A Culture-Lover's Guide to Taipei

Advisor - Kersti Straub-Kuo
Curated By

Kersti Straub-Kuo

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  • Taiwan

  • Food & Wine

  • Nature Escapes

  • Arts & Culture

  • Active Travel

  • Local Food

  • Downtown

  • Sightseeing

bustling narrow street lined with lantern lights and shops
Curator’s statement

When my husband first took me to his home in Taipei, it immediately became my home away from home. Taiwan has been inhabited by several different countries throughout history, which gives them a uniquely eclectic culture all their own. Nowhere is this as evident as it is in Taipei, where you can find evidence of Portuguese, British, Japanese, Chinese, and Indigenous habitation throughout the city. The city’s rapid development following World War II and the modernization that more recently began to spring up creates a unique cityscape of old and new.

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Where to stay in Taipei

Grand Hotel Taipei

In a palatial high-rise building, this lavish hotel offers refined rooms with city views, several restaurants and poolside bars, and an expansive fitness center with a golf driving range, saunas and tennis courts.

Villa 32

Just steps away frm Beitou’s Thermal Valley, this luxury hotel offers both Japanese-style tatami rooms and modern European options for accommodations, and welcomes its guests to tranquil gardens and bathhouses with natural hot spring water.

Palais de Chine Hotel

The East-meets-West design is in full force in this French-inspired hotel with elements of Chinese culture sprinkled throughout. The hotel serves as its own museum, with antiques, artifacts, and artwork on display throughout the public spaces. The opulent space harkens back to Victorian Europe with an East Asian flair.

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Things to do in Taipei

cityscape at at sunset

When we first stepped out into Taipei, it was overwhelming to think of all the things we wanted to do. The city may not seem too big at first, but it is packed with activities and there is something for everyone.


Yes, in Taiwan outdoor activities are just as accessible in the city as they are in the country. Spend the evening hiking Elephant Mountain to watch the sun set over the city or take the Maokong Gondola up to the mountains to sample some of Taiwan’s famous teas. You can even troll the Taipei Zoo before or after and take in some of the native wildlife Taiwan has to offer.

Beitou is another great place for outdoor activities. Walk along the main street of the area—Zhongshan road—to its end and continue down the footpath until you reach the thermal Valley. This area, also known as Hell Valley, is the source that feeds the hot springs and the many resorts that brought fame to Beitou. Hiking is also easily accessible from this area, as you can take one of the many trails lead to YangMingShan, another local mountain that host several additional sulfur deposits, cemeteries, temples, and even the summer home of former president Chiang Kai-Shek. There are also roads for busses and taxis to take for easier access to some of the mountain’s many activities.


Shopping is available for any price range in Taiwan. For cheap fashion and souvenirs, check out the many night markets of Taiwan, or take a stroll through the Taipei City Underground Mall. For mid-price shopping, department stores are a great option. Much like the American concept of a mall, Taipei’s department stores are multi-floor buildings which contain a variety of stores. Typically, each level has a sort of theme it follows, so if you are looking for something specific you will know where to start searching. Some well-known department stores include Far East SOGO, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, and Eslite Spectrum.

For a high-class shopping experience, opt for a trip to Breeze Center Taipei Station for outdoor shopping at world-renowned designer shops from Ed Hardy to Cartier. Taipei 101 also contains a mall of exclusively high-brow fashion brands and top-of-the-line household goods. While you are there, don’t forget to take a trip to the Taipei 101 observation deck for tea, cakes, photo ops, and some incredible panoramic views of the city.


There is no shortage of cultural sights in Taipei. To better understand modern Taiwan’s history, don’t miss out on visiting the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. The lower floors offer exhibits on CKS’s life and the establishment of the Republic of China as well as changing exhibitions featuring local and international art and artifacts which continue on to the third floor. The fourth floor, also accessible from a distance from outside, is where you will find the Bronze Statue Hall, where the changing of the guard ceremony is preformed every hour from 9 AM until 6 PM. Don’t forget to check out the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Park the memorial sits within, as there are often events held in the courtyard and beautiful gardens surrounding. This is also the home of the National Theatre and Concert Hall, twin buildings which host a variety of shows and concerts with a cultural focus.

The National Palace Museum houses the largest collection of Chinese Artifacts and Artworks, most of which were brought over during the Republic of China’s retreat from Mainland China. With over 700,000 pieces in their collection, only about 1% of the collection is on display at any given time. For both History and culture buffs, the National Palace Museum is a necessity for your itinerary.

For more history of Taiwan, take a trip to the National Revolutionary Martyr’s Shrine in Zhongshan or visit Fort San Domingo in Tamsui. Also stop by the Hot Spring Museum on your trip to Beitou. These are only a few landmarks of Taipei that show the true diversity of cultural influences that permeate the city.

The list of temples is too long to list in one guide, but we took a special trip to see Banka Lungshan Temple in Wanhua. This folk temple is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin and served as a place of worship for Chinese settlers. Natural disasters like earthquakes and fires but the people of Taipei continue to rebuild it. Local tip: Shrines and temples are sacred places that locals treat with a great deal of respect. Please be mindful when taking photos.


Make sure you check out Miramar Entertainment Park for a day of shopping and fun. The Ferris Wheel is the centerpiece of this entertainment haven. Catch a flick on the largest film screen in Asia at the Miramar Theater, or fill your day with fun with the various attractions contained within.

Other offerings for entertainment can be found throughout the city and some have already been mentions, such as Taipei 101 and Beitou’s hot springs. There are numerous classes for making Taiwanese foods and pastries, museums galore and fun activities for families with young children. Make the most of your stay booking with me, and I can help create a custom itinerary that suites your personal needs and style of travel.

Places to eat & drink in Taipei

entrance to a food market market at night

If there is one thing that set Taiwan apart, it’s the food. Food is a huge part of Taiwan’s culture and it is EVERYWHERE. If you are craving dumplings, the world-famous Din Tai Fung is an absolute must during your visit. This chain is known for having the best soup dumplings around, and for their precision in making them. You’ll also want to grab a bowl of Taiwan’s most famous dish – beef noodle soup. There are plenty of fantastic options and no two places make it the same. No list of Taiwanese food would be complete without Ling Dong Fan, Taiwan’s most famous Beef Noodles.

Taiwanese rarely eat breakfast at home, so when in Taipei, try opting out of your hotel’s provided breakfast in favor of a local breakfast shop. You can opt for famed Xi Jie Soy Milk King in Yonghe, or find a local favorite.

If you have a more refined palate and are looking for some finer dining, try Omakase sushi at Adachi. Just keep in mind that any Omakase restaurant needs to be booked well in advance.

My personal dining recommendation: If you are in Beitou, try Man-Lai Hot Spring Ramen. This small, unassuming shop has a deceivingly Japanese feel when you first step inside, but the menu is a marriage of Japanese and Taiwanese flavors. Like many dining option in Beitou, Man-Lai uses the waters from the hot springs to cook, which adds a new depth of flavor to every dish. This was probably my favorite dining experience in Taipei.

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Jessica Yeh's guide, First-Timer's Guide to Taiwan.

Advisor - Kersti Straub-Kuo

Travel Advisor

Kersti Straub-Kuo

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