Taipei stands proud as the historical, cultural and economic centre of Taiwan. It’s a city beloved by expats and travellers alike with its bustling streets, serene temples, and mouthwatering night markets of this vibrant metropolis. Whether you’re a history buff yearning to uncover ancient traditions or a foodie on a quest for the perfect bowl of beef noodle soup, Taipei has got you covered.
So in that case, here is the perfect itinerary to see the very best of Taipei in 4 days.
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Table of Contents
Day 1 in Taipei
Situated at the mouth of the Tamsui River, this little port city became a vital centre of trade during the Qing Dynasty and formed Taipei into the powerhouse it is today!
While most relics of colonial rule are long gone, there still stands a fully preserved Spanish fort, San Domingo, which also served as a British consulate for many years.
Yet the real highlight of Tamsui is the bay itself. The scenic waterfront is home to a humble market, countless traditional snacks and the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf. There’s also a Lover’s Bridge, but be warned. Rumour has it that disaster will befall the relationship of those couples who cross it!
Taipei Confucius Temple
In the melting pot of Taiwanese culture, there are three main religions practised in the country – Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. The latter focuses on the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius, emphasizing the religious doctrines rather than the outward appearance of the temple, hence its humbler design.
It was first built in 1879 during the Qing Dynasty and features all the iconic features of Confucian design elements including red-painted walls and elaborate wood carvings. The temple’s central hall houses a statue of Confucius, encircled by a courtyard adorned with stone tablets bearing the names of Confucius’ disciples.
Located in the Wanhua District of Taipei, the region of Dadaocheng is a true slice of living history. This region contains some of the city’s earliest streets and neighbourhoods, which were established during the Qing Dynasty era. As a result, the well-preserved architecture serves as a captivating representation of 18th-century Taipei.
The streets become a bustling commercial centre following the development of Tamsui Harbour, with numerous business and government offices established in the area. Many of the buildings have since been restored and contain quaint little museums, art galleries, cafes, and shops filled with traditional handicrafts.
Taipei has plenty of temples worthy to be on this itinerary! This particular one is dedicated to Xingtian, the God of War, and stands as one of the most beloved temples in Taipei. It’s also one of the most modern, having only been in 1967.
Similar to other temples in Taiwan, people visit Xingtian Temple with specific intentions, often to seek good fortune, business success, or protection from harm. If you time your visit just right, you may also get to witness many of the temple’s regular attendees engrossed in their scripture readings at the front of the courtyard.
Want to add more of the best temples in Taipei to your itinerary? Check out The 25 Best Temples to Visit in Taipei.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Located on the grounds of a former Japanese-era winery, the Huashan 1914 Creative Park has been transformed into a vibrant hub for culture and the arts.
Inside, you’ll discover a variety of art exhibitions and performance venues hosting concerts, film screenings, and a myriad of art exhibitions. Complementing these attractions, you’ll also find an array of shops, cafes, and restaurants for you to leisurely explore.
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
The Republic of China’s rich and storied history traces its origins across the water. Sun Yat-sen, a prominent Chinese revolutionary, is hailed as the father of the R.O.C due to his pivotal role in overthrowing the Qing dynasty. To honour his profound significance in Taiwan’s narrative, a memorial hall was erected in his honour.
Completed in 1972, this hall serves as a cultural hub and a venue for a diverse range of events and exhibitions that illuminate the life and achievements of Sun Yat-sen. The complex also boasts expansive courtyards and lush gardens, making it a delightful place for leisurely strolls.
Now from a Taipei itinerary to a guide.
What to see, where to stay and how to get there!
Day 2 in Taipei
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
In 1949, as the Republic of China’s government retreated from their mainland territory amid a fierce civil war against the communist party, they found refuge on the island of Taiwan. Establishing their own nation, the R.O.C. saw Chiang Kai-shek, the party’s leader, as its first president from 1949 to 1975.
Today, Chiang Kai-shek’s legacy remains a subject of controversy. While some revere him as a national hero, others condemn him as a ruthless dictator. Regardless of one’s perspective, one thing is for sure, he’s got quite a striking tribute built in his honour!
This monumental, white, octagonal structure was erected to celebrate his positive qualities and to narrate his life’s accomplishments. Moreover, it’s a place where you can witness the impressive changing of the guard ceremony.
228 Peace Memorial Park
The 228 Incident unfolded on February 27, 1947, as Taiwanese citizens voiced their opposition to the Chinese Nationalist government, which had recently assumed control of Taiwan from Japan. What began as peaceful protests quickly escalated into a political uprising, resulting in the heartbreaking loss of thousands of Taiwanese lives.
Within the park, you’ll find numerous memorials and monuments honouring the victims of the 228 Incident, such as a poignant wall of remembrance and a monument bearing the names of those who suffered.
However, amidst this solemn history, the park itself offers a serene and uplifting atmosphere, surrounded by pristine lakes, winding pathways, and lush gardens.
Frequently referred to as the “Harajuku of Taipei,” Ximending is a vibrant and popular area, especially among the city’s youth. It boasts a diverse range of independent shops and frequent street performances, making it one of the liveliest spots on your Taipei itinerary!
The main attraction for both tourists and locals is the pedestrianized shopping precinct, which features a vibrant mix of shops, restaurants, cafes, and street vendors.
Nestled within Taipei’s historic Wanhua district, Longshan Temple stands as one of the most significant temples in the entire country! Dating back to its initial construction in 1738 by the first settlers from Fujian province in China, it holds the distinction of being one of Taipei’s oldest temples.
As you step inside, you’ll be greeted by a captivating blend of architectural splendour and intricate decorations, artfully combining elements from both traditional Chinese and Taiwanese styles. The temple’s sprawling grounds encompass numerous halls and shrines, each dedicated to different deities. Among the most revered are Guanyin, the goddess of mercy, and Mazu, the goddess of the sea.
For a detailed guide on temples in Taipei and beyond, check out The Ultimate Guide to Taiwanese Temples.
Huaxi Night Market
As the moon rises over Taipei, the streets come alive, and Huaxi Night Market transforms into a whole new animal. This vibrant market offers the usual array of Taiwanese eateries and shops selling a wide variety of trinkets. Amidst the lively scene, you’ll find a captivating cacophony of sizzling street food stalls and vendors peddling everything from delectable stinky tofu to mouthwatering oyster omelettes.
But, as its nickname “Snake Alley” suggests, there’s more to this market than meets the eye. Here, you can indulge in some truly unique dishes. Enjoy some snake soup and fried snake meat, or even venture to try glassfuls of blood and venom. For those looking for even more exotic options, there’s turtle meat, bull penis, and deer antler velvet on the menu. Huaxi Night Market truly offers a daring and diverse culinary adventure.
Day 3 in Taipei
You have multiple options to immerse yourself in the captivating mountain landscapes that envelop the city. To the south of Taipei, a breathtaking gondola ride whisks you away to the Maokong mountains, renowned for their breathtaking tea plantations.
This area has gained popularity among tourists for its magnificent mountain vistas and an abundance of hiking trails. However, what truly sets it apart is the opportunity to unwind with a refreshing beverage and a delectable meal in one of the teahouses dotting the mountainside.
Standing within an ancient lake bed, Taipei finds itself embraced by expansive mountain ranges on all sides. Some have earned distinctive names as the Four Beasts Trails: Lion Mountain, Leopard Mountain, Tiger Mountain, and the most iconic of them all, Elephant Mountain.
Once you complete the relatively short hike, you’ll soon find out why it’s got such a high reputation! Elephant Mountain becomes the perfect vantage point to admire Taipei 101, along with nearby Taipei City Hall and Taipei Songshan Airport. The true spectacle, however, unfolds when the sun begins its descent, painting the sky with mesmerizing hues of twilight.
Taipei’s Xinyi District, where modernity meets tradition, and skyscrapers share space with lively night markets. Nestled amidst the bustling streets of this district, you’ll find a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be uncovered.
The district houses the city’s most glamorous shopping centres, a kaleidoscope of boutiques, electronics stores, and quirky shops, perfect for both shopaholics and window shoppers alike. When night falls, the district transforms into a neon wonderland, with its streets lit up like a futuristic dream.
Above all, the district is home to the city’s and the country’s most iconic talisman…
Completed in 2004, its elegant, bamboo-like structure is a true icon. It once held the title of the world’s tallest building until it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010. Despite that, it still finds itself firmly in the world’s top 10 tallest buildings.
Once you step inside, you’ll discover a bustling shopping mall, a food court, and an array of restaurants. Its most renowned feature, the external damper, is designed to counteract the building’s movement during earthquakes and high winds, ensuring stability and safety. Don’t forget to explore the observation decks on the 88th, 89th, and 91st floors for breathtaking views of the city.
Songshan Ciyou Temple
Taipei boasts numerous temples worth a place on your itinerary, but none are quite as visually striking as this one. This Taoist temple is considered one of the city’s most significant, and its multi-tiered structure is undeniably photogenic.
Constructed in the 18th century by immigrants from Fujian, it is dedicated to the god Yuesheng, revered for safeguarding against disasters and bestowing good fortune upon worshippers. With its intricate and colourful designs adorning every corner, this temple serves as a captivating introduction to the city’s religious heritage.
Additionally, its strategic location at the entrance to one of the city’s best night markets…
Raohe Street Night Market
Raohe Street Night Market is like a captivating journey through Taipei’s history, evoking the city’s rich culture with its traditional gates at the entrances and the iconic Songshan Ciyou Temple situated adjacent to it.
As you meander through its narrow lanes adorned with red lanterns and brimming with nostalgic charm, you’ll have the chance to savour a variety of local delicacies. Don’t overlook the must-try items, including the iconic black pepper buns, the mouthwatering beef noodle soup, and the crispy scallion pancakes, among other delectable offerings!
A comprehensive list of every temple worth adding to your itinerary around the Taiwanese capital – Taipei.
Day 4 in Taipei
Yangmingshan National Park
Further north of the city centre, you’ll encounter one of Taiwan’s most geothermally active areas!
Yangmingshan National Park, cherished for its breathtaking natural splendour, is abundant with stunning landscapes, picturesque mountain ranges, and, of course, natural hot springs. Moreover, within the park, you can observe active sulfur vents regularly emitting steam into the atmosphere. While you’re there, don’t forget to visit the impressive 20-meter-high Qixing Waterfall.
Beitou Hot Springs
Just on the city’s outskirts, Beitou is a well-known district celebrated for its iconic natural hot springs that have therapeutic properties. These hot springs owe their existence to the enduring geothermal activity beneath the surface, which has made this spot a cherished hangout spot for centuries.
Within the area, you’ll find a variety of hot spring resorts, offering everything from communal baths to opulent private rooms. What’s more, you can embark on an adventure fit for a superhero origin story by visiting Beitou Thermal Valley – a radioactive volcanic crater filled with steaming, mineral-rich hot water!
Want to explore Beitou? Check out The Ultimate Travel Itinerary: Beitou in 1 Day!
National Palace Museum
Towards the end of the Chinese Civil War, it wasn’t only the Republic of China government that relocated to Taiwan! Many precious artefacts that were once stored in Beijing’s Forbidden City were also transported to the island for safekeeping.
Today, the National Palace Museum boasts a collection exceeding 700,000 items, featuring exquisite jade carvings, intricate bronze vessels, masterful calligraphy and paintings, and invaluable rare books chronicling the ancient history of imperial China. This museum stands as a paramount repository of Chinese cultural heritage, drawing millions of visitors annually.
Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market stands as the largest and most iconic night market in Taipei, so worth a place on your itinerary! Within its maze-like streets, you’ll find a wide array of vendors and independent stores offering an eclectic assortment of goods.
But the delights extend far beyond just shopping. Navigate through the labyrinth of food stalls offering everything from oyster omelettes to stinky tofu (don’t let the name deter you!) This culinary wonderland has something for everyone, and you could easily spend your entire evening indulging in one mouthwatering delight after another!
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