There is so much to do and see (and eat!) in Taipei that you might not have enough time to fit everything into your weekend getaway. While the list of things to do in Taipei is seemingly endless, I’ve compiled my top 10 favourite things I did while exploring the city for five days that were either absolutely free or incredibly cheap!
1. Eat all the food at Taipei’s night markets
One thing you will never have to worry about in this city is going hungry thanks to the incredible array of cheap street food. While wandering around the city during the day is sure to provide you with plenty of food options, it’s Taipei’s night markets that steal the show. My top picks for an evening filled with food are the Shilin Night Market (the most popular and widely known market), Raohe St. Night Market (my personal favourite), Tonghua Night Market (a much more local market), and Huaxi St. Night Market.
2. Stroll through the 228 Peace Memorial Park
Don’t you just love it when a city has a little oasis smack-dab in the center of it?! Taipei’s version of this is the 228 Peace Memorial Park. With both stunning beauty amidst the buildings and ample historic significance (paying tribute to the victims of the February 228 Massacre), this park is a must-see. As you’re strolling through, you’ll come across a Memorial Museum, the 228 Massacre Monument, beautiful temples, and lush greenery.
3. Hike up Elephant Mountain
Instead of paying to go up Taipei 101 to snap some shots of the surrounding city, hike up Elephant Mountain (for free!) instead and you’ll be graced with stunning views of the city. The hike itself takes about 20 minutes and is incredibly convenient to get to. Read more about my experience getting to and hiking up Elephant Mountain here.
4. Relax in Wulai’s natural hot springs
Aside from all the food, Taipei is known for its natural hot springs. While there are a few hot springs surrounding Taipei, I would highly recommend visiting Wulai’s natural hot springs because a) Wulai is a beautiful, culturally-rich town, b) they have specialty street food you likely won’t find in the city, and c) there are ample natural (free!) hot springs that offer stellar views of the surrounding area. Read more about my experience at Wulai’s hot springs here.
5. Visit the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Although a huge tourist attraction, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is absolutely stunning and should not be missed. Built in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, a former president of China, the hall itself is impressive, but the surrounding buildings, temples, and structures shouldn’t go unnoticed. One thing not to be missed is the changing of the guard ceremony that happens on the hour from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, daily (just be sure to arrive early, as it can get quite crowded).
6. Escape the city and head to Jiufen
A popular day trip for tourists visiting Taipei, Jiufen offers a breath of fresh air from the busy city center. The area has countless narrow alleyways, colorful decor, endless amounts of street food, and a picture-perfect setting (Jiufen was the inspiration behind Spirited Away). Read more about my time in Jiufen here and here.
7. Appreciate the beauty of Taipei’s Temples
Temples might not seem too special if you’ve done a bit of traveling throughout South East Asia since they’re literally everywhere, however, you’d be amiss not to visit a few temples around Taipei. My favourite was the Lungshan Temple; captivating by day, overwhelmingly stunning by night. If you can only make it to one temple in Taipei, Lungshan Temple is it.
8. Shop till you drop
There is endless amounts of shopping to be done in Taipei; from designer shops to boutique stores and street stalls, this city has it all. One of the more popular areas to satisfy shopaholics is Ximending. This area has a range of shops, as it offers visitors bigger name brands as well as smaller shops selling unique clothing and accessories at a bargain.
9. Explore the innovative work at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park
Originally a tobacco factory, the Taipei government redeveloped this area into the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in 2011 in order to develop and cultivate the culture and creativity industry. You’ll find a museum, design lab, a garden, restaurants, and a relaxing pond, to name a few of the elements of the Cultural and Creative Park. So, if you’re into art and culture, this park should be on your to-see list.
10. Get lost wandering around the city
Aside from the main tourist areas of Taipei, there are small pockets throughout the city that are full of charming old buildings and a rich local vibe. My recommendation is to head to Dihua Street for its quaint shops, including cafes, fabrics, and Chinese medicine. This area is an important commercial sector, so there’s always lots going on.