Exploring the city of night markets and other cheap thrills
Only a short flight from Hong Kong (approx. 1 hour 30 minutes), the capital of Taiwan is a melting pot of Japanese, Chinese, and Western influences in its food, architecture, and culture. And with night markets and food vendors scattered around the city, it has become a go-to destination for tourists that want to go on the ultimate food trip.
When planning a trip to Taipei, with all the foodie musts to explore, it’s best to do your research and list down all the restaurants you want to try. But just in case you need a point in the right direction, here’s a little itinerary—filled with sightseeing spots and lots of food—to get you going!
First, a few tips:
- The whole city is connected via the metro system, so it’s easy to move around from district to district.
- Arrange for a transfer from the airport to your hotel to avoid getting scammed by cabs.
- Night markets are the place to be for delicious food and cheap thrills!
- Be adventurous with food. Don’t be afraid to try dishes like raw garlic with sausages—we assure you, it was delicious!
- Ask your hotel concierge to help you write down addresses if you’re using a taxi.
- There are many useful travel apps to download when exploring other countries. We used CityMaps2Go.
- Don’t bother signing up for a data plan when you’re abroad, Wi-Fi in Taipei is like candy, free and available everywhere.
- Get your money changed in the airport, it is difficult to find a money changer within the city.
- If you’re into skin care—especially face masks—they sell them everywhere around Ximending.
- For each place you decide to explore, figure out which MRT station you should get off at before heading out.
Start your day early and check out a big part of Taiwan’s history in the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial. It has a scenic view perfect for your #OOTDs and tourist photos.
Station: Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
If you love animals, the Taipei Zoo is your best bet. Prepare to walk for 4+ hours to see all the animals, from desert animals to tropical rainforest species, to insects! Plus, if you’re not afraid of heights, take a ride on the Maokong Gondola to get a 360 view from above.
Entrance fee: NT$60
Station: Taipei Zoo
Prepare your pockets for the Shilin Night Market! It’s more commercialised than the other night markets, but you’ll find a lot of random trinkets and cheap buys here. Head to the food court area and try Hot Star Fried Chicken, as well as other Taiwanese delicacies.
Station: Jiantan and follow the signs to Shilin Night Market.
After a day of vigorous walking, stroll around Songshan Cultural and Creative Park for a more relaxed start to your day. Grab a cup of coffee and check out the exhibitions and performances going on inside the park.
Station: Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall and take Exit 5.
Watch the sunset from Taipei 101’s observatory and get a view of Taipei from one of the tallest buildings in the world!
Entrance fee to observatory: NT$500
Station: Taipei 101
A strictly food night market, the Ningxia Night Market is loved and suggested by most locals. Make sure to get the dumplings and some soup to warm yourself up, because just a few steps away is Milk Beard. Try their homemade whiskey and milk soft serve ice cream!
Station: Shuanglian Station and take Exit 1.
Eat & Drink:
Before leaving for Taipei, I was excited about one thing: THE FOOD. Street food, hot pot, coffee, dimsum, noodles, you name it! So schedule a lot of eating time and explore the streets like a travel show host would! Just a suggestion, though, when deciding where to eat, go where there are a lot of people—you can never go wrong with a long line!
Elixir Health Pot 無老鍋
One of the best meals during my visit (aside from the street food), Elixir Health Pot has the perfect recipe of herbal broth and spicy broth. Don’t forget to order their famous Tofu Ice Cream—which isn’t really ice cream—and add it to your white broth. It was so delicious that I’ll never forget it!
Station: Zhongxiao Xinsheng
Address: No. 124, Section 1, Xinsheng S Road.
Addiction Aquatic Development 上引水產
I know we’re in Taiwan, but when a market imports all sorts of fish from Japan every week, how can you resist? Waiting for a table in the sushi bar can take up to 30 minutes, good thing they have a bar where you can drink sake to make the wait bearable.
Station: Xing Tian Temple Station then take a cab and show the address below.
Beef Noodle Soup
This particular dish is famous all around Taiwan, so it’s something you can’t miss! Ask your hotel concierge for suggestions as opinions on the best Beef Noodle Soup may vary.
Din Tai Fung
Even though we have several branches in HK, a trip to Taipei is never complete until you’ve eaten where Din Tai Fung’s famous xiao long bao originated. Depending on what time of day you get there, waiting time can last around 20-30 minutes. Don’t forget to splurge on their famous Truffle Xiao Long Bao, so worth it!
Station: Dongmen Station and take Exit 5.
Address: No. 194, Section 2, Xinyi Rd.
Similar to English pubs, The Revolver serves up Taiwanese craft beer on tap as well as classic cocktails. This is the perfect place to make friends with locals, so don’t forget to ask them about hidden gems you should check out while you’re in their turf!
Station: Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial
Where to Stay:
Ximen station is where all the metro lines meet, so as much as possible book a hotel in the area or near the MRT for convenient transportation. Depending on how much you are willing to shell out, Ximen has a lot of hotels ranging from budget to mid-range to high.
With this quick guide, we’re sure you’ll enjoy a quick getaway to Taipei!
Featured image © Roland Nagy | Dreamstime.com – Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, Taipei – Taiwan