Among the best things to do in Taipei are words like “biggest”, “best” and “first” – the city is a world-leader in many ways. There’s also a lot of variety, ensuring that most types of tourist will find something to see and do, whether you like to take in a stunning view, enjoy a restful day at the spa, learn something new about a different country or culture, or see rare and unusual animals or artefacts.
Make sure you don’t miss out on the top attractions listed below, which represent the biggest and best that Taipei has to offer and should be at the top of any visitor’s bucket list. Fortunately, with a first-class public transport network, it is pretty easy to tick off most of the list. The hardest part will be dragging yourself away from each in order to see the next.
Taipei 101Enjoy the view from the top
Formerly holding the title of world’s tallest building, Taipei 101 is a cultural marvel as well as an architectural one. It incorporates traditional design aspects from Chinese culture, resembling a hugely up-scaled version of a pagoda. Located at the heart of the financial district of the city, Taipei 101 is home to a world-class shopping mall, featuring luxury goods, fashion and fine dining.
The building is earthquake and typhoon resistant, in part because of a 660-tonne steel pendulum near the top. You can watch the huge tuned mass damper swinging to offset the building’s movement when visiting the observatory on the 89th floor, which also gives an outstanding view across the city. Getting up there takes only 37 seconds in the record-breaking pressurised elevators. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 10pm (shopping mall hours differ)
- Location: No. 7, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
- Tel: +886 (0)2 8101 8800
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial HallExplore the peaceful gardens
The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is set in a 250,000-sqm park in the heart of Taipei, and commemorates the former President of the Republic of China. Chiang effectively founded Taiwan as we now see it. He is remembered through this striking white marble building with a roof of blue glass.
After ascending 89 steps to reach the entrance (one for each year of Chiang’s life), you’ll find a ground floor library and museum detailing the leader’s life and Taiwan’s development. The upper floor is the main hall and houses a large statue of Chiang, which oversees a regular intricate guard-mounting ceremony. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 6pm
- Location: No. 21, Zhongshan S. Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City 10048, Taiwan
- Tel: +886 (0)2 2343 1100
Longshan TempleThe oldest in Taipei
Longshan Temple was founded in 1738 by Chinese settlers, making it the oldest of its kind in Taipei and one of the most important temples in Taiwan. It is dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy (Kuan-in, in Chinese), though history has not been merciful to it! It has been the victim of earthquakes, fires and even aerial bombing during World War II, which destroyed irreplaceable artworks and artefacts.
The devoted Taipei residents have rebuilt the temple after each disaster (with the last total rebuild being in 1924), maintaining its intricate design, making it a fine example of Taiwanese classical architecture. The temple grounds still house many beautiful artefacts, each with powerful symbolism and fascinating stories to tell. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 6am to 10pm
- Location: No. 211, Guangzhou Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City 10853, Taiwan
- Tel: +886 (0)2 2302 5162
Maokong GondolaA fun and convenient ride out of town
The Maokong Gondola is a 4.3 km cable car system running between Taipei Zoo and the small town of Maokong, on the southern outskirts of the city. Along the way, it passes through beautiful, verdant mountains and stops off at Zhinan Temple before reaching the terminus.
Taking between 17 and 37 minutes (depending on what speed the system is running that day), the gondola is a great way to get to the traditional tea houses and plantations south of the city. It also offers fantastic views of the cityscape and the surrounding countryside along the way.
- Opening Hours: Tuesday–Thursday from 9am to 9pm, Fridays from 9am to 10pm, Saturdays from 8.30am to 10pm, Sundays from 8.30am to 9pm (closed on Mondays, except for the first of every month and public holidays)
- Location: No. 8, Section 2, Xinguang Road, Wenshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 116
- Tel: +886 (0)2 2181 2345
Beitou Hot SpringsSpa central
The Beitou Hot Springs are at the centre of one of the highest concentrations of spas in the world. Nearly every building around Beitou Park is a spa hotel of some sort, taking advantage of the mineral-loaded, geothermally-heated water running through the valley. Generally believed to have healing properties, the sulphurous spring water is usually between 37°C and 40°C and is slightly acidic. Just a little way upstream, the so-called Hell Valley (or Geothermal Valley) has water temperatures as high as 100°C!
Beitou Park itself contains the Hot Springs Museum and is a very attractive patch of almost wild greenery.
- Opening Hours: Tuesday–Sunday from 9am to 5pm
- Location: No. 2, Zhongshan Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112
- Tel: +886 (0)2 2893 9981
National Palace MuseumOne of the most popular museums in the world
The National Palace Museum is the home of over 696,000 ancient Imperial Chinese artefacts and artworks, making it the largest collection of its type in the world. It’s among the most popular museums on the planet, and you’d struggle to find a more complete picture of China’s long and fascinating history.
Compared to the artefacts – some of which are from over 1,000 years ago – the large, appropriately palatial buildings date from just 1965. It had to be expanded several times in the following decades to make room for the permanent exhibition. Suffice it to say, wearing comfortable shoes is recommended.
- Opening Hours: Sunday–Thursday from 8.30am to 6.30pm, Friday–Saturday from 8.30am to 9pm
- Location: No. 221, Section 2, Zhi Shan Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
- Tel: +886 (0)2 2881 2021
Elephant MountainA pleasant walk and a great view
The most famous of what are known as the “Four Beasts Mountains”, Elephant Mountain (Xiangshan, in Chinese) is popular for the fantastic view it offers of the city’s financial centre. Naturally, the iconic Taipei 101 dominates the skyline, and this is one of the more attractive places to view and photograph it from.
The 183-metre-high summit is easily reached along the Nangang District Hiking Trail, which is the most accessible in the city, making it also the most popular. The path is very clear and well maintained and, while the seemingly endless flights of stone steps may be intimidating, you don’t need to be a mountaineer to reach the top – it fact, it generally takes between 20 and 40 minutes.
Sun Yat-Sen Memorial HallThe life's work of the Father of Taiwan
Dr Sun Yat-sen is generally known as the ‘Father of Taiwan’, and the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall is dedicated to his work. The 29,464 sqm building is situated in the decorative Chung-shan Park and houses displays on Sun’s life and the birth of the Republic of China, of which he was the first president in 1912. It is also an important cultural centre in the city. The changing of the guard ceremony is a major attraction for this memorial.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 6pm
- Location: No. 505, Section 4, Ren'ai Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
- Tel: +886 (0)2 2758 8008
National Revolutionary Martyrs' ShrineSee the changing of the guard
Built on a green hillside overlooking the Keelung River, the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine is dedicated to the war dead of the Republic of China. There are nearly 390,000 spirit tablets for those who fell during the Xinhai Revolution, the Second World War, the Chinese Civil War and other engagements.
Set in the middle of over 33,000 sqm of grassland, the shrine is a serene, solemn place. The statue-like military police guards at the extravagant main gates and the guard-changing ceremony are major attractions.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 5pm
- Location: No. 139, Beian Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City 10491, Taiwan
- Tel: +886 (0)2 2885 4162
Taipei ZooSee the giant pandas
The most famous residents of Taipei Zoo are the giant pandas, Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, along with the first panda cub born in Taiwan – Yuan Zai. They join over 12,000 birds, a popular children’s zoo (housing domestic animals), an insectarium, amphibian and reptile house, penguins, koalas and nocturnal animals in the 165-hectare grounds.
There is an area of the zoo dedicated to the native wildlife of Taiwan, including wild boar, crab-eating mongooses, clouded leopards, Reeves’s muntjacs and more. The zoo is highly regarded for its entertaining displays and healthy animals.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 5pm
- Location: No. 30, Section 2, Xinguang Road, Wenshan District, Taipei City 11656, Taiwan
- Tel: +886 (0)2 2938 2300