Eco-friendly travel guide to Taipei advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Taipei, Taiwan.
- Air quality: 2.5 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 4 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle:3.5 / 5
- Public transportation: 5 / 5
- Parks: 4 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 3,5 / 5
- Locals' English level: 2 / 5
- Safety: 4.5 / 5
- Accommodation: US$30 - $300
- Budget per day: US$100 - $500
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
Taipei is the capital city of Taiwan. The city is home to an estimated population of 2,646,204 forming the core part of the Taipei–Keelung metropolitan area, which includes the nearby cities of New Taipei and Keelung with a population of 7,047,559. Some of the options available for responsible travel are:
The concepts of sustainable travel, or sustainable tourism, is relatively new in Taiwan, but they echo within the core values of the traditional culture. Over the past few decades, Taiwan has been blessed with a so-called "Economic Miracle" in terms of economic growth. However, the pursuit of growth in GDP and the blind embrace of capitalism has also taken its toll on the natural and social environment of Taiwan. Over the past decade or so, more and more people have been aware and have taken action to re-build sustainable communities and advocate for the importance of environmental protection and preservation of natural resources. The concept of eco-travel has been widely known and accepted with the progress of this "green movement".
One of the sustainable ways to travel in Taipei is by using public transport.
- Trains are fast, reliable and cheap means. Taiwan has both a High-Speed Rail (HSR) and a regular rail link.
- Bus, slower but cheaper than trains, also connect passengers to more destinations than the trains.
Cycling around the island is also a popular tourist activity.
Some of the ways in which one can responsibly enjoy their time in Taipei are:
- Learn the local language and culture
- Visit the attractions in the city
- Sample the local cuisines including street foods
- Sleep in eco-friendly hotels
- Shop in the flea markets
Air Quality and Pollution
While the Taiwanese are known as some of the friendliest people in the world, a little effort in learning the culture is always appreciated. After all, it's always a good idea to learn about a country's customs and etiquette before visiting, especially in Asian countries where they are considered extremely important.
Air pollution in Taiwan is mostly derived from sources of domestic combustion, primarily the burning of fossil fuels. Taiwan's topography has been noted to be a contributing factor to its air pollution problem, leading to poor dispersal and trapping pollutants. Taipei, Taiwan's capital and largest city, for example, is surrounded by mountains, and other industrial centers along the northern and western coasts of Taiwan are surrounded by high mountains. It is claimed that there are about 3 million motorcycles and 1million cars on Taipei’s roads, with motorcycles being called the primary means of transport for the majority of the city’s adult population. Motorcycles with two-stroke engines were claimed to be the biggest single source of vehicular pollution in Taiwan, while also being the majority of the motorcycles operating in Taiwan.
Respect the Culture
The Taiwanese culture is a blend of Chinese, Austronesian, Japanese and Western culture. Because Taiwan never experienced Communist oppression, visitors have opportunities to witness traditional religious practices and ancient customs that have disappeared from the Chinese mainland. As a consequence, Taiwan is sometimes said to be ‘more Chinese than China’ while at the same time being ‘much more than Chinese’.
Taiwanese families are close-knit and usually extended families live together. Most Taiwanese people stay very close to their parents, even after they’ve married. Many Taiwanese parents offer their grown-up children a degree of support – some may see it as interference but that is not the case. It isn’t unusual for parents to buy houses for their children or choose what subject their youngsters study at university.
The people of Taiwan value hard work, patience, humility, friendliness and respect for others. They are highly motivated and centered on the extended family, their most important economic resource. They dislike loud, showy and unrefined behavior. Disgracing anyone ("loss of face") brings shame to the entire family.
Handshakes are the most usual form of greeting with foreigners. Taiwanese people are not so much into hugging. When friends and acquaintances meet, a slight head bow or a wave and a friendly “hi” will do.
A nod of the head or a slight bow is considered polite for the first meeting. Handshakes are generally only for males who are friends. Introductions are important. Do not introduce yourself. Instead, have a third person introduce you. At a party or business meeting, wait to be introduced by the host.
Recipients may refuse a gift to be polite. Politely persist until the gift is accepted. Custom requires people to reciprocate with a gift of equal value. Gifts should be wrapped with great care. The container of the gift and its wrapping is as important as the gift itself. Present and receive a gift with both hands. Gifts are not opened in front of the giver.
As a foreigner, one must respect the shared traditions and beliefs that hold the country together.
Top 10 Places to Visit
Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is a modern metropolis with Japanese colonial lanes, busy shopping streets and contemporary buildings. The skyline is crowned by the 509m-tall, bamboo-shaped Taipei 101 skyscraper, with upscale shops at the base and a rapid elevator to an observatory near the top. Taipei is also known for its lively street-food scene and many night markets, including the expansive Shilin market. Listed here are some of the most interesting places:
- Grand Hotel: Taiwan’s most famous hotel has been host to many foreign dignitaries and celebrities. It’s a wonderful building with a historic feel. Even tourists who are not staying at the hotel come to enjoy afternoon tea and take photos of the impressive structure.
- National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall: Standing tall in the center of the city, National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall is an iconic monument of the city that pays tribute to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen – the founder of the Republic of China. This stunning building represents a historic period when Taiwan was ruled by the Qing Dynasty, and it invites visitors to take a closer look inside.
- Snake Alley: Known for its seedy pornographic history, a unique assortment of local delicacies and a flair for the bold and bizarre, Snake Alley is for those who want to experience all of the glitz and glamour of a Las Vegas-style night while visiting downtown Taipei. Snake Alley is frequented among tourists who want to be impressed by over the top attractions and those who are looking for an authentic Taiwanese meal in a coveted night market setting.
- Mengchia Chingshui Temple: Built in honor of the God Qingshui Zushi, who saved the city of Taipei from drought during ancient times, Mengchia Chingshui Temple is a must-see attraction for those who have a profound love of history and beautiful things. This temple is smaller in size than some of the other famous temples of the city but is still impressive none the less.
- Dihua Street: This former 'Centre Street' has long been known for its Chinese medicine shops, fabric market and lively Lunar New Year sundry market. It has attracted numerous restoration and cultural projects and is now a magnet for young entrepreneurs, eager to breathe new life into the neighborhood with cafes, restaurants, art studios and antique shops.
- Hobe Fort: About 1km beyond Fort San Domingo on Zhongzheng Rd is the turn-off for Hobe Fort; built in 1886 when then Governor Liu Ming-Chuan was attempting to shore up Taiwan's defenses to protect it against foreign invaders. If Fort San Domingo was meant to convey authority, Hobe Fort was built for military action.
- Oxford College: Oxford College was the first western university in Taiwan and was founded by Presbyterian missionary George Leslie Mackay. The original building, built in 1882, fronts a Chinese-style pond and a large, more recent chapel. It forms part of Aletheia University, whose functioning campus is next door.
- Shilin Night Market: Taipei's most famous night market is hugely popular with travelers – and many young locals – who come to enjoy the carnival of street-side snacking, shopping and games. In 2011, the government moved much of the action inside a covered market: the food vendors were relegated to the basement, while clothing, toys and games were given ground level, diluting all the fun. However, there are still lanes and lanes full of food stalls outside, and they retain the original buzz.
- Maokong Gondola: This 4km-long, 30-minute gondola ride is as much an attraction as a mode of transport. On clear days and nights, the views across Taipei and up the lush Zhinan River valley are enchanting; on foggy days they are dreamy. The gondola has four stations: near the zoo, Taipei Zoo South, Zhinan Temple and Maokong itself.
- Minsheng Community: This is the place to watch Taiwan's hipsters while enjoying a street-side coffee or browsing upcycled designer wear or exclusive art galleries. It's a secret little oasis from the traffic-choked streets full of malls and towers. In recent years it has gained fame from being the set of many TV shows and films.
Taipei is a friendly city and its allure lies in its blend of Chinese culture with a curious fusion of Japanese, Southeast Asian and American influences.
In many ways, this 300-year-old city is like a living museum. The Taoist temples buzz with the prayers of the hopeful; the wooden boards of Japanese-era mansions creak under the feet of visitors; while the treasures in the National Palace Museum date back 5000 years. Merchant villas to military barracks have been restored, reworked and now live again as a museum or a shopfront. From the heirlooms of a tea merchant to the memories of a cemetery for the victims of the White Terror, Taipei is a city that takes great pride in celebrating its history – the triumphant and the tragic.
- Huashan 1914 Creative Park: Once a privately owned winery during Japan’s rule over the city, Huashan 1914 Creative Park is now a picturesque recreational spot complete with perfectly manicured lawns, art centers, and more. This is a place that inspires creativity and encourages locals as well as guests to explore their inner artists and learn about the culture of Taipei.
- Botanical Gardens: An oasis in the city, this 8-hectare park has well-stocked greenhouses, literature- and Chinese-zodiac-themed gardens, a lotus pond and myriad lanes where you can lose yourself in quiet contemplation. The gardens were established by the Japanese in 1921 and are part of a larger neighborhood that maintains an old Taipei feel.
- Songshan Cultural & Creative Park: Set in a former tobacco factory (or more accurately an industrial village) from the 1930s, this lovely park is part lush gardens, part frog-filled lake, part industrial chic, part workshop and part design studio. The place is dotted with pop-up creative shops, cafes and galleries. The long, steel grey-painted corridors of the factory have a wonderful, institutional throwback feel.
- Yangmingshan National Park: The northernmost national park on the island of Taiwan; it has a volcanic landform. Yangminshan is famous for its hot springs and geothermal phenomenon. Each spring, Yangminshan also has a dazzling flower season. It is located partially in Taipei City and partially in New Taipei City.
While Taipei in itself is not a coastal city, the following beaches are easily accessed from the city center.
- Qianshuiwan: Located a mere 20 kilometers from the Taipei/New Taipei border, Qianshuiwan, is the closest good beach to Taipei City. Qianshuiwan is probably the best Taipei beach to visit for its combination of beauty, clear water, small waves, ease of access, and restaurant facilities.
- Fulong: Popular among the younger generation, Fulong beach is a long stretch of golden sand some of which is partitioned off as a private area. Anyone can use the private area for a small fee which will give them access to showers and changing rooms. However, the public beach is clean and wonderfully scenic with pathways through the dunes and grasses.
- Laomei: Famous for its green troughs and trenches carved out of volcanic rock, Laomei is a must-visit section of coastline for photographers. This is an expansive sand beach with the stone troughs and trenches meeting the sea in the middle section. The algae growing on the stones thrives from April to May making it the best time to visit to see the full spectacle.
- Waiao Beach: Waiao Beach is located in Yilan County outside of the Toucheng Township which is about an hour to an hour and a half drive from the heart of Taipei. For the casual observer, this beach is amazing because of the black sand, but it is even more famous today for the surf culture that has flourished over the last decade or so.
- Taipei 101: Once known as the tallest building in the entire world, Taipei 101 is a relatively new building to the world's massive skyscraper scene, and features a postmodernist look and feel to it. The building was constructed in such a way that it brings the best of classic Asian design with modern Western influences. This building is home to 101 above-ground floors that host offices, restaurants, business centers, observatories, and more.
- Longshan Temple: Founded in 1738 by Han immigrants from Fujian, this temple has served as a municipal, guild and self-defense center, as well as a house of worship. These days it is one of the city's top religious sites and a prime venue for exploring both Taiwan's vibrant folk faith and its unique temple arts and architecture.
- Bao'an Temple: Recipient of a Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for both its restoration and its revival of temple rites and festivities, Bao'an Temple (also called Dalongdong Bao'an Temple) is a must-visit when in Taipei. This exquisite structure is loaded with prime examples of the traditional decorative arts, and the yearly folk arts festival (April to June) is a showcase of traditional performance arts.
- Qingshan Temple: Along with Longshan, this elegant temple, first built in 1856, is one of Wanhua's top houses of worship. There is an abundance of top-quality wood, stone and decorative artwork to see here, and the god's birthday festival is one of Taipei's liveliest religious events. Called the Night Patrol, this parade takes place from 5 pm to 9 pm over two nights.
- National Palace Museum: Home to one of the largest historic artifact collections in the world, the National Palace Museum is an attraction you do not want to miss. This museum is home to over 700,000 pieces of history that date back to ancient times and is a place where people of all ages can learn something new. Whether you are into art, historic hand tools, cooking memorabilia, or something in between, there is an exhibit within this museum that will make you stand in awe.
- Beitou Hot Springs Museum: Constructed in honor of traditional Roman bathhouses, Beitou Hot Springs Museum pays tribute to the art of natural healing and beauty treatments in the region. The building the museum sits in was constructed in 1913 and is adorned in traditional Japanese architecture that embodies the essence of the Japanese rule of the time. The museum is meant to be a relaxing retreat for travel-weary visitors.
- Fagushan Nongchan Temple: Fagushan Nongchan Temple is a place where you can go and pay your respects to a former monastery society that lived completely off the land. It is an interesting fortress where you can learn about culture, religion, and the pursuit of personal purity. The building and surrounding wall were dreamed up in the 1960s and became a reality to the region by 1975. It was to be a place where traditional Buddhist teachings were practiced.
- Taipei Fine Arts Museum: The Museum of Fine Arts is ideally located in the Taipei Expo Park. Visitors can enjoy walks through the park, floral exhibitions, and an outdoor covered food court. The museum itself is home to some of Taiwan’s best fine art pieces, and although the national museum is located in Taichung, the Taipei branch is still an interesting place to visit. Aside from the permanent exhibits, there are temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
- National Taiwan Museum: Set at the entrance to one of Taiwan’s most famous parks, 228 Peace Park, National Taiwan Museum exhibits some of the region’s most interesting historical artifacts. From aboriginal tribes to local traditions and cultures, visitors to this museum will learn practically everything they need to know about Taiwan.
As one of Asia’s greatest food-obsessed cities, Taipei stands out in particular for its culinary offering. And while it’s long been known for its markets and casual restaurants, the city is now turning heads with its contemporary fine dining scene in which Taiwan’s seasonal produce is championed.
Traditional Local Restaurants
- Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle: Established in 1975, Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle has become a popular component of the Ximending area and practically an essential stop for any visit there. The street-side eatery is famous for its smooth noodles, served in a sweet and sour broth, with skipjack tuna, shredded bamboo shoots and salt-cured intestines. There isn't a menu as there is only one dish, which is so popular in Taipei that it is usual to see a lengthy queue to get some.
- Lin Dong Fang: A lot of eateries claim to do the best beef noodles, but a common name to find at the top of that list is Lin Dong Fang. It is a humble sort of roadside restaurant, with its kitchen open to the street. With beef noodles being one of the most popular dishes in Taiwanese cuisine – so much so that it gets its own annual festival in Taipei – Lin Dong Fang is extremely popular with locals. The signature dish is the half-tendon/half-shank beef noodle soup.
- Shilin Night Market: The night markets of Taipei are extremely popular among the Taiwanese as great places for great cheap eats. Shilin Night Market is the largest and has the best choice, with well over 500 stalls in the covered food court. It is crowded and noisy, but the range of local snacks and meals available is unrivaled, with the quality of many also being very high while the prices remain very low.
- Pin Xian: Pin Xian is the best of Taipei’s popular kuai chao (quick fry) eateries. The simple street-side restaurant serves a massive choice of food, mostly fried and mostly priced at about NT$100. They specialize in seafood, with notable dishes including deep-fried squid mouth, black pepper tofu with oysters and spicy shark soup.
- Jin Feng Lu Rou Fan: Braised pork rice is one of the top local dishes in Taipei, and the lu rou fan is so good at Jin Feng that it’s part of the restaurant’s name. A simple street-side eatery, with fans attached to the tiled walls and cheap tables and chairs packed into the narrow shop, the open kitchen is widely thought to turn out the best pork rice in town.
- Yongkang Beef Noodles: Yongkang Beef Noodles is highly regarded in Taipei for its namesake soup. Their generous portions of chewy noodles, tender beef and rich broth are available in several varieties, all of them cheap, simple and tasty. Other dishes, such as steamed ribs, are also available and, while the menu is entirely in Chinese, there are pictures to help you choose and order.
- Lan Jia: Lan Jia is said to be the home of the best gua bao in Taiwan, with the short menu (which takes the form of a series of tickboxes, with only Chinese text) also featuring rice dumplings, 4-flavored soup with pork intestines, and pork noodles, among others. You can choose how fatty you want the pork for your gua bao to be, giving it a degree of customization.
Vegetarian and Vegan
- Ya Ge: The vegetarian dishes and dim sum at Ya Ge are often considered a great hidden menu for those in the know, with the line-up, modified every three months to keep it fresh and seasonal. In the latest menu, there are afternoon dim sum options such as steamed matsutake mushroom and wild fungus dumpling, steamed rice roll with assorted vegetables and fungi, as well as pan-fried porcini buns.
- Serenity: Serenity is Taiwan’s only vegetarian Sichuan restaurant. It ticks onion and garlic off its list of ingredients. The owner has been following a vegan diet after converting to Buddhism, but his preference for strong flavors inspired him to cook vegetarian dishes as if they contained meat, and that became the direction of his venture since Serenity opened 12 years ago.
- Joseph Bistro: Indian vegetarian dishes are the bistro’s strong suit. It also caters to those who avoid garlic, onion and other stimulants — they just need to state their preferences while ordering. The menu rotates every three to four months, but fans of the green masala burrata cheese salad can be assured that the signature dish will remain.
- Brother Su Vegan Kitchen: Owned by a former engineer who quit his job to follow his passion, this restaurant is a big hit with vegans living in Taipei. Guests can enjoy typically Taiwanese dishes some of which have a unique twist. They also serve freshly made drinks and vegan baked goods making it the perfect one-stop-shop for a full vegan dinner.
- Plants Eatery: Billed as a modern, plant-based eatery; this vegan restaurant serves up a menu of American style vegetarian dishes that include raw cakes and chia pudding. Regulars have been impressed with the help that the staff offer especially to those that are not vegetarian and that need assistance with the menu.
- Daikon & pork rib bone soup: This soup is not only a popular Taiwanese street food; it’s also one of the most popular Taiwanese home-cooked meals. The daikon radish gives the soup a herbier and sweet flavor and this complements the tender pork ribs surprisingly-well.
- Oyster mee sua: This dish is a great example of how Taiwanese can turn the simplest dishes into real delicacies with a couple of minor changes. Oyster Mee Sua is a regular noodle soup with oysters and braised pig intestines. This makes the soup a lot thicker, it gives it a smooth texture and makes it a lot tastier, especially if you add some black vinegar
- Chen dong ribs in medicinal herbs: This soup is kind of similar to the daikon & pork rib bone soup. The main difference is the ribs are cooked in 14 different herbs, roots, and dried fruits. It’s delicious, healthy, and a great way to stay warm during the winter. After drinking the soup, the locals pick up the bones and suck the juice off. It might sound a bit strange at first, but it makes the dish even tastier and enriches the dining experience even more.
- Ban tiao noodles: Taiwanese are crazy for ban tiao noodles. People drive for hours just to check out a new street food stall that serves great authentic ban tiao noodles. These thick, slippery noodles are made of glutinous rice and are prepared by stir-frying and mixing them with pork and vegetables, giving the dish a rustic texture and a rich flavor. Most locals prefer to have it as a soup but you can get a dry version of it in a lot of places as well.
- Quail egg takoyaki balls: These delicious egg balls are filled with shrimps and prepared in a takoyaki. Just like Japanese takoyaki, the concoction is turned over multiple times and cooked on both sides. The outcome is a perfectly spheric and delicious egg ball that melts in your mouth. There are a variety of toppings one can choose from, like honey mustard, orange yogurt, cheese, Thai sour, etc.
- Milkfish: Milkfish in Taiwan is so popular that it has an entire museum dedicated to it and there’s also a milkfish festival in Kaohsiung. This fish can be prepared in many different ways; it can be pan-fried, served in a soup, braised, or in congee porridge. Milkfish is a local favorite because of its tender meat but it can be a bit tricky to eat because it has a lot more bones than most average fish.
Two distinctly Taiwanese drinking experiences are tea (grown in the Central Mountains) and coffee, with Taipei likely having the most coffee shops per capita in the world. While alcohol is still comparatively expensive, at least the bar scene has improved massively. Taipei is crazy for craft beer, with some excellent local breweries and swanky cocktail joints that compete for creativity.
Tea growing and drinking has a venerable tradition in Taiwan. While most people head to Maokong when they want to enjoy brewing and imbibing, there are a few excellent places within the city as well, many set in beautifully restored Japanese-era residences. Eighty-Eightea, for example, is housed in a refurbished Japanese priest's digs!
There's no lack of bars within the city, although prices are quite high. Places that open early (6 pm) tend to have happy hours until around 8 pm. Bars are spread throughout the city, although Da'an district probably has more than its fair share, especially of the more upmarket cocktail/speakeasy joints. The local craft beer scene has also matured, and so has the cocktail scene. There are fancy places to get dressed up for, and also plenty of casual places to simply relax and hang out.
The tap water supplied by the Taipei Water Department in Taipei, Taiwan is safe for consumption. The T.W.D.’s water quality is held to the same standard as more developed countries. To retain high standards of water quality at points of use, the T.W.D. frequently takes samples of tap water from residents’ homes for examination. The water is taken to Taiwan’s pioneer water examination laboratory, which has been certified by the R.O.C. Environmental Protection Agency. The lab has professional staff and is equipped with state-of-the-art instruments for water quality analysis.
The system has enabled TWD to observe the water quality in the raw water intakes, in the treatment method at its purification plant, and the distribution system. Consequently, it assures the quality of the water supply and enhances TWD’s credibility. The TWD also collects water samples from all water sources, which includes the Feitsui Reservoir and treatment plants across the city, for analysis. Water quality in Taipei is outstanding according to the reported data.
Rising food safety awareness and health consciousness among consumers in Taiwan have made the consumption of organic foods a popular trend. Taipei has several organic cafes and stores:
- Green &Safe
- Green Leaf
- Santa Cruz
- Les Gourmands
- Dou Yan Tofu
Only a few years ago, beer lovers in Taiwan had to search far and wide to find anything resembling a craft beer, but times have changed, and how they’ve changed. Taiwan now boasts a burgeoning craft beer industry with a host of microbreweries serving up everything from pale ales to pilsners: some of the breweries include:
- Taipei Brewery
- Zhang Men Brewing
- Jolly Brewery
Think of Taipei, and images of Taipei 101 will undoubtedly spring to mind. But this thriving capital city offers so much more than a ride in one of the world’s fastest elevators. Taipei is a city rich in culture and history. It is home to some of Taiwan's most beautiful temples and hundreds of amazing restaurants. And as the region's capital, it is also a thriving commercial hub with both night markets and high-end stores dotted throughout the city.
One of the most incredible cities in Asia, there are endless things to do in Taipei, a diverse and chaotic city with an eclectic mix of influences. You can also spend your days eating delicious street food in one of the many night markets, exploring the ancient temples and admiring the views from Taipei’s many vantage points. The city has a world-class transport system and like most Asian cities it’s relatively cheap.
Yoga and Retreats
Should Taipei prove a tad too vibrant, rest assured that the region is also home to some truly relaxing Yoga spots. And while the many national parks of Taiwan offer great opportunities for getting off the grid, there’s nothing quite like a retreat for a truly holistic experience.
Some of the Yoga Retreats in Taipei are:
- Hatha Yoga Taipei
- Yoga Journey
- Space Yoga
- Prana Yoga
- Peace Street Studio
- Sivananda Yoga Studio
Sorting out where to stay in Taipei can be a challenge. As you’d expect from the sprawling capital of Taiwan, the best hotels in Taipei are spread between a variety of eclectic neighborhoods. Each of the best areas to stay in Taipei has its perks and something to offer to every type of traveler. When choosing where to stay in Taipei, there are a handful of main areas you’ll want to look at. From the modernism of Ximending in Wanhua to the luxury hotels of Xinyi set in the shadow of Taipei 101, most of the best districts to stay in Taipei ring in and around the city center.
The nucleus of the city center, Zhongzheng District will probably be your first point of contact when you start exploring Taiwan's capital. This central neighborhood is home to Taipei Main Station, the main transportation hub of Taipei. That alone should put this central neighborhood on the radar when picking out your Taipei accommodations. Not only are there plenty of great accommodation options here, but it’s also one of the most central districts. The accommodations market in the Zhongzheng area features mostly budget to lower mid-range properties. If you’re looking for true luxury during your stay, including one of the top 5-star hotels in Taipei, you’ll need to look into other places like Xinyi or Zhongshan.
- The Amba Hotel: The Amba hotel in Taipei is popular among travelers of Taiwan. The hotel mixes contemporary art and design, with a strong environmental policy and good service. Recycled goods have been reused to create a unique hotel space. The hotel hardly uses any carpets. In the kitchen, spices and smells from cooking are absorbed by a charcoal wall. The homely design-led space is a good example of how Asian hotels have moved away from corporate, official-looking hotels to incorporate a more creative and playful attitude.
- Humble House: Located in the heart of the city, this hotel offers a green getaway. The fifth to seventh floors of the building are used as outdoor green space for guests, where they can sit outside and enjoy nature. Towels and linens are changed only according to patrons' requests to reduce water and energy washing. Almost half of the building's material is eco-friendly: for instance, large windows help to let in natural light, and at night energy-saving bulbs are used, and the air conditioning system is also energy-saving.
Hostels and Guest Houses
- Meander Hostel: This hostel is an extremely popular place for backpackers and travelers on a budget. However, the fact that it’s affordable doesn’t mean that the owners scrimp on comfort. The rooms are very well maintained, and guests are encouraged to spend time in the public areas, dining together and getting to know their fellow travelers and the staff at the hostel.
- Flip Flop Hostel: This hostel has two locations in the city, both of which are quite central and convenient. And to be honest, it's tough to choose one over the other as both are pretty amazing. The colorful décor you'll find throughout the two hostels adds a real summer vibe to your stay, while the staff are very friendly and make a real effort to keep their guests amused. From live music to food challenges, they know how to liven up the place and get everyone involved.
- Star Hostel: Guests at the uber-relaxing Star Hostel could easily forget they are in a city center hostel. The rooms are clean and comfortable with some having great views of the city, but it’s the lounge area downstairs that guests fall in love with. With a distinct Japanese-style décor, the Green Lounge is something of an oasis in the bustling central neighborhood of Datong. The wooden floors, furniture, and fittings, and the many plants give the place a serene feeling that makes it the ideal setting for a relaxing coffee after a day seeing the sights of Taipei.
- Homey Hostel: The rather aptly named Homey Hostel is another central hostel that takes pride in offering that at-home feeling that backpackers won't find in a hotel. The colorful rooms and super clean bathrooms are impressive, but like the other hostels on this list, it's the staff and the atmosphere that impress.
- Work Inn: Where the other hostels impress with their atmosphere, Work Inn impresses with its stylish décor. Exposed brick walls, wooden floors, and contemporary furniture make for an ultra-chic hostel where you can relax in comfort normally reserved for business hotels. But the most notable thing about this place is the fact that you get an LCD TV with headphones for every bed in the dorm. Whether it’s a colleague or a friend, having a local person help out makes the entire process run a lot smoother. There are local notice boards where landlords post their properties as well as a myriad of rental websites with no English options.
Finding an apartment in Taiwan can seem like a daunting task especially if there is a language barrier to overcome. However, with a few tips and a little homework, it’s entirely possible to find the right place at the right price:
- Lienmei: Lienmei is situated in Taipei, 7 km from Zhishan Cultural and Ecological Garden and 7 km from Shilin Night Market, in an area where hiking can be enjoyed. The air-conditioned accommodation is 1.2 km from Beitou Hot Spring, and guests benefit from private parking available on-site and free WiFi. The apartment has 3 bedrooms, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, an equipped kitchen with a microwave and a fridge, a washing machine, and 2 bathrooms with a bidet.
- Gloria Residence: Gloria Residence offers modern apartments with a washing machine in Taipei's Zhongshan District. A 10-minute drive from Ningxia Night Market, it has an indoor pool and 24-hour concierge services. Spacious and decorated with wooden furnishings, air-conditioned apartments come with a flat-screen TV, DVD player and an iPod dock. The kitchens have an espresso machine and stainless steel kitchenware.
- Sunshine Apartment: Sunshine Apartment features a shared lounge. Free WiFi is provided and private parking is available on site. All units are equipped with air conditioning, and some have a flat-screen TV, washing machine, a kettle, completed with a kitchenette.
Unlike other countries in which Couchsurfing is yet to be fully adopted, it is relatively common in Taipei. Taiwanese couchsurfers readily share their homes and lives in profound in meaningful ways, making travel within the city a truly social experience. Unfortunately, when looking for a place to stay, it can sometimes be difficult to find someone willing to host a couple rather than a single traveler.
There are few better ways to rest, relax, and reinvigorate than to get back to nature for a dose of the inimitable joys the great outdoors offers. And among the best ways to do this is camping. Over the past decade or so, interest in camping has surged in Taiwan, especially as a form of a family outing. Taiwan's main island and many offshore islands possess all requisite ingredients for high-quality experiences: a moderate climate, natural splendors in singular abundance and diversity considering the island’s comparatively small size – something which amazes many international visitors who get out of the cities – and easy access to quality sites. Some of the best camping sites in Taipei include:
- Bishan Camping Area
- Huazhong Camp Ground
- Cherry Plum Camping
- Camp Taiwan
- Wulai 967 Highland Camping Area
How to Get There
Taipei is the biggest city and capital of the island nation of Taiwan. Taipei is found on the northern end of the island. With its unique fusion of cultures, breathtaking scenery, diverse cuisine, exciting city life and well-developed hospitality industry, Taiwan is an ideal destination for many types of travelers. Citizens of 62 countries and territories are eligible for visa-exempt entry for a period of 30 or 90 days.
In addition to about 1,100 kilometers of conventional railway lines, Taiwan has a 350-km high-speed rail system along its west coast. The high-speed trains allow travel between Taipei and Kaohsiung in 94 minutes. These two cities are also equipped with state-of-the-art mass rapid transit systems.
Taiwan’s main international gateway is Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, located near the city of Taoyuan, about 50km southwest of the capital Taipei. The only other major international airport is at Kaohsiung, serving the country’s second-largest city. Although there are several nonstop flights to Taipei from North America and Europe, most trips will require a change of plane somewhere else in Asia – Hong Kong is the closest and most convenient place, with dozens of regional carriers flying into Taipei daily. Numerous nonstop flights also operate between Taiwan and mainland Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
There's an extensive network from Taipei to Kenting National Park and across the north as far as Yilan. Service from the west coast to the east coast is limited to a few buses a day from Taichung across to Hualien and Kaohsiung to Taitung. Service is also limited within the east area (from Hualien to Taitung). On the west coast, there are very frequent departures (some 24-hour operations), with midweek and late-evening discounts. Most companies serve the same west-coast routes. The main transit points are Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung. Buses are reliable, cheap and comfortable. Some companies offer large, cozy airplane-style reclining seats. Reservations are advisable on weekends and holidays.
The Taiwan High-Speed Rail commenced operations on 5 January 2007, after some delays in 2006. The THSR connects Taipei City in the northeast of the island of Taiwan to Kaohsiung City in the southwest. The journey time is about 90 minutes compared to 4 hours by conventional rail. 30 Shinkansen Class 700T sets are running on the 345 km HSL, with station stops at Taipei Main station, Panchiao, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan and Tsuoying near Kaohsiung. THSRC operates additional train services during national holidays.
Taiwan is a very easy place to hitchhike. Hitchhiking is not a common way for locals to travel except when returning to town from the mountains, but there's almost zero fear of hitchhikers, and many locals are happy to help. There is a common perception that hitchhiking is only easy for women and "foreigners", but it appears not to be true. Taiwanese people are very friendly and usually very honest. Waiting times to hitch are short and people often don't mind driving a bit further than the place where they needed to be. Very often, the drivers will also offer you a drink or even food. No matter how deep into the countryside you are, hitching is possible everywhere! It is useful to have a motorcycle helmet with you when hitchhiking, as it is possible to get lifts from motorcyclists.
As mentioned earlier, Taiwan is an island country surrounded by the China Sea. Another way that one can get to Taipei is through the sea. However, Taipei is about 110 kilometers from the sea. The nearest port is in Baishawan.
Public transport accounts for a substantial portion of different modes of transport in Taiwan, with Taipei residents having the highest utilization rate at 34.1%. Private transport consists of motor scooters, private cars, taxi cabs, and bicycles. Motor-scooters often weave between cars and occasionally through oncoming traffic. Taipei Station serves as the comprehensive hub for the subway, bus, conventional rail, and high-speed rail. A contactless smartcard, known as EasyCard, can be used for all modes of public transit as well as several retail outlets.
Although Taipei can sometimes feel very overcrowded, there are some great areas to enjoy a relaxing stroll. Whether you prefer a more natural setting or prefer to take in the sights, these are the best places for walking in Taipei. The sprawling metropolis of Taipei and New Taipei may feel endless, but the city is located in a giant basin and is surrounded on all sides by mountains. No matter which direction you go, you're bound to find a hiking trail where you can marvel at Taiwan's lesser-known natural beauty and biodiversity.
Taiwan is known for its vibrant night market scene, but the island is also a popular destination for cycling enthusiasts. Cycling is more a way of life than a weekend hobby in the East Asian state, which was dubbed the “Bicycle Kingdom” in the 1970s. It is home to Giant, the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer. It has also made public infrastructure a lot more bike-friendly by widening pavements, offering cheap bike rentals and developing roadside restroom facilities that are large enough to accommodate bicycles.
Even more laudable is the strong support system Taiwan has put in place for cyclists. Police stations double up as rest stops that also offer water and bike repairs, while 7-Eleven stores have a postal service that cyclists can use to mail items such as clean clothes from one location to another along long routes.
Electric vehicles have struggled to gain mass appeal in much of the world despite the fanfare surrounding Tesla Motors, the world’s best-selling brand of plug-in cars last year. Drivers worry about prices, comfort and what happens when a battery expires in the middle of a trip. However, in Taiwan, electric vehicles have become a relatively common phenomenon. There are already eleven electric vehicle startups in Taipei alone.
An extensive city bus system serves metropolitan areas not covered by the metro, with exclusive bus lanes to facilitate transportation. Riders of the city metro system can use the EasyCard for discounted fares on buses, and vice versa. A unique feature of the Taipei bus system is the joint venture of private transportation companies that operate the system's routes while sharing the fare system.
Most buses are bilingual in Chinese and English; however, the bus system is not as standardized as the MRT. The bus system operated under the cooperation between 15 private agencies, so translation and Romanization are not always consistent. It is recommended to always keep a Chinese written version of your destination for comparison. In the Taipei Metro Area, passengers are now required to swipe their e-ticket when boarding and alighting the bus.
Tram, Train and Subway
Taipei's public transport system, the Taipei Metro (commonly referred to as the MRT), incorporates a metro and light rail system based on advanced VAL and Bombardier technology. There are currently six metro lines that are labeled in three ways: color, line number and depot station name. In addition to the rapid transit system itself, the Taipei Metro also includes several public facilities such as the Maokong Gondola, underground shopping malls, parks, and public squares. Modifications to existing railway lines to integrate them into the metro system are underway.
In 2017 a rapid transit line was opened to connect Taipei with Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Taoyuan City. The new line is part of the new Taoyuan Metro system. On 31 January 2020, Hitachi Rail Corporation officially commissioned Phase 1 of the Circular Line which took place at Shisizhang Station. The Circular Line is a 15.4 km driverless rail system. The Circular line offered free rides beginning in February 2020 for passengers to test the route.
Taiwan has emerged as an international player in the global textile and apparel industry. One of the four tigers of Asia, Taiwan is an upcoming destination for producing quality textile products and is developing cutting edge technology to tickle the fancy of the markets of the U.S and Western Europe. The production of environmentally friendly and innovative textiles are increasing in Taipei and setting new opportunities for this island nation. Taiwanese manufacturing companies are in the league of top innovators of the world, offering textile products that reduce pollution, are made from recycled material, and are sustainable.
The Council for Economic Planning and Development, Taiwan, stated that manufacturers of the nation produce 70% of the global market for green textiles.
In Taipei, the best nightlife is found in food markets. The city has a penchant for snacking and a desire to eat with friends all night long. Although night markets are traditionally a Chinese phenomenon, Taiwan's scene has grown to be considered one of the best in the world. Taipei's night markets initially began as informal vendor meetings, where merchants would get together and sell their wares. These groupings eventually turned into more formal food markets.
- Shilin Night Market
- Ningxia Night Market
- Shida Market
- Huaxi Street Market
There are numerous markets throughout Metropolitan Taipei, including not only the famous night markets and traditional wet markets (for fish and fresh produce), but also fish markets, flower, jade, craft and antique markets. Shoppers should be on the alert for pickpockets:
- Zhao He Ting Antiques Market
- Treasure Hunt Flea Market
- Jianguo Jade, Flower and Artists' Market
- Di Hua Market
Second Hand Stores
Small independent second-hand stores are popping up almost everywhere in Taipei. Some of the common include:
- Best Buy Second-Hand shop
- Brand Off
- J Store
- Old Yuan Syuan Second Hand Bookstore
Armed with ground-breaking technology and valuable manufacturing knowhow, Taipei is positioning themselves as sustainable fashion hubs of the future:
- Not only does sportswear brand Girlfriend Collective produce clothes made recycled plastic bottles - but the company also ensures that the whole production process meets sustainable standards.
- The Eco-Fashion Hub
Taiwan has become a global leader in recycling, with one of the highest recycling rates in the world! The country manages to recycle more than 50% of its municipal waste and is thereby only a little bit behind the world’s leading nation for recycling, Germany, and much in front of the United States. Recycling in Taiwan has a rate of 55% as of 2016. The capital, Taipei has a recycling rate of 67%. The government encourages its residents to recycle by only allowing garbage to be disposed of in "blue bags". These bags must be purchased, and increase in cost as the size increases. In Taiwan’s capital Taipei there are more than 4,000 pickup spots five nights a week, with mobile apps that let users track the trucks and alert them whenever a garbage truck is nearby. These trucks are followed by open-bed recycling trucks. People hurry out of their homes when they hear the music and toss their garbage into the trucks, based on general refuse, raw food waste, cooked food waste, and other categories including plastic and paper.
In 2019, Taipei City processed an average of 2,163 metric tons of general waste and general industrial waste per day (not including dirt and culvert sludge). Taipei currently has three municipal waste incinerators in Neihu, Muzha and Beitou, and one sanitary landfill in Shanzhuku. The rate of proper garbage disposal has reached 100%, and the waste incineration rate has been 99.23%.
Due to limited space and a dense population, there is little land for waste disposal. To solve this waste disposal problem, the policies based on reducing quantity, processing of resources and pluralistic processing were adopted. With the Trash Per-bag Fee Collection policy, the quantity of garbage was reduced by by64.14%, and the resource-recycling rate has increased to 64.42%. Recycling of kitchen waste is also promoted to further reduce the quantity of garbage.
Work and Study Abroad
If you are planning on taking up employment in Taipei, then the matter of work permits typically needs to be taken care of even before you apply for a resident visa. Legally, no foreigner can start a job in Taiwan without a work permit. Which authority you have to turn to to get your work permit depends on the type of permit. While most expatriates have to contact the Ministry of Labor (MOL), those of you who want to start working in one of the country's many science parks will have to apply with the respective park administration.
Taiwan has an outstanding higher education system that provides opportunities for international students to study a wide variety of subjects. The diversity of accredited programs offered by universities and the focus on innovative research makes Taipei an appealing destination for international students. You can choose from over twenty universities and study your favorite discipline at any degree level. Taipei is home to the campuses of 24 universities and Academia Sinica, Taiwan's national academy which supports the Taiwan International Graduate Program:
- University of Taipei
- China University of Technology
- Tamkang University
- Soochow University
- Chinese Culture University
- Ming Chuan University
- Shih Hsin University
Working as an au pair in Taipei is an ideal experience for someone looking to live in a foreign country, adapt to a new culture and language, and form a close relationship with a host family that you will live with and work for. Taiwan is a country with a booming economy, high salaries, and an increasing number of women getting involved in the workforce, meaning there is an increasing number of well-off families that are looking to hire au pairs. As an au pair, you will typically be responsible for full-time childcare, as well as other household tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, or tutoring.
The island nation of Taiwan, part of the Republic of China, has many great opportunities for foreign volunteers. With a diversity of landscapes and a mix of ancient and modern cultures throughout the country, there are many different types of available volunteer projects. Whether you’re interested in exploring the capital city of Taipei or volunteering in a rural area, there’s plenty of work for volunteers in Taiwan.