101 things to do in Taipei

Taipei is a city just bursting with things to do [and see, and eat!] though I've visited a few times over my expat years, now that I live here I'm ready to dig in and explore what this city has to offer. in the interest of staying organized - and because I have a deep love of lists - I've compiled and categorized 101 things to be done in the Taipei area.

and as a bonus - at the bottom I have links to websites and blogs where you can find more information and even MORE things to be done in Taipei.

my list is heavy on hiking and mountains to climb [mostly in Yangmingshan National Park] because I live nearby and well... I have a thing for mountains. but there are plenty of city activities as well. though I've already checked a few of these off [links included where applicable] you can go ahead and consider this my Taipei bucket list for the next few years.

things to do in Taipei | visit the impressively sized Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

buildings and monuments

Lin An Tai Ancestral Home
Taipei 101
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall
Grand Hotel
Taipei Film House
National Martyr's Shrine
Fort Santo Domingo
Lin Family Mansion and Garden
Beitou Public Library
Chiang Kai-Shek Shilin Residence
Plum Garden
Taipei Guest House
The Red House


National Palace Museum
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Suho Memorial Paper Culture Museum
Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei
Beitou Hot Springs Museum
Taipei Astronomical Museum
Shung Ye Museum
National Museum of History
Miniatures Museum of Taiwan
Museum of Drinking Water
National Taiwan Museum
Taiwan Folk Arts Museum

things to do in Taipei | incredible landscapes at Yehliu Geopark

parks and gardens

Yehliu Geopark
Zhishan Ecological Garden
Taipei Zoo
Maokong Tea Plantations and Gondola
Yangmingshan National Park
Daan Forest Park
Xinsheng Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
Taipei Botanical Gardens
228 Peace Park

events and festivals

Taiwan Lantern Festival
Dragon Boat Festival
Pingxi Lantern Festival
Chinese New Year
New Year's Eve Fireworks at Taipei 101
Yangmingshan Calla Lilly Festival

things to do in Taipei | visit the dragons at Longshan Temple
things to do in Taipei | explore the many temples in the city, decorated with colorful dragons

temples to see

Quingshui Temple
Bao'an Temple
Longshan Temple
Taipei Confucious Temple
Xingtian Temple
Zhishan Huiji Temple
Guandu Temple
Beitou Puji Temple
Zhinan Temple
Songshan Ciyou Temple

mountains and hikes

Elephant Mountain/ Four Beasts Trail
Xiaotzukeng Old Trail
Tianmu Trail
Mount Shamao Trail
Juansi Waterfall Trail
Jinmianshan/ Little Gold Face Mountain
Teapot Mountain
Lion's Head Mountain
Dalunwei and Daluntou Hiking Trails
Guanyin Mountain
Xianjiyan Hiking Trail
Menghuan Pond Trail
Battleship Rock
Pingding Historical Canal
Caoling Old Trail and Wankengtou Mountain
Jinbaoli Trail
Qingtiangang Circular Trail
Jiantan Mountain Trail
Qixingshan/ Seven Star Mountain
Erziping Trail
Da Tun Shan Hiking Trail
Mount Miantian
Mount Caigongkeng Trail
Zhong Zhen Shan Hiking Trail
Mount Ding and Mount Shiti Trail

things to do in Taipei | escape the city with a refreshing trip to Wulai Waterfall

waterfalls and geothermal activity

Xiaoyoukeng Recreation Area
Wulai Waterfall
Lengshuikeng/ Milk Lake
Shengren Waterfall
Beitou Thermal "Hell" Valley
Shifen Waterfall
Sandiaoling Waterfalls
Longfenggu Geothermal Area
Yuemeikeng Waterfall

night markets

Raohe Street Night Market
Shilin Market
Miaokou Night Market - Keelung
Ningxia Market
Jade and Flower Market
Wufenpu Market

neighborhoods to wander

Juifen Old Town
Bopiliao Ancient Street
Dihua Street
Dadaocheng Wharf
Ximending Shopping District
Bitan Scenic Area
Danshui/ Tamsui Waterfront

things to do in Taipei | explore markets by day and by night

this is by no means a complete list of things to do in Taipei... I actually had to stop myself from adding more. I tried to stick with items I could find information on by a simple google search, and of course things that I legitimately want to see and do. I also left out things like "hot springs" and "eat beef noodle soup" because while these are great things to do, there are a LOT of options. I considered adding restaurants and food to try, but that would have been enough for a book.

and of course I promised you some resource links. there is actually quite a bit of information out there, but sometimes tracking down what you want can be tough. I've mentioned before that the romanization of names in Taiwan is not standardized [multiple spellings of the same word i.e.: Mount Cising / Mount Qixing] and some sites refer to places as a literal translation [ie: Seven Star Mountain.] I've done my best to eliminate any duplicates, and to give you a spelling/translation that will bring up some good results. the list below includes sites and blogs I've visited both in the past and during the compilation of this post. again, there are many more helpful sites out there, but this is a sampling of what has been most useful for me.

things to do in Taipei | get a top-notch view of the city from the Taipei 101 observation deck

where to find information [in English]

Taiwan's tourism website
Yangmingshan National Park
Guide to Taipei
Trip Advisor
Lonely Planet

informative expat blogs

Taiwan Photography Blog
Lao Ren Cha
The Daily Bubble Tea
Hiking Taiwan
Hungry Girl's Guide to Taipei
Taiwan Adventures Online Guide
and about a thousand others.

I hope this post will be helpful for anyone living in or planning a visit to Taipei! please let me know if you have any questions, I'd love to help. if you've been to Taipei before - what was your favorite thing? did I miss anything on my list? 


Lake Tekapo // hiking Mount John

trail marker on Mount John

the journey to the summit of Mount John was not one we had planned to take.

the rain was pouring as we pulled into our campground along the shores of Lake Tekapo. I quickly rushed inside to check us in, and the man at the desk made mention of a hike we might like to attempt, if the weather cleared. we already planned to visit the famous Church of the Good Shepherd, but a hike above the crowds of bus-riding tourists sounded like a worthwhile addition to our itinerary.

and it was.

mountain views from the summit of Mount John
spotting Lake Tekapo from the trail on Mt John
Lake Tekapo and the trail on Mt John

we climbed up, and up, and up through the forest. the moment we stopped for a break and I could see the blinding blue of Lake Tekapo below, I knew it was going to be worth it. we broke through the treeline and I could see across the golden hills to the mountains in the distance - I almost wanted to cry. this was the New Zealand we had come to see.

beautiful blue Lake Tekapo
at the summit of Mount John

from the top of Mt John, in the blazing afternoon sunlight, the blue of Lake Tekapo looks unreal. in my research on this lake, I had seen photos and not quite believed them. [Pinterest has fooled me one too many times.] but it's really this lovely shade of aqua, I swear to you.

we followed the trail along the back side of the summit, rounding to the front and finding a crop of rocks just made for lounging. Husband says this was one of his favorite moments from our entire trip, and I can't really disagree.

when in New Zealand, from time to time you must accept your Husband will pull off his wedding band and do a Gollum impression. and as payment for interrupting his mountaintop reverie to take pictures, you must promise to post his precious his photo on your blog.

this day - and our visit to Lake Tekapo in general - was one of my favorite parts of our entire three week NZ trip. I would highly recommend taking a hike up to the summit of Mount John [and I hear it's even more gorgeous to visit the observatory to watch the sky by night.] thank you for the suggestion, Mr Random Guy who works at the Lake Tekapo holiday park. I'm so glad we decided to be adventurous and take your advice, because it led us to this amazing place.

Mount John summit hike, Lake Tekapo NZ


travel by iPhone: Zhishan + Huiji Temple

archway leading to Huiji Temple, Zhishan Taipei
red lanterns and stairway leading to Huiji Temple, Zhishan Taipei

while dragons and mountains are some of my favorite Taiwan sightings... I'm also a sucker for red lanterns. so imagine my joy when I discovered that the "hike" to the Huiji Temple in Zhishan Park involved a winding staircase up a mountain, guarded by dragon carvings, and lined with bright red beacons guiding the way.

red lanterns and stairway leading to Huiji Temple, Zhishan Taipei

I actually came into the park the wrong way - or at least the less scenic one. the park is shaped like a squished half-circle, and I entered from the north side along the curve [near the hospital.] I climbed some plain stone steps before reaching the top and spotting the temple roof through the trees. as I wandered closer, I found the lantern-lined stairway and followed it down.

red lanterns and stairway leading to Huiji Temple, Zhishan Taipei

for a more impressive first look, I would suggest entering the park by the gateway on the southwest. that's where you'll spot the giant archway. the steps heading up were numbered, but by the time I had gone all the way down and then made it to the top again, I forgot to look and see how far I'd climbed.

related: there are no pictures of me in this post because I was way too sweaty. trust me, you don't need to see that.

Chi Shan Yen gate, Taipei
entrance to Huiji Temple, Taipei

along the stairs you will pass under the old stone Chi-Shan-Yen Gate. fun fact about the romanization of traditional characters into Pinyin words in Taiwan: the spellings are not standardized under a single system. [let me oversimplify by telling you it's for political reasons.] the result is a bit confusing. Chi-Shan and Zhishan are actually the same word, though you will see it spelled both ways depending on what map or road sign you look at.

regardless, it's a cool looking gate. according to the sign nearby, it dates back to 1825 and was one of four used to defend the area during a conflict among Chinese immigrants in the area. going up past the gate an many more lanterns, the stairway emerges at the entrance to the Huiji Temple. guarded by, of course, dragons and a scrolling digital marquee.

Huiji Temple, Zhishan Taipei
roofline of Huiji Temple, Zhishan Taipei

there were a few things that kept me from exploring the temple in more detail. one, I was only armed with my iPhone and the battery was at 12%. two, there was either construction or typhoon damage repair going on and it was tough to navigate the barricades and piles of materials. three, some kind of event was happening [involving chanting and a processional around the area] and I didn't want to be that annoying intrusive tourist. also, I was distracted by a cat for a few minutes.

needless to say - I will be returning on a sunnier day, armed with a zoom lens and more battery power.

view of Tianmu from Zhishan, Taipei

on the way out I made a detour down another trail, in hopes of an epic mountain-and-city view. the visibility was not great, and there were branches blocking most of the mountains. [maybe next time I should also bring tree trimmers?] it was definitely not the most photogenic day.

regardless, it was fun to explore this colorful little mountain park and get to see a new view of my neighborhood. for those coming from the MRT, the park is only a 15 minute walk west of Zhishan Station.
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