Often dubbed a foodie’s paradise, Taipei is a travel hotspot packed to the brim with buzzing night markets, Instagram-worthy heritage sites and hip concept bars. We’ve rounded up the best of what Taiwan’s capital has to offer.
A city famous for its mouth-watering street food, historical streets packed with knick-knacks, and jaw-dropping scenic spots, Taipei ranks high on many a travel list. If you’re contemplating a cheeky weekend vacay to this vibrant city, look no further – we’ve put together a fantastic range of things to do in Taipei from historical concept cafes modelled on the nostalgic Chaing Kai-Shek era to classic Taiwanese-style breakfast spots and a hidden sacred monastery surrounded by lush mountain views.
A Classic Breakfast at Si Hai Soy Milk (Four Seas)
Paying plenty of attention to what is largely considered to be the most important meal in Taiwanese cuisine, Taipei breakfasts like a pro. Classic choices such as freshly made clay-oven rolls (Shao Bing), steamed pork buns, sweet peanut soup and classic fried dough sticks, otherwise known as ‘Youtiao,’ are all essential experiences for visitors in town, and Si Hai Soy Milk has all of Taipei’s traditional breakfast offerings and more, attracting a long line of early-risers and local office workers. A small, family-owned, local favourite of the Datong district, its interior is reminiscent of typical Taiwanese ground-level joints from the post-war era. And, for less than USD 3, you can get yourself a full meal of glutinous rice with pork floss, a bun of your choice, and a warm dou jiang (soya milk).
Insider’s Tip: Once you’ve had your fill, visit the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) just next door or the Sun-Yat-Sen Memorial House down the road for your sightseeing fix.
Address: No. 29, Chang’an West Road, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103
Open From: Mon-Sat: 6am-10pm; Sun: 6am-1pm
Nearest MRT: Zhongshan Station
Price: Under NTD 100
Voluntarily Eat Your Veggies at Herban Kitchen
Tucked behind an alleyway in Zhongxiao Dunhua District lies Herban Kitchen, a minimalist restaurant shrouded in lush greenery with walls of mural art. An obvious choice for vegetarians and vegans, this shop also offers the carnivores a refreshing break from the pricey plant-based diets marketed in pop culture. Take your pick from a spread of juicy burgers, truffle omelettes, homemade gnocchi, and moussaka kebabs served up from a kitchen that uses high-quality, seasonal produce and herbs fresh from the garden. Their drinks section includes an assortment of infused teas and fresh juices, but if you’re contemplating a boozy brunch, they also offer vegan wines and hoppy IPAs.
Insider’s Tip: Your brunch comes with a drink of your choice – have some freshly squeezed juices or the usual coffee or tea (with plant-based milk).
Address: No. 27, Section 4 Lane 101, Zhongxiao East Road, Taiwan 106
Open From: Mon-Thu: 12pm-10:30pm; Fri: 12pm-11pm; Sat: 10:30am-11pm; Sun: 10:30am-10:30pm
Nearest MRT: Zhongxiao Dunhua Station
Price: Expect to spend at least NTD 300 per person
Morning Peace at the Dharma Drum Mountain Nung Chan Monastery
Beitou district is known for its beautifully lush landscapes, but this sacred site is an architectural wonder. Completed in 1975, the entire 2.5 acres of land is a reflection of the practices of early Taiwanese people and remains one of the most influential sites in Chinese Buddhism. The monastery’s huge pillars stand tall against the sky, stretching over an extensive reflecting pool with scriptures carved into the stone smooth surfaces lining the breezy corridors to the monastery. Whether you’re here for an Instagrammable moment, to learn about the historical influences of Daoist practices, or just to find tranquillity to start off the day, this place is worth a visit.
Insider’s Tip: As the Buddhist Monastery is still in use, a free veggie lunch is also offered in the dining hall for visitors to enjoy. Remember to dress modestly.
Address: No. 89號, Lane 65, Daye Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112
Open From: 9am-5pm
Nearest MRT: Qiyan Station
There’s Dumpling You Should Know… Din Tai Fung at Taipei 101
This Michelin Star-sporting, international-outpost-wielding dumpling chain has made itself famous from Hong Kong to London. To pay homage to its delicious dumplings, head to one of their many branches – we recommend the one conveniently located at Taipei 101. Their most popular dishes include their famous pork xiao long bao, rice cake patties, house steamed chicken soup, and, for those who can handle the spice, noodles with spicy sesame and peanut sauce (dan dan mian). Remember to arrive early, however – there’s often quite a queue.
Insider’s Tip: After lunch, take the high-speed elevator to reach the viewing deck of Taipei 101, which offers a dizzying, 360-degree sweep of the city. Keep in mind that tickets are sold at NTD 600 per pax.
Address: No. 45, Shifu Rd, B1, Taipei 110, Taiwan
Open From: Sun-Thu: 11am-9:30pm; Fri-Sat: 11am-10pm
Nearest MRT: Taipei 101 Station
Price: NTD 500 and up for those of us who can’t get enough
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Din Tai Fung
VVG Thinking, an Avant-Garde Boutique and Bistro
Tucked inside the beautiful Huashan 1914 Creative Park is the exceptionally cool VVG Thinking. Unmissable with its red brick exterior, what was a former factory space has now been transformed into a high-ceiling, industrial-chic interior perfect for the ‘gram. It boasts an eclectic collection of designer products, vintage collectables and of course, gourmet cuisine of contemporary European and Taiwanese styles. With avant-garde comes a higher price tag, but the elegant ambiance of this art-infused restaurant makes it all feel worth it.
Insider’s Tip: Head upstairs to the VVG lifestyle shop to browse their collection of art and trinkets or head outside to explore the retro-chic cafes within Huashan Park. Film buffs should definitely check out the historic independent cinema SPOT for arthouse films on offer for just NTD 200.
Address: HuaShan 1914 Cultural Creative Park, No. 1, Bade Road Section 1, Hangzhou North Road, Zhongzheng District
Open From: Mon: 12pm-5pm; Tue-Sun: 12pm-9pm
Nearest MRT: Shandao Temple Station
Price: NTD 880-1480 per person for set lunches (from 12pm-2pm), but a-la-carte dishes range from a pricier NTD 300-500 each.
Go Back in Time to the Nostalgic Chiang Kai-shek Era at Astoria Cafe (MingXing Cafe)
The Astoria Cafe opened thanks to the friendship between a Taiwanese businessman and his business partner, an immigrant that had fled from the Russian Revolution to Taiwan. The cafe that relationship inspired is a beautiful blend of cultures with local twists on classic Russian pastries, teas and candies, all served up in an atmosphere reminiscent of the classical period. Be sure to try the Russian black tea, which comes with a surprising amount of brandy.
Insider’s Tip: More so a historic fact, but the cafe was frequented by the poet Chou Meng-tieh (周夢蝶) in 1959 who sold his literary works right outside the cafe, making it a favourite spot for many of Taipei’s literary figures who drew inspiration from Chou and enjoyed a warm environment with no time restrictions.
Address: 5, Sec. 1, Wuchang St., Zhongzheng District
Open From: 10:30am-9:30pm
Nearest MRT: Beimen Station
Price: Around NTD 600 per person
Hike Up Elephant Mountain for Insane Views of Taipei’s Sunset
Not a fan of hiking but fancy a view? The entire Nangang District Hiking Trail takes a whole five hours to complete, but for those who just don’t have the time (or ability), take the 20-minute Xiangshan Hiking trail to witness the breathtaking scenes of the city as they come to life at night. Go on the weekdays to avoid crowds and remember to pack mosquito repellent.
Insider’s Tip: For an epic panorama, head to a section of boulders past the first viewing platform to find the most picturesque backdrop for your photos.
Address: Alley 342, Lane 150, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Open From: 24 hours
Nearest MRT: Xiangshan Station
Get Competitive with Board Games and Cocktails at the Witch House
Although its name might conjure up images of a dingy dungeon, the Witch House is a surprisingly bright cafe serving hot food and board games by the dozen. The space is definitely eccentrically decorated though, with bras strapped across the back of chairs, and teetering towers of board games and novels leaning against the already jam-packed bookshelves. But at night, what could be described as an off-beat cafe transforms into a theatrically-lit space, hosting live music shows and serving colourful drinks daily. Sit back with their innuendo-filled menu and sex-positive themed cocktails, and enjoy Taipei’s burgeoning indie scene up close.
Insider’s Tip: You get 10% off if you can do 20 pushups…
Address: No. 7, Lane 56, XinSheng South Road, Sec.3
Open From: Mon-Wed: 10am-11pm; Thu-Sat: 10am-12am
Nearest MRT: Taipower Building Station
Price: A ticket for their 3-hour live music shows and a drink to come with costs NTD 350.
Schedule in a Nap at NK Hostel
If you’d like to freshen up after a hike or just take some time out from the hectic pace of Taipei life, this hostel offers free wifi, lockers, showers, a launderette, and a soundproofed capsule that guarantees a great nap. Check in to your capsule from 3pm to 12am, head out for dinner and a night of dancing, then come back for the breakfast included in your stay. An airport shuttle is also available with a small fee, and you’ll still have plenty of time to check out before 11am.
Insider’s Tip: The hostel is just a 5-minute walk from one of our recommended destinations – the Raohe Street Night Market.
Address: 5F, No. 399, Section 5, Nanjing East Road, Songshan District, 10569 Taipei
Open From: Check-in from 3pm-12am; check out by 11am
Nearest MRT: Nanjing Sanmin Station
Price: A mixed dorm costs NTD 691 per night, and charges the same for a female-only dorm.
Find Foodie Heaven at the Shilin Night Market
With its endless stalls of food, Taipei’s busiest night market is insanely popular amongst both tourists and locals. The list of foods to look out for is huge, but here are just some favourites to be found amongst its 539 vendors: XXXL deep-fried honey chicken chop, classic oyster omelettes, stinky tofu, pan-fried dumplings, teriyaki sirloin steak, peanut roll ice cream, pineapple cakes, hakka-style jelly mochis… you get it. Come with an empty stomach and comfy shoes.
Insider’s Tip: Steer clear of the pricey carnival game shops as their owners can be aggressive. If Shilin is too busy, head to the equally prolific Ningxia Night Market (seafood galore, popular with locals) or Raohe Night Market (more independent shops, and fewer tourists).
Address: Shilin District
Open From: 5pm-12am, but the best time to go is at 7-8pm
Nearest MRT: Jian Tan Station (not Shilin Station)
Don’t Skip the Fourplay at this Bar Specialising in Bespoke Cocktails
At Fourplay, a conversation with your bartender turns into a bespoke creation mixed just for you. Complete with a neon backlit bar counter, cosy booths, colourfully decorated with eccentric art, are paired with drinks dripping in themed trinkets and a close eye for detail in this one-of-a-kind cocktail spot. Choose your base: rum, vodka or tequila, and be ready to be surprised with a twist in your mystery cocktail. If you’re not one for surprises or know what you already want, you can choose your ingredients, and they’ll make it exactly how you like it. We recommend the ‘Drug Set,’ a selection of colourful shots crafted by staff at the bar.
Insider’s Tip: If you would rather save your money for clubs and karaoke, do it like a local and sip on the streets as you watch the world go by.
Address: No. 49號, Dongfeng Street, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Open From: Mon-Thu: 6pm-1am; Fri & Sat: 6pm-2am
Nearest MRT: Zhongxiao Dunhua Station
Price: NTD 350 per cocktail
Only at TRIANGLE: Tear Up the Dancefloor with Resident Drag Queens
If you’re lucky enough to be in Taiwan on the 3rd Saturday of the month, WERK! is the biggest LGBT event in Taipei, featuring a wild night of go-go dancers, drag queens and colourful streamers in the celebration of pride. On other evenings, Triangle is known for their themed nights (e.g. 80’s) and their international crowd. It is conveniently located inside the Maji Square, with a 7/11 next door in case you want to top up on cheap drinks.
Insider’s Tip: As a general rule, wear enclosed footwear to avoid the possibility of not being let in. Also, Wednesday nights are free entry for students and ladies.
Address: No.1, Yumen St., Zhongshan District., Taipei City 104
Open From: Tue: 8pm-2am; Wed-Sat: 10pm-4am
Nearest MRT: YuanShan Station
Price: NTD 300 (Before midnight + 1 drink)
Taipei’s Best EDM Rave: Omni
Omni is Taipei’s most impressive venue and one of the city’s few upscale clubs that actually lives up to its entrance fee. This place has a massive state-of-the-art sound system, insane strobe lighting, high-quality techno and EDM, avant-garde performances, and even popcorn to accompany your drinks, attracting a cool crowd and a number of international DJs looking to play for bigger venues. Make sure to dress to impress or you might not be let in.
Insider’s Tip: Definitely on the more pricey side, so pre-drink beforehand, or head for ladies night on Wednesdays – women have free entry and plenty of drinks till midnight.
Address: 5/F, No.201, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City 106
Open From: Wed-Sat: 10:30pm-4:30am
Nearest MRT: Zhongxiao Dunhua Station
Price: NTD 800-1000 for guys (Thu: NTD 300 before 12am); NTD 700 for ladies (Wed & Thu: Free entry). Prices may vary on public holidays and special events.
24Hr Hot Pot at Haidilao
Located right next to the nightlife district sits Haidilao, a shop packed to the brim with people seeking sustenance after a night out. Known for their theatrical method of shaping noodles in front of customers and their delicious, spicy broths, head here to choose from an array of ingredients and sauces to cook at your table. A fruit counter and Haagen-Dazs ice cream are available for those hankering after something sweet, and you’ll even find a massage bar and nail salon if you’re looking to entertain yourself while you wait.
Insider’s Tip: Run out of battery? The hotpot tables include phone chargers.
Address: Level 4, No. 1號, Section 1, Chengde Road, Datong District, Taiwan 103 (also a convenient 4-minute walk from Taipei Main Station)
Open From: Fri & Sat: 24 hours
Nearest MRT: Beimen Station
Price: The priciest yet – if split between a group, each person’s slice definitely reaches at least NTD 500 & up.
PARTYWORLD: Taipei’s Karaoke King
PARTYWORLD is Taiwan’s biggest chain of karaoke spots. Here, you can enjoy a huge variety of Chinese and a classic selection of English songs complete with actual music videos and not some haphazard slideshow screensaver. Their cooly-lit rooms provide plenty of space (and screens) for the especially excited and a selection of food and drinks is also available throughout the night.
Insider’s Tip: The karaoke machines here can be difficult to get the hang of at first, but staff members are very helpful and happy to demonstrate or help you figure it out.
Address: No. 22號, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Open From: 24 hours
Nearest MRT: Zhongxiao Fuxing
Price: NTD 450 for Sun-Thu: 11pm-7am; NTD 750 for Fri-Sat: 2am-7am; Prices vary depending on room size and day
Grab a Late Night Snack at Yong He Soy Milk King 永和豆漿大王
Located on the outskirts of Taipei, this shop is the only breakfast place city-wide that’s open 24 hours. Their menu covers over 50 dishes, ranging from Taiwanese essentials to Hong-Kong-style delicacies, and features vegetarian alternatives of the most iconic dishes. They even have a glass display case where they exhibit little models of all their menu items, complete with English and Japanese translations. Their thoughtfulness towards international visitors, long business hours, and authentic, delicious dishes make them the perfect place for tourists to dip their toes into the Taiwanese breakfast scene – whichever side of the day you’re working it!
Insider’s Tip: Post clubbing nights are definitely ended best with freshly made you-tiaos, the perfect, greasy-but-oh-so-good complement to end your night with. Bonus: off-peak hours mean you get the whole place to yourself.
Address: No. 102號, Section 2, Fuxing South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Open From: 24 hours
Nearest MRT: Daan Station
Price: From NTD 25
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