Complete Guide to Taipei and 4D3N Itinerary
Taiwan sometimes seems to be a misunderstood place.
First of all, they are not China, and secondly, no they are not part of THAIland.
With its capital in Taipei and its population of over 23 million people, it’s one of the easiest and open-minded countries to visit in the world.
The people are widely known for being friendly and accepting of different cultures, probably stemming from the fact that they themselves are rich in it, which is noticeably visible as you wander down its streets and alleys.
Because of that, we wish to share our experience here and thus, this guide to Taipei and a recommended itinerary was born.
Guide to Taipei: Essentials you should know before you visit
No guesses as to why we placed people at the top of this list. The people in Taipei are generally warm and inviting, and willing to lend a hand even to strangers whom they can’t converse with.
We have seen a number of times, locals going out of their way to help tourists with directions, food orders etc.
Ashamedly, although we are bilingual in English and Mandarin, a teenage girl we shared a table with offered to help us place our food order. Without us asking!
With its roots tracing back to China, the official and most widely used language here is Taiwanese Mandarin, which is a variety of Mandarin Chinese.
Assuming you’re able to speak Mandarin Chinese, you would have no problems talking to someone here.
If you’re sharp enough, you will probably pick up sounds of Taiwanese speaking Taiwanese Hokkien, which is one of the main dialects used by over 80% of the population.
For English speaking travellers, our experience tells us that you won’t run into much issues, as most of Taiwanese are highly educated. They are able to understand and converse in simple English at the very least.
Not forgetting the fact that people are willing to go the extra mile, you will be in good hands.
There are some requirements you should take note of for visa application.
For most of the people around the world, entry into Taiwan should be effortless as it grants visa exemption of up to 90 days.
You should definitely check out the official site and read up their guide to entering Taipei to be certain you are eligible for visa exemption and to make sure your passport has a validity of at least 6 months.
Buddhists and Taoists make up over 90% of the believers in Taiwan. That said, the people are very tolerant to other beliefs and numerous other religions and sects exists here.
When you’re here, you will inescapably notice the huge amounts of temples and small shrines of worship. Immerse yourself in the culture and add a trip or two to see the elaborate temples strewn across the city.
During our trip, we were lucky to witness a procession to honour Mazu, an extremely popular goddess who was said to have protected the coastal population from natural disasters and mishaps.
Most visitors to Taipei will arrive at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
Located to the west of Taipei City, it used to take about an hour to get to the city by public bus.
But today, you can easily reach the central district in Taipei using the Airport MRT.
The journey will take only 35 minutes to reach downtown, and make sure you’re on the express cabin, which is marked as purple.
Great thing about the trains?
Luggage compartments are readily available, and all seats come with a USB port for you to recharge your devices.
WiFi is also free onboard!
Can you see the grin on our faces?
Be sure to buy an Easy Card (there are other options but this is the best) before taking the train.
This is THE card to have when you’re in Taipei, as you can use it to take trains, buses and even make payment at selected places.
When you exit customs (Terminal 1), make a left turn and walk to the end and use take the travelator down.
If you’re taking the public bus, this is where you will find the bus depot. At the bottom of the travelator, you will come across a 7-11.
This is a good time to load up on some snacks and purchase the Easy Card.
It costs NT$100 and you can then go round the corner and turn right to top up the card at a self service kiosk.
Get some small change from the 7-11 grocery store.
Taipei is not a huge city, clocking in at only 271.8 square kilometers.
Most of the main activities are centered around the middle, and metro service is excellent, clean and cheap.
As we recommended, use the Easy Card to get around. If you wish to buy single trip tickets, you can get them from the self ticketing machines at all stations.
But take note, not every single station has a coin changing machine, so be prepared with coins if you’re using this option.
Before reaching Taipei, download this app. It gives you the ability to do route planning and find out travel time. iOS and Android versions here.
We love the fact that Taipei is so well connected!
And you can same the same about it’s public WiFi too.
It is free of charge, so all you need is to search for the network iTaiwan and sign up for access.
There are many hotspots around the city and includes underground train stations. Good stuff.
Of course, some people don’t like free things, so your other option will be to rent a router or buy a SIM card when you arrive at the airport.
In this case, go ahead and get yourself a mobile router.
You don’t need to switch out your SIM card and multiple devices can all get access at the same time.
Are you the kind the doesn’t buy travel insurance when you travel?
Because in general you feel that nothing will happen?
Or at least nothing too serious?
In our experience, getting an insurance policy brings about a peace of mind.
It prepares us for the unexpected, just like the time we flew into Paris and one of our luggage did not arrive.
It contains most of the clothes we need for our trip and luckily for us, we got our luggage back the next morning.
Knowing we had insurance to cover us, we could pick up an outfit to last us for the day and not have to pay anything for it.
Not forgetting the few times we came down with cold and flu and was able to seek medical attention without forking out a single cent.
Still not sure if you want to get covered, why not check out the options available to you before deciding.
When is the best time to visit Taipei?
The only unsuitable time to visit Taiwan will be the typhoon season, which runs from July to September.
Unfortunately, due to climate change, typhoons can now occur at random times of the year.
Make sure to check the local news for updates.
Hopefully, this does not turn you off as Taiwan is a wonderful city to visit almost any time of the year.
Different seasons will offer varying experiences for you.
In the springtime during March to May, the weather is pleasant at around 23 degrees Celsius and this is the time to come if you wish to see lovely sakura flowers blooming.
Japan is not the only place to see sakuras!
Towards the end of May, the amount of rain starts to pick up, so do pack a light raincoat along.
During summer between June to August, the mercury starts to swell and can go up to 35 degrees Celsius.
Not forgetting this is also the time of the typhoons, which makes this the off peak season to travel here.
If you are willing to rough it out, there could be great bargains at this time.
From September to November, autumn comes around and tourism picks up too.
The temperature drops to a cool 20 degrees Celsius and makes this the perfect time to pay a visit.
You will be able to enjoy the outdoors without much fear of rain impeding your excursions.
Between December to February, winter sets in and the temperature can drop to 14 degrees Celsius.
This is a suitable time to visit the southern part of Taiwan as the weather will be warmer.
The climate is mild and is still a popular time of the year.
Whichever season you are going, it will be good to check out the festivities happening at that time.
Although traffic and crowds are expected to be heavy, it could still leave a memorable experience during your stay.
Where to Stay?
With so many options, how do you choose?
One of the best things about travelling to Taipei is the connectivity.
Not just about the free WiFi, but the fact that it is so easy to move around and that means your sleeping arrangement is a piece of cake.
Taipei is not a huge city, and you can consider the following properties in our preferred districts to be close to the action.
Zhongzheng District: Most central location in Taipei, near the Main Station
- Hua Shan Din by Cosmos Creation, 2 minutes walk to metro, US$130 per night
- Finders Hotel, 5 minutes walk to metro, US$107 per night
- Hotel Relax III, 6 minutes walk to metro, US$102 per night
Wanhua District: For food lovers, shoppers
- CitizenM Taipei North Gate, 6 minutes walk to metro, US$116 per night
- Green World Hotel, 3 minutes walk to metro, US$116 per night
- Ximen Airline Hotel, 1 minute walk to metro, US$66 per night
Da’an District: Upscale area, quieter and near to Yong Kang Street (trendy area)
- Kimpton Da An Taipei, 2 minutes walk to metro, US$202 per night
- Star Hostel Taipei East, 1 minute walk to metro, US$132
- Hotel Eclat Taipei, 6 minutes walk to metro, US$220 per night
Xinyi: Business district, close to Taipei 101 and restaurants
- W Taipei, 2 minutes walk to metro, US$317 per night
- M Taipei Hotel, 2 minutes walk to metro, US$86 per night
- Humble House Hotel, 4 minutes walk to metro, US$257 per night
Want more options? Try searching here:
Besides the usual hotels, Airbnb is a fantastic opportunity to see firsthand how and where the locals live.
We sometimes choose Airbnb accommodation as the space tends to be larger, prices cheaper, and is easy to find one with washer and dryer should you be staying for a longer period of time.
Get a discount on your booking when you use our code.
Where to exchange currency?
Spent too much at the night markets wolfing down the delicious snacks that you ran out of local currency?
Fret not, you can easily find legitimate money changers in Taipei, and be aware that you should not be doing business with independent money changers.
They are strictly illegal, not to mention you might not get real notes!
The best choices to exchange currency in Taipei are at the local banks, such as Bank of Taiwan, China Trust Bank and Southern China Commercial Bank.
All major banks have branches situated around tourist areas and there should be no problem finding one.
Make sure that you bring along your passport and ID as it is a requirement in order to transact with them.
Other places that you can change money will be at the main malls, such as Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, Breeze and Taipei 101.
Finally, one last point to remember. Taiwanese dollars are not exactly the most popular currency around the world.
Hence if you have a large sum remaining at the end of your trip, and you do not intend to return (but we would question you why), you can either donate the cash or simply change it at the airport.
The exchange rate will be decent as the competition is stiff.
Guide to Food in Taipei
Taipei is a food lovers’ paradise, seriously! Everywhere you walk, you can easily find something that makes you salivate.
From the boisterous Night Markets to the local eateries, you will never run out of choices to satisfy your cravings. Go in with an open mind and you will be surprised at what you will encounter.
We have rounded up some of our favourites down below, and you should check out this Taiwan food guide too for more yummy stuff in the country!
Do we need to say more?
Bubble tea IS Taiwan, and here in Taipei, there is a stall selling these delightful beverages on almost every street.
Why call it ‘bubble’ tea?
You will find in the drink, black pearls that are made of tapioca and creates a chewy texture while sipping away the refreshing milk tea.
Recommendation: Chun Shui Tang. No. 66, Zhongzheng District, Section 1, Zhongxiao West Road, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Braised pork rice
The epitome of simplicity and reflecting the humble Taiwanese culture.
This dish is made up simply of white rice and a generous serving of slow braised pork belly. This is the perfect comfort food.
Recommendation: Jin Feng Lu Rou Fan. No. 10, Section 1, Roosevelt Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Another iconic dish from Taiwan, so much so that there is a freaking festival for it!
Served in broth that has been simmered for days and coupled with thick slices of beef, this is something that you should not miss here.
Recommendation: Lin Dong Fang Niu Rou Mian. No.322, Section 2, Bade Road, Taipei Taiwan 104
Do you like your food in large sizes? Or extra large?
The famous Taiwanese Fried Chicken is usually sold in sizes much bigger than our faces, and with super crispy crust and juicy chicken, it’s the perfect snack.
And it is perfect for sharing too.
Recommendation: Monda Fried Chicken. Multiple locations.
Pork intestine Flour Rice Noodle
Rice flour noodles, pork intestines and green cilantro cooked in a thick broth.
Extremely soft textured noodles that will almost melt in your mouth and complemented by the chewy pork intestines, this is a great snack for any time of the day.
Recommendation: Ay Chung Flour Rice Noodles. No.8-1 Emei Street, Taipei, Taiwan 108
There are so many options to choose from, but the classic has to be the soy milk combined with fried doughsticks.
If you have the appetite, try the other items on the menu like egg pancake, fried radish cake and pancake wraps.
Recommendation: Yong He Soy Milk. No. 11, Hengyang Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Dan Zai Mian
A traditional favourite, it is noodles mixed with minced pork, dried shrimp and topped with glorious meat sauce and black vinegar.
Typically comes in a small serving, which means you can order more side dishes!
Recommendation: No. 12, Alley 8, Lane 216, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
These delicious chewy balls made of taro is an excellent choice for dessert or snacking.
Mixed in with sweet potato soup, other ingredients such as sweet potato balls, green tea balls and kidney beans, you can get them either hot or cold.
Whichever way you choose, you simply cannot skip this.
Recommendation: Grandma Ali’s Taro Balls, along Jiufen Old Street
You cannot not visit Taipei without trying some of the desserts on offer.
But if you can only choose one, why not consider a special treat known as Ice Fire Dumplings?
Hot rice dumplings served on top of shaved ice, it’s the perfect combination.
Recommendation: No. 31, Alley 50, Lane 39, Tonghua Street, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Deep Fried Pork
No idea what’s added into this dish, but we can guarantee you will enjoy it.
Deep fried to a perfect crisp, the meat is extremely tasty and flavourful.
There are many other items on the menu here but make sure the pork is in your order!
Recommendation: No. 104, Guangzhōu Street, Wanhua District Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Street Food and Night Markets
We know what you are thinking, how are you going to continue eating after all these yummy food?
Continue eating more yummy food!
Taipei is world renown for their night markets, and going to one is definitely up there on the list of authentic local activities you can do, not forgetting it is also one of the best things to do in Taipei at night!
Here, you will find some of the most famous Taiwanese food anywhere.
But before you start chomping away, we have to warn you that the night markets are loud, dirty and crowded, and that’s not the worst thing.
You know what’s the worst thing?
The stench of Smelly Tofu, which permeates the air all around the markets.
Never smelled it before? Pretty much the same as sewage. Eww.
Okay, warning over. Frankly it is not scary at all, just that we DISLIKE smelly tofu, but it DOES NOT diminish the AMAZING experience from visiting a night market in Taipei. (that is why you will not find any smelly tofu recommendations from us!)
So, which ones to go and what should you eat? Here are our recommendations:
Raohe Night Market
Getting there: Take the Metro (green line) to Songshan Station, exit 5. The night market is just across the road from the temple.
What to eat: Fuzhou Black pepper buns, Cheng Dong Pork Ribs in Medicinal Herbs, Deep Fried Milk Balls
Ningxia Night Market
Getting there: Take the Metro (red line) to Shuanglian Station, exit 1. Head along Minsheng West Road for about 6 minutes and the market is on the left.
What to eat: Yuan Huan Bian Oyster Omelette, King Oyster Mushroom, Beef Noodles with Sha Cha Sauce
Tonghua Night Market (also known as Linjiang Night Market)
Getting there: Take the Metro (red line) to Xinyi Anhe Station, exit 3. Walk straight along Tongan Street for 4 minutes and make a left turn on Linjiang Street.
What to eat: Pork Blood Cake, Shi Family Gua Bao, Liang’s Braised Snacks
More about the Night Markets
There are a number of other night markets spread across the city, and we have left out a prominent one, that is Shilin Night Market.
It is by far the largest and most popular, but we feel that it is not as authentic and ‘local’ as the three mentioned above.
A unique option is the Huaxi Night Market, where you can find vendors serving snake meat, snake soup, snake blood. You get the point.
Whichever one you visit, make sure to go with an empty stomach and an open mind.
Don’t forget to bring small change too as these are mostly street vendors and do not accept large notes nor credit card or any contactless payment you are used to.
Also, at some of the eateries, don’t be shy to ask for an English menu as some of them are well prepared for tourists to come in.
At restaurants, there is no harm checking if they have any special promotions available to tourists. You might just get lucky!
Guide to Alcohol in Taipei
Over the years, the drinking scene in Taipei has grown and you can find many local craft breweries sprouting up.
The amount of bars have also grown significantly compared to say 10 years ago.
Since Taipei is the capital city and where most tourists set foot, naturally the prices of alcohol is on the higher side.
Beer prices at regular pubs will run about NT$180 pint, while craft beers will be higher up the scale at above NT$200 for a 330ml mug.
A good way to save on alcohol would be to visit local eateries where a big bottle of Taiwan Beer will set you back only around NT$120-150 for a big bottle.
BUT, the best way to really get a bang for your buck would be to pack beer from the local convenience store, where a six pack is around NT$180 only!
You can bring this back to the hostel or hotel bar where you can make use of some of the amenities provided such as board games, arcade machines etc.
One of the hotels we stayed in, Finders Hotel, had a large area (we call it pantry) where free local snacks and cup noodles are provided!
No extra service charge, but you’re still able to enjoy the comfortable sofas.
What to do in Taipei, a sample 4D3N itinerary
We have worked out a 4 days 3 nights Taipei itinerary to showcase some of the best activities for a short trip like this.
Combining food, nature and culture, this Taipei guide and itinerary will hopefully be helpful to you in planning a visit to this marvelous city.
Day 1 Taipei Itinerary
- Breakfast at Yong He Soy Milk
- Bopiliao Old Street
- Eat deep fried pork at Chou Ji!
- Ximending. Make sure to get your bubble tea and Oyster Mee Sua fix here.
- Da’an Forest Park
- Yong Kang Street
- Beer at Zhang Men Brewing
- Tong Hua/Linjiang Night Market
Day 2 Taipei Itinerary
- Yangmingshan National Park
- Jiantan MRT, which is near Shilin Night Market to get a bit of light snacks
- Back to hotel to wash up
- Ningxia Night Market
Related: Guide to Yangmingshan Day Trip
Day 3 Taipei Itinerary
- Taipei Zoo
- Mao Kong Gondola
- Taipei 101
- Xiang Shan (Elephant Hill)
- Depending on where you stay: Raohe Night Market, Ningxia Night Market, Gongguan Night Market, Liaoning Night Market
Day 4 Taipei Itinerary
- DiHua Street followed by Ri Xing Type Foundry
- Huashan Creative Park
- Try Fuhang soy milk or Takumi dumplings nearby
- Taipei artist village
Rainy day activities in Taipei
Considering that rain happens at a moments notice in Taipei, what should you do in those times?
Here are some recommendations for you:
- Taipei main station mall: huge underground strip
- Tour it’s many museums, notably National Palace Museum
- Watch an art movie at SPOT Taipei Film House
- Release your internal rockstar at a karaoke
- Read books at 24 hours Eslite Bookstore at Dunnan
- Enjoy a hot spring in the Beitou area (less than an hour from Taipei)
Frankly, if it is just a light drizzle, you should definitely go out and enjoy all the sights and sounds that Taipei offers.
You can consider using Getyourguide to help find an activity suitable for you too. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy yourself!
Related: Where to stay in Taichung for every budget
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Taipei is the perfect place to spend a few days, with so many varied activities on display.
Knock yourself out shopping in high end malls or street markets, or take a day trip out to the mountains (click for our practical Yangmingshan guide) for hiking, the choice is really endless.
You should consider heading to Jiufen too, and you can find out how to get there in our Taipei to Jiufen guide.
Before you go, make sure to check out our resources page to help you in your planning or read more of our blog!
So what did you do in Taipei and what did you like most? Leave your comments below!
If you like this post, do share on social media and pin to Pinterest!
Logistics before visiting Taiwan
Find cheap flights.
Air tickets are usually the bulk of your expenses. Set up an alert and snag cheap fares with Skyscanner.
Find the best accommodation.
Book a place ahead of time to get good rates. Booking.com has transparent fees and excellent rates.
Handy travel guide.
For the old school kid in you, get a travel guide book and get lost exploring the city.
Your mobile phone can do a pretty good job, but if you need an upgrade, we recommend the Sony A6000 (US) (International)
You don’t need us to teach you to be a responsible adult, do you? Get a quote here.
Planned for you activities in Taiwan.
Need a guide to show you and your group around? Lots of operators here to choose from here. You know who they are and how they are reviewed.
More resources to help you.
What other useful travel resources we use when we book our trips.