By Gemma Vidal; a Spanish teacher in Taiwan, navigating through the lively capital through food, hikes and a spot of karaoke.Edited by Holly Stark
72 hours in Taipei may not seem long when exploring one of the world’s most vibrant cities, but you’ll be surprised by how much you can fit in. Taipei is a lively place, full of people and noise, no matter what time of day. For me, the city holds the perfect, rare mix of the best of Asia; home to both Japanese and Chinese influence, and with a unique history as well as its own strong culture. Bursting with a variety of must-see attractions and home to an incredible amount of architecture, culture, history, food and shopping, there’s plenty to do in Taipei in 3 days. The city has the ability to provide something for everybody, catering equally for those who love fancy to backpackers on a budget. Taipei offers a fantastic place to kickstart your trip and with a Taipei in 3 days itinerary, you’ll be able to get the most out of your visit to the city. Whether you’re visiting for a long weekend or just passing through on your way to somewhere else, use this bespoke itinerary to make the most of your stay and enjoy the best places to see in Taipei in 3 days!
Day 1 - Morning
To get your 3 days in Taipei trip rolling, make the best of your morning by rising early to combine the National Taiwan Museum and the 228 Peace Memorial Park. The first and most important stop on any visitor’s travel itinerary should be here. Located at the entrance to the beautiful, iconic, 228 Peace Park, the National Taiwan Museum exhibits some of the region’s most interesting historical artifacts. From indigenous tribes to local tradition, learn the history and culture of Taiwan through exhibitions and displays. Wander through the park then check out the striking Presidential Building which displays the unique architecture of Nagano during the period of Japanese rule of Taiwan. Traditional Japanese cultural design elements include a sunrise facing front. Seeking more of what to do in Taipei in 3 days? Head onto the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. Wander through and soak up the slightly eerie vibe surrounding the monument to authoritarian leader Chiang Kai-shek. Stroll the paths of the park and grounds, and through the renamed “Liberty Square” in honour of Taiwan's long road to democracy. The morning will provide a great insider’s view of Taipei local life.
Day 1 - Lunch & Afternoon
When it comes to getting lunch; xiao long bao or Taiwanese soup dumplings are a must-try, and Din Tai Fung is the place to go. Don’t worry if you’ve had a busy morning and you’re having a late lunch; it’s better to go a little later to avoid the long queues. Awarded a Michelin star, Din Tai Fung is the first place that comes to mind for great eats in Taipei. With uncomparable dumplings with thin, tender skin encasing a piping-hot filling of meat, seafood or vegetables and floating in a delicious broth, one of the most popular Din Tai Fung restaurants among locals and visitors is on the basement floor of the iconic Taipei 101 building. At this restaurant, you can see the chefs expertly preparing the delicate eighteen step process for each dumpling. After lunch, take yourself on an adventure through the side streets of the area; there’s plenty more to discover in this area than just Taipei 101.
Day 1 - Evening
Head to Yongkang Street for dinner, where you can experience a glimpse of local life, and local flavours. Located near Dongmen metro station (the metro is very convenient and accessible), Yongkang Street is the perfect place to take your appetite on a wandering tour through the city’s best aromas and flavours. Home to many famous eateries and restaurants to satisfy anyone, it’s a great place to stop by. Discover a maze of culinary creators in their spaces; serving up everything from steamed milk pudding to sorbet. Your 72 hours in Taipei would not be complete without a visit to the quirky street that is home to charming shops selling all kinds of weird and wonderful products.
Day 1 - Night
Complete your first day by unwinding with a traditional massage. Taipei is a busy city with plenty of things to do, but as with every bustling metropolis, there is a need for a place where locals can relax and take a break from their hectic lives. And there’s really no better way to de-stress than with a massage like a local. Check out the Villa.Like Spa; a lovely modern spa with late-night services in the heart of the city. Choose anything from deep-tissue massage to basic foot massage. As one of the best things to do to in Taipei, and definitely my favourite, your Taipei in 3 days itinerary simply wouldn’t be complete without it! If that’s not your thing, check out the must-see Shida Night Market and wander through a labyrinth of entrepreneurs with colourful clothes, embroidered fabrics, shoes and accessories. The area of the city, together with neighbouring Gongguan next to National Taiwan University, is well known for its alternative style, housing several rock bars, cafés, and restaurants.
Day 2 - Morning
Spend your second morning exploring the National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall and Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. Designed by local architect Wang Da-hung, the memorial hall was established in memory of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the father of the Republic of China. It is a great place to explore and serves an educational and research role, hosting various cultural and art events throughout the year. Surrounded by a beautiful large park of flowers and greenery, it’s a great place to catch some morning sun. Follow on to the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park; a must-see creative arts space. On the grounds of a former tobacco factory, the space was transformed into a big public park with exhibition halls, art, a book shop, shopping mall, record store, and lots of creative shops. The grounds also have an ecology area where you can learn about wildlife and local species native to northern Taiwan.
Day 2 - Lunch & Afternoon
For lunch, check out my go-to restaurant, Mazendo; a modern Taiwanese restaurant chain serving up Chinese staples like mapo dofu and Hainanese chicken rice as well as classic Taiwanese dishes like beef noodle soup and stinky tofu. The restaurant has an upscale, expensive look to it, but once you open the menu you’ll discover that it’s surprisingly actually quite affordable. Try the local delicacy of milk tea; it’s sweet and refreshing with a distinct chewy goodness. Since its creation in the 1980s, Taiwan bubble tea has blown the minds of the rest of the world with many bubble tea stores popping up all over. So when you have the chance to hit the streets of Taiwan’s capital of Taipei, make sure you sip the tasty combinations of tea and chewy tapioca pearls offered by the famed bubble tea creators themselves.
Day 2 - Evening
Check out the iconic Taipei 101; the eighth tallest building in the world, and certainly one of the most visually appealing for its height. Soaring above the city like the gigantic bamboo stalk it was designed to resemble, Taipei 101 is impossible to miss. At 508m, Taipei 101 held the title of the world's tallest building up until 2011. Head up the super speedy lift; it takes a mere 40 seconds to get from ground level to the 89th-floor observation deck. Head up to one of the observation decks on the 88th and 89th floors. If it’s open, check out the incredible city views from the outdoor deck on the 91st floor which opens up to the public on some occasions. But don’t stay too long, you’ve got a sunset to catch!
Day 2 - Night
Elephant Mountain, or the Xiangshan Hiking Trail, became popular as a backpacker’s haven, though now it attracts a wide variety of visitors who simply want to enjoy the best things to do in Taipei at night, and the best of the city views. For a unique experience, head up Elephant Mountain at sunset. Seeing a modern city like Taipei lit up in the dark, with the iconic Taipei 101 standing tall amongst it, is a spectacular way to spend your night. The hike itself only takes around twenty minutes from the bottom to the top. The whole experience could easily be squeezed into less than two hours, so you absolutely don’t have to allocate a whole day of your Taipei time to it. Evening is great since you won’t be getting that super intense Taipei weather. Perhaps take up a picnic and sit with the beautiful views of the metropolis.
Day 3 - Morning
A great way to see the true Taipei is through visiting its enchanting temples. Combine Dihua Street, Xiahai Temple, Yongle Market and Longshan Temple for the first few hours of your third morning. Visit the mesmerising historic neighborhoods of the Datong district; where Dihua Street is located. Allowing visitors a glimpse of mid-19th century Taipei as well as the city’s thriving artistic side, the street is known as being the heart of traditional medicinal tea, sundries, fabric and tailor shops. Check out the Taoist Xiahai Temple; constructed in 1856 with a Deity statue from Fujian Province, the temple is a must-see when adventuring Dihua Street. The temple was constructed to supposedly protect everyone within the neighbourhood, but has now become known across the city as the temple for matchmaking and love.
Day 3 - Lunch & Afternoon
Wander the vibrant Yongle Market; one of the biggest fabric markets in Taiwan. Zigzag your way through a vibrant maze of beautifully made colourful fabrics, accessories, laces and embroidered materials. Head to a traditional restaurant nearby and sip on a Chinese herb tea, and snack on a crispy, yet chewy tempura. From there, head onto the well-loved Longshan Temple. While most temples are often dedicated to one Deity or religion, Longshan Temple is an amazing mix of the Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian faiths. Taiwan has an inclusive attitude towards religion, and Longshan Temple the embodiment of that inclusive spirit. Exploring both Taiwan's vibrant folk faith, the unique temple arts and the incredible architecture of the spiritual haven.
Day 3 - Evening
No trip to Taipei would be complete without a visit to Taipei’s Ximen neighbourhood. In order to experience fully everything this city has to offer, take a stroll in Ximending; one of Taipei’s coolest neighborhoods that quite literally never sleeps. Experience an overindulgence for the senses and relish in the pulsing Taiwan energy of shopping paired with the steam of delicious street side food. Check out the interesting and artful Japanese menu on offer at Lan Shan Shi Si. Try a yummy long sushi board or an eel bowl. If you can, it’s best to reserve one of the few spots at the atmospheric sushi bar on the main floor, rather than the floor below, which feels more cafe-like. The food is yummy and the vibe is great.
Day 3 - Night
A must for anyone’s 3 days in Taipei itinerary, the iconic Red House is not to be missed.
Built in 1908 by the Japanese, the Western-style building and its surrounding square located at Ximending is home to Taipei's creative and culture industry, hosting exhibitions and performances daily. Originally a first government-operated public-run market, with an octagonal entrance and cross-shaped floor plan where merchants could showcase their goods. Now, the market space has been redeveloped into a creative arts and design space. The space also has a concert hall which hosts cultural events, concerts and exhibitions. Wondering where to stay in Taipei? The surrounding area is home to lots of cool inclusive bars and has a great nightlife to explore.
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