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While I may have had an entire month in Taiwan and almost three weeks in Taipei, I met a lot of people that only had one to four days there. I met a few people that were in Taipei on long layovers and had two of those myself. If you have more time and want to see a lot more of Taiwan, here is a great three-week itinerary.
There is so much to see and do in Taipei, it can be a little intimidating deciding what to do, especially if you are limited on time. That’s why I’ve decided to share seven different ways to spend one day in Taipei. I’m not writing these as hour by hour itineraries, but more of suggestions on what to do for different things. A lot of these can be seen in one day, but others will take more time and are just outside of Taipei, but can be combined with things in Taipei. Each activity is listed with the district it is in, and here is a map showing the districts to help with planning.
Now, these things aren’t necessarily weird, OK, some are, but they are some of the more unusual things you can do and see in Taipei and the surrounding area.
Houtong Cat Village – Outside of Taipei
Yes, an entire village for cats. This is a short, easy day trip from Taipei. It’s a small village and doesn’t take tons of time to wander around, so you don’t need an entire day for this trip. If you like cats, this is the place for you. You can buy everything you can imagine with cats on it. There are cats just wandering outside and hanging out in the shops.
If you do go, take the MRT to Taipei Main Station, then take a train to Ruifang and either take a local train one more stop to Houtong, or transfer to the Pingxi line and get a day ticket for the line if you’ll be spending the day in the area.
Modern Toilet – Ximending (Wanhua)
I remember seeing this on some show on the Travel Channel when I was younger. I promptly forgot about it until I was planning my trip to Taiwan and came across it in my search for themed restaurants. How could I not go? They were playing like, dance/rave music when we went and there were families eating there. It was a super weird, but fun experience.
If you do go, it’s in the Ximending Pedestrian area. You just take the MRT to the Ximen stop and it’s just a few minutes walk from there. I would bring it up on Google Maps while you have wifi to help you get there. I always got lost in this area. Here is the address: 2F, No.50-7 Xining South Road, Taipei, Taiwan
Central Park Cafe – Friends Themed Cafe – Zhongzheng
While there are probably Friends cafes that are more accurate, this one is still fun to go to if you’re a Friends fan. They have coffee and some food. I think both are pretty average, but they do have some Hugsy penguins, so I think it evens out.
If you do go, it’s within walking distance of Taipei 101. Here is the address: No.3, Lane 240, Section 3, Roosevelt Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei, Taiwan
Snake Alley – Wanhua
While this isn’t the best night market in Taipei, it was a weird one. It’s officially the Huaxi Street Night Market. If trying weird food is your thing, come here. If you are more sensitive to poor animal treatment and animal cruelty, I would advise you skip this one. This is the only night market where you can drink snake blood, venom, and bile while washing it all down with some snake soup. I tried it when I went, but if I went now for the first time, I probably wouldn’t.
Word of warning: they do have live snakes in tanks outside some of the restaurants. We also saw turtles in a big tank that didn’t have shells anymore. I did not enjoy seeing that.
If you do go, it’s within walking distance of Longshan Temple. I actually found it on accident on my way to the temple. There is a dreary looking arcade type covered walking area, that’s where the snakes are. Outside there is more regular night market food, along with tons of random stuff and some porn videos and magazines. I told you it was weird.
Shrimping – Shilin
I saw this one the Anthony Bourdain show The Layover. He was taken fishing for shrimp, indoors, in the middle of the night. It was something I wanted to try, but didn’t manage to do. It’s exactly what it sounds like. You go to a shrimping facility, pay, and fish for shrimp in a pool. When you’re done, they’ll cook what you’ve caught. Can’t sleep? Why not go shrimping!
If you do go, most are in the same area as the Shilin Night Market. I would go there to have dinner and try all kinds of food. It’s a good, regular, alternative to Snake Alley. In the post I linked, they recommend taking a cab to a shrimping place since it was pretty difficult to find. Just look up the Mandarin word for shrimping before you go.
This isn’t the same shrimping I’m talking about. This is at a night market.
Eslite 24 Hour Bookstore – Da’an
This is another great activity if you can’t sleep. Of course, you can go any time of day, but to get the ‘weird’ experience, the middle of the night might be best. If your flight gets in really late, this could be a good option. And unlike good old Barnes and Noble, you’re allowed to sit on the floor and stay to read for as long as you’d like. There are also tons of shops and restaurants in the same building.
If you do go, this is the address: 2F, No.245, Sec.1, Tunhua South Road, Da’an Dist, Taipei 106, Taiwan. We had a heck of a time finding this and probably wandered around for almost an hour just looking for it.
These are more of the ‘classic’ must-do things on a visit to Taipei. If you’re a history buff or like museums, you would probably like these. A few don’t fall under history or museum, but are still must-do activities.
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall – Zhongzheng
This memorial was built for Chiang Kai-Shek, the former president of the Republic of China. It’s one of the most prominent landmarks in Taiwan. The official name of the area is Liberty Square. This is one place I didn’t go, not even on accident, but I’m not a big history buff, so I wasn’t that interested in going. When I go back, I’ll probably make it a point to go here. Around the memorial hall is a museum, national theater, national concert hall, and memorial park.
If you do go, just take the MRT right to the CKS Memorial Hall stop.
Longshan Temple – Wanhua
If anyone suggests going to temples in Taipei, this is probably the first one you’ll come across. It was built in 1738 and has been renovated over the years because of damage from age and weather. It was pretty busy when I was here, but it’s still cool to see. Snake Alley, the market mentioned above, and Herb Alley, a street selling dried herbs, are both nearby. This also is within walking distance of the Ximending area.
If you do go, just take the MRT to the Longshan Temple stop. It’s right across the street. Here is the address: No. 211, Guangzhou Street, Wanhwa district 萬華區廣州街211號 , Taipei
Sun Yat Sen Memorial – Da’an
This is another thing we accidentally came across. It was actually on our way from Taipei 101 to the Friends Cafe, I believe. We even got lucky and saw the changing of the guards ceremony, which happens every hour. It’s a memorial to the Republic of China’s National Father, Sun Yat Sen. There is a display showing his life and a cultural, social, and educational center.
If you do go, it’s in the Xinyi District and you just take the MRT to the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center stop.
Taipei 101 – Xinyi
Can you go to Taipei and not see Taipei 101? For this visit, I would recommend eating at Din Tai Fung. The xiao LongBao are little drops of soupy heaven and I wish I could eat them right now. This is in the basement of the building. If you like views and overlooks, head to the observatory at the top of the building. it’s 600TWD for the entrance fee and you can buy tickets on the 5th floor. The observatory is spread out across four floors at the (almost) top.
Fun fact: Taipei 101 used to be the tallest building in the world until the Burj Khalifa came along.
If you do go, it’s just an MRT ride away. The stop is either for Taipei 101 or the World Trade Center. It might say both.
National Palace Museum – Shilin
I’ll be real, this never even crossed my mind to visit while I was there. I do not enjoy museums, unless they’re for something really weird. But, if you like history and museums, this is somewhere you should definitely go. They have the largest collection in the world, nearly 700,000 pieces, of ancient Chinese art and artifacts, encompassing 8,000 years worth of history. Most of the collection is high-quality pieces collected by emperors.
If you do go, there are two branches. The main (north branch) is in Taipei, while the other (south branch) is in Taibo. I would do a little research before going and decide which exhibits you’d like to see most to plan how to see it most efficiently. You could probably spend an entire day here. If you go in the afternoon, you can have dinner at the Shilin Night Market nearby.
Shilin Night Market – Shilin
I mentioned it above, but this is probably the most well known, and one of the biggest, night markets in Taipei. It can be a little overwhelming, but it’s still fun to visit. There are tons of food stalls outside as well as in a cafeteria style area downstairs. There are also carnival-style games and stalls to sell clothes, toys and all kinds of other things.
Food to try: large fried chicken, stinky tofu, pork buns, bubble tea, oyster vermicelli, oyster omelet, spring onion pancakes, and Taiwanese sausage.
If you do go, take the MRT to the Jiantan station, NOT the Shilin stop. You can get there from both, but it’s right across from the Jiantan stop. It’s also on the way to the National Palace Museum.
If you want to see temples, which you have to see at least one while you’re in Taipei, but don’t want to be overloaded, these would be great to see between other activities. I don’t have specific pictures of these, so they’re other temples I went to.
Longshan Temple – Wanhua
I’ve already mentioned this one, so let’s just move on. There is no entrance fee.
Songshan Ciyou Temple – Songshan
This is one of Taipei’s most important Mazu temples near the Rahoe Night Market. The legend is that a Taoist monk was wandering the area in the 1740’s carrying a statue of the Goddess Mazu. He ran into some Mazu followers and they spent ten years collection donations to build a worshiping place. Construction on the temple started in 1753 and was finished in 1757. There is no entrance fee.
If you do go, take the MRT to the Songshan stop and head towards the Rahoe Night Market. It will be near the entrance.
Guandu Temple – Beitou
This is the oldest Mazu temple in Northern Taiwan located at the top of Mount Ling near Tamsui. It’s in the Beitou District of Taipei. There is a nature park nearby of the same name and an 80 meter Buddha cave next to it with 28 Devas. At the back of the cave is a thousand-armed, thousand-eyed Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy, and the riverside entrance. The entrance fee is 50TWD.
If you do go, take the MRT towards Tamsui and get off at the Guandu station. From here you can either walk or transfer to bus R35 or S23.
Confucious Temple – Datong
This temple is in the Datong District and is the only Confuscious temple in Taiwan adorned with Souther Fujian style ceramic adornments. It was built in 1879, demolished, then built again in 1930. There is a celebration held every year on September 28 celebrating Confucious with music and dancing at the temple.
If you do go, take the MRT to Yuanshan station and leave through Exit 2. Continue walking down Kulun St. Take a right at the intersection of Dalong St and the entrance will be on the right.
Dalongdong Baoan Temple – Datong
This temple is also in the Datong District, making a trip to this and the Confucious Temple very easy. It’s also known as the Taipei Baoan Temple. One thing the temple is well-known for is the Baosheng Cultural Festival. It’s held on the 14th day of the 3rd moon since that is the eve of the Baosheng Emperor’s birthday. Participants march in a parade to worship the agricultural gods and perform the renowned fire-walking ceremony.
If you do go, follow the same directions as the Confucious Temple.
I wasn’t totally sure what to call this one, but I went with modern since it’s more ‘hip’ things to do and see.
Ximending Pedestrian Area – Wanhua
I loved this area. My hostel, Meander Taipei (which I would highly recommend,) was in this area. It’s a great area to wander around during the day and grab some lunch from one of the little carts or restaurants. This is also where Modern Toilet is. Ximending is one of the ‘hip’ areas with a theater, food, and all kinds of shopping. I also saw some street performers here on a few occasions. I can’t remember when it happens, but there is a handmade goods market in the Red House area across the street from the MRT exit. This is also where most of the gay bars are. A lot of them have nice outdoor seating areas, so it’s a nice place to hang out in the evening.
If you do go, take the MRT to the Ximen station. Take the exit for the Ximending Pedestrian Area. Pretty much go straight and to the right for that area or cross the street towards the red brick building for the Red House area.
Taipei 101 – Xinyi
I touched on this above, but another option, if you don’t want to go to the observatory, is to still eat at Din Tai Fung and get samples of all the snacks down there. You can also just wander around all the stores on the few floors above.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park – Zhongzheng
This was an awesome area to walk around for an afternoon and it’s a great place to buy souvenirs. There are shops and booths set up with local artists selling everything from jewelry to art. Sometimes there are street performers. There is an upside down house you can go into. There are sculptures all over outside. It was originally built as a winery, but has been transformed into a creative space for the new youth art scene. I would definitely recommend a trip here, especially if you want to get souvenirs for people back home. Or yourself.
If you do go, take the MRT to Zhongxiao Xinsheng station and take exit one. From there, walk straight until you get to the Jinshan Rd intersection. Cross the street and the park’s main entrance is on the right.
Cat Cafe – Allover
I can’t remember which one I went to, but it was basically a cafe with a couple cats there, not your typical cat cafe. This website will help you find a good one, though. Between wandering around Ximending, browsing handmade goods, and eating all the Xiao LongBao in Taipei 101, you’re going to want to relax a bit and what better way to do that than with a coffee and 15 cats!?
If you do go, pick a good one and let me know how it is!
These activities are all either free or cheap, meaning you don’t have to break the bank during your short stay. Don’t forget you’ll have to pay for transportation, but the MRT is cheap. Taipei is also fairly budget friendly anyways.
Tamsui Wharf – Tamsui
This is a great place to just walk around, admiring the ocean, doing some people watching, and window shopping. If the weather is nice, there is a beach nearby, but we couldn’t figure out how to get there. We tried getting the bus to stop, but it just took us to the wharf, so we went with it. Just keep in mind, the weather can be pretty different here from the main area of Taipei. It was super warm in Taipei when we went, then it got cold and foggy at the wharf. Bring layers.
If you do go, just take the MRT red line all the way to the end in Tamsui. Then take bus Red 26, 857, or 836 towards the fisherman’s wharf.
Beitou Hot Springs – Beitou
This is the perfect addition to a trip to the Tamsui Wharf. Located along the same MRT line, you’ll find the Beitou Hot Springs. You can relax in the hot springs, but make sure you know the rules regarding gender, clothing, food, and other hot spring etiquette before going in. A great, but busy, place to enjoy the springs is the Millennium Hot Spring Public Bath House. It’s only 40TWD to go in and you can relax in the four different temperature pools. Also, make sure to visit Thermal Vallery nearby.
If you do go, take the MRT red line to Beitou, then take the pink line one more stop to Xinbeitou. When you leave the station, you’ll find hot springs walking straight out on either side of the park.
Elephant Mountain – Xinyi
This is the perfect late afternoon activity before heading to a night market. This is an easy hike offering the best views of Taipei 101 right inside the city. This hike is awesome to do in the evening for sunset. You get views of the city in the light, then as the sun is going down and in the dark. The trail is mostly stairs and only take about 15-20 minutes to hike up. You’ll come to a fork in the trail and go to the left at that point.
If you do go, take the MRT to Xiangshan station on the red line. Leave from Exit 2 and walk along the edge of the park. At the end of this road, take a left and follow it until you see the hike entrance.
Ximending Pedestrian Area – Wanhua
I mentioned this above already, but it’s a great place to just walk around and get a cheap lunch of street food. It’s shopping area, but you don’t have to buy anything. You can watch performers and just enjoy the area.
Taipei 101 – Xinyi
Man, you already get the idea, but like above, it’s a great place to just walk around. If you’re sick of window shopping, head outside to get some pictures and wander aimlessly around the neighborhood.
Sun Yat Sen Memorial – Da’an
There is no entrance fee for this memorial and it’s a great place to get a little taste of Taiwanese history. It’s enjoyable to walk around the grounds, too. Plus, you can get some cool views of Taipei 101 from here.
Shilin Night Market – Shilin
While this isn’t totally free if you want to eat, it is cheap. If you already at somewhere else, it’s still fun to just walk around here and look at everything. It’s also a great place to work on street photography. I would definitely recommend eating here though, especially on a budget.
24 Hour Bookstore – Da’an
I’ve already mentioned this, too, but this really is free, unless you buy a book. you can hang out and read, they do have English books, as long as you’d like, day or night.
This category is split between activities in Taipei and activities within an hour or two of the city. Another option that would be awesome, but a full day trip, would be Yangmingshan National Park.
Elephant Mountain – Xinyi
I already covered this above, but this would be the perfect way to end your outdoorsy day, watching the sunset over the city.
Fairy Footprint – Zhonghe
This hike is similar to Elephant Mountain and is a great alternative for sunset. Fairy Footprint is a nice hike in Taipei. It takes you into hills around the city and you’ll even come across a small temple along the way. The trail is lit until 9 PM and only take about an hour to do the whole thing up and down. It’s the perfect way to spend an extra hour you have.
If you do go, take the MRT to the Jingmei stop and go out through exit 1. You’ll find a board with a map leading you right to the trailhead.
Yehliu Geopark – Outside of Taipei
This is one of the activities that is outside of Taipei. It’s not super far, but would take up at least half the day to visit. It’s a geological park with all kinds of weird rock formations right on the coast. You can walk around among them and hike up to the top of the hill to overlook the formations. The most well-known formation is the Queen’s Head. And don’t worry, if you want a picture with it, there’s a line and even a guard to keep people out of the background.
If you do go, you’ll have to take a bus to get here. Start at the Taipei West Bus Station in Terminal A. This is at Taipei Main Station. You’ll get the ticket at the KuoKuang window for 96TWD to Yehliu Geopark. The bus ride takes about 90 minutes, and the bus will drop you off on the main road just outside the park entrance. Walk down the lane on the left side to enter.
Teapot Mountain – Outside of Taipei
This is the other hike that is outside of Taipei. This one is in Jinguashi, not too far from Jiufen. These would make a great day trip together. But this is about the hike. It’s a well-maintained trail that with a lot of stairs. Anything that isn’t stairs is a gravel path. It’s not a particularly difficult hike since most of it is stairs, but at the stop, there is a little rock scrambling to get into and on top of the teapot rock formation. I would share a picture of the teapot, but I didn’t think to until I was on the bus on the way back. Oops. If you want a hike with an awesome view, this is a good one.
Here is another awesome post about the hike.
If you do go, take the MRT to Taipei Main Station then get a train to Ruifang. Once you get there, leave the train station, cross the street and walk to the left to the bus stop. Take a bus towards Jiufen, but go a few stops farther to Jinguashi. The trailhead is at the Jinguashi Gold Ecological Museum. From here it’s pretty easy and there are signs along the way.
Maokong Gondola – Wenshan
While this isn’t really a hike, it sort of can be. At the same stop on the MRT as Taipei Zoo, you’ll find the Maokong Gondola. This is a cable car, gondola thing that will take you up to some tea houses at the top of the mountain. There are two car options: a regular one and one with a clear floor. We took the clear floor, but it was rainy and foggy, so it wasn’t super impressive. At the top, there are a couple temples you can walk to while admiring the view and stopping for tea. There are also places to eat up there.
If you do go, take the MRT to the Taipei Zoo stop. The gondola entrance is pretty easy to find once you’re at the stop.
Da’an Forest Park – Da’an
If you’re sticking around the city, this is a great way to feel like you’re a little farther away from the hustle and bustle. It’s kind of like Taipei’s Central Park. This is just an awesome area anyways. It’s not too far from Taipei 101 and Dongmen, which has delicious food and is fun to walk around. In the morning in the park, you might find some people practicing Tai Chi.
If you do go, take the MRT to the Da’an stop and it’s right there. If you want to eat first, the Dongmen stop will take you right to the street with good food, Xinyi, then you can walk down the street a bit to get to the park.
Beitou Hot Springs – Beitou
I also touched on this earlier, and it would be a great way to relax after a long morning hike before one last short hike for sunset. It’s still reachable by MRT making it easy to get to and from with limited time.
A Little Bit Of Everything Taipei
This little section is if you want to get a little taste of everything and want to use up pretty much all of your daylight. This would make for a pretty busy day, but you would get to experience a bit of history, nature, and the ‘hip’ areas.
I would start the day off with an early breakfast and head to the Chang Kai Shek Memorial first. Spend some time learning about the history and wander through Liberty Park. Next, head to nearby Longshan Temple. It’s about a half hour walk, or you can take the MRT.
From there, you can walk through nearby Snake Alley (it might not be open during the day) and Herb Alley before making your way over to the Ximending Pedestrian area to get something for lunch and maybe relax with a coffee. You could also take the MRT from the temple to the Ximen stop. I would recommend Somebody Cafe in that area for a coffee.
Since there is an MRT stop here, head on over to Taipei 101. You could also wait to have lunch at Din Tai Fung here. If you’d like, head up to the observatory (around $30USD) to overlook the city, or do some window shopping instead. From here you can take the MRT to the Da’an station to relax in Da’an Forest Park and maybe take a walk down nearby Xinyi street.
This is a great starting point for walking around the Huashan 1914 Creative Park and doing that souvenir shopping. There is a lot to see here, but even an hour or two in the afternoon would be fun. This is an optional stop, but it’s close to Da’an. It’s about a half hour walk or, as usual, you can also take the MRT.
Finally, I would end the day with a sunset hike on Elephant Mountain to overlook the city. I would choose this over the observatory if I was limited on time. I would follow that up with a dinner sampling over at the Shilin Night Market. Definitely, take the MRT for these last two stops. Then, once you’ve tried everything at the night market, go relax!
Tips for visiting Taipei:
- MRT rides are usually pretty cheap, around $1, but it can be more or less depending on how far you have to go.
- Definitely, check opening hours of things before you go to make sure things are actually open.
- A SIM card isn’t necessary, even for long visits. There is wifi at a lot of coffee shops and all of the MRT stations. You do need a phone number to receive a text with a code if you want to use Starbucks wifi.
- Before you leave wifi, bring up directions to your destination on Google Maps. It’s super helpful when you’re walking from place to place.
- If you don’t want to go to Shilin Night Market since it’s so big and more touristy, there are tons of others in the area. This post will help you find one, or ask at your hostel or hotel.
- It’s a surprisingly walkable city, but if you’re pressed for time, the MRT might be the way to go.
- Mixing and matching places on these lists is a great way to see a lot of different things, just do a little research on location and hours ahead of time.
- Rome2Rio is great at helping get MRT and walking directions around the city.
- Here is a packing list for a month in the winter.
Have you been to Taipei? What did you think of it? What was your favorite thing you did there? What did you want to do but not get a chance to?