The Top 10 Things to Do in Taipei, Taiwan

The one and only Taipei 101
The one and only Taipei 101 | © Yu-Ching Chu/Flickr
Ciaran McEneaney

Think of Taipei, and images of Taipei 101 will undoubtedly spring to mind. But this thriving capital city offers so much more than a ride in one of the world’s fastest elevators (more on that later). Here are just a few of the many interesting activities this city has to offer its visitors.

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Taipei is a city rich in culture and history. It’s home to some of Taiwan’s most beautiful temples and to hundreds of amazing restaurants. And as the region’s capital, it is also a thriving commercial hub with both night markets and high-end stores dotted throughout the city.

Walk Danshui’s Old Street

Once a thriving port, Danshui is now more of a tourist destination than a commercial hub. And the Old Street is one of its most popular attractions. Lined with stores and street vendors offering everything from local street food to souvenirs, this street is a hive of activity on weekends.

Danshui Old Street

There are also quite a few things to see and do around Danshui, such as visiting the old customs house or taking a walk along the promenade. So it’s a great spot to spend an afternoon or even an entire day.

Enjoy the hot springs at Wulai

Wulai is a small village located outside the city but well worth the trip. This place is famed for its hot springs, and there are several hot spring hotels where visitors can book a room for a few hours and relax in privacy. For the more adventurous, there’s a public hot spring located on the riverside.

There’s also a cable car ride that takes visitors to a wonderful waterfall as well as an aboriginal village where they can enjoy local cuisine and buy some handicrafts and souvenirs.

Ride a cable car at Maokong

Maokong is a tea-growing district on the outskirts of the city not far from Taipei Zoo. Ride the MRT to the zoo and then take a cable car up over the mountain into Maokong. Here, visitors can sit and enjoy locally grown tea while taking in the views of the city in the local tearooms and restaurants . Try to visit in the late afternoon so you can enjoy the sunset in the early evening and get some great night shots of the city.

Shop till you drop at Shilin Night Market

Xinyi and Ximen districts are home to a wide variety of shops and department stores. But for a real down-to-earth experience try heading for the island’s most famous night market, Shilin. Here, visitors can find everything from novelty gifts to clothing and a lot more besides. It’s also a cheaper option than the city’s many department stores, not to mention more fun.

Learn some history at National Taiwan Museum

As Taiwan’s most popular museum, National Taiwan Museum is often quite busy. The best time to visit is during the week or on days that are not public holidays. Here, visitors can learn about the history of local aboriginal tribes and the plants and wildlife of Taiwan.

They can also cross the street to visit the Land Bank wing – a former bank that houses counting rooms and a vault. Visiting dinosaur bones and an old bank vault in one building might seem odd, but it’s an interesting experience nonetheless.

Hike through Yangmingshan National Park

Yangmingshan National Park is one of Taiwan’s most beautiful parks, and it’s only a stone’s throw from the city. Take the MRT to Beitou and then one of the local buses up to the park information center.

Wild cows in Yangmingshan National Park

The park has many sights to see, but the most popular are the steaming fumaroles that remind visitors that the park was once an active volcano. There are also dozens of hiking trails to enjoy with some offering panoramic views of the city.

Go shrimp fishing

Not in a boat or even at a pier, and no, it’s not at the beach either. Shrimp fishing in Taiwan is a completely unique experience of which visitors can’t get enough. Man-made pools provide the shrimp, while fridges full of cold beer provide the refreshment. And once caught, the shrimp can be salted and put on a barbecue. It’s not quite Michelin-star standards, but it is an unforgettable experience.

Visit the iconic Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple is a true icon of Taiwan. During WWII, it was bombed to pieces by Allied forces and subsequently rebuilt and maintained by the local community. It is one of the most visited temples in the region, and the intricate architecture of the building is beyond compare.

Longshan Temple

Tourists are welcome and free to take photographs of whatever they choose, although it is polite to ask before taking photos of any worshippers or locals outside the temple.

Eat street food anywhere

Taiwan is well known for its incredible cuisine, and while there are many amazing restaurants to visit in the city, some of the tastiest treats can be found on the side of the street. Street food in Taipei is nothing short of world class, and the choices available beggar belief.

Night market eats in Taipei

Head to any local night market or simply walk down any street, and you’ll soon find vendors selling everything from the infamous stinky tofu to fried chicken on a stick. Enjoying a pancake stuffed with beef from a paper bag doesn’t sound too enticing a prospect, but it really is an experience worth trying.

Ride a super-fast elevator at Taipei 101

And last but by no means least is that fast elevator mentioned earlier. Taipei 101 is no longer the tallest building in the world, and the elevators are no longer the fastest, but that doesn’t mean that they should be struck off your itinerary.

The ride to the viewing deck on the 89th floor of the building takes a mere 37 seconds. And no, motion sickness bags are not included. Once at the top, Taipei 101 offers some incredible views of the city especially considering that it is one of the very few high-rise buildings in Taipei.

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