Taiwan’s capital city—and the country’s biggest—is sometimes overlooked; many travelers simply connect in the airport on their way to other places in Asia. But this bustling city surrounded by forested mountains stands tall as a destination in its own right. From food-filled night markets to cultural sites to outdoor recreation, here are the must-see spots any visitor to Taipei should consider.
The volcanic mountains cradling Taipei offer a quick escape outside the city. For a longer day hike, visit
Yangmingshan National Park, home to numerous hot springs and Taiwan’s largest dormant volcano. If you want to stay in city limits, there’s plenty of volcanic activity to witness in Taipei itself. Head to Beitou Hot Springs, where numerous hotels and bathhouses have popped up around the natural, volcanic springs. There are gender-segregated soaking spots, and information about the history of the area in the free Beitou Hot Springs Museum. For a stroll, visit the Beitou Thermal Valley’s many walking paths that thread among volcanic hot spots.
Taipei is an incredible city for food lovers, and the city’s dedication to its culinary culture is certainly centered around its night markets. These sprawling collections of streetside vendors are iconic spots to eat and drink, and there are five worth checking out. Shulin Night Market is the city’s biggest, covering a staggering 12 acres with 400 vendors. Raohe Night Market is one of the most popular. There’s also the Tonghua Night Market, Snake Alley, and Ningxia Night Market. Keep an eye out for night market specialties like black pepper buns, oyster vermicelli, stinky tofu, and potato spirals.
Need some exercise after gorging on all that great food? Head to Elephant Mountain, where you can challenge your cardiovascular fitness by hiking the 600 steps to the summit. Come near sunset, when the day is hopefully starting to cool off, and you’ll be treated to views of the skyline illuminated by the setting sun. Stay til dark, and the city’s skyscrapers—especially the focal point, Taipei 101 Tower—glow and pulse with neon.
Taipei 101 Tower
If you’d rather ride an elevator to your viewpoint, hit the Taipei 101 Tower, the city’s tallest building. The high-speed elevators zip to the top, where you can take in all of Taipei’s skyline and its mountainous surroundings. The building opened in 2004, and held the title as the world’s tallest building until 2010. There’s a Din Tai Fung dumpling house located here, too—it’s one of the world’s most popular spots for fantastic xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, along with an array of other doughy delicacies.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
This modern complex has been transformed from its former life as a wine production facility and moth orchid breeding operation into a sprawling collection of craft vendors, artisans, cafes, and park space. Sprinkled among the maze-like pathways and courtyards are various performers, from musicians to sculptors and beyond. It’s the perfect place to wander shopping for souvenirs, trying locally brewed beer, and catching a performance.
National Palace Museum
As the Chinese Civil War raged (from 1929 to 1947), huge quantities of artifacts from Imperial China were ferried from the mainland to Taiwan. Now National Palace Museum in Taipei holds more than 70,000 of those items, ranging from tapestries to ceramics and beyond. The pieces span some 8,000 years of history represented here. The museum has free daily tours, including English-language tours, and audio guides that give in-depth descriptions of some of the standout pieces.