Ahh, Taipei. A place I’ve been to 7 times already yet feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what there is to explore. I first visited this city on a family trip about 5 years ago and thereafter went on 4 dancing/eating trips, a weekend trip and a work trip.
And based on these visits, I’ve put together five 1-day itineraries of my top recommendations (since I am often telling people who are going to Taipei about certain must-dos), conveniently organised based on location.
1. The ‘Views of Taipei’ Experience (Purple in Map Below)
Taipei 101 Secret Starbucks + Shopping > Elephant Hill > 通化夜市 Linjiang Street Night Market
Morning: Have some coffee and/or cake and do some shopping around Taipei 101
Did you know that there is a ‘Secret Starbucks’ at Taipei 101? Neither did I, until some friends told me before my visit in April 2017. You have to call up and book a slot beforehand, and someone will bring you up via the office tower during your appointed timing.
It was a nice place to chill… you can even see some hills in the distance!
There are many big shopping malls around Taipei 101 as well, so you can check these out if you feel like buying stuff. If you want to buy some snacks as souvenirs (or for yourself, no judgment here), the basement of Taipei 101 itself has a huge selection of packaged Taiwanese food (I recommend getting some nougat).
Afternoon: Hike up Elephant Hill for the best views of Taipei 101
Elephant Hill is at Xiangshan Station, just one stop away from Taipei 101. It’ll take maybe around 15-20 minutes if you walk really quickly up the many stairs, or (more likely) around half an hour at normal human speed.
The air seems fresher up there, and I’d say the scenery is worth the climb! I’ve heard it’s really pretty at sunset, too.
If you happen to go on a Saturday or Sunday, you can also consider visiting the nearby Four Four South Village, a refurbished military dependents’ village that turns into a creative and cultural market on weekends.
Night: Go on a relaxing culinary spree at 通化夜市 Tonghua Night Market (Linjiang Street)
The good thing about this night market is that it has far less crowds than the other popular night markets like Shilin and Raohe, yet still has a good variety of food and retail stalls to enjoy.
The sausages, grilled beef cubes (that you can get at almost any night market in Taipei) and smelly tofu were delicious but what was particularly memorable for me was the fried chicken cutlet from 艋舺雞排 – SO tender, moist and tasty!
2. A (Delicious) Cultural Experience (Blue in Map Below)
Chiang Kai Sek Memorial Hall > Braised Pork Rice > Brown Sugar Pearl Milk > Huashan Creative Park > Yong Kang Street > 師大夜市 Shida Night Market
Morning: Explore the iconic Chiang Kai Sek Memorial Hall and the other architectural beauties around it like the National Theatre and Concert Hall at Liberty Square
Try to catch the changing of the guards too if you can, it’s very ceremonial and interesting to watch – happens every hour from 9am to 5pm.
Afternoon: Feast on local Taiwanese food and drinks and take a walk around a creative park
I highly recommend the thick pork soup and the braised pork rice (魯肉飯) at 金峰魯肉飯 Jin Feng Braised Pork Rice (so good, I went there thrice). The soup is so thick and rich in flavour and the braised pork nice and fat and soaked in very tasty sauce… I’m drooling just thinking about this…
Also, there is an outlet of the rather popular 珍煮丹 (Zhen Zhu Dan) with its delectable Brown Sugar Pearl Milk that makes for a perfect after meal refreshment. It’s a light and sweet drink with chewy, caramelised pearls, SO yummy.
After this, take a walk around Huashan Creative Park to explore its crafty shops, interesting architecture and art installations. Budget around an hour or two as there’s lots to see here!
Evening/Night: Check out quaint local streets and night market
Go exploring around the fascinating Yong Kang Street that’s lined with local food stalls (it’s Taiwan, food is everywhere), cute cafes and bespoke shops.
If you have stomach space before dinner, grab a crispy 蔥抓餅 from the popular Tian Jin Flaky Scallion Pancake (you can’t miss the queue, but it moves quickly).
Then head on over to 師大夜市 Shida Night Market, where you can get both local food and shopping! Best of both worlds, right?
The HK style ‘bolo bun’ is really popular here (I can see why, it was filled with meltingly delicious Echire butter mmm) but I was also happy to have gotten some good 滷味 (lu wei) here… I always find it quite difficult to describe this dish though. A delicious, messy mix of braised vegetables, meat and noodles of your selection, I guess?
Quite a few trendy clothing and accessories shops around here too!
3. A Trip Of Local Discovery (Red in Map Below)
Porridge Breakfast > Old vs New Markets > Longshan Temple > Carrefour > Ximending > 寧夏夜市 Ningxia Night Market > Taiwanese Beef Noodles
Morning: Visit a popular neighbourhood breakfast spot and explore the streets and local markets
Zhou Ji is a little shop on a somewhat tired looking street in a local neighbourhood, that serves up a mean meal of porridge and sides. I liked the flavourful broth that the soft, boiled rice came in and also really enjoyed the tasty sides, especially the fried pork!
After breakfast, go exploring at the old and new Xinfu Market (the new area is called U-mkt) and experience the contrast of locals going out their business selling wares next to the hipster cafe and artsy installations that have popped up next door.
Make sure to get some traditional muah chee from one of the old school market stalls too!
Afternoon: I didn’t actually get around to doing this, but you can pay a visit to the nearby Longshan Temple to check out some local culture and architecture.
Then, head over to the huge Carrefour in the area (the Guilin store) to stock up on Taiwanese instant noodles (I’m particularly fond of the Sesame Oil and Hua Diao Chicken Noodles by TTL)!
And how can we miss out everyone’s favourite Ximending on a trip to Taipei? Always busy and full of life, this place has a certain youthful charm to it.
Get your fill of affordable and fun shopping for clothes, accessories and shoes (Tip: It’s also a great place to buy coloured contact lenses), as well as the quintessential favourite Taiwanese street snacks like Hot Star fried chicken, Ah Zong Mee Sua and 50 Lan bubble tea!
Night: Enjoy the bustling vibes and food at a local night market
Also in this area is the 寧夏夜市 Ningxia Night Market, popular with both tourists and locals alike. This market seems to be more for food than shopping, which I suppose suits some of us just fine.
It’s much smaller than the likes of Shilin and Raohe, but it’s definitely got enough stalls to fill one up for a meal! I didn’t find any of the dishes to be particularly fantastic, but the food was overall pretty decent.
In the Middle of the Night: We bet you’re pretty full by now, but if you suddenly get hungry, there’s also a 24 hour beef noodles shop in this area called Jian Hong Beef Noodles 建宏牛肉麵, that made last year’s Taipei Bib Gourmand list.
The handmade knife sliced noodles and beef soup were really quite enjoyable actually! Still packed with people around 3am (at least during the 2 or 3 times I visited).
4. The Shopaholic’s Paradise (Yellow in Map Below)
Yong He Soy Milk > Songshan Cultural and Creative Park > The Master Spicy Noodle > Wufenpu Shopping District > 饒河夜市 Raohe Night Market
Morning: Grab a hearty local breakfast and walk around a cultural creative park
Shopaholics also need to fuel themselves with some sustenance, right? I would recommend a traditional breakfast of soy milk and dough fritters – my favourite in particular, is the savoury soy milk version that kind of tastes like an egg soup.
So nice with the dough fritters! The xiao long baos are so so only though. I suggest going to the big store in Da’an (in the map below), as there are so many Yong He Soy Milk stalls in Taipei that you don’t quite know which one is the original/good…
Go ahead and shop here too, just takeaway one of their many fried snacks for later if you get hungry on your escapades.
After eating, check out the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park for some artsy finds – from designer home accessories like LED lamps and cutlery, to craft items like jewelry, bags and more.
Afternoon: Grab a meal at the fairly new and upcoming (well, compared to all the popular traditional stalls which have been around for ages) The Master Spicy Noodle 大師兄銷魂麵舖 before doing more shopping!
I slurped up all of the gorgeous beef, sauce and tendon which had just the right amount of spice and absolutely delightful when mixed with the smooth, chewy noodles.
Fans of duck blood (which you can’t get in Singapore) will be happy to know that they serve it here (I’m not one though, swapped mine out for something else). Be prepared to queue for a bit though…
After a good lunch, move on to Wufenpu Shopping District for some thrift finds and mainstream fashion, if this is more your thing. Shops galore await but do note that some may require a minimum number to purchase, as this area is more for discount and bulk buying (it was mostly okay for us though).
Night: Visit one of the most popular night markets in Taipei 饒河夜市
The lines at the Black Pepper Bun stall Fu Zhou Shi Zu Hu Jiao Bing 福州世祖胡椒饼 here are pretty legendary. As a tourist, I had to queue (for the experience and all you know) – but the bun was a little underwhelming after all that time waiting.
It was tasty, but I’m not sure I would wait in line again for what felt like at least an hour?
Overall, 饒河夜市 Raohe Night Market has a whole lot of other food stalls to check out too though, there was also this delicious chicken meat patty on a skewer and huge grilled squids that were on offer when I visited.
There’s shopping here too but if you’re coming here after Wufenpu (which is nearby), it’s not really going to be comparable.
5. The Nature Lover (Green in Map Below)
Yang Ming Shan > Zhuzihu > Guandu Nature Park > 士林夜市 Shilin Night Market
Morning: Admire the nature scenery in Yangmingshan National Park
Prefer to be amongst greenery and wildlife? Taipei has a whole lot of this within the city and its outskirts, but I’m going to recommend the Yangmingshan National Park.
In particular, if you are there around March, there are actually CHERRY BLOSSOMS to be seen! Seriously, I cannot tell you how excited I was to see them.
But anyway even if you visit during the other months, there are many other types of flowers, trees, springs and more to see there around the year.
If you manage to finish exploring Yang Ming Shan early enough, head over to Zhuzihu to try and catch beautiful fields of white calla lily flowers from March to May! You can even pick your own flowers to bring back at a small fee.
The nearby Guandu Nature Park is also worth checking out, to either stroll in the park or admire the lovely flower fields (there’s a festival around August to February, but when I went in April 2018 there were still some flowers left, though they looked a little past their prime).
Night: Eat, shop and explore to your heart’s content at a famous night market 士林夜市
Not quite nature I know, but hey after a whole day of walking, one has to eat right? And where better to do it than the nearby 士林夜市 Shilin Night Market!
Shilin might be my favourite night market for shopping – I spent eons at the many accessories shops there and left with at least 3 pairs of earrings I think.
Food-wise, there are many, many options, but I think that most of what you can find here are things that are quite common across other night markets in Taipei too.
If you like hotpot, see if you can fit this into one of the days on your trip and you won’t regret it. Singaporeans who are fans of Hai Di Lao or Shang Pin will most certainly also like Mala Hotpot, a buffet place with delicious mala and other soups, endless servings of around 5 or 6 different types of beef, and TWENTY SIX flavours of Movenpick and Haagen Daaz ice cream.
I kid you not, this place is a heaven for serious foodies. I seriously love this.
So anyway, there’s a lot more I haven’t managed to cover here in this one article, but if you have 5 days or less only in Taipei, this is probably more than enough to try and do all in one trip!
There are also many other key attractions in and around Taipei I didn’t include like Danshui and Jiufen. These are definitely worth visiting, but as they are a little outside the city, you’ll need to set aside a whole day for each of them – so do these when you have a longer trip planned!
I’ve also pinned the locations of my various recommendations in this Google map here, for easier visualisation of the possible routes for each itinerary, check it out:
Share with me what you think in the comments below – have you been to Taipei many times too? What are your top recommendations? If you haven’t been yet, what do you most want to try?