I may have grown up in Hong Kong, but what you might not know is that I was born in Taipei and visit at least 4-5 times a year! While I’ve touched on one of my favorite aspects of traveling to Taiwan (Read on: Top Things to Eat in Taiwan: A Totally Unbiased List), here is my insider’s guide to the best things you should do in the capital city (especially if you’re short on time).
Taipei is an incredibly vibrant city with tons to see and do (and eat), and is so underrated it’s not even funny. If you are visiting this part of the world then Taipei is a city not to be skipped! Here are some top tips if you only have 48 hours in Taipei.
Quick tips for your Taipei trip
✈️ If you are flying into Taipei, chances are that you will be arriving at Taoyuan International Airport (there is another smaller airport downtown called Songshan Airport, make sure you differentiate between the two). You can pre-book your private airport pick up or drop off here, take a metered taxi or take the MRT to Taipei Main Station in the city.
🛂 Most visitors to Hong Kong do not require a visa for entry. See here for more details.
💱 The local currency in Taiwan is the New Taiwan Dollar, or NTD. The exchange rate hovers at around US$1 to NTD28, or 1 Euro to NTD34. Credit cards are widely accepted – most shops, restaurants and hotels accept Visa or Mastercard. However, cash is still king so you should withdraw some when you arrive – there are tons of ATM machines around Taipei, just make sure you’ve enabled international withdrawal on your card.
📱 Buy a local SIM card. When you land at the airport you can buy a 3-day Taipei tourist SIM card for about US$10. When you exit customs turn right at the arrivals hall and you’ll find a few different counters operated by different phone companies. The easiest way to buy a Taiwan SIM card is via Klook – you can get a Taiwan tourist SIM card and pick it up from the airport on arrival.
🌤️ Taipei gets 4 seasons! Unlike the south of Taiwan where it is mostly hot and humid all year round, Taipei experiences warm (and rainy) summers and cold winters. You’ll need to pack appropriately and bring a thick jacket if you’re visiting between December and March. The best time to visit Taipei for milder weather is from March to early June, and September to early December.
🌐 The main language spoken in Taipei is Mandarin. If you do not speak Mandarin you may run into a language barrier when communicating with shopkeepers, taxi drivers and people on the street. However, the language barrier should be minimal with anyone working in the hotel and hospitality industry.
🗓️ Wondering how many days to spend in Taipei? For a first time visitor looking to visit the top attractions in Taipei I would recommend spending no fewer than 3-4 days in the city. If you plan on embarking on any Taipei day trips to Yangmingshan National Park, the Beitou hot springs, Yilan county or even Hualien then you may want to put together an extended 4-6 day Taipei itinerary.
🛏️ Booking hotels in Taipei: I can personally recommend these fantastic hotels in Taipei – Hotel Cozzi Minsheng (a Taipei boutique hotel steps away from the Xingtian Temple), Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao (perfectly located near the Huashan 1914 Creative Park), Fullerton North (a modern, upscale boutique hotel with excellent service) and ILLUME Taipei (luxury hotel with all the facilities – perfect if you’re traveling to Taipei with kids). There are tons of other great accommodation options in Taipei – if you want to stay somewhere central look into hotels and AirBnBs in the Xinyi, Da’an, Zhongshan and Zhongzheng districts. You’ll be close to most of the attractions in Taipei and these areas are well connected by subway. Read on for more tried-and-tested recommendations, or check out more Taipei hotel options here.
🎟️ You pretty much never have to pay full price for admissions tickets in Taipei as most tour operators, car charters, spas and major attractions are listed on Klook. Just click here and search for places you want to go, and book online for discounted entry or head on over here to read more about how to use Klook to book travel experiences.
How to get around Taipei
While I firmly believe that Taipei is best explored over 4-6 full days, it is possible to cover a lot of ground in just a few days because it has a fantastic public transportation network.
The fastest and most efficient way to get around town is via the MRT subway system, which connects up with the intercity railway system as well. Buses and taxis are also plentiful, safe, clean and very budget friendly, and Uber can be used anywhere within the city. You should set aside travel time as the traffic can be at a standstill in the city, especially during rush hour.
One of the first things you have to do when you arrive in Taipei is get a FunPass or EasyCard. The FunPass is a stored value card that works on all public transportation including the MRT and buses, and also includes entry into some of the top Taipei tourist attractions.
You can purchase your tourist Taipei FunPass card in advance here – just pick it up from the airport when you arrive. If you want a regular EasyCard which is a stored-value card which can also be used on taxis or in shops, walk into any 7-Eleven or Family Mart convenience store (there’s one on every corner) and ask for a “yo yo ka” – you can purchase the card and top it up in any major convenience store.
Alternatively, you can also buy a 48 hour Taipei tourist MRT pass for NTD280 (around US$9) from any MRT information counter which allows you to take as many metro trips as you like. There are other multi-day passes available, just ask the counter or refer to the photo above.
Taipei is a sprawling city but is fairly walk-able if you have the time; while it may be hard to cross the entire city on foot, it isn’t hard to get from, say, Taipei 101 to Ximending.
Where to stay in Taipei
There are tons of great accommodation options in Taipei – if you want to stay somewhere central look into hotels and AirBnBs in the Xinyi, Da’an, Zhonghan and Zhongzheng districts.
You’ll be close to most of the attractions in Taipei and these areas are well connected by subway. Here are some of my personal Taipei hotel recommendations:
Hotel Cozzi Minsheng: Hotel Cozzi Minsheng is one of my top picks for where to stay in Taipei – it is located steps away from the Xingtian Temple as well as the Xingtian Temple MRT station. We absolutely loved our most recent stay at this boutique hotel in Taipei in their modern and spacious rooms. The buffet-style breakfast is plentiful and it even has a fairly well-equipped fitness centre. Click here to book your stay at Hotel Cozzi Minsheng!
Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao: Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao is another of Cozzi’s branches in Taipei, located conveniently in the Zhongzheng District. True to the brand, Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao’s rooms are simple yet stylish, the staff are well-trained and friendly, and the breakfast selection is great.
We especially liked the proximity to the Huashan 1914 Creative Park and access to the blue Bannan MRT line. Click here to book your stay at Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao!
ILLUME Taipei: ILLUME Taipei took over the former Sunworld Dynasty location near the Taipei Arena. It is steps from the Taipei Arena and Nanjing Fuxing MRT stations. This luxury hotel in Taipei is not exactly budget friendly, but it is fantastic if you want a hotel with best-in-class facilities including a huge fitness centre, yoga studios, outdoor pool and sauna.
The rooms are incredibly spacious (but make sure you book a renovated room rather than a legacy room from the former property) with fancy Japanese toilet seats, and some offer balconies with a view of Taipei 101. If you are traveling with kids to Taipei this is a no-brainer: there is an outdoor electric car track and indoor playroom (set to reopen later this year), as well as on-site self-serve laundry room. Click here to book your stay at ILLUME Taipei!
Chill Roof Hotel: Chill Roof Hotel in Zhongshan is located midway between the Zhongshan and Songjiang Nanjing MRT stations, offering you easy access to 3 different subway lines across Taipei. This boutique hotel in Taipei is for the design-lovers: the rooms are spacious and each features a unique modern European/Scandinavian-inspired design.
Chill Roof Hotel is best suited to independent, self-sufficient travelers as it does not have a 24-hour reception or on-site restaurant, but it does have a guest laundromat for longer stays; it is also located on the 11th floor of a small commercial building which some travelers may not be used to.
However, it offers fantastic privacy and peace & quiet. There are even 2 on-site cats in their own room next to the reception area, and if you’re missing your furry companions at home you can ask to enter the room for a little cuddle (obviously not suitable for those with cat allergies). Click here to book your stay at Chill Roof Hotel!
Fullerton North: Fullerton North is conveniently located in Songshan District and was recently renovated. This hotel is perfect for people who prefer staying at boutique hotels. It is close to Raohe Night Market and Ciyou Temple as well. Click here to book your stay at Fullerton North!
More: There are tons of great accommodation options in Taipei – if you want to stay somewhere central look into hotels and AirBnBs in the Da’an, Zhongshan, Xinyi and Zhongzheng districts. Click here for even more accommodation options!
Top 10 things to do if you only have 2 days in Taipei
Not sure what to add to your Taipei itinerary? Read on for a list of the best things to do in Taipei and what to see if you only have 48 hours in Taiwan’s capital city!
1. Check out the view from the observation deck at Taipei 101
The Taipei 101 observation deck is one of the best places to get a 360-degree view across Taipei city, and is a must-visit if you’re not too terrified of heights. The entrance is on the 5th floor of Taipei 101 building: you will need to purchase a ticket before stepping into a high speed elevator (one of the fastest in the world!) which will take you up to the 89th floor.
You can also visit the building’s cutting-edge damper which keeps it steady during typhoons and earthquakes.
The observation deck is open from 9 AM to 10 PM every day, and tickets can be bought ahead of time – save 15% off your ticket if you book here or click here to buy the priority pass so that you can skip the queue!
Planning your Taipei trip and not sure where to stay? The Xinyi, Da’an, Zhongshan and Zhongzheng districts offer easy access to public transportation as well as some top Taipei boutique hotels – click here to book accommodation in Taipei!
You may want to check out Hotel Cozzi Minsheng (a Taipei boutique hotel steps away from the Xingtian Temple), Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao (perfectly located near the Huashan 1914 Creative Park), Chill Roof Hotel (a small city hotel in the Zhongshan district with spacious design-focused rooms, best suited to independent travelers) and Fullerton North (a modern, upscale boutique hotel with excellent service).
2. Hike up Elephant Mountain or Tiger Mountain
You will find the entrances for both Elephant Mountain and Tiger Mountain just steps away from Taipei 101. Both places are fantastic places to watch the sunset over Taipei and offer an easy hiking trail which will take you to the top in just 20-30 minutes.
If you’re after an easy hike to a brilliant viewpoint then make sure the Elephant Mountain hike is on your Taipei 2 day itinerary.
As Elephant Mountain is one of the most popular sunset viewing spots in Taipei you will need to get here early to nab a spot, and make sure you spray on tons of mosquito repellent as they do come out in full force at dusk.
3. Stuff your face at Raohe Night Market
This my absolute favorite thing to do when I’m in Taipei. Taiwanese dishes are extremely unique and delicious, and you don’t often find high quality Taiwanese food anywhere else in the world. Often imitated, rarely replicated!
Wondering where to eat in Taipei? Raohe Night Market is probably the best night market in Taipei because there are tons of food options, plenty of entertainment for the little ones and lots of shopping to be done as well.
Make sure you stop by the Ciyou Temple at the end of the market to see it all lit up in the evening. Wandering what to eat in Taipei? Click here for some of the top things to eat in Taipei!
Taiwanese night markets are out-of-this-world and offer more than just incredible street food. Click here for 6 reasons why you have to add visiting a night market to your Taiwan itinerary!
4. Get cultured at the National Palace Museum
The National Palace Museum is one of the best in the world, housing approximately 700,000 pieces of artifacts from ancient China. I’ve visited multiple times, and because they have rotating exhibits I’ve been able to see new slates of artifacts during each visit.
Two key things to see while you’re here include a piece of green jade sculpted to look like cabbage, and a piece of agate sculpted to look like a piece of pork. The best time to visit is before 11 AM (when all the tour buses arrive), or in the late afternoon after the crowds have left. You can purchase your National Palace Museum and audio guide here.
Ready to book your Taipei trip? The Xinyi, Da’an, Zhongshan and Zhongzheng districts offer easy access to public transportation as well as some top Taipei boutique hotels – click here to book accommodation in Taipei!
I can personally recommend these fantastic hotels in Taipei: Hotel Cozzi Minsheng (a Taipei boutique hotel steps away from the Xingtian Temple), Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao (perfectly located near the Huashan 1914 Creative Park), Chill Roof Hotel (a small city hotel with spacious rooms, best suited to independent travelers – not for anyone allergic to cats as they have 2 on-site cats who reside in a separate room next to the reception area) and Fullerton North (a modern, upscale boutique hotel with excellent service).
5. Get spirited away at Jiufen Old Street
Jiufen Old Street is one of the most popular day trips from Taipei, high up in the mountains with houses stacked on top of each other, barely hanging off the cliff face.
Jiufen is an old gold mining town that is now famous for its striking tea houses – don’t miss Ah Mei Teahouse and the gorgeous Chinese lanterns hanging outside (made famous by the Japanese animation, Spirited Away).
The old walking main street is lined on either side with charming souvenir and street food stores, so set aside some time to saunter through and take a peek at all of the various knick-knacks. A word of warning, Jiufen is one of the top Taipei attractions so it can get extremely crowded and busy!
The famous Golden Waterfall is also nearby Jiufen, and is worth a quick roadside stop for a photo.
The water is a beautiful gold color as a result of the abundance of heavy metal deposits in the riverbed.
6. Head to Shifen Waterfall and Shifen Old Street
While you’re at it, head next door to Shifen to check out its Old Street along the train tracks and the massive Shifen Waterfall. Shifen is extremely popular as you can release paper sky lanterns here, but it isn’t necessarily the most environmentally friendly thing to do (and they sometimes fly into the electrical wires overhead).
While you’re here you can also eat some local Taiwanese snacks like shaved peanut brittle topped with homemade peanut ice cream, all wrapped in a thin crepe.
You can get to places like Jiufen and Shifen via public transport, but there are no direct connections and you often have to change between a bus and a train. If you are short on time, want to make the most of your day trips from Taipei, keen to see a few different places in a day and don’t mind splurging a little, look into hiring a private driver for the day.
The quickest and most comfortable way to get from Taipei to Jiufen is by private transfer which you can book here, or you can also charter a car and driver for 8 hours. This gives you the most flexibility and allows you to customize your sightseeing itinerary.
You can expect to pay approximately US$120-140 for a driver and car for a full day (8 hours).
Need more ideas on things to do in Taipei? Klook has lots of organized tours you can join if you’re short on time, as well as discounts to restaurants, transportation and more!
7. Check out the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
Love a good puddlegram shot? Head to the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, a popular photography spot in Taipei. The memorial hall is a national monument in memory of a former president of Taiwan and sits within Liberty Square in downtown Taipei. It is easily reachable by MRT or bus.
I’ve stayed at a lot of boutique hotels in Taipei. Here are some fantastic options: Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao (located walking distance from the Huashan 1914 Creative Park), Hotel Cozzi Minsheng (a modern Taipei boutique hotel with comfortable rooms and on-site fitness centre), Fullerton North (a modern, upscale boutique hotel with excellent service) or Chill Roof Hotel (a small boutique hotel located in a commercial building – a perfect base for city exploration).
Wondering where the best areas are in Taipei for visitors? The Xinyi, Da’an, Zhongshan and Zhongzheng districts are centrally-located and offer easy access to public transportation – click here to explore even more accommodation options in Taipei!
8. Take the Maokong Gondola up to the tea fields
Another popular day trip from Taipei, Maokong is a tea producing area high up in the hills that offers small tea houses and sweeping view below. The Maokong Gondola ride is short and sweet and is just steps away from the Taipei Zoo MRT station. Once you’re there make sure you try a cup of local tea and also try the delicate tea-flavored soft serve ice cream.
To get back down either hop on the gondola or take a thrilling shuttle bus ride along winding roads (not recommended if you are prone to motion sickness, don’t say I didn’t warn you).
9. Go shopping at Ximending’s converted Red House
The Ximen Red House in Ximending was built in 1908 and was Taiwan’s first public market before being converted into a theater in 1945. It underwent an extensive 2-year renovation before reopening to the public in 2018.
The building itself is stunning, and usually houses a handicraft & design market over the weekend that features products by local artists and designers.
Afterwards, head next door to Ximending’s main shopping street to check out the plethora of quirky shops, street food stalls and even the occasional live performance.
10. Explore Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Built in 1914, the sprawling site was once home to one of Taiwan’s largest wine producers throughout the 1920s.
The space was later converted into a venue for performances and art, and today Huashan 1914 is a sprawling complex that serves as Taipei’s primary creative arts center and event hub for cultural exhibits and festivals.
There are a number of artisan and craft shops, coffee shops, floristries and more. It’s an awesome place to spend the day in Taipei for grown ups and children alike. There’s a huge park behind the Huashan 1914 complex and people often hang out on the grassy lawn over the weekend – there are often street food carts and live music performers around for the perfect lazy afternoon.
Unfortunately the English website isn’t very well designed (how ironic) or user friendly, so I would recommend checking out the Chinese website for upcoming exhibits and events ahead of your trip.
Planning on spending more than 2 days in Taipei?
If you have 3 or more days in Taipei why not check out the Sun & Green sunflower farm (website in Chinese only) in Taoyuan? The best time to visit this sunflower field in Taipei is from May to October, and entrance is free. There’s lots of fun treats to try here including sunflower ice cream, dragonfruit popsicles, or you can stay to use their barbecue pits. It can be difficult to get there by public transport – your best bet is to take an Uber or self-drive.
I also highly recommend venturing towards the Thousand Island Lake in Shiding for breathtaking views and tea plantations. You can join a small-group tour that takes you to a lake viewpoint, terraced tea fields, a local tea shop for a tasting ceremony and an interactive tea museum. Read more about this wonderful Taipei day trip here, or book the tour here!
There are tons of great accommodation options in Taipei. The Xinyi, Da’an, Zhongshan and Zhongzheng districts offer easy access to public transportation as well as some top Taipei boutique hotels – click here to book accommodation in Taipei!
I personally vouch for and recommend these boutique hotels in Taipei:
Hotel Cozzi Minsheng – an excellent Taipei boutique hotel steps away from the Xingtian Temple MRT with a fantastic breakfast spread and small gym.
Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao – perfect for families and travelers who want to be within walking distance of the supermarket, pharmacy, tons of great coffee shops and restaurants.
Chill Roof Hotel – a small city hotel with spacious, funky rooms. Best suited to independent travelers who don’t need a 24-hour reception and not for anyone with cat allergies as they have 2 on-site cats.
Fullerton North – a modern, upscale boutique hotel with excellent service near the Raohe Night Market.
ILLUME Taipei – a luxury Taipei hotel with all the amenities and facilities you could need for an upscale city stay. Perfect for families traveling to Taipei with children.
Looking for more Taiwan destination guides and travel tips?
- Plan a trip to the picturesque Sun Moon Lake, a gorgeous lake surrounded by mountains. Click here for my Sun Moon Lake slow travel guide
- Travel down the coastal road from Taipei to Hualien and visit Taroko National Park. Here is my guide to visiting Hualien on the east coast of Taiwan
- Looking for an underrated day trip from Taipei to get away from the crowds? Visit the Shiding Thousand Island Lake, about an hour from Taipei
- Taiwan night markets are in a league of their own, read on for why you need to add this to your Taiwan itinerary
- Get ready to indulge in mouth-watering street food unlike any other – here are some must-try Taiwanese food dishes
2 days in Taipei isn’t nearly enough time to experience everything it has to offer – make sure you visit again (and again)! What are some of your favorite things to do and see in Taipei? Share them with me in the comments section below!
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