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
Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase something after clicking. Thank you for supporting the free content on this independent site! For more information on affiliate links and cookies, see my disclosure page for more details.

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.


  1. We are adding a few days in Tapei before we begin an organized tour. If we were following your itinerary (which is very helpful) with a couple of day trips from source such as Viator would you recommend staying in just one hotel? If so which are should I concentrate on for accomodations? More of the mid to upper range not hostels. Thank you for all your effort in this blog and in answering my questions.

    1. I would just stay in one hotel, yes 🙂 I’d check out the areas of Ximending and Zhongshan. I’ve included my hotel recommendations in this post as well as my 25 things to do in Taipei post 🙂

  2. What an awesome blog and so many useful tips! I’ll be using your guide when I go to Taiwan next week. Thank you!

  3. The itinerary seems very helpful and fun to me! Definitely a guide for my first trip in August but as for the fifth day my flight leaves in the afternoon, so will have to adjust and omit some places…

    1. Hi Allison, thanks for sharing your great journey. I will be having 7 days at Taiwan.
      I would like to use your 5 days itinerary then where I may spend the other 2 days? Would you suggest me?

  4. Awesome, how helpful. Didn’t know where to start as the usual travel pages only feature temples and museums (how many of those can you see right?). Thanks for this!

    1. I totally agree! Temple and museum fatigue is a thing! I can only handle one or two a day before I start to go bonkers, and I think most people are the same, so I tried to make a Taipei itinerary for people just like me. Glad I hit the nail on the head for you!

  5. Great blog! We’re stopping in Taipei for 3-1/2 days at the end of March on our way to a dive trip in Myanmar. We’ve definitely seen our share of temples in the past so would like to keep that & museums to a minimum I’m happy to see the temples along the way to other sites & outdoor things to do. With that in mind how would you recommend modifying your itinerary’s? I’d so appreciate your input!

    1. Hi Mindy, you could add on more time at the Beitou hot springs, Yangmingshan National Park, or other day trips from the city (check my day trips from Taipei guide for more ideas)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *