If you’re wondering what the top unique and fun things to do in Taipei are, then this list will be your lifesaver.
Admittedly, I wasn’t as travel-y in Taipei as I was in Hualien and Jiufen. By the time I got into the city, I was a little sick from not wearing the proper clothes for February, and I was just over the rain. I got to my Airbnb and pretty much fell asleep and relaxed for two days!
Here are the things I managed to fit in, though, and at the bottom, I added everything I still had on my list, but I didn’t get a chance to do either because of weather, Chinese New Year, or the time!
Some Taipei Travel Tips
- The easiest way to get around is by the subway and just walking! You can get a subway card from any 7-11 or convenience store and top it off at the stations.
- Another option is to use Taipei’s hop-on, hop-off bus. Check here for more details and costs
- If you know you’re going to be visiting a lot of the big sites with entrance fees, you may want to order Taipei’s Unlimited Fun Pass, which has access to the subway, buses, and 12 different tourist attractions. Check here for days and costs
24 Unique + Fun Things to Do in Taipei
1. Visit the Night Markets
The number one thing everyone told me to not miss in Taipei was its night markets! In fact, I remember when my friend, Maggie, went a while ago, she told me the only thing she noted for visiting Taiwan was to eat herself into a food coma.
I visited two while I was there, Linjiang Street Market and Shilin Street Market. Linjiang was nice because it was super close to where I was staying and didn’t feel quite as hectic as Shilin. It’s also near Elephant Mountain and Taipei 101.
While I just kind of walked in and went ham on the first delicious thing I saw with a short line, if you want a bit more guidance, check out this night market tour.
2. Hang out at the Kitten Coffee Garden
The Kitten Coffee Garden is the first ever cat cafe in the world. I thought it might turn out to be a bit fancier or busier since it gets to claim this, but it was actually really relaxed and unassuming when I went. The owners were really sweet, and the cats kind of just hung out and did their own things.
3. Climb Elephant Mountain to see Taipei 101 from Afar
When it comes to something outdoorsy to do, everyone always tells you to visit Elephant Mountain because it gives you such a beautiful view of Taipei 101’s unique shape from afar. They recommend going at sunset and staying to watch it light up, which is exactly what I did.
It gets pretty crowded, but it’s not the worst I’ve been in, and it’s definitely worth it to see everything light up! Just be aware, it’s not a long hike, but it sure feels steep and neverending! I think it had to do with me not eating much that day (saving it for going to Linjiang after) and the fact that it was all stairs.
4. Stoll down Bopiliao Historical Block
Okay, so reading about Bopiliao after the fact, I think I may have completely missed something or it was too close to the holidays, so things were closed. Because it’s a cool area, but I was kind of confused what all the fuss was about. Apparently, there’s a museum, which tells me I definitely missed something because I don’t remember a museum!
Anyway, Bopiliao was once a busy commercial street back in the 1800s, and its architecture is meant to reflect its mix of foreign influences — from different parts of China to Japan to the Western world.
5. Stop by Mengshia Longshan Temple
Nearby Bopiliao is one of Taipei’s three big temples with Bangka Qingshui and Taipei Tainhou. Longshan was built back in the early 1700s but reconstructed and renovated after damage during World War II.
I tried figuring out what religion it represented, but I honestly don’t know much about Chinese or Asian religions. I’ve seen it written that it’s a part of Chinese folk religion and also a mix of Buddhist, Taoist, and other religions. Either way, it’s quite a cool spot to visit, especially around Chinese New Year.
6. Tian Yuan Gong
This is a bit of a trek from the main part of Taipei, but, wow, was it worth it just to see this temple up close. If I had been wearing more comfortable shoes, I would have gone in and explored more, but I, uh, wore horribly uncomfortable ones and had blisters. *cough*
The temple itself is 200m high and has five floors, each dedicated to a different Taoist deity. It’s quite beautiful no matter what time of the year, but if you can match your travel dates to cherry blossom season, it’s a popular spot to see the pink blooms.
7. Visit the National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall + Liberty Square
The Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall is probably one of Taipei’s most recognizable landmarks besides Taipei 101. With its beautiful white base and blue top, it’s a photographer’s dream to capture. I think the whole area gets lumped under “Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall” because that’s the most recognizable name, but the area as a whole is called Liberty Square. It’s also home to the national theater, and national concert hall.
The square has been a big public gathering place since the seventies, and its name reflects Taiwan’s political change in the nineties to a full-on democracy.
8. If you have kids, visit the Huashan 1914 Creative Park
I made the mistake of visiting here during Chinese New Year, so it was a ghost town and nothing was open. I’d been hoping to see the colorful upside down house, but sadly, it was only a temporary exhibit. Surprisingly, finding that out online was really hard to do! Huashan is still quite fun, and I imagine it’s even more fun when all the exhibits are open. It’s a pretty place to walk around regardless, and, hey, maybe you’ll get lucky, and they’ll bring back the house when you go!
9. Get a cronut (and food) at Drip Cafe.
I don’t know what compelled me to hunt down this cafe to eat its cronut, but I did, and I have no regrets. I’ve never even bothered trying to get a cronut in NYC since the lines are usually so long, and the one time I tried making them at home, it did not end well for my stomach.
This is a cute, trendy cafe in Taipei, so if you find yourself wandering nearby, it’s worth the stop in!
10. Just walk around!
Honestly, one day I just whipped out Google Maps and I started walking around to the different landmarks I saw listed. There are a lot of cool buildings around Taipei, and they’re really beautiful to see or go into if you can. Here are some of the ones I saw:
- North Gate
- Futai Street Mansion
- Red House Theatre
- Office of the President Republic of China
11. Find pineapple tarts
One thing I did remember to buy were pineapple tarts! I pretty much missed every other need-to-eat- food in Taipei, like drunken noodle soup or dim sum, but I did manage to get these before I left. They’re quite tasty, and I don’t remember the pineapple flavor feeling overboard.
12. Walk around 2/28 Peace Park
This park is named after the February 28 Massacre of 1947, which as an anti-government protest. Anywhere from 18,000 – 28,000 Taiwanese citizens died and the event marked the White Terror era where many more died or disappeared.
Things to Do That I Didn’t
13. Visit Taipei 101’s Observatory
So while I saw Taipei 101 from a bunch of different angles, I didn’t actually go in and up to the 89th floor. This was mostly because the weather wasn’t that nice for most of my time, so I didn’t want to spend money to observer gray skies! If you have better luck with sunnier days, then definitely go!
14. Enjoy the Hot Springs in Beitou
I know! I kept meaning to go, and then I just never made it. The hot springs in Beitou are a must-do in Taipei! The area was developed into a sort of resort area to take advantage of the different springs, which included sulfur, white-sulfur, and iron-sulfur baths.
There are different hot springs, but here are some you can book:
15. Miramar Entertainment Park
Okay, so this was more of a personal wish. One of my favorite dramas of all time is “They Kiss Again,” and I’m pretty sure one of the cutest scenes takes place on the Ferris wheel in this shopping mall!
16. Martyr’s Shrine
I thought the Martyr’s Shrine in Hualien was quite beautiful, so I jotted down the one in Taipei to see as well. The shrine is meant to honor the Kuomintang soldiers who died during the Chinese Civil War and has nearly 400,000 spirit tablets. Get there at the top of the hour to see the change of the guards.
17. Hike Yangmingshan
For a big hiking day, head to Yangmingshan National Park, one of the main nine national parks in the country. It has Seven Star Mountain, which is Taiwan’s tallest dormant volcano. The photos I’ve seen of Yangmingshan look stunning, and maybe if I had been traveling with a friend and had more than one sunny day, I would have prioritized going! I didn’t think hiking alone on a rainy day was the smartest move, so this will have to wait until a future trip.
If you want to visit but not hike, check out this tour, which will also take you to a hot spring.
18. Taipei Botanical Garden
Ahhhh, I know I should have made time to go here because I love botanical gardens! It’s a beautiful area that was first created back in 1896 and is now home to over 2,000 plant species.
19. Visit the National Taiwan Museum.
Over a hundred years old, this museum is the oldest in Taiwan. I think I may have passed by it actually, but it might have been closed or I had other things on my itinerary I wanted to see. The architecture alone is worth the visit with a Pantheon-like exterior and stunning interior filled with different exhibits related to Taiwanese culture and nature.
The park itself is filled with beautiful sculptures and is a lovely place to walk around and learn a bit more about the event. It reminds me a little of Gwangju’s park.
20. Visit the Grand Hotel
You could also book a few nights here too! I saw a photo of the Grand Hotel, and it just looked so cool, I wish I had known about it when I was in Taipei. It kind of reminds me of the Budapest Grand Hotel cover, except, you know, Taiwanese. It’s considered one of the tallest Chinese classical buildings at nearly 90m tall and has hosted famous guests from Eisenhower to Margaret Thatcher.
21. Songshan Creative + Cultural Park
Songshan Creative Park is actually situated in a former tobacco factory! It’s now filled with different exhibits, DIY workshops, and stores. There’s also a beautiful garden right in the center.
22. Fort San Domingo
This fort dates all the way back to the 1600s when the Spanish built it to help against the Dutch. It’s one of the oldest landmarks in Taiwan.
23. National Palace Museum
I don’t know about you, but one thing I clearly remember from the small bits on Asia covered in history class was that the Mao Zedong’s “Cultural Revolution” damn nearly destroyed China’s centuries of historical artifacts. Luckily, many of them were saved as Nationalists fled to Taiwan and took nearly 3,000 crates worth of goods with them. I imagine most of them are now at this museum since it has nearly 700,000 artifacts covering 8,000 years of Chinese art and history.
24. Eat at Din Tai Fung
Sooo…. *ahem* I didn’t go to Din Tai Fung. I meant to! I really did. It was literally across the street from where I was staying. However, the line was always so long, and the day I planned on going exactly at 10 am was… Chinese New Year, and it was closed.
Din Tai Fung specializes in xiao long bao (or soup dumplings) and is known around the world for it. In fact, while I was in Taipei, Elissa texted me to ask me if I had gone yet because she was going to their LA branch for lunch!
*2019 Update: I went to Din Tai Fung in Kuala Lumpur and finally xiao long bao, and I’m even madder at myself for having this across the street for a week and not going over once. It’s so delicious, I’m dreaming about it now…
General Tours in Taipei
- Taipei at Night – This tour will take you to Longshan, Taipei 101, a night market, and Ding Tai Fung. Check prices here
- Explore Taipei City – It’s five different historical attractions. Check prices here
- Free Historic Walking Tour – 2 1/2 hour tour around different Taipei sights guided by locals. Get free voucher here
Where to Stay in Taipei
In general, I’d recommend staying near Taipei 101 and Liberty Square in the Zhongzheng District.
My Airbnb had an awesome location. It wasn’t the nicest or prettiest one I’ve stayed at (these photos make it look brighter than it was), but if you’re used to small, Asian-style apartments, it’s about the same.
Check below if you want to compare where places are on a map:
Taiwan Travel Guide
- General Planning
And that’s about it for the best things to do in Taipei, both what I managed to do and what I didn’t manage to do! What would you add to this list?
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