Things to do in Taipei and Taiwan

Things to Do in Taipei

If you are not from Taipei, you may wish to take advantage of this conference as an opportunity to see the city of Taipei and the country of Taiwan. Taipei Tech’s convenient location means that you are within a short MRT ride, a YouBike ride, or a long walk from many of Taipei’s monuments, parks, and museums. Many of you may also wish to try some of Taipei’s Night Markets. (As you plan, you may wish to look at this MRT map, remembering that Taipei Tech is at the intersection of the yellow and blue lines.

Other interesting places within the greater Taipei area (and beyond) are listed below, with places close to Taipei Tech listed first. To immediately see your options for travel outside the city, click here.

For current cultural events and exhibitions in Taipei, explore a few of the following websites: AngloInfo’s “What’s On” page, Eventful (scroll down to see events divided into categories), and the Ministry of Culture’s website.

Book history scholars may also be interested in sites specifically related to book history.

Click here for information on restaurants near Taipei Tech.

If you happen to be traveling to Taipei with children, you may appreciate the website A Toddler in Taipei, which offers recommendations of places to visit with children ages 0–12.

Long Walks or Short MRT Rides from Taipei Tech: 

Da’an Park: A twenty-minute walk south of the school (taking Xinsheng or Jianguo Road), Da’an Park is a great option for a walk or jog. You may also see people playing croquet; doing Tai Chi; dancing in groups; or photographing herons, five-color birds (Taiwan barbets), and turtles. Da’an Park is also served by the red line on the MRT, and is within a ten-minute walk east from Dongmen Station on the yellow line.

Jianguo Holiday Flower Market and Jade Market: On Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., these markets take over the parking lots under an elevated road. To arrive, turn left (east) on Zhongxiao road as you exit the campus, and turn right on Jianguo South road. Continue to walk for seven minutes or so to Ren Ai Road, which divides the Jade Market from the Flower Market. While the flower market mainly sells cut flowers, houseplants, herbs, shrubs, and trees, you can sometimes find fresh fruits and vegetables, mochi, honey, etc. You can also buy vases, pots and ceramics, gardening supplies, carved wooden boxes, and other items.

Yongkang Street: Located directly next to Dongmen Station (one stop on the yellow line from Taipei Tech), Yongkang street and its parallel street Lishui are excellent locations for finding dinner, mango ice, tea (either bubble tea or a more traditional teahouse), and small shops with postcards, ceramics, and other souvenirs. Kao Chi (est. 1949) is a less crowded alternative for xiao long bao and other dishes to Xinyi Road’s Din Tai Fung. If you don’t mind a thirty-minute walk, you can also get to Yongkang street by going south on Xinsheng Road, crossing Xingyi Road (you will see Da’an Park ahead and Taipei 101 in the distance to your left) and turning right. Yongkang street is the first stop light on Xinyi Road after Xinsheng Road.

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall: If you pass Yongkang street and continue walking west on Xinyi Road, after about twenty minutes you will arrive at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. (You can also arrive much faster from the school by MRT). In addition to the memorial, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is also home to a park with a pond and koi fish and to the National Theater and Concert Hall.

The Taipei Botanical Garden, which contains more than 2000 plant species and occupies 8.2 hectares, is within walking distance of Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial hall (and its MRT station) or equally close to Xiaonanmen station. It is also located behind the National Museum of History.

Places you can reach by MRT: 

On the Blue Line:

Longshan Temple: Located on the blue line, about a twenty-minute ride to the west of Zhongxiao-Xinsheng station, Longshan Temple was founded in 1738, though the current building was rebuilt in 1919. It is located in Taipei’s oldest district, Wanhua District (also known as Monga). The district is home to Snake Alley (a night market). It is best to go in a group if you visit the neighborhood at night.

The Lin Family Garden and Mansion is a little further west on the blue line, at Fuzhong Station. Built in the mid-1800s, it is famous for its use of traditional Chinese garden architecture.

If you go east on the blue line from the school (rather than west), you can easily get to Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, where you can walk in the plaza, around the pond, or into the hall (to see the elaborate changing of the guard). You will have a good view of the nearby Taipei 101, which can be reached more directly by the red line (a few stations beyond Da’an Park station). Sun Yat-Sen station is also the closest station to the Puppetry Art Center of Taipei.

On the Brown Line:

One station to the east of Taipei Tech on the blue line is Zhongxiao-Fuxing station, where you can transfer to the brown line. At the end of this line is the large Taipei Zoo, which you can enter (using your MRT easy card) for 60 NT ($2 U.S.). From the same station, you can take the Maokong Gondola up into the mountains, where you can visit various teahouses and see tea growing on the mountainside.

On the Red Line:

On the far eastern side of the red line are Taipei 101 and Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain). The views of the city on a short hike up Elephant Mountain are impressive, but the hike itself is made up of almost continuous stair-climbing, so you do need to be fit.

Also on the red line, at National Taiwan University Hospital Station (one stop from Taipei Main Station), is 2-28 Peace Park, which commemorates the 2-28 massacre, and the National Taiwan Museum. To the north of Taipei Main station is Shuanglian station, the stop closest to Taipei Eye, a tourist’s taster of Chinese Opera. (Take exit two.) Going further north on the red line, at Yuanshan Station, you can visit the Taipei Fine Arts Museum or visit the Taipei Confucius Temple. Less than a kilometer to the east of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum is the Lin An Tai Historical home, the oldest residence in Taipei (built 1783–85 and moved to its present position in 1983).

One station beyond Yuanshan Station is Jiantan Station, the point of access to the Shilin night market. Beyond that is Shilin station, from where you can conveniently take a bus to Taiwan’s most famous museum, the National Palace Museum.

Even further north on the red line (allow an hour or so) are Beitou and Danshui.

Danshui (Tamsui), at the northernmost stop on the red line, is well known in Taiwan both for its history and, today, as a quick escape from Taipei. Most tourists will wander along along the river and/or Danshui’s Old Street, snacking on fried squid, quail eggs, iron eggs, traditional Taiwanese wedding cakes, mochi, pineapple cakes, and other xiaochi. Some tourists may also be interested in seeing George Mackay’s Church or visiting Fort San Domingo (built 1642), which was held by the Spanish and Dutch, and the neighboring former British Consular Residence (built 1891). Danshui can be quite crowded on the weekend.

Note: Danshui has an additional surcharge of 30 NT for taxi rides.

Xinbeitou, one transfer stop from Beitou, is famous for its hot springs. Although May is not the traditional season for hot springs, you may still enjoy visiting. You can also see Thermal Valley (a boiling natural hot spring), the fascinating and free Beitou Hotsprings Museum (housed in Taiwan’s first public bathhouse, which was built in 1913 under Japanese imperial rule), Puji Temple, or the Beitou Museum (previously the Taiwan Folk Arts Museum and housed in a former hot spring hotel that at one point served future Kamikaze pilots).

On the Green Line:

If you would like to visit hot springs without the usual sulfur smell, you should take the green line all the way down to Xindian and then get bus 849 to Wulai. Wulai is also known for its Old Street, its waterfall, and the Wulai Atayal Museum.

Daytrips from Taipei by Bus: 

Options for Taipei day trips include hiking at Yangmingshan or taking the bus to Yehliu Geopark. It is fairly easy to get to Yangmingshan National Park by bus (either from Taipei or Beitou); however traffic is often extremely slow, particularly on weekends or during rush hour. To get to the equally popular Yehliu, you can take bus 1815 from Zhongxiao Road (the bus picks up passengers on the opposite side of the street from Taipei Tech). A one-way bus trip will take a bit longer than an hour and will take you to the shore of the ocean where you can see numerous interesting rock formations, including the Queen’s Head, the Fairy Slipper, and candle-shaped rocks.

You may wish to take a slightly longer trip to Jiufen, a Japanese-influenced mountain village that became more prosperous after the 1893 gold rush. Jiufen was the filming location of A City of Sadness (1989) and also served as place inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2001). There are no hotels in Jiufen, though there are guest houses, but many visitors think the town is most beautiful after dark. (However, Jiufen is a small town and closes up early–Old Street may close by seven, and it may be hard to get dinner after eight.) On the weekends, Jiufen may be quite crowded. Nearby Jinguashi is also of interest. It is an old gold mining area that also served as a forced-labor camp for Allied POWs during WWII. In addition to the Museum of Gold, there is also the Crown Prince [of Japan] Chalet and a Japanese Shinto Shrine. To get to Jiufen, you can take the bus from Zhongxiao Fuxing station on the brown line. This blog describing Jiufen explains the travel options.

Longer Trips: 

The West Coast

If you wish to go further afield, you may take the high-speed rail south to Taichung, Tainan, or Kaohsiung (and from there perhaps onward to the crowded and popular Kenting National Park or the island of Xiao Liuqiu). You may wish to visit other Taiwanese islands during your stay as well.

Of the cities on the express high-speed rail route (Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung), Tainan is particularly of interest due to its position as the oldest city in Taiwan. The Confucian Temple there was built in 1665, and other notable temples include Dongyue Hall (1673), devoted to Yuedi, king of the underworld, and the City God Temple. You may also visit Anping Fort (formerly the Dutch Fort Zeelandia) and Koxinga’s Shrine, or the National Museum of Taiwanese Literature. Many other travelers visit Tainan for the food; Tainan’s night markets are particularly well known. You will need to think about transportation in Tainan, as many of the locals travel by scooter. Walking, bike rental, bus, and taxi rides are possible, but finding a taxi or the right bus is not always convenient for non-Mandarin/non-Taiwanese speakers, and you will probably need to have a map and Chinese address. If you have an international driver’s license and are brave, you can rent a scooter near the HSR station.

The East Coast and Central Taiwan

The east coast, known for its natural beauty, is less accessible than the west coast, but travelers will tell you it is worth the trip. You may wish to travel by regular train to Hualien and Taroko Gorge in Taroko National Park, one of the most beautiful places in Taiwan, or to visit Yilan, another popular destination. Other travelers will be interested in the mountainous scenery of the landlocked Nantou county and its most famous attraction, Sun Moon Lake. You will need to travel to Nantou by bus or car.

Beyond Taiwan

If you would like to visit other countries in the region before or after the conference, you may wish to know that Tokyo is a three-hour flight from Taiwan, and Seoul, South Korea is two-and-a-half hours away. Both are points of transfer for many airlines with flights from the United States. Hong Kong, also a common transfer point, is an hour from Taipei by plane. Shanghai is two hours away, and Beijing is a bit fewer than four. A flight to Manila in the Philippines will take a little longer than two hours. Hanoi, Vietnam is three hours by plane, and a flight to Bangkok, Thailand, sometimes a transfer point for flights from Europe, takes about three-and-a-half hours. Singapore is four-and-a-half hours from Taipei, and a flight to Bali, Indonesia will take about five hours.