The Ultimate Backpacking Guide to Taipei - A 4-Days Itinerary of Things to Do in Taipei, Taiwan

The Ultimate Backpacking Guide to Taipei

A 4-Days Itinerary of Things to Do in Taipei, Taiwan

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As the capital city of the island of 24 million, Taipei is the heart and soul of Taiwan that displays a wonderful blend of cultures between Chinese, Japanese, and a little Southeast Asian and American, all mixed up in a way that is unlike any other cities in the world.

Taipei is an extremely modern city, and yet it is affordable and accessible to all types of travelers. The city maintains its tradition as well as adopting a fun and colorful culture similar to those you find in Japan. It is a perfect mix of these cultures that makes Taipei, and Taiwan in general, such an intriguing travel destination.

When I was backpacking through Taiwan, I had a chance to spend 4 days in this wonderful city exploring all the cool things one can do in and around Taipei, and here is a complete backpacking guide on things to do in Taipei with a suggested 4-days itinerary. Without further ado, let's begin with Taipei itinerary map:

Taipei Things to Do Itinerary Map

Taipei Things to Do Itinerary Map

Taiwan Travel Video

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When to Visit Taipei, Taiwan

Clouds floating above Taipei 101 in Taiwan.

The best time to visit Taipei is from December - April where the temperature is generally cool 17°C - 24°C during the day while you will have a higher chance of a clear day. Plus, it is way out of the typhoon season (June to October) which is a period I would recommend you avoid.

Taiwan can become quite humid and hot so during the summer months of May - July might not be the best time to visit if you are planning to spend time outside.

One thing to keep in mind is that Taiwan is an island and rainfall is expected to be unpredictable and so prepare an umbrella or a rain jacket when visiting Taipei.

I was there in November and although the temperature was perfect, there was still regular rainfall up until mid-November where clear days were more frequent so I would recommend you go a little later than November.

Where to Stay in Taipei, Taiwan

The Living Room Star Hostel Taipei Main Station Hostel in Taiwan

Budget - Star Hostel Taipei Main Station - 23 USD/Night (Dorm) - Very Clean, extremely modern, spacious, and one of the most comfortable beds I found in a hostel.

Mid-Range - Meander Taipei Hostel - Ximending - 63 USD/Night for 2 (Standard Double Room with No Window)

How to Get to Taipei, Taiwan

The view of Taipei and Taipei 101 from the Elephant Trail in Taiwan.

Most of the flights coming to Taiwan will arrive at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei and depending on where you are, there are several airlines you can fly to Taipei.

From the US, there are several direct flights from big cities like New York and LA via United Airlines, or you can also fly direct to Taipei via EVA Airlines, its national carrier.

From within Europe, you can also fly direct via EVA Airlines or popular carriers like KLM or AirFrance to Taipei. You can also fly via Asian Airlines like Singapore Airlines or Thai Airways but you will have to transit in their respective home country.

From Asia, traveling to Taiwan gets a lot easier and cheaper with several low-cost airlines operating this route from hub cities like Bangkok and Singapore. Lion Air, as well as AirAsia, have many flights flying from Bangkok/KL to Taipei every day so you should have no problem finding one if you are planning to fly from Asia.

To find a cheap flight to Taipei, I would recommend you use Skyscanner or Momondo to look for the cheapest route and schedule so you can compare and pick the best one.

How to Get from Taipei Airport to the City Center

The front entrance of Longshan Temple in Taipei, Taiwan.

From Taoyuan International Airport, there are 2 ways you can travel to the city, by bus, and by the Metro. The easiest option is by taking bus #1819 from outside of the Airport Terminal 2 which will take you to Taipei Main Station.

By Bus

Bus #1819 runs 24 hours every 15 - 20 minutes during the day and once every hour in the early mornings (2 AM - 5 AM). The ticket can be bought at the ticket kiosk before you exit Terminal 2.

Simply follow the "Bus to City" sign until you find a line of ticket kiosks where you can then buy the ticket. The ticket should cost you around 125 NTD and the journey from the airport to Taipei Main Station should take around an hour.

You can find an updated bus time table for bus #1819 from their official website here: Bus #1819 Timetable.

By MRT

You can also take the MRT (Taipei's metro system) to the city via MRT's purple line straight to Taipei Main Station but it is often longer and a little less convenient especially if you have a lot of luggage.

The journey should take about 1.5 hours and it should cost you around 160 NTD. The last Express train and commuter train bound for Taipei Main Station is at 22:58 and 23:27 respectively.

I highly recommend you buy an EasyCard at the airport and use it travel take the metro/bus instead of buying individual tickets as it will be more convenient for you in the long run. Read more about Easy Card under the "Traveling Around Taipei with EasyCard" section below.

Traveling Around Taipei with EasyCard

Me holding an EasyCard in Taipei, Taiwan.

One of the best things about Taiwan is how easy it is to travel around the country thanks to the adoption of IC (Integrated Circuit) card which makes getting around Taipei as well as around the country, such a breeze. Here's how it works:

EasyCard is a universal IC money card that can be used to pay everything from buses to trains to groceries all over Taiwan. It makes traveling in Taiwan a whole lot easier for us who don't know Mandarin. I was able to travel the entire island on buses/trains/metro by just using the EasyCard.

The interior of buses in Taiwan

To travel around Taipei with EasyCard, all you have to do is simply tap on the card reader machine when you get on and tap once again when you get off, and that is it. You have already paid for your transportation!

Metro Ticket machines at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei, Taiwan.

You can buy the EasyCard from the airport, any of the MRT stations in Taipei, or from any of the 7-11 or Family Mart convenience stores around the country.

The card should cost around 100 NTD and you can then top-up the card with more money from the ticket machines in all the MRT Metro Stations in Taipei or at 7-11 and Family Mart.

The amount of value deducted from the card will depend on the distance you have traveled so be sure to have enough money on your EasyCard before the trip. Otherwise, you might have to buy the ticket directly from the bus driver instead.

How to Get Around Taipei, Taiwan

A Train stoping at the platform in Shifen, Taiwan.

With the introduction of EasyCard above, you should be able to travel around Taipei quite easily without having to deal with the language barrier. There are 2 main ways to get around Taipei, one is by the Metro/Trains and another, by bus, both accept EasyCard.

Getting Around By Metro

The Chiang Kai-Check Metro Station in Taipei, Taiwan.

For most of the places listed in this travel guide, you should be able to get to these places by Metro. The price for a single journey metro token is from 20 NTD to 65 NTD depending on the distance.

To use the metro, you can either buy a token from the ticket booth or use EasyCard as mentioned above to pay for the Metro. Simply tap on to the machine when you enter the platform and tap once again at your destination and the money will be deducted from the card automatically.

Getting Around By Bus

The interior of buses to Yamgmingshan in Taipei, Taiwan

Some places that are further away from Taipei may require you to take the bus instead of the Metro such as Yangmingshan and Jiufen/Shifen and navigating a big city like Taipei by bus can be quite confusing.

Fortunately, Google Maps works really well at finding the bus route you need to take in Taiwan, and so if you find yourself unable to visit a place via the Metro, make sure to see if there is a bus going there on Google Maps.

To use Google Maps in Taiwan, All you have to do is punch in the destination you want to visit and the app will suggest which bus route to take, where to take them, and at what time you have to be there.

Traveling on a bus in Taiwan is also quite straightforward. With EasyCard, all you have to do is get on the bus front door, tap the card on the card reader in front of the bus driver, and tap again when you get off and the cost will be deducted automatically.

If you find yourself out of cash on your card, you can pay the bus driver directly by cash. The bus price in Taipei usually ranges from 15 NTD to 45 NTD depending on how far you are traveling. Be sure to have the exact amount of cash as most buses don't give change.

For the latest updated Taipei Metro Stations map, be sure to check their official website: Taipei Route Map & Timetables.

Getting Around by Bike

Taipei has one of the best city bike rental services I have seen so far. Along the roads near the Metro Stations in Taipei, you will find several orange Youbike bikes parked nearby where you can rent for a day and explore the city on a 2 wheeler.

To rent a bike, all you have to do is approach the bike rental dock control panel and with EasyCard, tap the machine to take the bike and you now have a bike to explore Taipei.

Once you are done, simply take it back to any of the bike stations around the city, tap the dock's control panel again to lock the bike and the cost will be deducted from your card.

For more information on how to use Youbike in Taipei, be sure to check out there official website: Taipei's Youbike Rental Guide.

How Many Days to Spend in Taipei

Liberty Square and National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall at sunset in Taipei, Taiwan.

There is a lot to do in and around Taipei and I found that having around 4 days minimum is a good enough time to see the city while allowing you to spend a few days exploring places outside Taipei. Here is a rough itinerary on what you can do in Taipei in 4 days:

Day 1: Spend your first day in Taipei visiting all the beautiful architectures in the city. Start your morning at Longshan Temple, follow by visiting the Red House and then walk around the Ximending Shopping District.

In the evening, go and watch the sunset at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall before visiting one of the many night markets before ending your first day.

Day 2: On your second day, you can visit Taipei 101 iconic skyscraper and then go and hike the Elephant Trail for an incredible view of Taipei 101 and the city. Spend the rest of the day finding amazing cafes and enjoy the city vibe before ending your day at the Ningxia Night Market.

Day 3: Spend your third day exploring the beautiful natural attractions in Yangmingshan National Park.

Day 4: On your last day in Taipei, take the train north to Shifen and explore its old town and Shifen Waterfall in the morning and end your day in the beautiful old town of Jiufen in the evening.

How Much Money Do I Need for Taipei

With the 4-days Taipei itinerary above, we can estimate how much money you would need for the trip. The estimated costs of this itinerary are as follows:

Accommodation: With a total of 5 nights, you will be paying around 115 USD (3,446 NTD)

Food: A good meal in Taipeishould cost about 115 NTD or around 345 NTD per day so you will pay around 1,380 NTD for 4 days of food in total.

Transportation: When you first arrive, you will have to pay about 160 NTD for a transfer from the airport to the city center.

On average the metro should cost around 40 NTD per trip and you can expect to use the metro at least 5 times with this itinerary so 200 NTD for the metro in total.

You will also have to pay for buses and trains to Yangmingshan, Shifen, and Jiufen which should cost you around 100 NTD for all the round-trip buses and 152 NTD for a roundtrip train tickets from Taipei to Ruifang. In total, you will pay around 252 NTD for transportation.

Activities: Fortunately, the things to do listed here are all free of charge so you will unlikely be spending much on activities. 0 NTD for activities for this itinerary.

Total Budget for 4 days in Taipei: 5,078 NTD (169.46 USD)

Is it Safe in Taipei?

Taiwan is probably one of the safest countries I've been to so far. You will unlikely encounter any scammers, catcallers, or pickpockets in any of the cities you are visiting in Taiwan. That said, it is best that you exercise precautions like keeping your belongings with you just as you would when visiting any other big cities.

Internet in Taipei

Taipei and Taiwan, in general, have one of the fastest public WIFI out there. You can find WIFI in almost every cafe and restaurant in Taipei. Most of the hostels I stayed in Taiwan have fast reliable WIFI and you could go by without having a local sim card but if you wish to navigate the city by bus, I recommend getting a local sim card at the airport on your arrival.

Data Plan for Local Sim Card provided by Chungwa Telecom at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei, Taiwan.

I recommend Chungwa Telecom, one of the leading telecommunication carriers in Taiwan that offers several 4G unlimited unthrottled data package with a price range from 300 NTD - 1,000 NTD.

Chungwa Telecom Kiosk at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei, Taiwan.

You can find their kiosk among other carriers at the arrival hall at Taoyuan International Airport. Simply approach them and they will show you the list of packages available that you can pick from. They will ask for your passport, pop the sim card in for you, and within 2 minutes, you will have unlimited 4G data for your Taiwan trip.

I had 15 days in Taiwan and so I bought their 15 days unlimited data sim card for 700 NTD (they also accept credit cards) and I was able to get 4G connection everywhere I went in the country and so if you are looking for a reliable way to stay connected throughout your stay in Taiwan, be sure to get a local sim card at the airport.

For more information about Taiwan's local sim card: Taiwan Prepaid Data Sim Card.

Travel Insurance

If you are looking for travel insurance to go along with your trip to Taiwan, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure.

Get a Quote from World Nomads

Best Things to Do in Taipei

Check Out Longshan Temple

The crowded courtyard of Longshan temple in Taipei, Taiwan.

Longshan Temple is a Chinese temple built in the 18th Century by the Fujian immigrants from mainland China that came to the island and erected a temple on the spot. It is one of the most popular temples in Taiwan and has come to represent the pride of the Taiwanese people.

A man praying at Longshan Temple in Taipei, Taiwan.

Despite it being built in the 18th Century, the temple had gone through several reconstructions that add and improved the temple and its surroundings to what it is today.

A group of people praying at Longshan temple in Taipei, Taiwan.

The temple consists of 3 sections, front, middle, and rear halls all lavishly decorated with poles covered in beautiful dragon sculptures, intricate wooden carvings, and colorfully paintings. It's one of the largest and most beautiful temples in Taipei.

The empty entrance to Longshan Temple in Taipei, Taiwan.

The temple also attracts many visitors every day due to the fact that the temple is actually for Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian faiths. The temple gets even more crowded on the 1st and 15th day of each month of Lunar Year, attracting both tourists and locals alike from all around the world.

To get to Longshan, you can take the MRT Blue Line to Longshan Temple Station where you can then take Exit 1 and walk north through the Mengxia Park and you should see Longshan Temple just across the street.

Admire the Local Artistry at the Red House

The exterior of the Red House in Ximending in Taipei, Taiwan.

After spending your morning admiring the beauty of Longshan, take the MRT Green Line and get off at Ximen Station where you will find a beautiful landmark of Taipei, The Red House.

The creative market at the Red House in Taipei, Taiwan.

The Red House was originally built as a department store by a Japanese architect during the Japanese rule in 1908. Its beautiful western-style pattern on the exterior and the octagonal layout of the building grabs the attention of visitors and locals alike.

The interior of the Red House in Taipei, Taiwan.

The building had since been renovated into art and creative marketplace promoting the local's artistry and other cultural industries. It's a great place to start your journey into exploring one of the most vibrant districts of Taipei, the Ximending.

To get to The Red House, you will have to take the MRT Green Line to Ximen Station and take Exit 1 and you will be right at the entrance of The Red House.

Stroll Around Ximending Walking District

The busy road near Ximending Street at night in Taipei, Taiwan.

Ximending Street or as it is known as the Harajuku of Taipei is one of the most popular shopping districts in Taipei. The entire neighborhood is filled with stores, street food stalls, and all kinds of entertainment you could imagine.

Taipei Rainbow Crosswalk in Ximending at night in Taipei, Taiwan.

Ximending is one of the best places to go people-watching as well as attracts many young creative people as well as tourists from around the world every month.

The crowded street of Ximending at night in Taipei, Taiwan.

Although Ximending is not a full-blown night market like the other in Taipei, you will still find many iconic street foods here in the evening as well as long lines of people waiting to buy the famous Boba tea of Xing Fu Tang, and so if you are looking for a place to try some local cuisine, be sure to drop by here at night.

To get to Ximending, you will have to take the MRT Green Line to Ximen Station and take Exit 6 where you will be right at the entrance of the Ximending shopping street.

Visit National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall at Sunset

Liberty Square at night in Taipei, Taiwan.

If you are looking for a great place to watch the sunset, the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is a great place to do so as its spacious courtyard, beautiful vegetation, and the elevated platform of the memorial hall will allow you to see the spanning view of the Chiang Kai-shek Square against the backdrop of Liberty Square Arch and the beautiful sunset sky.

The Liberty Arch and the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan.

The Liberty Square where the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is located is full of beautiful architectures waiting for you to explore. The beautiful Liberty Square Arch at the northeast end of the square, the National Art Center and Theater on the South and North ends of the park respectively are some of the most beautiful architecture you will find in Taipei.

Guards standing inside the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan.

If you are at the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall at the right time, you might be able to witness the change of guard ceremony which happens every hour on the hour from 9 AM to 6 PM.

The flag coming down ceremony at National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan.

At 6 PM, you will also be able to witness the Flag Coming Down Ceremony as well as the guards marched down the hall and to the flag pole at the center of the Liberty Square and perform the Flag Coming Down Ceremony.

National guards marching down Liberty Square in Taipei, Taiwan.

The whole ceremony is all elaborated and quite interesting to watch and so if you are in Taipei, be sure to visit the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall at 6 PM.

To get to National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, you will have to take the MRT Red or Green Line and get off at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station where you can then take Exit 5 and you will be right at the side entrance of the Liberty Square.

Visit Taipei 101

Taipei 101 from Lane 253, Songren Road in Taipei at night in Taiwan.

One of the most iconic architectures in Taipei, Taipei 101 is a futuristic skyscraper located in the Xinyi District of Taipei. With its 101 floors standing at 509.2 m high, the Taipei 101 was once the tallest building in the world in 2004 and only lost its title after Burj Khalifa was built in Dubai in 2010.

Taipei 101 on a low cloud day in Taipei, Taiwan.

Now, Taipei 101 is the 11th tallest building in the world and it is one of the most iconic landmarks of Taipei. You can take one of the fastest elevator rides ever to the 89th floor which should take about 30 seconds and absorb the view of Taipei and its surroundings from incredible heights.

Taipei 101 from the streets in Taipie at night in Taiwan

On the 88th floor, you will also get to see the impressive tuned mass damper, an impressive 660 metric tons steel pendulum that sways to offset movements in the building caused by strong winds.

To get to Taipei 101, you will have to take the MRT Red Line and get off at Taipei 101/World Trade Center Station. Take Exit 4 on your way out and you should be right in front of the Taipei 101 building.

To get to the Taipei 101 Observatory Deck at the top, you will first have to buy a ticket from Taipei 101 website or on the 5th floor on-site. The ticket will cost you 600 NTD per person which is quite expensive but if you are looking for the highest point in the city to absorb the view of Taipei, there is no better place than this.

The indoor observatory opens from 9 AM to 10 PM every day of the week and the outdoor observatory opens the same time as weather permits. You can also pay 3,000 NTD to get to the 101st floor, strap yourself with a secure cord, and walk on the railing outside with an unobstructed 360˚ view of Taipei.

Hike Up the Elephant Trail at Sunset

Taipei skyline and Taipei 101 view from the Elephant Trail at night in Taipei, Taiwan.

If you are not keen on paying 600 NTD to get the view of the city, the best alternative is to go a little further east and hike the famous Elephant Trail, free of charge!

The skyline of Taipei at night in Taiwan.

This is one of the best short trails you can do in Taipei. The trail is a steep paved stair that takes about 20 minutes to climb and from the viewpoint, you will have the unbeatable view of Taipei together with the Taipei 101 skyscraper in one frame.

The steepness of stairs up the Elephant Trail in Taipei, Taiwan.

The best time to hike the Elephant Trail is around sunset time as the sky turns purple and the artificial light illuminates the city. The trail is quite popular among locals and tourists so do not expect a quiet nature trail from this one. Just enjoy the climb and the view at night and you are all set.

To get to the Elephant trailhead, you will have to take the MRT Red Line to Xiangshan Station, take Exit 2 and walk south along the Xiangshan Park until the end of the road and then turn left and follow the road to the Xiangshan Trailhead.

The direction sign to the Elephant Trail in Taipei, Taiwan.

From there, simply climb up the stairs for about 20 minutes and you should be at the Elephant Trail viewpoint where most people will stop. I recommend you go up a bit further to Xiangshan Six Rocks which should take you no more than 5 minutes from the viewpoint for a better view of Taipei.

Eat Street Food at Ningxia Night Market

The crowded Ningxia Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan.

After a small hike, it's time to indulge yourself in the amazing street food of Taipei and there is no better place to experience that than the Ningxia Night Market.

Locals selling street food at Ningxia Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan.

The Ningxia Night Market is well-known for its crowded street full of street food trucks from the crispy fried chicken cutlets to the tasty rice sausage ( Da Chang Bao Xiao Chang). The moment you enter the market, you know that you are in the middle of the Taiwanese street food craze and there is no going back.

The Crowded Ningxia Night Market full of street food trucks in Taipei, Taiwan.

I've been to several other night markets in Taipei but Ningxia is by far one of my favorites as they have a wider range of street food available for me to indulge myself in comparison to the other ones. You can spend hours and hours looking through all the possible food you can eat here.

To get to Ningxia Night Market, you will have to take the MRT Green Line to Zhongshan Station, take Exit 5 and follow the road west until you arrive at Jiancheng Circle before turning right to the night market. The Ningxia night market opens from 5 PM to 1 AM so be sure to go there at the right time.

Snap the Best Shot of Taipei 101 at Lane 253, Songren Road at Night

The best view of Taipei 101 from Lane 253 Songren Street in Taipei, Taiwan.

If you still haven't had enough awesome photos from Taipei, I know the best place to capture the iconic Taipei 101. One of the best photo spots in Taipei is at the Lane 253, Songren Road in Xinyi District near the Takemura Izakaya restaurant.

The Taipei 101 skyscraper at night in Taipei, Taiwan.

This is the street where you can capture the iconic Taipei 101 in between two buildings creating the symmetrical art that you see above. If you are interested in street photography, be sure to drop by Lane 253 at night to see Taipei 101 from this beautiful perspective.

To get to Lane 253, Songren Road, you will have to take the MRT Red line to Xiangshan Station, and follow the road just like how you get to the Elephant Trail, but instead of turning left at the end of the road, turn right and then turn left on the next intersection and the street should be on your left and the second intersection. To make it simple, simply make your way to Takemura Izakaya restaurant and you will be right at Lane 253.

Hike Around Yangmingshan National Park for a Day

A short nature trail in Yangmingshan near Taipei, Taiwan.

If you have a day to spare, I would recommend you spend that day hiking around Yangmingshan National Park, a full-blown nature park full of attractions and hiking trails that should occupy your entire day.

A cloudy day at Yangmingshan National Park near Taipei, Taiwan.

Places to visit in Yangmingshan National Park are Xiaoyoukeng Recreation Area, a post-volcanic geological landscape area a with a few scenic trails you can do, Qixingshan (Seven Star Mountain) Trail, a 5.7 km long hiking trail that will take you to the top of Qixingshan Main Peak, and Erziping, a recreational area full of forest and mountains, etc.

I made it to Yangmingshan National Park but it was too rainy and cloudy so I had to cut my trip short before seeing any of these places and so if you are planning to visit Yangmingshan National Park, be sure to check the weather forecast and avoid cloudy days if possible.

To get to Yangmingshan National Park, you will have to take the MRT Red Line to Jiantan Station, take Exit 1, and catch the bus at the bus stop on your left-hand side that is heading northward to Yangmingshan. You can take bus S15 or S17 from there to Yangmingshan station. The bus fare is 15 NTD and the journey should take about 1 hour.

To get around Yangmingshan, you can take bus #108 that loops around the park every 20 - 40 minutes and costs 15 NTD per trip or 60 NTD for a day pass.

For more information about Yangmingshan Transportation, check out: Yangmingshan Bus Schedule.

Spend Half-Day at Shifen Old Town and Shifen Waterfall

Shifen Waterfall on a rainy day in Shifen, Taiwan.

Another awesome day trip you can do from Taipei is a visit to Shifen, home to the mystical Shifen Waterfall and Jiufen, a sea-side old mountain village with streets full of lanterns, tea houses and street food stalls for you to indulge yourself in.

People releasing floating lanterns in Shifen, Taiwan.

You can spend the first half of your day exploring Shifen and its charming old town where the Pingxi train track runs through. Shifen is known for its floating lanterns that were used during the civil war by protectors of the city to signal people who ran away into the forest that it is now safe to return.

People taking selfies on the train tracks of Shifen, Taiwan.

Nowadays, most people will write their wishes down on to the lantern, snap the iconic photo with the lantern on a train track, and set the floating lantern free, in hope that the wish will come true.

Food stalls along the train tracks in Shifen Old Town, Taiwan.

Along Shifen Old Town streets, you will find many street food stalls and restaurants so you can also have breakfast or lunch here before heading out to Jiufen.

Shifen Waterfall on a cloudy rainy day in Taipei, Taiwan.

Another popular attraction in Shifen is the Shifen Waterfall, a beautiful 40m tall waterfall that is considered to be the most scenic waterfall in Taiwan. From Shifen Old Town, it takes about 30 minutes to walk to Shifen Waterfall through a scenic trail that takes you through some stunning suspension bridges.

Scening walk around Shifen Waterfall, Taiwan.

Once you arrive at the waterfall, there are several small walking paths you can take to see Shifen Waterfall from a different angle. Be prepared to get wet the closer you are to the waterfall as the splashes can be quite violent at times.

Shifen Waterfall up close in Shifen, Taiwan.

After spending a few hours in Shifen, you can backtrack your way to the Shifen train station and make your way to Jiufen.

To Get from Taipei to Shifen, you will have to first take a train from Taipei Main Station to Ruifang via TRA (Taiwan Railways Administration) which should take around 42 minutes and cost 49 NTD per trip.

Directional signs to Ruifang at Taipei Main Station in Taiwan.

There are several trains per day starting at 5:30 AM to 10:30 PM leaving from Taipei Main Station. If you have EasyCard, you do not have to book a ticket. Simply tap on the machine to enter the platform, make sure you get to the right platform, take the train, and tap the card again at the destination to get out.

A train bound for Ruifang from Taipei Main Station in Taiwan.

If you want to book the train to Ruifang, you can book it through the TRA app on Android or iOS or through TRA official website.

Signs to follow in Ruifang that leads to a train bound for Shifen at Platform 3 in Taiwan.

After you arrive in Ruifang, you will have to transit to the Pingxi line and take the train to Shifen from Platform 3 by following the sign to Pingxi Waiting Area. Hope on a train towards Jing Tong with train number 4722 which should stop at Shifen.

Spend Another Half-Day in Jiufen

A-MEI Tea House that inspired Spirited Away at night in Jiufen, Taiwan

After spending half a day in Shifen, you can continue your day to Jiufen, a beautiful old town that inspired the Japanese hit movie, Spirited Away.

The crowded streets of Jiufen Old Town in Taiwan.

Jiufen is a decommissioned gold mine town located on a mountain by the seaside north of Taipei. The town is now known for its night markets full of delicious food to try, the maze small lanes and alleyways full of history, and the beautiful A-MEI Tea House that inspired some scenes in the movie Spirited Away.

Food stalls along the side of Jiufen Old Town in Taiwan.

Jiufen old town is best visited during the late afternoon around 4 - 5 PM as the streets are still relatively empty and the restaurants and tea houses are opening.

The view of Jiufen from Jiufen Old Town Street in Taiwan.

Jiufen at 6 PM and beyond gets very very crowded so much so that there were times when no one was able to move for about 15 minutes, just being stuck in crowded intersection hence why I would recommend you visit Jiufen earlier in the evening.

The view of the Northern Coast of Taiwan from Jiufen on a rainy day in Taiwan.

Most of the attractions, cafes and street food stalls in Jiufen are all concentrated on Shuqi Road so once you arrive at the Jiufen Old Town Bus Stop, continue up the road, and start exploring Jiufen Old Town from the small alleyway near 7-11.

To Get from Shifen to Jiufen, you will have to take the train back from Shifen to Ruifang with the same train that took you there and once you arrive at Ruifang Train Station, walk to the main and follow the sign that says Bus towards Jiufen until you arrive at the Ruifang Industrial Vocational High School bus stop.

The Ruifang Industrial Vocational High School bus stop near Ruifang train station where you can take the bus to Jiufen, Taiwan.

From the bus stop, you can then take either bus #960 or #788 which should drop you off at Jiufen Old Town Bus Stop. The bus will cost you 15 NTD and takes about 15 minutes.

What to Eat and Drink in Taipei

Try all the Street Food at a Night Market

A local woman preparing her street food truck in Taipei, Taiwan.

I would need another post to list all the awesome street food in Taiwan you should try while you are here and so here is a summary of things you should try when visiting a night market in Taipei.

The Spring Onion Pancake (Tianjing Chong Zhua Pancake) on a frying pan in Taipei, Taiwan.

The Spring Onion Pancake (Tianjing Chong Zhua Pancake) is one of my favorite street food to eat. It's like a Taiwanese version of a sandwich where you can choose what filling you want inside the crispy tasty onion pancake. It can be found in almost every night market in the city and it is a must-try when you are in Taipei.

A woman making Peanut Ice Cream Roll in Jiufen, Taiwan.

Peanut Ice Cream Roll is another great dessert you should try. It's basically the burrito ice-cream or a spring-roll filled with ice cream, grounded peanut candy, and cilantro. It may not sound that appealing but trust me when you try it, you will love it.

Me holding Taiwanese Sticky Rice Sausage in Taipei, Taiwan.

Taiwanese Sticky Rice Sausage is the Taiwanese version of hot-dogs but instead of a bun, they used glutinous rice, and instead of the regular hot dog, they used the Taiwanese sweet hot dog instead. Something to look out for in a night market in Taipei.

A man buying street food at Ningxia Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan.

As mentioned earlier, Ningxia Night Market is the place to be if you are looking to try all the street food in Taipei in one go. You can find all of the mentioned snacks above at Ningxia Night Market.

Try Xiao Long Bao (The Soupy Dumplings)

A Xiao Long Bao dish in Taiwan.

Another must-try food in Taiwan is Xiao Long Bao, a soup dumpling that will make your mouth water even before you chew it. Do not mistake Xiao Long Bao as another Chinese dumpling.

The soft white steam bun of Xiao Long Bao is filled with a tasty soup that you either have to drink from it or swallow it whole to really give it justice. You can find Xiao Long Bao in most Taiwanese restaurants as well as some street food stalls in a night market.

Drink Pearl Milk Tea (Boba Tea)

Me holding the famous Pearl Milk Tea (Boba Tea) in Ximending, Taipei, Taiwan.

One of the fanatic trends that swept throughout Asia in the past decade is the Boba Tea Craze (bubble/pearl milk tea) and it all originated from Taiwan and you will regret not trying the Pearl Milk Tea at its birthplace.

Pearl Milk Tea is a Taiwanese tea-based drink that contains tea, flavors of milk, and chewy tapioca balls hence the name pearl/bubble tea. There are many varieties of pearl milk tea with a wide range of flavors that you can try. You should have no trouble finding a place to try this as they are literally everywhere in Taiwan.

Fill Up with Taiwanese Taro Ball

The Taro Ball dessert in Taipei, Taiwan.

Another popular dessert in Taiwan that you should try is the Taiwanese Taro Ball, a traditional Fujian dessert made of taro balls (mashed taro with water and flour) mixed with syrup and more.

Its soft spongy taro balls together with the mild sweetness of the syrup and flour create one of the most iconic desserts in Taiwan. You can find Taro Balls at one of the first few restaurants when you enter Jiufen Old Town or you can find it in most night markets in Taipei.

Top 12 Street Food To Try In Taiwan

Other Things to Do in Taipei

Hike the Teapot Mountain and Banpingshan Trail in Jiufen

The view from Teapot Mountain in Taipei, Taiwan

If you have one more day in Taipei, I would recommend you come back to Jiufen and hike the Teapot Mountain and Banpingshan Trail, two of the best hikes you can do in Northern Taiwan that will reward you with a stunning view of the northern coastline of Taiwan.

The trail begins at the Gold Museum in Jiufen and you will have to hike about 5.2 km for an hour before you reach the Teapot Mountain. From the peak, it's another 20 minutes to Banpingshan.

For more information on how to hike the Teapot Mountain and Banpingshan Trail. check out: Everything You Need to Know to Hike the Teapot Mountain and Banpingshan Trail.

And there you have it, a complete backpacking guide to Taipei. If you have any questions regarding the itinerary and things to do in Taipei, do not hesitate to ask me in the comments below.

Further Reading for Taiwan

Looking for more information for your trip to Taiwan? Here is a collection of articles about Taiwan that you might find useful:

The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.

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Categories: destinationsasiaeast asiataiwan


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