Dan Around The World is part of the Amazon Affiliate program and may receive a small commission when you purchase products on this page at no extra cost to yourself.
Taipei, as the capital of Taiwan, is a place that almost everyone who visits will have to pass through at some point. Despite having plenty of attractions, as most capitals do, few people go to Taipei for longer than a few days as either a city break or a jumping off point to explore the rest of the island.
With a fantastic public transport network, it is easy to get around Taipei and tick off everything you need to see in a short space of time. But if you’re only in Taipei for three days, what are the best things to see and do in such a sprawling city in that short amount of time.
Here I give you an itinerary that will allow to you have the biggest bang for your buck for just 72 hours in Taipei.
The Perfect 3 Day Taipei Itinerary
The absolute highlight of Taipei, and something you just cannot afford to miss, is going up Taipei 101. If you’re wondering what to do in Taipei, this should be top of your list. At one point, the tallest building in the world, Taipei 101 sticks out from the city like a stalagmite in a cave.
Get there early on your first day as there can be queues if you get there later. From inside the shopping mall, get your ticket and wizz up to the 88th floor in one of the fastest elevators in the world.
The views from the top are incredible, as you would expect in a building that stands out this much. Various corners have decorations to let your instagram dreams run wild. Make sure to check out the Tuned Mass Dampner and learn about why a 600 tonne golden ball is 89 floors off the ground and head outside on the 91s floor to check out the observation deck.
You can also buy tickets that include a visit to the 101st floor for NT$980 which gives you similar views but without the crowds to make you feel like a true VIP.
With your feet firmly back down to earth, its time to hit the public transport and make your way to Daan park, one of many large parks in Taipei, by jumping on the red line.
Walk to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the largest square in the city and a real site to behold. The square, now called Liberty Square since the democracy protests of the 1980’s is flanked by the National Concert Hall, National Theatre and Liberty Square Arch on three of its sides and the grand Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall on the other. Chiang Kai-shek was the president of the Republic of China, modern day Taiwan, when they fought communist China in the 1940’s. The tomb was built upon his death to honour him and is well worth a stop to the museums underneath the memorial hall.
After gazing in awe at the size of the buildings surrounding Liberty Square, walk towards the Presidential Office Building with some of the friendliest security officers I’ve met, saying where to go for the best photos, before ducking into the National Taiwan Museum.
This museum, right in the heart of Taipei, has a variety of exhibits showing the natural past of Taipei, its flora and fauna and its recent policital history. I believe it to be the most comprehensive museum in Taipei for an overview for all of Taiwan. Costing just NT$30, it also one of the best value attractions in the city. Note that it is closed on Mondays.
The walking of Taipei continues, with a stroll through the Ximen district, taking in the Red House and all the extravagant shops and restaurants that showcases Taiwanese youth culture.
It should be getting close to sunset when you reach the Bopiliao Historical Block. At the site of what is thought to be the birthplace of Taipei, the block has been home to historical and industrial buildings for centuries spanning Chinese and Japanese rule.
Now the old industrial buildings and work houses contain various museums and art installations. There is even a Covid museum in one house, exhibiting how the units were used as first a testing site then as vaccine sites. The first time I have seen a Covid museum but surely not the last as time goes on.
A final stop at the Guangzhou Street Night Market for some tasty street food and dip in to see the Lungshan Temple, one of the only city temples I know of that contains a working waterfall.
Start early, as trains and buses are needed to get to Yangmingshan National Park, especially if you plan to go there during cherry blossom season (February and March). Check out as many of the beautiful natural hiking trails as you can, as well as the hot springs that sit over this dormant volcano.
Head to Tamsui district, a bustling suburb on the banks of the river Tamsui River to check out some of Taipei’s European history. Fort San Domingo is a classic example of of a 17th Century Spanish fort. Later claimed by the Dutch, then Chinese, it became the British embassy in the late 1800’s and was a major site of trade coming into Taipei along the river.
The fort now contains a museum and beautiful grounds to spend some time in, detailing Taipei’s history.
Walk back along the waterfront and explore the Old Street as you jump back on the red line to Shilin station. It’s possible to take a bus from the station to the National Palace Museum (entrance NT$350) to learn about the history of not just Taiwan, but many Chinese dynasties as well, dating back hundreds of years.
(Side note: although much larger and in a grander building, I personally preferred the National Taiwan Museum I have mentioned in Day 1. It was 10x cheaper, more condensed but had more information on a wide variety of Taiwan’s history. However the National Palace Museum seems to be everyone else’s favourite and is heavily promoted by their tourism board which is why it’s included here.)
Back to Shilin to enjoy one of the largest night markets in Taipei. With busy, tight streets, the sights and smells (including of stinky tofu), not to mention the buzz of neon, will take your breath away. Try the sweet potato balls, the fried octopus on a stick or the sweet fried milk treats.
Take the 965 bus from a variety of stops in Taipei towards Jiufen Old Street. Enjoy the views as the bus snakes it way along the coastline with greenery and ocean blues and get off outside the 7Eleven at the bus stop.
As one of the most popular day trip options from Taipei, Jiufen Old Street can get busy. In the late 1800’s, gold was discovered in this small town which caused a boom practically over night. The city built up on top of each other, the narrow streets bustling with stalls that still exist today. Make sure to visit one of the teahouses and the Shengping Theater, which still occasionally shows some documentaries and local movies. The sheer amount of street food lining the Old Street, will have your taste buds tingling and you won’t leave hungry.
Once your feet are sore from climbing the steps in the old town, take a bus back to Ruifang Station and board the train to Shifen Station. The train will wind through some of the beautiful valleys with a number of stops at some small villages on the way. Houtong Cat Village would be an additional stop if you have the time.
Once at Shifen Station, walk back along the tracks and through the old town, where it is highly likely you will see locals painting and releases sky lanterns. These paper hot air balloons with wishes written on the side float through the sky bringing good luck to those that releases them.
A further 20 minute walk will take you to Shifen Waterfall, one of the most popular natural sites close to Taipei. The multiple cascades make this 20m drop far more impressive than it first seems. With multiple viewing platforms, you’re sure to get a glimpse without anyone else around. Getting there late in the day may allow you to see the sun shining through the mist of the waterfall. Be aware that trains back to Taipei from Shifen only run once per hour so ensure you have enough time to walk back to the station
Where to stay in Taipei
Taipei, like all other major cities, has a variety of places to stay catering to all styles and budgets. Many 5 star hotels are located in the centre of the city in the financial district close to Taipei 101. Ximen, has guesthouses, hostels and budget hotels as you would expect from an neighbourhood associated with the youth. Budget accommodation can be found close to the Taipei Main Station with hostels literally across the road. For more quirky accommodation and basic as well as traditional hotels, look further afield to the Daan or Shilin district but take into account travel times from there.
Getting around Taipei
With the excellent public transport in Taipei, getting around the city couldn’t be easier. The metro system is extensive, as is the public train system that leads further afield. Buses and trains have all stops in English and Mandarin, although, in my experience, very few people working on the network speak English.
When you land at the airport, it’s possible to buy an EasyCard from at the station, or any other metro station for NT$100. This will allow you to swipe on and off any public transport with fares starting as low as NT$20 for a couple of stops. Any trip to and from the Tauyuan airport station costs NT$150.
A short break in Taipei
If you’re looking for things to do in Taipei, Taiwan for your three day tip there, this guide will set you well on your way. From national parks, to traditional villages, eating heavenly food in night markets or making your way to the top of one of the tallest buildings in the world, you won’t be bored in the capital of Taiwan!
Dan is an avid traveller from London. His first big adventure was in 2010 living in Malaysia for 3 months and becoming a divemaster. He has been on the road almost constantly since 2015 travelling to destinations that aren’t on the mainstream tourist trail.