These were 10 of our favorite things to do in Taipei, in no particular order.
- Longshan Temple, Wanhua District – There are temples everywhere in Taipei. One of the largest we visited was the Longshan Temple. Roam around, appreciate the details, enjoy the incense. Tourists are welcome, but keep an eye out for signs and respect those in worship.
- Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Zhongzheng District – It is a national monument built in memory of the former President of the Republic of China. There is a library and a museum on the ground floor. Take the elevator up to the second level to see the changing of the guards at the large Chiang Kai-Shek statue. The memorial hall is within Liberty Square, which also consists of the National Theater and National Concert Hall. Make sure to walk through the beautifully manicured gardens.
- Pineapple Cake Class – Don’t go home without having a taste of traditional Taiwanese pineapple cakes. In fact, bring some home, they make great gifts. We actually ended up taking a class where we baked pineapple cakes from scratch. While they were in the oven, we learned about the history of Taiwanese weddings and how pineapple cakes are symbolic, ceremonial gifts.
- Shilin Night Market, Shilin District – There are several night markets in Taipei, this was our favorite. The market takes up so many blocks that you could possibly get lost between the stores, carts, and stalls. Some of the foods we tried were: Pepper pork bun, a large Hot Star fried chicken steak (there’s usually a line for this), custard-filled pancake, and a milk tea with boba. Taiwan is known for their boba tea, so you can get them anywhere really.
- Yangmingshan National Park – Just outside of Taipei and accessible by bus, this national park is known for their hiking trails, sulfurous vents, fumaroles, and hot springs. Unfortunately the rain was heavy when we arrived and our shuttle driver took us around the park like she was trying to scare us out of it. We didn’t see much other than the lush green hills, but that was nice enough that this is on top of our list for the next visit. Hopefully the weather will be kinder to you.
- Taipei 101, Xinyi District – This skyscraper, the symbol of modern Taiwan, has 101 floors and once was the tallest building in the world and had the fastest elevator. It’s fancy design is said to be made to withstand high winds and earthquakes. We opted not to go up to the observation deck, but Taipei 101 is so tall you can’t miss it!
- National Palace Museum – Holds a large collection of ancient Chinese artifacts. As you can imagine, this place is filled with tourists; we recommend you go early. For a small fee, the garden deserves a visit.
- Trio Bar, Da’an District – For some top-notch unique cocktails this is the place to go. The hip, dimly lit bar at the entrance made us feel like we were somewhere super trendy, but the place wasn’t packed and the prices were very reasonable. We started off with one of their signature shots called the “tea shot,” which is an alluring combo of a thick passion fruit liqueur and earl grey tea infused vodka. Two of their other signature drinks we recommend are named “cocaine” and “marijuana,” but don’t worry, neither of the cocktails contain illegal substances.
- Din Tai Fung, Da’an District – Michelin Star restaurant for dim sum. Even if you’ve been to DTF at another location, check out the original one. The customer service was better than the service we’ve experienced in the US. Go when they open (or maybe even before) because there definitely will be a wait. Our favorites are the truffle Xiao Long Bao (dumplings with broth inside them) and the shrimp fried rice (A tip from a friend and local: add soy sauce and hot sauce. It used to be served this way and it enhances the flavors.).
- Yehliu Geopark, Wanly District, New Taipei City – If you have time, take a day trip out to this 1700 meter (about a mile) peninsula off the northern coast of Taiwan. It is less than an hour drive outside of Taipei. The Yehliu Geopark is full of interesting rock formations, you’ll feel like you’re on another planet. The area also has hot springs and you’ll see many restaurants for fresh seafood.
Do you want more of Taipei?
If you love Taipei as much as we do or if you have more time, here are other things to check out:
- Confucius Temple, Datong District – This temple is smaller and out of the way, but we had such a good experience exploring the grounds. It wasn’t as crowded, so it was more peaceful. There was a traditional ceremony while we were there which was cool to see.
- Bao’an Temple, Datong District – Across the street from the Confucius Temple.
- Try a themed restaurant.
- Xiamen District – for shopping and restaurants. This area is very lively.
- Xiangshan “Elephant Mountain” – We didn’t make it out there due to rain, but there’s supposed to be a great view of the city skyline and Taipei 101.
We’d like to hear about some of your favorites.