Things to Do in Taipei
At a soaring 1,667 feet (508 meters), Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building when it was completed in 2004—Dubai’s Burj Khalifa overtook it in 2010. A landmark in Taipei, it houses offices, restaurants, and a multilevel shopping complex, as well as indoor and outdoor observatories offering stunning panoramic views of Taipei.
The National Palace Museum in Taipei is home to one of the most important collections of Chinese art in the world, and covers more than 8,000 years of Chinese history and culture. Featuring some 690,000 pieces, it covers all areas of Chinese art, including antiquities, painting, calligraphy, bronzes, jade, ceramics, and sculpture.
Yehliu Geopark, home to the iconic Queen’s Head rock formation, looks more like a landscape from Mars than the northern coast of Taiwan. With its otherworldly natural structures, all of which have alluring names such as the Fairy Shoe and Sea Candles, the park makes for an enriching day trip from Taipei.
Horseshoe-shaped Shifen Waterfall is one of the most famous falls in Taiwan. Torrents of water plunge into a deep pool and raise a shroud of mist that creates a rainbow effect on sunny days. With a width of more than 131 feet (40 meters), Taiwan’s Little Niagra isn't quite as big as Niagara Falls but its shape is similar.
Watching the sunrise over the Alishan National Scenic Area feels like being in a dream—thick white clouds cover the valley below and towering mountaintops look like tiny islands in an endless ocean. It’s worth visiting during the day too, with treetop boardwalks, forests, and temples making for incredible photos.
The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is one of the most prominent landmarks and popular attractions in Taipei, and sees thousands of visitors daily. Learn about the life of Chiang Kai-Shek and the history of Taiwan inside this impressive building set within a 62-acre (25-hectare) memorial park with gardens, pools, and walkways.
Don’t be deterred by the name Elephant Mountain. A relatively easy climb takes you to the top of a hill that affords panoramic views of Taipei. Nestled among other rolling green hills, Elephant Mountain (Xiangshan Hiking Trail) is indisputably the best place in Taipei to enjoy a sunset over the capital’s skyline.
The Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the first of its kind in Taiwan, opened in 1983 in the building that once housed the United States Defense Command. The museum’s collection seeks to highlight work by Taiwanese and international artists from the late nineteenth century onward, picking up where the National Palace Museum’s collection ends. Exhibits run the gamut from photography and oil paintings to mixed media art. The Jewels of 25 Years Museum Collection highlights the best pieces of the 4,000 the museum has collected since its opening.
Besides the permanent collection, the Fine Arts Museum hosts special exhibitions throughout the year, including the prestigious Taipei Fine Arts Awards, an annual competition to unearth emerging local talent. The museum frequently exchanges collections with other international museums, so there’s always something new to see.
Photo courtesy of Taiwan Tourism Bureau
The oldest temple in Taiwan, Mengjia Longshan Temple was built in 1738 by immigrants from Fujian, China. The ornate and exquisite structure has been damaged by war and natural disasters, but also rebuilt, expanded, and improved over the years. Today is remains a center of religious life and a bastion of local culture in Taipei.
Located on the northern edge of Taiwan, just a quick trip from Taipei, Yangmingshan National Park offers a dose of nature for city-dwellers and those touring the bustling capital. Visit Yangmingshan to hike through its volcanic scenery and rolling hills, soak in its hot springs, and, in the spring, see the cherry blossoms in bloom.
More Things to Do in Taipei
Located just 30 minutes north of central Taipei, Beitou is a mountainous area full of natural hot springs and supporting spas, hotels, teahouses, and parks. It’s a popular destination for locals and visitors looking to escape the city and enjoy a soak in warm, mineral-rich waters surrounded by lush forests and beautiful scenery.
Originally built as a bathhouse by the Japanese Colonial Government in 1913, today’s Beitou Hot Spring Museum was the largest bathhouse in East Asia at the time, and the first public bathhouse in Taiwan. Abandoned after World War II, it was renovated and reopened in 1998 as a museum documenting Beitou’s hot spring history and culture.
One of the largest zoos in Asia, Taipei Zoo—also known as Muzha Zoo—features a wide variety of animals from around the world and those that are native to Taiwan. A popular attraction for locals and visitors alike, Taipei Zoo is also a leader in wildlife and ecological research, education, and conservation.
Constructed in 1967, Xingtian Temple is dedicated to Guan Yu—a deified general and patron god of businesspeople—and is frequented daily by around 10,000 believers seeking spiritual guidance. The temple is known for its forward-thinking approach; for environmental reasons, it became the first to ban incense in Taiwan in 2014.
This street that once served as Taipei’s major commercial center during the late Qing Dynasty still caters to more traditional tastes, giving visitors a glimpse at what the city was like in decades past. The market stalls and Chinese medicine shops sell a variety of teas, herbs, dried mushrooms, sweets, and other dried goods.
Once the sun sets, the Shilin district comes alive with hundreds of stalls selling souvenirs and Taiwanese fare. As the most famous of Taipei’s night markets, Shilin Night Market draws large crowds of adventurous eaters, who want to be the first in line to try delicacies such as stinky tofu and braised pork intestines.
Built in 1969, the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine is dedicated to the 390,000 soldiers who died in the Chinese Civil War. Today, the striking landmark is popular for its hourly Changing of the Guard ceremony. Located on the slopes of Mt. Chingshan on the Keelung River, the shrine was inspired by the Forbidden City’s Hall of Supreme Harmony in Beijing.
Taipei’s Presidential Office Building has housed the offices of the Taiwan president since 1949. Built in 1919 for the ruling Japanese governor general, the building is renowned for its baroque architecture, red-brick facade, and central tower.
The Lin Family Garden represents the best preserved surviving example of traditional Chinese garden architecture. Built in the late nineteenth century in Qing Dynasty style for one of Taiwan’s wealthy merchant families, the mansion and asymmetrical gardens were designed to make the residents feel closer to nature.
Yongkang Street, with seemingly endless rows of independent cafés and no-frills eateries, represents the best of Taipei’s food scene. This area offers a mix of Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese joints, so it’s best to arrive at Yongkang hungry and ready to sample staples from Chinese fluffy pancakes to shaved mango ice.
Modeled after the oldest and largest Confucius temple in the philosopher’s hometown in Shandong, China, the Taipei Confucius Temple displays all the characteristics of traditional Chinese temple architecture. The temple as it stands today was erected in 1930, though it briefly served as a Shinto shrine during World War II.
Bao’an Temple, one of the most popular and significant religious sites in Taipei, dates back to 1760 when immigrants from Southern China built the original wooden temple. Dedicated to the emperor-deity Paosheng, god of medicine and healing, Bao’an in its current form has stood since 1805 after more than 25 years of construction.
Visitors come from throughout Asia and the world to soak in the healing waters of Taiwan’s natural hot springs. One of the most famous collections of natural volcanic hot springs are clustered in the Beitou District of Taipei in an area known as Hell Valley. The sulfurous mist gives the area an otherworldly vibe.
Often compared to Tokyo’s Shibuya or Harajuku, Ximending is a lively shopping and entertainment district in Taipei. Located in historic Wanhua, the area teems with shops selling clothing, accessories, electronics, and more, as well as myriad dining and entertainment venues. It’s a place to see and be seen for locals and visitors alike.
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