Taipei is the capital of Taiwan, and it is often used as a base by tourists who are visiting this island state. It is a modern metropolis that is known for its impressive skyscrapers, its vibrant food scene, and its lively markets. Traditional and modern areas of the city blend together, so you will find both historic attractions and attractions to entertain the modern traveler. Although this city is urbanized, it is also surrounded by diverse and beautiful landscapes that also offer a variety of activities during your stay. To make sure you get the most out of your vacation, here are the 20 best things to do in Taipei for first-timers.
20. Relax in Dean Forest Park
The largest park in Taiwan, Dean Forest Park is a fantastic place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. According to The Whole World is a Playground, it is the Taiwanese equivalent to Central Park in New York. It is a massive open space with lawned areas and water features. You can sit in the park to relax for a few hours and watch the world go by.
19. Eat Dumplings at Din Tai Fung Restaurant
One of the traditional dishes of Taiwan is dumplings, and the best place to eat these is at Din Tai Fung. This restaurant is famous for its dumplings, and they have several locations across the city. Their original restaurant has been open since 1972. Due to the popularity of these restaurants, you may have a long wait for a table during peak times.
18. Visit Liberty Square
Liberty Square is a massive 250,000-square-meters, and it is home to several iconic landmarks that are worth visiting. The most notable of these is the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which is a breathtaking structure. This building was erected in honor of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, who was the first President of Taiwan. The structure has eight sides, and these represent the number eight, which is associated with wealth and fortune in Chinese culture. There are 89 steps in the building, and these are to represent the age at which Chiang died. In the square, you will also find the National Concert Hall.
17. See North Gate
There are five gates into the city, and the only remaining gate that looks exactly the same as it did during the Qing dynasty is the North Gate. It is considered one of the most important historical sites in Taipei. The structure has an interesting design, and you should try to get a photograph of this spot during your visit.
16. Eat and Shop in the Old Town/ Ximending Shopping District
Each of the districts in Taipei has something different to offer, and one district where you should try to spend some time is in the Ximending Shopping District, which is also known as Old Town Taipei. This district was one of the first in the country to become pedestrianized. It is a fantastic place for shopping, and it is home to some of the city’s best restaurants. You will also find several interesting and historic attractions, including the Red House Theater, Zhongshan Hall, and Taipei Tianhou Temple. An interesting point to note is that if you fancy a foot massage, you will find several establishments offering this service in Old Town Taipei.
15. Hike the Baoshan and Xiangshan Trails
The Elephant Mountain Trail is part of the Xianshan Trail, but many people stop after the first few viewpoints on Elephant Mountain. However, the trail continues across the entire peak, and it is well worth continuing to its endpoint in Yongchungang Park. It then leads on to the Baoshan Trail, which then loops back. If you are a hiking enthusiast and you have the energy to walk over challenging terrain for several hours, then these are some of the best trails to hike.
14. Stroll Around Huashan 1914 Creative Park
The Huashan 1914 Creative Park was once a wine factory. It has since been transformed into a retro-chic venue, with the warehouses converted into various exhibition and performance spaces. There are live music performances, huge art displays, interesting exhibitions for children, and pop-up shops selling products designed in Taiwan. There are also multiple restaurants within the converted space. At the back of the center is an independent cinema called SPOT.
13. See the Exhibits at the National Rights Museum
Although there are many museums to visit in this city, Lonely Planet recommends including the National Rights Museum in your itinerary. In the past, this building ws a detention center, court, and jail. One of the focuses of the museum is the White Terror period, from 1947 to 1987. It is highly recommended that you take the English audio tour of the museum.
12. Eat the Street Food
One of the things for which Taipei is most famous is its diverse and amazing street food scene. No matter where you are in the city, you will find food stalls selling all sorts of traditional dishes, delicacies, fast-food, and fusion cuisine. There is something to suit all tastes and you should try as many different foods as you can during your visit.
11. Go to the Iconic Longshan Temple
There are many outstanding structures in Taipei, and one of the most iconic is the Longshan Temple. The Han immigrants from Fujian founded this temple in 1738. In addition to being a place of worship, this building has served many purposes throughout its history. These have included being a municipal, guild, and self-defense center. Although the temple is devoted to Guanyin, the bodhisattva of mercy, there are sections devoted to more than 100 other gods and goddesses. Due to the popularity of this temple amongst tourists, it is best to visit in the early more or the evening.
10. Visit the National Taiwan Museum
If you like to find out more about the history of a country when you travel to new locations, then you should visit the National Taiwan Museum. The main focus of the museum is the history of the local aboriginal tribes. However, you can also learn about the plants and wildlife of Taiwan. When you have toured the exhibits in this museum, you should cross the street to the Land Bank wing. This is a former bank that now has an interesting collection of artifacts, ranging from an old bank vault to dinosaur bones.
9. Ride a Cable Car at Maokong
On the outskirts of the city is the Maokong district, which is famous for growing tea. Visit Taipei Zoo first, then take a cable car ride to Maokong and enjoy the spectacular views of the city along the ride. You can see the tea plantations and learn about its production before sampling some of the tea for yourself. Maokong is also a fantastic location to enjoy watching the sunset over the city.
8. Explore Yangmingshan National Park
Although you may spend most of your time in urban areas during your visit to Taipei, you should also take the chance to appreciate the beauty of the surrounding area. Yangmingshan National Park is just a short drive out of the city, and it is one of the most beautiful parks in Taiwan. There are buses that will take you directly to this park. Within the park, there are multiple hiking trails, many of which have panoramic views over the city. Another feature of the park is the steaming fumaroles. Exploring this park is a fantastic opportunity to see the fauna and flora of Taiwan. This is one of the best places to visit for those who are active and enjoy the outdoors.
7. Enjoy the Hot Springs at Wulai
Just outside the city is a small village called Wulai, which is famous for its hot springs. There is a public hot spring on the riverside, or there are a few several hot spring hotels that rent out rooms for a couple of hours at a time so that you can relax in privacy. The hot springs are not the only point of interest in Wulai. Another interesting activity to enjoy while in this village is the cable car ride that takes you to a magnificent waterfall. There is also an aboriginal village where you can buy local handicrafts and sample the local cuisine.
6. Browse the Stalls at the Shilin Night Market
The Culture Trip, one of the best things to do in Taipei is to go to the Shilin Night Market. This is the largest and most famous of all the night markets in Taipei. There is an electric atmosphere in this market, and it is a fantastic way of absorbing yourself in Taiwanese culture. There are stalls selling food, clothing, handicrafts, and novelty items.
5. Go to the Dalongdong Baoan Temple
A beautiful temple to include in your vacation itinerary is Dalongdong Baoan Temple. This is next to the Confucius Temple, and it was originally built in 1804. The original building has been wonderfully restored, and there have been multiple extensions throughout the years. This means that the temple is now a large complex that you can explore. The best time is between April and June as there are performances of traditional arts taking place at this time of the year.
4. Stroll Along Dihua Street
There are many fascinating streets to explore in Taipei, and one that you should try to visit is Dihua Street. This street is 800-meters long, and it is the perfect place to learn about Chinese culture and traditions. It is a shopping area that has shops selling Chinese herbs and medicines. There are also artsy places to explore alongside colorful boutique hotels. The street is also architecturally interesting as it sits alongside Daddacheng, which is the oldest surviving neighborhood in the city. You will see various red brick buildings and homes that were built in the 1850s. A notable architectural feature of the street is its symmetric arches. If you are lucky enough to visit Taipei around the Chinese New Year, this street becomes a hive of activity with various celebrations taking place.
3. Hike the Elephant Mountain Trail
Amongst the most popular activities in Taipei is the Elephant Mountain Trail. This is a section of the Xiangshan hiking trail that takes about 20 minutes to complete, and it takes you to the top of a hill called Elephant Mountain that is 183-meters high. Although the walk is only short, it is quite challenging as there are many steps. However, your effort is rewarded with amazing views across the city.
2. Visit the Confucius Temple
Of all the temples in Taiwan, the Confucius Temple is arguably one of the most impressive and visually appealing. This colorful temple was built in 1879, during the Qing dynasty. Not only is this an attractive attraction to visit, but it is also an interesting place where you can learn about its history. There is a 4D movie to watch that explains the history of both the temple and Confucianism.
1. See the Taipei 101
According to Phenomenal Globe, the best thing to do in Taipei for first-timers is to see the Taipei 101. This is one of the most noticeable structures in Taipei as you can see it from almost anywhere in the city and the surrounding area. This modern structure is considered an architectural masterpiece. Visitors can ride in a super-fast elevator to the 91st floor, which has an observation deck with panoramic views of the city. On the 35th floor of the building, there is a Starbucks, but you need to book a table in advance. There are also several bars and restaurants within the structure.
Written by Liz Flynn
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