TaipeiTravel Guide

Taipei takes many first-time visitors to Taiwan by surprise – with good reason. This buzzing capital city is a melting pot of cultures with Chinese, Japanese and European influences, where the ultra-modern and the ancient seamlessly combine.

Historical buildings like temples can be found right next to the most incredible skyscrapers, high-end malls rub shoulders with traditional markets, fancy restaurants and street food are equally enticing.

Add to that the city’s pumping nightlife, hots springs, beaches and museums, as well as the annual Lantern Festival, no wonder Taipei is becoming one of the most popular destinations in Asia.

Keen to know more? Our Taipei Travel Guide reveals all the must-see hotspots of this metropolis.

Explore Taipei

Where to stay in Taipei?

Whether you’re looking to live in the lap of luxury or check-in to a budget hotel that suits you and your group of friends, Taiwan’s capital has what you’re looking for. Here are some of our picks:

The five-star Grand View Resort Beitou is near the source of Taipei’s white sulphur springs and offers you incredible views over Beitou. If the Zen-inspired ultra-modern architecture doesn't entice you into lingering in your room a little longer, then the incredible bathtubs will. There's also an on-site spa to ensure pampering is on your agenda and three restaurants to choose from once all this self-love has left you peckish.

We also recommend staying at the Grand Mayfull Taipei, a skyscraper hotel with jaw-droppingly magnificent interiors and luxurious suites. Check out the poolside bar, fitness centre and five places where you can dine. Choices, choices…

On the banks of Tamsui River, the Zhongzheng District is an excellent choice for first-time travellers to Taipei due to its location. If themed accommodation appeals to you, Roaders Hotel will make you feel as though you’ve stepped onto a Wild West movie set. The hotel is budget-friendly, offering many free amenities and services, such as a 24/7 big-screen movie player, a photobooth, arcade machines, snacks and toiletries (in case you forgot your toothbrush).

Travelling with family or friends and looking for a budget hotel? The quirky CityInn Hotel Plus Ximending Branch with its arty installations is a great choice. It has all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay and there are single, twin, triple and family rooms to choose from. Thanks to its location, just a five-minute walk from the Ximen MRT Station, it’s a great area to stay to explore the city

Believe us when we say, this is just the start. Book your accommodation today!

  • Distant view of a lite up city at dusk
    • Female looking at steam coming from water (hot springs)
    • Person taking a photo of a female on their phone in a night market
  • Distant view of a lite up city at dusk
    Distant view of a lite up city at dusk
    Distant view of a lite up city at dusk
  • Female looking at steam coming from water (hot springs)
    Female looking at steam coming from water (hot springs)
    Female looking at steam coming from water (hot springs)
  • Person taking a photo of a female on their phone in a night market
    Person taking a photo of a female on their phone in a night market
    Person taking a photo of a female on their phone in a night market

Things to do in Taipei

Every part of Taipei is guaranteed to win you over, from the heights of its tallest building to the tingling depths of its hot springs and the snippets in the middle of its fascinating history. There’s so much to discover and immerse yourself in, so we picked some of our favourites to inspire you.

Want something to brag about after your trip to Taipei? Visit one of the world’s tallest buildings, Taipei 101, which is 509.2m high and has 101 floors. If you don’t have a fear of heights, head up to the observation deck on the 101th floor, where you will be strapped into a harness before stepping outside. The reward for your fearlessness is an incredible 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the Taipei basin.

Taiwan has more than 100 hot springs, and the famous Beitou Hot Spring is a stone’s throw from central Taipei via the Taipei Metro (get off at Xinbeitou MRT Station). There are plenty of bath houses, but for a private experience, book a hot spring room. The public baths are either traditional Japanese-style (separated by gender without bathing suits) or Taiwanese (mixed gender with bathing suits and swimming caps).

To fully immerse yourself in the hot spring culture, Millennium Hot Spring with its outdoor pool and Spring City Resort are popular choices for friends, families or couples visiting Taiwan together. If you want to go fully traditional, visit Longnice Hot Spring, the oldest bathhouse in Beitou.

Taipei is where the cat café trend was born back in 1998 before it quickly spread all over the world. Some cafés charge a small entrance fee but all of them are cat-loving spaces where you can enjoy your drink or meal surrounded by the purrfect company. Highly rated is the Genki Cat Café where Maine Coons rule the roost. While Genki Cat Café doesn’t have a website and only a Chinese Facebook page, just google and you’ll find loads of photos and reviews.

Taipei at night, some say, is even busier than by day. So, if you’re a party animal you’ve come to the right place! Head straight to Xinyi, which is the clubbing mecca. Taipei also offers up a wealth of bars, lounges, live music venues and pool parties.

Taiwan’s fascinating cultural diversity developed over thousands of years from indigenous tribes through to colonisation by the Chinese, Spanish, Dutch and Japanese. The National Palace Museum showcases 8,000 years of Chinese history across four floors with exhibitions of rare books, religious sculptures, ceramics, calligraphy, and an impressive jade collection.

Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Taipei food and drink

Taipei has its fair share of excellent restaurants and traditional teahouses. But we also recommend sampling the wide variety of street food at the many night markets. While some dishes are unrecognisable and others an acquired taste, it’s all part of the experience!

Whether you follow your nose or the Michelin recommendations, Yongkang Street, and the nearby Qingtian Street, should be approached with an empty stomach. Enjoy local fare at Dongmen Dumplings or one of the best-known noodle spots, Yongkang Beef Noodles.

For something sweet, you can’t go wrong with mango shaved ice, especially as Yongkang Street is the birthplace of this refreshing dessert. Don’t miss out on the traditional teahouses like Juluo Shan Hai Teahouse and Douhua Shop. For something more off the beaten track make your way to Qingtian Street for the beautifully preserved Japanese residences that’ve been converted into teahouses.

Taipei has a host of fine-dining eateries. Din Tai Fung in Xinyi Road, Da'an District, has been named by The New York Times as one of the top 10 gourmet restaurants in the world, and it’s famous for tangbao (soup-filled steamed dumplings).

There’s also Raw, run by a Michelin starred chef and boasting “bistronomy” – haute cuisine that won’t break the bank. You'll find it packed full of patrons, all enjoying its tasting menus and super-impressive décor.

Taipei is known for its bustling night markets and each one offers a unique experience. One of the best is the Shihlin Night Market, and the proof is in the tofu pudding (douhua) and the crowds. Hundreds of vendors sell some unusual and even bizarre-looking treats. If you dare, start with stinky tofu, which is deep-fried, pickled, and definitely an acquired taste. Other famous street foods include scallion pancakes, pan-fried dumplings and ice-cream wraps (like a burrito filled with ice-cream, cilantro and peanut brittle shavings). And don’t forget to taste bubble tea with its chewy tapioca balls, which has its origins in Taiwan.

The Shida Night Market is smaller than Shihlin Night Market and is situated in the centre of Taipei's university district. It’s popular for its lively atmosphere and long rows of street vendors, and the students always flock here. The street food here will have your tastebuds on their toes with oyster omelettes and squid balls to more exotic fare for the bravest of travellers, like pork blood cake.

Open until the early morning hours, Ningxia Night Market may be small but with “Taipei’s Stomach” as its nickname, you can see why it’s a foodie destination. Some stalls have people lining up before they even open. Try the mocha (Japanese rice cakes), pork ribs and sesame chicken. Or pop over to Liu Ya Zai – they specialise in taro balls. To escape the summer heat, enjoy the air conditioning in the underground food court and cool down at Beer Ammo with a selection of more than 300 craft beers.

Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Taipei through your eyes

Where to shop in Taipei?

If you want to mix things up a bit after all those night markets, Taipei boasts malls galore. You’ll find anything and everything and enjoy some unique experiences while you’re at it.

We’ve already mentioned this attraction, but it’s worth noting that shoppers and foodies should head to Taipei 101 Mall for high-end shopping and fine dining on a par with New York’s Fifth Avenue. Plus, with the Taipei 101–World Trade Center Metro Station at the foot of the tower, getting there is easy.

While Taipei 101 Mall occupies the first few floors of the towering skyscraper, the Taipei City Mall is located underground and runs along the Civic Boulevard. The 1km-long mall is divided into four sections: fashion, electronics, food and beverages, and miscellaneous products. From souvenirs and clothes to animé collectibles, massage parlours (try the daoliao, a knife massage rooted in a 2,000-year tradition) as well as barber shops, it’s one-stop shopping! You’ll also come across live performances, arcade games, free-to-play gaming consoles, cafés and fortune tellers.

Then there’s the Ximending shopping district in the Wanhua District of Taipei, which features pedestrian-only streets and a fabulous buzz. From big department stores like Eslite Spectrum to tiny stalls and boutique stores in alleyways, this is a highly recommended experience. While fashion and beauty products rule here, you can also find pop-culture memorabilia, admire the colourful graffiti and street performances, or catch a movie or a show. The Red House was Taipei’s first public market, established in 1908, before becoming a cultural centre for theatre and live performances.

Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Taipei?

Taiwan’s seasons are divided into hot or cool. The cooler months from November to April are a great time to head to the Beitou Hot Springs and explore the outdoors without the humidity. The average temperature is 20°C. (68°F)

The heat and crowds get turned up a notch from June onwards with highs averaging 30°C (86°F). Keep in mind that August is notorious for typhoons.

There are many time-honoured festivals in Taipei, celebrating anything from traditions to film and art, well worth planning your travels around. The annual Lantern Festival happens towards the end of the Chinese New Year, around mid-February, and is one of the biggest multi-day street parties in Taipei with live music, performances, plenty to eat, light shows and yes, you guessed it, lanterns. The three-day Dragon Boat Festival takes place in June and is all about competitive dragon boat racing and rice dumplings.

Don't miss out. Book your flight today!

How to get around Taipei

Getting around in Taipei is fairly easy because of the efficient (and affordable) public transportation network.

For longer stays in the city, get the EasyCard at 7-Eleven stores and top up as-you-go. You’ll get discounted trips and access to the Taipei Metro, public buses and the Taiwan Railway Administration services – the latter is perfect for day trips outside the capital.

The Taipei Metro has 131 stations along six lines that snake across the capital and New Taipei City, connecting travellers to attractions and markets daily from 6am until midnight. All Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations have announcements and signs in English and online maps that are also pasted on station walls.

Taipei’s public bus stops have electronic screens with times of upcoming buses in English and Mandarin, which make it so simple to use the service.

The public biking system, YouBike, is perfect for exploring neighbourhoods along bike paths. The bicycles are available 24/7 and if you have a local mobile number, you can register your EasyCard at one of the YouBike Stations, or use your credit card, and the city is your oyster!

If you need a taxi, you won’t have trouble spotting them in Taipei at various points of interest – they are bright yellow. Alternatively, you can download a taxi app and Uber is also available.

Let us help you organise your own wheels for exploring. Hire a car today.

What are the best beaches in Taipei?

Just when you thought Taipei couldn’t get any better, there are several beaches and a variety of water sports on offer to keep you active on your holiday.

Wai’ao Beach with its black sand and kinetic waves is popular for surfing, and if you don’t yet know how, fear not − there are many surf schools ready to teach you. The volcanic islet, Turtle Island, is visible from the shore and between May and October you can go on a dolphin-spotting cruise – and if you’re lucky, you might even see some whales.

Qianshuiwan Beach is another goodie. It’s easy to understand why its sandy stretch is so popular. The clear waters, small waves, gorgeous sunsets and plenty of restaurants along the shore add to its charm.

For diving or snorkelling, Longdong is superb. The crystal-clear water will reveal a colourful underwater show of tropical fish, crabs, starfish and other headline acts. Gear rental and diving courses are readily available.


What are the best parks in Taipei?

Despite being built up, Taipei offers an array of tranquil urban parks and green spaces to unwind from the bustle of the city.

Whether you need a break from shopping, want to go for a jog, or enjoy a picnic with the delicacies you bought from nearby Yongkang Street, make your way to Da’an Forest Park. Known as the “lungs” of Taipei City, the park is covered in trees and flowers – there’s even a bamboo forest. This popular public space has an open-air theatre, trails, a firefly pond and pavilions. You can also opt for a free reflexology session in the park.

As a historic landmark that’s home to the Taiwan National History Museum, the 228 Peace Park is a memorial to the victims who protested on 28 February 1947 against political oppression and corruption. To commemorate the massacre, a bell is rung every year on Peace Memorial Day (a national holiday). The park is dotted with eye-catching features like a statue of Chinese philosopher, Confucius, a koi pond with an arched bridge, and amazing architecture like the Cui Heng Chamber.

The Tapei Botanical Garden is another must-visit for its lotus pond especially. It was the first botanical garden in the city, dating back to 1896 when it started out as a nursery. And a special mention goes to the interestingly named Drunken Moon Lake, which is set in a park in the National Taiwan University campus where you're free to walk around and take in views of the lake.

Getting from park to park is so much better with your own wheels. Hitch your ride now!

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