You can describe Taipei with any number of adjectives. Boring is not one of them. Ranging from gorging on Taiwanese food at a night market to marvelling at Taiwanese cultural heritage at a folk temple, the variety of interesting things to do in Taipei is endless.
To help you take the pain out of planning out what to do in Taipei, I’ve compiled below a massive guide of over 40 things to do in Taipei, Taiwan, organized by district.
Along with each of these Taipei attractions, I’ve included both background and practical information. If you already know what you’re looking for, you can use the table of contents below to navigate to the section of your choice. Enjoy!
Table of Contents
- Zhongzheng District
- Xinyi District
- Wanhua District
- Shilin District
- Datong District
- Da’an District
- Zhongshan District
- Songshan District
- Wenshan District
- Tamsui District
- Beitou District
- Summary: The best things to do in Taipei, Taiwan
- See Also
For travellers arriving at Taipei Main Station from the airport, Zhongzheng District serves as a first introduction to Taipei. And it’s not a bad one. There’s a wide assortment of things to do in Zhongzheng including some of most famous places to visit in Taipei. It’s also one of the best places to stay in Taipei with a wide variety of centrally-located accommodation options.
Exclusive Bonus: Download the FREE Taipei Cheat Sheet infographic for a quick visual guide to our top Taipei recommendations.
If Taipei City has a heart, it’s Liberty Square in Zhongzheng. Whenever Taiwanese take to the streets in protest or a special guest drops by for a visit, Liberty Square is where it all goes down.
Taipei clearly enjoys Liberty Square. Filter in at nearly any time and you’ll find Taipeiers making fine use of the space to jog, play mahjong, practice t’ai chi or simply chill out.
Arrive at Liberty Square at just the right time and you might catch a Taiwanese flag-raising ceremony or military exercises.
Getting to Liberty Square: The quickest way into Liberty Square is through Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall MRT Station. From the station, head north on Linsen S. Road, straight into the heart of Liberty Square.
National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
No man had a greater impact on modern Taiwan than Chiang Kai-shek. And if you ever wanted to learn more about the Generalissimo, National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is where to do it.
Political opinions aside, the architecture of National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is impressive. The white facade, overlooking Liberty Square, reflects a simple, uncluttered modern Chinese aesthetic. Atop the memorial, a royal blue roof adds flair with its intricate 8-sided classic design, symbolizing wealth and prosperity.
Inside you’ll find a memorial library, a Chiang Kai-shek museum, and exhibits depicting the history of modern Taiwan. If you have any passing interest in Asian history, it’s worth taking a quick look.
National Theater and Concert Hall
You may be tricked into believing that the duo of buildings on the west end of Liberty Square are important historical buildings from Taipei’s early history. Not so. In fact, even I’ve been around longer.
Completed in 1987 in traditional Chinese architectural style, The National Theater and Concert halls are fraternal twin performing venues. The stages are graced by performers or all types, ranging from popular Taiwanese artists to some of the biggest performers on the planet. (Think more Kirov Ballet or Three Tenors, and less Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber.)
See Also: When is the Best Time to Visit Taipei?
Getting to National Theater and Concert Hall: If you’ve already made it to Liberty Square, the National Theater and Concert Hall will be the two building on the west-end of the square opposite Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Art/Culture/Shopping/Food & Drink
Whomever said Taipei was bleak and boring clearly never spent time in Huashan 1914 Creative Park. Occupying an abandoned winery & sake distillery, the park reminds us that Taipei does indeed have a quirker side.
The collection of buildings at Huashan 1914 Creative Park hosts a mish-mash of rotating museum exhibits, restaurants, shops, cafés, and bars. Truthfully, it’s one of the more interesting areas to wander around in Zhongzheng. It’s like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: You’ll never know what you’re gonna get!
Getting to Huashan 1914 Creative Park: From Zhongxiao Xinsheng MRT Station, pop out Exit 1 and head west along Zhongxiao E. Road. One block after crossing under the elevated road, you should see the entrance to Huashan 1914 Creative Park to your right.
Gongguan Night Market
The colossal Gongguan Night Market, located along the Da’an District and Zhongzheng District border, is one of the biggest and most interesting night markets in Taipei. With National Taiwan University across the street, the crowd is noticeably more youthful. Perhaps that explains why food here skews more towards trendy Southeast Asian flavours than traditional Taiwanese.
Wandering among the vendors and finding the popular stalls isn’t too difficult. A few specialities to look out for at Gongguan Night Market include bubble tea, pan-fried buns and Cantonese-style roasted duck.
National Museum of History
I can’t imagine mainland China is overly thrilled that this massive collection of Chinese relics resides at the National Museum of History in Taipei rather than in Shanghai or Beijing. The artifacts here are quite stunning. And even if you’re not an art- or history-buff, you’ll probably appreciate the intricacy and craftsmanship of what’s on display.
Whether you decide to pay the NT$30 entrance fee (not open Mondays!), the building, an architectural masterpiece itself, is worth a gander.
Taipei Botanical Garden
Anyone who needs a break from the busy streets of Taipei, would do well to find this little gem beside the National Museum of History.
There’s no place in Taipei like Taipei Botanical Garden. Although originally established for research, the garden now stands as one of Taipei’s favourite places to escape the city within the city.
Walking along the boardwalks and trails is truly impressive, transporting you through everything from a bamboo garden, rainforest-esque jungle, exotic flowers, and a lotus pond.
Guanghua Digital Plaza
Keeping up with the latest Taiwanese gadgets is easy: pop into Guanghua Digital Plaza. Within the six-storey building you’re bound to find whatever technology you’ve been craving, even if not necessarily at the bargain-basement prices you would expect.
Before the new space-age building popped up, the marketplace was a little more traditional. Today you’ll find less opportunity for bargaining since prices are, as in Western countries, posted. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to grab yourself a few perks!
Getting to Guanghua Digital Plaza: From Zhonxiao Xinsheng MRT Station, exit to Xinsheng S. Road. Heading north on Xinsheng, Guanghua Digital Plaza will be to your left at the corner of Xingsheng and Civic Blvd.
Dongmen Market is one of the few places in Taipei that starts frying up its Taiwanese street food goodies at the crack of dawn rather than twilight. This small traditional market isn’t necessarily worth a special trip, but if you happen to be fighting off jet lag around Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall early in the morning, grabbing a breakfast at Dongmen Market isn’t such a bad little detour.
Unless you speak and/or read Chinese, ordering is a bit of a challenge in Dongmen Market. If in doubt, go with a traditional Taiwanese breakfast treat like an oyster omelette. You can’t go wrong here!
Getting to Dongmen Market: The closest MRT stop to Dongmen Market is Dongmen MRT Station. From the station, take Exit 2 to the northern side of Xinyi Road. Walk east on Xinyi Road, through the intersection at Jinshan S. Road, and you’ll see the market to your right.
Other Things to Do in Zhongzheng
- Taipei City Mall
- 2-28 Peace Memorial Park
At once both the de-facto financial district and shopping capital of Taipei, Xinyi District is surprisingly important not just for business travellers, but independent travellers, too. And there’s one major reason for that. Make that 101.
There’s quite literally no way you can leave Taipei without seeing Taipei 101. Rarely a block slips by where you can’t see Taipei 101 peeking into your view. As you’re figuring out where to go in Taipei, Taipei 101 is the most important landmark to keep you on track. But don’t let yourself stop there…
The observation deck is where most travellers set their sights. For NT$500, you can hop into the world’s fastest elevator to see the world’s largest wind damper that keeps one of the world’s tallest buildings from toppling over.
The 360-degree panoramic view of Taipei City atop Taipei 101 is magnificent. Viewing Taipei from above will give you a grander appreciation of the enormity of the city than simply wandering the city centre neighbourhoods ever can.
Taipei 101 is also home to a number of shops and, perhaps more intriguing, a smattering of restaurants strewn throughout the building. (See the most famous of Taipei 101 restaurants next!)
Getting to Taipei 101: It’s just about the easiest place to get to in Taipei. Hop onto the Red Line (Line 2) and make your way to Taipei 101/World Trade Center MRT Station. Follow the signs to Taipei 101.
Din Tai Fung
Eating at Din Tai Fung in Taipei 101 is one of those life-affirming experiences that teaches you the harsh lesson that every Chinese takeout dumpling you’d ever eaten at home was bumbling mess.
In case there was ever any doubt, yes, the silky-smooth dumplings at Din Tai Fund are worth waiting in the permanent line-up for. Even if you hobble to the gates as the restaurant is opening up for lunch, the queue can be staggering. Wait it out. You’ll thank me.
There’s no sugar-coating it: In Taipei’s extreme heat and humidity, clambering up Elephant Mountain won’t be easy. But the views and escaping the chaos of Taipei will be well worth your effort.
From the Elephant Mountain hiking trail entrance, a solid 10 to 20 minutes of stair climbing awaits. (There’s plenty of opportunity to rest along the trail, if you need it.) After you’ve collected a Crossfit-worthy bucket of sweat, savour some spectacular views of the Taipei skyline at one of the many panorama points.
Getting to Elephant Mountain: Elephant Mountain is not exactly Taipei’s most accessible attraction. Take the MRT to Xiangshan Station, popping out at Exit 2. Walk through Zhongqiang Park. When you hit the road at the southern end of the park, turn left, making your way up a small incline. Soon after, you’ll see a road to your right. Take it. The entrance to the Elephant Mountain hiking trail will be to your left after walking about a block.
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
Not many men are revered on both sides of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and People’s Republic of China (China) divide. Sun Yat-sen is one of them. And if you decided to visit Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, you will learn just how important this leader was to China on both sides of the strait.
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall involves only a short northwest detour from Taipei 101. Even if you aren’t interested in packing in a quick history lesson, wandering around Zhongshan Park, where the hall is located, is a nice break from the hustle of Xinyi.
Songshan Cultural and Creative Park
At one point, someone decided that the pollution from industrial progress in Taipei was doing well enough to clog the lungs of Taipeiers and shut down a cigarette factory. What followed was regenerating the abandoned grounds into a creative hub that became Xinyi’s answer to Huashan 1914 Creative Park in Zhongzheng.
Taipei City built Songshan Cultural and Creative Park to spark creativity and innovation. And it looks like it’s doing a fine job. In it, you’ll find trendy art galleries, rotating exhibitions, and event spaces. Maybe a walk around Songshan Cultural and Creative Park will even inspire a little creative spark of your own.
Getting to Songshan Cultural and Creative Park: From Exit 5 at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall MRT Station, walk north on Guangfu S. Road. It’s about a ten-minute walk to Yangchang Road. The entrance will be on the right.
Wanhua is odd in that it’s split between old/dilapidated and cutting edge. Southern Wanhua feels like the Taipei of yesteryear while northern Wanhua is the Taipei of today and tomorrow. However you feel about Wanhua District, it’s home to some of the most essential things to do in Taipei.
Arguably the most famous temple in the city, Longshan Temple is an absolute must-see in Taipei. The temple is more than just a historical relic; it’s an (extremely) active place of worship. Unlike most temples you encounter in Asia, Longshan Temple isn’t affiliated with a major religion. Chinese folk deities are worshipped here with great fervor. (And with a small donation to the temple and a little guidance from other worshippers, you can join in, too.)
What you see now at Longshan Temple is hardly the original. It’s been destroyed and rebuilt far more than Taipeiers would like, but has always maintained its grace. Spend a little time here to explore the intricacies and the deep symbolism and you might just come out with a deeper appreciation of Taipei and Taiwan.
It’s no Shibuya Crossing. But it’s as close as you’ll get to it in Taipei.
Ximending is the consumerist heart of Taipei and probably—aside from the night markets, of course—the most interesting sight in Taipei for night wanderers as the neon lights jolt into the sky.
Even during the day, Ximending is a trendy shopping mecca, especially popular with Taipei’s well-to-do younger crowd. International brands seem to be a favourite around here. (As a Canadian, I was pleasantly shocked to spot a Roots store in Ximending!)
Notable food stalls and restaurants also grace the area. Keep on the look out for Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle, a well-known place in Ximending to grab a quick snack.
Red House Theater
The historic Red House Theater is one of Taipei’s finer redevelopment stories. Within years, this turn-of-the-century Japanese-built market house transformed from a derelict eyesore to one of the most important cultural venues and creative hubs in Taipei.
Much like Huashan 1914 Creative Park, the Red House Theater appeals to Taipei’s artistic community. Drop by to browse works from independent artists, catch a performance, or simply enjoy a coffee in a ultra-hip atmosphere.
Getting to Red House Theater: From Ximen MRT Station exit to Ximending’s crazy neon-laden pedestrian area, cross to the pedestrian area on the other side of Chengdu Road. You’ll see the unmistakable Red House Theater complex straight ahead.
Bopiliao Old Street
Dating back to the Qing Dynasty, Bopiliao Old Street is one of the few places left in Taipei that hasn’t been completely swept up by modern development. It couldn’t have been easy in Taipei’s building boom. But surprisingly enough, the government chose history over economics, and did a remarkable job restoring the Bopiliao Old Street to its former glory.
Although the architectural styles on Bopiliao Old Street aren’t so uncommon elsewhere in Taiwan, within Taipei, there aren’t many parallels. Wandering around here will channel Taipei’s less-industrialized past, seemingly lifetimes ago.
If you’re interested in a mini-history lesson on the area, the Heritage and Culture Education Center of Taipei on Bopiliao Old Street can fill you in on all the details.
Getting to Bopiliao Old Street: Exit Longshan Temple MRT Station in the direction of Longshan Temple. Facing the temple from the courtyard, swing right from the temple on Guangzhou Street. Walking two blocks, you’ll see the Bopiliao Historical Block on your left. Bopiliao Old Street itself starts one block later from here to your left.
Huaxi Street Night Market
Not long ago, Huaxi Street Night Market was the type of carnivalesque sideshow that either drew visitors in for the freakshow or completely scared them off. These days, Huaxi Street Night Market is a little tamer, but probably still less savoury than you’d hope for your first Taipei night market experience.
Yes, the “snake alley” moniker still holds. But unless you’re fascinated by weird foods (and are not above risking a swift bout with salmonella) you’d probably do best to stick to the more traditional meals around Huaxi Street Night Market.
Getting to Huaxi Street Night Market: From Longshan Temple MRT Station, exit towards Longshan Temple. From the temple hang a left on Guangzhou Street (opposite direction as Bopiliao Historical Block). You’ll see Huaxi Street Night Market three blocks later on your right.
Guangzhou Street Night Market
Guangzhou Street Night Market is favoured by native Taipeiers over neighbouring Huaxi Street. It’s the more traditional of the two night markets, relying more on the quality of the food and the vendors than on sleazy gimmicks to attract the crowds.
On the whole, the food at Guangzhou Street Night Market is cheaper and more flavourful than its neighbour. Whether that’s just a function of finally regaining your appetite after seeing, God knows what, deep-fried at Huaxi Street Night Market, I can’t say.
A famous dish to try at Guangzhou Street Night Market is glutinous rice in pork intestines. It tastes better than it sounds, and looks worse than it tastes. (But if it’s okay with you, I’ll stick to my bubble tea.)
Getting to Guangzhou Street Night Market: Follow the directions to Huaxi Street Night Market, but instead of veering right, surge forward along Guangzhou Street straight into the heart of the night market.
Other Things to Do in Wanhua
- Wanhua Night Market
- Qingshui Temple
- Qingshan Temple
Above the Keelung River, Shilin District tucks into the north of Taipei’s city centre, stretching from urban landscapes into the rural wilderness. Much of Shilin is mountainous, more well-suited for the adventurer than the urban explorer. But within Shilin’s southern fringes, a couple of the most essential Taipei attractions await.
Shilin Night Market
No visit to Taipei is complete without a night out in Shilin Night Market. Whether you go for the tasty food or to wage war against your claustrophobia, it’s a wild ride.
Choosing among the myriad of vendors, stretched across numerous city blocks, can be overwhelming. My personal pick for Shilin Night Market would be the Oreo milkshakes near the southern entrance. Not exactly authentic Taiwanese, but it washes down all the pork sausages and oyster omelets just fine.
Getting to Shilin Night Market: The easiest approach is from Jiantan MRT Station, not Shilin MRT Station. From Jiantan MRT Station walk north on Jihe Road to the fork in the road. Whether you split left or right, you should be able to find an entrance to the market as it’s wedged in between the two roads.
National Palace Museum
When China and Taiwan went splits during the Chinese Civil War, so too did their most precious cultural artifacts. Fearing their destruction, none other than Chiang Kai-shek planned to ship the best of the best off to Taiwan. Not all of the pieces the Generalissimo earmarked for Taiwan made it here. But the ones that did were worth the hassle.
No understanding of Chinese cultural history could be complete without a visit to the National Palace Museum in Taipei. In total, the museum is home to almost 700,000 artifacts ranging from precious jade figurines and bronzes to ancient ceramics and paintings dated as far back as the 7th-century. Most of the artifacts are housed for safe-keeping, but there are still thousands on public display at the National Palace Museum throughout most of the year.
Unusually enough for Taiwan, the main building of the museum is open 7 days a week. (Yes, even Mondays!) Although it isn’t the easiest of Taipei attractions to reach, if you’re interested in Chinese history and culture, there’s no substitute for visiting the National Palace Museum.
Getting to the National Palace Museum: Take a train to Shilin MRT Station. From the Zhongzheng Road exit (Exit 1), hop on bus 255, 304, 815 or 620, getting off at Da Lun Wei Shan. The ride to the National Palace Museum should only be about 15 minutes.
National Taiwan Science Education Center
Unless otherwise afflicted with an incurable love of science, most independent travellers would give the National Taiwan Science Education Center a miss. For family travellers, however, this museum is the perfect break from temple-hopping and Taiwanese food hunting.
The exhibits cover all things science from math and physics to chemistry and earth science. It evens seems to be “foreigner-friendly,” with plenty of English translations peppered along the way.
Getting to the National Taiwan Science Education Center: From Shilin MRT Station, it’s less than a 20-minute walk to the National Taiwan Science Education Center, walking west on Zhongzheng Road and north on Shishang Road.
Like Wanhua, Datong District is a glimpse of old Taipei. Quite a few interesting sights pop up in a walk through this district including two of Taipei’s most impressive temples and one of the city’s premier night markets.
As the focal point of Confucian worship in the city, Confucius Temple deserves a quick look, if only for comparing its austere and humble features to Taipei’s other temples. And it’s free to enter, so there’s little reason you shouldn’t wander into Datong to check it out.
Inside the temple, you’ll find interactive displays (in English, too!) that teach you about Confucius and Confucian values. It’s no wonder you’ll often find school groups on educational field trips at Confucius Temple.
Getting to Confucius Temple: From Yuanshan MRT Station, it’s less than a 10-minute walk west on Kulun Street to Confucius Temple. The entrance to the temple is on Dalong Street, half a block north of Kulun Street.
The Taiwanese folk religion neighbour of Confucius Temple, Bao’an Temple features a façade that captures your attention immediately. It’s more ornate than most temples around Taipei, and, undoubtedly, one of the city’s most striking.
Compared to Longshan Temple, Bao’an Temple receives far fewer visitors. (In fact, when I visited, it was almost entirely devoid of tourists.) Just remember, that Bao’an Temple is an active place of worship, not a tourist attraction. Respectful behaviour is a must.
Ningxia Night Market
With my accommodations only ten minutes away by foot in Zhongzheng, I slipped into Ningxia Night Market quite a few times while visiting Taipei. Ningxia Night Market is still busy, but a little easier to navigate—and, more importantly, to escape from—compared to other Taipei night markets.
For the most part, the market extends down just one street: Ningxia Road. Vendors here jangle all the best Taiwanese foods in front of you including Taiwanese fried chicken, oyster vermicelli (my personal favourite here—yum!), and that nasty little beast of a street snack, stinky tofu.
Getting to Ningxia Night Market: From either Shuanglian MRT Station or Zhongshan MRT Station, it’s less than a 10-minute walk to one of the gates at Ningxia Night Market. If starting from Shuanglian, exit to Minsheng Road, due west. When you hit Ningxia Road, the night market will be to your left. From Zhongshan, walk west on Nanjing W. Road to the traffic circle and veer right. The entrance to Ningxia Night Market is at the north-end of the roundabout.
Other Things to Do in Datong
- Dihua Street
- Xia Hai Temple
- Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei
Youthful and vibrant, Da’an District is one of the hippest neighbourhoods in Taipei for grabbing a bite to eat or shopping for the latest fashions. Da’an is home to three major Taiwanese universities, and much of what you’ll find here caters to this crowd. The well-to-doers of Taipei are also well respresented, as Da’an is one of the most expensive places to live in the city.
Daan Forest Park
New York has Central Park. Taipei has Daan Forest Park. Citizens have affectionately dubbed Daan Forest Park the “Lungs of Taipei.” Now, it would be hard to imagine the city without it.
Like Taipei Botanical Garden in Zhongzheng, Daan Forest Park is a welcome escape with Taipei City. Taipeiers love wandering the walking paths and animal-spotting within the park’s twenty-six acres of greenery. You’ll love it, too.
Shida Night Market
Unlike most night markets in Taipei, Shida Night Market is geared more towards shoppers than foodies. With a slew of Shida’s food vendors scurrying elsewhere after a change in regulations, many young entrepreneurs swooped in to set up shop and peddle the latest fashions. Nowadays, like Ximending and Gongguan Night Market, Shida Night Market is a favourite among Taipei’s hip millennials on the hunt for bargains.
That’s not to say that you can’t find a tasty meal at Shida Night Market. Keep on the watch here for pan-fried dumplings (sheng jian bao), a thicker and more filling dumpling than the more common xiao long bao you’ll find at places like Din Tai Fung.
Getting to Shida Night Market: Hop on the Green Line to Taipower Building MRT Station. From Exit 3, head north on Shida Road. The night market is no more than 10 minutes by foot from here.
Tonghua Night Market
Tonghua Night Market is a little less flashy than other Taipei night markets. And that’s precisely why I think you’ll love it.
The flavours here are varied, ranging from sweet to savoury. On the street food side of things, you’ll do well to seek out the night market’s well-known fried shrimp balls, boar sausages, and red bean cake.
Getting to Tonghua Night Market: Outside the main exit of Xinyi Anhe MRT Station, turn right heading east on Xinyi Road. At Tonghua Street swing right. Tonghua Night Market is 4 blocks down at the corner of Tonghua Street and Linjiang Street.
Other Things to Do in Da’an
- Yongkang Street
- Taipei Grand Mosque
Once the undisputed centre of Taipei’s tourism industry, Zhongshan District is slowly falling out of favour among tourists for other interesting centrally-located neighbourhoods. Even so, Zhongshan has a few star attractions that are bound to interest at least a few independent travellers.
Taipei Expo Park
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what Taipei Expo Park is. At one end of Taipei Expo Park is Yuanshan Park, an area filled with well-tended gardens and Maji Maji Square, an international hawker centre. At the other, lies a couple of Taipei’s best museums: Taipei Fine Art Museum and Taipei Story House. And even further afoot, you’ll find Xinsheng Park, home to Lin An Tai Historical House and Museum and pavilions left over from the 2010 Taipei International Flora Exposition.
At any rate, whatever your interests, you can probably find a reason to spend some time at Taipei Expo Park.
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Welcome to one of the largest modern art collections in Asia. If you have any passing interest in art, you’ll appreciate strolling through the six-storey Taipei Fine Arts Museum.
Admittedly, art is not my thing. But the design of the building itself—especially when lit up at night—is outstanding and worth the walk.
Getting to Taipei Fine Arts Museum: Follow the directions to the Taipei Expo Park. You’ll need to use the overhead crosswalk on the southern end of the park to cross the 4-lane road to the eastern side of Taipei Expo Park. The Taipei Fine Arts Museum will be to the north.
Other Things to Do in Zhongshan
- Taipei Story House
- Lin An Tai Historical House and Museum
- Xingtian Temple (Hsing Tian Kong)
Among the central city districts, Songshan may be the least frequented by travellers. It’s a little further push away from the most popular Taipei attractions. But, still, there are a few places in Songshan District you should try to see before leaving Taipei.
Raohe Street Night Market
I’m not sure where Raohe Street Night Market falls among the most popular Taipei night markets with Taipeiers. If my observations are correct, I would imagine it’s high up there.
I remember Raohe Street Night Market for two things: dense crowds and pepper meat buns. Of course, there’s more to it than that.
Some local favourites to try out at Raohe Street Night Market, besides the pepper meat buns near the main entrance, include oyster noodles, herbal spare rib soup, and Taiwanese-style tempura.
Getting to Raohe Street Night Market: Since opening in 2014, Songshan MRT Station has made the trip to Raohe Street Night Market far less confusing. Simply exit the MRT station to Songshan Road and hang a left. The night market gate will be on your left where Songshan Road curves into Bade Road.
A nice surprise for visitors to Raohe Street Night Market is Ciyou Temple, gracing the space just to the right of the main gate. Ciyou Temple is dedicated to Mazu, a Chinese patron goddess said to protect fishermen and sailors at sea.
The architectural details of Ciyou Temple are stunning, especially when lit up at night. It’s not hard to get lost in its intricacies. (Just try not to block the sidewalk as you gawk at it—this is a busy corner of Taipei at night!)
Core Pacific City (Living Mall)
If humans colonized Mars, I’d expect its first shopping mall to look something like Core Pacific City, or the Living Mall as many Taipeiers call it. The unmistakable dome adorning the mall’s façade has become a Taipei landmark. And even if you aren’t interested in shopping, it’s worth taking a look at if you’re in Songshan. (Visit in the evening if you can—the lighting is spectacular!)
Although it’s fallen out of fashion in recent years, Core Pacific City remains one of the better places in Taipei to shop. Businesses are spread out over 15 above- and underground floors. Not that there’s ever a shortage of food in Taipei, but in addition to the 400 stores, there’s over 80 restaurants at the Living Mall to tempt your taste buds.
Getting to Core Pacific City: From Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall MRT Station, head north on Guangfu S Road. Cross under the elevated rail line, and take the first street to your right. In three blocks, you’ll come to Core Pacific City.
Other Things to Do in Songshan
- Rainbow Bridge
Once you float into Wenshan District, you’ll begin to feel the city slipping away from you. More than any other area of Taipei, Wenshan provides plenty of space for relaxation. That is if the rest of Taipei doesn’t have the same idea!
In spending so much time exploring the streets of Taipei, one of the highlights of your trip might just be zipping up the Maokong Gondola.
As you climb 4.3km along the cable car line, you’ll be treated to stunning vistas of Taipei City and the surrounding mountains—even a mountaintop temple! Splurge on a “crystal cabin” if you want to feel as if you’re floating miles above the forest.
Arriving in Maokong, there’s ample opportunity for hiking through tea plantations and up into the hills. The trails are surprisingly well-marked, so it’s unlikely you’ll get lost unless you choose to go off path. Be sure to carry a lot of water. Even with the breeze and elevation, it still gets quite hot up here!
If the hiking trails are not calling out to you, a must-have experience in Maokong is to drop into one of the teahouses perched along the plantations for fresh tea with a view.
Getting to Maokong Gondola: Ride the MRT to Taipei Zoo Station and follow the signs for the Maokong Gondola platform. The ride isn’t included in your original MRT fare (it’s not a transfer), but you can use an EasyCard to pay for it.
Of all the family-friendly activities in Taipei, visiting Taipei Zoo might get you the most brownie points from the little ones.
Taipei Zoo is the largest in Asia, and the variety of animals—originating from all around the world—is astounding. But the true rockstar of the Taipei Zoo, and the animal most likely to elicit mega cheers from the kids, is Yuan Zai, the first Giant Panda born in Taiwan.
Getting to Taipei Zoo: The zoo lies at the end of the MRT line at Taipei Zoo MRT Station. You can enter from here or hop on the Maokong Gondola to Taipei Zoo South Station, where you can walk through the park and finish at Taipei Zoo MRT Station.
Other Things to Do in Wenshan
- Zhinan Temple
- Zhang Nai Miao Memorial Hall
- Jingmei Night Market
- Jingmei Jiying Temple
Although it’s not exactly one the most relaxing day trips from Taipei, Tamsui District (also called Danshui) is one of the easiest to reach from Taipei City. In no more than an hour you can zip up to Tamsui from Taipei Main Station for a nice break from the city. (Even if not from the crowds.)
Tamsui Old Street
Travelling around Taiwan, you’ll find little places like Tamsui Old Street all over. Nonetheless, if you’re popping out to Tamsui, Old Street is well worth a stroll.
The biggest reason to come here (and, yes, to Taipei in general) is the food. The street vendors on Tamsui Old Street truly offer up some remarkable stuff like ah-gei, a famous Tamsui stuffed tofu snack, and fish ball soup. Kids, if scared off by all the weird foods, will dig the carnival games scattered along the boardwalk.
Fort San Domingo
You’ve probably already guessed that Fort San Domingo isn’t named after a famous Taiwanese war hero. The history of Fort San Domingo is as complicated as any, and after housing a list of rulers almost as long as a list of Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriends, there’s no doubt it deserves at least a short walkthrough.
For the spectacular mountain and river views alone, Fort San Domingo is worth the trek.
Getting to Fort San Domingo: From Tamsui MRT Station, follow Zhongzheng Road through town. After Zhongzheng Road merges with Wenhua Road, it’s one block to the entrance path. Cross the road and veer off to the left for the path to Fort San Domingo. It’s about a 20-minute walk from the MRT station.
Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf
Once again, food’s the word at Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf. Here you’ll find much of what you’d expect in any self-respecting Taiwanese food marketplace. It’s hardly as diverse as what you’d find in Taipei’s night markets, but worth checking out if you happen to find yourself wandering about in Tamsui.
Getting to Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf: You could walk to Fisherman’s Wharf from Tamsui MRT Station in about an hour, but a quicker and more interesting approach is to hop on the boat ($NT100) that departs from Tamsui Ferry Pier at Tamsui Old Street.
Seeking out Tamsui’s most clichéd activity of watching the sunrise at Lover’s Bridge with your significant other is almost non-optional. (Just ask any one of the hundreds of pairs sharing your view!)
Lover’s Bridge itself gives off a funky futuristic vibe, but truly springs to life after dark when it’s lit up in a technicolour blaze. No wonder it’s a favourite shooting location among Taiwanese soap opera directors!
Although it’s only 20 minutes from the city, Beitou District can feel a world away from Taipei’s busy centre. It’s hardly surprising that Beitou is one of the most popular day trips from Taipei. In Beitou you begin to see why nature is one of Taiwan’s biggest drawcards. Even if some of it’s allure lies below the surface.
Beitou Hot Springs Park (Qinshui Park)
The usual starting point for any trip here is Beitou Hot Springs Park. The well-manicured public space splits alongside the geothermal river, built up with walkways that wind along with it.
Hot Springs Park is also home to Beitou Hot Springs Museum (closed Monday), Beitou Library, and Millennium Hot Springs, a budget-friendly public hot spring that you’ll no doubt have to queue up for.
If Iceland floated over to Asia, it might look something like Geothermal Valley. The jade waters, filling the lungs of Beitou with its sulfurous steam, drop a Blue Lagoon vibe. But maybe we should hold off on that comparison for now.
Unlike other hot springs areas in Beitou, Geothermal Valley isn’t the place to take a quick dip. The waters here sit at almost boiling point and are quite acidic. And after a few unfortunate incidents involving some careless visitors, Geothermal Valley got slapped with the unfortunate nickname, Hell Valley. As beautiful as it is to gawk at, the name is fairly fitting.
Getting to Geothermal Valley: From Beitou Hot Springs Park follow the river along Zhongshan Road. The gate for Geothermal Valley will be up ahead. Like you’ve come to expect in Taiwan, don’t bother showing up on a Monday if you want to trot in.
Other Things to Do in Beitou
- Guandu Temple
- Puji Temple
Summary: The best things to do in Taipei, Taiwan
- Craving the best Taiwanese food? Gobble up anything at everything at the superlatively large Shilin Night Market or the more traditional Ningxia Night Market. For a sit down experience, it’s hard to beat the famous Din Tai Fung in Taipei 101.
- Seeking a glimpse of old Taipei? Saunter along Bopiliao Old Street.
- Want to visit the most impressive temples in Taipei? Start with Longshan Temple, Taipei’s most famous, or the beautifully ornate Bao’an Temple.
- Love hiking? Tackle the never-ending stairway up Elephant Mountain for impressive views over Taipei.
- Need to escape the city in a hurry? Jolt up the Maokong Gondola, easily accessible with the MRT, and wander among the tea fields with distant views of Taipei as your backdrop.