Taipei Travel Guide

Taipei Travel Guide

Casey Siemasko

Wondering what to do in Taipei? Whether you’re after world-class cuisine, bustling night markets, picture-perfect landscapes or vibrant cultural traditions, this cosmopolitan capital city does not disappoint. Still relatively undiscovered compared to other Asian nations on the travel circuit, Taiwan is on the brink of becoming a major tourist destination—and visiting Taipei is at the forefront of must-have experiences on the island. Get to Taiwan before everyone else discovers it.

The best hotels in Taipei

Located in the chic Zhongshan District, the Okura Prestige Hotel is understated elegance at its finest. Lounge in the heated rooftop pool while enjoying panoramic views of Taipei, or indulge in the neighbourhood’s up-and-coming restaurants and one-of-a-kind boutiques. Easy access to public transportation and top museums are an added plus.

You can never go wrong with a visit to Taipei’s Mandarin Oriental. Considered by many to be the most luxurious hotel in the city, it only takes one visit to the sweeping five-star property to understand why. This is the largest hotel spa in Taiwan where you’ll find exquisite service, generous rooms, and exceptional attention to detail.

With a convenient location in central Da’an, Les Suites Taipei offers a fantastic base to explore the rest of the city without sacrificing comfort and style. Guests continually return to the boutique hotel for its impeccable service and modern facilities.

Mandarin Oriental

Mandarin Oriental

Things to see in Taipei

Taipei is a city of contrasts. At one moment you can be meandering down a winding alley, red Chinese lanterns hanging in front of hole-in-the-wall shops. Then turn a corner and you’ll find luxury boutiques and designer name brands, with the staggering Taipei 101 glistening in the background. We suggest leaving plenty of time to wander around Taipei at leisure to discover your own favourite neighbourhoods.

That said, you won’t want to miss Danshui, a quaint riverfront district on the outskirts of the city. While here, take a stroll past the street vendors, performers and carnival games that are abound on Gongming St and the nearby waterfront walkway. To satiate your hot spring needs head to Beitou. It boasts a handful of chic hotels with private hot springs, as well as a lovely public hot spring (open daily.)

Things to do in Taipei

Whether you’re an avid adventurer, a museum maven or a faithful foodie, you’ll find it all (and more) in Taipei.

To better understand the rich history and culture of the city, begin with a stop at one of Taipei’s many mesmerising temples. The Xingtian Temple is one of Taipei’s busiest; here there is nearly always a crowd offering incense to Guangdong, the god of war and martial arts. The Confucius Temple is dedicated to the memory of Confucius, widely considered China’s greatest teacher. Finally, dating back to 1738, the Longshan Temple is one of Taipei’s oldest multi-denominational temples; here locals worship Buddhist, Taoist and Matsu deities.

Once you’ve had your fill of temples, it’s time to explore a few of the city’s national monuments and museums. Noteworthy attractions include the National Palace Museum (home to the world’s largest collection of Chinese art); the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial, with its National Theatre and Concert Hall; and the Sun Yat-sen Memorial, in honour of the founder of modern China (Dr Sun Yat-sen.)

When you’re ready to escape the chaos of the city, indulge in one of the many hiking and climbing opportunities all within a day’s reach. Long Dong (also known as Dragon Cave) attracts rock climbers from around the world, eager to scale one of the towering 70-metre sandstone cliffs. Alternatively, Yangminshan is located just outside of Taipei’s city centre and offers everything from intermediate hiking trails to relaxing botanical gardens.

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial | Photo: Dan Moore

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial | Photo: Dan Moore

Where to eat in Taipei

To experience the best of Taiwan’s culinary scene, head to one of the many night markets. An iconic element of Taiwanese culture, the back-to-back stalls offer up the perfect place to sample oyster omelettes, pearl milk tea, or skewers of chicken hearts and duck tongue. While you’re there, don’t miss out on stinky tofu. The fermented and fried tofu is about as appetising as it sounds, yet a must-try nonetheless.

When in doubt, hop in any crowded restaurant and order a steaming bowl of Beef Noodle Soup, Taiwan’s national dish. Each restaurant has its own variation on the simple delicacy, but at its heart, it consists of noodles, chunks of beef, and steaming beef broth. Experiment until you find your favourite.

Finally, Taipei’s theme restaurants make a great photo op and truly unique dining experience. From Hello Kitty to Modern Toilets, you’re bound to find one unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. Just be warned that it’s more about the ambience than the food itself.

After an evening of taste testing at the night markets, it’s time for a night out on the town that will rival that of any other international capital city. For a trendy lounge with elegant (if expensive) cocktails, Barcode is one of the best options around. Taipei’s gay clubs tend to cater to a younger crowd, but of those, Funky Club is the oldest and best known. For a high-end club with fantastic views of Taipei 101—and table service—Club Myst is always a good choice.

Photo: Dan Moore

Photo: Dan Moore

Shopping in Taipei

The winding streets around the Zhongshan MRT Station are where you’ll uncover independent designers and lovely boutiques. The Zhongshan Metro Mall houses Wu Xing Creative Company, a store featuring hand-made ceramics and goods, as well as MBmore, a Taiwanese art gallery with limited-edition prints.

Pick up a budaixi, or traditional wooden puppet, from ChangYi Fang. You’ll also find vibrant bags and accessories made from Taiwanese textiles. And of course, keep your eyes open for great bargains on random odds and ends while wandering through the city’s many night markets.

Taipei’s weekend Jade and Flower market is the best place to find handcrafted souvenirs. The local disabled population makes most of the handicrafts, making this a fantastic way to give back to the community while also enjoying a leisurely morning of shopping.

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