trip to the top), save 20NT by swiping with an EasyCard, NT60 (kids 6-12), free (under 6). The gondola runs 8:30 am to 9 pm (sometimes closed due to typhoons, heavy rain, or repairs. Announcements are made on the MRT.)
9. Take in epic Taipei views from Elephant Mountain
The Four Beasts (Elephant, Tiger, Leopard, and Lion) are four connected mountains on the eastern side of Taipei City. They offer picture-postcard views of Taipei, with towering Taipei 101 so close you can practically reach out and touch it.
Elephant mountain (Xiangshan or 象山) is by far the most popular and easiest to access. You only have to hike up for a few minutes to start enjoying fine views, and it takes about 30 minutes to reach the famous viewing spot with a large rock you can climb onto and pose on for photos.
But you have been warned: this spot is extremely crowded, and you may have to wait in a line to pose. And don’t even imagine trying to get a spot up there for the fireworks shot from Taipei 101 on New Year’s Eve!
If you continue on to the outer three beasts, you will find the trails pleasantly non-crowded.
Access: It’s only a 10 minute walk from Elephant Mountain MRT station to the main trail up Elephant Mountain. It’s a little further, but you can also walk from Houshanpi on the blue MRT line to Tiger Mountain.
10. Enjoy More Views from the Miramar Ferris Wheel
Another iconic Taipei landmark is the 95-meter Ferris wheel at Miramar Entertainment Park (a large department store) in Dazhi area, Zhongshan District, north of Songshan Airport and the Keelung river.
At night the Ferris Wheel is lit up and can be seen from many places in Taipei. The Ferris wheel moves slowly, allowing you enjoy uninterrupted views over Taipei and Yangmingshan (#27 below).
Save money by booking your Ferris wheel ticket online.
Access: 5-minute walk from Jiannan Rd. MRT Station. Open 12:30 to 11 pm (Mon-Thurs), to midnight (Fri), 11am to midnight (Saturday), 11am to 11pm (Sun), NT150/200 (adults, weekday/weekend), kids under 110cm free.
11. See Cherry Blossoms in Spring
Taipei is one of the best places outside of Japan to see cherry blossoms. You can see cherry blossoms in Taipei from late January to early March, but the exact times for each location are different, and some of them feature multiple kinds of cherry blossoms which bloom at different times.
The two best spots to see cherry blossoms in Taipei are Yangminshan (see #27 below) and Tian Yuan Temple in Danshui.
Check out this ultimate (I don’t like this word, but this article really is the ultimate) guide to cherry blossoms in Taiwan for more information about the best times for each location.
12. Peruse Jianguo Jade and Flower Markets
Every weekend, a large jade market is set up under the Jianguo Road Overpass starting at Zhongxiao East Road (see #34 below) and going south. Not only jade items but also tea ware, jewelry, and all manner of goods is sold by rows upon rows of vendors.
Continuing south, another section is devoted entirely to flowers and plants. The sheer array of flowers on display is stunning, especially the orchids.
Access: Zhongxiao Xinsheng MRT station, Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station, or Da An Park MRT station. Open 9 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday only.
13. Ride a YouBike along Taipei’s Riverside Parks
While at first glance the streets of Taipei may not seem so bike friendly, you will soon notice the signature orange and yellow bikes (made by local manufacturer Giant) everywhere.
There are hundreds of drop-off points for the bikes, often around MRT stations in Taipei and New Taipei City, and it only costs NT10 to rent a bike for 30 minutes.
You’ll need a local phone number and EasyCard (metro card) to register at one of the kiosks, or you can swipe a credit card for one-time use. Here are the full instructions.
One of my favorite rides is to rent a bike at Yuanshan station (see #20 below), riding past the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and Lin An Tai Historical Home to reach the Dajia Riverside Park, continuing to Raohe Night Market and the Songshan Ciyou Temple. Cycling along the river around the northern stops of the Danshui MRT line is another popular option.
14. Check out Art Galleries and other Museums
Art lovers should start at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum near Yuanshan MRT Station and Museum of Contemporary Art near Zhongshan Station. For something a little more unusual, check out the Miniatures Museum (save money on your ticket here) near Songjiang Nanjing Station.
Once you’ve scratched the National Palace Museum (#3) off your list, check out the National Taiwan Museum, which focuses on earth science, plants, and animals, including the Land Bank Exhibition Hall across the street, which features dinosaurs. Other good choices for kids include the National Taiwan Science Education Center and Taipei Astronomical Museum.
My personal favorite is the Museum of World Religions, so it gets its own entry below (#18).
15. Catch one of Taipei’s Incredible Festivals
Starting at midnight on December 31, an enormous New Year’s Eve fireworks and lights display takes place on Taipei 101, attracting crowds of thousands to the streets surrounding it. Fireworks are also set off from Miramar Entertainment Complex (see #10 above) and can be seen from Dajia Riverside Park.
Chinese/Lunar New year is a surprisingly dull time to be in Taipei, as most businesses are closed and locals are all out of town gathering with their relatives. The Grand Hyatt Taipei puts on the only public dragon and lion dance in Taipei; be sure to check their website for the exact time and date.
On the 14th day of the Lunar New Year, the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival lights up the sky of this tiny New Taipei City village (although I don’t recommend setting off sky lanterns because they are bad for the local environment). In the city, the government always choose one neighborhood to host the Taipei Lantern Festival, where dozens of lantern displays are set up. Some of them are huge or very detailed and quite impressive!
In April or May, don’t miss the Urban Nomad Film Festival and its associated music festival.
Next up, on the Dragon Boar Festival (late May or early June) you can see dragon boat races at Bitan Park (Xindian MRT station) or Dajia Riverside Park (Dazhi MRT station). The Ghost Festival in Taiwan brings a whole month of activities (but mostly you’ll just notice a lot of incense and ghost money being burned on the street), while for Mid-Autumn (Moon) Festival (usually in September) you’ll see numerous families doing BBQ in the streets.
For Christmas in Taipei, you can’t miss the over-the-top Christmas lights display around Banqiao train station in New Taipei City, while an Asian Santa Claus always makes appearances at Howard Plaza Hotel.
Last but not least, there are two major annual comic and manga exhibitions, usually one at the beginning of the year and one in summer. There are also folk religion street parades happening all the time, but one of the most boisterous is the Xiahai City God parade in early summer.
More Things to Do in Taipei
Here are 15 more ideas for things to do in Taipei for those who have more time in the city. A few of these are still quite popular tourist attractions in Taipei, while some qualify as off-the-beaten-track Taipei.
16. Gorge on Stinky Tofu at Shenkeng
Shengkeng Old Street (深坑老街), located in a rural district southeast of Taipei in New Taipei City, is devoted entirely to this stinky delicacy, with dozens of stalls and restaurants specializing in it. You can try stinky tofu in any Taipei City night market (see #36 below), but why not go right to the holy land of this infamous snack?
There are two main varieties of stinky tofu: a stewed version, which entails large hunks of soft tofu in a soup that is usually spicy, or a crispy, deep fried version that is served with pickled vegetables. Don’t knock it before you try it; I happen to love the stuff, and you may be surprised that the taste is actually quite delicious, once you get past the initial smell!
In Shenkeng, you can also find everything from dried and fermented tofu to tofu ice cream and sweet dessert tofu.
Access: Take bus 660 from Gongguan or Muzha MRT to Shenkeng stop, or a taxi from Muzha MRT station, which should cost around 180NT.
17. Enjoy Off-the-Beaten track hot springs at Xingyi Road
Remember in the Beitou Hot Spring section (#4 above), I said there was one hot spring village in Beitou District that no tourists know about? Here it is!
Named after the road that it is found out, Xingyi Road (行義路 or Xingyi Lu) hot spring includes half a dozen hot spring hotels. All of them are Japanese style, which means either you bathe nude in sex-segregated pools, or rent a tub in a very simple private room with your loved one.
Our two favorites are Kawayu Spa, which has a Spirited Away feel to it (just like Jiufen in New Taipei City famously does) and Yuse Spa, which looks like a haunted house because the building’s exterior is painted black, and has good deals on soaking + a meal in their Japanese restaurant.
See more information in my guide to Beitou Hot Spring.
18. See the Miniature Religious Structures at the Museum of World Religions
The Museum of World Religions is a lesser-known museum in Yonghe, New Taipei City that was established by a Burmese-Chinese Buddhist monk. It seeks to bring together and foster understanding among the world’s major faiths.
The most prominent feature are the dozen miniature replicas of important structures from the world’s great religions. The detail and effort that went into them is breathtaking!
See more information in my complete article on the Museum of World Religions Taipei.
Access: The museum is a 15-minute walk from Dingxi MRT station and near Le Hua Night Market, one of the best local night markets in Taipei.
19. Read Books All Night at Eslite Bookstore
The Dunhua South Road branch of Eslite bookstore, near Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT station, is famously Taiwan’s only 24-hour bookstore. The shop workers don’t mind if you grab a book, find a comfy spot on the floor, and read all night.
Several Eslite branches have won awards for their eye-pleasing design, so it’s worth a look in one of them anytime of day. There are also branches at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park (see #25 below) and in Xinyi District.
Eslite Dunnan branch: #245, Dunhua South Rd. Sect. 1
Eslite Songshan: Inside Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store at #88 Yanchang Rd., Xinyi Distr.
Eslite Xinyi: #11 Songga Rd., Xinyi Distr.
20. Spend a Sunny Afternoon at Yuanshan Park and Maji Sqaure
In 2010, the area around Yuanshan MRT rose to fame for hosting the International Flower Expo. Many of the flowers and areas built for the Expo remain today. With the addition of the excellent semi-covered food court, several great restaurants and bars, and a Weekend Farmer’s Market, it makes for a great place to spend a sunny afternoon.
Exiting from the MRT, you can’t miss the Expo Dome, where the weekend farmer’s market takes place. Walking under the covered area, you’ll soon reach Maji Sqaure (or Maji2), where you’ll find an upscale grocery, oyster bar, bagel shop, and over a dozen food stalls specializing in local and international fare.
This is also one of the top things to do in Taipei with kids, as you’ll find here a kids’ merry-go-round, motorized cars for hire, and games (weekends only). This is also the location of Triangle (an underground music venue) and a half dozen restaurants with great covered patios.
Past Maji Sqaure, you’ll see EcoArk, a building made of recycled bottles and materials, and across Zhongshan North Road you’ll find Fine Arts Park, a small aboriginal museum, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, and a little further towards the river, Lin An Tai Historical Home. Looking north, you can also spot massive Grand Hotel Taipei, built in the classical Chinese style.
21. Shop for Electronics at Guanghua Digital Plaza
If you’re wondering where to buy electronics in Taipei, head straight to massive Guanghua Digital Plaza (光華商場) on Civic Boulevard (access: Zhongxiao Xinsheng MRT). The 6-story complex and the lanes around it feature every computer or digital product you could imagine. Prices are decent but don’t expect to be able to use a credit card without a surcharge or to get a receipt.
For cameras and camera gear, you’re better off going to Camera Street, located south of North Gate (see #29 below) near Taipei Main Station, on section 1 of Hankou Street and Bo Ai street between Zhongxiao West Rd. and Hankou street.
22. Wander the Artists’ Galleries of Treasure Hill Artists Village
The artists village of Treasure Hill (寶藏巖國際藝術村), located beside the Xindian River and near the National Taiwan Normal University in Zhongzheng District, began as a settlement for KMT war veterans. Later, the Taipei government preserved and developed it into an environmentally friendly urban village and artist’s enclave.
The village houses local and international artists and frequently serves as a venue for special exhibits or music & art performances. Some of the original families also still live here, and introductions to the individual families (and their contributions to the village) are posted on the outer walls of their houses. For them, daily life goes on as usual, so be sure to obey the signs and not wander into their homes.
Cool art displays are set up outside and inside many of the homes, and many of the galleries are left open for visitors to enter, even when nobody is in. The village has a more authentic working artists’ village feel compared to the other more institutional arts villages (see #7, #25, 26) on this list. It’s a must-see place to visit in Taipei if you are interested in the underground arts.
23. “Take a Break” in a Love Hotel
While love hotels may have a negative reputation as venues for cheating, spending a few more dollars on a nicer one can be a fun or even romantic experience. The two choices are usually to either “take a break” (休息) for two hours or spend the night.
Some offer secret entrances with concealed elevators, while the interiors can range from cheesy romantic to full-on luxury.
If you are just looking to “take a break”, you can also try one of the many hot spring hotels at Beitou Hot Spring. The nicer private springs usually come with a bed, essentially serving the same purpose as a love hotel.
24. Experience a KTV or MTV bar
Karaoke, or Karaoke TV (KTV) is a super popularity activity among people of all ages in Taiwan. Typically a group of friends shares a private room, where they select songs from a digital system and sing their hearts out into microphones with a range of reverb effects. Guests can order snacks and drinks to the room, including booze. These are go-to places for people having birthday parties, a night out with colleagues, or a when there’s rainy weather or a typhoon.
The most popular KTV chains are Holiday and PartyWorld. These places have some but not many English songs, but if you want all-Enlish KTV with an INCREDIBLE selection of music, make a reservation at EST via their Facebook page.
More popular among young teens, Movie TV (MTV) is the same concept, except you choose a video to watch on a large screen in a private room. For many youths, this may be the only way to get a bit of private time with their partner.
U2 MTV is a popular chain of MTV bars, with a couple locations in Ximending and elsewhere in Taipei. See more information about Ximending below (#31), or my article on 25 unusual things to do in Ximending.
25. Explore Songshan Cultural and Creative Park
Like Huashan Creative Arts Park (#7 above), Songshan Cultural and Creative Park (松山文創園區) is a large arts space that makes use of abandoned buildings from the past, in this case a former tobacco factory.
There is a large outdoor area and pond for strolling around, while Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store contains an Eslite bookstore (see #19 above) and a branch of the award winning Taiwanese bakery Wu Pao Chun. Various buildings on the grounds also regularly host art and design-related exhibitions and events.
Access: 10-minute walk from Sun Yat-sen MRT station.
26. Check Out 44 South Village
Yet another collection of old buildings restored into art village, 44 South Village (or Si Si Nan Cun/四四南村) is the least known of the bunch, and hides in a residential area only a stone’s throw from Taipei 101. The structures here were originally a military village built for KMT soldiers from China, and today they house a small shop, café, and bakery.
27. Venture into Yangmingshan National Park
Yangmingshan National Park (陽明山國家公園) is the closest national park to Taipei City; in fact, the 114-km2 area is divided between Taipei City and New Taipei City. Yangming Mountain is a massif rather than single mountain, with Seven Star Mountain (Qixingshan/七星山, 1120 meters) being it’s tallest peak.
Seven Star Mountain is in fact a dormant volcano that last erupted 700,000 years ago, which explains why the region is so rich in hot springs.
Because the park is so huge, there is a lot to do up there, depending on the season. Early spring brings cherry blossoms (try Yangmingshan Flower Clock), while calla lilies (try Zhuzihu Village) come in late spring and silver grass in autumn.
It’s always fun to hop in the the warm spring at Lengshuikeng, while winter chills will inspire you to visit Jinshan hot springs on the other side of the mountain. Around Beitou, you can also explore the steaming fumaroles at Xiaoyoukeng and thermal valleys that are the source of Beitou’s famous hot springs.
Yangmingshan also offers some of Taipei’s best hiking opportunities (see #46 below).
Access: There are multiple buses providing access to different areas of the national park.
28. Watch a Taiwanese Baseball Game
Baseball isn’t as popular in Taiwan as it once was due to several game-fixing scandals in the past. Today only four teams remain in the CPBL (Chinese Professional Baseball League): the Chinatrust Brothers from Taichung, Fubon Guardians from New Taipei City, Lamigo Monkeys from Taoyuan, and the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions from Tainan.
Still, catching a baseball game can be a fun way to spend an afternoon. Don’t expect anything too wild, but do expect to be featured on the big screen TV at some point during the game if you look non-Taiwanese.
In Taipei, you can catch games at the Tianmu Baseball Stadium. You can also get to the Xinzhuang Stadium in New Taipei City (my neighborhood!) on the MRT. Here is the schedule of games in Mandarin, and here’s an English website that explains how to read the schedule.
You can buy tickets from the iBon machine at any 7-Eleven or at the door.
29. Go Back in Time at the Gates of Old Taipei
In the late Qing Dynasty (around 1884), the government made Taipei into a walled city, in the area that is now Wanhua. The Japanese tore down the Old City walls, but four of the gates remain today: South Gate, Little South Gate, East Gate, and North Gate. However, only the North Gate retains its original form.
South Gate (Li Zheng Gate/麗正門), Little South Gate (Xiao Nan Men/小南門) and East Gate (Jing Fu Men/景福門) are all a short walk from Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (see #2 above). North Gate (Beimen/北門) near Taipei Main Station and Camera Street (see #21 above) has been looking rather handsome ever since the ugly Zhongxiao Bridge Ramp was demolished and the area around it was fixed up in 2016. It’s fun to visit because you can walk right under it.
In Ximen (西門, literally “West Gate”) neighborhood, a creative metallic gate has been installed on the spot where the West Gate once sat. See my article on Ximen for a photo of it.
30. Get a Traditional Knife Massage
While it may sound like a strange new alternative form of healing, knife massages go back over 2000 years in Chinese culture. Recently there has been a revival of traditional knife massage in Taipei, and I recently tried one out by a friend and licensed practitioner who runs a shop in Ximending.
Read all about my experience getting a knife massage in Taipei and find out how you can get one.
Top Neighborhoods to Explore
Taipei is an ideal city for street photography and those who love to explore on foot. That’s why I’ve decided to include five of my favorite Taipei neighborhoods on this list.
31. Ximending (西門町) & Wanhua (萬華區)
Ximending is without a doubt Taipei’s coolest neighborhood. The pedestrian-only Ximending shopping district boasts the hippest fashions, coolest (and sometimes weirdest, such as Modern Toilet) restaurants, and largest collection of movie theaters.
Ximending is home to historic Red Theater, where you’ll find the Weekend Craft & Arts Market as well as Taipei’s largest LGBT district and best collection of outdoor bar patios (try this LGBT private walking tour!)
You can also uncover some impressive street art in Ximending. See more info in my article on 25 weird things to do in Ximending, and my food guide to Ximending. Lovers of street art should I also check out my article on Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan, which is only a short and very cheap flight away from Taipei!
Ximending is one area of Wanhua District (also known as Bangka or Monga), which is one of the oldest areas in Taipei. Here you’ll find some of Taipei’s most important temples (see #6 above), great opportunities for street photography, and some of the city’s grittiest neighborhoods (notably the Red Light District around Longshan Temple, with its aging establishments and workers.
Also nearby, Bopiliao Historical Block (剝皮寮歷史街區) is a restored old street that retains a look from 200 years ago, and is becoming an increasingly popular spot to visit and take photos.
32. Dadaocheng (大稻埕區)
The historic neighborhood of Dadaocheng, or Twatutia, could also make a strong claim as Taipei’s most interesting neighborhood to explore on foot. Once Taipei’s main port along the river, the area is known for its historic shops selling Taiwanese teas, Chinese medicinal herbs, fabrics, and more, as well as its Qing Dynasty and Japanese-era architecture.
Dihua Street (迪化街 or dihua jie) is a popular old shopping street in Dadaocheng that bursts at the seams every year before Lunar New Year, as locals flock there to buy New Year’s treats and supplies. Xia Hai City God Temple and enormous Yongle Fabric Market are also found on Di Hua Street.
The riverside in Dadaocheng is great for strolling or cycling, while in recent years a little collection of food trucks and bars at Pier 5 has become a popular new spot for a sundowner. Dadaocheng is also home to some of the best cooking classes in Taipei!
See my complete guide to Dadaocheng and Dihua Street!
33. Da An (大安區)
If Ximending is for teenagers and tourists and Dadaocheng attracts history and culture lovers, Da An is where students go to party or chill in artsy cafés. The district is home to three major universities, including NTU, Taiwan’s top university, as well as Shi Da and Tonghua Night Markets (see #36 below).
64-acre Da An Forest Park is Taipei’s answer to Central Park in New York. For a great walking tour, start at Dongmen MRT station (where you can also find the original branch of Din Tai Feng, Taipei’s most famous restaurant—pre-order your meal online here). Walk down Yong Kang street, famous for its beef noodle shops, tea houses, and the supposed birthplace of mango shaved ice (see #44 below). You can also try this Yongkang Street Food Tour guided by a local expert.
Continue south past Jinhua street (金華街) and you’ll enter a gorgeous neighborhood (around Qingtian Street and the numerous lanes around it) of wooden Japanese-era homes at varying states of decay or repair that once housed professors at NTU when it was a Japanese university. A good example is Qingtian 76, which has been converted into a restaurant, while several other atmospheric cafés and teahouses can also be found. The neighborhood is also home to an unusually high concentration of religious buildings, including the Taipei Grand Mosque and Taipei Taiwan Temple (an LDS church).
Nearby, Wistaria is the city’s most famous historical tea house, where academics, political dissidents, and artists once met in secret. See more information in my guide to Taiwanese tea.
34. Dong Qu (Eastern District or 東區)
Stretching from Taipei Main Station to the eastern reaches of Taipei City, Zhongxiao East Road is one of Taipei’s main boulevards and connects the older districts of the city with the newer and glitzier east side. The blue MRT line runs directly under the street.
The section between Zhongxiao Xinsheng MRT station and Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, including all the small lanes running off from it, is often referred to by locals as Dong Qu or “Eastern District,” and is arguably Taipei’s liveliest and most fashionable area.
Zhongxiao East road is lined with outrageously expensive boutiques, and most pedestrians are dressed to the nines as they window shop. Here you’ll also find some of the city’s biggest night clubs, best craft beer and cocktail bars, and especially in the narrow lanes leading away from the main roads, a mind-boggling concentration and array of amazing restaurants.
You could dine in a different spot every night in this area for years and never run out of new places to try. Japanese, hot pot, BBQ, and Korean are especially common, but you can find anything and everything there.
35. Danshui (淡水區)
If a more laid-back, seaside vibe is your thing, then catch the red MRT line to the northernmost stop, Danshui (or Tamsui). This district of New Taipei City lies at the point where the Danshui river meets the sea.
Just outside the MRT, start by strolling the Danshui riverside promenade, a daytime and nighttime market. From here you can catch a river ferry to Fisherman’s Wharf, famous for sunsets from Lover’s Bridge, or to Bali, a town with a similar promenade on the other side of the river.
Just past the end of the Riverside Promenade, Fort San Domingo dates all the way back to 1637, when the Spanish occupied the north coast of Taiwan. It’s a picturesque building that makes a good backdrop for photos, along with the Former British Residence next door.
Danshui is also the gateway to the beaches of the north coast. Form outside the MRT station, you can catch buses to great beaches such as Qianshui Wan (淺水灣) and Baisha Wan (白沙灣).
Top Taipei Food Experiences
Taipei is rapidly gaining recognition as one of the great food capitals of Asia. People in Taipei seem to be eating everywhere, all the time. A growing number of travelers are coming here for the food alone, so it only makes sense that I include 10 must-have Taipei food experiences.
36. Taipei Night Markets
Don’t ask me why I put night markets all the way down here; they probably deserve the #1 spot on this list. Taipei’s street food is world renowned, and you simply cannot visit Taipei without spending an evening strolling one or more of the city’s famed night markets.
In fact, by tourist numbers, Taipei night markets are the country’s #1 tourist attraction, and 10 night market vendors are even recognized on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list. See my Taipei night markets article for information on the 15 best night markets, where to find the Michelin vendors, and the famous dishes at each night market.
The big five are Shilin, Raohe, Tonghua, Huaxi, and Ningxia Night Markets, while less touristy ones include Liaoning, Nanjichang, Lehua, Shida, and Jingmei Night Markets.
37. 24-Hour Breakfast
What do people eat in your country after a night of clubbing? In Taipei, it’s Taiwanese breakfast, the same stuff that people across the nation feast on every morning, and for good reason: it’s incredibly delicious.
Taiwanese breakfast shop classics include dan bing (thin crepes with egg and other toppings), steamed buns, shao bing (flaky pastries wrapped around egg and other things), you tiao (sticks of deep fried batter) dipped in warm soy milk, fan tuan (sticky rice tubes), toasted sandwiches, burgers, noodles, and more.
Yong He Soy Milk King (永和豆漿大王) is a classic 24-hour institution, but in the morning you can find breakfast shops by just wandering into any residential area.
38. Addiction Aquatic Development
Visiting foodies put Addiction Aquatic (上引水產), a seafood market converted into upscale grocery and seafood paradise, near the top of their list of things to do in Taipei, and for good reason.
The large complex includes standing sushi and seafood bars, a hot pot restaurant, outdoor seafood barbecue, and affordable takeaway sushi sets. You seafood journey begins in the entrance room filled with water tanks containing enormous spider crabs.
39. Pearl Milk Tea
Don’t even think about coming to the homeland of pearl milk tea (also known as Boba or Bubble Tea) without trying it! It’s difficult to walk more than a block without stumbling upon a bubble tea shop, but some say the bubble tea served at Tiger Sugar, with picturesque liquid black sugar oozing down the inner sides of the glass as they hand it to you, is the city’s best. Alternatively, try Chun Shui Tang (春水堂), the Taipei branch of the Taichung teashop that claims to have invented pearl milk tea (read about the original Chun Shui Tang in my list of things to do in Taichung), or one of the many other famous pearl milk tea chains.
Besides the typical milk tea variety, you may always want to try passion fruit green tea with coconut chunks, taro & milk, or one of many other concoctions on offer.
40. Fine dining and Michelin rated restaurants
Ever since Michelin put out the inaugural Taipei Michelin Guide in 2018, the restaurants that made the list have (unsurprisingly) been tough to book, but you may still want to try.
20 restaurants in Taipei got Michelin stars, with only Cantonese La Palais at Palais de Chine Hotel clinching three stars. The other star restaurants mostly consist of Japanese, Chinese, French and European, and Taiwanese.
You can search the full list of Michelin recommendations, including the Bib Gourmand choices that include 10 night market vendors, on the Michelin Taipei page.
Taiwan’s most famous restaurant, Din Tai Fung, has numerous branches in Taipei and abroad, including one in Hong Kong that has won a Michelin star. Most tourists visiting Taiwan consider a visit to Din Tai Fung for its famed soup dumplings (each one has exactly 18 folds and you can watch them being made through a window at most branches) a must. You can pre-order your Din Tai Fung meal here, or visit it on this Din Tai Fung and Taipei Night tour.
41. Hot Pot
Hot pot is every Taipei resident’s favorite winter comfort food, but even in hellish summer temperatures you can still see groups of friends enveloped in steam at the city’s many, many, many hot pot restaurants.
Most popular hot point restaurants offer all-you-eat dining that usually includes gourmet ice cream like Haagen Dazs, as well as soft drinks and beer. Either you order unlimited dishes from a menu or help yourself from a serving area. There are different broth choices, but mala (mouth numbing spicy) is very popular.
Higher quality hot pot restaurants tend to be a la carte; try Ding Wang Hot Pot (鼎王麻辣鍋) if that’s what you’re after. For something more fun, try dragon themed Caiji Longfu (蔡記隆府) or the dinosaur themed chain Rododo Hot Pot (肉多多火鍋).
42. Quick Fry/Hot Fry
Quick fry (kuai chao or 快炒), also known as Hot Fry (re chao or 熱潮) is a style of restaurant that is enormously popular in Taipei. Many of these noisy, informal eateries began as hole-in-the-wall restaurants then expanded to take up several shop spaces.
Typically large groups of friends dine on low round tables, sitting on crappy little chairs. Dishes are mostly fried and seafood heavy, and meant to be watered down with copious amounts of Taiwan beer, which you can grab yourself from the fridge or order from a beer girl.
Quick fry classics include three-cups dishes (meat, seafood, or mushrooms cooked in equal parts soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine), sweet and sour dishes, boiled greens with garlic, sashimi, noodles, and stir fried seafood dishes.
Some of of the best quick fries in Taipei are Pin Xian (品鱻, pictured above) near Liuzhangli MRT, Ba Xian Grill (八仙炭烤) beside Da’An Park, and 打咔生猛活海鮮 beside CKS Memorial Hall.
43. Burma Street
One culinary anomaly in New Taipei City is Burma Street (also called Huaxin Street or Nanyang Sightseeing Food Street—南洋觀光美食街), which is the center of Taiwan’s Burmese-Chinese community, one of the country’s largest minorities. The food served in the dozens of restaurants on the streets combines Burmese, southern Chinese, and Chinese styles, and is seriously worth the trip.
Popular items include round flatbreads, mohinga (a coconut, banana stem, and fish curry that is considered the Burmese national dish), and cold noodles with tamarind vinegar, and Burmese milk tea. Find out exactly where to eat in my Burma Street food tour article.
44. Shaved Ice
I don’t think I could survive a summer in Taipei without shaved ice (剉冰) desserts. At more traditional shaved ice stalls, you typically select 3-5 types of QQ (jelly) balls or chunks, beans, pudding, and so on to be placed on top before being doused in black sugar syrup.
In recent years, fruit shaved ice, especially strawberry and mango, have been all the rage. Usually it is topped with ice cream of the same flavor and/or sweetened condensed milk. Yongkang Street is the supposed birthplace of mango shaved ice (the king of all shaved ice desserts) and there are several shops there specializing in it. The original big one, Ice Monster, has now relocated to Zhongxiao East Road (see #34 above).
Yongkang street and Ice Monster are quite touristy; if you’d like to try a very local/hip shaved ice shop that stands out, try Chun Mei Ice Shop (春美冰菓室) near Nanjing Fuxing MRT station. Their matcha shaved ice and pearl milk tea shaved ice are to die for, and incredibly photogenic/Instagram friendly.
45. Craft beer & Secret Cocktail Bars
Like everywhere else in the world, the craft beer scene has exploded in Taipei in the last five years. My personal favorite is the Taihu Beer taprooms Driftwood in Ximending and Craft Beer Taproom (啜飲室 大安) just off Zhongxiao East Road, while Mikkeller Taipei, 23 Public Craft Beer, Zhangmen, and The 58 also stand out.
The speakeasy-style cocktail bar has also caught on, with the biggest names (but shh…they are still “secrets”) being Ounce and Alchemy. Hankou 60 is a hip newer one in Ximending designed to look like a movie theater (it is located on Ximen’s “Movie Theater Street”), and you can even order a buttery cocktail concealed inside a real bag of popcorn.
I’ve always loved the custom-made drinks (especially the betel nut cocktail) at Fourplay Cuisine near the giant traffic circle on Renai Road (MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing or ZhongxiaoDunhua), and Woo Taipei (not to be confused with the Woo Bar at W Hotel) also serves excellent drinks with an old-timey vibe.
Top Tapei Hikes
Sitting in a basin surrounded by mountains, it comes as no surprise that the greater Taipei area boasts many great hikes. The following five are some of the best, but really just a sample. Note that only #46 is right in Taipei City, while the other four are 1-2 hours away from the city center.
46. Qixing Mountain Trail, Yangmingshan
The only hike on this list that is within the Taipei City limits, this relatively easy 3.25-hour hike ascends to the peak of Qixingshan (七星山 or Seven Star Mountain), the highest point in Yangmingshan National Park (see #27 above) at 1120 meters.
There are different routes to the summit, but one passes Xioyoukeng (小油坑), with its steaming fumaroles and volcanic landscape, and the peak features panoramic views over Taipei.
47. Sandiaoling, Pingxi Line
If you are looking for an easy day hike in the greater Taipei region, Sandiaoling (三貂嶺) is my personal favorite; I have even taken my kids (at the age of 2 and 4) up to the second waterfall.
The trail begins at Sandiaoling train station, the point where the small Pingxi train line veers inland from the main coastal line, and takes in three pretty epic waterfalls.
The view from inside the cave behind the second one, Motian Waterfall, is magical; I featured an image of it on the cover of my book Taiwan in the Eyes of a Foreigner.
You can retrace your steps to Sandiaoling at any point, or continue all the way to Dahua station on the Pingxi line (3 hours in total).
48. Wu Liao Jian, Sanxia
The notorious Wuliaojian (五寮尖) trail in Sanxia district, New Taipei City, features some of the wildest climbing you can enjoy without having to bring your own equipment. The highly varied terrain features ropes and ladders up steep cliff faces, boulder ascents surrounded by jungle, and all kinds of fun stuff like that.
It’s not for the faint of heart, but so long as you are reasonably fit, you can do it! The best way to reach it is to take a taxi from Sanxai to Yu-Li convenience store (玉里商店) on provincial highway 7, where the trail begins.
49. Pingxi Crags, Pingxi Line
Another choice with awe-inspiring verticals is the Pingxi crags, located near Pingxi station on the Pingxi small train line.
Here a network of trails lead up and down a collection of three towering crags, mostly via ladders. Again it’s not terribly difficult, but your heart will be pounding the entire time.
50. Caoling Historic Trail, New Taipei City to Yilan
Lonely Planet has described the Caoling Historic Trail (草嶺古道) as the best day hike in northern Taiwan. Spanning New Taipei City and Yilan county, and the furthest we will get from Taipei on this list, the 4.5-kilometer Qing Dynasty trail was once the only land connection between Danshui and Yilan.
The trail cuts across the Sandiao Cape, beginning near Fulong Beach, climaxing when you reach panoramic views of the coast, then zigzagging down to Dali train station. For a longer hike, instead of descending you can follow the coastal bluffs (watch for buffalos!) on a 3-hour up-and-down trail all the way to Daxi train station
The Caoling Historic Trail is especially popular in autumn when blooming silver grass paints the mountain slopes.
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