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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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
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
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
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
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
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