The Best Places to Eat, Stay, and Play on Your Next Trip to Taipei

Night markets. Seafood galore. World-class hikes. Here’s how to get the most out of your next trip to Taipei.

Taipei's Xinyi district, a popular shopping area, at night.

Taipei is perhaps best known for its thriving street food scene—but there’s so much more to love about Taiwan’s capital.

Photo by YAO23/Shutterstock

Located on the northern tip of Taiwan, Taipei, the country’s capital, is one of the most densely populated cities in Asia, with nearly 3 million people. Here, skyscrapers, tall condominium complexes, ancient temples, and winding streets lined with neon signs and snack carts blend effortlessly into the mountain basin surrounding the city.

In Taiwan, Taipei is considered the most cosmopolitan of the island’s municipalities and is home to a diverse mix of cultures and ethnicities that reflect the country’s tumultuous past. For most of Taiwan’s history, southern Tainan served as the capital city but in 1884, Taipei was selected as the provincial capital by the Qing Dynasty. When Japan invaded Taiwan in 1895, it expanded the city with hospitals, railways, public housing, and government administrative buildings. Taiwan was ceded to the Chinese Nationalist party after Japan’s defeat in World War II.

Then, in 1949, the Nationalists, on the tail end of a losing war with Communist forces, fled to Taiwan, bringing military members and officials from all over the mainland. This mass exodus helped bolster Taiwan’s iconic food culture, an amalgamation of traditional and Indigenous Taiwanese flavors, Japanese influences, and a mix of cuisines from China.

Today, visitors to Taipei can busy themselves with world-class museums, multistory complexes devoted to anime and manga, one of the world’s most interesting street food cultures, and arguably some of the most beautiful green spaces in Asia. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Taipei.

How to get around

Taipei has a highly developed and reliable subway system, known as Metro Taipei (or the MRT for short). At a kiosk, purchase a reloadable EasyCard to pay fares; you can also use the card to buy goodies at 7-Eleven and FamilyMart convenience stores.

The entrance to Raohe Night Market in Taipei Taiwan

Raohe Night Market is one of the oldest and largest night markets in Taipei.

Photo by r.nagy/Shutterstock

Where to eat

Addiction Aquatic Development
Location: No. 18, Alley 2, Lane 410, Minzu E. Rd., Zhongshan District

For seafood lovers, Addiction Aquatic Development is a must-visit stop in Taipei. AAD is completely devoted to all things seafood: There are multiple restaurants and independently owned food stalls as well as a marketplace where visitors can buy assorted fish, fresh fruits and veggies, and sauces made out of things like scallops and squid. Some highlights of the expansive complex include a make-your-own sushi bento counter called To-Go Bento, Le Peng, a hot pot restaurant that relies on seasonal ingredients, and Fruit Selections, fruit and beverage stand that serves fresh juices as well as desserts.

Fu Hang Dou Jiang
Location: 2/F-28, No. 108, Section 1, Zhongxiao East Road

Taiwanese breakfast consists of simple dishes: there will usually be soy milk—diners will have the choice between sweet soy milk or a salty, savory variety that involves dried shrimp and a smattering of green onions, a stick of youtiao (an airy piece of fried dough, also known as a Chinese cruller), a rolled egg or scallion pancake, and a sesame flat bread. One of the most popular places in Taipei to enjoy an early morning snack is Fu Han Dou Jiang, in the Zhongzheng District; it is most famous for its doujiang or soy milk. But go early—the wait can sometimes take up to two hours.

Raohe Night Market
Location: Raohe St., Songshan District

There’s perhaps no better way to get a sampling of Taiwanese food more cheaply and in a more fun way than by visiting a night market, street markets that operate solely at night and are devoted to eating and drinking. One of the most popular options in Taipei is Raohe, which is easily accessible by MRT and is also one of the oldest night markets in the city. Here, diners will find a staggering amount of stalls to choose from. Don’t miss out on the Michelin-recommended buns at Fuzhou Black Pepper Bun. Also, look for stands selling savory oyster omelets and fried stinky tofu (fermented tofu that’s fried until crispy and served with sweet pickled cabbage).

A group of geysers at Yangmingshan National Park

Yangmingshan is home to sulfuric springs, geysers, and the tallest mountain in Taiwan, Qixing.

Photo by Ohanaphotography/Shutterstock

What to do

Visit Yangmingshan National Park
Location: 5HV6+M9 Beitou District

Taiwan has nine national parks, but one of the most accessible is Yangmingshan National Park, roughly nine miles north of Taipei. Yangmingshan, which was named the world’s first Urban Quiet Park in 2020, features the island’s tallest dormant volcano, Qixing, and hot springs and fumaroles (volcanic vents where sulfurous gasses emerge). Visit the park in late winter to see camellia flowers and plum blossoms and in the spring for flowering cherry trees, azaleas, and hydrangeas.

Browse the National Palace Museum
Location: No. 221, Sec. 2, Zhi Shan Rd., Shilin District

More than 700,000 Chinese paintings, porcelain pottery pieces, and artifacts fill the National Palace Museum, whose collection spans more than 8,000 years of Chinese history. (Many artworks were taken from cultural institutions across mainland China when Chinese Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949.) Two of the most viewed pieces are the Jadeite Cabbage and Meat-Shaped Stone, famous for their uncanny, lifelike appearances.

Take a day trip to Beitou

Ride Metro Taipei’s red line until the Xinbeitou stop to reach the famous hot springs district of Beitou. It offers travelers public baths as well as high-end, Japanese-style resorts for enjoying the naturally warm, skin-nourishing water. Bonus: The design-forward Beitou Public Library—Taiwan’s first “green” library—offers a quiet place to relax after a long day of sightseeing.

The front facade of the Grand Hotel in Taipei

The Grand Hotel is one of the most legendary hotels in Taipei.

Photo by FenlioQ/Shutterstock

Where to stay

The Grand Hotel
Location: No. 1, Sec. 4, Zhongshan N. Rd., Zhongshan District
Book now

With its Chinese-style facade and eye-catching golden yellow roof, the Grand Hotel is hard to miss. Established by Chinese Nationalist and former president Chiang Kai-shek and his wife Soong Mei-ling in 1952 as a place to host foreign dignitaries, the hotel has seen the likes of Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Nelson Mandela as guests. The property is located a convenient, 15-minute walk from Shilin Night Market, one of the city’s most popular nighttime haunts.

Eslite Hotel
Location: No. 98, Yanchang Rd., Xinyi District
Book now

The Eslite bookstore chain, founded in 1989, today has 44 stores in Taiwan. It’s most famous for founding the world’s first 24-hour bookstore, but in 2015, the brand opened its first hotel—designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito—in the Xinyi District of Taipei near Songshan Cultural & Creative Park. In addition to a 5,000-book library that visitors can peruse, guests can expect high ceilings, art from local artists, and minimalist (but elegant) design in each of the hotel’s 104 rooms.

Mandarin Oriental, Taipei
Location: No. 158, DunHua N. Rd., Songshan District
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Located on busy Dunhua North Road, the Mandarin Oriental, Taipei is sited on the edge of the city’s bustling business neighborhood, the Xinyi District, where the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Taipei 101 reside. The Mandarin Oriental has 303 rooms and suites, a two-floor spa, and six restaurants to choose from, including the Michelin-starred eatery Ya Ge, which serves up traditional Chinese cuisine made with locally grown produce.

Shangri-La Far Eastern, Taipei
Location: No. 201, Sec. 2, Dunhua S. Rd., Da’an District
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This Shangri-La is the tallest hotel in the city, clocking in at 43 stories. Originally constructed in 1994, the building underwent a complete renovation in 2015. It has 420 rooms, nine bars and restaurants (including the Michelin-approved Shang’s Palace), a rooftop swimming pool, and dazzling views of Taipei from its upper floors.

Mae Hamilton is a former associate editor at Afar. She covers all things related to arts, culture, and the beautiful things that make travel so special.
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