Here’s a guide on top things to know about Taipei before visiting and some of the best Taipei travel tips – ultimate guide for your trip to Taipei, a city that effortlessly blends the past and the future into an unforgettable experience.
Our Taipei guide covers everything you’ll need to make your stay extraordinary. We delve into the nitty-gritty details of visa regulations, cultural norms, and local customs. You’ll get insider tips on navigating the public transportation system, and comprehensive recommendations on the best eateries, nightspots, and must-visit neighborhoods.
Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, an avid shopper, or an outdoor enthusiast, we’ve got something for you.
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Where to Stay in Taipei – Biggest Deals on Hotels and Airbnbs
You can browse the map above to find some of the best deals currently in Taipei at the moment or save money by booking hotels below.
You might wonder what makes Taipei a must-visit destination. Beyond its economic importance as a global business hub, Taipei is a city that embraces diversity in every sense. It’s where the ancient art of Chinese calligraphy coexists with the innovative buzz of start-up culture. It’s a place where you can savor a bowl of street-side beef noodle soup for lunch and dine on Michelin-starred cuisine for dinner. It’s a city that’s as alive at 3 a.m. as it is at 3 p.m., thanks to its bustling night markets and vibrant club scene.
As Taiwan’s bustling capital, Taipei offers travelers an intoxicating blend of the old and the new. At first glance, it’s a high-tech cityscape with glittering skyscrapers and ultra-modern amenities. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll discover ancient temples, time-honored traditions, and a culinary scene that’s rooted in centuries of history. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, this guide is designed to be your comprehensive, go-to resource for every aspect of your Taipei journey.
Visa Requirements – Things to Know About Taipei Before Visiting
Before you set your heart on the mesmerizing views from Taipei 101 or the mouth-watering delicacies of Taiwanese street food, it’s crucial to get your paperwork in order. While most Western visitors can enter Taiwan visa-free for up to 90 days, there are exceptions based on nationality, the purpose of your visit, and other factors.
Insider Tip: Keep electronic and physical copies of your passport, visa, and any other essential documents. Use secure cloud storage or a dedicated app for added safety.
Visa Extensions and Overstays
If you find yourself enamored by Taipei and wish to extend your stay, it’s possible to apply for a visa extension at the National Immigration Agency. But be warned: overstaying can result in hefty fines and a ban from reentering Taiwan for a set period.
Understanding Taipei: A Glimpse into its Culture and History
Taipei is not just a business hub or a tech-savvy metropolis; it’s a city steeped in rich cultural heritage. The city has undergone incredible transformations from a simple river port to an economically and culturally vibrant capital.
The Concept of “Face”
Understanding the concept of “face” in Chinese culture is crucial. It goes beyond mere reputation and dives deep into one’s standing, dignity, and prestige in social circles. “Losing face” can have more severe social ramifications than you might realize.
Deep Dive: Allocate a day to visit the National Palace Museum, a world treasure trove with the largest collection of ancient Chinese artifacts. Understanding the historical context enriches your grasp of Taipei today.
Language and Communication – Things to Know About Taipei
The Gift of Gab in Mandarin
Although a significant portion of locals understand and speak English, the primary language is Mandarin. Learning a few key phrases in Mandarin is not just polite but can also enhance your travel experience.
- Nǐ hǎo: Hello
- Xièxiè: Thank you
- Zài jiàn: Goodbye
App Recommendation: Download the Pleco app for language translation and to learn phrases. This app provides accurate translations and offers a glimpse into the intricacies of Mandarin.
Getting Around Taipei – Taipei Travel Tips (Things to Know About Taipei)
Your Ticket to Taipei
From the ultra-efficient and impeccably clean Taipei Metro (MRT) to an extensive network of buses, taxis, and bike-sharing options like YouBike, navigating Taipei is a breeze.
Pro Tip: An Easycard is your best friend in Taipei. Not only does it give you discounted fares on public transport, but you can also use it at convenience stores, certain restaurants, and even for bike rentals.
For those who require it, Taipei’s public transportation system is accessible, with facilities like elevators, ramps, and designated spaces in buses and trains.
Street Food and Eating Around in Taipei (Things to Know About Taipei)
Taiwanese cuisine is a blend of various culinary traditions, making it a unique feast for the senses. From succulent ‘Gua Bao’ (pork belly buns) to the iconic Taiwanese Bubble Tea, the gastronomic possibilities are endless.
Must-Try: Oyster Omelet at Shilin Night Market is a delectable fusion of oysters, eggs, and a tangy sauce. This local delicacy offers a wonderful balance of flavors and textures.
Vegan and Vegetarian Options
Fear not, plant-based travelers! Taipei is increasingly becoming more accommodating to vegetarian and vegan diets. Look for the characters “素食” (sùshí), which means vegetarian food.
Exploring Neighborhoods: From Xinyi to Shilin
Taipei’s neighborhoods offer a microcosm of the city’s dual identity. Xinyi is a glitzy business district, peppered with skyscrapers, luxury boutiques, and high-end eateries. In contrast, Shilin provides a more traditional Taiwanese experience, especially with its renowned night market.
Walking Tours: Engaging with a local guide can offer unparalleled insights into the neighborhoods. Many companies offer specialized walking tours that cater to various interests—be it food, history, or art.
Top Things to Do in Taipei – Things To Know About Taipei
Soaring High: Taipei 101
Arguably the most iconic landmark in Taipei, Taipei 101 is an architectural marvel and was once the world’s tallest building. Take the ultra-fast elevator to the observation deck on the 89th floor for jaw-dropping views of the city.
Insider Tip: Visit during sunset to catch the golden hour, which offers excellent photographic opportunities.
A Trip Through Time: National Palace Museum
Home to over 700,000 pieces of Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks, the National Palace Museum is a must-visit for history buffs.
Deep Dive: Consider hiring a licensed guide to understand the significance of the key artifacts, many of which date back several millennia.
Night Market Saga: Shilin Night Market
The granddaddy of all night markets in Taiwan, Shilin Night Market offers a dizzying array of foods, from giant fried chicken steaks to stinky tofu. The market is also a great place to shop for souvenirs.
Must-Try: The famous Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken is something you shouldn’t miss.
Natural Respite: Yangmingshan National Park
A short bus ride from downtown Taipei, this national park offers hiking trails, hot springs, and incredible views. It’s a perfect day trip for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Travel Hack: Wear comfortable footwear suitable for hiking and take plenty of water.
Urban Oasis: Daan Forest Park
Daan Forest Park is Taipei’s equivalent of Central Park in New York. With its lush greenery, small ponds, and various bird species, the park offers a perfect escape within the city.
Activity: Rent a paddle boat for a romantic ride across one of the small lakes.
A Slice of Faith: Longshan Temple
Longshan Temple is an epitome of Taiwanese classical architecture, rich with carvings and sculptures. It’s a tranquil place for spiritual reflection or to witness the local customs and ceremonies.
Cultural Note: Observe the temple etiquette; for instance, it’s customary to enter through the dragon gate and exit through the tiger gate.
Shop Till You Drop: Ximending
Often referred to as the “Shibuya of Taipei,” Ximending is a shopping paradise for young people. From the latest fashion trends to vintage finds, the district has something for every taste and budget.
Hidden Gem: Keep an eye out for street performers and artists that give Ximending its eclectic vibe.
Feast on Dumplings: Din Tai Fung
No visit to Taipei is complete without a meal at Din Tai Fung. This Michelin-starred restaurant is renowned for its xiao long bao (soup dumplings).
Insider Tip: The queues can be long; it’s advisable to go during off-peak hours.
Nostalgic Journey: Tamsui Old Street
Take a ride to Tamsui to experience a different side of Taipei. The Tamsui Old Street is ideal for strolls, with shops selling various traditional foods and crafts.
Must-Do: Try the Iron Egg, a Tamsui specialty. It’s a type of preserved egg, marinated and repeatedly cooked until it becomes dark and chewy.
Soothe Your Senses: Beitou Hot Springs
Accessible via the MRT, Beitou offers various hot springs ranging from private to public baths. The area also has a library known for its eco-friendly architecture and a museum dedicated to the history and science of thermal baths.
Relaxation Tip: Most hot springs offer different pools with varying temperatures, so you can find one that’s comfortable for you.
When to Visit Taipei: Weather and Seasons
Taipei’s humid subtropical climate is something to consider when planning your trip. While typhoon season spans from June to October, the rest of the year provides relatively stable weather.
Travel Hack: Visiting in late autumn can offer you a double advantage—fewer crowds and comfortable temperatures, ranging from 60-75°F (15-24°C).
Taipei Nightlife: From Night Markets to Clubs
Whether you’re an extrovert who loves the club scene or someone who prefers a quiet corner in a cozy bar, Taipei’s nightlife doesn’t disappoint. Night markets like Shilin and Raohe offer a lively atmosphere with a variety of snacks and trinkets.
Hidden Gem: Raohe Night Market is often less crowded than Shilin and offers a variety of unique foods and souvenirs. It provides a more local experience, perfect for those looking to escape the tourist trail.
Safety and Emergency Information (Things To Know About Taipei)
Taipei ranks among the world’s safest cities, but it never hurts to be prepared. Always keep a list of emergency numbers and the location of your country’s embassy.
- Police: 110
- Fire & Ambulance: 119
Taiwan’s healthcare system is top-notch, with an abundance of pharmacies and medical facilities. Nevertheless, it’s advisable to have comprehensive travel insurance for unforeseen health issues.
Must-Know: Always carry a basic medical kit. Include essentials like painkillers, antiseptics, band-aids, and any personal medication
Currency and Payment Methods in Taipei
The official currency of Taiwan is the New Taiwan Dollar (NTD or TWD), and it is widely used throughout Taipei. Currency notes come in denominations of NTD 100, 500, and 1,000, with coins ranging from NTD 1 to 50.
Exchange Rates: 1 US Dollar roughly equates to 28-30 NTD. Be sure to check up-to-date rates before your travel.
Where to Exchange: It’s advisable to exchange some currency before your trip, but you’ll also find numerous currency exchange counters at Taoyuan International Airport and throughout the city. ATMs are also widely available and can offer competitive rates.
How to Pay: Credit and debit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants, and shops, but it’s a good idea to carry some cash for smaller vendors, especially in night markets or rural areas. Contactless payments, such as Apple Pay, are becoming more common but aren’t universally accepted.
Insider Tip: Consider getting a prepaid Easycard for payments in public transport, convenience stores, and even some restaurants. It’s a convenient way to pay, and you’ll often receive small discounts when using it.
Remember to notify your bank about your travel dates so that you can use your credit/debit cards without any hiccups. Always choose to be charged in the local currency to avoid additional fees.
Frequently Asked Questions – Things To Know About Taipei
Q: Is the tap water in Taipei safe to drink?
A: While the tap water in Taipei meets the World Health Organization’s safety standards, most locals and tourists prefer to drink boiled or bottled water due to the presence of residual chlorine and other minor contaminants.
Q: Do I need to tip in restaurants and taxis?
A: Tipping is generally not expected in Taipei, as a 10% service charge is usually added to restaurant bills. However, tipping for exceptional service is always appreciated but not mandatory.
Q: Is Taipei vegan-friendly?
A: Taipei is becoming increasingly vegan-friendly with a range of options from street food to high-end restaurants. Look for signs or menus indicating “素食” (vegetarian) and clarify whether they serve vegan options.
Q: What’s the best way to exchange currency?
A: Currency exchange counters are available at the airport, and ATMs are widely accessible throughout the city. Some may prefer to withdraw from ATMs for better rates, but always check with your bank about international transaction fees.
Q: Can I use my credit card everywhere?
A: Credit cards are widely accepted in Taipei, especially in shopping malls, high-end restaurants, and hotels. However, smaller shops, street vendors, and some traditional markets may only accept cash.
Q: How reliable is public transport?
A: Taipei’s public transport system, including the MRT and buses, is very reliable, clean, and punctual. Google Maps provides accurate information for planning your route.
Q: Is Taipei LGBTQ+ friendly?
A: Yes, Taipei is considered one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in Asia. The city annually hosts a large pride parade, and same-sex marriage was legalized in Taiwan in 2019.
Q: Are there any dress codes I should be aware of?
A: Generally, Taipei is quite liberal in terms of dress code. However, some religious sites may require appropriate attire, such as covered shoulders or long pants.
Q: What’s the situation with Wi-Fi?
A: Free public Wi-Fi is available at many spots in the city, including MRT stations and some cafes. For constant connectivity, consider renting a pocket Wi-Fi or purchasing a local SIM card.
Q: Is Taipei kid-friendly?
A: Absolutely! Taipei offers various attractions suitable for children, including Taipei Zoo, Maokong Gondola, and numerous parks and interactive museums.
Q: Can I negotiate prices while shopping?
A: Bargaining is generally not practiced in most stores; however, you can try negotiating at some night markets or street stalls. But remember, polite haggling is the key.
Final Thoughts on Taipei Travel Tips and Things to Know About Taipei
If you’re planning a trip to Taipei, our comprehensive guide has you covered. We’ve discussed everything from visa regulations and currency tips to getting around the city, weather considerations, and the top activities to make your stay memorable.
Taipei is a vibrant city that offers a perfect blend of the traditional and the modern. Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, or just someone looking to explore a dynamic Asian capital, Taipei has something for everyone.
With its welcoming locals, rich cultural tapestry, and endless opportunities for adventure, your trip to Taipei promises to be unforgettable. Keep this guide handy as you embark on your journey, and here’s to the trip of a lifetime!