One Day in Taipei: A Perfect Layover in Taipei

Taipei is a place where rich culture and history are woven together with a very modern cityscape and excellent infrastructure. But if you only have one day in Taipei, don’t worry! There are a lot of great places to visit in Taipei – so much so that I’ve outlined a five-day itinerary here. But if you only have 24 hours in Taipei, you can still see quite a bit of the city thanks to this streamlined itinerary.

I’ve curated this itinerary to be specifically designed for people on a layover in Taipei or who just have a short stop in Taipei on a wider Taiwan itinerary.

I have organized this itinerary so that you can visit these Taipei attractions easily via the ridiculously well-organized MRT (no need for a guided tour) in a logical fashion. Most of the locations I have chosen are free, though some have entry fees and to save time, I’ll recommend a few skip-the-line options for some popular sites. Every place on this list is within a short walk of the MRT, so it’s really easy to get from place to place – and it gets easier if you buy your Easy Card in advance online which you can then pick up at the airport.

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Planning a short visit to Taipei? This guide to the best things to do in Taipei in a day is for you! This Taipei layover guide will help you maximize your Taipei itinerary, from Taipei 101 to the night markets to photography & Instagram spots to shopping to hiking Elephant Mountain & everything in between!

Taipei travel | Taipei Food | Taipei photography | Taipei City
Planning a short visit to Taipei? This guide to the best things to do in Taipei in a day is for you! This Taipei layover guide will help you maximize your Taipei itinerary, from Taipei 101 to the night markets to photography & Instagram spots to shopping to hiking Elephant Mountain & everything in between!

Taipei travel | Taipei Food | Taipei photography | Taipei City

Getting into Taipei from the Airport

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

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

MRT: The most popular way to get into Taipei and the fastest (and nearly the cheapest!). It takes 35 minutes on the express line. Note that the MRT only operates from 6 AM until midnight. You can prebook a one-way or roundtrip ticket here and get a free surprise! The cost of the fare is NT$ 160 (around US$ 5) to Taipei Main Station.

Bus: The best way to get into Taipei if you’re on a budget or are traveling after midnight and before 6 AM. Two buses can drop you near the Taipei Main Station – Bus 1819 and 1961. Only the Kuo Kang Bus 1819 is available 24/7, making it one of the two choices you have between midnight and 6 AM. There are 15 to 20-minute intervals between each bus. Bus 1819 has a fare of NT$ 140 (around $5 USD). You can prebook Kuo Kang bus tickets online here.

Airport Transfer: The best way to get into Taipei if you’re pressed for time and don’t want to stress public transit. It’s cheaper to pre-book a transfer than to take a taxi from the airport. A regular airport transfer will just cost you around NT$ 800 (around $25 USD) so you can save NT$ 200 (around $6 USD) from the typical airport taxi fare. However, it’s a little pricier at night, closer to NT$ 1,000 (around $33 USD). Check out rates and pre-book a cheap airport transfer here.

One Day in Taipei Itinerary

Start the day at Longshan Temple

Longshan Temple is a fantastic place to start your one day in Taipei, as they are open as early as 6 in the morning and it only takes around 7 minutes from Taipei Main Station, where you’ll likely start your Taipei layover.

Longshan Temple is over 300 years old and was originally built as a gathering place for settlers from Fujian, China. It is one of the most visited temples in Taiwan. While the temple is in fantastic condition today, it has been through a lot — it even survived a bombing raid during World War II.

There is a dedicated MRT Station for Longshan Temple on the blue MRT line. Once you exit at the Longshan Temple station, keep an eye out for the signage which will tell you which exit you should take to arrive at Longshan easily.

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

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

Visit the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

The next place you can visit is Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (which opens at 9 AM). It is only 15-20 minutes away from the Longshan Temple MRT Station. To get here, go to the Ximen MRT Station where you’ll transfer to the green MRT line, which will take you to CKS Memorial Hall Station.

The architecture is colorful and you will see a lot of students who practice their performances in dancing and singing here. You will see a lot of reds from the pillars and intricate roofs, and blues from the buildings situated in the area. There are temples, wide gardens, and parks that will add up to your experience of CKS Memorial Hall.

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

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

Cost: Free!

Visit the Buddhist Shandao Temple

From CKS Memorial Hall, you can quickly drop by the largest Buddhist temple in Taipei, Shandao Temple. Just take the red line at CKS Memorial Hall back to Taipei Main Station, then transfer to the Shandao Temple MRT Station. It will take you around 20 minutes of travel.

There is not much to see in the modern temple, but it is worth seeing the three statues of Buddha inside — you will be surprised by how big they are!

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

Cost: Free!

Check out the majestic Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall was created in tribute to commemorate the founder (and also called the Father of Taiwan) of modern China, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen.

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

You will mostly see items and relics that are related to the life of Dr. Sun. As you walk around, you will see beautifully landscaped gardens where people love to exercise and fly kites on windy days. You can really take nice photos and selfies here so you better get your cameras or smartphones handy!

There is also a Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall in Guangzhou, China and it has a huge similarity to the one in Taipei. He must have really contributed a lot to the Chinese and Taiwanese people to be given tribute in that way!

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

Cost: Free!

Go up, up, up at Taipei 101

Your Taipei trip will not be complete if you do not visit Taipei 101, which is just 8 minutes from Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall Station by MRT.

It is an icon of modern Taiwan that has blue-green glass walls that look like a bamboo pole with eight nodes (this was intentional, as eight is a lucky number in Taiwanese culture). The view from the observatory is breathtaking — and it should be, considering it used to be the tallest building in the world before Dubai’s Burj Khalifa unseated it!

There are self-service lanes in the location, just be prepared for long lines. Since you only have one day in Taipei, I strongly recommend you book a skip-the-line ticket. There is a surcharge, but it can save you an hour or more in line. For me, I think it’s worth it, but your opinion (and budget) may vary.

If that’s too much, you can pre-book your ticket at a small discount, but it won’t let you have access to the fast track elevator; you’ll just skip the line to buy the tickets, which is usually not so long.

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

Cost: A discount admission ticket to the observatory is $NTD 550 (around $19 USD), or about $NTD 1,000 for the fast-pass ( $32 USD). It is $NTD 600 if you buy it in person at Taipei 101.

Climb Elephant Mountain for a stunning view

The best view of Taipei City and the Taipei 101 building is Elephant Mountain. While I generally recommend going for sunset (both because of the afternoon heat and the views are more impressive), if you have only one day in Taipei I don’t recommend going back and forth so much so you might as well go while you are closeby.

Make sure to wear your running or hiking shoes as there are steep paths that you need to climb up. It only takes about 20 minutes, but it is straight up, so it can be quite tiring especially if it’s particularly hot out. It’s worth it, though. The view will make you feel like you have conquered Taipei successfully!

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

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

Cost: Free!

Visit the charming Lin An Tai Historical House & Museum

Now that you’ve seen Taipei’s most touristic spot, let’s get off the beaten path a bit. Very few tourists know about Lin An Tai, it is a historical gem that’s good for the ‘gram.

The entrance is free and there aren’t many visitors as well so you will really have time to appreciate the quiet and beautiful scenery. It is filled with antique items that show a lot about its history. You will notice that there is a pond in front which was used before as a water source for drinking, lowering the summer heat, as well as defense.

It will give you a glimpse into what was it like to live as a wealthy person back in the 1800s. Locals love taking wedding photos here, so you may see some wedding dresses and tuxes!

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

Cost: Free!

Marvel at the treasures of the National Palace Museum

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

You will see a spectacular view of its architecture as well as some relics that were once in the Forbidden City of China in Beijing. It is said that not all of the relics are displayed for public viewing (there’s already a lot), so that means there is a huge collection of ancient artifacts stored and not seen by the public!

Some of the popular ones are the Carved Olive-Stone Boat, Jadeite Cabbage and the Meat-Shaped Stone. There are also beautiful gardens nearby that you can stroll around as well and snap some great Taipei Instagram photos!

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

Cost: The entrance fee is $NTD 350 (around $12 USD)

Have an early dinner at Shilin Night Market

If you would love to buy some souvenirs or just grab some street food, Shilin Night Market is the best place to go.

Once you arrive at the Shilin MRT Station (you can take the same minibusses back) you can just follow the directions from the street signs — and it will be a quick 10-minute walk.

Does frying milk sound weird to you? You will be surprised that in Taiwan, they do fry milk! It is one of the sweet and yummy street foods in Shilin, aside from the crispy and savory Pork Paper (which is a slice of very thin pork that looks like a meat jerky).

Another thing to watch out are Frog Eggs drink: it is not what you think it is, but rather just a simple bubble tea (the tapioca pearls resemble frog eggs). Keep walking and you might just see some cool things along the way!

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

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

Relax and unwind at the Beitou Hot Springs

If you feel that you are tired from walking all day – especially after hiking Elephant Mountain – you can try the hot springs at Beitou. It’s still along same red line of the MRT, going to XinBeitou Station (you have to transfer at Beitou as the line will continue onwards to Tamsui if you don’t get off).

You can enjoy dipping in the warm spring waters either at the public hot springs or by purchasing a day pass from one of the hotels. The fanciest hot spring is the one at Grand View Taipei, which was designed by the famous architect of the Taipei 101 – you can purchase a day pass here, and it’s open until the late evening (though it’s recommended to arrive before 9 PM so you have enough time to enjoy the market). It’s a wonderful alternate way to see Taipei all lit up at night while everyone else is at Elephant Mountain or Taipei 101!

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

Cost: Varies depending on the hot springs

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

An additional place you can visit if you would love to purchase some unique finds or souvenirs before you leave Taipei is Ximen. It’s a perfect final stop if you’re on a Taipei layover, because it is only 5 minutes from Taipei Main Station.

This is known as the “Harajuku of Taiwan.” You can shop till you drop because the night market and the big brand stores are generally open until 1 AM.

You may also check the Red House (a former movie house with two floors) which is one of the top sites to see in the area, you can find unique world-class clothing, jewelry, delicious desserts, and furniture here.

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

Cost: No fee to enter the night market

When’s The Best Time to Visit Taiwan? Weather & Season Guide

If you ask a local when is the best time to visit Taiwan, you won’t get a straight answer.

Each season offers different activities and landscapes, unique festivals and weather patterns, and distinct pluses and minuses. The best time to visit Taiwan ends up depending on what you want, and so knowing that is key to deciding what you want to do.

There are so many things you can do in Taiwan that are dependent on the different seasons. To truly answer the best time to visit Taiwan, you just have to basically know what you want to do so that you can select the perfect season to book that trip.

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Want to travel Taiwan - but you don’t know the best time to visit Taiwan? This guide to seasons, weather, and festivals in Taiwan will help you! Whether you want to visit Taiwan in winter for the Lantern festival and hot springs, Taiwan in spring for its cherry blossoms and photography opportunities, Taiwan in summer for its beaches and national parks, or Taiwan in fall for its nature, hiking, and pretty foliage, there’s so many wonderful things to do in Taiwan in all seasons!
Want to travel Taiwan - but you don’t know the best time to visit Taiwan? This guide to seasons, weather, and festivals in Taiwan will help you! Whether you want to visit Taiwan in winter for the Lantern festival and hot springs, Taiwan in spring for its cherry blossoms and photography opportunities, Taiwan in summer for its beaches and national parks, or Taiwan in fall for its nature, hiking, and pretty foliage, there’s so many wonderful things to do in Taiwan in all seasons!

If you want to see turquoise water, white sand beaches, and pristine seascapes, then summer is the perfect time to visit. If you like long walks and hiking amongst a kaleidoscope of rust-colored trees, then autumn will be best. If soaking in warm hot springs is something you enjoy, then winter (which is rather mild in Taiwan) will be a delight for you. And if you’re rabid for cherry blossoms, then you can’t miss visiting in spring.

As you can see, every season offers a memorable experience, so it’s more of a matter of picking the experience that most resonates with your interests and travel style. To further narrow down when to visit Taiwan, I have listed some key information about each season that can help you plan your trip.

Summer (June – August)

As an island, many people would think that Taiwan is a perfect island getaway and thus perfect to visit during the summer. However, there are pros and cons to this.

Budget travelers will enjoy slightly cheaper flights and accommodation in Taiwan during the summer season; however, this is for a reason, as this is also the time of the year when it can be very hot and humid! In fact, now and then, there are strong typhoons which hit the country in the summer.

Be sure to check online weather forecasts before booking that Taiwan trip and be sure to bring proper rain gear (I always bring my Marmot PreCip jacket and a compact travel umbrella). It is better to be prepared because raincoats and umbrellas can be quite expensive!

The temperature can rise up to around 97°F (around 36°C), though temperatures around 93°F (around 34°C) are more common. However, that doesn’t factor for the punishing humidity, which can push the heat index into the 100s°F (nearly 40°C!).

If you visit Taiwan in summer, you should bring lightweight and comfortable clothes (I have more suggestions on my Taiwan packing list here). Quick-drying fabrics like linen and silk will do better than clothing that stays damp like cotton. Whatever you do — get ready to sweat from the heat! Think of it as a free sauna that you can never escape from.

However, if you can brave the high temperatures, the warm weather just tells you that it is the perfect time to visit Taiwan’s beaches!

If possible, try to go during a weekday so that you will not encounter a big crowd, but regardless of the day of the week, expect a lot of local students because they are on summer break from July until August.

Kenting National Park in the very far south of Taiwan is a fantastic option. One of the most popular beaches there is Little Bay (Xiaowan) but frankly, you can barely go wrong with anywhere in Kenting!

The nearest beach you can go from Taipei Main Station is Fulong Beach. It is only a quick ride on the TRA (Taiwan Railways Administration).  You will be surprised once the ocean waves hit you with the refreshingly cold (but not freezing) water!

There is an entrance fee to the beach, approximately $NTD 100 (around $3.50 USD). If you’re visiting sometime between mid-April and mid-July, there is the Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival going on that you may want to check. Make sure to bring food or try the popular Fulong Bento, as there is only one café once you enter the premises.

If you are the type of person who loves serene views of nature and lovely beaches, then I would strongly recommend getting out of Taipei and heading to one of the beautiful islands of Taiwan. The most gorgeous islands are Xiao Liuqiu, Lanyu Island (Orchid Island), Matsu Island, and the Penghu Islands.

The most interesting of the bunch is perhaps Penghu, an archipelago of islands. One of its townships is Qimei Island, which is popular for the Twin-Heart Stone Weir, which is actually a fish trap. It’s a popular spot for Instagram lovers!

Virtually all of these beautiful islands will make you feel like you are in a time capsule away from the city. The culture is well-preserved and not a lot of tourists are there, due to the limited capacity of people these small islands can accommodate.

Lastly, who says you can’t enjoy springs during the summer? While Taiwan is famous for its ubiquitous hot springs, cold springs are also a thing in Taiwan! There are a few ones like the Su’ao Cold Spring in Yilan and the Sishierfeng Cold Spring in Miaoli.

Fall (September – November)

If pressed, Taiwanese people might say that this is the best time of the year to visit Taiwan. The weather starts to cool down and it is perfect for trekking or hiking. Temperatures can go from 68-79°F (around 20-26°C).

Flights and accommodation costs can skyrocket rather high during this season, and September is generally considered the most expensive time to visit. Budget travelers should veer away during this season. There is also less rainfall when compared to summer and spring.

Landscapes start to flourish, with leaves turning to beautiful shades of red, brown and yellow. A significant holiday during this season is the Moon Festival or the Mid-Autumn Festival. Moon cakes and Taiwanese BBQ treats will be served under the full moon!

My selection of day trips from Taipei is perfect for this season, as the weather isn’t too hot to base yourself out of the capital and Taiwan’s lush countryside isn’t a far ride away. Plus, it’s finally not too hot to explore!

I asked a Taiwanese local what was the best place to go to during this season, and he recommended the Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area. I personally have not been there (yet), but it just looks amazing in photos!

Winter (December – February)

December is when the temperatures start to drop. It can go as low as 50°F (around 10°C). The coldest month of the year is January; however, I spent two weeks in January in Taiwan, and I found the weather rather lovely. Taiwan is not as cold as the winter in most western countries, and it is definitely warmer than other East Asian countries such as China, Japan, and South Korea!

If you are from North America, and you want to experience a warmer winter (but not stifling heat and humidity the way you would in Southeast Asia), then it will be a good idea to travel to Taiwan at this time of the year. Snow is rare, and when it does snow, it’s only in some mountainous areas.

This is the perfect time to get your cozy and warm clothing ready! It is important to wear the right clothing so you can enjoy walking around. Again, I’ve covered winter in Taiwan clothing recommendations on my Taiwan packing list.

However, while December and January are more affordable months to travel, keep in mind that flights and accommodation inflate like crazy in February due to the Chinese Lunar New Year. This holiday is very festive and unique, so it’s definitely worth visiting if you don’t mind paying higher prices! The famous Pingxi Lantern Festival takes place on the last day of Lunar New Year, and it’s a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

If you’re on a budget, aim for December or January. Shopaholics will love the latter part of January, where stores will showcase a ton of overwhelming discounts. However, during the Lunar New Year holidays (which can last for a week around early February), stores are mostly closed.

The Lunar New Year is the best time to visit Elephant Mountain – thank me because you will be amazed by a view of Taipei 101 complemented by fireworks!

There are a ton of hot springs, especially in Beitou, where you have the unique opportunity to stay at a hot spring hotel — many with your own personal hot spring!

Upon arrival at the Beitou MRT station, a monument with the hot spring spirits will welcome you. Local people will flock to several hot springs, so expect a crowd at the public ones. You can try to pre-book online (I recommend this day package at the best hot spring hotel in Beitou, designed by the architect of the Taipei 101!) to avoid long lines, or even worse, not being able to enjoy a good hot spring.

Spring (March – May)

Spring marks the season when the flora of Taiwan are gorgeously blooming! This means you can enjoy having Instagram-worthy pictures with stunning pink cherry blossoms and hydrangeas.

Yangmingshan National Park is one of the best places to find cherry blossoms, but there are other national parks and scenic areas such as Alishan, Wulai, and Wuling Farm as well where you might be able to find them. Another popular spot that’s easy to get to from Taipei is the Tian Yuan Temple in Danshui, which is beautiful when the cherry blossoms erupt.

If you are planning to have a less expensive trip while enjoying the weather, then this is the perfect time to visit, although the peak cherry blossom season can be a bit more expensive than the rest of spring. Spring is not as warm and humid as the summer season and not as rainy as well, though May is when the rainy season starts to kick in.

Generally, temperatures can go around 75°F (around 24°C) and some national parks in mountainous areas can have temperatures going around 68°F (around 20°C).

In terms of festivals, the Swimming Carnival of Sun Moon Lake takes place during this season, and it brings accommodations near the park in high demand. I would strongly suggest planning everything beforehand should you wish to attend this event!

Strolling around Jiufen and Shifen Old Streets will be a spectacular choice during this time of year — not too hot, nor too cold, nor too many tourists! You can check my article about traveling Shifen and Jiufen here.

General Notes about Festivals and Holidays in Taiwan

Taiwan has two calendars: the national calendar and the lunar calendar. While most of the time they follow the national calendar, for most holidays and festivals they follow the Chinese lunar calendar.

The holidays and festivities are sure to give you a taste of Taiwan’s culture at its finest, but keep in mind that there is a cost equivalent to this experience!

Pin This Guide to the Best Time to Visit Taiwan!

Want to travel Taiwan - but you don’t know the best time to visit Taiwan? This guide to seasons, weather, and festivals in Taiwan will help you! Whether you want to visit Taiwan in winter for the Lantern festival and hot springs, Taiwan in spring for its cherry blossoms and photography opportunities, Taiwan in summer for its beaches and national parks, or Taiwan in fall for its nature, hiking, and pretty foliage, there’s so many wonderful things to do in Taiwan in all seasons!
Want to travel Taiwan - but you don’t know the best time to visit Taiwan? This guide to seasons, weather, and festivals in Taiwan will help you! Whether you want to visit Taiwan in winter for the Lantern festival and hot springs, Taiwan in spring for its cherry blossoms and photography opportunities, Taiwan in summer for its beaches and national parks, or Taiwan in fall for its nature, hiking, and pretty foliage, there’s so many wonderful things to do in Taiwan in all seasons!

Where to Stay in Taichung: Accommodations & Hotels You’ll Love!

Taichung is one of the most interesting cities in Taiwan. Culture, cuisine, creativity – it’s got it all. Better yet, Taichung is still not so busy with tourists, who tend to stay in Taipei.

However, Taichung is rather spread out, and there is no central MRT system like in Taipei that makes it easy to zip around. There are public buses, but it can be confusing to figure out, especially if you’re only there for a few days (I ended up relying on Uber on my time there out of frustration/laziness). So picking the best Taichung neighborhood is essential to maximizing your time in Taichung – otherwise, you’ll spend either a lot of time or money on transit.

Whether you’re interested in exploring the Instagram heaven of Rainbow Village, the foodie hotspot of Fengjia Night Market, or tasting the delicious pineapple cakes at Miyahara, this guide to where to stay in Taichung will help you pick the perfect base for your Taichung adventures.

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Visiting Taichung, Taiwan? Whether you visit for the street food, Miyahara shop, art galleries, city life, or photography spots, there’s so much to do in Taichung. The real question is where to stay in Taichung! If you want to be in the city center or near Fengjia Night Market, whether you want epic views or to be close to a park, or if you want to be where all the best Instagram spots , shopping, and cafes are — this guide will help you pick the best Taichung hotels and accommodations!
Visiting Taichung, Taiwan? Whether you visit for the street food, Miyahara shop, art galleries, city life, or photography spots, there’s so much to do in Taichung. The real question is where to stay in Taichung! If you want to be in the city center or near Fengjia Night Market, whether you want epic views or to be close to a park, or if you want to be where all the best Instagram spots , shopping, and cafes are — this guide will help you pick the best Taichung hotels and accommodations!

Where to Stay in Taichung: Neighborhood by Neighborhood

West District

Most of the activities in the entire district are mainly cultural and educational. The area was once mostly farmlands, but the rise of population led the government to change those farms into residential areas. It is the second smallest district in Taichung which is divided into 25 villages with a population of around 115,000.

Popular attractions include the Taichung Shiyakusho, Shenji New Village, National Museum of Natural Science, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung Prefectural Hall Park and the Da Dun Cultural Center. It is also home to the most popular shopping center in Taichung, SOGO Department Store.

Budget: Stray Birds Taichung Hostel

Stray Birds Taichung Hostel is strategically situated near the artsy spots, museums, and malls in the West District. The hostel has very clean and quiet rooms, which are either shared or private, that you may choose from. If you are worried about privacy in a hostel, don’t stress — there are cubicles that separate each bunk bed.

Previous guests reported they that they were able to access their gadgets anywhere because outlets are present almost everywhere – a millennial’s dream. Safety and security is a priority in their facilities: every gate in each story is locked, and lockers are available in every room.

Congee (Chinese rice porridge) and toast are served daily for breakfast, but if you want to try something else, then there are many delicious cafes nearby the hotel. You can also relax in their huge lounge, because they have things to keep boredom at bay, like board games, puzzles, books, and DVDs.

You should note that all the bathrooms are shared, but there is a separate dry area where you can sit and fix your hair or do make-up. If this is something that does not bother you, then it is a very budget-friendly place to stay in Taipei! Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Mid-range: Green Hotel

The name itself tells you that its main theme: it’s extremely environmentally-friendly! It has won first place in Taichung for having the lowest carbon-producing hotel.

Both the exterior and interior of the hotel are modern and touches of nature are visible everywhere (aside from the leaf motif scattered all over the place, giving another meaning to the green name).

The hotel believes that nature has its own way of giving a stress-free and relaxed atmosphere that gives positive energy to their guests. They have multiple room configurations that are simple and neat with most of the amenities you need like a TV, refrigerator, and work desk. If you need some assistance, then they have a 24-hour service desk that can help you with any tours, concierge, luggage storage or a simple task like photocopying or faxing.

The bathroom walls are made from clear glass but they have curtains to cover it if in case you need to. There is a designated area for smokers because the entire property is non-smoking. Instead of walking to nearby locations, you may borrow their bikes for free and check out nearby attractions like the National Museum of Science, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and the Calligraphy Greenway. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Luxury: The Landis Taichung (Hotel ONE Taichung)

The hotel is on the top of the Shr-Hwa International Tower (considered as the tallest building in Taichung), so expect picturesque views of the city especially at night.

They have 202 spacious and comfortable rooms and suites that are inspired by the warm colors of fall, warm wood tones as well as yellow and orange details. The beds are comfortable with gorgeously quilted headboards.

Each room has a multi-function workstation, a 40-inch-wide TV and a multi-channel surround sound that you can connect to your laptop. You can also book meetings at their business center – perfect for business travelers! You will notice an iPad in the room which can be used to control the lights and A/C. And of course, a minibar is present in all their Deluxe Studio rooms.

The hotel is a perfect combination of technology and style! Other features are a bar, restaurant, café, currency exchange center and fitness center inside the location. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

East District

This district used to be home to many factories like sugar, rubber, iron, textile, and other food-related products. Traditional crafts and products are still quite popular here. For souvenir items and gifts, you can shop at the Taichung Central Department store.

It houses 21 temples; one of them is the famous Lecheng Temple, which is a place to pay tribute to the sea goddess Mazu. Dongsheng Bridge can also be found here, and it is filled with beautiful LED lights at night.

Budget: MINI Hotels

If you are traveling with a limited budget, then this is the right choice for something that’s in the East District. Do not expect huge beds and spacious areas, because the hotel prides itself on being a mini hotel.

I would not recommend it to claustrophobic people! It has private compact rooms which will be perfect for solo travelers and good for couples who don’t mind staying in close quarters.

Guests have recommended it to other travelers because the location offers easy access to all sorts of attractions, like the Taroko Mall, Carrefour, Miyahara Dessert Store, Taichung City Hall, and Taichung Chenghuang Temple. The Zhongxiao Road Market can also be reached by foot in 15 minutes, you can try all sorts of foods from Japanese to local, and they are in some stalls with long lines of people waiting for their turn to buy. (Pro tip: always line up behind some locals! The food will be fresher and the Taiwanese are serious foodies, so they won’t wait for no reason!).

What you will love the most is the view from the rooftop of the hotel where you can sit and relax in the coffee table chairs — good if you need a break from your mini room! They have colorful themed walls in the hallways alongside wooden furniture that are inspired by vintage pieces. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Mid-range: Old School

Unlike the name suggests, Old School is rather new on the Taichung hotel scene. It was opened in 2017 so most of the facilities still have that new look and feel.

It is an excellent choice due to its short distance to night markets, malls and the Taichung Railway Station (only a 6-minute walk). The interiors are modern and the lobby has clear glass panels that showcase the outdoor façade garden. Some even say that the hotel is very good for those taking pictures for their Instagram!

The rooms somehow give you a shabby chic ambiance with its wooden furnishings that matches the pure white sheets. You can tell how modern the hotel is by its USB charging ports — which makes it very convenient if you forget to bring your universal plug adapter. They also have a private indoor parking lot for free.

Foodies will be thrilled with their breakfast because they also serve tasty local breakfast food (not just boring Western continental breakfasts)! What guests loved the most is their service and can-do attitude of all the staff. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Luxury: Inhouse Hotel Taichung

At first, you will notice outside that the Inhouse Hotel Taichung resembles an old office building, but the interior will surprise you, because it honestly looks gorgeous inside. The lobby has a luxurious feel, with sparkling chandeliers and beautiful marble floors. The moment you walk in, they will welcome you with a warm cup of tea. It’s that kind of personalized luxury!

The hotel has a wide array of rooms that have elegant stylish interiors which are complemented by teak wood and polished details. The rooms are also huge and cozy, with a private bathroom and tub, plus all toiletries are available.

You are also provided with a mini-fridge so you can store some food, and you may also request for groceries to be delivered directly to your room for an additional charge. They have a fantastic and filling buffet breakfast included, helping you start your day. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Central District

It is the smallest but the busiest neighborhood in Taichung. It used to be considered as the center of businesses and industry in Taichung, and that’s the reason why a lot of people still work or live here.

Most of the infrastructures and roads date back to the Japanese era, making it one of the earliest-developed areas in the city. Due to this, most of the roads are narrow and it is quite difficult for new businesses to establish. The government is trying their best to find new ways on how to develop the city while maintaining the rich culture and local industries to thrive.

One of its night markets, Second Market, has been in operations since 1917. A delicacy you shouldn’t miss are suncakes, which are pastries made from malt, stored in fancy boxes, and given as gifts (or eaten all to yourself — I won’t judge).

Budget: Loosha Hostel

Loosha Hostel has both private rooms (standard twin) and dormitory type rooms (either for females only or mixed). Common areas include a shared kitchen and lounge available 24 hours, where you can make use of their fridge, toaster, microwave and water dispenser and recreational materials like board games, table tennis, and pool.

Luggage storage and laundry are also available. If you have brought a car with you, parking fees are at NT$ 100 (around $4 USD) per day. You can stay at the hostel for only $20 USD per night in one of their sleek dormitory rooms. The breakfast is quite fancy for a budget hostel, and guests were surprised!

If you are going to book a shared dormitory room, be aware that the bathrooms are a bit far. If this bothers you, then it is best to get a standard room with a private bathroom. Solo female travelers felt safe because the ladies’ dormitory rooms are separated and has a keycard feature before you can access. I would definitely recommend this to female backpackers. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Mid-Range: P&F Hotel

The hotel integrates elements from the past into its modern architecture. The rooms are spacious and have simple neutral tones.

People traveling for business, who do not wish to spend so much but need a professional and quiet atmosphere, will enjoy the working desk as well as the overall quiet, professional vibe of the hotel. The ensuite bathroom is also complete with free toiletries and hairdryer. They serve free breakfast and you can choose from Asian or Western food — either served fresh and hot every morning!

A short walk away from the hotel, you can check the Shin Sei Green Waterway at night and see the beautiful romantic dandelion lamps lit across the river.

A good thing about the hotel is that it is surrounded by a couple of 24-hour convenience stores, so if you get hungry late at night, you can surely buy something to eat. You can also use their Gogoro (which is a Taiwanese electric bike) if you want to go somewhere and it is free-of-charge; just make sure you have a local license if you are going to drive far! Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Luxury: 1969 Blue Sky Hotel

The décor of the hotel is mostly inspired by vintage pieces from the era of the hotel’s theme. It has eight floors that will bring you back to the time when the first man landed on the moon and the Beatles hits were everywhere on the radios. Truly a blast from the past!

They have beautifully combined old and modern accents (and a little bit of art deco and steampunk) into clean rooms that have closet storages, comfortable beds, and work desks. Some rooms do not have a city view, so you would need to check before you book. Bathroom spaces have dry and wet areas, all with Majolica style tiles on the floor. You may also ask for assistance from their service desk if you need any local tips or for them to help in calling a taxi or figuring out transit.

A pro tip would be to pre-book your stay during their off-peak season because you can avail it for as low as US$ 63 – you get the benefits of a luxury stay with the price of a mid-range hotel! Usual rates of the hotel can go from US$ 80 – US$ 140 per night. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

North District

The North District lies between the Central and Beitun districts. You will see many universities and high schools in this urban district, and locals consider this as one of the best places to live and study.

There’s the Yizhong Street Market, which is not as big as Fengjia but still has fantastic selection, where you can find some awesome snacks like the traditional Fengren shaved ice.

Some of the other popular tourist spots in the North District are the Taichung Broadcasting Bureau, Taichung Confucian Temple, Taichung Martyr’s Shrine, and Taichung Park.

Budget: Yizhong Stay

The pride of the hotel is their terrace where you can have a view of the city. The rooms are also soundproof (which is quite hard to find in most budget private rooms) and they have good ventilation and lighting. Guests have loved the cleanliness of the place, from the toilets to the rooms. They have an ensuite bathroom complete with toiletries – you are really making the most out of your budget here! A bonus note for people with allergies: it is hypoallergenic!

A thing to note is that they do not have elevators. If you have brought heavy luggage, then you may ask for assistance from their service desk which is also available 24 hours. Keep in mind that they only accept cash as a form of payment; unfortunately, credit cards are not accepted. Be sure to check your map and the hotel’s address so you will not get lost, because some guests have found it a bit hard to locate. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Mid-Range: Lailai Hotel

The hotel’s location is in an active yet quiet part of the city. The hotel is popular for business travelers, due to its features like function rooms for business meetings, conferences, and seminars. They have simple and elegant rooms with duvet-covered beds and premium pillows. Large windows also help provide sunshine during the morning and wonderful night views of Taichung.

Despite being in a busy street intersection in Sanmin Road, the rooms are very quiet. You can also enjoy the complete fitness equipment of World Gym on the second floor without an additional charge.

Just be reminded, that they do not have an in-house restaurant, but there are plenty to choose from nearby that you may try. The night market is just opposite the hotel and you may want to go for a 10-minute walk to the Confucius Temple Martyr’s Shrine.

They also have superb wellness facilities like steam rooms, hot tubs, and a sauna. If this is your last day of vacation, then you can book an airport transfer at the hotel for an additional fee. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Luxury: Inhouse Hotel Grand

The Inhouse Group of hotels promise an exciting, luxurious and comfortable stay in their boutique hotels, in most of the best locations in Taiwan, this is why I am recommending them again!

Another is the Inhouse Hotel Grand in the North District of Taichung. It is perfectly located near popular attractions such as the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. The lobby has luxurious and elegant decors, and you will notice driftwood chairs alongside vibrant floral-printed carpets and potted indoor bonsais. The soundproof rooms have southern provincial French style with ensuite bathrooms and tubs.

Most of the amenities like swimming pool, fitness center, and parking are inclusive of your stay. There is also something for everyone on their breakfast, but it is mostly continental, so keep that in mind if you are looking for local fare — you may want to go out and explore the cafés and restaurants outside instead.

An accessibility note: they have great facilities for guests with disabilities like Braille, emergency cords in the bathroom, and wheelchair access. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Xitun District

The word Xitun means western village. History traces that developments all started within Xitun Road, which is now considered as one of the oldest roads. The very popular Fengjia Night Market is in this district. The pork and seafood dumplings from Shuan Shian Pao Cha Dan Shao are a must-try here!

Industries in this location have grown quite well, and so it is now considered as the business center of Taichung due to the Central District’s limited capability for accepting new establishments. Most popular in this area are the shops that utilize old buildings in creating themed shops and cafés, one of Taiwan’s quirkiest but coolest ways to spend time.

Budget: Fengjia Tonight Hostel

The location of the hostel is basically in the Fengjia Night Market itself. The rooms are simple and have enough space for solo travelers as well as couples. They do not have a front desk, but the owner is always around and guests have said that he is very nice. It is important to contact them if you will be arriving later than 9 PM!

They do not provide extra beds (even at a fee) but children are welcome. Credit cards are not accepted (make sure to bring cash with you) but rest assured that the price is really affordable!

The best time to visit night markets are around 9 in the evening. Staying near Fengjia will make it easier for you to explore everything without the worry of missing public transportation. Taichung does not have buses available for 24 hours, so if you’re out late, you will end up needing a cab. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Mid-Range: 28 Shu Xiang Hotel

The hotel is quite stylish, combining natural and artificial décor elements in the lobby and public areas, while their rooms observe a minimalist style. All rooms have a balcony so you get to see some view in the morning or evening. They provide eco-friendly shampoos, shower gels and hand wash.

The lounge has some snacks and drinks that you can enjoy when you feel like relaxing for a bit. Their outdoor area is really nice because it has a picnic area, outdoor al fresco dining area, sun terrace, and a balcony. You will feel like royalty, because breakfast is served straight to your room!

However, they do not have a 24-hour service desk and rooms are limited (only 24 rooms). It is important to make reservations as the location is very good. A lot of the guests loved their stay and mentioned that they feel like the hotel has a heart of its own. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Luxury: La Vida Hotel

The reason behind the hotel’s name is their belief in happiness in life, because they want everyone to enjoy their trip. The hotel’s lobby encourages that happiness, featuring beautiful interior design made of wood, iron craft, and high-quality stone. You will also notice a huge garden wall with hanging plants outside. The hotel focuses on cultivating comfort and creating a quiet environment for you to relax in.

You can choose from standard, business, and quadruple rooms. Rooms are also inclusive of a mini fridge, 46-inch smart TV, walk-in shower, bathtub, and bidet. You can also call your loved ones internationally for free!

There is a variety of food (from Asian to Western dishes) that you can choose for breakfast; this means you will not get tired of seeing the same menu being served daily. It is also close to the Fengjia Night Market so you can get some local drinks and food to try and mix up your luxury with some budget-friendly local culture. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Taoyuan Airport to Taipei: How to Get from Taipei Airport to City Center

So, you’ve booked that Taiwan trip, decided where to stay, picked out all the best things to do in Taipei: now it’s time to figure out how to from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei city center.

Frankly, I was a little nervous about how I was going to get from Taipei Airport to the city center, because it was my first time going to a country that uses Chinese script in its signage.

I had been to Japan before, so I wasn’t altogether unfamiliar with a character-based alphabet, but then again, Japan is renowned for its organization. I wasn’t quite sure how I’d fare in Taiwan with the language barrier and not even being able to read basic signs.

Luckily, it was actually pretty easy to get from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei Main Station, where I then was able to take the MRT to my hostel in Shilin.

Taipei is a modern city with fantastic infrastructure, and there are multiple ways to get from Taipei Airport to the city center without any hassle or fuss – and yes, they also have Uber!

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Planning to travel Taiwan? Whether you’re coming for its beaches, night markets, photography and Instagram spots, or city culture, you’re likely to be flying into Taoyuan Airport. Here’s how to get from Taipei Airport to the city center easily and hassle-free. Taipei airport | Taipei public transit | Taipei Airport to Downtown Taipei | Taipei Airport to City
Planning to travel Taiwan? Whether you’re coming for its beaches, night markets, photography and Instagram spots, or city culture, you’re likely to be flying into Taoyuan Airport. Here’s how to get from Taipei Airport to the city center easily and hassle-free. Taipei airport | Taipei public transit | Taipei Airport to Downtown Taipei | Taipei Airport to City

One thing to note before leaving the airport: in Taipei, it is important to always bring cash with you, which you can withdraw from ATMs at the airport (best rate) or exchange currency (much worse rate).

I found that my credit card and debit card often didn’t work in Taipei, even at some convenience stores, as many systems only accept local cards… plus, you’ll want cash on hand for buying any street snacks that catch your fancy!

In terms of how to get from Taipei airport to your hotel, your options depend on your time of arrival. Depending when your flights lands at Taipei Taoyuan Airport, you’ll have to decide the best mode of transportation to take, which could be either a train, bus, taxi/Uber, or a Taipei airport transfer.

Taoyuan is a rather large airport. Originally there was only one passenger terminal at Taoyuan, which was Terminal 1, but the huge number of passengers streaming into Taipei Airport made them decide to build Terminal 2.

They are actually planning to open a third terminal by 2020 due to the huge volume of passengers, as Taipei both increases in prominence as a tourist destination and Taiwanese take advantage of the budget airlines serving their city. Taipei Taoyuan International is a large airport for such a small country: T1 hosts 18 boarding gates and T2 hosts 20 boarding gates. It is also the main hub for airlines like China Airlines, EVA Air, and Tigerair Taiwan.

Getting from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei Main Station by MRT

A simpler way to get to Taipei City Center is to take the Airport MRT, which started its operation in 2017. It took 20 years of work to finish, but it was worth the effort as it’s made getting into Taipei city center a breeze compared to previous options and significantly reduced travel times during peak periods when buses would experience delays. They have spacious areas where you can place your luggage and it is accessible for passengers with disabilities.

It takes about 15-20 minutes of walking from immigration, but once you arrive at the station, it is all a breeze. It is one of the fastest and most convenient ways to get to the city center from the airport. The cost of the fare is NT$ 160 (around US$ 5) to Taipei Main Station.

Quick note: the trains are not available 24/7, so this is not an option if you arrive late at night and don’t want to wait at the airport until the morning. The MRT only operates from 6 AM until midnight and takes about 35 minutes on the express line. You can prebook a one-way or roundtrip ticket here and get a free surprise!

Getting from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei by High Speed Train

If you want to get to the city center in the fastest way possible, the MRT is the slightly better choice, as it takes only 35 minutes vs. 40 minutes (20 minutes for the bus to the HSR station, which is a few kilometers away from the airport, plus 20 minutes on the high-speed train).

However, some people get excited to experience a high-speed train, and it’s quite easy to take without much of a price difference (and if you’re staying in Banqiao, it’s the fastest way to get there).

From the airport, you would need to ride the U-Bus to the THSR, which takes 20 minutes. If you’re traveling during a busy season, this can be a good way to avoid the crowds on the MRT, though it is slightly more expensive. Then you can board the THSR which will bring you to Banqiao or Taipei HSR station.

If you are looking to experience the THSR, first you need to purchase U-Bus tickets for around NT$ 25 (less than $1 USD) so you can board the bus that takes you to the THSR Taoyuan Station. From there, you’ll need to buy a ticket on the THSR for around NT$ 180 (around $5 USD). All in all, you will spend about NT$ 185 (around $6 USD) for the total trip via high speed rail!

Getting from Taipei Airport to City Center by Bus

It is very easy to get to the bus station from the airport (just a short walk from the arrival hall) and it is also the cheapest option to reach the city center, making It is the best choice for light travelers and budget-conscious ones. This is how I personally got into Taipei when I visited, as I didn’t want to walk all the way to the MRT!

Make sure that you carefully note the bus numbers, because each one has different stops. I will list the ones that can drop you near the heart of the city, Taipei Main Station. It will take you about an hour or more of travel, due to traffic and several stops made along the way.

Two buses can drop you near the Taipei Main Station – Bus 1819 and 1961. Only the Kuo Kang Bus 1819 is available 24/7, making it one of the two choices you have between midnight and 6 AM. There are 15 to 20-minute intervals between each bus. Bus 1819 has a fare of NT$ 140 (around $5 USD). You can prebook Kuo Kang bus tickets online here.

If you arrive after midnight and are wary of taking public transit alone, I would suggest that you take an airport transfer instead, so you can be sent straight to your hotel’s door.

Meanwhile, CitiBus West Bus 1961 only operates until 1 AM. The West Bus 1961’s last stop is in the Ximending area, which is one of most popular areas to stay in Taipei. Bus 1961 has a fare of NT$ 100 (around $4 USD), so it’s the cheapest way to get from Taipei Airport to the city center.

If your final destination is in Xinyi District, East Bus 1960 is a good option, especially if you are staying near the Taipei City Hall area and Taipei 101. The fare costs NT$145 (around US$ 5) and the last bus is at 1 AM, but it only departs every 20-40 minutes.

Getting from Taoyuan Airport to Your Taipei Hotel by Airport Transfers

For someone who wants a smooth arrival option on a budget, airport transfers are easily the best choice. You have the convenience of having privacy in your own ride and also the efficiency as you reach your hotel — with a cost that is less than that of an airport taxi!

A regular airport transfer will just cost you around NT$ 800 (around $25 USD) so you can save NT$ 200 (around $6 USD) from the typical airport taxi fare. It’s a little pricier at night, closer to NT$ 1,000 (around $33 USD). Check out rates and pre-book a cheap airport transfer here.

If you opt for a luxury airport transfer, it would be around NT$ 1200 (around $39 USD). That’s already close to the cost of a regular airport taxi (which is around NT$ 1000-1200 during the day), but way more stylish, as you will arrive in a Mercedes Benz 320/350 which can accommodate up to 4 passengers, or a Volkswagen T5 or Hyundai TQ for up to 8 passengers. See prices and pre-book a luxury transfer here.

Aside from that, they actually have insurance coverage included (something we do not wish to use, but at least we know we have something to resort to should unexpected things happen!) So, you don’t only get convenience, but security and comfort as well!

Getting from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei City Center Hotels by Taxi

Airport taxis are available just outside the arrival halls, and you can also ask the Tourist Service Center if you have trouble finding it. Taxis are available 24 hours and this is one of the only methods of transportation if you arrive later than midnight, because most of the buses (except Bus 1819) and the trains are no longer available.

Just a reminder, that taxi prices usually cost around NT$ 1000 (around $32 USD) if reserved via phone, but during night hours it can go as high as NT$ 1500-2000 (around $48-64 USD). They can be found just outside the arrival halls of both terminals. The fare is based on the meter, and there is also 50% surcharge. Highway toll fees are also not included in the fare.

 Generally, taxi drivers in Taipei are pretty honest, but I always recommend you find the actual taxi line-up rather than going with someone trying to get you to their taxi. Uber is also an option. The price depends on demand and destination, but generally, it should cost around NT$ 1200-1400 ($38-45 USD).

I would recommend a taxi or Uber only if you didn’t plan in advance to book an airport transfer, which is cheaper, if any of the following apply: are arriving late at night, are traveling with a family, have heavy luggage, are stressed about navigating the transit system, or are traveling for business. Otherwise, the MRT or bus is your best budget bet. On average, it takes around 45-60 minutes to arrive in the city from the airport.

Getting Portable WiFi or SIM Card at Taoyuan Taipei Airport

If you are the type of person who always likes to book their Uber anywhere, then the best thing I would suggest is to either get their portable WiFi or a local SIM card at the Taipei airport.

Not only will you be able to experience Taiwan’s ultra-fast internet (no Great Firewall of China here!), but you can also upload your travel photos instantly and keep aware of your surroundings on Google Maps.

Even though Taipei has free WiFi in some locations, the speed and coverage of getting a portable WiFi or SIM card will not fail you – it is really fast! To speed up the process, just pre-book here for a portable WiFi or SIM card. A SIM card is generally cheaper, but if you don’t want to take out your home SIM card or want to be able to switch back and forth, a WiFi device may be better.

Once you have booked, all you need to do is claim at the arrival hall either in T1 or T2 (there are instructions on the website, so it’s pretty self-explanatory). They will request you to fill out a form once you claim and that’s it. The stalls are open 24/7 so it does not matter what time you arrive.

Just make sure to take good care of the WiFi device, or you will be charged with damage fees. All in all, it is a hassle-free experience, and I was happy I got my SIM card at Taipei Airport before making my way into the city so I could surf the internet on my phone while I rode the bus into the city.

Where to Stay in Taipei: The Ultimate Neighborhood & Hotel Guide

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.

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. 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.

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Where to Stay in Taipei: Neighborhood by Neighborhood

Xinyi

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, it’s the best location to stay in Taipei, in my opinion.

Budget

While 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. Space Inn Xinyi is one of those exceptions! With male, female, and mixed dorms, this is the perfect place to stay in Taipei for solo travelers who want to be in the heart of the action. Just a few minutes’ walk from the metro, all of Taipei is at easy reach, and Taipei 101 is a short walk away, as well as the Tonghua Night Market for foodies on a budget!

Guests love the large shared bathrooms – with plenty of toilets and showers (9 of each for the ladies, at least) plus several sinks and hair dryers. As someone who used to live out of a hostel, I can see how this would be a huge perk as a traveling woman – I hated always having to wait for an empty bathroom! The rooms are clean and comfortable, offering warm blankets, comfortable pillows, plenty of sockets for each bed (at least 2), reading lamps, shelves next to each bed, and lockers. There are complimentary tea and coffee and a 24/7 front desk to help with all needs and provide security. Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Mid-Range

For an affordable Taipei lodging option near the Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain) metro and within easy walk of all of Xinyi’s best sights (just a 10 minute walk to Taipei 101!), I’ve got your back. There are plenty of good hotels in Taipei City Center, but it’s hard to find something on a budget. If that’s you, you’ll want to consider Place X Hotel if you want an affordable private room in Xinyi without spending a fortune. With a vibrant, colorful lobby, the hotel offers a wide variety of room configurations ranging from doubles, triples, quads, and family rooms. All rooms have A/C and en-suite bathrooms, so it’s a great option for travelers who want a little bit of privacy.

However, there are a few downsides to note: the rooms do not have windows as it’s a basement-level hotel, and many guests complained about the breakfast. If neither of those things bother you, guests loved the cleanliness, location, and price enough to consider Place X Hotel a good place to stay in pricy Xinyi. Check out reviews, prices, photos, and availability here.

Luxury

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 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, especially since I love how they blend luxury and quirky in a way that feels unique, not stuffy – and with the W tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, they definitely don’t give off that vibe.

W Hotels are artsy, trendy, colorful, and chic, and The W 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 prices, reviews, photos, and availability 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, and Le Meridien Taipei is a perennial favorite among luxury hotel lovers and is widely considered to be the best hotel in Taipei.

Da’an

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

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. rooms. Perks like bathrobes and slippers, an electric kettle, and a mini-fridge all make this budget hotel feel more luxe. Check out reviews, prices, photos, and availability here.

Mid-Range

For a glamorous yet affordable place to stay in Taipei’s quiet Da’an district, I recommend inhouse residence. Just a few minutes’ walk from the lovely and non-touristic Shida Night Market, and a short walk away from Da’an Park, inhouse is a 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 to give a comfortable vibe. The en-suite bathrooms are sleek and modern, with soaking tubs as well as showerheads.

However, one thing to note is that it is a bit of a walk from the nearest MRT station – about 1 kilometer or 10 minutes away. If you don’t mind a brief walk to access the metro, then this is a wonderful hotel for you if you want to stay in one of the coolest parts of Taipei without spending a fortune. Check reviews, prices, and availability here.

Luxury

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 away from Taipei 101 and 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), one of my favorite Taipei shopping districts. 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 out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Zhongzheng

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 sights. 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.

Budget

I included Space Inn on the Xinyi section of this post, and so it’s perhaps no surprise that I’m also recommending their other branch, this time located in Zhongzheng near Ximending. With A/C, self-service laundry, soundproofing, and cooking areas, this hostel has anything you need for a short or extended stay. Dorms are available in separate sex or mixed sex options.

Each bunk has a privacy curtain and outlets so you can have your own little oasis in your bunk. Guests have reported very clean rooms and common areas, especially the bathrooms, and that it’s a nice and peaceful place to stay (not a party hostel by any means). If you want a convenient place to stay in Taipei at the crossroads of the major transportation hubs and cultural sights, and NOT want to pay a fortune, check out prices, reviews, and availability here.

Mid-Range

For a relaxed yet elegant place to stay in Taipei near Zhongzheng’s main attractions, I’d recommend Midtown Retreat. Keep in mind, though, that this is a 2nd-floor apartment converted into several rooms and as such, there are not many of the standard hotel amenities like a receptionist or elevator, and not every single room has a window. It’s one block from the Shandao Temple metro, and close to both Taipei Main Station and Liberty Square

With spacious rooms with comfortable beds, A/C in every room, private bathrooms, and basic kitchen amenities, it’s a really great place to stay when you’re on a budget as long as you don’t mind the more apartment/Airbnb style set up and don’t need the hand-holding of a concierge/receptionist. Check prices, photos, reviews, and availability here.

Luxury

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 (holler!!) excellent toiletries, and bathrobes for you to feel like a baller in. Check out prices, reviews, photos, and availability here.

Datong

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

The best place to stay in Datong, Taipei on a budget is LuckyOne Hostel, which offers a fantastic location as well as lovely aesthetics at an affordable price that will make any backpacker very, very happy. This is one of the better cheap accommodations in Taipei and should be on the short list for any budget traveler.

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.

Mid-Range

For an affordable yet private place to stay that’s a big step up from a hostel (without costing much more) 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) and 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 it can’t be beaten. Check out prices, reviews, and availability here.

Luxury

This isn’t the fanciest neighborhood of Taipei, but that does mean that you can get an excellent luxury hotel for a fraction of the price of the more upscale ones you’ll find in Xinyi and Songshan. I love the quirky, unique Play Design Hotel, which won the iF 2018 award for hotel design, so it has serious claim to being one of the best hotels in Taipei, Taiwan. There are only 5 rooms, so it is a really small and unique property, yet it’s reasonably priced for the quality and scarcity of rooms.

The concept is the intersection of design and hospitality, connecting travelers to local designers. Each room is furnished by Taiwanese designers, who make the space unique. Even better, there’s an on-site gallery where you can buy unique design works created by the designers who collaborated on this hotel! The rooms are really spacious, with seating and living areas as well as sleeping areas, each uniquely appointed with local designer touches. It’s simply too hard to describe how cute and unique this place is, so check out the photos and reviews here.

Songshan

Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

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

This isn’t the cheapest area of Taipei, but there are some hostel options, namely 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. 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 / Luxury

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, air conditioning, 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

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. Check rates, availability, and reviews here.

Ximending (Wanhua)

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, this 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.

Budget

If you can laugh off the name, the best place to stay in Ximending, Taipei is the affordable Ximen Duckstay Hostel. It has an amazing central location in Ximen, one of the most bustling neighborhoods 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

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. 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 (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/Wanhua. Check out prices, reviews, and availability here.

Luxury

Another arm of the inhouse hotel family, the Ximen location of inhouse Boutique Hotel is an excellent choice for people looking for a luxury place to stay in Taipei’s Wanhua district. Just 300 meters from the Red House, it’s in a prime location, and the hotel is incredibly funky and cool, perfectly designed for lovers of unique places to stay rather than standard cookie-cutter hotels.

Tucked away in an alley off of the main road, you won’t have to deal with the noise pollution of Ximending which can admittedly be quite loud sometimes. The theme of the hotel is inspired by the Red House Theater which it’s near, so the hotel tries to recreate the glamor and nostalgia of the 1940s and 50s, featuring gorgeous marble flooring from India as well as hand-crafted mahogany furniture. The rooms are really large and spacious with high ceilings and lovely lighting, bringing you back to a bygone era. It’s definitely a unique choice for where to stay in Taipei. Check prices, photos, reviews, and availability here.

Taipei Main Station

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.

Perfect for people who plan to take advantage of the city’s many day trip options, or just for people who are doing a quick visit to Taipei and want to stay central, 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

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 aesthetics, it’s a great choice. Check prices, reviews, photos, and availability here.

Mid-Range

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. The location is also great. Check rates, availability, and reviews here.

Luxury

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. 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.

Zhongshan

Best for: hipsters and nightlife seekers

Bordering Songshan and Datong, the Zhongshan neighborhood is the perfect place to stay for trendy travelers who love funky boutiques (and fast fashion), quirky and Instagrammable cafés, trendy restaurants, and sleek bars and nightlife options.

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 LGBT-friendly neighborhood in the city (side note: the country of Taiwan just celebrated marriage equality, yay!) so this is a great place to stay in Taiwan for LGBT travelers as well as anyone hip, fun, and tolerant.

Budget

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 reviews, prices, photos, and availability here.

Mid-Range

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, and reviews here.

Luxury

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

Shilin

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

If you want an affordable place to stay near Taipei’s best night market, Mono Hostel is the best choice for sure. It’s located in between the Jiantan and Shilin MRT stations, so there are plenty of transportation options nearby.

The dorms are well-designed with reading lights, outlets, and shelves dedicated for each bunk, as well as nearby lockers. All have privacy curtains too, which is a great touch. The bathrooms are huge and spacious – not the dingy hostel bathroom of your nightmares. Generally, it’s an incredibly clean and inviting place to spend your time and it’s a great choice for where to stay in Taipei if you’re traveling alone or on a budget. Check out prices, photos, reviews, and availability here.

Mid-Range

For a nice place to stay near Shilin Night Market, just 600 meters away, check out Uinn Business Hotel. While the name suggests a boring business hotel, stepping into the lobby will shake all the mental images of dull cookie-cutter hotels away as the design is really colorful and ultra-modern.

The rooms are well-lit and colorful, with funky wallpaper and white linens to give the room personality without clutter. The rooms are spacious and the bathrooms are modern. Each room has a flatscreen TV, kettle, and private bathroom, as well as bathrobes and slippers to use in the hotel. The soundproofing is excellent so it is a really quiet place to stay despite being in a busier part of town – great that you can be near the night market, but that it won’t keep you up all night! Check out reviews, photos, prices, and availability here.

Luxury

Just a few steps from the Jiantan MRT station, a short walk from the Shilin Night Market, this is the best place to stay in Shilin. The Tango Hotel 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.

Beitou

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 all boasting 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

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 that is conveniently close to some of Taipei’s hot springs, which can be enjoyed for free or for a small fee. Check out prices, reviews, and availability here.

Mid-Range

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 on a bit of a budget, 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 dollars 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

By far the best hotel in Beitou, Taipei is Grand View Resort. It is the only five-star resort in the Beitou area, making it a no-brainer for a luxury wellness stay 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 baller 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.

15 Ultra Instagrammable Places in Taipei (With Free Map)

If you love Instagram and you’re planning a trip to Taipei, this is the Taipei photography guide for you!

I’ve combined my two weeks of knowledge of traveling around Taipei and scoured Instagram for some of the best and more unique Instagram places in Taipei. I’ve included addresses and tips for how to get the best photo in each!

While there are 15 Instagram spots in Taipei on this list, I’ve included an additional 3 spots at the end which are easy day trips from Taipei as a bonus!

Want to save this post for future reference? Click to Pin!

Map of the Best Taipei Photography Spots

Best Instagram Spots in Taipei

Elephant Mountain

One of my favorite Instagram places in Taipei is the beautiful Elephant Mountain Hike which takes you to a wonderful viewpoint above the Xinyi district of Taipei, home to many of the city’s most distinctive skyscrapers.

To get here, take the MRT to Xiangshan, follow the signs for Xiangshan/Elephant Mountain which will take you past a park to a long staircase. It takes about 20-25 minutes from the metro to reach the top of the stairs to the viewpoint.

There are several areas where you can take a great photo here at Elephant mountain, I’ll share the two most popular.

First, there is a wooden viewing platform with railings which you’ll come across first in your hike. You’ll always see plenty of locals and tourists there, taking selfies with the gorgeous Taipei 101 in the background. If you want an unobscured photo of the Taipei 101 without anyone in it, this is your best choice.

Second, if you keep going up the stairs, you’ll encounter a big rock. Usually there is a line of people patiently waiting to climb this big boulder so they can get themselves in the best Instagram shot of Taipei. It’s a bit difficult to scramble up here, so be careful, and I definitely recommend wearing some sort of sneaker (I was wearing my Birkenstocks so I had to take them off before I climbed the rock). It’s lovely at sunset or after dark, but it is also more crowded then. I’d estimate I waited about ~15 minutes for this photo.

Location: Xiangshan, Taipei City, Xinyi District, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Stairs near Taipei City Hall

For one of the more unique angles of Taipei 101, I highly recommend this area. We got super lucky, as we stumbled across without even trying! In fact, for the longest time I couldn’t remember exactly where I took this photo but when I decided to write this post I wanted to put a little more research into it, and with some brain-digging and some Google Maps street-viewing, I was able to find the exact staircase where I took this shot!

It’s located right near the MRT Taipei City Hall Station, near the Starbucks there, just around the corner from my favorite Taipei hotel, the W.

Location: near Taipei City Hall MRT, Taipei City, Xinyi District, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Taipei 101 Observatory

Of course, while you’ll want a few snaps of the Taipei 101 from the outside… nothing beats the view from the top!

The lines can be a huge pain here, so I recommend a priority skip-the-line ticket which is a little extra money but worth it if you’re on a short time crunch while you’re in Taipei. If you don’t mind waiting a bit but paying less, you can still buy a discounted e-ticket online, which is cheaper than buying them at the actual ticket desk in Taipei! It also allows you to skip the ticket queue (but not the lines to the elevator).

Location: Taipei 101, Taipei City, Xinyi District, Taiwan

Cost: Roughly $15 for normal tickets (book here to get the Klook discount) or $32 for skip-the-line tickets

Psst: you can also go to the Din Tai Fung here!

Pro tip: Of course, as the most famous soup dumpling spot in the city’s most famous tourist attraction, waits here can be ridiculous, often an hour or more. But you can reduce your waiting time significantly by using a Klook voucher which allows for a massive set of soup dumplings and other favorite dumplings and cuts your wait time down to about 30 minutes, as opposed to showing up and waiting 1-2 hours! Be sure to print your voucher to avoid issues. Book your Din Tai Fung experience at Taipei 101 now!

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial

Located at the head of Liberty Square, one of the most important places in Taipei, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall (and snap a few photos along the way).

This is a really beautiful square, and I can think of several distinct spots that would make for unique Taipei Instagram photos. You have the serene blue-and-white pagoda of the Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall (pictured) but you also have the stunning riot of colors of the twin National Theater and National Concert hall, as well as the Liberty Square Arch (one of three gates which flank the memorial hall).

This area is always packed with people, so I do recommend getting an early start one day in this area as you can get quite a variety of photos in one small area, so it offers a good bang for your early-rising buck.

Location: Liberty Square, Democracy Blvd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Liberty Square Arch

One of the classic Taipei IG shots is the view of the main arch gate that begins Liberty Square. Luckily, there almost always seems to be water on the ground so you can get those lovely reflections that really elevate the photo.

In peak Instagram-ness, I saw some people with a hose spraying water on the ground and a photographer scaring pigeons away at the ‘perfect time’ to get shots of birds flying mid-air. It’s a little contrived, not exactly the most serendipitous of shots, but dang, is it pretty.

Location: Liberty Square (south entrance) Democracy Blvd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

2/28 Peace Park

This lovely park not far from CKS Memorial Hall is definitely worth a photo stop while in Taipei.

I’ve seen a lot of photos from it all over, usually from far away so you can see how it’s sort of ‘floating’ in the middle of a pond, but I love this shot which zooms in on the details of the door – it’s so colorful!

Location: 2/28 Peace Park (north side), Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100

Cost: Free!

The Grand Hotel Taipei

A famous Taipei landmark, this gorgeous hotel is one of the world’s tallest buildings done in the Chinese classical style. It was completed in 1973, after taking 21 years to finish.

The building was built by Yang Cho-Cheng and reflects the vision of former president Chiang Kai-shek to have a 5-star hotel that would be suitable for foreign ambassadors to Taipei, after he and the Kuomintang (KMT) were forced to flee to Taiwan to avoid the communist party’s ire after the KMT lost the Chinese Civil War. His goal was to give legitimacy to the KMT government despite being displaced from Mainland China, as well as attract foreign guests and promote Chinese culture through its architecture.

Today, it’s still a much-loved Taipei hotel, and while you can definitely stay there (for quite an affordable price, in fact!) it’s also a popular Taipei photography spot.

Location: No. 1號, Section 4, Zhongshan North Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan

Cost: Free to visit the outside, rooms around $80 per night and up (depending on time of year)

Longshan Temple

One of the most visited temples in Taipei, you really shouldn’t miss Longshan Temple when you visit the city – not just for the ‘gram, but for how unique it is.

You’ll encounter people praying in a way specific to Taiwan, using a blend of Buddhist tradition and folk practices. 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 which can be found all over the temple. 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 way of telling the future!

Besides that, it’s just really freakin’ pretty, and there’s also a lovely garden in the front area which would make another nice Instagram spot in Taipei – two for the effort of one!

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

Cost: Free to enter (note to dress respectfully)

National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine

Located not far from the Grand Hotel Taipei (so easy to get snaps at both and cluster together), the beautiful National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine is one of my favorite underrated Taipei photography spots.

It doesn’t get nearly the same attention as other places like the CKS Memorial Complex and Elephant Mountain, yet it is so distinctly and uniquely Taiwanese to me. I love the beautiful bright red popping against the lush green background and the symmetry is also really eye-pleasing.

Location: No. 139號, Beian Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Yongkang Shopping Street

Home to the original Din Tai Fung, the Yongkang Shopping Street is one of my favorite places to stroll in Taipei. Chock full of cute ice cream shops, cafés, umbrella stores (seriously, the Taiwanese love their umbrellas so much they have entire stores dedicated to them), and Instagrammable foods, Yongkang Street is a must-visit in Taipei for photography enthusiasts and Instagrammers everywhere.

My favorite spots on this street are Elephant Machine Coffee and the ultra-colorful Soyo shopfront!

Location: Yongkang Street, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 

Cost: Free to walk, but you’ll likely want to shop!

Beitou (Hell Valley + more)

The hot springs of Beitou are a wonderful escape from the business of Taipei. There are a number of cool photography spots near the Xinbeitou area, but I loved visiting so-called “Hell Valley” with its nearly boiling waters where the steam rises off the teal-blue like something out of a movie.

There are also a number of wonderful hot spring hotels you can enjoy, either as an overnight guest or by buying a day pass, that would make great Instagram spots.

The nicest hotel in the area is Grand View Resort Beitou, and it was designed by the architect of Taipei 101. Rooms can be had there for an exorbitant price (click if you’re curious!) but you can visit on a day trip and enjoy the spas for much, much less.

Location: Depends, but the area around the Xinbeitou MRT is where most spa hotels are.

Cost: Around $45 for a day pass to the nicest spa hotel in Beitou, or free to walk around the Beitou area

Jingshan Suspension Bridge

Did you know Taipei had a national park, complete with volcanoes and hot springs, right in the city limits? Yangmingshan National Park is a fantastic place to spend a day in Taipei, and I highly recommend visiting it on your trip if you have the time.

This suspension bridge was one of my favorite places in Taipei (it’s located near the Lengshuikeng Creek) and it’s just insanely photogenic, but it is often crowded so a shot like this will take some patience.

There are a number of Instagram-worthy spots in Taipei’s Yangmingshan National Park. While this post will by no means list all of them, I’ll share a few of my favorites!

Location: Jingshan Suspension Bridge, Yangmingshan National Park, Taipei City, Shilin District

Cost: Free (though you’ll need to pay for the bus to the park)

Juansi Waterfall

Yes, Taipei’s Yangmingshan National Park has its own waterfall, too – who says you have to go out to Shifen to get a wonderful waterfall snap?

I didn’t learn about this place until after I left Taipei, so I recommend reading this guide to getting to Juansi (it’s about a 1 hour, 3 kilometer hike) if you have it on your photographing Taipei itinerary.

Location: Juansi Waterfall, Yangmingshan National Park, Taipei City, Shilin District

Cost: Free, though you’ll need to pay for the bus to the park

Lover’s Bridge, Tamsui

I loved taking a trip out to the end of the MRT at Tamsui Old Street, where there are so many lovely walks to be had.

The Old Street area where you can sample all sorts of Taiwanese delights is a must, but the draw for Instagram lovers is Lover’s Bridge, which is gorgeous either during the middle of the day when you can really capture all its white geometrical wonder or at sunset when you can get some beautiful silhouettes of it.

Location: No. 199, Guanhai Road, Tamsui District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Cost: Free

Ximending

The Ximending area is the place you want to be in Taipei at night, when the lights all turn on and the area gets a really special buzzy vibe that can only be compared to Shinjuku in Tokyo or Dotonburi in Osaka.

Play with portraits with a low f-stop number to get some good bokeh to really capture the brightness of the neon around, though you’ll want a tripod to get the best shots at night!

Location: near the Ximen MRT, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan

Cost: Free!

Best Instagram Spots Near Taipei

While none of these spots are in Taipei proper, they are all nearby and many of them are included on my Taipei day trips guide. I’ll share a few of my favorites belong, but there are so many I don’t have room for!

Rainbow Village (Taichung)

A zippy hour away on the high-speed rail, it’s quite easy to pop into Taichung for a day trip while in Taipei.

And while Taichung is full of Instagram-friendly places (Miyahari Department Store definitely being one of them – I have a Taichung itinerary you may want to steal!), the most obvious is Rainbow Village. Not actually created for Instagram, this is the life’s work of an old man to transform and save the community he grew up in through art. The story behind it is quite poignant, and “Grandpa Rainbow” is often sitting in the gift shop watching everyone admire his work, so if you see him, be sure to say hello and make a small purchase or donation to support him!

Location: Rainbow Village, Taichung City, Nantun District

Cost: Free to enter, though you’ll need to take the train to Taichung

Jiufen

If you go by public bus to Jiufen, the very first thing you will see is this gorgeous temple with views to the coast below. Not bad, eh?

It’s certainly a warm welcome to lovely Jiufen, which is gorgeous but can be extremely crowded with tour groups.

Location: Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Cost: You can get here for a few $ by public bus (crowded) or by organized shuttle bus for about $20 roundtrip (recommended)

Shifen Waterfall

With beautiful turquoise-green waters, the trip to Shifen Waterfall was one of my favorite days in Taipei.

There are several great photo spots in the Shifen Waterfall park area – the park with its elephant statues covered in red flags, the suspension bridge, so much more – but I’ll leave that for you to discover.

Location: Shifen Waterfall, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Pingxi District

Cost: ~$2 entrance fee, plus transit. It’s possible (but a bit complicated) to go by public transit, or you can do this combined Jiufen + Shifen + Keelung shuttle bus for about $20 (highly recommended)

13 Incredible Day Trips from Taipei

Taipei was one of my favorite cities I visited in 2018. Bustling with life yet manageable to navigate, sprawling but incredibly efficient to get around, Taipei feels made for a big city lover like myself. With incredible (and cheap) eats at all the night markets, boutiques galore selling uniquely Taiwanese handicrafts, interesting museums and markets, and tons of parks and green spaces, you’d be forgiven for never wanting to leave the Taiwanese capital that seems to have it all.

But one of the best things about traveling to Taipei is that there is such a varied abundance of day trips from Taipei all within easy distance. The excellent public transportation network around Taiwan makes day trips form Taipei to even the most farflung places actually quite feasible, and as a result, it’s possible to take a day trip from Taipei to places nearly 200 kilometers away without much time or effort.

I did several day trips during my time in Taipei, including my personal favorite to Shifen Waterfall, but I’ve also included a few picks from other bloggers who have down their own day trips from Taipei.

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Planning to travel Taipei, Taiwan? There are so many great day trips from Taipei that you can do: here are 13 ideas to add to your Taiwan itinerary - just in case you run out of things to do in Taipei. These Taipei day trips include everything from hot springs to national parks to big cities which you can easily access via Taiwan's high speed trains! Rainbow Village, Taichung, Taroko Gorge, Shifen, Jiufen, and beyond.
Planning to travel Taipei, Taiwan? There are so many great day trips from Taipei that you can do: here are 13 ideas to add to your Taiwan itinerary - just in case you run out of things to do in Taipei. These Taipei day trips include everything from hot springs to national parks to big cities which you can easily access via Taiwan's high speed trains! Rainbow Village, Taichung, Taroko Gorge, Shifen, Jiufen, and beyond.

Here are my top Taipei day trip choices!

Shifen Waterfall & Old Street

The small village of Shifen is definitely one of the best day trips from Taipei that you can take! The best part is arriving in the middle of Shifen village – literally, as the train splits the main “Old Street” in two!

All up and down the streets along the Old Street, people are selling delicious traditional Taiwanese treats such as fried squid, xiao long bao, and fish balls. Definitely follow your nose and sample as much as you can up and down this main street.

Another common thing to do on Shifen Old Street is to paint your own lantern and set it off into the sky, making a wish along the way.

You can select your colors of the balloon (each color has a special significance) before painting it with well-wishes, then lighting it off into the sky! It’s quite a touristic activity to be sure, but I loved it all the same. It doesn’t come close to the magic you’d experience at, say, the lantern festival in Thailand or the annual lantern festival in nearby Pingxi, Taiwan, but it’s fun and worth doing all the same.

After lighting off your lantern and watching your wishes reach skywards, you can make your way to Shifen Waterfall. The traditional way to get there is with a (very weakly powered) electronic scooter; however, it is actually perfectly easy to walk if you so chose. We opted for the electronic scooter because it seemed a little more fun. There’s no need for insurance or even a deposit – they literally just give you the keys and off you go! It’s about a 5-minute ride by scooter or probably a 30-minute walk.

Shifen Waterfall is about a 20-minute walk from the entrance. Here, you’ll find some areas to rest and relax as well as more food if you get hungry (however, the food on Shifen Old Street looked a whole lot fresher and tastier). Keep walking down the path and soon enough you’ll encounter the beautiful Shifen Waterfall viewpoint!

Shifen Waterfall is 40 meters tall and 60 meters wide, in a horseshoe formation that has given it the nickname “Little Niagara”. Be sure to walk around a bit to avoid the crowds (it’s a popular day trip from Taipei, so you definitely won’t be alone!) and get the best photo. I recommend bringing a travel tripod and some neutral density filters to get the ideal “blurry water” photo like I shot below.

How to Get to Shifen from Taipei: It’s quite easy to get from Shifen to Taipei; I’ve explained it in detail on this post here. I’ll recap it here.

First, take the MRT to Taipei Main Station. From there, you can board any northbound train except a Keelung-bound train to Ruifang (the express trains are called Tzechiang). A ticket cost 78 Taiwanese dollars, or about $2.50 USD. The signage can be a little confusing here, so ask a local to be sure if you’re getting on the right train: the stop you want is Ruifang (瑞芳). It may help to have the Chinese written out on your phone to show someone if needed.

At Ruifang, transfer to the Pingxi line and ride that all the way to the end. Best is to buy a day pass for the separate Pingxi line, which costs 52 Taiwanese ($1.76 USD), since you’ll have to return this way.

However, what a lot of people do is book a shuttle bus ticket that goes from Taipei to Shifen to Jiufen then back to Taipei. It’s a whole lot easier and not much more expensive than figuring out the whole thing via public transport, and you get to see two of the top Taipei day trip spots in one day. It’s not guided, so you can visit independently while you are in the cities; it’s purely group transportation.

There are two departures daily, one at 9:30 AM and one at 1:30 PM. Both give you two hours at Jiufen, one hour at Shifen Waterfall, and one hour at Shifen Old Street. Check out more information, prices, & reserve your spot here.

Jiufen

Contributed by Elaine & Dave of Show Them the Globe

The charming old town of Jiufen, once famed for its prosperous gold rush and gold mining activities, is located just under 40 kilometers east of Taipei. The picturesque mountain town offers a vibrant mix of tradition and culture and is a lovely contrast to the chaotic streets of Taiwan’s capital city.

Jiufen’s old street is a maze of souvenir shops and eateries and is the first stop for most visitors on a day trip from Taipei. Glutinous rice cakes, peanut ice cream, meatballs, Taiwanese sausages, and fish balls are among the many delicious snacks which must be tried along the way! Made famous by the movie Spirited Away, the A-Mei Tea House is one of Jiufen’s most prominent landmarks and is hugely popular with visitors who stop by the beautiful building and indulge in both the tea and the views. Jiufen is also home to the picture-perfect Shengping Theatre which is considered the first modern theatre in Taiwan.

Other great sightseeing options include the nearby Gold Ecological Park in Jinguashi and a hike to the top of Keelung Mountain for some amazing views.

How to Get to Jiufen from Tapei: Jiufen can be accessed by public transport: take the #1062 bus which departs frequently from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT and travels to Jiufen Old Street or, alternatively, ride the train to Ruifang Station and switch to the Golden Fulong tourist shuttle bus. Other options for traveling to Jiufen include renting a private taxi for the trip or joining a group tour from Taipei.

Editor’s Note: However, note that returning back on this bus is incredibly difficult due to the crowds! Once, I actually tried to return via public bus but several went by without stopping because they were already full. I ended up taking a shared taxi back to Taipei for 300 Taiwanese per person (about $10 USD). For this reason, I think a shared Taipei-Shifen-Jiufen shuttle is actually a great value as doing it independently will cost about the same but be more hassle.

There are also tours which will take you to Jiufen as well as some off the beaten path places that are hard to get to with public transport, such as the Bay of Two Colors, Nanya Rock Formations, and Bitou Cape before ending in Jiufen for the evening. Check out more details on the tour here.

The Northern Coast

There are some amazing places on the Northern Coast of Taipei, however as a day trip they can be hard to visit without either your own car/motorbike or a private tour.

A few of the highlights of the Northern coast include Bitou Cape, Sandiao Cape Lighthouse, the stunning Nanya rock formations, Fulong Beach, and Beiguan Tidal Park.

How to Get to the Northern Coast from Taipei: Public transportation in this region is limited and takes quite a while to travel independently, when it exists at all. As a result, I only recommend doing this as part of a guided tour unless you have your own transport sorted; it would simply be too difficult to see all these places as a day trip from Taipei without it.

You can check out more details on the Northern Coast tour here, which runs from 9 AM to 5:30 PM each day and includes all of the above destinations plus some extras.

Pingxi

Contributed by Cerise of Enchanted Vagabond

If you’re looking for a bucket list experience on a day trip from Taipei, make your way to Pingxi. Twice a year, this mountainous area welcomes thousands and thousands of visitors for the popular Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival held two weeks after the Chinese New Year and again for the Mid-Autumn Festival. During this time, mass ascensions of glowing sky lanterns dot the sky in a magical display of color. 

Most people don’t realize, however, that lighting and releasing a sky lantern is possible any time of year. Vendors and shops sell paper lanterns almost as large as a person that can be personalized with blessings or wishes for the coming year. Nearby shops sell delicious snacks, and during the festival, the entire main street is busy with an active night market selling treats and dumplings. 

How to Get to Pingxi from Taipei: You can book a day trip with a private driver easily, or get to Pingxi on your own by taking any northbound train (except those going to Keelung) from Taipei Main Station to Ruifang station. From Ruifang, you will need to transfer trains and purchase a ticket to the Pingxi District on the Pingxi rail line.

During the festivals, trains are very crowded and lines form for both bus and trains. Another option for going on a day trip to Pingxi from Taipei is to take the Muzha Pingxi Route (bus No. 795), which departs from Taipei’s MRT Muzha Station and stops at 5 – 6 popular attractions in the area.

Visiting Pingxi is a must for any visitor to Taipei, especially if you are here during Taiwan’s Sky Lantern Festival. Beautiful lanterns twinkling in the sky are a wonderful memory from a visit to Taiwan.

Taroko National Park

Contributed by Chris of CTB Global (Chris Travel Blog)

Taroko National Park is Taiwan’s most iconic park and should be on any Taiwan itinerary. The park is easily reached from Taipei for a day trip to do most of the unique short hikes. Longer hikes logical require an overnight stay. Taroko National Park is all about magnificent views of gorges, mountains, waterfalls, and forest. If you’re lucky you can spot some wildlife too. In case you might run out of time, then remove the Meandor Core Scenic Trail and the Baiyang Trail from the below suggested itinerary.

This Taipei day trip is full of relatively short hikes over good accessible paths. They are all quite flat although the area is very mountainous. These hikes are perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy the number one park in Taiwan. After getting the entrance ticket at the visitor’s center, start with the 2-kilometer Shakadang Trail. Continue to the Changchun Shrine and Changuang Temple. They are both worth a look. The next trail is the Meandor Core Scenic Trail, which is best in spring when flowers are in full bloom. 

Now go to Swallow Gorge (Tunnel of Nine Turns) and have a look at the magnificent geological formations and, as the name says, the swallows. There is a restaurant there too where you can stop for lunch. Continue further down the road for the Lushui Trail, but just do the short hike that doesn’t require a permit. One kilometer further is the last stop: Xiangde Temple. If you have time left and the trail is open, you can finish the day with the Baiyang Trail where at the end is a beautiful waterfall. 

How to Get to Taroko National Park from Taipei: Getting to Taroko National Park for a day trip is best done by car as driving in Taiwan is easy. Alternatively, you can go on an organized tour too, which gives you less flexibility since you have to stick to the planned itinerary. However, if you don’t have a car, it’s the only way to visit Taroko in a day trip, so check out tour details here.

If driving yourself, keep in mind that the drive takes about 2 and a half hours, so it’s best to leave Taipei at 6 AM so you can start at 9 AM when the park opens. Start at the visitor’s center to buy your ticket and map and go from there to each spot. Parking is available everywhere, and keep in mind you will be driving back in the dark as you need all the daylight hours to explore the park.

Wanli Beach & Yehliu Geopark

Contributed by Emily of Wander-Lush

Both located on Taiwan’s northeast coast, Wanli Beach and Yehliu Geopark can easily be combined to make a quirky day trip from Taipei.

Just half-an-hour by bus from the city, Wanli is a resort destination with a white sand beach. It’s also known for its ‘UFO Village’. The collection of futuristic Futuro and Venturo houses were designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen and constructed in the 1970s.

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Most of the UFO-shaped dwellings and pod houses now lie abandoned (the exact reason why the village was vacated is still a point of conjecture), making Wanli a paradise for urbexers. Inside, some have original 1970s furnishings, homewares and possessions (including VHS tapes) still lying about. Take care when exploring, especially if you go inside any of the pods.

After spending a few hours wandering around Wanli, continue north along the coastal road. You can either re-board the same bus, or walk like I did, stopping in at fishing villages and lookout points along the way. After 4km you’ll reach Yehliu (Yeliou) and its famous geopark.

Yehliu is crowded with odd rock formations, many of which resemble human or animal forms. The boardwalks and pathways that lead visitors along the cape are usually jam-packed, especially on weekends. Entrance to the Geopark costs around 2 USD.

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How to Get to Wanli from Taipei: Take bus 1815 from Taipei City Hall and get off when you see the Howard Greenbay Resort Hotel. The UFO Village is tucked just behind the hotel on the beachfront. From Yehliu, you can take a bus 1815 back to Taipei City Hall.

Tamsui Old Street

Contributed by Constance of The Adventures of Panda Bear

Tamsui has a super interesting history and is one of the best places to visit as a day trip in Taipei, especially if you’re spending a long weekend in Taipei. The town of Tamsui, sits at the mouth of the Tamsui River, for which it is named. It began as an aboriginal settlement, but in the 17th century, the Spanish arrived and built the first non-aboriginal settlement at and around Fort San Domingo.

In the mid-1600s, the Dutch arrived and expelled the Spanish. They renamed Fort San Domingo to Fort San Anthonio and encouraged settlement by Han Chinese from mainland China and about 30 years later, the Dutch were defeated and left the area. After this, the population of Chinese continued to grow and it became a major fishing and trading port with mainland China.

Aside from its remarkable history, Fort San Domingo has also become a tourist site in Tamsui. The complex is located on the hillside of Tamsui, it is one of the most recognizable buildings due to its red brick facade. Today, the main building is a museum and there are cannons placed around the property. There are also Dutch clogs you can stick your feet in for the perfect Dutch photo-op.


Be sure to also check out Tamsui Old Street. This street is similar to a boardwalk where you can shop for souvenirs, grab amazing street eats, and also explore more of the town. Some of the most famous foods from Tamsui can be found here, such as the iron egg (a preserved quail egg), “ah gei” (tofu fishcake filled with mung bean vermicelli), and freshly made fishballs.

How to Get to Tamsui from Taipei: Part of the greater Taipei City, Tamsui can be easily reached by the MRT subway system. Simply take the Tamsui-Xinyi (Red) Line to the last stop, Tamsui Station.

Wulai

While not far from Taipei since it’s technically part of New Taipei City, Wulai takes about an hour to get to from Taipei so I’m considering it a day trip. Wulai is famous for its hot springs and indigenous culture, all set along a brilliantly turquoise river bisecting the town, so it’s a fascinating and incredibly relaxing day trip from Taipei.

The primary reason to visit Wulai is to relax in the natural geothermic waters at one of the many beautiful spas (the most highly recommended is Volado Urai). You can either enjoy just the hot springs or also add on an afternoon tea or meal to your experience.

If you’re on a budget, there are also free public hot springs you can access. Cross the bridge after Wulai Old Street, turn right, and walk up the road until you reach a stairway down to the river and signage for the outdoor public hot springs area.

Besides enjoying a natural thermal spa, you can check out the Wulai Atayal Museum, which tells the history and present of the indigenous Atyal people, who perform traditional songs from their culture. Admission is free.

Don’t miss the beautiful Wulai waterfall, a 20-minute walk from Wulai Old Street. At a whopping 80 meters, it’s one of the tallest and most beautiful waterfalls in Taiwan.

How to Get to Wulai from Taipei: If you book with a hot spring resort, there are shuttle buses every 1.5-2 hours from Taipei to Wulai and vice versa. For example, Volado Urai Resort runs their own shuttle buses included in the ticket price, which leave from the centrally-located Xindian MRT stop in Taipei. You can also take this shuttle (schedule here) for 50 Taiwanese dollars (less than $2 USD) even if you are not a guest of their resort.

Alternately, from Xindian Station, there is a bus to Wulai which takes about 40 minutes and costs 15 Taiwanese dollars, about 50 cents.

Qiandao Lake & Pinglin Tea Plantation

If the hustle and bustle of Taipei is getting to you, then just a mere __ minutes away, you’ll be able ot unwind at the gorgeous Qiandao Lake. It’s nicknamed “Thousand Island Lake” because the rolling green hills surrounding the lake give it the illusion of having a handful of floating miniature islands.

This part of Taiwan is the heart of Taiwanese tea culture, so aftewards you can explore Pinglin Tea Plantation and learn about the history and cultivation of tea in Taiwan. The mountains combined with the beautifully terraced tea plantations are a perfect respite from the city vibes of Taipei.

There’s also the educational Pinglin Tea Museum, where you can taste several local teas (some of the most famous teas in Taiwan!) and learn from a tea expert about the exact specifics on how to brew the ideal pot of tea.

How to Get to Qiandao from Taipei: A guided tour of Qiandao & Pinglin is probably the best way to visit Qiandao, but there is a public transportation option. From the Xindian MRT station, you can take the #12 bus to Shiding to the Shisangu bus stop, and walk down the hill from there. However, I haven’t tried it, so I’d probably book a tour instead.

Keelung

One of the closest cities to Taipei, a day trip to Keelung is an easy addition to any Taipei itinerary. Keelung is a port city most famous for its delicious seafood as well its vibrant night markets and fish market. Whereas many of the night markets in Taipei have become a slightly touristy affair, the night market in Keelung is mostly frequented by locals.

There are a few interesting things to do in Keelung, including the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial in Zhongzheng Park, the abandoned Qingyu Hall, and of course, the Night Market for which it is best known. I recommend doing a walking tour of Keelung in order to get to know the city, its sights, and its history better.

And of course, if you’re a foodie, you won’t want to miss a night market food tour while in Keelung!

How to Get to Keelung from Taipei: It’s quite easy! Simply take any Keelung-bound train from Taipei Main Station, which will cost about 41 Taiwanese dollars (less than $2 USD). They leave about once every 20 minutes all throughout the day. You can also take the Kuo-Kuang Bus outside of Taipei Main Station (exit 3) for 55 Taiwanese dollars, which will also take you to Keelung.

Yangmingshan National Park

While also part of greater Taipei, getting to Yangmingshan takes a bit of effort and definitely feels like a true day trip from Taipei.

I visited using public transportation which I actually don’t recommend -.getting to the park was easy, but figuring out the shuttle bus that goes throughout the park was pretty inscrutable as a non-Chinese reading tourist. If I did it again, I would definitely go on a guided tour or shuttle to make the most of my time.

A few highlights of Yangmingshan include the hike to Mount Qixing, the highest volcano in all of Taiwan at 1,120 meters. It’s not for the faint of heart – we started this hike but because we started too late in the day in th emiddle of winter, we had to abandon the hike about halfway up as otherwise we’d be ascending in total darkness.

A few other points of interest are the Milk Lake, the sulphur fumaroles, and the many thermal hot springs that dot the volcanic area around Yangmingshan.

How to Get to Yangmingshan from Taipei: In my opinion, the best value option is the shuttle bus. This shuttle takes you from downtown Taipei to the following locations: the geological park Xiaoyoukeng, the stunning valley of Bamboo Lake, the pleasant hot springs at Lengshuikeng and the unique lava field landscape of Qingtiangang Grassland.

Other options include taking a tour that includes a private hot spring and nature walk, or taking a day of luxury to relax in the white sulphur hot springs at Tien Lai resort in Yangmingshan National Park, shuttle included.

If you just want to explore the park independently, you can take the MRT to Jiantan stop (1 before Shilin) then take the red bus #5 or small bus #S15 or #S17 to Yangmingshan. However, once in the park, I found it kind of confusing to get around, so leave early in the day and allow yourself plenty of time to figure out the transportation or walk between destinations.

Taichung

While of course, I’m of the opinion that Taichung deserves a few days of its own, it still isn’t a bad idea to make a day trip from Taipei using the high speed rail if you have a limited amount of time in Taichung. Using the high speed train, you can get from Taipei to Taichung in a mere 55 minutes. Just know that the high speed train station is a bit outside of Taichung City in Wurih, so you will want to use a taxi or public bus to get into Taichung proper.

A few things worth seeing in Taichung: eating pineapple tarts from Miyahara, walking around the Taichung Cultural and Creative Industries Park (close to the regular train station), visiting the calm Taichung Park, the Fengjia Night Market, and of course — Rainbow Village, located about a 20-minute cab ride outside the city.

How to Get to Taichung from Taipei: Take the high speed train from either Taipei Main Sation or Banquiao. The train will take less than an hour and cost around 670-750 Taiwanese dollars, around $21-24 each way. I actually recommend getting a 3 Day THSR Tourist Pass, as it’s not much more expensive and will enable you to visit Taichung as well as Kaohsiung, Chiayi, Taoyuan, and many other places along Taiwan’s densely populated West Coast. If you have more time, a 5 Day TR/THSR Pass may be an even better value if you are planning on visiting a lot of places from Taipei! Do the math on where you want to go and check that it’s worthwhile.

Kaohsiung

Even though this city is nearly 400 kilometers away, it’s actually only 90 minutes by high speed rail, making this an easy day trip from Taipei!

Kaohsiung has so much to offer: the beautiful, photogenic Lotus Pond, the delicious Liuhe Night Market, the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, the Takao Consulate, the Chimei Museum, the 85 Sky Tower, and so much more. You definitely could spend a. few days in Kaohsiung, but it is also quite doable as a day trip if you have limited time in Taiwan and want to use Taipei as your base.

If you love colorful places, don’t miss the Formosa Boulevard MRT Station, one of the most beautiful subway stops in the world.

How to Get to Kaohsiung from Taipei: Go to Taipei Main Station or Banquiao to take the High Speed Train to Kaohsiung, which will take about 90 minutes and cost around 1500 Taiwanese dollars ($48 USD). Because it’s an expensive ticket, I recommend just buying the 3-day unlimited pass which will already save you money on just the roundtrip high-speed train ticket, as well as giving you another two days to explore other cities on the high speed network — a fantastic deal.

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Taiwan Packing List: What to Wear in Taiwan (In Winter and Summer)

Taiwan is a beautiful lush country with so much to do and see. With world-class cities like Taipei, beautiful hikes all throughout the country, and gorgeous beaches down south near Kenting, what you do in Taiwan will largely depend on the season.

Taiwan has four distinct seasons, so if you are coming to Taiwan in winter from another destination in Southeast Asia, expect a bit of a shock to your system. I visited Taiwan in January coming from Bali, and it was on the cool side in Taiwan but still rather pleasant. Average temperatures were around 50-65 °F, about 10-18 °C.

If you come from a cold climate, that may seem like a warm winter! However, many people combine a trip to Taiwan with Southeast Asian destinations, and Taiwan is definitely cooler than destinations like Indonesia, Singapore, or the Philippines in winter. I may have gotten lucky in my two weeks in Taiwan in winter, as it only rained one or two days of my trip. However, apparently the week before I arrived, there was nearly a week straight of rain. So pack accordingly, prepared for the worst but hoping for the best.

One lucky day, I was even able to wear a maxi dress I bought in Bali – in the winter!

Meanwhile, Taiwan summers are hot and humid with the potential for plenty of thunderstorms, usually in the late afternoon. You can expect temperatures around 80 °F during the day, about 27 °C, but heat waves can definitely hit and send the mercury rising up to 95 °F /35 °C with a sea of humidity to boot. Typhoons can also happen during the summer months, but this type of weather is unpredictable.

As I usually end up recommending for most destinations with four distinct seasons, spring and fall are the most pleasant times of year to visit Taiwan. The mild winter means that fall and spring are even milder, but you’re less likely to have truly cold weather and rain in these months. In April/May you may even be lucky enough to see the cherry blossoms, and fall will bring lovely orange and red fall foliage, so there are reasons to visit for every season.

What to Pack for Taiwan

What to Pack Everything In

I normally travel with a backpack, but I actually brought a big 2-wheel suitcase to Taiwan as I was staying in Bali for a month beforehand and wasn’t flying with budget airlines so I was actually able to bring a checked bag for not much extra.

However, I ended up really hating traveling with a suitcase. Even though Taiwan has excellent public transportation infrastructure, it just got annoying to move with my suitcase all the time, and when I took the train to Taichung it was quite bulky and annoying to have my suitcase with me.

I considered traveling more around Taiwan during my 2 weeks there but I ended up sticking to just Taiwan and Taichung because I hated lugging around my suitcase so much. Since that’s kind of ridiculous, I recommend instead just bringing a travel backpack that is comfortable that you actually like traveling with. Normally, I use the Tortuga Setout Backpack and found myself missing it dearly on this trip. Or, pack light and bring a rolling suitcase that isn’t too heavy and has 4-wheel spinners (I was dragging around an old 2-wheeler; do not recommend!)

Here are the products I generally use to organize my packing, and what I wish I had brought to Taiwan instead of my god-awful giant rolling suitcase.

All I packed for 6 months in Europe - Find out how here!
Packing cubes are bae <3

Travel backpack (carry on size or check-in size): When I’m not being an idiot and seriously overpacking, I always use my Tortuga Backpack  so that I can avoid checking in my luggage. I really regretted not having it with me in Taiwan and in the year since my Taiwan trip it’s all I’ve brought with me since.

Why do I recommend Tortuga so much? Here’s why: this bag is 45L and has got three main compartments: one for a laptop and other flat objects, one giant rectangular compartment perfect for packing cubes stuffed with clothing, and one smaller compartment with pockets for passports, pens, odds and ends, etc. that I stash all my extras in – plus one small outer zipper pocket for anything you want quick access to. It also has a water bottle holder on the outside as well as buckles so that you can strap something like a yoga mat to the outside. Plus, it’s quite comfortable to wear, with a padded hip belt and comfort-molding shoulder straps complete with a chest strap so that you can distribute weight perfectly across your body in the event that you need to wear your backpack for longer than usual. Check out more specs and details here.

Does it pass budget airline requirements? It depends on the airline. Personally, I’ve never once had to check it in on a budget airline flight, and I’ve taken probably 50+ Ryanair and Wizzair flights at this point. I’m not sure about Air Asia or Scoot. Usually, I just buy priority boarding so that I have a guaranteed spot on board for my bag (plus a second personal item bag), which adds a small amount onto my total flight cost instead of the $20-40 or so that a heavy checked suitcase or backpack would.

I brought a rolling suitcase and really regretted it on this recent trip. If I did still want to bring a lot, but didn’t want to deal with a giant rolling suitcase, I’d upgrade to the Osprey backpack.

A rain cover for your backpack: Taiwan is prone to lots of rain so it’s great to be prepared. I’ll be honest, I actually don’t have one of these because I am a horribly irresponsible person, but every single time I see a person with a backpack proudly trudging through the rain with a rain cover on, clearly not frantically panicking about the state of their electronics the way that I am, I vow to get one. Be like them, not like me. I’m a failure of an adult. This rain cover looks to have good reviews but again, terrible at adulting, 1/10 barely remember to feed myself, so do your own research if you’re so inclined. Alternately, the Outbreaker version of the Tortuga Backpack is water-resistant, so that could be a good choice if you’re in the market for a new backpack.

Packing cubes: Whether you pack for Taiwan with a suitcase or a backpack, I definitely recommend packing cubes. Many people who visit Taiwan visit several cities during their trip via the excellent train system (seriously, guys, Taiwanese trains are next level perfect, especially the high speed trains!) Since you’ll need to pack and repack your bag several times if you do this, packing cubes make a world of difference. Plus, as it keeps your clothes rolled and packed neatly, it prevents wrinkles and makes sure you’re utilizing your space the best way possible.  I use these packing cubes and love them, but any will do fine.

Laundry bag: In addition to packing cubes, I also like to bring a laundry bag to separate out my dirty clothing from my clean clothes. Laundry in Taiwan is affordable and can be done at most hostels, hotels, or guesthouses, so you don’t really need to pack everything you need for a long trip unless you really want to. While you could certainly just reuse a plastic bag for this purpose, I do like having a cute one like this travel-themed one from Kikkerland though, because I’m impractical.

Hanging Toiletry Bag: I tend to pack a lot of toiletries with me because this is one area where I find it hard to claim my “light traveler” status – and after falling in love with Taiwanese beauty products, I definitely left Taiwan with more toiletries than I came with. I use a hanging toiletry bag to pack my toiletries in an organized way that takes up minimal space. It has the perfect number of separators, organizers, and pockets without taking up any excess space. It’s kind of a magical Mary Poppins bag – you’d be amazed at how many travel-sized toiletries you can fit in it. Unlike other bags, it zips up flat like a bulky manila envelope, so it is really easy to slide into your backpack or suitcase without being a weird bulky shape that makes bags annoyingly hard to close. Love!

Backpack with locking zippers: Taiwan is one of the safest destinations in Asia in terms of petty crime, but that doesn’t mean that opportunist thieves don’t exist anywhere in the country. On all my travels, I swear by PacSafe for the combination of functionality and cute aesthetics, and I love their PacSafe Citysafe backpack which I use as my everyday bag, even when I’m not actively traveling. It’s actually cute in addition to having all the awesome security features that make you feel pretty much pickpocket-proof. Though of course, you should definitely be careful with your belongings no matter what you pack them in. If you’re curious to learn more, I have a full review here – not sponsored, just irrationally obsessed.

Essential Things to Pack for Taiwan

Taiwan, especially its cities like Taipei and Taichung, are ultra-modern and super easy to shop in. Whether you need more clothes, some toiletries you forgot, or some accessories, you’ll find plenty of stores in Taiwan. However, the language barrier in Taiwan can sometimes be a bit of an issue and a lot of signs and labels will be in Chinese, which is not always the easiest for shopping. Therefore, I recommend packing carefully anyway (that’s why you’re reading this, right?) so that you can buy things as desired rather than as needed.

neon lights in ximending - one of the best places in taipei to visit
Taiwan has fantastic shopping, but I still prefer to be prepared!

Travel insurance: Travel insurance is a must for any country, regardless of safety. Taiwan is basically as safe as it gets, but still, there are random acts of nature everywhere — typhoons are a regular occurence in the summer, and a 6.4 earthquake hit Taiwan just a few weeks after I left. Plus I like to be protected in case of illness, family emergencies, that sort of thing. I always travel with travel insurance and have been a paying customer of World Nomads for years. You can get a free quote here.

Lonely Planet Taiwan: While obviously, I do a lot of research on blogs, I also like to have a digital copy of a Lonely Planet loaded up on my Kindle. It is more comprehensive than blog posts, which often give good information and firsthand experience, but sometimes don’t go beyond surface depth or top 10s. I like planning with a balance of both.

Kindle loaded with e-books: If you are traveling between cities in Taiwan by train or bus, you’ll find yourself with a lot of spare time. For travel, my Kindle Paperwhite is my best friend. Buy several books before you go so that you won’t run out of things to read and get bored! It’s not always easy to find English-language bookstores when you travel, so I like having the option of using a Kindle.

Basic toiletries and cosmetics: While I love Taiwanese beauty products and defintiely stocked up on quite a few things in Taiwan, there’s no denying that the brands they have in Taiwan are different to what we have in the US, Europe, etc.  If you have a preferred product be sure to bring it. That said, if you’re a beauty fan, definitely pop into Watson’s or some similar beauty store in Taiwan and pick up some fun produts — I love Taiwanese sheet masks; they’re cheap and make an excellent souvenir!

Sunscreen: One major problem with buying sunscreen in Taiwan is that a lot of sunscreens have whitening agents – which is a problem in many Asian countries. These whitening agents can be really harsh, especially on sensitive skin, so I recommend avoiding them. I traveled Taiwan in winter but still liked having my solid sunscreen stick from Neutrogena because I always max out on my liquid toiletry allotment.

Mosquito repellent in summer: In winter, you won’t need mosquito repellent in most places in Taiwan but you definitely will in the summer or shoulder season months. Typically, I bring a bottle of mosquito repellent spray, but I also like to keep a few of these super-handy mosquito repellent wipes with me if I need to reapply on the go. I also highly recommend bringing some After Bite mosquito bite treatment since it’s inevitable some of those buggers will get you at one point in high mosquito season.

Water bottle with built-in filter: Tap water is safe to drink in most places in Taiwan but sometimes buildings have crappy old pipes and the taste or quality may not be as high as you are used to. While it’s not going to make you sick the way, say, drinking Bali’s or Thailand’s tap water would, it still is better to drink it filtered if you have a sensitive stomach. I typically use a Lifestraw water bottle with a filtration system inside of it that gets rid of 99.9% of nasty bacteria and viruses. Another option is the Steripen, which uses UV light to sterilize tap water.

Basic medicine: While Taiwan will likely have most medicine you need, I still always stand by having a basic first aid and medicine kit for common travel woes – especially stomach medicine, as I find a lot of countries don’t have my preferred medicine (salicylate bismuth, aka Pepto) and instead have things like activated charcoal which work okay but not nearly as well as Pepto for me, personally. Here’s what’s in my arsenal for every trip and what I brought to Taiwan:  Pepto-Bismol tablets for standard stomach troubles, Imodium as a nuclear option for diarrhea or severe food poisoning, some sort of painkiller like ibuprofen for headaches and minor pains, and some sort of motion sickness tablets. Of course, if you have any specific medical needs, you will want to bring that as well, especially anything that may require a prescription. That said, pharmacies in Taiwan are excellent – I had to buy a cream there because I got ringworm from a cat in Bali and the pharmacists were really helpful in finding what I needed and translating the Chinese on the packaging.

What to Wear in Taiwan in Winter (Ladies)

This part of my Taiwan packing list is specific to women, so men, feel free to skip this part and go on to the next section, where I attempt to guess what you should bring. Taiwan’s winter isn’t that harsh but you should definitely pack differently for Taiwan in winter than in summer, so use this post as a guideline but keep in mind the temperatures are about 50-65 °F, (10-18 °C) so you can also just bring what you’d be comfortable with wearing in those climates.

This packing list is assuming you’ll be in Taiwan for a week or more – if you’re only in Taiwan for a shorter trip, you can subtract from this list.

Light sweater, hat, skirt, and leggings – an easy Taipei in winter outfit!

2-3 long-sleeve dresses: I love dresses year-round, even winter, because I don’t have to match and they make me look a little more dressed up. Pair with leggings or bare-legged with a pair of boots on a warmer day.

5+ tees: I prefer darker colors as I’m able to hide the fact that I spilled soy sauce and xiao long bao juice all over my shirt.

2 pair jeans: Definitely a must for Taiwan – the weather is perfect for jeans.

1-2 pairs thin cotton leggings: Great for pairing with dresses or skirts to keep warm.

2-3 long-sleeve tees or thin sweaters:  Taiwan’s winter is perfect long-sleeve weather, so pack a few tees or thin sweaters (nothing too bulky)

2 skirts: I suggest bringing one black skirt and one printed skirt for flexibility. I typically wear mini-length skirts with leggings in winter.

1 pair sneakers: You’ll walk a ton in Taiwan, so be sure to bring some easy walking shoes. I love my black Nikes as I find they look cute even worn with my dresses and I’m all about having options.

Moisture-wicking socks, preferably made of wool or something that is odor-absorbent like these ones from Smartwool

1 pairs sandals: Even though it’s winter it may still be warm enough for sandals. Plus, many Taiwanese guesthouses and hotels ask that you remove your shoes when you enter, so having something that slips on easily is nice. I love my Birkenstocks and will never go back

1 rain jacket: Even if it looks like it’ll be a nice day out, the rain in Taiwan often has other plans – namely, ruining yours. I love my Marmot rain jacket and bring it with me on every trip because it packs up small and offers pretty much complete waterproofing.

1-2 cardigans: Great for layering if the weather is being especially finicky!

1-2 bras: I personally brought 1 regular bra and 1 sports bra and switched between the two, but the cleaner people amongst us may object to that and want to bring more. You do you.

1 hat: My ears get cold easily and Taipei can get windy!

7+ pairs of underwear: I like having about a week’s worth of underwear so I don’t always have to plan out my laundry days.

Bathing suit: If you plan on going to one of Taiwan’s hot springs, you may want to bring a bathing suit!

What to Wear in Taiwan in Summer (Ladies)

Generally, summer is quite warm in Taiwan, so you’ll want to wear lightweight, breathable clothing and leave anything synthetic or polyester at home. Opt for cool, natural fabrics like cotton and my personal summer favorite, linen.

That said, Taiwan can go a bit crazy with air conditioning and you’ll want some layers if you go hiking in the mountains, so be sure to bring a cardigan or two to layer with even if the forecast looks hot!

If you do any hiking in summer, you may want to bring a swear – it can get cool in Yangmingshan and other higher altitude places

3-5 lightweight summer dresses: Dresses are great for Taiwanese summer weather, plus they pack up small, so bring as many as you can get away with. Aim for something that hits around the knee (a few inches shorter is fine, but avoid tiny mini dresses) as Taiwan is a bit conservative with how they dress. I love maxis and midi dresses for this climate.

5+ tees & tanks: You will sweat a lot, so opt for black, navy, and other dark colors. Yes, they attract heat, but they also avoid the telltale yellow pit stains that seem to be my constant vibe whenever I attempt to wear white.

1 pair jeans: It’ll probably be too hot to wear these during the day, but I like having them to wear at night occasionally, or when I know I’ll be somewhere heavily air conditioned.

1 pair thin cotton leggings: Great for making yourself less appetizing to mosquitos at night and also for cooler nights up north or in the mountains if you go hiking in one of Taiwan’s gorgeous national parks

1-2 long-sleeve tees or thermals: For hiking and unexpectedly high air conditioning

2-3 skirts: I suggest bringing one black skirt and one printed skirt for flexibility. I especially love having midi or maxi length skirts, which feel great and coincidentally look nice in photos! As a bonus, the extra fabric around your legs traps some cool air, making you feel less hot.

1 pair sneakers: Even in the summer I often like to wear breathable running shoes for walking around. I love these black Nikes. Plus if you want to hike, and Taiwan has great hiking, you’ll want proper shoes for that.

Moisture-wicking socks, preferably made of wool or something that is odor-absorbent like these ones from Smartwool because your feet will sweat a lot in the summer.

1-2 pairs sandals: I suggest bringing one pair of rubber flip flops like these Havaianas and another pair of more stylish or dressy sandals. I’m obsessed with my Birkenstocks. These are great for when it’s just too hot to put on sneakers, and rubber flip flops are great for days when rain is in the forecast.

1 rain jacket: Even (especially) in summer rain is common and I need a jacket like my Marmot rain jacket which is pretty much completely waterproof and small when packed up. Plus the underarms have zippers underneath which you can open, making the jacket more breathable, which is a must in humid summer weather.

1 cardigan: In case of overzealous air conditioning

1-2 bras:  Maybe more if you’ll be really active

7+ pairs of underwear

Bathing suit: Especially if going down south to Taiwan’s best beaches!

What to Wear in Taiwan (For Men)

Full disclosure, I am not a dude. But if I was, this is what I would bring, I guess.

I don’t know what to put as a photo here…. so look, here’s Taipei 101

Winter:

  • 2 pair jeans
  • 5 T-shirts
  • 5 long-sleeve tees or thin sweaters
  • 7+ pairs underwear
  • flip flops
  • sneakers
  • a few pairs of moisture-wicking socks
  • sturdy waterproof rain jacket
  • swim trunks
  • 1-2 cardigans
  • 1 non rain jacket (denim jacket, hoodie, etc)

Summer:

  • 1 pair jeans
  • 1 pairs thin, lightweight travel-friendy men’s pants
  • 2-3 pairs shorts (in summer)
  • 7+ pairs underwear
  • flip flops
  • comfortable walking sandals
  • sneakers
  • a few pairs of moisture-wicking socks
  • sturdy waterproof rain jacket
  • swim trunks
  • sweater for colder weather + too much AC

What to Pack for a Hostel in Taiwan

If you’re backpacking through Taiwan, there are a few extra things that you should bring that you might not need if you were staying in hotels.

1 pair flip flops: For communal bathrooms, you’re definitely going to want a pair of flip flops to avoid funky foot issues!

1 travel towel: Some Taiwanese hostels will provide a towel, but it’s not always a given. You can usually rent one for a small fee, but I find it handy to carry my own XL quick-dry travel towel – they fold up quite small, are great for beach days or hot spring dips, and are generally just a nice thing to have.

1 eye mask: Great for when you want to sleep but your roommates don’t!

Some earplugs or good noise-canceling headphones: I love Hearos — they’re the gold standard for ear plugs.

What Toiletries to Pack for Taiwan

While you can easily replace most toiletries in Taiwan, here’s quick list of what I recommend bringing in addition to your typical toiletries that you bring with you on every trip (body wash, shampoo, etc.)

 
Be grateful that I’m not including a photo of me wearing a Taiwanese sheet mask.

Hand sanitizer: Nice for when eating street food etc. and you may not have a chance to wash your hands first

Kleenex packets: Just nice to have in case a restroom doesn’t have toilet paper – I always keep a Kleenex packet with me.

LUSH solid shampoo: Life-changing. Just trust me.

Sunscreen: Again, avoid the icky whitening agents and make sure you bring a sunscreen from home. You can find sunscreen without whiteners in Taiwan but it can be tricky sometimes.

Travel medications: I listed them above, but just to reiterate — stomach medicine, motion sickness pills, and some sort of painkiller are my standards.

Electronics to Pack for Taiwan

Taiwan is one of the safest countries in the world – the 2nd safest, according to this likely biased source. You can relax and bring what you normally would on any trip and know that, generally, petty theft is extremely rare in Taiwan.

Taiwan is one of the safest places on earth – I walked around solo all hours of the day and night without issue.

Laptop, if necessary: I bring my Macbook Air everywhere but other people may prefer a tablet or an inexpensive netbook.

Unlocked smartphone: Taiwan has affordable data plans and it’s easy to buy a SIM card upon arrival at the airport. I love being able to use Uber, Google Maps, etc. and other things while I travel so a SIM card is a must for me.

Kindle Paperwhite: Books are heavy and often hard to find exactly what you want on the road. I love the Kindle Paperwhite because the screen is glare-free, making it easy to read at the beach or in direct sunlight.

Travel camera: I use a Sony A6000 because it’s lightweight for a professional caliber camera, inexpensive, and a HUGE step up from a smartphone. You may want to replace this or add a GoPro if you are doing adventurous activities on your Taiwan trip.

Portable charger: I like to carry a portable charger everywhere I travel and Taiwan is no exception!

Adaptor, if necessary: Taiwan uses the same plugs as the US, Canada, and many other North American countries, as well as some other Asian countries. If you’re coming from the UK, Europe, or Australia you will need an adaptor.

***

Well, nearly 4,000 words later, I think I’ve finally exhausted all the things you need to pack for Taiwan in any season!

Is there anything I’ve forgotten? Is there anything else you’re wondering if you should bring to Taiwan? Let me know in the comments!

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

I spent two weeks in Taiwan in January and it was – and still is – one of my favorite new travel destinations of 2018. From the absolutely incredible street food to the mountain of wonderful day trips it’s possible to do easily from Taipei thanks to their excellent metro system, I was never bored in Taipei – and I stayed there for about 12 days.

Of course, most people have to maximize their vacation time, and so I’ve created this Taipei itinerary for 5 days 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. Or, 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.

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.

Taipei Itinerary, Day 1: Arriving & Eating

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.

Get into the city

First, decide if you want to pick up a SIM card or pocket WiFi in the airport before you leave, to make life a little easier. I bought a SIM card because my phone is unlocked, but many people who don’t have SIM cards – or are traveling in a group and don’t want to buy multiple SIMs – find pocket WiFi devices far more convenient.

You can book it online and simply present your mobile voucher to pick it up 24 hours a day at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport, upon arrival, making it ultra-convenient!

Here is the pocket WiFi rental service I recommend!

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. 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.

Alternately, 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.

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

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.

Head to a local night market

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.

If you prefer a little guidance, you can take an affordable night market tour that covers 12 different tastings at a local, little-touristed market- this tour only runs on Sundays, however, so plan accordingly!

This Ningxia night market tour is offered three times a week, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and may be a good alternative.

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.

Oh, and if you think you smell a sewer leaking, don’t fret — that’s just someone cooking up some stinky tofu, Taipei’s most notorious – and nefarious – street food. I wasn’t brave enough to try it! Supposedly, it tastes better than it smells – which I would hope – but I never tried it.

One thing to note about the night markets is that there is not always a ton of English spoken, but there’s usually some English signage. 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 or a hop-on, hop-off bus to make getting around even easier.

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 shoes on and let’s get to it!

Start in Taipei’s most famous square

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, as well as 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

One of the most traditional and beloved dishes in the Taiwanese kitchen, you can’t miss trying braised pork rice 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

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 it being Taiwan, its winters are relatively mild). 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 – I didn’t personally check it out as I’m not a huge museum fan).

Marvel at the 18th-century 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

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. In reality, 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

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 a free night sightseeing bus if you would like.

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 in the rest of 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

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 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). 

Stroll around trendy Zhongxiao

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. But remember that like many themed cafés, there is a minimum – the minimum here was 300 Taiwanese dollars, about $10 USD, so I gave it a pass as I’m not really a Hello Kitty person. In fact, it’s pretty much antithetical to my personality, but I’m a good sport.

Check out Huashan 1914 Creative Park

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

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! 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 (book online here) which includes full use of outdoor their mineral water pools, traditional sauna, steam rooms, and stone spa – plus a shuttle service from the MRT metro. It’s a great way to squeeze in some relaxation into your 5 days in Taipei!

End the night at Tamsui Old Street

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.

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

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

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.

Shifen Old Street - the train goes through the center

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 private 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 private Jiufen, Shifen, and Pingxi tour here.

Alternately, this guided bus tour is similar, allows time for Shifen Old Street, Jiufen, and Yehliu Geopark, and is quite affordable to boot – check it out here.

However, do note that neither of these tours includes Shifen Waterfall, and instead swap out Yehliu Geopark, which I didn’t have a chance to visit on my trip.

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

Take the adorable Pingxi Railway

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

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

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

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, but 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.

The gorgeous Shifen waterfall

Head to Jiufen

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! 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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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, 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 vacation!

Save time on your trip! Book your fast-track ticket easily & hassle-free here!

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.

Visit Elephant Mountain for a sunset hike and amazing view

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, as 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!