A Quick Weekend Guide to Taipei, Taiwan

“We’ll never go back here,” we told ourselves when we were about to leave Taiwan. But of course, that was a joke. And jokes are half meant, right? So does that make it half untrue? Now you’re curious. Ha! Don’t be. Really, we were just joking about not going back and this time, I’m sure it means otherwise. Hundred percent. Of course we’d want to go back! It was one of the best weekend we’ve had so far. Even if we had to go around soaked in the rain, we still made good memories as we roamed around the city of Taipei. And to share with you a glimpse to our recent getaway in Taiwan, here is a 3-minute quick video compilation of all the snippets we took as we explore another city in another country.

WHAT TO DO IN TAIPEI

So what to do in Taiwan exactly? You actually have a lot of options especially in Taipei.The city is a big puzzle of interesting things to do and experience. Since we were only there for 3 days and 2 nights, we still missed to do a lot of things which gives us the reason to return. For now, here are the things I suggest you can do on your first visit in the country.

1. Visit Longshan Temple

Longshan or Lungshan Temple is the most visited temple in Taiwan. Built more than two centuries ago, Longshan Temple had always been a place of worship for the Taiwanese people. Buddhism is the major religion in the country. It started almost 300 years ago when the ethnic group called Han Chinese started migrating to Taiwan.

When traveling, one of the things we put into mind is to experience the local culture. When we visited Longshan Temple, it was evident among the locals that they have deep faith in their religion.

They have rituals being practiced as a part of their tradition. The most obvious of them was the burning of incense sticks. They believe that God can only feel their worship if they burn incense. So if you want to experience their local culture, visiting Longshan Temple is a good start.

Entrance Fee: Free

Operating Hours: 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM

How To Get There: Taipei Metro, Bannan Line (Blue Line / Line 5 ), Longshan Temple Station

2. Walk in the grand facade of Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall is the most prominent historical landmark in Taiwan. If you need comparison, it’s like Luneta Park in the Philippines. But unlike Dr. Jose Rizal, not majority of people adore Chiang Kai Shek as a hero.

I’ve read that Taiwanese people have differing views about Chiang and most of them are hatred. Though at some point, Chiang played his role in resisting the Japanese aggression in the country. I leave history up to you to read on.

What makes this place interesting for me though is its grand facade. It was spacious and the garden view from the main hall was fascinating.

I suggest for you not to skip this in your itinerary if it’s only your first time visiting the country.

Go wear your curiousity hat and learn about Taiwan history!

Entrance Fee: Free

Operating Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

How To Get There: Taipei Metro, Intersection between Tamsui – Xianyi Line (Red Line / Line 2) and Songhsan – Xindian Line (Green Line / Line 3), Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station

3. Hike Elephant Mountain

Xiangshan Yishiantian Trail is an easy 822 m halfway up Xiang Mountain or popularly known as the Elephant Mountain. It was named after an elephant because of the long-nose shape view of the mountain uphill.

In Taiwan, they also refer to it as Green fingers (“Xiangshan”) and the view from that elevation looks like you’re one with the sky, “Yishiantian“.

I’ve read that it can be hiked in as fast as 20 minutes but since it was raining, it took us almost more than an hour to reach the six giant rocks. Most tourists only hike their way up to here.

Some locals  traverse Xiang over the other side up to either Ning-Po Cemetery or the Xiangshang Beixingbao Temple. If you’re just after the skyline view, you may choose to go back the same route you took going up.

The trail is easy because it’s basically just a stairway. Just be careful at some parts as it might get steep and slippery especially when it’s raining.

Entrance Fee: Free

Operating Hours: Open for 24 hours

How To Get There: Taipei Metro, Tamsui – Xianyi Line (Red Line / Line 2), 15 mins walk from Xiangshan Station, Exit 2. There are signboards that will lead you to the jump off point of Xiangshan Yishiantian Trail.

4. Meet a koala and a panda in Taipei Zoo

Taipei Zoo was not in our initial plan. The night before, we were deciding whether to go visit Houli Flower Farm in Taichung but then we ended up not going. Why? Because it was raining all day and we thought it would be too much of a hassle to travel beyond Taipei. So we searched for places to see within the city and decided to include Taipei Zoo in our second day plans.

We arrived a little late and so we only have about an hour to go meet our little friends. We met Mr. Koala first. He was not moving! The entire time we were there watching him, he was just staring blankly at the wall. I wonder what he’s thinking about. There were other koalas around but all of them were not moving. So I guess, it’s their siesta time. They kinda made me wanna take a nap. But nah, I still wanna meet a panda. Kidding aside, did you know that koalas seldom drink? They mainly take in eucalyptus leaves for food and to get sufficient water as these leaves are good source of water for koalas.

Afterwards, we went over to meet Mr. Panda. Damn, he was so cute! He was just eating the whole time we were there. Like Koalas, Pandas have their own diet. They feed on bamboo stalks and leaves. The fibrous bamboo is hard to digest even for pandas and thus, they are only able to derive little energy and nutrition from it. Because of this, a panda has to spend 10-14 hours of sleep a day to preserve energy and to digest what they’ve eaten.

Entrance Fee: NTD 60 (~PHP 100) for adults; NTD 30 (~PHP 50) for students (with ID)

Operating Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

How To Get There: Taipei Metro, Wenhu Line (Brown Line / Line 1) then transfer to Maokong Gondola Line, Taipei Zoo Station

Souvenir Idea: Panda Stuff Toy ~ I named him Peter Panda! Tee-hee!

5. Eat streetfoods in Ximending Night Market

Taipei is a paradise for foodies. If you’ll ask someone who has already been to Taipei, you’ll definitely hear him/her talk about food. From the prestigious restaurants to the little coffee shop in the corner, the city has it all. But what makes Taipei famous is the abundance of night markets around the city. I bet if you already know that, you’d somehow heard of Shilin Night Market already because guess what, it’s the famous one among travelers. But it isn’t the only night market worth your time! Another place I’d suggest for you is Ximending Night Market.

Best Time To Visit: 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

How To Get There: Taipei Metro, Bannan Line (Blue Line / Line 5), Ximen Station, Exit 6

Read more: Streetfood Trip in Ximending Night Market

What to Buy: You can buy souvenirs from night markets too. There are a lot to choose from. In Ximending, I found this milk tea pack called the 3:15 PM Milk Tea. It’s my new favorite. I never thought hot milk tea can be this good. You can serve it cold too. Your choice.

6. Go shrimping and Play Taiwanese Mahjong in Shilin Night Market

I’ve mentioned that the night market in Shilin is the most famous one among travelers and I guess among locals too. It’s famous for the streetfoods and night bazaar shops where you can find souvenir items and more.

But little did we know that Shilin has something more to offer to its visitors. We happened to pass by this booth in Shilin and it immediately got my interest. The man was holding a small rod like the one you use when fishing. What’s interesting about what he’s doing was the fact that he’s not catching for a fish but instead, he’s shrimping!

There are games you can play in Shilin Night Market too and to complete your Taiwanese experience, I suggest you try playing mahjong. You will find mahjong tables inside the covered night market near the souvenir booths.

Best Time To Visit: 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

How To Get There: Taipei Metro, Tamsui – Xianyi Line (Red Line / Line 2), Shilin Station

Souvenir Idea: T-shirts and cute items

7. Indulge yourself with arts and culture in Songshan Cultural and Creative Park

If you don’t want to be too mainstream and instead want to indulge yourself in the mysterious world of arts and culture, I suggest you visit Songshan Culture and Creative Park.

We went there about 5 PM in the afternoon and we happen to catch architectural exhibit by architecture students.

It’s very fascinating to see work of arts of those Taiwanese millenials who spearheaded the exhibit. Makes me think what wonderful future we have in the years to come.

Best Time To Visit: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

How To Get There: Taipei Metro, Bannan Line (Blue Line / Line 5), Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall Station

8. Visit Taipei 101

I guess you cannot really say you’ve been to Taiwan if you haven’t visited Taipei 101. It’s famous among tourists that you can see it as a mandatory place-to-go if it will be your first time visiting the country.

You can find most of the luxury brands inside but of course, you’re not required to buy. Tee-hee!

Aside from shopping, you can also choose to experience Taipei 101 Observatory where you can enjoy the 360° view of the city.

We didn’t try it though because it was raining and the clouds were blocking the view from above so maybe on our next visit, we’d go back here.

Entrance Fee: Mall — Free

For Taipei 101 Observatory Tickets, please visit their website for the prices.

Operating Hours: 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM (Closing time of ticket sales for the observatory and entrance at 9:15 PM)

How To Get There: Taipei Metro, Tamsui – Xianyi Line (Red Line / Line 2), Taipei 101/World Trade Center Station

Souvenir Idea: Tea Pot Set

9. Kill time in Eslite Bookstore Dunnan Branch

Eslite Bookstore Dunnan Branch is open for 24 hours and what makes it more interesting than any bookstores is that it lets its guests read books without the need to buy them. How cool is that? If only I’ve known this before, we should’ve stayed there for the remaining hours on our last day. If you have some time to kill before your flight back to where you’ve been or to your next destination, I suggest you go there and read. Maybe on our next visit to Taiwan, we’d do the same.

Entrance Fee: Free

Operating Hours: Open 24 hours

How To Get There: Taipei Metro, Bannan Line, Zhongxiao Dunhua Station, Exit 6

Related Post: A Must Visit For Bibliophiles: The Eslite Bookstore

10. Buy souvenirs in Taipei Mall and K Underground Mall

In case you forgot to buy some goods to take home for your family and friends, you have the choice to drop by Taipei Mall and K Underground Mall.

Just before you head on to Taoyuan International Airportwalk your way to the nearby malls in Taipei Main Subway Station.

You can find cute items to buy for a cheaper price compared to other souvenir shops you’d pass by in some places.

Plus you can buy a paper camera! Yes, you’ve read that right! The cheapest they have is NT$ 1,200 which is approximately less than Php 2,000 only.

Entrance Fee: Free

Operating Hours: 11:00 AM – 9:30 PM

How To Get There: Taipei Metro, Intersection of Tamsui – Xianyi Line  (Red Line / Line 2) and Bannan Line (Blue Line / Line 5),  Taipei Main Station

OTHER INTERESTING PLACES AROUND TAIWAN

  • Jiufen Old Street in New Taipei City
  • Shifen Waterfalls in New Taipei City
  • Yehliu Geopark in New Taipei City
  • Houli Flower Farm in Taichung City
  • Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum in Kaohsiung City

WHERE TO EAT IN TAIPEI

  • Taipei 101

    Aside from shopping and experiencing Taipei 101 Observatory, you can find a number of good restaurants and fast food in Taipei 101 too. We tried a japanese meal in Jinan-Bou and it was great! It was not a Taiwanese food though. Tee-hee!

         Verdict: 9/10 Taste is so good but it’s kinda pricey so that’s one point less for me.

  • Hello Kitty Cafe     

For the love of pink and Hello Kitty, you might want to visit Hello Kitty Cafe. Don’t like pink? Let’s see if you’d change your mind after a quick visit to this cutesy place!

         Verdict: 8/10 – Cake melts in your mouth that it actually deserves a 10 but since the cafe has a minimum amount to spend just to eat in their tables upstairs, that’s 2 points less than perfect. Purr Purr.

         Read more: A Quick Visit to Hello Kitty Café

  • Shilin Night Market

    It was raining when we went to Shilin Night Market so we weren’t able to see the abundance of street food vendors I was expecting to see. I’m not sure if they just hid somewhere (for shelter) but we were not able to go around and check where they went. We only saw this wagyu beef vendor and tried his salted menu.

         Verdict: 10/10 The meat was cooked perfectly! And the salt adds some flavor to it that will make you crave for more! Yum!

  • Ximending Night Market

    Oh Ximending, I miss you!

         Read more: Streetfood Trip in Ximending Night Market

  • Fastfood and Convenience Stores

    If you’re on a budget, convenience stores are your friend. 7-Eleven and Family Mart can be your go-to for breakfast and KFC for a quick lunch. I miss their meal with an egg tart, ugh!

WHERE TO STAY IN TAIPEI

Taipei Morning Hotel

We only had a week left when we booked our hotel. Choosing Taipei Morning Hotelwas a quick decision we had to take because we were annoyed by how loud the people were in the cafe we stayed that afternoon. The hotel had a good review from guests so we decided to book (via Agoda) right then and there.

Little did we know that you need to walk for about 15 minutes just to reach the subway station. That’s a big no no for us. I actually don’t recommend this if you’re the type of person who hates walking. I’m not saying I hate walking but we prefer if the subway station is just a 5-minutes walk or less. There is a nearby bus station but we prefer to ride the train station because we haven’t really prepared our routes so taking the bus is much difficult. If you don’t mind about the location, then TMH is not that bad. The guests were not mistaken when they gave TMH a good review about its rooms. Let me give you a peek.

Pros: Clean and secure rooms, Complete hotel paraphernalia (shampoo and conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, men’s razors, cotton buds, comb, hair dryer, hair and body towels etc.), Friendly staff (can speak english), Near 7-Eleven and restaurants, near bus station

Cons: 15-minute walk to subway station, Check-in Time: 3:00 PM

Nearby Subway Station: 15-minute walk to Zhongshan Station or Sonjiang Nanjing

Location: No. 11, Section 2, Nanjing East Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan

HOW TO GO AROUND TAIPEI

Going around Taipei is easy. Their transportation system is well organized that you can reach most part of the city by riding Taipei Metro managed by Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation. Their public bus transportation system are well planned as well so you don’t need to worry about getting from one place to another. For ease, I suggest you purchase Taipei Pass card you can use for an unlimited number of rides during the period of validity.

Prices: NTD 180 (~PHP 300)  / 1-day pass,  NTD 310 (~PHP 520) / 2- day pass, NTD 440 (~PHP 730) / 3-day pass and NTD 700 (~PHP 1,280) / 5-day pass

Taipei Pass is valid for travel on public buses in Taipei City and New Taipei City (including Taiwan Tourist Shuttle buses on the following routes: Beitou Zhuzihu, Muzha Pingxi, Crown Northern Coastline, and Gold Fulong) and on the Taipei MRT system. The one-day Taipei Pass + Maokong Gondola is also valid for an unlimited number of rides on the Maokong Gondola. Hold your valid Taipei Pass card on or just above the “EasyCard” sensor as you enter public buses and Taipei MRT stations.

Where to Buy:EasyCard Customer Service Center at Taipei Main Station or information counters at all Taipei MRT stations.

SUGGESTED ITINERARY

ESTIMATED BUDGET BREAKDOWN

Thank you for reading.

Please feel free to bookmark and share.

Enjoy your trip!

P.S. Leave no trace but memories.

With Love,

Danica

In case you have any questions, feel free to tweet me!


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