Taipei is famous for its lively democracy, strong economy, and cultural richness. Two days felt too short to fully enjoy all that Taipei and Taiwan have to offer. I visited in November, but the best times to go are from March to May or December when the weather is warm and humidity is low.
Day 1: Night Markets!
I arrived in Taipei in the evening, and I headed to the Taipei Metro. Before boarding, I purchased the 48-hour Taipei Metro Pass for around $280. You can buy the pass right before entering the Metro. Consider getting a pass tailored to the Airport Line (Express) if your accommodation is closer to ensure a faster journey into Taipei.
Top tip: Taiwan has a travel incentive for foreign visitors from May 1st to June 30th, 2025. As a welcoming gesture, they’re offering travel prizes to 500,000 lucky travellers. To participate, sign up here and make sure to register at least 1 day but within 7 days before your arrival. You can try your luck by drawing at the airport’s arrivals hall.
Star Hostel Taipei Main Station Lobby
I stayed at Star Hostel Taipei Main Station, which is conveniently close to Taipei’s main train station. Because of its excellent connectivity, it’s easy to reach any part of Taipei from there. The hostel has a modern and stylish design, with a main lounge area that’s ideal for relaxing and meeting new people. Additionally, the hostel offers a highly-rated breakfast each morning, providing excellent value for money.
Once settled, a must-try in Taipei is the Night Markets, known for its fantastic food, lively atmosphere, and diverse local delicacies. These markets come alive after sunset, offering a sensory delight. Recommended treats include fried chicken cutlets, rice-stuffed pork sausages, Stinky Tofu, Oyster Omelettes, and Black Pepper Buns. The closest night market to my hostel was Ningxia, a more manageable option for starters. Close the night with a night cap at one of Taipei’s many bars.
Day 2: Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Taipei 101, Ximending
Consider trying a traditional Taiwanese breakfast. A popular choice is ‘you tiao,’ crispy deep-fried dough sticks often dipped in warm soy milk. Another classic is ‘dan bing,’ a thin pancake rolled with ingredients like egg, green onions, and sometimes bacon or cheese. Other common options include steamed buns with various fillings and ‘congee,’ a rice porridge. Additionally, explore regional specialities like ‘fan tuan,’ a rice roll filled with pickled vegetables, dried meat, and other unique ingredients.
Take the metro, and start the day at the National Taiwan Museum. Established in 1908, stands as Taiwan’s oldest museum, featuring extensive exhibits on cultural and natural heritage.
Taiwan National Museum
Take a short walk to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall to learn about Taiwan’s founder. If you time it right, you might catch the changing of the guard on the hour.
Then, hop on the metro to Taipei 101, an iconic symbol of the city and the former world’s tallest tower. Explore the shopping and food centre downstairs, and don’t miss the observatory on the 88th and 91st floors for stunning views of Taipei. Consider getting a skip-the-line pass to avoid queues.
Top tip: Head straight to Din Tai Fung Restaurant and put your name on the waiting list before going up the tower. It’s a popular spot for good reason, with top-tier food like fried rice and pork dumplings.
Next, head to Ximending, Taipei’s entertainment and shopping hub. And of course, no trip to Taipei is complete without trying Bubble Tea. For a change of pace, visit the Red House, an old theatre transformed into a space for independent traders and artists. You’ll find great gifts for loved ones here. Next, explore the charming Bopiliao Historic Block nearby to experience Taipei’s history 200 years ago. I discovered open places showcasing Taiwan’s cultural heritage, including one detailing Taipei’s film industry. A short distance away is the Longshan Temple, where people throw wooden sticks to find answers to their questions. I purchased amulets for good luck and found an underground mall nearby where you can buy reasonably priced statues and get your fortune read.
I also visited Taiwan Comic Base, just a minute away from the hostel, dedicated to Taiwanese comics. Enjoy a coffee and relax.
As night fell, it was time for a night market and this time I went to Shilin, the largest and most chaotic. Another popular option is Raohe, close to interesting sites like the Songshan Ci You Temple and Rainbow Bridge.
Day 3: Flying out
Sadly it was time to leave Taipei. Depending on how much time you have you might want to:
- re-visit Ximending for some last-minute shopping
- go to the Beitou Hot Springs
- go hiking in the Elephant Mountain
- visit another night market
- here are some other suggestions to consider
I hope you found this guide useful. Taipei and Taiwan are special places, and it’s well worth your time. Finally, I’d like to thank Katie for showing me around Ximending.