Those who’ve spoken to either us since our Taiwan trip would know how much we loved travelling through that beautiful country. And it’s capital Taipei is just incredible. Right from its beautiful temples to its sky-high buildings to its night markets and what not – there are so many things to do in Taipei. If you are planning your first trip to Taipei, we’ve got you covered. Here are the top things to do in Taipei that you absolutely must not miss!
1. Go on top of the Taipei 101
The Taipei 101 was once the tallest building in the whole wide world. Yes, it held that record from 2004 to 2010 when the Burj Khalifa took over that mantle. The Taipei 101 still retains the titles for the tallest green building and having the world’s highest Starbucks.
For those who didn’t think of it yet, it was designed to look like a stalk of bamboo.
Standing 508 metres tall, the Taipei 101 is instantly recognisable and is visible from everywhere in the city. The observation decks are one of the most popular places to visit in Taipei and we totally recommend that you go up one of those high-speed elevators to soak in the beautiful sights of the city.
Definitely deserves to be number one in the things to do in Taipei list, don’t you agree?
The outdoor observation deck on the 91st floor offers panoramic views across the city and the surrounding mountains. The views are really incredible and we had a lot of fun spotting different parts of the city, including Elephant Mountain.
Make sure to check out the 660 metric-ton tuned mass damper which is suspended from the 92nd floor to the 87th floor, which prevents this skyscraper from falling during earthquakes.
Don’t forget to check out the videos playing around it showing that giant ball swinging during a big earthquake a few years ago!
Getting there: Taipei 101 MRT Station
Book Taipei 101 entry tickets via Klook. We recommend buying the Observatory Priority Pass Ticket that saves you a lot of time. That’s what we did 🙂
2. Soak in the beautiful sights of Taipei from Elephant Mountain
The next best place to view not just the Taipei skyline, but the Taipei 101 itself is from the Elephant Mountain. Check it out for yourself 🙂
The trek up Elephant Mountain takes only 15-20 minutes and was definitely one of our favourite things to do in Taipei. We suggest that you go there right in time for sunset (a little ahead if possible), that’s by far the best sunset spot in Taipei.
Getting there: To get to the base of Elephant Mountain, take the MRT to Xiangshan Station, and then take a 10-minute walk by the Xiangshan Park to the entrance of the Xiangshan Trail.
3. Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
By far the second most recognizable building in Taipei is the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. It was built in 1980 to honour Chiang Kai-Shek who was the first President of Taiwan. It also houses a small museum about him as well!
The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is a part of the Liberty Square which also houses the National Theater and National Concert Hall.
Getting there: CKS Memorial Hall MRT station
4. Watch the Changing of the Guards ceremony at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
We timed our trip to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in such a way that we could watch the hourly Changing of the Guards ceremony, which takes place for about 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve been to the Wagah-Attari Border to see the Lowering of the Flags ceremony, this would be a mini version of that.
Sun Yat-sen was the First President of the Republic of China and the first leader of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party of China). This Memorial was built before the CKS Memorial Hall and is a part of the Liberty Square.
The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall takes a backseat in comparison to Taipei 101 and the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, but it is just as impressive. If you are looking forward to offbeat things to do in Taipei, this is definitely one of those.
Getting there: You can either couple this with the CKS Memorial Hall and get down at the CKS Memorial Hall MRT station or if you are doing this separately, then you can get down at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall MRT station
5. Learn about Taiwan’s history and culture at the National Palace Museum
Only after we got here did we realise that the National Palace Museum is the most important museum for the Chinese-speaking (including both China and Taiwan here, and those who speak Chinese anywhere else).
The National Palace Museum has a permanent collection of close to 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks, making it one of the largest of its type in the world. These are spread across 8,000 years of history of Chinese art from the Neolithic age to the modern.
The museum shares its roots with the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City of Beijing, from where many of these artifacts were brought (smuggled?) by Chiang Kai-Shek and his people from China to Taiwan during their Civil War.
Here are some of their most famous pieces:
Save time at the entrance by booking your ticket in advance online. Entrance to the National Palace Museum is also covered by the Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass.
While you are there, if time permits, do check out the Shung Ye Aboriginal Museum next door, it is definitely one of the unique things to do in Taipei. If you intend to visit both, save money by booking this combined ticket.
6. Rejuvenate yourself at the Beitou Hot Springs
The Beitou Hot Springs is about half an hour away from Taipei and is a good half/full day thing to do from Taipei. These hotsprings were developed by the Japanese when Japan had occupied Taiwan between 1895 to 1945.
While the actual hot spring is super hot for anyone to enter its bubbling waters, you can enjoy the Beitou Hot Springs via the many resorts in the area which allow their customers to soak in the springs waters after they have cooled down a bit.
Visiting Beitou is one of our favourite things to do in Taipei, and you can easily spend half a day there. Apart from the hot springs, other places to see are the Beitou Hot Spring Museum and the Beitou Geothermal Valley, also known as Hell Valley.
While there are many resorts you can choose from, we got a great deal at Spring City Resort which is perfect for families and those who prefer wearing bathing suits. Goes without saying that we had a fabulous time soaking in the hot water which was rich in minerals 🙂
While you are there, don’t miss out on drinking the fresh orange juice that you get. It’s absolutely yummmmmy!
Now, it’s time to go on a Temple Run!
Temples are a big part of the culture for the Taiwanese. Exquisitely designed and vividly colourful, temples in Taiwan combine influences from Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism amongst others. Like in the temples in India, you will find incense sticks being lit in temples in Taiwan as well.
7. Longshan Temple
Constructed in 1738, Longshan Temple is one of the oldest temples in Taipei and perhaps the most famous temple in all of Taiwan. By now you know that Preethika is a sucker for history and culture and this was right on top of her things to do in Taipei list.
It is also quite close to Huaxi Night Market.
8. Taipei Confucius Temple
Based on the original Confucius Temple in Qufu, China, the Taipei Confucius Temple is one of the most ornate temples in Taipei.
We went there at around 7:30 pm and had the entire temple to ourselves! To get there, get down at Yuanshan MRT.
9. Dalongdong Baoan Temple
The Dalongdong Baoan Temple is also known as the Taipei Baoan Temple. It is a Taiwanese folk religion temple built in the Datong District in Taipei.
The present temple was originally built by clan members in Tong’an, Xiamen, Fujian, who immigrated to Taipei in the early 19th century. The Dalongdong Baoan Temple is right next to the Taipei Confucius Temple.
10. Songshan Ciyou Temple
Also known as the Ciyou Temple, the Songshan Ciyou Temple is a folk temple in Songshan District, Taipei, Taiwan. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Mazu.
It is said that the temple was founded by a wandering monk who came upon a group of Matsu followers. Together they raised money for ten years and then built their temple. This temple is at a walking distance from the Songshan MRT Station.
11. Wuji Tianyuan Temple
We visited this temple on our way to the Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf (yes, that’s on this list too!). As is the case with all temples in Taipei, it is beautifully constructed and is one of the places to witness the sunset as well as the beautiful Cherry Blossom, if you time your trip 🙂
This is perhaps one of the few places where the MRT won’t take you directly. You will have to use the local buses (bus 875, 866, 876 or 877) from the Danshui MRT to get there.
12. Take a glass-floored Maokong Gondola and soak in the beautiful sights
This is something that you won’t find on most lists but is something that we’d definitely recommend. The 4 kilometre trip up the hills takes about 30 minutes, and the views are just out of the world. While you are there, do visit the beautiful Zhinan Temple, which overlooks the Taipei city (yes, you can see the Taipei 101 from here) and soak in the beautiful views.
This is also a good place to have Oolong Tea, there are lots of cafes and restaurants on top. Yes, it is a bit overpriced, but worth the experience.
If you can, take one of those crystal or glass-floored gondolas, which takes your experience up by a few notches!
Getting there: Take the Taipei Zoo MRT line to go for a ride on the Maokong Gondola. You can also save some money by getting a combo ticket which includes 24-hour Taipei double-decker sightseeing bus ticket and tickets for the Maokong Gondola. A return ride on the gondola is also free for Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass holders.
13. Catch the sunset at Danshui/Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf
Even before we left for our trip to Taiwan, Instagram had made sure that we would set aside an evening at the Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf. And it did not disappoint!
The sunset views from the Lover’s Bridge and the eateries nearby are worth a relaxed evening in Taipei.
14. Experience Cherry Blossom
The first country that comes to people’s minds when they think of Cherry Blossom, is Japan. However, if you dig a little deeper, you will know that these Cherry Blossom trees are found in Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and India as well (yes!). In fact, outside of Japan, Taipei is considered the next best to see Cherry Blossoms.
In Taipei, you can experience Cherry Blossoms from late January to early March, but the exact times for each location are different, and you will get to see multiple kinds of cherry blossoms which bloom at different times. The best spots to see cherry blossoms in Taipei are Tianyuan Temple in Danshui (see No. 11 above), and Yangminshan.
15. Shop for electronic items at Guang Hua Digital Plaza
The Guang Hua Digital Plaza is a six-story electronics market located in Taipei. Think of Ritchie Street in Chennai, but with literally anything and everything under the sun that you may want. The prices are decent, but the place runs predominantly on cash (or you can use your credit card and incur a surcharge).
We went there at around 7:30 pm only to find it completely shut. So if you are planning on doing some gadget shopping, get there, and get there early.
Getting there: Take the MRT to Zhongxiao Xinsheng MRT stop, and it is a short walk away.
16. Explore Ximending and its neighbourhood
Ximending (Pronunciation: Shee-mending) is by far the coolest neighbourhood in all of Taipei, and perhaps Taiwan as well. The Ximending Shopping District is pedestrian-only and houses the coolest fashion stores, restaurants at all budget ranges including a few quirky ones (there’s one called Modern Toilet :P) and what’s more, you will find a lot of street artists and performers everywhere 🙂 That’s the reason we picked Ximending area as the place to stay and spent almost every evening in the Ximending Shopping District.
Another couple of reasons why you should check out the Ximending neighbourhood of Taipei – the historic Red Theater, where you’ll find Arts & Crafts Market during the weekend. Also, if you are taking buses to Jiufen and Shifen, they depart from this area. Visiting Ximending is on every visitor’s things to do in Taipei list.
This is also the same area where we found those infamous begpackers of Taipei.
17. Explore Taipei Night Markets: Shilin, Raohe, Huaxi
There’s no way one would find a Taipei itinerary without the world-famous Taipei night markets. Even if you are not a big foodie, or a vegetarian like us, a casual stroll through the night markets of Taipei in the evening is something that one can’t miss.
If tourism numbers are to be believed, the night markets in Taipei are the most visited by visitors. Apart from food, these night markets are also known for trendy clothing, cafés, movie theatres, massage parlours, street artists, and what not!
The top 3 night markets in Taipei are Shilin, Raohe and Huaxi Night Markets.
18. Bubble Tea 🙂
Did you know that Taiwan is the birthplace of bubble tea, also known as boba or pearl milk tea? Even if you didn’t, the Taiwanese wouldn’t let you miss it. It is absolutely impossible to walk a block in any part of Taipei and not find a shop selling bubble tea 🙂
We recommend 50 Lan and Coco bubble tea chains. If you are in Ximending area, don’t miss out on Cha Cha Go (that’s their only outlet!).
19. Day Trips from Taipei:
Given that Taiwan is a small country, there are countless day trips one can take from Taipei. We’ve already mentioned a trip up north to the Beitou Hot Springs (No. 6), Danshui and the Fisherman’s Wharf (No. 13). The others you should not miss are trips to Yangmingshan National Park, Yehliu Geopark, Jiufen, Shifen and the sky lanterns, Pingxi Crags, Taichung and the Sun-Moon Lake – well, the list just goes on!
Hope you found this list useful. This list is just a starter and there are more interesting things to do in Taipei, under the radar. Preethika and I can’t wait to go back to Taipei yet again!
Have you been to Taipei? What would you suggest? Let me know in the comments below!