When I first moved to Taipei 8 years ago, I had a list of places I wanted to visit based on the Taiwanese dramas that I watched. But over the years, I had friends who came to visit and together we explored more places and expanded my list. Some places come and go, while some places stay the same.
Here is a list of the best places to visit in Taipei in no particular order. Also note, the photos are taken at different occasions, in some of them I was still stick thin and wore retainers.
1. Maokong Gondola
This is one of the first tourist places I went to when I first moved to Taipei. So even though it’s called a gondola, it’s not a boat, it’s actually a cable car, a very high up cable car that takes you into the mountains. And I am scared of heights, so my dad actually kept taking photos to distract me.
Later on, they actually released new crystal cabins, where it’s completely glass and see through.
The gondola has multiple stops, I recommend riding all the way to the last stop first. Once you get off, there are different types of street foods that you can buy, there are also a few tea places.
I recommend going to a tea place, drink some tea and enjoy the view.
And on your trip back, just get off at the Taipei Zoo Station and you are at your next spot. It will land you in the far end of the zoo and you can just walk down.
2. Taipei Z00
When I was 12, this was one of the places we visited and I loved seeing all the animals, especially the penguins and the koalas. They didn’t have pandas then, but now the do.
As a kid, with no sense of money, I spent a lot of money and time in the gift shops. I bought a penguin locket, a penguin paperweight, and a whole lot more junk. In my defense, when my friend visited the zoo, as an adult, she also spent some time in the gift shops buying panda stuffed toys.
The zoo is huge, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and allocate enough time to really explore.
After you are finished, you can just take a bus all the way to Taipei 101.
3. Taipei 101
Taipei 101 is the tallest building in Taiwan, and it held the world record very briefly. The bottom part is a mall, while the upper floors are offices, including the Google office.
The first time I ever went up Taipei 101 was on my 23nd birthday. I’ve been back up there a couple more times throughout the years.
You take a super fast elevator to the top, well not it’s not really the 101st floor though.
When the weather is good, you can also go to an outdoor viewing area, with telescopes for spying.
There is also a mailbox, where you can send your friends or yourself a post card.
You can also see a mass damper, which keeps the tall building balanced.
And of course, enjoy the view. You can see almost all of Taipei. I’ve been mostly been up at night, but I also got to visit the Google offices a couple of times during the day.
If you are feeling fancy, like my sister on her birthday, you can visit one of the restaurants on top. We went to Diamond Tony’s, the food is pricey but good, and it’s definitely a restaurant with a view.
Taipei 101 also a Din Tai Fung, which is one of the best places to get soup dumplings.
And if you ever find yourself in Taipei during New Year’s eve, you must go to Taipei 101 and see the fireworks.
And one MRT station down is Elephant Mountain. If you are up for a hike, you can trek up Elephant Mountain and get a nice view of Taipei with Taipei 101 in it. I have to be honest, I only did this once and it took the life out of me.
If you prefer shopping instead, the area around Taipei 101, called Xinyi District, has a lot of high end shopping malls, including a really big book store, called Eslite. I used to work in this area and I like hanging around the bookstore after work on a Friday and grab a bite to eat.
If you prefer something more hip, you can walk to Taipei City Hall MRT station, hop on the MRT and ride to Ximending.
Ximending is where young people hang out. I used to go there when I was younger, but not so much anymore. Ximending has been touted as the Harajuku of Taipei, it has a lot of stalls that sells food, clothes, cute things, like stuffed toys, jewelry, and basically anything you can think of.
There are a few food stalls that I always go to, one sells traditional noodles and another sells grilled mochi.
There are also a few all-you-can-eat hotpot restaurants that even serves Haagen Daz and Movenpick.
There are also themed restaurants, like Modern Toilet, where you sit on toilets, eat out of bed pans and have poop shaped desserts.
There is also an ice cream store that sells 73 flavors of ice cream, some flavors bordering on weird.
There are also street performers and all sorts of fun stuff.
5. Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
In case you want to get in some historical sites, Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall is the place to go.
There are some exhibits inside, and sometimes there are also visiting exhibits, such as a Picasso exhibit and a candy exhibit.
If you visit during noon, you can also see the changing of guards.
Behind Chiang Kai Shek is also Hang Zhou Xiao Long Bao, which is another good place to get soup dumplings. And if after having lunch, you still have room for dessert, you can stroll to Yong Kang Street.
6. Yong Kang Street
Yong Kang Street has a lot of good food, including the original Din Tai Fung. But I also go there for shaved ice, spring onion pancakes, Vietnamese noodles, beef noodles, traditional Tainan food, cupcakes, yoghurt, okay, the list goes on.
Pictures speak louder than words, so here they are. Some of the pictures may have been taken on the same trip, one food after another.
7. Taipei Main Station
Yes, this is a train station, also an MRT station, a HSR or High Speed Rail station, and major transport hub.
On top of it are also 2 shopping malls and a lot of restaurants, hotels and even more shops.
There are also sprawling underground streets filled with shopping stalls that sells clothes, random bits and bobs, and anime stuff. My favorite is the anime stuff, particularly the gashapons.
It’s just a fun area to be.
8. National Palace Museum
The National Palace Museum has a large collection of art and artifacts from both Taiwan and China, including the famous Jade Cabbage and Meat-shaped Stone.
When I was in line for Versailles in Paris, I overheard some Chinese tourists comparing Versailles to the National Palace Museum. The National Palace Museum is usually crowded with Chinese tourists.
When you get tired from all the walking and history, there is also a restaurant inside that serves tea and adorable dessert.
After we visited the museum, we continued to our next destination, Danshui Old Street.
9. Danshui Old Street
In Taiwan, there are a lot of old streets with historical buildings that sells toys and food from back in the day. They are usually quite fun.
For Danshui, you get a view of the river and you can walk down the street, eating different types of street food and playing parlor games.
We also like to stay and watch the sunset.
After the sun sets, it’s time to move on to the next spot, which is Shilin Night Market.
10. Shilin Night Market
There are a lot of night markets in Taiwan, but Shilin is probably the most famous one. That also makes it the most crowded one. And that’s why I have to admit, when I have tourist friends over, I’ll recommend them to visit, but I don’t actually accompany them anymore.
Similar to old streets, night markets are great for eating street food, buying cheap clothes, shoes, and other random stuff, and playing some parlor games, it’s just open later. In fact, it only opens at night, hence the name. You can get fried chicken the size of your face, bubble tea, stinky tofu, oyster pancakes, and the list goes on.
Even though this seems like a long list, believe it or not, I managed to cram these in 2 days for some of my friend’s weekend trips. It’s also very helpful that Taipei sleeps really late, and in the case of Shilin Night Market, it’s actually open until 2 am.
So if you are planning a trip to Taipei, even for a weekend, do check out some or all of these places, and let me know what you think.
I actually said good bye to Taipei 2 years ago, and making this post and looking through all my old pictures, it really made me reminisce and miss this place.
Until next time, Taipei.