The metropolitan city of Taipei is a busy, fun and modern destination for those who love to travel to Asia. It’s a melting pot of multiple cultures, which is what makes it unique, thanks to influences by the Chinese, Japanese, Southeast Asian countries and the United States.
Given that Taipei is the capital, it’s also the center of the small island’s financial, cultural and governmental sectors. From endless shopping, extensive street-food scene, skyscrapers, temples, night markets and so much more—Taipei is the epicenter of it all.
But to really experience this little but mighty city, you need to make your way away to some of the best-hidden gems around. Here are our top favorites:
Beitou Hot Spring
One of the best ways you can kick-start your day is by visiting one of Taipei’s hot springs called Beitou, located in the Neihu District.
The history of this hot springs goes back to the early 1900s when Taiwan was still part of Japan. It was then turned over to the Chinese in 1945 until it finally became part of Taipei City in 1974.
Beitou is surrounded by villas and high-end resorts that look over the beautiful landscape full of mountains and what seems like endless flora and fauna. Beitou is a popular local, public hangout spot throughout the year. Make sure to bring your bathing suit, and come prepared to sit in water that can get as hot as 90 degrees Fahrenheit! The place is open from 9am to 5pm—get there as soon as they open to skip the crowds that flood in later in the day.
Taipei has a massive nightlife, and the best place to experience it is in Ximending, a neighborhood where the first pedestrian area was created in all of Taiwan. Now, it has grown into a cultural city attraction and has come to be known as the “Shopping Paradise”, offering millions of shoppers anything and everything. You can purchase electronics, toys, reading materials, music and clothes for large discounts—the perfect spot to buy gifts to take back home.
There is more than shopping in this busy area. For instance, the first theater called “Tokyo Stand” was established here in 1896, as well as the Longshan Temple—the oldest one in Taipei built in 1738—can be found here as well.
If you’re ever in Taipei during the holidays or on a weekend, make sure to check out the scene in Ximending, where you will find locals gather for art, culture or sports events, as well as live music performances.
Ping Hsi Branch Railway Line
Looking to venture out a bit? We recommend hopping on the Ping Hsi Branch Railway Line. It was first built in 1921 to transport coal but has now become a passenger train that travels through cities and scenic routes that are jaw-dropping. It’s an adventure on its own.
This single-track line stops at Shifen Old Street, a popular town where you can photograph the famous sky lanterns. There are also many eateries and shops you can spend your time browsing at almost every little town it goes through.
To get there, take the train from Taipei Station to Ruifeng Station to get to the Ping Hsi train. If you have the time, purchase an all-day pass, which allows you to hop on and off at different stations along the way.
Paoan Temple was built by Chinese immigrants in 1760, and after 25 years of construction, it was complete in 1805. It was dedicated to the emperor-deity Paosheng, god of medicine and healing. The temple is known for its intricate woodwork and spectular wooden dragons—these alone are picture-worthy but don’t spend all your time outside.
Head inside the Paoan Temple bell tower, where you’ll see a shrine dedicated to the goddess of birth. This is probably why the temple is extremely popular among the local pregnant women, who come here to pray for health and wellness.
One of the best times to go to the Temple is during the folk festival, where you can watch rituals, parades, performances, and local healers practicing traditional Chinese medicine. It’s quite an unforgettable experience.
Ningxia Night Market
After you’ve had a full day of touring and shopping, finish it off with an evening out at one of Taipei’s night markets.
Taipei is famous for having some of the best night markets in the world that cater to shoppers, eaters and those who are looking for outdoor fun. Some of the more well-known ones are crowded with tourists, so we recommend you make your way to Ningxia Night Market, which has been running for more than 60 years.
It first started out as a clothing and accessories bazaar but has now grown into a food-only night market. Over 200 vendors have set up shop here, offering some of the best snacks from across the nation. Interestingly enough, Ningxia is also considered to be the greenest markets—chopsticks are made from eco-friendly materials and inceptors have been installed to prevent grease from making its way into the sewage.
If you happen to stop by, we recommend you try a dumpling stuffed with meat, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots, called bawan, or the fish balls. They’re absolutely delicious!
Taipei has grown tremendously, especially in the tourism industry. Its location makes it the perfect stopover for those who end up traveling onward to other countries in Asia. From famous night markets, trendy shopping areas, temples, hot springs and mountains, this city has it all for travelers big or small.
If this or any other destinations speak to you, we’d love to help you get there in comfort and put some savings in your pocket. Submit a flight request or contact your agent and we’ll find the best dates to travel there!