Taipei being the capital of Taiwan, is a bustling city with a lot to do and see. I have been to Taipei three times and have discovered something new on every trip. I think 3 days is the perfect amount of time to spend here. This quick guide will cover my best recommendations on what to do, what to eat and where to stay in this awesome city!
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How to get to Taipei
It’s easy to get from Taipei Taoyuan International Airport to the city. Once you pick up your luggage at Arrival, you can go down stairs to buy a bus ticket to Taipei Main Station. The bus comes quite often and the ride takes about one hour.
What to do in Taipei
Walk around Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
One of the most prominent landmarks in Taiwan, the CKS Memorial Hall was built in honor of the former president of Republic Of China, Chiang Kai-Shek. You can appreciate the architectural beauty of this national monument and learn about the history of Taiwan here. Check out these blue tiled roofs. I thought they are very unique from the red tiles you usually see in other parts of Asia. Don’t you think so?
Pray at Longshan temple
Explore Taoism at Longshan temple located in the Wuhua district. Taoism is an old religion from China. There are gods and goddesses responsible for granting all sorts of wishes, from love, to fertility, to careers. You can see many people praying with incense sticks in the temple, and a huge offering table filled with all sorts of food from fruits to candy. What interested me the most were the intricate sculptures on the rooftops and ceilings. So interesting!
Take pictures in the Bopiliao Historical Block
Very close to Longshan temple is a street with some of the oldest architecture in Taipei. Bopiliao Historical Block is another great place to learn more about Taiwanese culture and history. Head in the education centre that houses all sorts of interesting exhibitions. The area is also super Instagram worthy with its colorful mural art on stone walls!
Snack around a night market
This was actually the first thing I did when I arrived in Taipei on my first trip, at midnight on a weekend. Straight from the airport! Call me crazy. The city has a huge night market scene. Perfect for those of us who love late night munchies. The most popular night markets are Shilin and Raohe. But there are many others that are less well known if not better. Check out Ningxia night market for a smaller crowd and delicious snacks.
Visit Taipei 101
Located in the Xinyi district of Taipei, this super skyscraper used to be the tallest building in the world up until 2009 when it was surpassed by the Burj Kalifa in Dubai. It’s beautifully designed and an iconic architecture in Taiwan. Gawk at its majesty from the outside before you go in and check out its huge multi-level shopping mall. You can also go up to the observation deck for a panoramic view of Taipei.
Hike up Elephant Mountain
If you want the best shot of Taipei, Elephant Mountain near Xiangshan Station. The trail is about 1.5 km long and fairly moderate. The view at the top is fantastic. It’s quite striking to see just how much Taipei 101 sticks out in the skyline. I recommend going to Elephant Mountain in the late afternoon. This way, you can watch the sunset over the city. Make sure to have your camera charged and ready.
Explore around Zhongshan district
Zhongshan is a nice central district in Taipei. It has everything: shopping, dining, parks and night time entertainments, you name it! Any stroll around may bring you to an interesting street. I loved walking around this area. There are many buildings with character and fun looking restaurants. Be open to get lost!
Chill in Da’an Forest Park
A green oasis in the middle of a busy city, Da’an Forest Park is the biggest park in Taipei. The temperature is significantly cooler here in the summer. Come for a relaxed stroll or for some physical activities. There is a skating rink, children’s playground, a jogging loop, and lots of nature! Try to spot some of the animals that live here like ducks and turtles.
Take a day trip to Jiufen
Jiufen is technically not in Taipei anymore, but you absolutely must go here! This charming little mountain town is about an hour and a half from Taipei by bus. Jiufen old street’s narrow alleyways are packed with many cute little shops, from handy craft souvenirs to tea houses to street snacks! Try to find the teahouse that inspired the famous animation film “Spirited Away” by Miyazaki Hayao! Here is a detail guide to Jiufen.
Note: If you have a lot of time, there are more awesome day trips you can take from Taipei. Check out this post on visiting the beautiful Taroko Gorge, written by Jill from Reading The Book.
Soak in a hot spring at Betou
After a long day of sightseeing, take the MRT to the Betou hot spring area (located near Xinbetou station) and treat yourself to a nice hot bath. There are many hotels with public and private baths. A private bath is not bad a choice if you want some alone time.
The one we went to here was 1,450 NTW for 90 mins for two people which works out to be about $25 USD per person. Very reasonable.
Get a massage
Another great way to relax is to get a massage of course! There are massage houses all over the streets in Taipei. My partner and I decided to get a foot massage for 30 minutes. It costed 500 NTW which is less than 20 bucks USD. It was totally worth it! We later heard from a local friend that there are even better massage deals near the Ningxia night market area, 1000NTW for 90 minutes! We will just have to go find this spot on the next trip.
What to eat in Taipei
The simple answer is really to eat everything but here are some of my favorites and recommendations!
Xiao long bao
A Chinese classic/soul food, xiao long bao is mini soup dumpling steamed in bamboo baskets. One of the most famous places to eat xiao long bao has to be Din Tai Fung. This Taiwanese chain has many locations. I visited the one in Taipei 101’s basement. Be prepared for a long wait of around 70 minutes. Those juicy dumplings are worth it though!
Since I’ve been living in Japan for awhile, I’ve really missed going dim sum (Hong Kong style brunch with mini dishes and tea) in the morning. It was literally heaven when my partner and I discovered this amazing dim sum restaurant, Citystar in Zhongshan. I can say that it was one of the best dim sum I’ve ever had! Hence that we ordered almost everything on the menu and went back twice!
Surrounded by the sea, Taiwan is a paradise for seafood lovers. 一品活虾 (Yi Pin Huo Xia) is a restaurant I highly recommend. Their huge prawns are so fresh and meaty. The fish is also delicious. Taken here by a Taiwanese friend, I was thoroughly impressed.
Where else to get some of this popular drink than its place of origin, Taiwan! There are many bubble tea shops along the streets where you can grab a refreshing drink on a hot day. I tried the most recent hot trend that is bubble tea served in a light bulb. It was probably the most millennial food I’ve ever tried but hey it was cute. You can find this shop in the basement of Taipei 101.
Fresh fruit juices
Besides bubble tea, you can get delicious fresh juices in Taipei. Sugarcane, guava, avocado, and so much more! Just my luck, my favourite, mangos, were in season when I visited in August. Juice heaven!
The most infamous street food. You can smell the stinkiness from a mile away. Many people can’t stand the smell of stinky tofu but once you get over the smell, the taste is pretty good! I personally like it. Do you dare to eat this?
Pork sausages, intestines, vegetables, chicken, almost anything can be found on a skewer and grilled at the night markets. Be adventurous and give everything a go!
Where to stay in Taipei
We stayed in this hotel on our last trip and got a free upgrade to a huge room! YOMI Hotel is very conveniently located by a 5 minutes walk to Shuanglian subway station. The rooms are clean and the staff are very friendly and helpful. The hotel no longer offers breakfast but hello, so much good food to eat in Taipei so not a problem!
Address: No. 28, Section 1, Ming Sheng East Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei, Taiwan 104
民生東路一段28號, 中山區, 台北市, 台灣 104
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