You'll find different sides to Taiwan's capital: crowded, chaotic, but also laid-back and welcoming.
On first impression, Taiwan’s capital can appear crowded and chaotic, with bustling, neon-lit streets and atmospheric temples jostling for space next to skyscrapers and glitzy malls. Despite this, on closer inspection you’ll find the city laid-back and welcoming and with a uniquely cosmopolitan character all of its own.
With influences from China, Japan, the West and the island’s own indigenous heritage, Taipei is an intriguing mix of modern and ancient, traditional and cutting-edge. As well as a thriving cultural scene, the city offers cheap and delicious food and fabulous shopping. Check out our Taipei Travel Guide for everything you need to know.
Top of the list of visitor attractions has to be The National Palace Museum, which displays an unrivalled collection of priceless artefacts ranging over 8,000 years, including paintings, ceramics, jade items and calligraphy. Also well worth a visit is Longshan Temple, a Buddhist temple built in 1738 but rebuilt several times after damage from natural disasters and war. For more on top attractions, check out our Things to See in Taipei guide.
If the chaos of the city gets too much, slip into a pair of hiking boots or seek refuge in a private hot spring pool. The island offers ample hiking opportunities on four mountains, charmingly named Elephant, Tiger, Lion and Leopard. In the town of Beitou, there are a number of hot springs spas where you can rent a private room with a spa for about US$30 an hour. Check out our Things to Do in Taipei section for more information.
You won’t be starved of culture, both local and international, as the National Theater and Concert Hall have an extensive programme ranging from opera to ballet to musical concerts. Bars stay open late and range from casual to sophisticated, karaoke is popular and you can even go clubbing: check out our hand-picked Taipei Nightlife offerings.
Have you ever tried snake soup, or wanted to? The best place to try local delicacies is via a street vendor at one of the famous Night Markets; this is also the place to try “stinky tofu”, a uniquely fermented snack that is hugely popular with locals. Those with a less adventurous palate might want to try beef noodle soup, a dish the Taiwanese excel in; our recommended Restaurants in Taipei offer some sterling suggestions.
When it comes to shopping, we’ve already mentioned the Night Markets – as well as fantastic street food, they offer a dizzying array of products, from souvenirs to clothing and fun accessories. You can also easily find glitzy malls, antique shops, trendy boutiques and electronic goods emporiums around Taipei. Advice and recommendations can be found in our Taipei Shopping guide.