Even if you only have 24 hours, you can still put together a snappy Taipei itinerary that takes in the sights—and the local flavors while you’re at it.
Early Bird Ideas
Here are some ideas to kickstart your day and shake off the jet lag.
- Head to one of the city’s many parks to people-watch meditative group tai chi or ballroom dancing. Da An Park, Taipei’s largest, 2-28 Peace Memorial Park, or Fine Arts Park are our top picks.
- Catch the hypnotizing morning chanting at Longshan Temple, the city’s most important place of worship. Ceremonies usually begin at 6 and 8 a.m.
- Try a traditional Taiwanese breakfast at Yonghe Soy Milk King, with classic items such as flaky sesame pastries, plump steamed buns, hearty sticky rice rolls, and warm soy milk. Everything is made in house, and even with the language barrier, you’ll survive just fine by simply pointing at whatever looks good.
- Register and swipe your MRT EasyCard to hire a YouBike and cycle along one of the city’s airy riverside parks.
- Defy the sunset crowds and climb the Four Beasts (Elephant, Lion, Leopard, and Tiger Mountains) in the morning.
Afternoon Indoor Escapes
The afternoon summer temperature in Taipei can soar, while late afternoon can bring downpours in any season. Take a post-lunch breather with one of these suggestions.
- Go back in time at the National Palace Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of ancient Chinese art and artifacts.
- Sing your heart out in a private room at a KTV (karaoke) bar. PartyWorld is one of the most popular. For a better selection of English songs, try little-known EST, the city’s only KTV-bar specializing in (English, Korean and Japanese tunes.
- Stroke fuzzy felines at Dog & Cats, one of the city’s best cat cafés. They’ve got multiple cats plus a single resident dog, hence the name.
- For a coffee break minus the four-legged company, try Café Monument, on the second floor of a baroque style red brick structure dating back to the 1930s.
- Get a bird’s eye view of the city from the observation deck on the 89th to 91st floors of Taipei 101, once the world’s tallest building. Try to arrive around dusk to catch the sunset, which is soon followed by the city’s transformation under the glow of neon lights.
If you’re wondering where everyone is in the evening in Taipei, they’re packed into the city’s restaurants and night markets, where eating isn’t a race—it’s a marathon.
- Rather than committing to one restaurant, snack till you drop at one of Taipei’s night markets, such as Shilin, Raohe, Ningxia or Tonghua.
- If local and greasy is your gameplan, then seek out a quick fry—a style of hole-in-the-wall restaurant that specializes in pan-fried dishes heavy on the seafood and watered down with local Taiwan beer. Pin Xian is a solid choice, but might have a wait. You can always find a table at one of the many options along Chang An West Road, between Zhongshan North Road and Xinsheng North Road.
- In the winter, hot pot is a must. For quality over quantity, try Tripod King, one of Taipei’s most reputed. Each traditional, three-legged pot comes with two flavors of soup base: Sichuan-style spicy and pickled cabbage, and dishes are served a la carte rather than the typical serve-yourself, all-you-can-eat affairs.
- For dessert, treat yourself to a heaping mound of shaved ice topped with fruit, Q (chewy) balls, and sweetened condensed milk at Ice Monster. You can’t go wrong with their mango or bubble tea shaved ice!
- For a romantic nightcap, check out the new collection of stalls at Pier 5 of Dadaocheng Pier Plaza serving riverside bites until 11 p.m.
- While the classic American late night snack may be pizza, Taipei locals finish where they started: in a 24-hour traditional breakfast shop like the one mentioned earlier.
– Nick Kembel