I was fortunate enough to be able to travel from Okinawa to Taiwan on a conservative budget and manage to see and do a lot on our four day trip. As soon as we arrived we hit the ground running and had a great time in Taipei.
Taipei is cheap, the train system is easy to use and there are lots of things to see, do and eat while touring this entertaining city.
Just be sure to pack-light, wear your best walking shoes and have an open mind to try some unusual goodies while out and about. The night markets, especially, have a wide assortment to choose from.
I highly recommend checking out the following places if you want to enjoy Taipei as much as we did.
Day one –
- Zhongzheng Memorial Hall
- Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
It is very easy to get to here as the metro system will bring you directly on site. Plan to spend about an hour here and don’t miss out on the changing of the guards ceremony which happens at the end of every hour.
- National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine
Much like Zhongzheng Memorial Hall, the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine features a changing of the guards ceremony every hour. The grounds to this area is beautiful but it is much more difficult to get here as you will have to use the metro system, hop on a city bus for several stops and then you have to walk the rest of the way. It’s totally worth the whole commute however.
- Shilin Nightmarket
This is Taipei’s most popular night market. It wasn’t my personal favorite night market but it is a place worth checking out. It is definitely the largest night market in Taipei. There are a number of clothing stores, a lot of food stalls, an arcade/game area and of course lots and lots of people.
- Modern Toilet Restaurant
That’s right, we had to include the famous Modern Toilet Restaurant to our list! If you make it out to Shilin Market be sure to stop by at this weird restaurant. It’s right across the street on the main strip from the Shilin Market area, just look up and you’ll see a porcelain toilet inviting you in. Unlike the night markets and street food stalls this place isn’t cheap. We each had to order something and decided on ordering this toilet bowl ice cream, these things are huge. We couldn’t even finish half of one!!
That was all of day one’s activities. We arrived at about 10 a.m and made our way into the city via the KuoKuang Motor Transport (city trains aren’t linked to the airport yet) from the airport to Taipei station downtown. Be sure to buy a 48 hr or 36 hr all access metro pass at the Taipei station once arriving. It’ll save you a few bucks for sure.
In total we spent under $20 for all of day one’s activities.
Day two –
- National Palace Museum
This place is awesome. It was by far the most extensive museum I have been to in east Asia. There are three floors full of fascinating artifacts and exhibits. You can spend the whole day here and still feel like you didn’t see everything.
- Longshan Temple
The Longshan Temple is a working and active temple where you can see burning incense and people praying.
Activity three and four:
- Huashi Street Night Market
- Lungshan Temple
Huashi Street Night Market and Lungshan Temple are near each other don’t miss your chance to check these places out. Huashi Street Night Market is in a covered area and offers its guest many oddities to see, buy and eat. If you are in the mood to try some snake then consider this place as there are a number of restaurants serving fresh snake to munch on. But of course it won’t be cheap. Lungshan Temple is an active temple with visitors at every hour.
In total we spent about $25 for all of day two’s activities.
Day three –
- Taipei zoo
I love going to the zoo and this place was incredible. The entrance fee was only $2.50 and it was the best zoo I have been to in a while. The eateries within the zoo don’t jack-up the prices like other places do so that was really nice too. I suggest jumping on the zoo train when you arrive and make your way down from the opposite side to conserve your walking feet. There is so much to see. The Taipei Zoo was by far one of my most favorite place to check out on this trip.
Activity two –
- Raohe Night Market
My favorite of the night markets was the Raohe Street Night Market. Things you must try here are the black pepper pork buns, angus beef cubes and pork rib soup. And if you are feeling daring try out the stinky tofu. Just as the name implies stinky tofu is stinky, to get an idea what it smells like imagine the good smell of a newborn baby mixed with the smell of a dirty diaper and voila – stinky tofu!
- Elephant mountain
I have to admit I underestimated how tough this climb up the mountain would be. After a long day at the zoo and dinner at the Raohe Night Market we were exhausted and the climb up this mountain with the many strangely shaped steps made for a really long day. But the view of the Taipei 101 from the top was awesome. If you brave this climb be sure to go all the way to the top for the best view. This climb is definitely not for the faint of heart.
In total we spent about $20 on all of day three’s activities.
Day four –
- Taipei 101
The Taipei 101 was once the tallest building in the world but that is no longer true. It is however the fastest elevator ride in the world. For $15 you can ride the elevator to the top. The super fast elevator moves from the fifth floor to the 89th-floor observatory in just 37 seconds. You are then greeted by a 7-ton damper that is placed within the structure to prevent any high wind damage. From the top floors you are able to see a full 360 degree landscape of the city. Though I had a good time, I got vertigo while up at the top and had to get myself back to ground level to enjoy the rest of the day.
- Ximending shopping area and souvenirs
For our last activity we decided to take in the last bit of the city as we had to make our way back to Okinawa early that evening. We strolled around the busiest shopping area in Taipei until we had to take the bus back to the airport from Taipei station. We originally had plans to go to Guandu Temple after Taipei 101 but we opted on not going in fear of missing our flight.
In total we spent about $40 for all of day four’s activities.