One Day in Taipei: Your Quick Taipei Layover Guide

Taipei is a place where rich culture and history are woven together with a very modern cityscape and excellent infrastructure.

There are a lot of great places to visit in Taipei – so much so that I’ve outlined a five-day Taipei itinerary here.

But if you only have one day in Taipei, don’t worry!

Even if you only have 24 hours in Taipei, you can still see quite a bit of the city with this streamlined itinerary.

I’ve curated this itinerary to be specifically designed for people on a layover in Taipei or who just have a short stop in Taipei for one day, before exploring the rest of Taiwan.

Allison Green enjoying a day in Taiwan with a pink cup of coffee in her hand, smiling while wearing a green hat and purple long sleeve shirt in winter in Taiwan.
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I have organized this one-day Taipei itinerary so that you can visit these attractions easily via the ridiculously well-organized MRT (so no need for a guided tour!) in a logical fashion.

Most of the locations I have chosen are free, though some have entry fees and to save time, I’ll recommend a few skip-the-line options for some popular sites.

Every place on this list is within a short walk of the MRT, so it’s really easy to get from place to place!

Getting into Taipei from the Airport

the mrt train in taipei on the way to the taoyuan airport near the city of taipei

I’ve written a detailed guide to getting from the Taipei airport to the city center, which you can read here.

I’ll recap your option briefly here so this can be an all-in-one reference.

MRT: The most popular way to get into Taipei and the fastest (and nearly the cheapest!).

It takes 35 minutes on the express line. Note that the MRT only operates from 6 AM until midnight. 

The cost of the fare is NTD$ 160 (around $5 USD) to Taipei Main Station.

Bus: The best way to get into Taipei if you’re on a budget or are traveling after midnight and before 6 AM.

There are two buses can drop you near the Taipei Main Station – Bus 1819 and 1961.

Only the Kuo Kang Bus 1819 is available 24/7, making it one of the two choices you have between midnight and 6 AM.

You’ll need to wait around 20 minutes between each bus. Bus 1819 has a fare of NTD$ 140 (around $5 USD). 

Airport Transfer: The best way to get into Taipei if you’re pressed for time and don’t want to stress public transit.

You can pre-book an airport transfer shuttle online here so you don’t have to stress about your transit — someone will be waiting for you to greet you and help you to your hotel.

One Day in Taipei Itinerary

Start the day at Longshan Temple.

A woman lighting a candle at longshan temple in taipei

Longshan Temple is a fantastic place to start your one day in Taipei, as they are open as early as 6 AM.

It’s a 10-minute transfer from Taipei Main Station, where you’ll likely arrive if you have a Taipei layover, to the Longshan Temple MRT on the blue line, or you can take a 30-minute walk if you want to get your steps in.

Once you exit at the Longshan Temple station, keep an eye out for the signage which tells you which exit you should take to arrive at Longshan Temple easily.

Longshan Temple is over 300 years old and was originally built as a gathering place for settlers from Fujian, China; now, it’s one of the most visited temples in Taiwan.

While the temple is in fantastic condition today, it has been through a lot — it even survived a bombing raid during World War II.

Location: No. 211, Guangzhou Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10853

Cost: Free! (Donations are accepted to help maintain the facility)

Visit the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.

Colorful gardens, many Taiwan flags, and white pagoda building with blue roof at the chiang kai shek memorial hall in downtown taipei

The next place to visit on this one day in Taipei itinerary is Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (it opens at 9 AM, so grab breakfast beforehand if you’re too early).

By public transportation, it’s only 15-20 minutes away from the Longshan Temple MRT Station.

To get here, go to the Ximen MRT Station where you’ll transfer to the green MRT line — that’ll take you right to the CKS Memorial Hall Station.

The architecture is colorful and elaborate, with vibrant gardens that are spectacular to walk around.

Enjoy the temples, gardens, and public areas — there are so many great photogenic angles to snap pictures here!

Tip: The vending machines around here serve ice cold milk in a can with flavors like papaya, watermelon, and chrysanthemum – perfect to quench your thirst if you visit during the summer!

Location: No. 21, Zhongshan S. Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Visit the Buddhist Shandao Temple.

a rather plain looking brown building with a pagoda in the front that shows the entrance to a temple in downtown taipei
Photo Credit: 大摩 Bigmorr, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

From CKS Memorial Hall, you can quickly drop by the largest Buddhist temple in Taipei, Shandao Temple.

Just take the red line at CKS Memorial Hall back to Taipei Main Station, then transfer to the Shandao Temple MRT Station.

All in all, it will take you around 20 minutes of travel.

This temple is not the most scenic, admittedly, as it’s more about function over form.

That said, it is worth seeing the three statues of Buddha inside — you will be surprised by how big they are!

Location: No.23, Section 1, Zhongxiao East Road, Taipei, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Check out the majestic Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall.

a beautiful reflecting pool showing back the colorful orange arched architecture of sun yat-sen memorial hall

The beautiful Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall was created in tribute to commemorate the Father of the Republic of China, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen.

This is located on the same blue line from Shandao Temple MRT Station, so it’s quite easy to get to.

In the memorial hall, many items related to the life of Dr. Sun are on display.

As you walk around, you will see beautifully landscaped gardens as well as a gorgeous reflecting pool.

You can really take nice photos and selfies here, so you better get your cameras or smartphones handy!

Fun Fact: There is also a Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall in Guangzhou, China that it is really similar to the one in Taipei.

Location: No.505, Sec. 4, Ren’ai Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City 110, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Go up, up, up at Taipei 101.

aerial view of the city of taipei seen from the taipei 101 view

Your Taipei layover will not be complete if miss out on a visit to the Taipei 101, located just 8 minutes from Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall Station by MRT.

This building is an icon of modern Taiwan: its blue-green glass walls look like a bamboo pole with eight nodes (this was intentional, as eight is a lucky number in Taiwanese culture).

The view from the observatory is breathtaking — and it should be, considering it used to be the tallest building in the world before Dubai’s Burj Khalifa unseated it!

There are self-service lanes in the location — just be prepared for long lines if that’s the way you choose to go about it.

But since you only have one day in Taipei, I strongly recommend you book a skip-all-lines express access ticket.

There is a surcharge compared to booking the regular ticket, but it can save you an hour — or more — in line.

For me, I think it’s worth it (paying about $20 USD for to get back at least an hour of my time on vacation is well worth it!), but your opinion and budget may vary.

If that’s too expensive, you can still pre-book your ticket to Taipei 101 but it won’t let you have access to the fast track elevator.

You’ll just skip the line to buy the tickets, which is usually not so long since it’s all automated, but can occasionally get expensive.

Location: No. 7, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110

Cost: A basic admission ticket to the Taipei 101 is around $20 USD when booked online (about $NTD 600). The fast-pass, skip-all-lines access is around $40 USD (about $NTD 1200).

Climb Elephant Mountain for a stunning view.

a view of the taipei 101 from elephant mountain and the boulders that you can climb up on for an extra-good view of the city

The best view of Taipei City and the Taipei 101 building is from Elephant Mountain!

I generally recommend going for sunset (both because of the afternoon heat and because the views are more impressive).

That said, if you have only one day in Taipei, I don’t recommend going back and forth and wasting your time in transit, so you might as well go while you are close by.

Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes for this one day in Taipei itinerary, as the path up to Elephant Mountain is steep and also has many stairs!

It only takes about 20 minutes, but it is straight up, so it can be quite tiring especially if it’s particularly hot out. I promise that it’s worth it, though!

The view will make you feel like you have conquered seeing Taipei in a day successfully!

Pro Tip: There is a spot on top of the boulders if you walk up a little higher from the viewing platform, which is a beloved photo spot in Taipei where you can get the best Instagram photos!

Location: Lane 150, Songren Rd., Taipei, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Visit the charming Lin An Tai Historical House & Museum.

a brick building with overgrown foliage and a pond in a scenic part of downtown taipei

Now that you’ve seen Taipei’s most touristic spot, let’s get off the beaten path a bit.

Very few tourists know about Lin An Tai, but this historical gem is a fantastic photo spot.

The entrance is free and there aren’t many visitors as well, so you will really have time to appreciate the serene scenery.

This house is over 200 years old, done in the Fujianese-style, and is oriented in a beneficial position in the city according to the principles of feng shui.

It’s quite interesting to see it and understand a bit more of what life was like for the wealthiest people of Taiwan two centuries ago.

Location: No.5, Binjiang Street, Taipei 10491, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Marvel at the treasures of the National Palace Museum.

beautiful architecture of the national palace museum with teal green roof with gold accents, many tiers, with mountainous lush background.

On the same red line, you can go to the Shilin MRT Station where there are minibuses (No. 18 and 19) that can take you to the National Palace Museum.

You will see a spectacular view of its architecture, as well as some relics that were once in the Forbidden City of China in Beijing and were moved during the Kuomintang’s retreat to Taiwan.

Some of the popular artifacts are the Boat Carved from an Olive Stone, Jadeite Cabbage, and the Meat-Shaped Stone.

There are also beautiful gardens nearby that you can stroll around as well and snap some great photos

Location: No. 221, Sec 2, Zhi Shan Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan

Cost: The entrance fee is $NTD 320 (around $10 USD)

Have an early dinner at Shilin Night Market.

a busy, bustling scene at shilin night market, all lit up at prime eating hours

If you want to pickup a souvenir from your Taipei layover or just grab some street food, Shilin Night Market is the best place to go.

Once you arrive at the Shilin MRT Station (you can take the same minibuses back), just follow the directions from the street signs — it’s a quick 10-minute walk.

Does frying milk sound strange to you? Not in Taiwan! It is one of the more popular sweet street foods in Shilin, and you ought to try it!

There are other great dishes to try: crispy and savory pork paper (slices of very thin pork that looks like jerky), pepper pork buns cooked in a clay oven, oyster mushrooms seasoned to perfection, and so much more.

Get the stinky tofu if you’re an adventurous eater! (My Taiwanese girlfriend swears it tastes like blue cheese, even if it smells strange!)

Location: No.101, Jihe Rd., Shilin Dist., Taipei City 111, Taiwan 

Cost: There is no fee to enter the night market. Dishes range in price but are generally under $NTD 100 ($3 USD).

Relax and unwind at a Beitou hot spring.

 a man with short hair in a private hot spring area in beitou

If you feel that you are tired from walking all day – especially after hiking Elephant Mountain – you can try the hot springs at Beitou (which is especially nice if you’re visiting Taipei in winter, my favorite time to visit Taiwan!).

It’s still along same red line of the MRT, going to XinBeitou Station (you have to transfer at Beitou as the line will continue onwards to Tamsui if you don’t get off).

You can enjoy dipping in the warm spring waters either at the public hot springs or by purchasing a day pass from one of the hotels.

The most affordable option is to go to the public hot springs, known as Millennium Hot Spring or Beitou Public Hot Spring. It’s open until 10 PM, so it’s a viable late-night option!

It costs $TWD 60, or about $2 USD, to access the pools. You must bring a bathing suit!

In terms of private hot springs, the fanciest hot spring is the one at Grand View Taipei, which was designed by the famous architect of the Taipei 101.

It’s a wonderful alternate way to see Taipei all lit up at night while everyone else is at Elephant Mountain or Taipei 101!

In some hot spring resorts, there are airport shuttles provided, which can make it very convenient for you to get back to whichever terminal you are bound!

Cost: Varies depending on the hot springs

Optionally, make a final stop at the Ximending Shopping District & Night Market.

lit up view of the red house theatre in ximending area

An additional place you can visit if you would love to purchase some unique finds or souvenirs before you leave Taipei is Ximen.

It’s a perfect final stop if you’re on a Taipei layover, because it’s only 5 minutes from Taipei Main Station where you’ll begin your journey back to the airport.

You can shop till you drop (of exhaustion) because the Ximending Night Market and the big brand stores are generally open a little bit past midnight!

You may also check the Red House (a former movie house with two floors) which is one of the top sites to see in the area.

Inside, you can find unique clothing and jewelry, as well as delicious desserts!

Location:  No. 14, Emei Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108

Cost: No fee

Where to Stay in Taipei

If you just need a place to crash for a night, here are my suggestions for Taipei hotels, all near Taipei Main Station for easy commutes.

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