What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

Taiwan has yet to become a popular tourist destination- which makes it a great place to travel. The country and culture here are still pure and untainted by mass tourism. Despite being off the beaten travel road, Taiwan couldn’t be easier to travel around.

The capital city, Taipei, is also a destination in itself with so many cool things to do and see. Taipei is a bustling city with night markets, historical sites and even nature. The city has a well designed metro system that is easy to navigate and the people here are unbelievably kind.

Here is my guide to this awesome city as well as other handy tips.

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

Getting Around

 The first thing that you will need to do is to buy a Metro card (Easy Card) for about 300 ND at a metro station. Then you can top it up and use it for riding metro. The Taipei Metro is amazing and can pretty much  take you anywhere that you need to go. It is also very easy to figure out since they have all of the stations written in English.

If you aren’t in the mood for a metro ride then these cards even work as payment for some taxi companies. Taxi’s are cheap in Taiwan so they are also a great option.

To get outside of Taipei is quite easy as well. There are buses you can You can take a bus or a train.  To buy train tickets I just purchased them online. Then I would just go to a 7/11 and print my tickets at the ticket machine there  I had to ask a stranger for  help).   When booking your ticket you have to option of regular train or express.  The express gets you there faster and the trains are also a lot nicer too.

If you don’t like to plan ahead you can also show up at the train station and hope that there is a seat available. This will depend on the season that you are traveling.

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

Eating Around

Food in Taipei (and all of Taiwan) is cheap and delicious. I don’t think that I tried anything that I didn’t like. Well…except for stinky tofu-but that goes without saying.

With night markets everywhere and streets lined with restaurants there is so much amazing food to try. If you are vegetarian there are also a lot of options for you. I even walked into a couple of places without vegetarian options and they were very accommodating and whipped up a scrumptious meal for me. Something that never happens in South Korea.

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

Sleeping Around… just kidding!

There are quite a few options in Taiwan for cheap accommodation so finding a place is not an issue. However, Taiwan is not a typical backpacking destination so not all places are going to have that backpacker feel that you are looking for.

In Taipei I stayed at JV’s Home when I was there. I really like the location since it was right next to a nice night market- but not a crazy touristy one. Also the location was central and near Taipei 101.

There was nothing glamorous about this hostel but the staff were friendly and there was a common area where I was able to hang out and meet friends. Plus it was cheap!

If cheap doesn’t cut it and you want free then try Couchsurfing. I sent out a message just saying I was in town and looking for someone to hang out with and I go an insane amount of responses. I even had people offer me a place to stay and I wasn’t even looking. Taiwanese people are super duper friendly so I would highly recommend trying Couchsurfing here to get to know the locals and how they live.

What to See

Be Wowed by Taipei 101

My hostel was walking distance from the Taipei 101 and I didn’t even go in it- never mind up it. I had good intentions to go up-what used to be- the tallest building in the world.   There was just so much to do in and around Taipei that I never got around to it.

I did get the chance to appreciate it from a view on Elephant Mountain. Realistically, this is the best way to get an idea of just how tall the building is. As well, you will notice that throughout your time in Taipei the tower is so tall that it will be visible to you to admire from all around the city.

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

Find your Zen at Lungshan Temple of Manka

This temple  displays classic Taiwanese architecture. A lot of tourists visit this temple but  locals still come here for worship.

Beyond this, Lungshan Temple is a historical sight.  It is small but colourful with elaborate artwork and carvings. It is easy to get to and quick to see making it an easy cultural edition to your list of things to do in Taipei.

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

Wander Around Ximending Shopping area

This is a nice area to wander around to get a feel for what it’s like being a teenager living in Taipei. This area offers a lot of shopping. The boutiques are adorable and the prices are even better. There are also a lot of options for places to eat and cute cafes to chill at. I just grabbed a bubble tea to sip on as I got lost strolling through the cute  streets.

How to get Here: Take the MRT to Ximen Station. Take exit #6.

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

Get Sky High on the Maokong Gondola

This is a Gondola ride in Taipei that you takes up a mountain. What’s up the mountain? Well, that’s actually the cool part. There is the beautiful Zhinan temple and the top area of the mountain for you to explore. This is a full day trip but here I break it down and offer a lot more information on this fun activity.

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

Venture up Elephant Mountain

This is where everyone flocks to, to get the best view of the city.  The best time to hike the mountain is the late afternoon so you can catch the sunset as well as the stunning nighttime view of the city.  Try going during a weekday since the trail gets crowded during the weekend.

The hike takes about 15-20 minutes to the top but don’t let the short time fool you. This hike has a lot of stairs so in the humid weather your clothes will be drenched in sweat about 5 minutes in.

Once you get to the peak there isn’t much there but a little exercise area.  Another 15-20 minutes up from the exercise area is a  small Buddhist Statue garden. Not many people walk to here so it is nice and peaceful.

One tricky thing about this path is that there are lookouts/flat spots along the way. I kept thinking that I had reached the top when I actually hadn’t.  I ran into a friend after I completed the climb and asked he how far she made it. She told me the big rock lookout. It turns out that she thought this was the top but there was actually more to go. If you are tired by the time you reach this point, it does offer a great view so there is no harm in ending your adventure here.

Speaking of adventure- read about the crazy thing that happened to me when I climbed Elephant Mountain alone.

How to get Here:

-Take the red metro line to Xiangshan station. Leave from Exit 2 and continue walking alongside the edge of the park.

-At the end of this road, take a left and follow until the entrance for Xiangshan Hiking Trail (象山登山步道 ).

-Eventually, you will come to Lane 150. Take a left and starting walking up the hill towards the mountain. Walk up this hill and it will curve to the right

-The trail start will be just ahead of you.

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

Visit Chiung Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

This was a really neat area to check out. It didn’t take long to see but it was worth it. I was lucky and happened to walk into the Memorial Hall on the hour. I was lucky because every hour from 10 a.m.-4p.m there is a changing of the guards ceremony.  It can get very crowded for this so if you are super keen you should arrive 15 minutes early for a good seat.

How to get Here:

It is easily accessible from Chiang Kai Shek memorial station on the Red line of the metro.

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

Eat your Way Through Night Markets

You can’t say that you have been to Taiwan if you haven’t visited a night market. They are everywhere so it will be easy to find one near you.

My favourite market was LinJiang Street (Tonghua) Night market that was located right next to my hostel (JV’s hostel). This by no means is a popular market for tourists to visit- but that’s why I liked it. It still had lots going on but wasn’t so crazy that you couldn’t walk down it and enjoy yourself.

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

I also out the most popular night market- ShiLin. This is Taipei’s largest and most famous night market. This one was a bit insane for me so you should only go if you have the energy and feel up for dealing with hoards of people.

The market does have a lot to see though. There are a lot  of street food vendors with all sorts of crazy things to try. The market  is also lined with stores and clothing vendors which you will want to explore too.

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

How to get Here:

-Take the Red line to Jiantan station (just 1 stop from Shilin)

-Walk across the street in front of the station and follow the crowds.

-Shilin market has a main underground section accessed  off Jihe Rd.

It is easily accessible from Chiang Kai Shek memorial station on the Red line of the metro.

 What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

Stay up Late

When I first arrived in Taipei I got in at 2 a.m. I had to wander the streets by myself to find my hostel. What shocked me is that it could have been 2p.m. and I wouldn’t have noticed the difference. The streets were lit, People were still out and about and even eating at restaurants. I felt so safe. and I even had a few kind people help guide me in the right direction.

My point is that since this is a city that doesn’t shut down- you shouldn’t either. Taipei doesn’t just have a lot to see during the daytime, but at night too.

The one club that I ended up going to was Club Myst. It’s located near Taipei 101 and is one of the top clubs in Taipei.  When you enter they stamp you with invisible ink that can only be seen under a blue light. Then a man in a suite escorts you  up an elevator to the club.

This high status comes  with a price tag though.  I remember the men’s cover being quite high- but it did include a couple of free drinks. On the night that I went ladies were free but when I got in the club the drink prices were insane for Taiwan (at about $8 USD).

The night that we went they had a special DJ from the Netherlands-  who did an amazing job. It was a blast and I think that the high cost is due to the talent that they bring into the club- so at least you are getting your money’s worth.

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice
This is a picture taken by Club Myst on my awesome night out

Day Trips

I found a lot of my time in Taipei wasn’t actually in Taipei. There is so much to do nearby that you will find yourself venturing out a lot.  One day I went to Shifen/Pingxi to release my wish into the sky on a lantern. Another day I had a kind local Taiwanese man drive my friend and I all around to the best spots surrounding Taipei. Here is a guide to the outskirts of Taipei.

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

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What to do in Taipei- and Other Helpful Advice

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