Travel Guide: Top 12 places you must visit in Taiwan

Taiwan is a beautiful and vibrant country with a rich culture and history, stunning natural scenery, and delicious food. Here are 10 of the best places to visit in Taiwan:

1.Taipei 101

 A world-famous skyscraper with a stunning view of the city

2. Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Zhongzheng District

Being a tourist I surely had to see the changing of the guards at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Liberty Square. It is after all a national monument to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, former President of the Republic of China. The building looks dazzling with two layers of royal blue tiled roof and bright white marble walls – colours that evoke the national emblem – amid well-tended gardens. There’s 89 steps – the age the former president died – to reach the bronze doors of the 15,000 square metre hall. As if to meet and greet is a giant bronze statue of Chiang himself.

On either side is a guard, clad in white, standing tall and unmoving. Then on the hour – between 9am and 5pm – the changing of the guards’ ceremony takes place. The spectacle is beautifully choreographed, compelling to watch and almost verges onto a graceful dance.

There are two other buildings that straddle the monument. On the right is the Opera House and on the left is an eminent theatre. I got lucky and watched as a dance team rehearse their routine al fresco for a show that night

3. National Palace Museum

The National Palace Museum, a vast building in the Shillin district of Taipei is, without a doubt, a world-class art gallery. It is home to 700,000 pieces of amazing Buddhist sculptures, jade artefacts, ceramics, metalworks and curios brought here from the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Cabbage with insects

Cabbage with insects

Collectively, they depict a history that spans 8,000 years including imperial treasures kept by generations of Emperors.  So, if you have enough stamina, allow around three hours to explore

I was told to look out for the 19th-century Qing jadeite cabbage – the shape of a Chinese cabbage head, and with a locust and insects camouflaged in its leaves. Many were queuing to have a look as folklore says it is an omen of fertility and many spent a while looking at it. For an item this auspicious my reaction was similar to the one I had when I saw  Mona Lisa in the Louvre – it’s surprisingly small. I enjoyed the ceramics and the bronzes much more.

You can get a bite at the Silks Palace Restaurant within the complex which offers dishes and tableware in the shape of some the artefacts.

4. Banka Lungshan Temple, Wanhua

This is a glorious temple where locals got to pray to Guanshiyin Budda and other deities. Worshipers chant in unison and the sound is almost spiritual and the fervour is tangible. It was built in 1738 and was a place of worship where early Chinese settlers could gather. Today it integrates Buddhism, Taoism and Confucian beliefs.

5. Night Markets

Not so small are the ever-popular night markets. Shilin Night Market, also in the Shillin district is the largest but there are several and most will seek one out for the experience of eating street food – not any old street food; this is noodles, stinky tofu, a beloved delicacy of the Taiwanese, dumplings, deep filled boa buns, chicken feet, squid, and other exotic animal parts. Absolutely nothing is wasted.


One rainy night, I visited the busy Lin Jiang street night market in the Da’an district. Despite the inclement weather, it was busy and I found myself immersed in an atmosphere that was thick with the chatter of people following aromas of cooking while neon lights and flashing adverts tried to catch the attention of anyone with an appetite. Who can resist?

6. Dadaocheng Area

Dadaocheng is an area located in Taipei, Taiwan, known for its rich history and cultural heritage. The area has been an important center for commerce and trade since the late 19th century and has played a significant role in the development of Taiwan. Here are six reasons to visit Dadaocheng:

  1. Heritage buildings: The area is home to numerous well-preserved heritage buildings, including old residences and traditional shops, showcasing the architectural styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

  2. Tea culture: Dadaocheng is famous for its tea culture, with numerous tea shops selling a variety of teas, including oolong tea, green tea, and black tea. Visitors can sample the teas and learn about the tea-making process.

  3. Traditional markets: Dadaocheng is also home to several traditional markets, including the Dihua Street Market and the Taiyuan Street Market, where visitors can purchase local products and experience the vibrant local culture.

  4. Dihua Street: Dihua Street is a historic street that is lined with traditional shop houses, and it is a popular destination for visitors to the area. It is known for its traditional Chinese medicinal products, dried foods, and textiles.

  5. Xiahai City God Temple: The Xiahai City God Temple is a Taoist temple that is dedicated to the City God, who is believed to protect the city and its residents. The temple is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, who come to pray and make offerings.

  6. Cultural events: Dadaocheng is also known for its cultural events, including the Dadaocheng Wharf Festival and the Taipei Lantern Festival, which are held annually and showcase the area’s rich cultural heritage.

7. Taroko Gorge – Shakadang River Trail

Taiwan is rich in natural attractions with nine national parks. For me, Taroko National Park is the top of the national park tree. It’s a huge expanse spanning Taichung Municipality, Nantou County, and Hualien County and as I only had an afternoon I chose the easy walking Shakadang River Trail.

Those clear blue fast-flowing rivers hemmed by rocks and unfolding forests are so picturesque they could pass as a painting. Closing my eyes for a moment I could hear the soundscape of croaking frogs such as the Swinhoe frogs, and the song of birds such as Plumbeous Water Redstart that hang out on the riverbed. Unfortunately, I didn’t spot much of the wildlife but occasionally a Taiwan Whistling Thrush in its distinctive blue livery made itself known.

Tip: Take binoculars.

The Shakadang trail passes through an aborigine reserve and some parts are still farmed by indigenous Tarok tribe members. They use this trail to transport their goods and at times it’s quite a squeeze on the trail.

8. Taroko Restaurant

The only restaurant in the national park is in the Taroko village hotel run by members of the Taroko tribe. On the wall are images of the tribes painted or tattoed regalia on their faces and Taroko cuisine is served by waiters in costume. 

9. Yehliu Geopark, Wanli

Sometimes a landscape can literally carve itself into something beautiful and even mimic life. This is true of Yehliu Geopark, a cape stretching 1,700 meters out from the town of Wanli into the sea. It is a mish-mash of rock shapes in hues of brown and tan created by thousands of years of geological movements.

There are claims of all sorts of recognisable shapes but the only ones I could clearly see were the Slippers, perhaps worn by the Queen whose head is visible. Her neck is becoming thinner and more fragile and they say she has only five years left – poor lass. So if you want to see her, get there soon.

10. Ximending, Wanhua District

Ximending is a pedestrianised shopping area in Taipei’s Wanhua District served by the very busy Ximen MRT station. After the quiet of Taiwan’s nature, Ximending is overwhelming. The whole place was winking at me with flashing billboards and giant arrows showing the way. There’s street entertainers, clubs, eateries and smart shops that call out as you pass while selfie-takers stop suddenly to pose.

Ximending is home to the largest LBGTQ districts in Taipei, so the bars are busy every night of the week all with generous Happy Hours.

11. Jiufen Old Street

The old gold mining town Jioufen, a seaside mountain area in Ruifang is often busy with tourists, but don’t shy away. Jioufen Old Street is colourful, vibrant and very quaint.

The steep steps to the top are decorated with orange lanterns and at the top, you are rewarded with colourful souvenir and pottery shops, freshly made street food, tea houses, restaurants and plenty of winding alleyways to explore and taste the local delicacies.

A free freshly made sample of cooked taro root (a vegetable) was waved in my face, and though I loved its chewy texture and sweetness I didn’t hang around as lunch beckoned at the Taiwan Sweet Potato Teahouse. Later I bought a peanut ice cream burrito that kept me energised as I walked through the alleyways.

12. The Yangmingshan Sulphur Springs

The geology of Taiwan just keeps on giving and this time it was the sulphur springs of the Datun Volcano Group. The volcanic activity led to geothermal heat which in turn created several hot springs and has done so in four regions: Yangmingshan, Beitou, Guanziling, and Sichongxi. 

There are several hiking trails but I went to see the rather pungent sulphur springs at Yangmingsham followed by a health-giving dip in various sulphur pools at the Yamingshan hot spring experience. 

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