Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is one of the most interesting cities in East Asia. It is full of exciting sounds and smells and has a unique charm you won’t find in many other cities. Taipei is the perfect introduction to Taiwan – it has great public transportation and amazing food. It is also relatively inexpensive for being such a large, modern city.
There are countless things to do in Taipei. You can easily spend 10 days in the city without running out of things to do. Be sure to pack your walking shoes because there is so much to see and you’ll always be on the move!
In my opinion, it is the ultimate East Asia destination. So read on to discover all the best things to do in Taipei!
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The Best Things to do in Taipei
1. Taipei 101
Taipei 101 is iconic. It is the largest building in Taiwan and an unmissable thing to do in Taipei!
You can go up to Taipei 101 and take in one of the most stunning views of the city. The entrance fee is only 300 NTD (approximately $10USD). That is an incredible deal! It would cost you a lot more to go to an observatory deck in almost any other city in the world.
From the top of Taipei 101, you’ll have a view of the entire city and Elephant Mountain. You’ll want to try to plan your visit for a clear day with no fog, rain, or smog to ensure you get the best views from the top! The best place to get a view of Taipei 101 without hiking Elephant Mountain is from the shopping center across the street. It has an open-air walkway on the upper floors where you can get an outstanding close-up view of the building.
The area surrounding Taipei 101 is gorgeous and well worth exploring while you’re in the neighborhood. It has several parks, quiet streets, markets, and cafes. This neighborhood is also one of the best places to stay in Taipei and for good reason. It is super quiet and relaxing but is still so close enough to the metro, you can easily get around all of Taipei.
2. Raohe Night Market
Taiwan is known as a foodie’s paradise. The streets come alive at night and are filled with street food everywhere you look. Located in New Taipei City, the Raohe Night Market is the most famous and popular night market in Taipei for tourists.
There is a train stop two blocks from the night market, so it is easy to get to from the Taipei Main Station or wherever you are in the city. It takes about 15 – 20 minutes on the train to get to the night market. It depends on where you’re coming from.
Raohe Night Market is most famous for its black pepper buns. The buns are slowly cooked in a huge tandoor-like oven and are served piping hot straight out of the oven. The buns are filled with pork, onions, and, of course, a generous helping of pepper. There is a vegetarian version filled with potatoes, but there are much better vegetarian options at the market.
Black pepper buns are one of the most popular food items at Raohe Night Market. Be ready to wait in a long line to get one!
A few other popular street food dishes you should try:
- Stinky tofu (I prefer the fried version)
- Ice cream burrito
- Oyster omelet
- Beef noodles
No matter what your culinary preferences are, you’ll find something to love at Raohe Night Market. And even if you’re not in the mood to sample street food, the market is worth visiting. It is full of life and is perfect for people-watching. You never know what interesting things you’ll see as you’re wandering through the endless food stalls!
3. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (aka CKS Memorial Hall) is one of the most historically important things to do in Taipei.
Chiang Kai-shek was the leader of the Republic of China from 1928 to 1975. His goal was to strike a balance between modernizing China and entering the globalized world. He was the leader of the Republic of China when a civil war broke out in the country between his government and the Communist Party of China. Ultimately, Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan and lived out the rest of his days there.
While in Taiwan, he won five democratic elections and was president of the Republic of China (the official name of Taiwan) when he died in 1975. Chiang Kai-shek’s dream was to unify the Republic of China and the Communist Party of China, but he never succeeded and died in Taiwan.
Just like his counterpart Chairman Mao, Chiang Kai-shek was a controversial figure. He was also often labeled as a dictator by his opponents. I’ll leave it up to you to decide for yourself. CKS Memorial Hall is a tribute to Chiang Kai-shek and all he did for the Republic of China. There is a large statue of him inside the hall, and it is constantly on guard.
Make sure you give yourself time to explore the grounds surrounding the CKS Memorial Hall which are huge. You’ll want to check out the National Theater and Concert Hall. There is a small shopping center underneath the hall. It is one of the few places you’ll find souvenirs in Taipei.
Pro Tip: Every hour on the hour there is a changing of the guard’s ceremony you can watch. It is a lot of fun to see, but it is very popular. You’ll want to get there 5-10 minutes early to a good spot!
4. 1914 Creative Arts Park
Not many people talk about 1914 Creative Arts Park, but it deserves more love. I think it is one of the most underrated things to do in Taipei! The park was originally a wine factory during Japanese rule. Over the years, it went through several iterations from a fruit wine factory to a tobacco factory. In 2003, it turned into an artists’ district.
It has remained an artists’ district ever since, and it is one of the coolest and most unique places to visit in Taipei. It is similar to the Pier II Art District in Kaohsiung, which is much better known.
The 1914 Creative Arts Park is home to every type of artist you can think of – from woodworkers to sculptures to actors. You’re guaranteed to find whatever type of art you’re looking for here!
There is so much art to see that you’ll want to dedicate a few hours to wander through the district. You can walk through different art galleries, admire graffiti, or even take in a stage show. Grab a cup of bubble tea and just go where the flow takes you!
5. National Palace Museum
The National Palace Museum is the largest museum in Taiwan. You definitely need to spend at least 3-4 hours in the museum to see most of what it has to offer. Don’t worry, it is worth the time commitment!
The museum has more than 700,000 ancient Chinese artifacts and pieces of art, and the pieces span over 8,000 years of history. And the National Palace Museum becomes even more interesting to visitors when you know the deeper history of the artifacts and artwork in the museum.
The National Palace Museum’s sister museum is the Forbidden City in Beijing. When the Republic of China government was being pushed out of mainland China. They took almost 3,000 crates of artifacts from the Forbidden City and brought them to Taiwan. In fact, the museum holds over 20% of the artifacts that were originally in the Forbidden City!
This is one of the few attractions in Taipei that has an admission fee. A ticket costs 350 NTD (approximately $12 USD), but it is well worth the cost of admission. You can purchase your tickets on-site when you arrive at the museum, or you can purchase them in advance on the museum’s website.
While the museum has plenty of permanent works on display, they also have several rotating exhibits. The rotating exhibits feature artifacts and artwork that are either on loan from another museum or are part of the museum’s collection that is normally held in the archives.
The rotating exhibits are very popular amongst locals and tourists alike, so you will likely have to wait in line before you can enter these exhibits. Be ready for a long wait on the weekends or in the later morning when all of the tour groups are there!
6. Ximending Shopping District
The Ximending Shopping District is home to all the best stores in Taipei. You can find everything from skincare to fashion to food. It is undoubtedly the place to go if you’re looking to do some shopping in Taipei.
The main pedestrian mall is full of street food and small shops selling trinkets alongside big multi-level stores for popular clothing brands like H&M.
Ximinding is also the place to go if you’re looking to pick up some famous Taiwanese skincare as there are countless drug stores in this shopping district. They all stock pretty similar products, so it is worth your time to check out a few stores to see who is running the best sale on the products you want to buy.
Ximending is also a hip and popular hangout place for Taiwanese teenagers. Even if you’re not in the mood for shopping, it is fun to visit this lively pedestrian mall on the weekend to sit at a cafe and just people-watch.
7. Elephant Mountain
Taiwan is a very mountainous country. In fact, it is difficult to find a city in Taiwan that doesn’t have at least one or two mountains you can hike up.
In Taipei, the most popular mountain for hiking is commonly referred to as Elephant Mountain. It is located in New Taipei City and is within walking distance from Taipei 101. While the Taipei 101 Tower is the best place to see Taipei from above, Elephant Mountain is the best place to see Taipei 101.
The hiking trails on Elephant Mountain aren’t difficult, and most people can reach the viewpoint with no issue. That being said, while the trail to the viewing platform is less than 2 km long, it is made up of about 500 stairs. And keep in mind that the heat and humidity of Taiwan can get to you if you’re not used to it!
But don’t worry, there are multiple places to stop along the trail to catch your breath if you need to, and the hike up Elephant Mountain is 100% worth the effort. The views you get of Taipei are unbeatable and absolutely breathtaking!
Most people stop at the main viewing platform, but there is another semi-hidden platform that is much quieter. You can walk along the trail past the wooden structure at the first viewpoint and walk down to a second platform. The views are slightly better on the second platform, and you won’t have to deal with as big of a crowd.
There aren’t many things to do in Taipei that get you out and into nature, so if you’re an outdoor enthusiast this is a must-do activity in Taipei!
8. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
Dr. Sun Yat-sen is one of the most interesting figures in Chinese history. Widely beloved in both Taiwan and mainland China, he was the first president of the Republic of China and was one of the major contributors to the overthrowing of the Qing Dynasty. He is best known for his political philosophy that focuses on nationalism, the rights of the people, and the people’s livelihood.
The memorial hall was completed in May of 1972, and the design of the building was chosen through a nationwide contest. There is a small museum at the memorial hall that celebrates the life of Dr. Sun Yat-sen – it is quite informative and includes some of his personal items.
The memorial hall hosts several art and theater performances throughout the year. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting on a day there is a performance, it is well worth checking it out.
Outside the memorial hall, there is a gorgeous flower bed that is the perfect place to snag an Instagram picture to make all your friends and family jealous!
9. Lungshan Temple
You can’t go to Taipei without visiting at least one temple! They are all over the city and are an important part of Taiwanese culture. Lungshan Temple is the most famous temple in Taipei, so if you’re only going to visit one temple, this is the obvious choice.
It also doesn’t hurt that Lungshan Temple is absolutely gorgeous! The colors are vibrant and the intricate details are unlike anything you’ve seen before. The outside of the temple is just as beautiful as the inside of the temple. There are also several impressive water features at the entrance.
One of the most interesting things about Lungshan Temple is that the upkeep is done by the locals. There have been multiple times when the temple has been damaged by earthquakes, and the locals have always restored it.
Lungshan Temple is the embodiment of Taiwanese acceptance and inclusivity. Three religions practice at Lungshan Temple, and it is one of the most inclusive and welcoming places in all of Taipei.
If you enjoy fortune-telling, you’ll want to stop by the metro station across the street from the temple. All the best fortune tellers work from there, and it is the best place in Taipei to have your fortune told! Or, if you’re not into fortune-telling, you can still stop by the street food stalls nearby for a snack and some bubble tea.
10. Jiufen Old Street
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Taiwan, Jiufen is a small, mountainous town located just a 40-minute but ride outside of Taipei. And it is well worth the journey!
The main attraction of Jiufen is to explore the “Old Street”. The Jiufen Old Street is one long, winding, enclosed road filled with shops, food stalls, and some of the most stunning views of the surrounding mountains and ocean.
Jiufen Old Street is also one of the few places around Taipei where you’ll find an abundance of souvenirs, so if you see something you like, be sure to buy it. You never know if you’ll find it again anywhere else in Taiwan.
The most famous sight in Jiufen is the A-Mei Tea House, a beautiful multi-story tea house with Chinese lanterns hanging from the outside. There is always a crowd surrounding this tea house trying to get the best picture.
This is also the best place to try the famous ice cream burrito. This flour crepe filled with ice cream and topped with shavings of peanut brittle is one of the most delicious snacks in Taiwan. There is a food stall near the entrance of Jiufen old street that sells them. I think they are the best ice cream burritos in the country!
There are lots of day trips you can take from Taipei, but if you only have time for one, it has to be Jiufen!
Taipei is truly a city for everybody. No matter what your interests are, you’ll find something to love in this beautiful and vibrant East Asia destination!
Planning a trip to Taipei? Check out our favorite books and travel guides.
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Erica Riley – About the Author:
An avid solo traveler who has been to over 40 countries, Erica loves spending long periods of time in each country to get a sense of the country and culture. Her favorite travel activities include attending local theatre and dance performances, wandering through museums, eating way too much food, and riding every rollercoaster she comes across.
You can read more of Eric’s writing on her travel blog, Travel with Erica.