My boyfriend and I visited Taipei recently and spent six days in and around the city, sampling some of what Taiwan’s capital city has to offer. In this post, I’d like to share my personal recommendations of some fun things you can do in Taipei.
- Eat some incredibly more-ish xiao long bao dumplings at Michellin-starred Din Tai Fung. Despite the star status, the restaurant’s prices are very affordable – although you will need to wait for a table. The dumplings are filled with a soupy broth which oozes out when you bite into them. They also do a sweet version with melted chocolate, which is just as incredible as it sounds.
- Get addicted to bubble tea! Invented in Taiwan, it’s ubiquitous and delicious. Using a base of milk tea, green tea or fruit tea, you can customize how much sugar and ice your tea contains, and add tapioca balls or cubes of flavoured jelly.
- Try traditional Taiwanese dishes at the night markets. There are lots of markets across the city; our favourite was Raohe market, but we also visited Shilin, Ximen and Ningxia. The city truly comes alive after the sun goes down.
- Hike up Elephant Mountain for a fantastic view of Taipei’s skyline, including a close-up of the 101 building. The hike is short but very steep so make sure you have appropriate footwear and some water. To get to the hike entrance, take the metro to Xiangshan station and walk for around 5-10 minutes through Xiangshan Park. We were there late afternoon to watch the sunset and it was gorgeous!
- Whizz around the city using the super efficient MRT metro system, which is very well-organized and easy to use, with signage in English and Mandarin.
- Enjoy fresh fish and other tasty snacks at the Tamsui waterfront. Tamsui is in the suburbs of Taipei and can be easily reached via metro. It has that wonderful seaside feel with lapping waves, fishermen, food vendors, souvenir shops and dozens of icecream parlors.
- Go shopping at Huashan 1914 Creative Arts Park, which include a lot of clothes and jewellery shops with original designers by Taiwanese artists.
- Try one of Taiwan’s favourite desserts: shaved ice with mango sorbet and syrup. We tried one at Smoothie House but you can find shaved ice all over the city. At 7 euros for a large portion, it’s pricey so perhaps best shared with a group of friends.
- Relax at Yuanshan Park, which has a sports field, walking paths & gardens, plus a farmers’ market & other events.
- Drink lots of papaya milk – it’s absolutely delicious! You can find fresh papaya milk at the night markets, or chilled bottles at the convenience stores and supermarkets.
- Explore the hippest, most chaotic and colourful Ximending neighbourhood, which is often compared to Harajuku in Tokyo. It contains a pedestrianized shopping street, fun and bizarre bars and cafes and Taipei’s largest LGBT district.
- Try my absolute favourite Taiwanese snack; a gua bao. Known as the Taiwanese hamburger, these little doughy pockets of heaven consist of a steamed bun stuffed with braised pork belly, pickled vegetables, coriander and peanut powder. Our favourite was from Yi Jia Zi.
- Eat a very rich and stodgy traditional breakfast at Yong He Soy Milk King. They serve soy milk and rice milk (hot or cold) with long, deep-fried doughy churros to dunk in it. It’s not something I’d eat every morning but it’s fun to try!
- Visit the brilliant, colourful temples. Taipei has dozens across the city and they are free to enter and look around. The temples combine elements from Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Lungshan Temple is most well-known, although Qingshui Temple, Qingshan Temple, Tianhou Temple, Taipei Confucius Temple, Bao An Temple and Songshan Ciyou are worth a visit.
- Stroll around Da’an, an artistic, bohemian neighbourhood filled with boutique shops and cool cafes. Although many of the shops were out of my budget, the restaurants are very affordable.
- Visit one of Taipei’s most recognizable buildings – the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. It was built in 1980 to honour Chiang Kai-Shek, a politician and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China in mainland China and Taiwan, between 1928 and 1975.
I hope this list has given you some ideas. It’s by no means exhaustive: there are many more to do in Taipei, such as visiting museums, going to the thermal baths or taking a ride on the Maokong Gondola, to name a few!
If you are going to Taiwan, check out my post on 20 things you should know before visiting Taiwan.
Ciao for now!
The Curious Sparrow