From amazing street food to iconic sites and from history-filled museums to parks and nearby getaways, Taipei is a city with something for everyone. It is not as well known as many other capitals in the region, but it is just as interesting to visit. Like most large cities, it does vary massively by area. Some areas are a little run-down and some are quite dirty, noisy and traffic-filled. Others, however, are great for amazing food, markets, shopping and people-watching.

Getting around

Taipei has an excellent transport system made up of the MRT (Taipei Metro) and a network of buses. The metro is very clean, convenient and modern. Stations and trains are clearly marked in English, so even if you can’t read Chinese, the MRT system is still very accessible and easy to use. The buses are also good and only slightly harder to figure out.

To use public transport the best thing to do is to purchase and top-up an ‘EasyCard’. They can be purchased in Metro stations and can also be used in some other Taiwanese cities and to make purchases in 7-11, Family Mart and some other stores. For more information you can visit the EasyCard website by clicking here.

Taipei Metro

Where to Stay

We stayed in Ximending and I would recommend it. There is always a lot happening as well as a range of food options from market-style eats to sit-down restaurants. Otherwise, the best advice for your visit is to make sure you are staying relatively close to an MRT (Taipei Metro/subway) station. That will make it very easy to explore the city.


In general Taipei is a very safe city. Aside from the occasional pickpocketing incident and the scooters zooming by seemingly in every direction, there is not much to worry about for the average visitor.


In terms of food, Taipei has everything. Like all major modern cities there is a wide range of international food available including the latest trends in artisan burgers and other western hipster staples that you might not expect. You can get an incredible range of different Chinese foods, and Japanese food is ubiquitous too. The massive mix of cuisines in the city also serves up some interesting fusions including the sushi pizza pictured below, which we got at Sumo Syokudou, near Taipei Main Station (map here).

Sushi pizza

1. Taipei 101

An icon of modern Taiwan that was officially the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2009. The 508 metre tall building has since dropped to eighth, but it is still impressive to look at, and maybe even more impressive to look at the rest of Taipei from the observatory decks on the 88th-89th floors (indoor) and the 91st floor (outdoor).

The best place to view the tower and city together is Elephant Mountain. To get there go to Xiangshan (‘Elephant Mountain’ in Mandarin) MRT station and follow the signs to the Xiangshan Hiking Trail. It should take about 20-30 minutes to reach the viewing areas and some spectacular views of the city.

Taipei 101

2. National Palace Museum

An incredible collection of Chinese historical artifacts awaits you at the National Palace Museum. We spent about 4 hours wandering the myriad exhibitions. If you’re interested in Chinese history then allow at least that amount of time.

The nearest MRT station is Shilin, with frequent buses from there. The museum gives combined admission tickets (NT$250 or about A$11) with the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit the Shung Ye Museum as part of our visit.

National Palace Museum

3. Shilin Night Market

Taiwan is quite rightly famous for its night markets, and bustling Shilin Night Market is one of the biggest and most famous. As you wander through the crowds of locals and tourists alike, you will see everything on display from unusual foods to electronics and clothes. It is a great place to sample a range of foods at affordable prices.

4. Shopping, eating and drinking in Ximending

Ximending is reminiscent of some of Tokyo’s most famous areas, such as Shibuya and Harajuku. For anyone interested in the enduring Japanese cultural influence on Taiwan, Ximending is definitely somewhere to check out. It has flashing neon signs and lots of Japanese restaurants, but this is still Taiwan. It isn’t a complete rip-off of Tokyo and definitely has its own charm.

An interesting place to try is the always crowded Ay-Chung Mee Sua (found here). This place serves rice flour noodles with pig intestines. They taste much better than they sound!

For craft beer enthusiasts one the best places in Taipei is a bar in Ximending called The 58 (located here). They have a massive range of Taiwanese craft beers from all over the island. Another interesting and unique bar is called Beer Cargo where beers are served from a small cart. It can be found down a cool little alleyway behind Xining South Road and between Chengdu Road and Emei Street. The nearest MRT station is Ximen.

5. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

A memorial dedicated to the former President, Chiang Kai-Shek, an important (and controversial) historical figure in Taiwan and mainland China. Even if the history doesn’t interest you, the architecture of the memorial and the surrounding area are quite impressive. Outside of the memorial hall there is a huge square called Liberty Square. It is flanked by the National Theatre on one side and the Concert Hall on the other. Opposite the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is a huge gate somewhat extravagantly  called the Gate of Great Centrality and Perfect Uprightness. Overall, it is an interesting area to explore and wander around.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

6. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall

A memorial to Sun Yat-sen, who was the first president and founding father of the Republic of China. He is also one of the only politicians still revered and celebrated in both Taiwan and China. The main attraction for visitors is the changing of the guard which happens every hour on the hour and takes a surprisingly long time. The guards march in an incredibly slow and somewhat comical manner.

There is also a small museum about the life of Sun Yat-sen and in particular the revolution that overthrew the Qing dynasty and created the Republic of China. Don’t count on understanding too much though as most of it is only written in Chinese.

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall

Changing of the Guard

7. A day trip to Yehliu Geopark

Taipei has a number of highly recommended places to visit on short trips out of the city, including the popular Yangmingshan National Park for hiking and the Beitou Hot Springs for a relaxing soak. We didn’t have time to get to either of those places, but we did visit Yehliu Geopark.

Yehliu Geopark is an extremely interesting and easy day trip from Taipei. It is a collection of strange rock formations created by erosion from the sea. As soon as I saw pictures of this place I knew I had to go there. A bus journey from Taipei and then a short walk through a small fishing village is all that it takes to get there, yet it feels much further from the city.

To get there, you can take the number 1815 bus from Zhongxiao Dunhua Station to the small fishing village of Yehliu. It should take about an hour and a half. From there, you just need to follow the green pedestrian path through the village to Yehliu Geopark. The walk takes about 10 minutes.

Yehliu Geopark

The Queen's Head, Yehliu Geopark

Yehliu Geopark