With three days to spend in Taipei, you’ll get an overview of everything the city has to offer—culture, history, food, and natural beauty—with time to head outside the city limits to one of many worthy day trip destinations on the island. Here's how.
Things to do in Taiwan
Welcome to Taiwan
Taiwan’s relatively small size makes gaining a comprehensive picture of the Asian island nation a breeze. In one day, you can visit ancient stone temples, national parks, and bustling street food markets. The Taroko Gorge, a 5-million-year-old geographical marvel, verdant Elephant Mountain, and Sun Moon Lake allure nature lovers. The capital, Taipei, and second-largest city, Kaohsiung, house temples, striking skylines, and museums. Incessant grazing is encouraged in Taiwan: Be sure to sample steamed dumplings, oyster omelettes, shrimp rolls, and tofu from ubiquitous food stalls. Time your visit for February to see the Sky Lantern Festival light up the night in Pingxi.
Top 10 attractions in Taiwan
Keelung Harbor is located at the northern tip of Taiwan, between Fugui Cape and Cape Bitou. Surrounded by mountains on almost all sides, with just a narrow waterway extending from within, this port is a scenic spot that serves both military and commercial vessels. It’s also a popular attraction for those visiting Taipei, with impressive harbor views unfolding from the moment one steps off the train at Keelung Station. The history of the harbor dates back to its opening in 1886. In the Japanese colonial period, the Governor-General of Taiwan began plans for its expansion, and by the mid-1900s it was the largest port in Taiwan. Today, Keelung Harbor is a major importing hub for Taipei and is also a large fishing port, with the Keelung Bisha Harbor attracting many tourists to the area. Here, over twenty seafood restaurants offer an array of fresh seafood dishes at extremely affordable prices....
Taiwan’s tallest skyscraper, Taipei 101, enjoyed the title of world’s tallest building from 2004 until the Burj Khalifa in Dubai was completed in 2010. It remains the world’s largest and tallest green building. The 1,667-foot (508-meter) structure consists of 101 aboveground floors and five underground floors and houses a mix of offices, a multilevel shopping complex, food court and restaurants. Perhaps more impressive than the total height of the building is its structural integrity. The skyscraper was designed to withstand earthquakes and typhoon-level winds thanks to a massive damper sphere, the largest in the world. The building’s exterior is meant to resemble bamboo, a symbol of longevity. You can spot the Taipei 101 from nearly anywhere in Taipei, but the best way to experience it is by riding the world’s fastest elevator to the eighty-ninth floor observatory. Take a self-guided audio tour in the indoor observatory before climbing to the outdoor deck....
Longshan is Taipei’s oldest and most popular temple, dating back to the early 18th century, when it was first established by settlers from mainland China. In the meantime it’s expanded and contracted in times of war and peace, very much integrated into the life of the city while offering an oasis of reflection and contemplation within its heart. Visitors are rarely unmoved by the amazingly ornate carvings and other decorative elements on display. The ceremonial gateways, elegant pagoda roofs and heady incense burners associated with traditional Chinese temples are all here. Also typically Chinese is the mix of faiths; Longshan is associated with Buddhism, Taoism and local gods....
One of Taiwan’s most popular, Huaxi Street Night Market announces itself with a grand ceremonial gateway with charming Chinese lanterns providing decoration and more powerful lights illuminating the area to near-daylight levels. Many visitors are drawn to Huaxi Street by the stalls collectively known as “Snake Alley,” but its vendors attract far more onlookers than those willing to test the potency and vigor said to come from eating snake soup and other serpent derivatives. Thankfully less adventurous gourmets are well catered for, with the huge range of dining options in the surrounding streets encompassing noodles, oyster omelets, chicken skewers, cuttlefish soup and traditional custard pastries. Local delicacy stinky tofu lives up to its name, but like the dreaded durian, tastes a lot better than it smells....
Some of Asia’s most spectacular scenery awaits you at Taroko Gorge National Park, Taiwan’s foremost tourist draw. There’s an incredible range of landscape here: imagine Sumatra snuggling up to Sweden and you get some idea of the variety. Marble rock faces plummeting into chasms, teeming rainforests, crystal waterfalls and pine-covered alpine reaches – snow-capped in winter – offering breathtaking panoramas wherever you look. Among the park’s unforgettable sights are the looming Chinghshui Cliff on the Pacific coast, the twisting vistas of the Tunnel of Nine Turns and the dramatic hanging bridges of Swallow Grotto. The few buildings here make the most of the topography, particularly the Eternal Springs Shrine which hugs a lush green hillside next to its namesake springs....
The Taiwanese people's reverence for the first President of the Republic of China and the icon of Chinese Nationalism is very much in evidence in the monumental Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Chiang died in 1975, the hall opened five years later and since then the huge white structure, with its octagonal blue pagoda-style roof, has become a symbol of Taiwan. You approach through a white ceremonial gateway on a similarly overwhelming scale. Once inside you'll find yourself immersed in Chiang’s life, with relics to bring alive his military and political career, including a slightly eerie dummy of the late president sitting in a recreation of his office....
The historic town of Chiufen is located along the hillsides just north of Taiwan. Breathtaking views of the Pacific Coastline draw travelers to this popular destination and a bustling shopping district with open pedestrian walkways is small enough to cover entirely on foot. Jishan and Shuchi streets serve as borders for the historic commercial district. The ancient teahouses, traditional food stalls and local handicraft markets offer travelers a chance to touch the past, while epic views of the Pacific Ocean and hopping harbor make local dining even more enjoyable. Travelers visiting Chiufen can wander the markets before heading to Taiyang Co. Ruifang, a historic mining building and Songde Park, a quiet retreat stationed on Qinbian Road in the eastern section of Chiufen. Mount Jilong, located between Chiufen and Jinguashi, is also a favorite stop for hikers in search of a short, easy trail and more uninterrupted views of the Pacific....
The 8-mile (12.9 kilometer) stretch of track known as the Pingxi Branch Rail Line, falls a bit off the beaten tourist path but is a day well spent for its charming old-school train experience and excellent stops along the way, most notably the towns of Shifen, Jingtong and Pingxi. The Pingxi Branch Rail Line was completed in 1921, and until the late 1980s, it was used exclusively as a mining train, transporting coal south from the mountains of Northern Taiwan. Today, the train whisks passengers through a wooded gorge area, past waterfalls, trail heads and old mining towns. It’s an inexpensive and easy way to get out of the city for a day and see the Taiwanese countryside. Trains only pass along the line every hour or so, but because many of the stops and attractions are relatively close together, it’s possible to walk from one station to the next if you’ve just missed a train....
Located in central Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake is one of the only natural lakes in the country and arguably the most beautiful. Lalu Island divides the lake in two, with one part resembling a moon and the other the sun, giving it its name. The hiking trails and bike paths surrounding the lake are considered to be some of the most scenic on earth, and you’ll find bike rentals near the visitors center. If you want to get out on the water, you can either take a boat tour of the lake, stopping at many of the main temples, pagodas and aboriginal villages, or rent a rowboat to explore the waters at your own pace. A recently installed aerial tramway, the longest and highest in Taiwan, carries visitors across the lake for a bird’s eye view of the area. To get a taste of the area’s ancient aboriginal cutlure, try to catch a performance at the Naruwan Theater or Culture Square....
On the coast just north of Keelung sits one of Taiwan’s most fascinating geological parks, the Yehliu Coast. Over thousands of years, wind and rain eroded away parts of the softer top layer of rock to reveal interesting patters. Some areas look like honeycombs, others like potholes, a shoe and even a queen’s head. The exposed sandstone landscape is littered with fossils, old relics of a past era. The mushroom rocks and candle-shaped rocks are among the more alien-looking formations....
Top activities in Taiwan
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the top things to do in Taiwan?
What are the top activities in Taiwan?
Top activities in Taiwan include:
Discover the top things to do in Taiwan.
- 5-Day Best of Taiwan: Sun Moon Lake, Taroko Gorge, Kaohsiung, Taitung
- Full-Day Private Northern Taiwan Tour from Taipei with Pickup
- Taroko Gorge Full-Day Tour from Taipei
- Full-Day Private Custom Taipei City Tour
- 9 days Taiwan Excursion-4 Star (2 people minimum)
Discover the top things to do in Taiwan.
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