Taipei is a melting pot of some of the most flamboyant cultures in the world – a great dose of China and small chunks of Japan, America, and South-East Asia. Even though Taipei is seeing a huge growth of visiting Asian tourists, Westerners may not be as familiar of what to try out in Taipei. Here is our pick of the top 10 things to do in Taipei.
1. Get a killer view from Taipei 101
Once crowned as the tallest building on earth, Taipei 101 still holds the record for owning the fastest elevator in the world. Ascend at 37.7 mph to get a bird’s eye view of Taipei City, with all the major landscapes mapped out on the panoramic guide. Just like Eiffel Tower is for Paris and Empire State Building is for New York, Taipei 101 is(of course) for Taipei.
Read more about night Taipei:
A Sip of Night Taipei
＊ Taipei 101 tour:
Elephant Mountain Hiking Tour
Savor street food at Asia night market
Night markets are synonymous to Taiwan. Here you can find the most unique (if not bizarre) local flavors. While Taiwanese love to devour the infamous stinky tofu, you can also try out bubble milk teas, fried chicken steak, shaved ice, tempura and beef cubes. The fun is not limited to food, as night markets also serve as one-stop shop for tourists—souvenirs, clothes, massage parlors and all. Night markets are almost everywhere, if you don’t know which to choose from, try the iconic Shilin Night Market.
＊Night market tours in Taiwan:
- Kaohsiung’s Dome of Light and Night Market Tour
- Night life! Shilin Night Market
- Taipei Raohe night market & Tzu-yu temple
3. Don’t miss out the morning market either
Less popular within travelers, morning markets showcase another lively facet of locals’ daily lives. They are quite different from the supermarkets westerners are used to. Every day residents flock to purchase bargain vegetables, meats, and fruits, while vendors yell at their best to sell their products. Also, do not miss out on the delicious traditional breakfasts. It’d be a pity if you didn’t try these indigenous, tasty, and super affordable dishes.
4. Go “Bai Bai” at a local temple
Temples play a large role in shaping cultural behavior. The revered LungShan Temple built at 5th year at Qing Dynasty is still part of the fast moving 21st century Taipei.
Make sure to enjoy the intricate carvings and architecture, and relive Old Taipei history. Taiwanese have their own intriguing routine when it comes to speaking to their gods. “Bai bai” in Chinese means the entire act of visiting temples, presenting treats, holding incenses, throwing divine blocks, burn paper money for gods, etc. All in all, be sure to visit these tranquil, incense-filled centers of religion.
＊Must-visit Taiwan attraction – Temples:
- Taipei Heritage Tour – Explore everyday folklore
- Dalongdong Baoan Temple
- Longshan Temple and Wanhua Night Market
5. Breathe in some milky sulphuric air at a volcano – YangMingShan National Park & Beitou Hot Spring
One of the things so special about Taipei is that nature is weaved into the very fabric of the city. Feel like escaping the urban maze? Just hop on a bus and you can easily arrive at YangMingShan National Park. Hike or bike along the numerous trails of the mountain, rest your eyes on the 13 hot springs that lie within. You might want to end your trip at XiaoYouKeng, a fumarole emitting gas intermittently, and where you can get a nice view of the volcanic cones.
6. Venture into Chinese imperial treasury – National Palace Museum
You can do so at the National Palace Museum. The museum houses around 700,000 ancient artifacts and artworks, many of them once owned by the Chinese emperor. The superstar of the museum is the Jadeite Cabbage, a tiny artwork carved from a single jadeite naturally fading from green to white. Also check out the Meat Shaped Stone and the Mao Gong Ding cauldron. No matter which aspect of the imperial history you’re fond of, you are sure to find a piece here.
7. Release a sky lantern at Pingxi
This is arguably one of the most romantic activities you can put on your itinerary. Scribble your wishes on sky lanterns, and hold hands with your family, friends or lover as you watch the lantern lazily ascend to the sky. Stroll around this old mining town, and walk along the railway that used to carry loads and loads of coal. Sky lantern shops are everywhere in this small town, and the shop keepers take care of everything in the process, from helping you pose for photos to lighting up the lanterns. Before you leave, grab a tiny sky lantern charm as a souvenir.
＊Shihfen /Pingxi Sky Lanterns Tour:
8. Devour some juicy XiaoLongBao
XiaoLongBao, small bite-sized steam dumplings, is the first Taiwanese dish ever to acclaim a Michelin star. They feature paper thing wrappings and tender pork meatballs, and squirts out hot broth upon biting. While some restaurants like Din Tai Fung are famous for their insistence on 18 folds on each dumpling, others provide a DIY experience so travelers can try crafting the gourmet themselves.
＊ Make XiaoLongBao on your own:
9. Feel spirited away at Jiufen mining town
Jiufen is a decommissioned gold mining town, once prosperous during Japanese colonization. The nostalgic alleyways and mystic atmosphere are said to inspire Hayao Miyazaki on his celebrated movie Spirited Away. Stroll through the maze of lanes that today are embellished with tea houses, eateries, and indigenous boutiques. Visit the old school ShengPing Theatre, the first movie theatre in Taiwan. Feel all of your worries and stress drift away.
＊ Jiufen tours:
10. Finally, pose at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to show you’ve been to Taipei
Strike a pose at the massive Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, a symbol of Taipei. It is basically a huge park built in memory of the leader Chiang Kai-shek and incorporates Chinese palace-style architecture.
Make sure to have someone show you the symbolism of numbers and shapes, and explain to you who this Chiang Kai-shek is. Walk around to see some local grandma doing Taichi and parents letting children blow their steam out. And of course, watch the changing of the guards that happen every hour from 9 am to 5 pm. It’s rumored they’re quite handsome!