Taipei is the capital of Taiwan, and is a beautiful, bustling city with a vibrant nightlife, terrific restaurants, many temples, museums and other fascinating buildings, and many other spectacular Taipei tourist attractions all nestled in some of the most magnificent surroundings in the world. It is a large metropolitan area that is the country’s center for finance, government and culture and has all of the activities and shopping you would expect to find. It is located on the northern part of the Taiwanese island, so is close enough for day trips to the coastline for some amazing diving and other waterfront activities. It sets in a basin between the Yangming Mountains and the Central Mountains which makes for a spectacular backdrop. At one time the country was occupied by Japan, so there is a lot of architecture and design influenced by the Japanese. Combined with the traditional Chinese-style architecture and many of the old buildings that Taiwan is known for, there are some of the most interesting and spectacular Taipei attractions you could imagine. There is also some Soviet-era style housing that you will find interesting. Below is a partial list of ideas for what to do in Taipei, but is certainly not all there is here to enjoy.
1. Elephant Mountain Has got to be one of the best Taipei attractions there is! It provides perhaps the best view of the city that you could find. There is a trail, known as the Nangang District Hiking Trail, that starts near the Xinyi Shopping District and takes you to the top of Elephant Mountain. While it takes an average of 30 minutes to make it to the top, it is a fairly steep climb with quite a few stairs. Taking plenty of time to make the climb is not only advisable it is a great opportunity to take in all of the surroundings. There are facilities for visitors along the way as well as at the top. If you timed it right, you will see one of the most spectacular sunsets you ever saw. The lights of the city are simply magnificent. If you climb to the top during the day you will be able to see for miles and will be amazed at the sight! No matter what time you make this hike, be sure to take your camera! This is one of the greatest places to visit in Taipei.
2. The Maokong Gondola is one of the most popular Taipei tourist attractions. It is a cable car system that runs over four kilometers through the mountains south of the city. It runs from the Taipei Zoo to Maokong with another stop at the zoo and yet another at the Zhinan Temple along the way. If you get off at either the temple or Maokong, there are hiking trails you can take for some exhilarating excessive. Sip some of the teas that Maokong is famous for at one of the many tea houses before heading back on the gondola. For some of the best Taiwan sightseeing, the Maokong Gondola is one stop you will not want to miss.
3. Zhinan Temple is one of the stops from the Maokong Gondola, and one of the Taipei attractions you will not want to miss. There is also a trail you can hike from the National Chengchi University if you are the energetic type. However you get there, this is one idea of where to go in Taipei to see a beautiful temple and learn more of the Daoist religion. Spread across a mountainside, this complex is a great place to enjoy the architecture and beauty of the building as well as the landscape setting it is in. There is a legend that the local people still believe to this day, and that is if a boyfriend and girlfriend visit the temple together then they will break up. Just saying……..
4. The Lin Liu-Hsin Puppet Theatre Museum is definitely on the top of most tourist’s list of what to do in Taipei. It is located in the former heart of the city known as the Dadaocheng area. The art of performing puppetry is an important part of both Taiwan and Asia. This museum showcases everything that has to do with puppetry in the nation and other portions of Asia. Covering four floors in a small building, you will see some very diverse and fascinating puppets from Guangdong and Fujian in China and marionettes from India and Burma. As this has always been such a rich and diverse art form in the region, you will find this museum to be one of the best places to visit in Taipei.
5. The Museum of World Religions is another museum that is a great Taipei attraction. It was the mastermind of Master Hsin-Tao, who said he hopes “the museum is a first step in propagating the ideals of love and peace to all corners of the world that will enable every person in this time of discord and disturbance to rediscover the tranquility of their inner spirit.” It has some very intriguing artifacts and items associated with ten major religions – Hinduism, Shinto, Judaism, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and two rotating displays dedicated to ancient religions and indigenous religions. They use the latest technology here, so that your visit becomes a true interactive experience. This has to be one of the most educational Taipei things to do while you are here.
6. The National Museum of History is another wonderful Taipei sightseeing stop. It is full of amazing artifacts from both Taiwan and China that gives you an incredible historical background for each. It also hosts special exhibitions featuring works from Taiwan as well as overseas. For anyone interested in history, this is definitely where to go in Taipei. It is near the Botanical Gardens, so you could easily spend an entire day between the two places.
7. The Bao-an Temple is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Taipei. It did, in fact, receive an honorable mention at the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award in 2003 and is well worth seeing. Baosheng Dadi, who was a doctor during the 9th century, is the deity of the temple. The temple was established in 1742, with the current building being erected in the early 19th century. It has since been restored to its former glory and is a sight to behold. Baosheng Dadi’s birthday is celebrated every year on the 15th day of the 3rd lunar month and the festivities go on for two full days. There is a wonderful parade where the deity is taken around the neighborhood of the temple. Touring the temple and being part of the annual celebration is a great idea of what to do in Taipei.
8. The Miramar Ferris Wheel is a thrilling Taipei tourist attraction that everyone will love. It is in the Neihu district of the city and goes high above a shopping mall. This isn’t just an ordinary Ferris wheel. It has individual cabins you sit in that are each air-conditioned as opposed to the bench seats people are usually strapped in to. Just thinking about how the whole thing was designed and built is a feat in itself. From the top the views over the city as well as Yangmingshan are simply breath taking! This is one of the Taipei attractions you will not want to miss!
9. The National Palace Museum is another fascinating Taipei tourist attraction. It has a lot of very old artifacts unique to the Chinese culture. There are also some outstanding art exhibits that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Some of these have come from the Forbidden City Palace Museum in China so are very authentic and amazing. This museum is a must on anyone’s list of what to do in Taipei.
10. Longshan Temple is one of the top places to visit in Taipei for anyone coming to the city. It is also the most well known temple in the entire country of Taiwan. It was originally built in 1738 be settlers from Fuji. It was a gathering place for these and Chinese settlers. During World War II it was bombed by the Americans when they thought the Japanese were hiding artillery here. It was damaged extensively, but has been restored and renovated and is now a real sight to behold. The surroundeng grounds are also a beautiful and peaceful place to stroll. As the oldest and largest temple in the country, the worshipers are a mixture of Buddhist, Taoist, and deities like Mazu. Located in the historic district of Wanhua, this is one Taipei tourist attraction that you won’t want to miss.
11. Taipei Tianhou Temple is one of the “Big Three” for temples in the Wanhua District and a real highlight when Taipei sightseeing. The other two is the Longshan Temple and the Bangka Temple. It was built over 270 years ago and is dedicated to Mazu. It was largely damaged by fire, but completely recontructed and reopened on Mazu’s millennial anniversary in 1959. The grounds have a distinctly Japanese flair, as they were designed by the Japanese during their occupation of the temple based on shinto tradition. This was where the monks could pray, read scriptures, chant and otherwise worship, and can be used in the same manner by the public today. This is one of the favorite Taipei things to do for both tourists and locals.
12. Bangka Temple is the third temple of the “Big Three” temples and is another one of the best places to visit in Taipei. It is also in the Ximen Shopping District in the old part of town known as Wanhua. All three of the temples are magnificent pieces of history and each one of them must definitely be included on everyone’s list of what to do in Taipei.
13. The Sun Yatsen Memorial Hall is a Taipei tourist attraction that is a wonderfully quiet and serene place to visit in Taipei. It is next to Tswei Lake with a beautiful large park between them where you can relax and spend some time. The Hall has some spectacular displays of artwork and photographs that are some of the best in the world. The 5.8 meter bronze statue of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen himself is perhaps the most impressive. It has guards on each side, and the changing of the guards is always a popular Taipei attraction. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen became a medical doctor in 1892, founded the “Society for the Revival of China” in 1894, and became the provisional president of China in 1912. He eventually became known as the “Father of the Nation” and the memorial hall was built in his honor. The main structure is designed with traditional Tang Dynasty architecture of the Chinese. You will also find a History Room, Chungshan National Gallery and Sun Yat-Sen Library that are very interesting to see. Many concerts and other events are held here that can make the day one of the most relaxing and enjoyable breaks from the busy days of Taipei sightseeing.
14. The Beitou Hot Springs is one of the more picturesque places to visit in Taipei. There is a large pool with the hot water bubbling up into it, that spills over into a stream that flows through Beitou Park. A short hike uphill will give you a beautiful view of the entire area. You can stroll along the stream where there are bridges for crossing the waters and wonderful terraces bathed in shade. There are magnificent pools of the warm waters you can get in, or get a room at one of the hotels and have your own private hot springs bath. There are several other Taipei attractions such as the Hot Springs Museum in the old Japanese Bathhouse, the Beitou Library and another geothermal pool called “Hell Valley”. These hot springs are certainly where to go in Taipei for a wonderful spa day or to relax in a beautiful area.
15. Taipei 101 is one of the places to visit in Taipei that you won’t forget. It is the tallest building in Taiwan and the 5th tallest building in the entire world. It has 101 floors, which is how it derives its name. Its Chinese-style architectural design is very impressive. The interior has a very luxurious mall, supermarket and food courts on the first five floors, with the rest being various businesses. There is a beautiful water fountain with a floating jade ball. It is said to have Feng Sui to give good luck to all of the businesses that occupy the building. There is an observatory on the 89th floor that has the absolute best view for Taipei sightseeing, as you can see everything for miles! One of the most popular Taipei things to do is watch the count down to the new year and the subsequent fireworks display. It is one of the most spectacular displays in the world.
16. Night Markets are a very popular and fun idea for what to do in Taipei. There are several to choose from, and they each have their own unique flair. They sell a lot of local souvenirs as well as foods that are unique to the area. The Shi Lin night market is one of the most popular of these Taipei tourist attractions. It is perhaps the largest and oldest of all of the markets and has a lot of stalls selling a wide variety of food and products. Some of the odd food choices include fish eyeballs, chicken uterus and butts, goose tongues and heads which are local delicacies. There are many stalls with games and things suitable for children as well as adults which makes it a favorite Taipei thing to do. Snake Alley is located behind Longshan Temple, and is certainly where to go in Taipei for a unique culinary experience. One of the more famous is snake soup, which is where this night market gets it’s name. Huaxi is another night market that is also famous for it’s snake foods as well as other strange foods common to locals such as turtle items. Some of the other night markets that are popular Taipei attractions for tourists as well as locals include Liaoning, Shida, Danshui and Raohe. All of these markets offer great opportunities to enjoy cheaper shopping for local items and foods, as well as being the best Taipei things to do for people of all ages.
17. The Chiang Kai Shek Memorial is another famous Taipei tourist attraction. On the 4th floor there is the bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek, a national leader of the Republic of China. The memorial is also symbolic of the democratic political system in Taiwan. There are characters and symbols on the statue that stand for Ethics, Democracy and Science, as well as many principles inscribed on it that are important to the people of the country. The statue itself is protected by two guards at all times. The changing of the guards occurs every hour during the day. Watching this is a very popular idea of what to do in Taipei. Also in the Hall are a heritage display rooms, gallery, and an auditorium. The building is designed by the Chinese Tiantan architecture, with the four sides appearing like Egyptian pyramids. It is made of white marble with blue glass on the roofs. The gardens in the surrounding park are magnificent with the red white and blue of the national flag as the main décor. This is certainly one of the most popular places to visit in Taipei.
18. The Taipei Zoo is definitely where to go in Taipei for “kids” of all ages. It is a very large and beautiful zoo. Perhaps the most famous animals here are the giant pandas. In fact, two of them, Tuan Tuan and his girlfriend Yuen Yuen are near the front entrance to greet visitors. The pandas can be very playful and so much fun to watch. The Koalas are also a very popular Taipei attraction here. There are a wide variety of animals from all over the world, from desert animals from Africa to tropical rainforests to penguins. There is an area for various nocturnal animals, an area for just insects as well as a large display of gibbons. There are also areas that display animals peculiar to different areas of the world such as the Taiwanese area, the Chinese area, the Asian as well as animals from the Formosa area, Africa, Australia and much more. The best idea of what to do in Taipei is to use one of their shuttles so that you can see the entire 182 hectars and spend the entire day being entertained by the animals at one of the favorite Taipei tourist attractions.