When the Portuguese landed in Taiwan in the 1500s they called the island “Ilha Formosa.” In case your Portuguese is rusty, that roughly translates to “Beautiful Island.” And beautiful island it is indeed! Taiwan is without a doubt one of the most picturesque spots in all of Asia. If you’re traveling to Taiwan, you must stay at least a few days in the dynamic capital of Taipei. Located in the north of the island, Taipei has all the excitement of a modern industrial capital with numerous historical and natural gems. In this post, you’ll learn about all the best things to do in Taipei. A list of “Taipei interesting places to visit” could go on forever, but we’ve narrowed it down to the top six reasons to visit the city. After reading this list, you’re sure to add a trip to Taipei to your bucket list.

Street Food Heaven

Photo by | flickr : Jirka Matousek (CC BY 2.0)

Do you love street food? OK, stupid question. Everyone loves street food! Well, no major city does street food quite as well as Taipei does. The Taiwanese capital has a reputation for some of the most unique and tastiest street food snacks in the world. In addition to traditional Taiwanese food, you’ll find tons of Japanese, Indian, and Chinese dishes in Taipei’s lively street food markets. A few popular food items you should try include stinky tofu, deep fried taro balls, and coffin bread. Wash all your food down with a refreshing cup of Taiwan’s famous bubble tea. If you’re a foodie, you’re sure to enjoy many hours snacking on Taipei’s street food and visiting highly acclaimed restaurants. And don’t worry if you’re a vegetarian. Around 2.5 million Taiwanese are vegetarians as well. Some of the world’s best chefs work in over 200 exclusively vegetarian restaurants.

Go up Taipei 101

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If you only have one day in Taipei, then you should head straight to the main attraction: Taipei 101. This amazing 1,667-foot tower has become the symbol of modern Taipei. You’ve probably seen this building before on TV during New Year’s festivities. That’s right, this is the tower that shoots of fireworks from each tier. Get ready for an epic ride on one of the world’s fastest elevators. You’ll zoom from the fifth floor up to the observatory on the 89th floor in less than 40 seconds. Marvel over modern Taipei from the impressive 360-degree observation deck. If you’re feeling hungry, Taipei 101 has its very own restaurant as well as a café. Out of all the best Taipei tourist attractions, the Taipei 101 is an absolute “must do” for first time visitors to the city.

Fabulous Festivals in Taipei

Taipei celebrates numerous festivals throughout the year. Perhaps the most famous festival is the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival. This specific festival is a part of the larger Taiwan Lantern Festival that celebrates the Chinese New Year. Usually this festival falls around the beginning of March. If you happen to be in Taipei at this special occasion, be sure to send your own sky lantern up into the sky. Who knows? Maybe your wish will come true!

Photo by | flickr : Jirka Matousek (CC BY 2.0)

Another big festival in Taiwan is Ghost Month. This month-long festival usually starts in August and runs into September. According to Chinese folklore, the gates of hell are opened up during this month and many hungry ghosts return to enjoy earthly pleasures and meet relatives. There are numerous lantern processions and religious services during this time. Many Taiwanese burn spirit paper money, offer food to dead relatives, and avoid making major life decisions during this inauspicious month. Be careful if you’re visiting during this time. A few spooky unseen Taiwan ghosts might pay you a most unwelcome visit.

Hike, Bike, and Relax in a Hot Spring

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Taiwan is known for it’s lush natural scenery. If you’re the outdoorsy type, definitely hike to the top of the Four Beasts Mountain. You’ll get plenty of stunning views from the top of the popular Elephant Mountain. Also, take a trip to the beloved Yangmingshan National Park to enjoy some remarkable Taiwanese scenery. Yangmingshan National Park is especially popular when the cherry blossoms bloom in the springtime. After you’re done hiking around Taipei, why not take a dip into one of Taipei’s numerous hot springs? A few of the most popular hot springs around Taipei are in Wulai, Yangmingshan National Park, and Beitou. Prices to get inside a hot spring vary, but expect to fork out around 400NT (about 13USD).

Shop Taiwanese Style

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Travel guides generally split Taipei’s shopping areas into two districts: East and West. The eastern area has more modern shopping malls and wider streets. By contrast, the western area is located in the old city, so you’ll see more artisan shops and narrower streets. The most popular area to shop is in the Xinyi area in the East. The key shopping areas here are the Taipei 101 Mall, the Eslite Mall, and the Bellavita Shopping Mall. You can also take in a movie in a giant IMAX theatre or ride on a Ferris wheel in the Miramar Entertainment Park. People who love all things tech should check out the Guanghua Digital Plaza with its numerous electronics stores. As you can tell, Taipei is an awesome destination for anyone who loves to shop. Get your credit card ready for some serious spending!

What to do in Taipei at night

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People who want to party all night in a hot Taipei club should head on over to the Xinyi district. This eastern district near the Taipei 101 tower has numerous boisterous clubs with great views of the city’s iconic skyscraper. There are also a bunch of low-key cafés and clubs in this district to try out. If you’re looking for a gay-friendly bar, then you must head on over to the Red House Theater area around Xinmending. Whether you like an exciting club atmosphere or a relaxing evening at a traditional teahouse, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for somewhere in Taipei.

A few final tips before you head to Taipei

Just so you know, the peak tourist season in Taipei is during the fall. Some travel experts suggest the best time to visit Taipei is between June and October. Since this is off peak travel season, you’ll probably find it easier to book cheap accommodation in Taipei at this time. The only thing that’s not so great about visiting between June and October is the weather. Taiwan has a subtropical climate, which means it experiences extreme humidity, cyclones, and thunderstorms in summertime. No matter what time you choose to visit Taipei, however, you’re sure to have a memorable travel experience. So, what are you waiting for? Look up where to stay in Taipei and book your transportation from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei today.