Taipei was always a place that spoke to me. The allure of Taipei 101, foodie paradise, and bustling city seemed like a place I would enjoy. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to Live Like A Local with the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. Every month for the next few months, they are sending two lucky content creators to experience the trip of a lifetime in Taiwan. And guess what… I was one of the first creators to go!
During my stay in Taiwan, I spent about a week in Taipei giving me the chance to explore the city from top to bottom. Here are my top recommendations on what to drink, eat, and see in this magical city.
Where To Stay
- Check Inn: the perfect hotel for a short stay. The rooms have a NYC vibe to them, with hipster finishes like exposed brick, subway tile, and minimal fixtures. It sits just doors away from the MRT, so the location is amazing.
- Papersun Apartment: an apartment style hotel perfect for a longer stay in the city. See the room tour in the vlog to see what I mean! Located just a few blocks from the Shilin MRT station, the hotel sits on a quiet road that feels far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The infamous Shilin Night Market is less than a 10 minute walk away.
What To See
- Taipei 101 Observatory: so much more than just the building that defines Taipei’s skyline. This record-breaking building was the tallest in the world when it opened, but today it stands for so much more. The observatory at the top is a must see, but I also learned the Taipei 101 Mall is a world-class shopping destination in Asia. So start with the view, end with the shopping! Taipei 101 also houses offices for Google and many other large firms, as well as co-working space that looks just like what you’d find in Silicon Valley. You won’t be able to tour those floors, but it’s cool to understand.
- Elephant Mountain Hiking Trail: want the best view of Taipei 101? You’ll have to hike for it! Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain) is a steep stair hike which will take at least 30 minutes, depending on the heat and how many photos you intend to take. I recommend coming well before sunset so you can scout the perfect spot to snap a photo. Bring bug spray, too!
- Freedom Square: this is the spot where you can see 4 of Taipei’s most iconic monuments all in one place. The plaza is an incredible spot for photos from every angle. You can also get a quick history lesson at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial.
- Ximending: this neighborhood is packed with shopping, late night food, street performers, and street art. It’s fun during the day, but even more fun at night. It reminded me a lot of Myeongdong in Seoul!
- Shiding Tea Country: any tea lover would appreciate learning the history of Taiwanese tea, and you don’t have to venture hours outside the city to experience it. Since the region is so vast, my guide from MyTaiwanTour took me to some spots off the beaten path where few tourists go. I tasted tea in a tea ceremony with a tea sommelier, and he helped interpret and translate our conversation. It was an experience I’ll never forget!
- Beitou Thermal Valley: at the northern edge of Taipei is Beitou, a unique geothermal region definitely worth a visit. The main attraction is a hot spring spewing purifying sulfuric steam into the air, surrounded by fences and a boardwalk for safety as the water can exceed 100°C. It’s a free tourist attraction, but I highly recommend you take a trip to either a public hot spring or private one for the spa experience. Spring City Resort is where I enjoyed a 90-minute session that was quite relaxing.
- Shifen Old Street: a small half day trip from the city center, it feels like a world away. You can release sky lanterns here and there are several spectacular photo-taking opportunities with the old bridge and waterfalls nearby.
- Huashan 1914 Creative Park: for some local urban flavor, this spot is so unique. Once a brewery, this property has been transformed into a business park packed with small local businesses ranging from clothing to art galleries to coffee shops.
What To Eat
- Shilin Night Market: if there’s one night market you make it to, make it Shilin. It’s always buzzing with activity and there’s a ton of diversity in the foods offered. The shopping is amazing too! The endless aisles of food and shops had me coming back two consecutive nights.
- Raohe Street Night Market: Raohe is a compact night market with a more local feel. The stalls had a bit more of a meat and seafood focus.
- Cooking Class with Wayne Lin: if you want to truly live like a local, Wayne will show you how! Wayne is a private chef and Taipei local who can guide you through Dongmen market, give you some Taiwanese food history, and teach you how to cook some key local dishes step-by-step.
- Din Tai Fung: Taipei has several DTF locations, but I had to visit the original. Din Tai Fung has such an interesting history and the immense popularity allowed the restaurant to expand internationally. If you love xiao long bao, Din Tai Fung is where you need to start.
- Sanhoyan: I came for the cute animal-shaped dim sum and was not disappointed. The hedgehog, soot sprite, panda, and mushroom bao were almost too cute to eat. Almost!
- Yang Shin: a fabulous vegetarian dim sum spot! It’s quite busy, and understandably so. They have a huge menu and affordable prices, with an upscale, white tablecloth experience.
- Pin Chuan Lan: beef noodle soup is a popular Taiwanese dish, and Pin Chuan Lan has so many different styles to offer. I opted for their prime cut beef noodle soup with chewy thick noodles, which I loved. This restaurant also accepts Apple Pay!
- Hot Star Large Fried Chicken: this chain can be found numerous places in Asia, and it’s the ultimate value street food. For less than $4 USD, you can get a hot slab of deep fried chicken that is unbelievably good.
- Ooh Cha Cha: if you’re craving something leafy and green while in Taipei, this is your spot. They have a ton of vegan and gluten-free bowls and salads, and the serving sizes are generous.
- Nice Cream: I stumbled upon this shop and couldn’t believe my eyes: plant-based gelato that looked as good as the real deal in Italy. I really hate banana and I was skeptical the ‘nice cream’ gelato would taste like that, but it surprisingly didn’t.
- Matcha One: heaven on earth for matcha lovers. Their matcha mille-feuille and boba parfait were out of this world decadent.
What To Drink
- Soma: the quest for Taipei’s best milk tea led me to this pop-up which is a join collaboration between Soma and PUMA. They don’t have a ton of extra add-ons, just really fantastic classic milk tea and key fruit flavors.
- Alpha Black: hipster coffee, you knew it was coming eventually on this list. This local coffee chain has a few Instagram-worthy locations in Taipei, with a vast menu of coffee and espresso drinks.
- Blossoming Juice: the cutest walk-up juice bar serving smoothies and cold pressed juices. Perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up when you’re not feeling boba, matcha, or coffee.
- Mikkeller: beer enthusiasts will love this spot, and if you want to try some unique beers from around the world you may too. They have dozens of beers on tap, including local craft brews and some from Mikkeller’s own brand. I even saw some Northern California ales on the menu! Friendly bilingual staff and will pour you a sample to help you find your perfect beer.
- Fucking Place: if you’re looking for the ultimate local dive bar experience, this bar was amazing. Rock music, cheap beer, and cigarette smoke; definitely a bit rough around the edges but a whole lot of late night fun.
My trip to Taiwan was truly the trip of a lifetime, and I have so much more content to share! I also made some lifelong friends there, like Vancouver-based fashion blogger Jonathan of Waiching’s Wall and Taipei-based travel expert Joshua of My Taiwan Tour. Stay tuned for my recommendations on what to see outside of Taipei, as well!