Shifen Waterfall & Old Street: How To Do a Day Trip from Taipei

The gorgeous Shifen waterfall

It’s hard to get sick of Taipei: the city is electric, full of activity and excitement!

Whether you’re exploring the urban architecture or snacking at one of the many night markets in Taipei, it’s nearly impossible to get bored of all the great things to do in Taipei.

However, you can get a bit tired of the constant flow of traffic and go-go-go atmosphere of city life anywhere, and Taipei is no exception.

Luckily, one of the most amazing things about Taipei is just how accessible this city of nearly 3 million people is to such green, beautiful nature.

Even better, Taiwan’s excellent transit system makes it pretty easy to get just about everywhere you’d like to go — an epic Taipei day trip is always within reach.

Like Yangmingshan National Park – a mere 40 minutes from central Taipei!

I was initially a bit nervous to try to traverse Taiwan’s public transportation given that I neither speak nor read Chinese: turns out I shouldn’t have worried at all!

Like I learned while navigating the Taipei airport, the public transportation here has excellent signage with plenty of English language directions.

And in my few moments of confusion, Taiwanese locals have always proven to be extremely friendly and ready to help!

(That said, one of my top Taiwan tips is to have a SIM card and to use Google Translate’s camera feature to help you translate Chinese characters when needed — it always is handy to be self-sufficient when possible!).

Tours, however, can make the experience incredibly easy: this day tour even picks you up and drops you off at your hotel, including stops at Pingxi, Shifen Old Street, and Shifen Waterfall.

Book your Shifen Waterfall & Shifen Old Street Tour here!

Getting from Taipei to Shifen

Via Public Transportation

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

There’s a reason why Shifen is among the most popular Taipei day trips: not only is it beautiful and interesting, but it’s quite easy to get to Shifen from Taipei independently.

First, you’ll want to to take the MRT to Taipei Main Station.

From there, you can board any northbound train except a Keelung-bound train and then get off at Ruifang (note: the express trains are called Tzechiang, and I believe those cost a bit more).

As of 2023, the cost of the trip is 49 TWD from Taipei Station to Ruifang Station, which is about $1.50 USD.

This is the only place I found the signage a bit confusing, as it wasn’t immediately apparent which trains were going to stop at Ruifang.

You might want to ask a local to be sure you’re getting on the right train if you don’t read Chinese!

At Ruifang, transfer to the Pingxi line and ride that all the way to the end.

The best deal is to buy a day pass for the separate Pingxi line. As of 2023, it costs 80 TWD ($2.60 USD).

The Pingxi line can be quite crowded and you may have to stand – but try to look out the window as you go because you’ll cross some really beautiful scenery!

Via Tour

Allison Green standing at the Shifen old town waterfall bridge
Me on the suspension bridge walking to Shifen Waterfall!

Alternately, you can skip the headache of navigating public transit and take a tour, as many of them are quite reasonably priced for a day trip.

This is a good idea if you have limited time on your Taipei itinerary and really want to make the most of your time.

This day tour includes hotel pickup and drop off and includes the town of Pingxi, as well as Shifen Old Street, and Shifen Waterfall.

There are also full-day tours that include several epic Taipei day trip spots in one, like this Yehliu, Shifen, and Jiufen tour that ticks off 3 day trip-worthy spots in one single day!

Book this half-day Shifen + Pingxi tour or this full-day Yehliu + Shifen + Jiufen tour here!

Things to Do in Shifen Old Street

Watch the train go by!

Shifen Old Street - the train goes through the center

Originally built during the Japanese colonial area for the purpose of transporting coal, the Pingxi railway runs right through the heart of Shifen, and the Old Street clusters around that.

The train still runs through the middle of the street today! Watching it pass by is a unique experience that you can’t find in many other places — though Shifen Old Street does remind me a bit of that famous Train Street that goes right through a market in the center of Hanoi. 

As you pull into town, the bell will ding manically, telling the people standing in the train tracks taking selfies and sending lanterns into the sky to get off the rails.

This train ritual is a well-oiled machine though (pun fully intended — I can’t help myself), and plenty of conductors are present to direct the selfie-stick wielding crowds off the tracks in a timely and safe manner.

You’ll cross the tracks and immediately, you’re in the heart of Shifen’s Old Street, where plenty of delicious and tempting Taiwanese street snacks await you.

Eat all the delicious snacks along Shifen Old Street.

delicious dumplings on Shifen Old Street

Some personal favorites are Taiwanese fried chicken and xiao long bao (pork soup dumplings — look for steam rising from bamboo baskets!).

My Taiwanese girlfriend’s favorite street snacks are stinky tofu (she swears it tastes like blue cheese — I’ve yet to confirm it!) and pork pepper buns, so keep an eye out for those while you visit Shifen Old Street.

You can also look for delicious taro balls and grilled sausages, and a variety of tasty fried goodies!

For a sweet treat, keep an eye out for peanut ice cream rolls — they’re another one of my girlfriend’s favorites.

Light a lantern and make a wish.

The quintessential thing to do in Shifen is light a lantern for good luck and send it off into the sky.

It has an interesting history and isn’t just a tourist trap — it actually has rich cultural history to the region as reported on by Al Jazeera.

This tradition goes back to the 16th century, and the original purpose is thought to be to deliver messages during wartime, or to let outsiders know the village was being invaded.

The lantern was used as a method of protecting the candle or oil lamp within from getting blown out with the wind while their message was being delivered.

With phones and the internet, lanterns are no longer necessary to send out such alerts, but the artistry of the tradition continues.

And tourists are welcome to join in on the fun!

It costs 150 TWD (around $5 USD) for one color, or 200 TWD (around $6) for 4 colors; each color is symbolic and represents a wish you’d like to come true.

Ever the narcissists, we chose attraction and popularity (in reality, Janet just wanted a pink one!).

Jury’s still out on if it’s working yet.

Jokes aside, while touristy, I’ll admit it was a fun experience!

It was a cool experience to write our wishes (and our blog names, because again, #narcissists) on the lantern, light it up, and watch it go careening into the sky to disappear somewhere over Taiwan’s green mountains.

Getting from Shifen Old Street to Shifen Waterfall

The gorgeous Shifen waterfall
Shifen Waterfall’s nickname is “Little Niagara” – you can see why!

Once you’ve snacked to your heart’s content and sent your wishes skyward, it’s time to visit the stunning Shifen Waterfall.

We were able to rent an electric bike for an hour for 200 TWD (about $6 USD), which carried two people — barely.

At some points, I thought I was going to have to get off and let Janet scoot her way up the hill, as all the xiao long bao I’ve consumed over the past few days certainly wasn’t helping our center of gravity.

To be honest, though, the electric bike ride was so short that I don’t even know if it’s worth it unless you’re really in a rush.

I think it would have only been like 30 minutes walking to the parking lot (signs say it’s one hour, but that includes the walk from the parking lot).

You have to walk about 20 minutes once you’ve reached the parking area anyway, so an e-bike only saves you about a 30-40 minute walk… but it is rather fun!

Visiting Shifen Waterfall

On the way to Shifen Waterfall near Taipei

The walk to the waterfall is a real beauty, passing two suspension bridges, an insanely turquoise river set into luscious green mountains, and countless photo spots.

It struck me when I was there that this is a side of Taiwan that too few people know about.

Most people who haven’t been to Taiwan probably just think of Taipei and Chinese food (if they think about it at all, to be frank).

They don’t think about the verdant green mountains, stunning landscapes, or ease of access to an abundance of different natural wonders within a maximum two hour train ride from the city.

The walk to Shifen Waterfall is easy, and there’s also some cafés here in case you get peckish (though after visiting Shifen Old Street, I’d doubt you are!).

The offerings here looked a little less interesting and fresh than on the Old Street, so I’d recommend eating in the town first.

Make sure you go to the Observation Point Trail past the first major viewpoint of the falls.

You can walk nearly all the way to the bottom of Shifen Waterfall where you’ll get the best view and photos (that is why you came, no?).

Shifen Waterfall is probably Taiwan’s most famous and has been nicknamed “Little Niagara” because the horseshoe shape mimics North America’s most famous waterfall.

It’s not as tall nor as wide, at 20 meters high and 40 wide — though it is incredibly powerful. It is, however, insanely beautiful!

Tips for Photographing Shifen Waterfall

To get the best photos of Shifen Waterfall, I recommend using a manual camera where you can change the settings.

I set mine to f/22 (as high as it could go, to let in less light), 0.5 seconds shutter speed (to keep the shutter open longer), and my ISO to 100 (to decrease light sensitivity).

I balanced my camera on the fence to reduce my hand shaking, as I have perpetually caffeinated twitchy fingers.

As you can see, there’s a slight blur on some of the foreground, but I don’t think it impacted the shot negatively.

If you’re super prepared, which I am never, you’d bring a tripod and maybe some filters to let you take an even longer exposure.

But I found with these settings, I was able to get that silky smooth waterfall look I was aiming for.

What Else to Do on a Shifen Day Trip

If you’ve finished up in Shifen and are looking to add something else to your day trip from Taipei, I have two suggestions.

One is to visit Houtong Cat Village, a village packed with stray cats that’s now become a tourist attraction in its own right.

The location is super easy to add on to your Shifen day trip as it’s right on the Pingxi line on the way back to Taipei from Shifen.

We didn’t get a chance to visit here, as we ran out of time, but I’m hoping to have a chance to visit on an upcoming trip to Taiwan!

What we did instead was return to Ruifang and then catch a bus to Jiufen in time for sunset.

As soon as you step off the bus in this hillside town, you’re treated to epic views of Taiwan’s beautiful, temple-studded coastline.

Climbing up through the Old Town, you’ll get even better views which you can enjoy with a sunset cup of (overpriced) coffee or dessert.

Once the sun is down, thousands of orange paper lanterns light up the streets and it becomes incredibly crowded — even on a normal-seeming Monday night in the middle of winter.

Still, even with all the crowds, it’s beautiful and quite easy to combine Shifen and Jiufen into a one-day trip from Taipei.

We did this independently with public transportation (and then shared a taxi back — there are several shared taxis that wait around at the overcrowded bus stop!)

If you are concerned about figuring out the transportation systems in a country with Chinese-language signage (which admittedly can be a bit tough to navigate), you can always pick a tour that includes Shifen and Jiufen together, like this one.

What to Pack for a Shifen Day Trip

sign in front of train in taiwan
  • Mosquito repellent: As per my Taiwanese girlfriend… the mosquitos in Taiwan are bad enough to leave you traumatized years later, especially in the summer coming off the end of the rainy season. She recommends lathering up in Picaridin and treating your clothes with Permethrin before you go.
  • Bug bite treatment: … And since a few bites are inevitable, the best way to help is with immediate heat treatment ASAP. My girlfriend is both traumatized by mosquitos and very into tech, and she discovered this awesome product called heat it that works with your smartphone! Basically, you open the app, plug the little treatment wand into your phone, let the phone’s power heat it, then you press it on your bite until the app notifies you. I’ve tried it and I can admit it is mildly painful, but it does relieve the itching significantly! Read about it and check it out — we’re truly living in the future!
  • Rain jacket: Since you never know if a rain shower is in the forest while you visit Taiwan, even in the so-called ‘dry season’, be sure to have a jacket at hand just in case. I love the Marmot PreCip jacket because it has zippered underarm vents (to keep you from getting overheated in hot summer rain, if you’re visiting Taiwan at that time of year!)
  • Comfortable walking shoes: I love Hoka shoes for travel — I’ve never worn a more comfortable walking shoe in my life! They’re a bit chunky, but apparently that’s the look and they’re very trendy in the Bay Area right now — I literally see almost every other person at my gym wearing them these days! Trendy or not, I’ll always wear them now, because they’re just that comfortable.

Ultimate Taipei Itinerary: 5 Days in Taiwan’s Lovable Capital

From the absolutely incredible street food to the mountain of wonderful easy day trips from Taipei thanks to their excellent public transit, there’s no shortage of things to do in Taipei.

I stayed in Taipei for nearly two weeks and never got bored!

Of course, most people have to maximize their vacation time, and so I’ve created this 5-day Taipei itinerary traveling at a leisurely pace.

However, if you only had 3 or 4 days in Taipei, you could certainly use this Taipei itinerary as a framework for planning the rest of your trip by picking and choosing what is most essential to you — not every day needs to be included.

And if you want to see even more, you can combine some of these days into one and then add a few of these excellent day trips from Taipei.

the old town of jiufen with mountain, tea shops built into the hillside

I’ve previously written about some of the best things to do in and around Taipei so feel free to substitute items out from this 5 day Taipei itinerary with other ideas from my list.

Also, you can combine this with my 2 day Taichung itinerary in order to plan a perfect full week in Taiwan!

Now let’s get into it: here’s my ideal Taipei itinerary, with five days of fun and food all planned for you.

Taipei Itinerary, Day 1: Arriving & Eating

a perfectly round arch, with a pagoda-style building visible in between the arch, perfectly centered. taipei skyline view.

I’ve purposely kept day 1 of your Taipei itinerary quite light on activities as I’m assuming you’ll be tired from your flight or arriving in the afternoon or evening.

Alternative: If you want to see all the highlights of Taipei in one day so you can then do a bunch of day trips, read my one-day Taipei guide here.

Get into the city

First, decide if you want to pick up a physical SIM card or eSIM in the airport before you leave, to make life a little easier.

I recommend this cool eSIM that is valid for 10 Asian destinations, including Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, and Malaysia!

Simply activate it with an easy-to-use, scannable QR code!

Check out eSIM details here!

Now, time to get into the city.

Normally I’m all about the MRT, Taipei’s lightning efficient and ultra cheap subway system, which is probably the best metro system I’ve ever used in the world.

an aerial view of the mrt on an elevated platform making its way through the taiwan landscape on its way to the largest airport on the island

But if you are arriving at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, which most flights arrive into, the bus is actually the better option.

You will want to look for bus 1819, which runs 24/7 every 15-20 minutes or so (and every hour between 2 AM and 6 AM). The bus will take you all the way to Taipei Main Station, where you can easily catch the MRT to take you to wherever you are staying.

The airport bus cost 125 Taiwanese dollars, which works out to be about $4 USD, and it took about an hour to go from the airport to the center.

Need more info? I’ve written a full guide to getting from Taoyuan Airport to the city center here.

If public transit stresses you out – especially where you don’t speak or read the language – you may want to opt for an airport arrival transfer. These transfers are highly rated and inexpensive for the quality of service.

Book yours today here!

view of taxis and a busy taipei street with lots of people walking about during the daytime

Check into your hotel or hostel

If you are staying in Taipei for 5 days, you’ll want to pick a location that is central. Here are my recommendations, broken down by budget.

I personally stayed in Shilin near the night market for my first 5 days in Taipei and then spent my remaining days in an Airbnb in Xinpu, which had a more local vibe.

Honestly, the neighborhood you stay in doesn’t matter that much in Taipei because of how excellent the MRT is. So as long as you are close to an MRT station, it is pretty much impossible to go wrong!

I’ve broken down where to stay in Taipei into three budget ranges, which can roughly be defined as follows:

  • Budget: Under $25 per night for a dorm bed
  • Mid-range: $50-100 per night for a hotel room
  • Luxury: $150+ for a hotel room
the classic grand hotel taipei Chinese style hotel - Grand Hotel in Taipei , Taiwan

Budget: For a super-affordable stay with excellent aesthetics and a good location, I recommend LuckyOne Hostel in Datong. The hostel is very well-designed in a way that I wish more hostels were — simple things like the top bunk being high enough that the person on the bottom bunk can sit comfortably, reading lights and outlets next to each bed, etc. have all been considered in the design. Check rates, availability, and reviews here.

Another great option is Ximen Duckstay Hostel which has an amazing central location in Ximen, one of the  most bustling areas of Taipei in the evening. The rooms are small but well-designed, with designated places to keep your luggage to keep the floor clear, privacy curtains, reading lights, etc. There’s also a hostel bar so it’s good for solo travelers who want to socialize, as Taipei doesn’t have the best bar scene. Check rates, availability, and reviews here.

Mid-range: Taipei is home of one of my favorite affordable hotel chains, citizenM! I love booking rooms with citizenM because I know that I’m going to get a well-designed room at an affordable price, without having to pay for a bunch of luxuries I won’t use. The design is fun and quirky, with a real sense of personality that is missing from many hotel chains. You always know when you are stepping into a citizenM and I love that. The location is also great. Check rates, availability, and reviews here.

Luxury: If you’re looking for luxury meets a dash of quirkiness, I highly recommend Eslite during your stay. Located in Songshan Creative & Cultural Park, this 5-star hotel is beautifully appointed with tons of amazing details like unending shelves of books in the lobby (swoon!). With perks like private balconies, enormous beds, sunken bathtubs, in-room sound systems, you can stay in style at Eslite without paying an insane amount. Check rates, availability, and reviews here.

Head to a local night market

a taipei night market with chinese script writing and a few motorbikes and people eating at the markets

What better way to introduce yourself to Taiwan’s foodie capital than by heading straight to a night market on your first night?

While night markets can be a little overwhelming to the uninitiated, they are simply a must-do in Taipei, even if you are a picky eater.

The reason why street food is so much better than other types of food is that vendors truly specialize in one single dish, preparing it to perfection night after night until it is the best version of itself it can possibly be.

In my opinion, Shilin Night Market is a must on any Taipei itinerary – whether you’ve got one day or five. I actually strategically picked my hostel to be in Shilin during my first 4 nights in Taipei (I’d later stay near the Xinpu metro).

This was perfect because I would take the MRT to central Taipei during the day, but when I’d go back to my hostel in the late afternoon to rest my legs before dinner, I wouldn’t have to get back on the MRT to get dinner – I could just stroll all the street stalls.

skewers of tofu slathered in a sauce in taipei night market

While Taipei locals and expats will tell you Shilin is the most ‘touristy’ night market, I think that term is a bit overblown. I visited in January, which is pretty off-season, and the crowd seemed to be almost entirely locals.

There are definitely more ‘under the radar’ night markets such as Raohe (check out a complete guide to night markets by a Taipei expat here) which may be more convenient for where you are staying.

For your first night market, I’d say pick somewhere close by your hotel – if you have 5 days in Taipei, you’ll have time to sample more than one night market.

So, what do I recommend you eat at the night markets?

While I’m far from an expert, here are a few of the dishes I enjoyed the most: suckling pork wraps, steamed leek buns, flame-grilled beef sprinkled with cumin, pepper pork buns, takoyaki (octopus ‘dumplings’ covered in Japanese toppings), and enormously long French fries dipped in wasabi mayo.

chicken served at a night market in taipei

Oh, and if you think you smell something funky, don’t fret — that’s just someone cooking up some stinky tofu, Taipei’s most notorious street food. I wasn’t brave enough to try it! Supposedly, it tastes better than it smells!

One thing to note about the night markets is that there is not always a ton of English spoken, but there’s usually enough English signage to understand what you’re ordering.

If you’re worried about a language barrier — or just want some guidance on what the tastiest things to eat are! — a night market food tour would be a fantastic choice.

This is the night market & bike tour I recommend!

If you want a more in-depth and private food tour experience, I recommend booking a private food tour, which you can set for any day or time during your trip as it’s customized to your schedule!

This food tour includes eight tastings and two drinks and you can schedule it at any point during your trip.

Check tour itinerary, prices, and reviews here!

Taipei Itinerary, Day 2: The Top Sights

If you have 5 days in Taipei, luckily, you don’t have to rush to see all the tourist musts in a quick manner. Rather, you can explore the city leisurely at your own pace.

I’ve included just a few of the main places to see in Taipei on today’s itinerary, so spread it out leisurely and feel free to walk between sights to get to know the city better (or hop on the MRT if your feet are getting tired!)

Not keen on walking? Alternately, you can opt for a private guided tour of Taipei by car

Otherwise, this day of your Taipei itinerary is mostly walkable (I’ll make note of where you may want to hop on the MRT), so put your most comfortable walking shoes on and let’s get to it!

Start in Taipei’s most famous square

a view of a giant pagoda-style building in taipei with skyline behind it and red flags of taiwan

Start the day at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall MRT station, which is a great place to start the second day of your Taipei itinerary with some of the most important sights in the city.

Take exit 5 to The massive Liberty Square is the nexus of several buildings, all of which are beautiful and crucial to understanding the history of Taiwan.

Standing tall above the square, you can’t miss the beautiful, imposing Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall.

The square’s most famous building – the eponymous Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall – is a stunning marble-white building standing 76 meters tall, towering above Liberty Square.

This building’s construction incorporates Chinese symbols, hence the reason for its unique shape.

For one, the white building is shaped like an octagon, as the number 8 has symbolism within Chinese culture as being associated with good fortune and wealth.

There are two sets of stairs, each with 89 steps – Chaing Kai-Shek’s age upon death – leading to a large statue memorializing Chiang.

Below the Memorial Hall, there is a small museum that shows the development of Chiang Kai-Shek’s life and political career.

It also gives information on Taiwan’s history and Chiang Kai-Shek’s role on the development of the Republic of China (ROC).

There are some other buildings that are also important to take note of (and are also quite photogenic) in Liberty Square.

You won’t be able to miss the ornately adorned National Concert Hall and National Theater, standing across from each other as if mirrors.

Lastly, you’ll want to stop by to photograph the scenic DaXiao and Dazhong Gates, located on the side entrances to Liberty Square.

Each is composed of 5 arches – the middle arch which frames the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall perfectly – these gates are popular amongst photographers and Instagrammers.

You’ll want to dedicate at least 1 hour to exploring and photographing this area, more likely 1.5 hours.

Have pork braised rice for lunch

braised pork belly on rice in blue and white bowls

One of the most traditional and beloved dishes in the Taiwanese kitchen, you can’t miss trying braised pork rice (lu rou fan, written 卤肉饭 ) during your time in Taipei.

One of the most well-known places in central Taipei to try pork braised rice is Jin Feng near Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.

Usually packed with a combination of locals and tourists, a bowl of pork braised rice costs around 30 Taiwanese dollars, about $1 USD.

You may have to wait, or you may get lucky and arrive at a time when there are no lines. If you don’t want to wait in line or you don’t eat pork, there are several other restaurants in the area.

Get some peace and quiet at the Taipei Botanical Gardens

white flowers with pink centers blossoming on a green tree

I’m a huge fan of botanical gardens in cities!

Back when I lived in NYC, I used to spend at least one weekend a month enjoying the peace and quiet of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

The great thing about Taipei’s Botanical Gardens is that it’s completely free to enter, and since it’s a mere 20-minute walk from Liberty Square and Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, it’s a nice detour.

I visited in January, so understandably, nothing that exciting was blooming in the middle of Taiwan’s winter (even though winters are relatively mild in Taipei and it’s actually a rather nice time to visit Taiwan!).

That said, even with the lack of blooming flowers, I still felt like it’s totally worthwhile to visit the botanic gardens.

My favorite part was the pond in the middle of the park – Lotus Pond – which has a great view of the water and the National Museum of History (which you can definitely add to your Taipei itinerary if you want!)

Marvel at the 18th-century Longshan Temple

a woman lighting a candle at the busy longshan temple

There are several traditional Chinese folk temples in Taipei, but Longshan Temple is one of the oldest and most famous.

It was built in 1738 by Fujian settlers, who arrived in Taiwan during the Qing dynasty.

However, it has been reconstructed several times: fires, earthquakes, and most recently WWII-era bombings have all done considerable damage to the original structure of Longshan over the centuries.

To this day, Longshan Temple is extremely active with locals who make prayers according to the local customs.

One unique custom I noticed is that Taiwanese people were throwing small painted pieces of wood to the ground repeatedly.

As it turns out, they were using something called jiaobei or “moon blocks”, which are small, painted pieces of wood that look almost like sections of an orange.

They are thrown in pairs and the way they fall to the ground as a unit is used to divine the future.

In addition to the jiaobei blocks, I saw people lighting candles in prayer and making offerings. It was a really unique experience for me as someone who has never experienced Chinese folk religion firsthand before.

Entrance for visitors is free, but please dress respectfully as you would with any place of worship.

Hang out in Ximending

the neon lights of ximending area which is a popular nightlife spot in taipei

Take the MRT to walk to the Ximen metro stop to get to the heart of Ximending.

Bustling, bright, and just a tad chaotic, Ximending is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Taipei.

Nicknamed “the Harajuku of Taipei,” this is where Taiwanese come to walk, shop, and eat.

Visually, it really reminded me of Osaka’s Dotonbori district, but that’s beyond the point!

If you’re hungry, follow the queues for a hint. You’ll likely see a line at Hot Star Fried Chicken or T.K.K. Fried Chicken, which are two of the most-loved foodie spots in Ximending.

This is also the neighborhood where you’ll find some of Taipei’s… quirkier eating options, like Modern Toilet.

I ate there purely for the novelty of eating out of a fake toilet bowl – and I was surprised that, for a gimmicky restaurant, my meal was actually not bad.

The ice cream, however, was another story – and seriously, how can you mess up ice cream?

If you’re not hungry, this is still a great place to stroll around and people watch, especially in the pedestrian area that is car-free.

Enjoy tea and scenic views on Maokong Mountain

Dusk landscape of Taipei cityscape from the MaoKong area

For this next place, you’ll need to hop on the MRT and make your way to the Taipei Zoo station.

To get there independently, just take the MRT to Taipei Zoo (last stop on the brown line) and then catch the Maokong Gondola to the top, which will cost 120 Taiwanese dollars (about $4 USD) each way.

Pro Tip: I actually recommend buying your ticket online here – it’s cheaper, allows you to skip the line, and includes access to the Taipei Zoo as well!

At the top of the mountain, you can have your choice of famous Taiwanese teas (no, not bubble tea!) as well as try dishes that have been seasoned with tea – certainly something unique you won’t find as easily in other places in Taipei.

Meanwhile, you’ll have amazing views as Taipei’s lights – including the beloved Taipei 101 – come to life after dark.

Taipei Itinerary, Day 3: Explore Taipei’s offbeat side

This day is all about immersing yourself in what Taipei has to offer by making the most of the city’s sprawling MRT system.

While it looks like you’ll be bouncing all over the map today, in reality, the MRT makes everything super fast and easily accessible.

Today is all about hot springs, boardwalks, street food, and creative parks!

Start the day at Songshan Creative and Cultural Park

palm trees and overgrown jungle style landscape in a park in central taipei

Creative parks are a uniquely Taiwanese phenomenon!

Somewhere between pop-up market, nature park, and selfie wonderland, you simply must put one of Taipei’s creative parks on your Taiwan itinerary.

Songshan Creative and Cultural Park is located on the grounds of a former tobacco factory, and in its place a sprawling arts complex has arisen.

In the heart of the complex is Eslite, which hosts a trendy luxury hotel, a large bookstore, vinyl shops, and creative workshops.

There is also a huge garden at the heart of Songshan which is great for strolling around and enjoying Taipei’s usually-mild weather.

We had a spate of a lot of sunny, warm days despite traveling in January so it was a really lovely space to walk around.

One thing we noticed all over the place in Taipei is that dog owners love to carry their dogs in what look like baby carriers.

Apparently, this is because dogs are not allowed on the floor of many shops, but all that is moot when you carry the dog in a stroller!

See the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall

a beautifully symmetrical concert hall with a reflecting pool in front

A brief walk from Songshan Creative Park, you shouldn’t miss the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, one of the most important buildings in Taipei.

Similar in style to the National Theater and Concert Hall, this building commemorates the “National Father” of the Republic of China (the formal name of Taiwan). 

It’s a real beauty, so wonder it’s one of Taipei’s most famous buildings to photograph!

Stroll around trendy Zhongxiao

one of taipei's creative parks with ivy-covered buildings and a few people walking out and about

Zhongxiao is one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Taipei and it’s a great place to stop if you need to shop a bit while you’re in Taipei.

The area around Zhongxiao Dunhua is great for people with an eye for designer fashion, and there are also several delicious restaurants in this area.

I opted for delicious Korean fried chicken at Cheogajip. But of course, this being Taipei, good food is never hard to find!

Make your way slowly through Zhongxiao, stopping to shop, sip of coffee, or snack on your way over to Huashan 1914 Creative Park (or hop on the MRT if your feet get tired).

Oh, and if you’re obsessed with Hello Kitty, right by Huashan 1914 is where you’ll find the Hello Kitty themed café.

Like many themed cafés, there is a minimum spend per person — here, it was 300 Taiwanese dollars, about $10 USD.

Check out Huashan 1914 Creative Park

people walking a creative park with lots of ivy growing on the buildings and skyline behind

Overall, Huashan was really cool, but I was a bit sad to see that their upside-down houses display that was so beloved by Instagrammers had been dismantled!

So if that is one of the reasons why you want to go, be prepared that it is no longer there, as the parks rotate out their displays frequently.

However, we did stumble across a Canada-themed (I know, I’m confused too) pop-up craft beer bar with a lovely, super friendly bartender who kept us full of samples of different craft beers!

The creative parks are always changing their pop-up shops and featured galleries, so don’t go expecting any one particular thing or you may be disappointed.

They’re a uniquely Taiwanese experience though, so be sure to visit at least one!

Hop on the metro to Beitou Thermal Valley

Allison Green standing with her back to the camera and steam rising off the top of a spring that is very hot

Taipei is unique in that it is a capital city with actual volcanoes right in the city limits, including the largest volcano in Taiwan (Mt. Qixing).

Alongside those volcanoes are volcanic hot springs, which are beloved by locals and fun for tourists to experience.

To check out some hot springs without ever having to leave the comfort of the MRT, head out to Beitou on the red line. There, you’ll find plenty of geothermal activity to take part in.

For a local experience, head to Beitou Park and soak your feet in the free hot springs with all the locals (be sure to wash your feet first or you will rightfully earn their ire!)

From there, it’s a short walk to the aptly-named ‘Hell Valley’ where you will most definitely not want to rest your feet in – you’ll see what I mean when you see it!

Allison Green in Taipei at the Beitou hot springs in a red maxi dress walking towards the spring

The water is so hot it is on the verge of boiling, about 90 C, so it’s more of a geological curiosity than an actual hot spring to enjoy. The smell is also quite hellish, so be prepared!

From there, you can visit the cheap (about $1 for entry) public Beitou Hot Springs or check the local hotels in the area to see if they have any day passes available to their spas and springs.

The best hotel in town is Grand View Resort Beitou and they have a fantastic day pass deal which includes full use of outdoor their mineral water pools, traditional sauna, steam rooms, and stone spa.

It’s a great way to squeeze in some relaxation into your 5 days in Taipei!

End the night at Tamsui Old Street

bridge at sunset - Tamsui lover's bridge is one of the best things to do in Taipei

From Xinbeitou metro, take the MRT back to Beitou, then take the red MRT train to the end of the line at Tamsui.

From there, it’s an easy walk along the waterfront to enjoy the historic neighborhood of Tamsui on the edges of Taipei City.

All along the boardwalk, you’ll find classic Taiwanese street food on offer, from bubble tea to all the fried goodnness.

The boardwalk area is also extremely beautiful at sunset, overlooking the beautiful bridges and mountains in the area.

My favorite bridge is the Tamsui Lover’s Bridge, which looks beautiful silhouetted against the sky as it gets dark.

Taipei Itinerary, Day 4: Take a day trip to Shifen and Jiufen

Shifen Old Street - the train goes through the center

If you have a whole 5 days in Taipei on your itinerary, it’s not a bad idea to use at least one of them to do a day trip outside of the city to see some of Taiwan’s beautiful nature right at your doorstep. 

I’ve written a complete guide to visiting Shifen Waterfall and Shifen Old Street here, and I’ve also written a guide on how to get between Shifen and Jiufen using public transit.

While I found it all pretty easy to DIY, I know sometimes taking public transportation can be overwhelming in a foreign country, especially when there is a language (and reading!) barrier.

For people who prefer to take a guided tour, this affordable small group tour covering Shifen, Yehliu, and Jiufen will take you to all the top sights without the hassle and make sure you don’t miss anything along the way.

Save stress and time! Check out this small group Jiufen, Shifen, and Yehliu tour here.

Since I’ve covered these sites in more depth on the pages linked above (and also offered a tour option), I’ll just give a quick overview of today’s sights if you wanted to DIY it.

Take the adorable Pingxi Railway

a red and orange train in the hills or mountains near taipei on a curvy track

The Pingxi line is famous for its railway that goes right through the center of several towns.

Pingxi is also the location of the famous lantern festival that takes place each fall. There are several stops along the Pingxi line, which connects Ruifang with Shifen.

While I didn’t stop in Houtong, this village is easily accessed by the Pingxi line and is home to hundreds of cats that the town people take care of!

This small village has become somewhat of a tourist attraction so if you’re a cat fanatic I’d recommend a quick stop there.

Since you buy a day pass for the entire Pingxi line, it won’t cost you any extra to stop, and trains come about every 30 minutes.

Eat on Shifen Old Street

delicious dumplings on Shifen Old Street

There are plenty of delicious places to stop for a snack on Shifen Old Street, which is full of vendors.

There were lots of fried bits and bobs that I couldn’t recognize, as there usually are, plus other standards like grilled squid and sausages.

But of course, as usual, my eye was drawn to the bamboo steamers and the delicately-skinned xiao long bao that I am completely addicted to.

Let off a lantern for luck

Allison Green standing with a pink balloon giving two peace signs with her hands and smiling

One of the most touristy things to do in Shifen (but secretly also the most fun), I think you can’t miss a visit to Shifen Old Street without letting off a lantern for good luck.

To get a lantern, pick your colors (each represents a different meaning) and then paint your wishes on the sides of the lantern.

Or, if you’re a narcissist like me, you can paint your blog name in a desperate bid for new Instagram followers.

Admire the marvelous Shifen Waterfall

The gorgeous Shifen waterfall cascading with silky looking water into a turquoise pool below, with green trees around looking lush

Aptly called the “Little Niagara,” Shifen Waterfall is not nearly as large as the U.S.’s most famous waterfall – but it is insanely impressive nonetheless.

It earned the nickname for its distinctive, beautiful horseshoe shape that mirrors Niagara in miniature. At 20 meters high and 40 meters high, it is quite a powerful and awe-inspiring sight to behold!

The waterfall is certainly the main draw, but the walk to the waterfall is also beautiful – you pass two beautiful suspension bridges, a super-blue river against a backdrop of beautiful green mountains, and endless photo opps.

It’s common to rent a little electric scooter for $200 TWD (about $6 USD) for the hour.

However, it’s actually not that far and you definitely could walk from Shifen Old Street if you didn’t feel comfortable riding a scooter or you prefer to save money and walk.

Head to Jiufen

the famous lanterns of jiufen old street in a neighborhood not far from taipei

I’ve explained how to get to Jiufen from Shifen in depth in a dedicated post, so head over there to plan it out using public transportation if you’re not going on a guided tour.

Jiufen is supposedly famous for being the inspiration for Miyazaki’s famous anime movie Spirited Away, although I recently learned that that was just a rumor and the director has denied the claim! Still, visit Jiufen and you’ll see why the comparisons abound.

Jiufen is a haven for foodies and strolling along Jiufen Old Street you’ll likely be completely overwhelmed by all the delicious street food on offer here.

A few of the most famous offeirngs are the peanut ice cream rolls and the fish ball soups, but you can check a complete guide to the foodie must-eats of Jiufen here.

beautiful detail of a temple while visiting jiufen with a view of the taiwan coastline in the distance

Other than snacking on all the food, Jiufen has beautiful temples to photograph and a gorgeous coastline where you can see a beautiful sunset from one of many of the teahouses up on the hill.

Be warned though that Jiufen can be very crowded at night. Even when we visited in January – not close to peak season at all – we got stuck in a very slow-moving line of people descending the narrow streets, which was not fun for this claustrophobe.

Day 5: Finish off your Taipei musts

Eat xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung

the famous soup dumplings of taipei
Some inferior soup dumplings, because I suck at waiting and following my own advice and didn’t actually wait for Din Tai Fung!

One of the most famous dishes in Taipei is xiao long bao, aka soup dumplings. These delightfully fun-to-eat dumplings can be found everywhere in Taipei, but nowhere are they more famous than at Din Tai Fung, a Michelin-starred restaurant in central Taipei.

While there is a Din Tai Fung in the Taipei 101 tower, the original branch is supposedly the best – you can find it on Xinyi Road near the Dongmen MRT.

The wait at Din Tai Fung is always really long – usually at least an hour, unless you start your day there when it opens at 10 AM.

Pro Tip: If you don’t want to go right when it opens, I recommend purchasing a fast-track restaurant voucher, which can reduce your wait time from about 2 hours to closer to 30 minutes!

Alternately, you could do this in the evening with a Din Tai Fung dumpling & night tour alternative!

Explore Yongkang Street

a brightly colored shop with orange door, turquoise paint, with the word SOYO written above it

The intersecting street, Yongkang Street, is also really cute and well-worth strolling around after you’ve stuffed yourself silly with dumplings…

And there are also plenty of places to eat here if you’ve saved room after your dumplings or if you have a superhumaly-large stomach capacity.

There are several cute cafés serving quality coffee, street food vendors serving up fresh-to-order snacks, and plenty of cute accessory shops, including a perplexing number of umbrella-only shops (how that is a viable business model I have no idea…).

Walk over to Da’an Park

a bird standing on a branch in a taipei park, a moment of peace and serenity

Da’an Park is the largest park in Taipei and it’s worth visiting here to rest your feet for a bit and allow your stomach time to digest all the lovely dumplings you just force fed it.

Taking up 64 acres in the heart of Central Taipei, it’s a welcome respite from the at times relentless activity of the city.

Da’an Park (also called Daan Forest Park) was created with the intention of serving a similar function to NYC’s Central Park or London’s Hyde Park.

It’s supposed to be the “lungs of Taipei,” offering locals a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown.

If the weather is nice, you can sit by the Ecological Pool and forget that you’re even in the heart of a metropolis of some 7+ million people!

Near the park, you can find the Grand Mosque of Taipei, the largest mosque in Taiwan.

It was completed in 1960 by Chinese Muslims who came over to Taiwan from mainland China and lacked a place of prayer. In a country with tons of traditional Chinese temples, it’s quite unique to see!

Head up to the top of Taipei 101

view of the taipei 101 towering in the sky looking beautiful over the skyline, like tiered boxes of blue glass architecture

I like to spread out some of the more touristy things over a couple of days, and to do some of the can’t-miss stuff last: which is why I’ve waited until the final day of this Taipei itinerary to tell you to go up to the top of Taipei 101.

It’s also close to your next stop, Elephant Mountain, where you’ll hike for an incredible view over the city (and of Taipei 101 itself).

The Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building for six years – until the Burj al Khalifa in Dubai, currently the world’s tallest building, came along.

While I generally find massive skyscrapers to be not that awe-inspiring, I was insanely impressed by the Taipei 101. It is unique and beautiful, inspired by Chinese pagodas yet uniquely Taiwanese.

Some people say it looks like a stack of Chinese takeout boxes, others, like a stick of bamboo – I saw a massive layer cake.

One of the most interesting things about the building is how green it is: it has a platinum certification in environmental-friendly design. Even more interestingly, it was built to withstands the typhoons and earthquakes that often rattle Taipei.

To give the insanely tall building structure, a massive 728-ton pendulum damper is inside, which allows the building to rock and sway in the event of strong winds and earthquakes.

a golden ball at the center of the taipei 101 that helps balance the building in case of earthquakes

Entrance to the Taipei 101 costs $600 NTD (about $20) so it is definitely one of the pricier activities in Taipei!

I suggest booking the ticket online via GetYourGuide. You can purchase the standard admission ticket for the same price as buying it in person, which allows you to conveniently collect your ticket at the self-service ticket machine and skip the ticket-purchasing queue.

Book your standard entrance ticket here and skip the ticket desk line!

However, you will still have to wait for the elevators, which can be up to an hour or so of waiting — some past guests have even said 2.5 hours!

For that reason, I’d strongly, strongly recommend a skip-the-line ticket to the Taipei 101, which allows you to skip all queues for about an extra $20 USD.

I don’t know about you, but I’d happily pay 20 bucks to not wait two hours on my Taipei trip!

Book your fast-track ticket here and skip all lines!

the view from the top of the taipei 101 of the entire city laid out at your feet

Whichever ticket you book, your entrance ticket allows you to go up to the impressive viewing platform on the 89th floor, using the world’s fastest elevator!

At 37.7 mph, this elevator takes an incomprehensible 30 seconds to go all the way up to the 89th floor – truly insane (and a bit stomach-dropping to be honest!).

If you’re a Starbucks fan, the world’s tallest Starbucks is here, but you have to apparently make a reservation — here’s how.

Visit Elephant Mountain for a sunset hike and amazing view

view of the skyline of taipei from elephant mountain, all lit up and beautiful

If you’ve seen iconic night shots of Taipei all lit up from above, there’s a 90% chance those photos were taken from Elephant Mountain, Taipei’s very own mini-mountain hike right off a metro line.

Simply take the MRT all the way to the beginning of the red line (Xiangshan). Try to time your arrival so that you get to the MRT station about 1 hour before sunset.

The walk to the hiking trail takes 10 minutes plus about 20 minutes to get to the viewing area at the top of Elephant Mountain (so about 30 minutes total).

This hike is extremely popular with tourists and Instagram lovers. It’s become quite popular to get a shot standing on one of the boulders overlooking Taipei, so if you want that Insta photo you’ll have to queue up (we waited about 20 minutes for our turn for a photo).

Hit one final night market

Of course, on your last night in Taipei, you can’t miss visiting a night market!

There are so many to choose from, but Shilin was my favorite, so I’d either head back here or check out a new one from your list.

I found that even though I went back to Shilin several times, I never got bored, as I was always trying new things each time!

What to Pack for Taipei

Allison Green giving peace signs showing her Eternal Arrival in Taiwan sign

Mosquito Repellent: According to my Taiwanese girlfriend’s personal experience, Taiwan’s mosquitoes are relentless and ruthless. Her advice is to generously apply Picaridin on your skin and pre-treat your clothing with Permethrin if traveling when mosquitos are prevalent (mostly summer).

Bug Bite Treatment: Despite preventive measures, a few bites are often unavoidable. The best way we’ve found to deal with mosquito bites is to apply immediate heat treatment. My girlfriend gets really bad reactions to bites, and she now swears by this device called heat it that works with your smartphone.

Launch the associated app, insert the tiny treatment wand in your phone charging port, and let the power from your phone heat it. Once heated, you apply it to your bite and hold it until the app signals completion. I’ve personally tested it and although it’s uncomfortable, it notably reduces the itchiness! Read about it and check it out — we’re truly living in the future!

Rain Jacket: Taiwan’s weather can be unpredictable, with sudden rain showers possible basically any time. It’s wise to always have a jacket on hand! I love the Marmot PreCip jacket. It comes with zippered underarm vents — a lifesaver when you need to keep dry, but it’s hot and humid summer rain!

Comfortable Footwear: I’m obsessed with Hoka shoes — they’re the most comfortable walking shoes I’ve ever worn! Admittedly, their chunky design might not appeal to everyone, but I personally love them, and their comfort level is unparalleled, so I’m a true fan.

Anti-Theft Bag: While Taipei is generally a safe city, pickpockets can be found in nearly any touristic destination. My approach to preventing pickpocketing is make yourself look like a difficult target. The PacSafe CitySafe backpack has interlocking zippers that lock into a metal clasp, sending a clear message to any would-be pickpocket that this bag isn’t an easy mark! Just make sure you store all valuable items in this secured area of the bag.

25 Delicious and Fun Things to Do in (and Around) Taipei

I went to Taipei curious and hopeful, but with low expectations. I expected a city more like Singapore: flashy, busy, crowded.

While Taipei is certainly busy, I found it so much more down-to-earth, calm, and easy to breathe in than other large cities in Asia I’ve visited.

To say Taipei was a surprise is an understatement. I didn’t imagine the amount of green spaces, even in bustling central Taipei.

I didn’t think I’d be able to hike amongst volcanoes or see sulfuric thermal valleys with steam rising skywards like a dense fog — all without leaving Taipei proper.

I certainly didn’t imagine pristine waterfalls and suspension bridges just a short train ride away, nor did I expect to meet some of the friendliest people of my travels (no small feat after visiting nearly 60 countries).

I spent about 2 weeks in Taipei, doing day trips from Taipei to surrounding areas, and honestly, I still didn’t even come close to running out of things to do in Taipei.

In short, Taipei is one of the most rewarding metropolises I’ve ever visited.

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

Delicious, unpretentious food cooked in front of your eyes for a few dollars, the most orderly and efficient metro I’ve ever used, and the welcome smiles transcending language barriers — these are the things that stick in my mind after leaving Taipei.

While most of these things to do in Taipei are focused on the city proper, Taipei is so well-connected that I’ve included several side trips that you can easily do in case you’d like to get out of Taipei for a bit and see the beautiful surrounding Taiwanese nature. 

Taiwan is super well-connected by metro and bus, making getting around pretty easy for the most part, even if you don’t speak or read Chinese (I most certainly do not).

I’d at least recommend a trip to Shifen Waterfall or Jiufen (or both!), as both were huge highlights of my time in Taipei and easily doable as a half-day or full-day excursion.

Whether you have one day, five days, or a lifetime in Taipei, I doubt you’ll ever run out of things to do!

Getting into Taipei

Most likely you will fly into Taoyuan International Airport. There are three simple ways to get into Taipei from there


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

Hop on the MRT from the Taoyuan Airport and you’ll arrive at Taipei Main Station in 35 minutes. This ticket costs 160 Taiwanese dollars, a little more than $5 USD. Be sure to select the express train to get there quickly.

From there, you can then transfer to the regular citywide MRT, where tickets are even cheaper (based on zone, but roughly 20-40 Taiwanese dollars per ride, less than $1.50 USD).

This is only an option from 6 AM to 11:30 PM, so if your flight is outside of those times, you will need to select another option.


There are two buses that take you downtown. #1960 will bring to to Xinyi near Taipei 101. It costs 145 Taiwanese dollars, about $5 USD.

The next is 1819 or 1961. Either of these bring you to Taipei Main Station where you can easily get to wherever you need to go by MRT. Bus 1819 is a 24-hour bus. The other buses, 1961 and 1960, only run from 6 AM to 1 AM.

But 1819 costs 125 Taiwanese dollars, about $4 USD, whereas 1961 will cost 90 Taiwanese dollars, about $3 USD.

Private airport transfer

If you get stressed out with airport arrivals (same) and have any compunctions about figuring out Taipei’s public transport system after a long flight, I recommend just booking a private airport transfer to make your life easier.

It’s inexpensive and easy as can be, since they personally greet you with a sign with your name, assist you with your luggage, and drop you off right to your door.

It’s a nice treat to yourself to make arriving in Taipei stress-free!

Book it easily online here!

25 Delicious & Fun Things to Do in Taipei

Eat your heart out at Shilin Night Market.

fried crabs at the night market - the top thing to do in Taipei!

If you only make time for one of the many things to do in Taipei, you’ve got to check out a night market.

Taiwan is famous for its delicious and inventive night markets, where street vendors specialize in a single dish and prepare it to perfection to long queues of salivating visitors.

For my first five days in Taipei, I stayed within walking distance of the Shilin Night Market, which is the most popular of the Taipei night markets.

It’s considered by Taiwanese to be the most “touristy” night market, but since I was visiting Taipei in the off-season (January), the crowd was mostly locals.

A few of my favorites: Japanese-style takoyaki (octopus balls covered in BBQ sauce, mayo, and bonito flakes), the flame-grilled beef sprinkled with cumin, the suckling pork wraps, the pepper pork buns baked in clay ovens until crispy, the steamed leek buns…

I’m drooling just typing this and a few seconds away from opening up Skyscanner just to fly back and eat ALL THE FOOD.

Check out the lesser-known night markets, too.

street sign for the raohe street night market

Shilin is fantastic, but it’s not the only Taipei night market worth visiting!

During my two weeks in Taiwan, I also went to Feng Shia Night Market in Taichung, which is said to be the largest night market in the world and supposedly, it’s where all the newest street food inventions are given a trial run.

On my last night in Taipei, I also went to Raohe Night Market, which is a slightly more local night market that was recommended to us by a local who worked at the pop-up craft beer bar at one of the creative parks.

The food was delicious (you can’t miss the pepper pork buns) to see another night market. Plus, it has a super central location, so you have no excuse to miss it!

Check out this great guide from Migrationology about the Raohe Night Market to help you plan your visit.

The sheer number of stalls at the night markets and the fact that a lot is written in Chinese can make this markets slightly more intimidating initially than the more tourist-focused Shilin Market!

If you prefer a guide to help you work your way through the night markets, this Taipei street food is a fantastic choice – it includes a bike tour around the city, some night market tastings, and a complimentary drink at the end of your tour!

Book your street food tour here!

Drink bubble tea in its home country!

a tall glass of bubble tea with reddish color on top and tapioca pearls at the very bottom

Aside from its night markets, Taiwan is also famous for having invented bubble tea (though technically in Taichung, rather than Taipei — but close enough!)

Bubble tea is basically an iced tea, usually quite milky and sweet, served with tapioca pearls called boba.

You use an extra-wide straw to suck up the boba, giving you something to chew as you drink. The boba don’t really taste like anything — the point is the chewiness.

The Taiwanese are obsessed with the texture of food, and chewy textures are one of their favorites.

Curious? Read all about the beloved “Q texture” found in Taiwanese food.

Taiwanese people drink bubble tea hot and cold at all times of the year!

Explore Taipei’s own Yangmingshan National Park.

volcanic fumaroles in yangmingshan national park with smoke and steam rising from the ground

How many capital cities can boast a national park within their city limits — let alone a national park complete with volcanoes, hot springs, and sulfur pits?

Taipei is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which makes it quite geologically active. In fact, just two weeks after I left Taiwan, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit the country.

But the small risk of earthquakes is just part of the reason why Taiwan’s landscapes are so visually stunning, full of mountain peaks, waterfalls, and hot springs.

In Yangmingshan National Park, you can hike to the highest peak in the park, Mount Qixing, enjoy the hot springs all around the park, walk across the beautiful Jingshan suspension bridge, see the aptly-named “Milk Lake”, and so much more.

We kind of bungled our day in Yangmingshan by sleeping in and getting there too late in the day to properly enjoy all the sights, but we still enjoyed our day out of Taipei.

However, if I did it again I would probably take a guided tour to make sure I saw all that I wanted to see, such as the sulfur fumaroles and all the best hot springs.

This tour of Yangmingshan National Park also goes to Beitou Hot Springs (next on this list) and makes it all easy!

Relax in Taipei’s Beitou hot springs.

Allison Green standing before a hot spring that is billowing steam on a winter day

Taipei is positively covered in hot springs — and you don’t even need to venture to Yangmingshan National Park to find them, as they are quite literally out in the open in the city for all to use and enjoy!

Just take the metro out to Beitou on the red MRT line and you’ll find plenty of hot springs available, including a free hot spring foot bath being enjoyed by all the locals in a public park!

But the biggest draw to me was “Hell Valley,” which you will most definitely not want to dip your toes into, considering the hot springs are nearly boiling!

It was gorgeous to see the milky, whitish blue water sending up a layer of mist towards the sky — the smell, though, not so much!

There are also a lot of hotels in the area that offer thermal waters and spa treatments if you’re looking for a bit of a getaway within the city, but I haven’t tried this personally.

Grand View Resort is one of the nicest hotels in the Beitou area and has a sauna, steam room, white sulfur waters, outdoor pools, stone spas, and great views, plus a shuttle service from the Beitou MRT!

Stroll along the Tamsui Old Street boardwalk.

seeing the sunset at Tamsui lover's bridge is one of the best things to do in Taipei

Tamsui Old Street is one of the coolest places to visit in Taipei. Simply take the red MRT train to the end of the line at Tamsui and walk along the waterfront to enjoy the historic neighborhood of Tamsui.

There are countless food vendors to enjoy, plus the area around the boardwalk is super gorgeous around sunset with the many bridges and mountains across the river.

It’s popular with families but I also really enjoyed walking around ordering from all the different street food vendors and drinking way too much bubble tea.

I recommend going at sunset so you can photograph the beautiful Tamsui Lovers’ Bridge, which is gorgeous silhouetted against the sky.

Drool over delicious xiao long bao.

delicious dumplings, steamed, with soy sauce and ginger and chili oil on the side

One of my favorite foods to eat in Taipei is the tasty xiao long bao, aka Shanghai soup dumplings.

I’ve yet to go to Shanghai, but I’d be willing to bet that Taiwan’s version of the xiao long bao gives Shanghai’s a run for their money.

Soup dumplings are usually either pork or a mix of crab and pork, filled with a piping hot dose of broth and wrapped up neatly in a pleated dumpling skin.

They are steamed to perfection and served with a soy and rice vinegar mixture as well as some thin ginger matchsticks which you place in the soy-vinegar sauce.

To eat a soup dumpling, dip it in the soy-vinegar-ginger combo, place it in your spoon, poke a hole or take a small nibble of the skin to slurp out the sauce, and then eat the dumpling all in one bite.

It sounds tricky, but by your second or third dumpling, you’ll have gotten the hang of it.

Din Tai Fung is the quintessential, Michelin-starred place to go, but lines can stretch up to two hours at peak meal times – hardly an enjoyable way to spend your Taiwan trip!

This tour includes a meal at Din Tai Fung as well as a trip to Raohe Night Market — without the crazy waits you normally have to endure!

Get a breath of fresh air at the lush Taipei Botanical Garden.

botanical garden in taipei with a red pagoda and buildings behind the garden.

Sure, there is tons of nature within a short distance of Taipei – from the waterfalls of Shifen to the mountains of Yangmingshan National Park to the hot springs of Wulai.

However, if you really want a quick hit of nature without even leaving the city center, it’s definitely worth taking a stroll through Taipei’s gorgeous botanical gardens.

The Taipei Botanical Garden is over 100 years old and is home to over 2,000 different species of plants and takes up a massive 82,000 square meters of central downtown Taipei – further showing how much the Taiwanese value being close to nature, even in their cities.

It’s just a short walk away from the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and entrance is free, so there’s really no excuse not to visit this lovely garden if you have time while in Taipei.

Go to the top of the Taipei 101 (and drink at the world’s tallest Starbucks, if you must).

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

Formerly the world’s tallest building for 6 years (before being unseated by the Burj al Khalifa in Dubai), the Taipei 101 is the most recognizable icon of Taipei and even Taiwan as a whole.

It’s a beautiful skyscraper, inspired by Chinese pagoda-style architecture and looking — to my hungry eyes, at least — a bit like an ornately layered cake (others say it looks like a stack of Chinese takeout boxes, and I can’t disagree with that either).

The building is truly remarkable. It’s one of the greenest skyscrapers in the world, with a platinum certification in environmental-friendly design.

It’s also built to withstand both the typhoon winds and earthquakes that often shake Taiwan, thanks to the unique pendulum damper inside.

And in true Taiwanese form, apparently, this steel damper has even been given the adorable mascot treatment by Sanrio and now a “Damper Baby” mascot exists. You can’t make this up.

If you hate crowds and lines (which are usually about ~1-2 hours), you can buy this skip the line pass which will allow you to be at the top of Taipei 101 with no wait involved!

It’s a bit extra than buying a regular ticket in person, but waits to go up to the tower can be upwards of an hour.

Personally, for me on my vacation, a few extra bucks is worth it — your opinion may differ depending on budget, schedule, travel style, and patience!

 Book your skip the line ticket today!

Hike to the top of Elephant Mountain for sunset.

the beautiful night skyline of taipei with the taipei 101 visible all from elephant mountain

If you want a killer photo of Taipei 101, you can’t miss hiking up Elephant Mountain, one of the easiest but most rewarding hikes in Taiwan!

It’s more of an eternal staircase than an actual hike, to be honest.

Simply take the red line to its beginning stop and follow the signs for Elephant Mountain; it’s pretty hard to miss.

After about 20-30 minutes of huffing and puffing, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views over Taipei.

Try to get up there before sunset so you can have the best photography opportunities, although when the city lights up after dark it’s spectacular in a whole different way.

I recommend bringing a tripod if you want crystal-clear night shots!

Bask in the bright lights in Ximending.

the bright neon lights in ximending - one of the best places in taipei to visit at night

Ximending is one of the most bustling areas of Taipei, and it kind of reminds me of Tokyo’s Shinjuku or Osaka’s Dotonbori.

With neon lights everywhere, groups of friends out for nighttime strolls, and delicious restaurants everywhere, it’s definitely one of the best places to go out in Taipei after dark.

Oddly, though, there aren’t a lot of bars in this area — nor in much of Taipei, either.

It became a bit of running joke between my friend and me that we could never find a proper bar in all of Taipei (until we caved and researched a pub on our final night).

Still, even though we ended up beerless, we had so much fun wandering around Ximending at night and enjoying the energy of all the young Taiwanese out and about.

It’s also one of the best areas for LGBTQ+ travelers to Taipei to go out!

Taste your way through Taipei.

a bowl of pork braised rice, with pork belly served on top of white rice in a blue and white bowl. three bowls visible in the frame.

If you want to taste the very best of Taipei and suffer no FOMO, I’d recommend signing up for a Taipei tasting tour!

This tour lasts three hours and will cover 10 food samples, including scallion pancakes, sushi, meat pies, mochi rice cake, tempura, pork rice, and so much more.

While you snack hop, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about Taipei’s history and how the confluence of cuisines mixing over the years to create a uniquely Taiwanese food scene.

Book your food tour here!

On this tour, you’ll get to explore hole-in-the-wall eateries, local markets, hidden alleys, and other places packed with locals — yet not so well-known by tourists yet.

The price is super affordable for the amount of food it covers, so I’d highly recommend this as one of the top things to do in Taipei!

Check out Taipei’s unique creative parks.

the huashan 1914 creative park in taipei with ivy covered buildings and interesting art displays

Taiwan has several “creative parks,” which are an interesting combination of pop-up shops, handmade craft stalls, nature, and selfie “parks” where you can take photos with a variety of the cartoon characters the Taiwanese are so enamored with.

I had never seen anything quite like these, so I visited two in Taipei and one in Taichung. 

Huashan 1914 Creative Park was really cool, but I was a bit sad to see that their upside-down houses display that was so beloved by Instagrammers had been dismantled.

We also saw what looked like a really interesting color-themed selfie park that was in the process of being built, that we couldn’t visit.

Basically, these creative parks are in constant flux, so just go and prepare to be surprised!

We did, however, stumble across a Canada-themed (I know, I’m confused too) pop-up craft beer bar with a lovely, super friendly bartender who kept us full of samples of different craft beers.

We also visited Songshan Cultural Creative Park, which had more nature and was super beautiful to wander around but had fewer galleries and things to see.

Eat at a themed restaurant.

a building with a toilet sign and stick figures in taipei

Taiwan is well-known for its kooky themed restaurants, the most notorious of which being Modern Toilet, which is — you guessed it — toilet themed. I couldn’t help but join in on this hilarious gimmick.

I mean,  how often do you get the chance to eat out of a miniature toilet bowl while sitting on a toilet while people around you eat poo-shaped meatballs and pay $10 for the honor?

The food wasn’t great, and the price was definitely on the expensive side for Taiwan, but the hilarity was definitely worth it in my eyes.

However, it’s definitely a one and done experience, I’d say.

If the idea of eating at a toilet themed restaurant makes you squeamish, that’s understandable.

There’s also the more benign Hello Kitty cafe, a Lego cafe, and even an alpaca café (however, this is located way out of the center of Taipei and is quite a trek unless you are a huge llama enthusiast!)

Eat and shop your way down Yongkang Street.

Yongkang Street was one of those lucky finds!

I originally went here because it is the location of the original branch of Din Tai Fung.

When I saw the insane line, I decided it’d be better to eat elsewhere and had delicious xiao long bao and dan dan mien (another one of my favorite Chinese staples) at a small restaurant just down the street.

But Yongkang Street is great for more than just dumplings!

There are also lots of cute quirky shops just waiting to be explored, a great coffee shop, and an inexplicably large number of umbrella shops (which seem to be a thing in Taiwan for whatever reason!).

This was one of the cutest streets I found in Taipei, and it’s in a very central location between Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and Daan Park, so it’s definitely worth a wander if you’re starting to run out of things to do in Taipei.

Dine or drink in trendy Zhongxiao.

Allison Green smiling and holding a pink cup of coffee while outside at a trendy cafe in Taipei

If you’re in need of refreshing your wardrobe when you’re in Taiwan, Zhongxiao is the place to go! But this is also the best area to go out in Taiwan.

As I wrote above, one thing we found when we were in Taiwan is that there is a puzzlingly low number of bars in the city.

Drinking doesn’t seem to be that popular of a pastime for young Taiwanese — or if it is, the bars are quite well hidden away from the eyes of foreigners.

However, Zhongxiao is the exception to the rule. While there isn’t a proper bar area, there are a few good bars in Taipei if you look for them, most of which are clustered in Zhongxiao.

We enjoyed a night out at ON TAP, which was fun, unpretentious, and had passable Mexican food.

Long-suffering readers of this blog will know that I commit foodie sacrilege in basically every city I visit, which usually means eating Asian food in Eastern Europe, but in a major plot twist, this time involved eating Mexican food in Asia.

I’m a Californian who misses home, what can I say?

It’s also home to some delicious Korean food (again committing foodie sacrilege) and cute coffee shops and boutiques, so night or day, this is a great spot to check out in Taipei.

Snack on some Hot Star Fried Chicken.

a piece of hot star fried chicken, a flat-pounded piece of chicken that is breaded, seasoned, and fried
Photo credit: Alpha, Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0 license)

Taiwanese food is famous for its stinky tofu, soup dumplings, and bubble tea, but if you ask a young Taiwanese person their favorite food, odds are they’ll say — Taiwanese fried chicken!

This ain’t no KFC, though — it’s much, much better. Taiwanese fried chicken is different than any other chicken I’ve tried.

It’s pounded thin until it’s really flat and tender, breaded and spiced, deep-fried to golden perfection, and then coated with a little extra spices.

I ate a piece of chicken that about twice the size of my face at Hot Star Fried Chicken in Ximending and adored every bite.

The sweet potatoes were also really delicious there — I highly recommend getting them too!

Visit Liberty Square and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

the beautifully framed pagoda of the building in the chiang kai-shek memorial hall area, in between the sides of an arch

I won’t pretend that I understand the full history of the relationship between mainland China and Taiwan.

It’s complicated to a degree that I can’t even comprehend, let alone distill into a bite-sized informational nugget on a listicle of things to do in Taipei.

What I do know though is that Chiang Kai-shek ruled over Taiwan from 1945 to 1975 with an iron fist, placing the country under martial law for decades, making enemies of journalists and dissenters.

However, he was successful in keeping Taiwan independent from Communist mainland China, a thing for which many Taiwanese are grateful. 

detail of one of the buildings in the taipei downtown area in the memorial hall, with red pillars and blue detail

Today, his legacy is controversial – in fact, this monument will likely change its name and function in the future.

For now, though, it’s one of the most iconic areas of Taipei and a common meeting and gathering spot. With the National Concert Hall, the National Theatre,  and the DaXiao Gate all within walking distance.

Despite the complicated history, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial is one of the most beautiful feats of architecture in Taipei.

See the stunning 18th century Longshan Temple

a woman holding a candle to light other candles at the songshan temple

Longshan Temple is the most famous temple in Taipei, and it’s very active with local Taiwanese going about their prayers. Visitors are welcome (just dress respectfully, as you would in any place of worship).

There are some interesting customs that the Taiwanese observe when praying that I’ve never seen elsewhere.

For one, there are small, painted pieces of wood that are shaped somewhat like a segmented orange. It’s common for people to pick up the painted crescent-shaped wood, hold it in their hands, toss it to the ground, and pick it back up again.

They’re apparently called “jiaobei blocks” or “moon blocks”, which are thrown in pairs and used as a divination method — learn more here, as the custom is really interesting

I really love observing other cultures’ religious customs (especially as someone who is not particularly religious) and Longshan Temple is a great place for those curious about Taiwanese religious customs to learn more about them.

Things to Do Near Taipei (Within 2 Hours)

Admire the “Niagara Falls of Taiwan,” Shifen Waterfall

The gorgeous Shifen waterfall with cascading water falling into a blue pool surrounded by greenery

Shifen Waterfall is not technically in Taipei proper, but it is so easy to get there that it deserves a spot on this list.

Within about two hours and under 5 dollars, you can be walking in the beautiful park that is home to Shifen Waterfall.

I’ve written a complete guide to visiting Shifen Waterfall if you’re interested in making this trip, but for now, I’ll let the photos do the talking. Simply gorgeous!

Note: I recommend combining a trip to Shifen Waterfall, Shifen Old Street, and Jiufen, via a tour, which is easier than planning your trip out using public transportation and not much more expensive.

Book your tour of Shifen and Jiufen here!

Let off a lantern on Shifen Old Street.

Allison Green giving peace signs while standing in front of a pink balloon that says Eternal Arrival in Taiwan

Yes, this is a super touristy thing to do in Taipei (well, technically Shifen) but it was so much fun, so to hell with it.

For 100-200 Taiwanese dollars (about $3-6 USD) you can purchase a lantern, write your messages on it, take all the selfies, and set it off into the sky with all the other tourists on the train tracks.

It was pretty fun to photograph all the other balloons going up into the sky as well.

Aside from setting off lanterns, you can also eat at all the various street stalls selling fried and steamed Taiwanese snacks!

You should also check out the nearby suspension bridge, or rent an electric scooter (or walk, it’s really not that far) to nearby Shifen Waterfall.

Head to Jiufen Old Street.

the colorful buildings built into the hillside of jiufen, selling tea and other cakes and that sort of thing.

Jiufen is another trip well worth making while you’re in Taipei. I’ve heard it called “the Santorini of Taiwan” and honestly, I can see it!

The city of Jiufen is built on a hill overlooking the spectacular coastline, making it a perfect place to take in the sunset in one of the many teahouses on the hill.

The entire city is covered in orange lanterns and food stalls, and there are gorgeous tea houses dotting the mountainside overlooking the coastline at sunset.

In fact, the city is often cited as being the inspiration for Japanese director Miyazaki’s film Spirited Away (though that has also been debunked by the director) — and there does seem to be a kind of magic in the air.

orange lanterns with chinese characters on them with the night sky behind it

However… a place this beautiful is impossible to enjoy alone. Expect to share the magic with approximately 75,000 other people, all trying to cram down a few tiny staircases.

Claustrophobes and my fellow anxiety sufferers, be warned — descending the stairs after the sun sets is a neverending hellscape of people.

We got stuck in a slow-moving river of people for what felt like ages (but was probably 10 minutes). And we visited in January, which is about as off-season as it gets!

You could go with a tour to Jiufen, but that would just compound the chaos, in my opinion. It’s easy enough to go independently.

The buses are really crowded on the way back, so I’d suggest taking a collective taxi back to Taipei.

I believe it cost about 300 Taiwanese per person ($10) for the one-hour journey back to central Taipei. Well worth it.

See the rock formations of Yehliu Geopark.

funny rock shapes on the coastline in yehliu

I ran out of time in Taipei to get to do this, but it was on my list and it’s easily doable as a day tour so I figure I’d include it for you, anyway.

Yehliu Geopark is an amazing natural phenomenon located on the north coast of Taiwan, just two hours outside of Taipei — a perfect day trip.

Here, rocks have been carved away by twin forces of sea and wind erosion, leaving behind alien-esque rock formations including the famous Queen’s Head rock.

It’s perfectly possible to do with public transport, but you can also take a guided tour that will show you the port city of Keelung as well (see prices and availability here) and save you a bit of a headache with local transportation.

Book your Yehliu & Keelung tour here!

Go tea tasting and see the beautiful Thousand Islands Lake.

beautiful teal turquoise lake in between mountains and tea plantations in taiwan

If you really want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Taipei metro area, a day tour to Thousand Islands Lake is a fantastic escape.

It’s especially pleasant when combined with a trip to the Pinglin Tea Plantation where you can sample a few different Taiwanese teas while admiring views of turquoise lakes and terraced tea fields.

Again, transportation around Taiwan can be a bit tough to figure out if you don’t speak or read Chinese, so this is a place where a guided tour comes in handy.

Check out tour prices and availability here!

Visit Taichung’s adorable Rainbow Village.

the facade of a rainbow building in taichung painted by a grandfather who lived in this area

I believe Taichung is definitely worth at least a two day itinerary – especially since you’ve got to check out the largest night market in Taiwan at Feng Jia.

That said, if you only have a day and you want to visit Instagram heaven, check out the Rainbow Village just outside of Taichung.

This is easily done in a single day thanks to Taiwan’s high speed rail connections, which connect Taipei and Taichung in a mere 45 minutes — for a price (about $22 each way).

If you have more time and you’d like to save some cash, you can also take the regular train, which costs about a third as much and take twice as long.

From Taichung, it’s a cheap Uber or taxi to Rainbow Village, or you can work out the local buses (I’m lazy and took an Uber).

I’ll be honest, before I researched Rainbow Village, I thought it was just an Instagram gimmick.

But the story is so much cooler than that — it’s all the work of one man, nicknamed “Rainbow Grandpa,” who began painting the village where he grew up in order to prevent it from being bulldozed — and succeeded so far that it’s now a protected heritage site!

Making A Longer Taiwan Itinerary

red lanterns in the sky

If you’re planning to visit more of Taiwan than just Taipei, I’ve got you covered.

I’ve written a 5-day Taipei itinerary (including day trips from Taipei) as well as a 2-day Taichung itinerary that you can combine to make a proper week in Taipei.

Have more time? Tack on Tainan or Kaohsiung further down the west coast after Taichung (perhaps adding on Kenting National Park if it’s summer).

Alternately, or head the east coast and stay a bit in Hualien to be at the gateway to Taroko National Park.

Where to Stay in Taipei

the red hotel of the grand hotel taipei in the traditional chinese architectural style

Taipei is a vibrant, bustling city with so much to see. I spent about 12 days in Taipei, experiencing different neighborhoods along the way.

When I first arrived in Taipei, I stayed near Shilin, which was great for visiting the night market every single night! It’s also super convenient with the excellent Taipei MTR serving Shilin easily.

However, if you want a more central location, I’d recommend staying around Ximen or Zhongxiao. I also stayed in Xinpu and really enjoyed the vibe around that area – it is much more local-feeling but there were plenty of great restaurants and street food to be found!

Though to be honest, the MRT is so convenient and extensive that no matter where you stay, you are not far from anywhere in the city with the MRT.

I’ve broken down where to stay in Taipei into three budget ranges, which can roughly be defined as follows:

  • Budget: Under $25 per night for a dorm bed
  • Mid-range: $50-100 per night for a hotel room
  • Luxury: $150+ for a hotel room

Budget: For a super-affordable stay with excellent aesthetics and a good location, I recommend LuckyOne Hostel in Datong. The hostel is very well-designed in a way that I wish more hostels were — simple things like the top bunk being high enough that the person on the bottom bunk can sit comfortably, reading lights and outlets next to each bed, etc. have all been considered in the design.   Check rates, availability, and reviews here.

Another great option is Ximen Duckstay Hostel (the name is hilarious, I know) which has an amazing central location in Ximen, one of the  most bustling areas of Taipei in the evening. The rooms are small but well-designed, with designated places to keep your luggage to keep the floor clear, privacy curtains, reading lights, etc. There’s also a hostel bar so it’s good for solo travelers who want to socialize, as Taipei doesn’t have the best bar scene. Check rates, availability, and reviews here.

Mid-range: Taipei is home of one of my favorite affordable hotel chains, citizenM ! I love booking rooms with citizenM because I know that I’m going to get a well-designed room at an affordable price, without having to pay for a bunch of luxuries I won’t use. The deisgn is fun and quirky, with a real sense of personality that is missing from many hotel chains. You always know when you are stepping into a citizenM and I love that. The location is also great. Check rates, availability, and reviews here.

Luxury: If you’re looking for luxury meets a dash of quirkiness, I highly recommend Eslite during your stay. Located in Songshan Creative & Cultural Park, this 5-star hotel is beautifully appointed with tons of amazing details like unending shelves of books in the lobby (swoon!). With perks like private balconies, enormous beds, sunken bathtubs, in-room sound systems, you can stay in style at Eslite without paying an insane amount. Check rates, availability, and reviews here.

5 Things You Shouldn’t Forget to Pack for Taipei

view of taipei streets with colorful light trails at night

A guidebook: While I obviously love reading travel blogs, I also love traveling with a guidebook like Lonely Planet Taiwan – it is thoroughly researched and full of ideas that a lot of blogs haven’t covered.

Chinese-English phrasebook: The language barrier in Taiwan is still pretty large for English speakers, especially in places like small hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and then the different writing system adds another barrier as it’s harder to learn what certain words mean in a character-based language vs. an alphabet-based language. I recommend a Chinese-English phrasebook especially if you want to get a bit off the beaten path during your time in Taipei.

Rain jacket or travel umbrella: Taipei can be quite rainy year-round due to its subtropical climate. If you are traveling in spring, winter, or fall, you’ll definitely want a rain jacket. I traveled in Taiwan in winter with my Marmot PreCip rain jacket and it was perfect (though Taipei was pleasantly warm for January, with temperatures around 60 F / 15 C most days). In the summer, it will be way too hot for a rain jacket, so then I suggest a travel umbrella.

Mosquito repellent if traveling outside of winter: I traveled in winter so I had no problems with mosquitos but if you are there in spring, summer, or fall be warned that the mosquitos in Taiwan are notoriously vicious and can carry un-fun diseases like dengue. When I travel to mosquito-ridden places I tend to travel with both a mosquito repellent spray and mosquito repellent wipes that I carry in my purse for touch ups during the day/night, especially around dusk.

Travel insurance: While Taiwan and Taipei are both very safe, that’s no reason to skimp on travel insurance! I use SafetyWing Nomad Insurance whenever I’m abroad, as it’s affordable and comprehensive, at about $12/week of coverage.


So, if you’ve been to Taiwan, what are your favorite things to do in Taipei — am I missing anything?


Where to Stay in Taipei: Neighborhood + hotel Guide [2023]

If you’ve landed on this page, you’re probably a bit overwhelmed when it comes to deciding where to stay in Taipei, Taiwan.

It’s a huge, sprawling city of over 7 million people, and there so many different neighborhoods in Taipei, each having its own personality.

There’s sparkling Ximending with its neon lights, Shilin with its famous night market, Xinyi with its classic sights like Taipei 101: each Taipei neighborhood offers something different than the next.

Allison Green in a hat, wearing sneakers and a coat, looking at the Taipei 101 in the distance

However, choosing the best area to stay in Taipei is a little less daunting when you consider the fact that nowhere in Taipei is really that far away.

Thanks to the excellent and ridiculously efficient MRT system (seriously, it makes this girl who survived a decade of NYC’s MTA want to cry, it’s so good) you can get to all of the best Taipei districts in minutes, for around 50 cents a ride.

This perfect transportation system makes traveling between neighborhoods easy, making every location in Taipei honestly a pretty good one.

So, if you haven’t quite figured out where to stay in Taiwan’s vibrant capital city? I’ve got your back. 

I’ve done the research, culling reviews of the best hotels in Taipei from various sources and checking maps to make sure my suggestions for where to stay in Taipei are in good locations.

Allison Green throwing up a peace sign while on Elephant Mountain with a view of Taipei 101 in the distance

I’ve picked the best Taipei hotels and hostels in each neighborhood, culminating in this ultimate guide to my top recommendations of the best places to stay in Taipei.

I’ll break this post down by neighborhood, giving a quick preview of the different districts in Taipei and why you’d want to stay in each Taipei neighborhood, what sights are there, and what kind of traveler it’s good for.

This way, you can pick the best district to stay in Taipei for your interests and desires. Then, I’ll give you three options for Taipei accommodations in that neighborhood, so you can find the best place to stay in Taipei for your budget.

Where to Stay in Taipei: Neighborhood by Neighborhood


view of the taipei 101 from elephant mountain

Best for: luxury seekers, people who want to stay in the heart of Taipei, business travelers

If you’re looking for the best place to stay near Taipei 101, you’ve got to pick Xinyi.

This is where you’ll find the hottest restaurants and hotels to stay in Taipei. Though of course, with the near-perfect location comes higher prices, so if you are on a strict budget, this may not be the best Taipei neighborhood for you.

From Taipei 101 to Elephant Mountain, Xinyi offers a bit of everything, from soaring skylines to nature escapes.

From the metro you can be up Elephant Mountain mere minutes, with some of the best views of the Taipei area at your doorstop.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of world-class restaurants just a short walk from wherever you end up staying in Xinyi, so you can rest assured that an excellent meal is never more than a few minutes’ walk away.

For first timers, Xinyi may just be the best location to stay in Taipei (in my opinion!)

Budget: Just Inn Taipei

While, in general, Xinyi isn’t exactly the best neighborhood to stay in Taipei for budget travelers, that doesn’t mean there aren’t deals to be found.

The lovely Just Inn Taipei is a well-rated option that’s rather affordable given its location!

Just a few minutes’ walk from the metro, literally all of Taipei is at easy reach, and the Taipei 101 is a short walk away.

This isn’t a hostel, either: it’s got affordable private double and single rooms, all for less than $100 a night much of the time.

The design downstairs in the lobby area is very cute and welcoming, and the rooms are pretty charming as well, despite their overall small size.

Little details make up the difference here: modern bathrooms, good lighting, fun little details like hand-painted murals on the walls.

Plus, the staff’s hospitality add to the comfortable, relaxed vibe!

Check out availability, rates, rooms, and reviews here!

Mid-Range: Home Hotel

For an affordable Taipei lodging option near the Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain) metro and Taipei 101, look to Home Hotel, which promises hospitality that’ll make you feel welcome no matter how far you’ve traveled.

Named two years in a row by the Michelin Guide, this hotel features simple but spacious rooms with a minimalist but comfortable design.

The large windows offer great views of the surrounding Xinyi cityscape, and some of the bathrooms even have their own soaking tubs.

This hotel also offers a fitness center, room service, and a 24/7 front desk in case you need anything during your stay.

Check out availability, prices, room types, and reviews here!

Luxury: W Taipei

While mid-range and budget options are slim in Xinyi, you’re spoiled for choice in the luxury department!

But if I had to pick one, I’d pick the W Taipei as the best hotel to stay in Taipei near the Taipei 101 building, specifically the Xinyi district.

I’ve stayed in W Hotels twice and always loved my experience. I love how they blend luxury and quirky in a way that feels tongue-and-cheek, not stuffy.

W Hotels are artsy, trendy, colorful, and chic, and the one in Taipei is no exception.

With 5 star amenities, including the WET outdoor pool with poolside bar, the luxe AWAY spa, and the hip on-site bar Woobar, the 400-square-meter FIT gym with state-of-the-art equipment, the chic restaurant YEN… you basically would never need to leave your hotel…

… but of course you will, because you’re in the best area of Taipei!

Check availability, prices, photos, and reviews here!

However, if you prefer a more classic take on luxury, there are some perfect options for you as well.

The Grand Hyatt in Taipei offers prestige and unparalleled 5-star service (I’ve stayed at the Grand Hyatt during my time in Vienna, and it was marvelous).

Le Meridien Taipei is a perennial favorite among luxury hotel lovers and is often considered to be one of, if not the, best hotels in Taipei.


a peaceful park in the center of taipei with skyline behind it

Best for: people who want a quiet place to stay in Taipei, a more residential side to the city

Da’an is right next to Xinyi but the vibe couldn’t be more different.

Long a favorite with the expat community in Taipei, Da’an has a nice blend of residential buildings and quiet businesses catering to a foreigner-friendly crowd.

The biggest part in the city, Da’an Park, is right in the heart of the neighborhood, offering a buffer between the business of Xinyi and the peacefulness of Da’an.

Budget: Chaiin Hotel

There are no hostels in Da’an so if you are traveling on a shoe-string budget I would not recommend this neighborhood.

However, if you’re looking for a cozy yet cheap hotel in Taipei, Chaiin Hotel is a great option with plenty of affordable rooms on offer.

With easy access to the Dongmen MRT and a 5-minute walk away from happening Yongkang Street, it’s a fantastic location.

All rooms have A/C, private bathrooms, desk areas, and flat-screen TVs, although note that the most basic budget rooms do not have windows.

Perks like bathrobes and slippers, an electric kettle, and a mini-fridge all make this budget hotel feel more luxe.

Check out availability, prices, photos, and reviews here!

Mid-Range: Madison Taipei

For a glamorous yet affordable place to stay in Taipei’s quiet Da’an district, I recommend Madison Taipei.

Just 10 minute walk from the Da’an Metro station, it’s great option for travelers who want to see a less touristic side of Taipei.

Rooms are well-designed, with large and cozy beds, plenty of warm wood tones and freshly pressed white linens to give a minimalist yet comforting aesthetic.

The en-suite bathrooms are sleek and modern, with beautiful marble floors, fancy toilets, and even bespoke Madison Hotel slippers to use during your stay!

A multi-year winner of the World Luxury Hotel awards, this hotel offers great value for your stay!

Check availability, prices, rooms, and reviews here!

Luxury: Chez Nous

For a glamorous place to stay in Taipei not far from Da’an Park, I recommend Chez Nous.

This gorgeous, trendy hotel is just two stops on the metro away from Taipei 101.

But even better, it’s just a short walk from one of my favorite streets in Taipei, Yongkang Shopping Street (where you’ll find the original branch of Din Tai Fung).

There’s also an on-site bar and restaurant if you don’t feel like exploring the neighborhood or just want a lazy meal in after a full day of exploring Taipei.

Rooms feature A/C, hardwood floors, flatscreen TVs, and basic kitchen amenities like coffee and tea makers and a mini-fridge.

All rooms have a seating area (some even have a duplex, two-story option!); some rooms even have a gorgeous private terrace area.

Rooms are beautifully furnished with lovely wood accents and vibrant blues, creating a calm oasis away from the bustle of Taipei.

Bathrooms are the true epitome of luxury, with marble floors and even soaking tubs with gorgeous brass accents on the knobs, as well as walk-in showers!

For the quality and the price, it’s one of the best hotel deals in Taipei.

Check availability, prices, room types, and reviews here!


the famous pagoda of chiang kai-shek memorial hall

Good for: staying in the heart of the action, young people and Instagram lovers

The heart of one of Taipei’s most attraction-filled areas, Zhongzheng is a great area to stay in Taipei if you are after its most photogenic places.

Home to the complex which houses Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the National Concert Hall, this square is iconic Taipei and it’s a must-visit on any Taipei itinerary.

There’s also the 2/28 Peace Park and several other gorgeous sights right in this area, plus it’s not far from Taipei Main Station for all your travel needs!

Budget: Via Hotel Taipei Station

This charming budget hotel offers quite a lot for its budget price tag. Its location is great, near the iconic and beautiful 2/28 Peace Park.

Both Ximending and Taipei Main Station are a 10-minute walk away, so it’s truly as central as it gets!

The rooms are a little small but the space is put to good use, with many rooms featuring seating, work desks, and places to put your things, in addition to full-sized beds.

Note that the cheapest rooms don’t have windows, so if that’s a dealbreaker for you, look for the other rooms in this hotel!

Check availability, prices, reviews, and room types here!

Mid-Range: Hua Shan Din by Cosmos Creation

This fun boutique hotel is located right within one of Taipei’s very own creative parks, a unique cultural institution you’ll find in Taiwan.

These parks mix restaurants, art installations, pop-up shops, and nature all into one place — and yes, some even have hotels, too, like Hua Shan Din at Huashan Creative Park.

From its gorgeous black and yellow-detailed exterior to its funky rooms with creative, cartoon-y wallpapers, this is a hotel where design has been thought of in every step of the process!

The premises are wild — think art gallery meets candy shop meets loft — and there’s always a free flow of snacks available to guests!

Check availability, prices, room types, and reviews here!

Luxury: Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel

For one of the fanciest hotels in the Zhongzheng area, I highly recommend the Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel.

While it has great name recognition as part of the Sheraton brand, it’s also just a dang nice hotel in a lovely neighborhood midway between Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the Taipei Main Station MRT.

It’s right next to the lovely Shantao Temple and its accompanying MRT station, so it’s truly a lovely location!

The hotel offers 5-star luxury in the heart of it all, with great amenities like a day spa, fitness room, outdoor pool, and literally nine dining options (not like you need them in a city as fun to eat in as Taipei, but y’know, options are sweet!).

There’s a helpful concierge desk who can help you with any pressing Taipei questions and with making needed bookings.

While the facilities throughout the hotel are great, the rooms offer next-level luxury and privacy.

The rooms themselves are inspired by both Chinese and modern elements, providing ample workspace in the spacious rooms.

The bathrooms have a bathtub, excellent toiletries, and bathrobes for you to feel like a true luxury stay

Check out prices, reviews, photos, and availability here!


a famous temple area in taiwan

Good for: travelers who want a slightly off the beaten path place to stay in Taipei close to their favorite sights

Just north of bustling Wanhua district and its Ximending neighborhood, Datong is relatively quiet by comparison and in that lies much of its charm.

If you want a more local and quiet feel, without the crowds that come with Ximending or Xinyu, then this is the choice for you.

Many of the best attractions are still within a short walk, but you can also easily escape the noise.

Budget: CU Hotel

One of the best places to stay in Taipei on a budget is CU Hotel.

It offers fantastic location as well as lovely aesthetics at an affordable price that will make any backpacker very, very happy — with a choice between both dorm-style rooms and private rooms.

This is one of the better cheap accommodations in Taipei and should be on the short list for any budget traveler!

The hostel rooms are very well-designed in a way that I wish more hostels were — simple things like privacy curtains and places to store your stuff next to your bed really go a long way.

Check availability, prices, room types, and reviews here!

Mid-Range: Bayman Hotel

For an affordable yet private place to stay, I recommend Bayman Hotel in Datong.

It’s still close to the Taipei Main Station MRT (about a 10-minute walk) but it’s in a more residential and relaxed neighborhood where you can unwind and get a feel for the real Taipei.

There’s a great night market nearby if you’re curious to try one of the most essential things to do in Taipei!

The location is great and the price is fantastic for what you get: private rooms and modern bathrooms (some even with bathtubs)!

They have comfy beds with reading lights next to each bed, plenty of outlets to charge overnight without inconveniencing yourself.

The furnishings are simple, but for the price and location combined, it’s hard to beat.

Check out prices, reviews, and availability here!

Luxury: The Door Inn

Datong isn’t the fanciest neighborhood of Taipei, but that does mean that you can get an excellent hotel for a fraction of the price of the luxury hotels you’ll find in Xinyi and Songshan.

I love the unique design of The Door Inn: everything is soft and white, so it’s literally like stepping into a cloud!

Despite the stark whiteness of everything, it manages to feel uber-cozy and peaceful (and not like a padded wall room).

Little touches add that sense of softness, whether it’s the inspiration wall art, plush bean bags to sit on, lovely balcony views, or little pops of greenery here and there.

It’s certainly a unique design and one that Instagrammers will appreciate!

Check availability, prices, room types, and reviews here!


Baroque Garden of songshan cultural park in taipei, taiwan

Best for: people who love design hotels, business and luxury travelers, artsy people

Songshan is the area roughly above Xinyi and its skyscrapers and to the side of the fun shopping district of Zhongxiao.

It’s a great choice for business travelers and people looking for a slightly more creative variety of options when it comes to where to stay in Taipei.

There are lots of design hotels in this neighborhood as it’s inspired by the Songshan Creative and Cultural Park which is at the heart of this neighborhood.

In fact, one of my top Taipei hotel recommendations for Songshan is in the park itself!

It’s also close to other essential sights like Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall and it’s not far from Raohe Night Market, which is often considered one of the most authentic local night markets.

Budget: Hostel Jiizu

This isn’t the cheapest area to stay in Taipei, but there are some hostel options, the best of which is Hostel Jiizu.

There’s a range of options from dorm beds to economy doubles and deluxe quadruples, so there’s something to suit virtually all budgets and group sizes.

It’s a little bare bones, especially in the dorm and economy rooms, but it’s clean, well-located, safe, and quiet, and the dorms have privacy curtains.

The shared bathrooms are also really nice, which is a huge plus!

For the price and location, it’s hard to find anything that offers similar quality at this price point!

Check out reviews, prices, and availability here!

Mid-Range: arTree hotel

For a super unique place to stay, check out arTree hotelwhich is essentially the world’s classiest treehouse meets a 5-star hotel.

With the greenest lobby and dining area you can imagine, completely inspired by a canopy of trees, this hotel is designed beautifully while still being in the center of Taipei just a few minutes’ away from an MRT station.

Meanwhile, the rooms are entirely modern, with all the luxury amenities you’d expect: deep-set bathtubs, A/C, epic city views, delicious in-restaurant dining options, an upscale bar, a fitness center, a spa, the works!

For how creative and high-quality his hotel is, the prices are really quite affordable. 

Check rates, availability, and reviews here!

Luxury: Eslite

Want to stay in one of the most creative Taipei neighborhoods with tons of luxe perks at your fingertips?

Look no further than Eslite, which offers up luxury meets a dash of artsy creativity.

Located in Songshan Creative & Cultural Park, this 5-star hotel is one of the best hotels in Taipei, beautifully appointed with tons of amazing details like unending shelves of books in the lobby (swoon!).

With perks like private balconies, enormous beds, sunken bathtubs, in-room sound systems, you can stay in style at Eslite without paying an insane amount — this area is much cheaper than the area around Taipei 101!

Check rates, availability, and reviews here!

Ximending (Wanhua)

neon lights of the nightlife district of taipei

Good for: young people who want to stay in the heart of the action in Taipei, people who love bright lights and buzzy areas

Often compared to Shinjuku in Tokyo or Dotonbori in Osaka, Ximending is where the young people in Taipei come to walk around, eat, and hang out in the neon-light glow of Ximending.

The larger district is called Wanhua, but people are generally more familiar with the Ximending area which surrounds the Ximen MRT station.

This is a great option for being centrally located in the heart of the action, but it can be a little crowded and thus a little noisy, so keep that in mind!

Budget: Meander Taipei Hostel

This may just be the most beautifully designed hostel in all of Taipei!

With a rooftop social area, funky design in all its common areas, social events that the hostel hosts, and in-house laundry, Meander Taipei is a hostel you could actually settle into.

It has an amazing central location in Ximending, one of the most bustling neighborhoods of Taipei all times of day, but especially the evenings!

The dorm rooms are well-designed and colorful, with privacy curtains and individual bunk lights so you can have your own little area of the room.

But there are also some lovely double and triple rooms, also for an affordable price, less than $100 per night.

Check rates, availability, and reviews here!

Mid-Range: Cho Hotel

The trendy Cho Hotel has one of the best locations in Taipei, a two-minute walk from the Ximen MRT and the Red House theater.

It’s a design hotel, so expect a fun and aesthetically pleasing environment that will surprise you!

There are lots of lounge areas where you can relax and enjoy the creativity of the space.

It almost feels like a very artsy friend’s house with all the different rooms to lounge in and explore.

There are a variety of rooms, ranging from basic double (note that these are windowless) for a very affordable price all the way up to luxury quadruples which are great for families or groups of friends traveling together!

No matter the room type, the rooms are clean and cozy, feature cool murals, and have modern en-suite bathrooms.

For the price point, it’s a great choice in Ximending.

Check out prices, reviews, and availability here!

Luxury: Taipei Garden Hotel

A 10-minute walk from Ximending (or take the free shuttle bus there!), the 5-star Taipei Garden Hotel is a great pick for a luxury stay in Taipei.

With spacious, no-nonsense rooms with stunning city views and modern bathrooms (some with bath tubs!), the hotel is fairly standard in terms of its room design.

Where it stands out, though, is its amenities, including a spa with treatment rooms and a fitness center.

If you want a spa stay without a huge price tag of some of the other 5-star hotels in Taipei, this is a great pick.

Check out prices, reviews, room types and availability here!

Taipei Main Station

light trails showing a busy taipei city street

Best for: people who want to be at the heart of Taipei’s transportation options and are planning multiple day trips, people on a short stay to Taipei

While not in and of itself the most fun neighborhood in Taipei, for its ease of access to virtually everywhere in the city and beyond, Taipei Main Station is unparalleled.

It’s perfect for people who plan to take advantage of the city’s many day trip options.

It’s also good for people who are doing a quick visit to Taipei (maybe just for a layover) and want to stay central.

Personally, I love Taipei Main Station’s convenience as it’s rarely more than 20 minutes away to anywhere I want to be in Taipei city center!

Budget: Morwing Hotel – Culture Vogue

For a budget-conscious yet fun place to stay near Taipei Main Station, I highly recommend the funky Morwing Hotel – Culture Vogue.

It has extremely affordable private rooms with A/C just a 5-minute walk from the Main Station, perfect for all travel opportunities.

The rooms are quirky and colorful, with themes that veer a bit on the strange side of things (room designs encompass everything from Milan to Le Petit Prince to anime characters to Santorini…).

But hey – for the price and the location, it’s hard to find fault!

Guests agree, giving it high points for its location, cleanliness, price, and friendly staff.

If you value location and comfort over cohesive aesthetic principles, it’s a great choice.

Check prices, reviews, photos, and availability here!

Mid-Range: citizenM North Gate

If you’re looking for an affordable yet beautiful and trendy place to stay in Taipei Main Station’s vicinity, I highly, highly recommend citizenM North Gate.

That’s because Taipei is home to one of my favorite affordable hotel chains, citizenM (I stayed with them in Shoreditch, London and loved it!).

I love booking rooms with citizenM because I know that I’m going to get a well-designed room at an affordable price, without having to pay for a bunch of luxuries I won’t use.

The design is fun and quirky, with a real sense of personality that is missing from many hotel chains.

You always know when you are stepping into a citizenM and I love that!

Check rates, availability, room types, and reviews here!


To be as close to Taipei Main Station as possible without, y’know, actually sleeping in it, I recommend Caesar Park.

This glam 4-star hotel has all the amenities you need in the perfect location, 400 meters from Taipei Main Station.

There’s an on-site restaurant and spa, so it’s a great place to unwind after a long flight to Taipei when you need to recover from jet lag, as it’s only one hour door to door from Taoyuan Airport.

The room decor isn’t super modern (think carpets and bland curtains), but it’s quite comfortable and spacious.

If you want a super design-focused hotel, there are better options (check the offerings in Songshan) but if you just want a clean, luxurious stay in one of the best locations in Taipei, Caesar Park is a great choice.

Check prices, reviews, photos, and availability here!


the downtown view of taipei 101 from zhongshan

Best for: hipsters and nightlife seekers

Bordering Songshan and Datong, the Zhongshan neighborhood is the perfect place to stay for trendy travelers!

If you love funky boutiques (and fast fashion), quirky and Instagrammable cafés, trendy restaurants, sleek bars and nightlife options — this is the place for you.

Whereas Taipei can generally be a bit of a quiet city after dark, Zhongshan is the exception as this is where many of the city’s best bars can be found as it’s sort of the unofficial nightlife district.

It’s also the most LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood in the city, so this is a great place to stay in Taiwan for LGBTQ travelers as well as anyone hip, fun, and tolerant!

Budget: 4Plus Hostel

There aren’t too many hostels in the area, but if you want to stay in a budget-friendly place in Zhongshan I recommend 4Plus Hostel.

Housed in a quirky mint-green building, on the inside the hostel is quite comfortable.

The lounge areas aren’t anything special but the rooms are really well-done!

Each bunk in the female dorm and 4-bed dorm has a privacy curtain, USB charging ports, outlets, and reading lamps: the recipe for a perfect hostel set up.

Note that the 6-bed mixed dorm doesn’t have quite the same nice setup, so keep an eye out and check the photos of your room type before booking.

Check out availability, prices, room types, and reviews here!

Mid-Range: Green World Grand NanJiang

If you want to stay in affordable luxury in Taipei’s fun Zhongshan district, I’d pick Green World Grand NanJiang.

With a straight-up glamorous lobby that will make you shocked at how affordable the hotel is, this is one of the best options in the trendy nightlife and shopping district of Zhongshan.

We’re talking spacious rooms, huge bathrooms with bathtubs included, and a fantastic breakfast spread including dumplings…. brb, booking myself in now.

With a fantastic location close to the MRT, it’s a wonderful place to stay in Taipei.

 Check rates, availability, room types, and reviews here!

Luxury: Doubletree By Hilton Zhongshan

The Hilton brand is synonymous with luxury everywhere, and that’s definitely no exception for the lovely Doubletree By Hilton Zhongshan.

With everything from twin rooms to king suites, there’s something for everyone in this hip hotel.

The rooms are your standard luxury hotel offering – crisp white sheets, comfortable beds with fluffy linens, great views, TVs, the works.

Some rooms have extra perks, like the corner king suite with a soaking bathtub with incredible views of Taipei. But even the standard rooms are quite lush and welcoming!

The hotel has all the amenities you’d expect from a four-star hotel, including a fitness center, on-site restaurant, and concierge service.

Check rates, availability, room types, and reviews here!


food served at a night market in dim light, squid and other skewers

Best for: foodies and budget-savvy travelers who don’t mind spending a few more minutes on the MRT to get more bang for their buck

The biggest (and in my opinion, best) night market in the city can be found in Shilin, and the neighborhood has basically become synonymous with its night market.

But even by day, it’s a great area to stay in Taipei: quiet as it’s away from the main hustle and bustle of downtown, but bursting with businesses and shops at all hours of day.

It’s also close to the the buses to Yangmingshan National Park, one of my favorite city escapes from Taipei, which leave from the Jiantan MRT.

This was my first stop where I stayed in Taipei, and I highly recommend it to foodie travelers who want to have one of Taipei’s best night markets literally on their back door.

Yes, it’s touristic, but that means you won’t have issues communicating with vendors and you’ll be able to try all the Taipei must-eats all under one (non)roof.

Budget: Papersun Hotel

For a place to stay near the Shilin Night Market, Papersun Hotel is just 400 meters away from the action!

It’s also a cute but affordable design hotel, with an intriguing interior (think: rainbow sculptures of animals meets white-spined bookcases — a classic combination, I know).

The rooms are also quirky and full of personality, with pops of color in fun hues like yellow and lime green, livening up the otherwise rather plain room.

For a good price and a great location, this is the place to stay in Shilin!

Check availability, prices, room types, and reviews here!


Just 100 meters from the Shilin Night Market, Tango Inn Taipei Jihen is the best mid-range option in the area!

Plus, you’re so close you’re practically inside the market.

The hotel design manages to be both eclectic and aesthetically pleasing, with greenery-covered walls, mix-and-match carpets, and brightly colored details.

Inside the rooms, the color palettes are more restrained: think faux-wood walls, white sheets, and bright wardrobes or chairs for a needed pop of color.

The en-suite bathrooms too are very modern, with step-in showers and high-tech toilets.

Check availability, prices, room types, and reviews here!

Luxury: The Tango Hotel

Not to be confused with the above, similarly-named hotel, The Tango Hotel is a great option in Taipei.

It has a few locations around Taipei but it’s the Shilin location that catches my eye.

The hotel has a lot of perks that other top hotels in Taipei don’t have, like an outdoor swimming pool (great in summer when Taipei gets crazy hot).

And if you’re visiting in a season when using the outdoor pool is a no-go, there’s also a jacuzzi!

The rooms are gorgeously designed, minimalist without being too bare. Mostly done in shades of white, neutral, and black, there is a very elegant look that complements the hotel’s location with views of the greenery outside perfectly.

Some rooms even have terraces with mountain views of Yangmingshan National Park, and some rooms have jacuzzi bathtubs (can this be a thing in every hotel from now on, please?).

For the quality of the hotel, it’s a fantastic price, and all because you’re just a few more stops out of Taipei city center on the MRT.

Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here!


brilliant blue pool of a hot spring water in taipei

Best for: people who really want to relax and not feel like they’re in a city, people who want a spa and wellness experience

If you’re looking for a wellness-inspired getaway while in you’re in Taipei, Beitou is the obvious choice.

It’s one of the best places to stay in Taiwan for health and relaxation.

While easily connected to the rest of Taipei by MRT, the neighborhood of Beitou offers plenty of spa hotels.

They all boast natural mineral-rich waters which come from geothermal activity from the volcanic landscape of Taiwan!

The best example of said activity can be seen at the incredible (and incredibly foul-smelling!) Hell Valley, where water so hot it nearly boils as it meets the air floats beautifully into the sky above.

Budget: On My Way Hostel

A hostel in the middle of a luxury hot springs destination? It surprised me too!

But the On My Way Hostel in Beitou looks amazing for travelers on a budget who still want to get their feet wet and enjoy the Beitou hot springs area without spending a fortune on a luxury hotel.

With lots of shared common space including a lounge area and kitchen and bright, clean, cluttered dorm rooms, On My Way provides a social atmosphere in a less touristic part of town.

It’s conveniently close to some of Taipei’s hot springs, which can be enjoyed for just a small fee!

Check out prices, reviews, and availability here!

Mid-Range: Beitou Hot Spring Resort

If you don’t want to stay in a hostel (same) bud don’t have the budget for the 5-star Grand View Resort (same), there’s definitely plenty in the middle for you to enjoy in Beitou!

The 4-star Beitou Hot Spring Resort is a fantastic option for travelers who are budget-minded, but also want to splurge a little bit on a one-of-a-kind experience.

I mean, how often can you stay in a hotel where you have your very own steam room and hot spring tub in your room (for under $200 a night, no less)?

To me Beitou Hot Springs Hotel strikes the perfect balance of luxurious yet attainable, great for a special stay if you’re not someone who typically splurges on luxury experiences.

There’s a hot spring bath, jacuzzi, and massage center on site so you can relax in or outside of your room.

The on-site Chinese restaurant serves up incredible dishes, including a complimentary breakfast with dim sum!

As a budget-savvy traveler, who knows when to save and when to splurge, it’d be my personal choice for where to stay in Taipei’s Beitou area.

Check prices, reviews, availability and photos here!

Luxury: Grand View Resort

By far the best hotel in Beitou is Taipei’s Grand View Resort. It’s the top 5-star resort in the Beitou area, making it a no-brainer for a luxury hotel in Taipei.

It’s located a 10-minute drive from the Xinbeitou MRT, but there is a free shuttle that can bring you there and back as needed.

Located in the heart of Taipei’s hot springs area, this beautiful resort was designed by the same architect as the Taipei 101, Li Zuyuan – yup, that’s some pretty big accolades, and reason enough to stay there in my mind!

The on-site restaurant is run by a chef trained in culinary arts in Paris, who can prepare both Chinese and French cuisines with a skillful hand.

Despite how luxurious the hotel is, it keeps a restrained hold on its aesthetics with a focus on natural touches and neutral colors.

The interiors are framed with timber and there are gorgeous cypress trees on the property.

You can relax in the white sulfur hot springs, the spa, or at the pool, or work up a sweat at the fitness center.

But best of all, every single room has its own private hot and cold spring so that you can bathe in total privacy.

It’s not a cheap hotel in Taipei, but it is truly world-class luxury.

Check photos, reviews, prices, and availability here!