Arriving in Taipei, I had no expectations. I had long heard fellow travellers sing their praises for Taiwan and its capital city, but I made the purposeful decision not to research before the trip, instead hoping to wander the streets and stumble upon the city by happenstance. As it turns out, this is not the most ideal way to see Taipei. The city itself is sprawling and spread out, but thankfully the public transport is easy to navigate and well connected. Here’s what to do in Taipei for your first time if you’re hoping to experience the hidden gems of the city, as well as the top attractions.
Your first time in Taipei
When you land in Taipei, it is easy enough to catch public transport from the airport into the city. There is a direct train from the airport to the city, with just a few stops in between before you reach the Taipei Main Station.
Once in the city, you have a few choices for getting around. The public metro is easy to use and navigate, but if your hotel is located close to the train station you might also choose to walk as the city is flat and pathways wide for rolling your suitcase. A final option is to hop in a cab to take you directly to the door of your hotel, however I would say this is the least fun option!
Where to stay in Taipei
There is no shortage of hotels and guesthouses in Taipei. I chose to book my stay at CitizenM, as I was looking for a hotel that was central and I always love these hotels for their simplicity, affordability and best of all: the views! My main recommendation for staying at CitizenM would be to choose a room on a higher floor, so you get to enjoy the views over the city.
Where to eat in Taipei
Taipei is a city practically made for foodies. There are endless Taiwanese delicacies to try but even more importantly for me was the sweets selection. Taiwan is also the birthplace of bubble tea (boba tea), so you can expect to find tea shops on almost every corner.
My favourite food find was a small teahouse named Matcha One. As a fond matcha fan, this was the one and only place I researched for the trip, as I was in search of the best matcha in town. As it turns out, this matcha store is highly celebrated with rave reviews. Despite being a little out of the way, I made a point to visit not once but twice, for arguably the best matcha soft serve ice cream in the world (or certainly the best matcha ice cream I’ve ever enjoyed!)
My next recommendation is Comida. I stumbled upon this place nearby my hotel when in search of a coffee. Not only did they have a great coffee, but they also specialise in famous Taiwanese cheese toasties – with almond butter! If that sounds weird, don’t overthink it. I promise you this was one of the best things I ate in Taiwan and I’d totally recommend it for a cheap breakfast.
Next up is Cookie DPT. As many of you will already know I now own and operate a cookie shop in Brisbane named Brooki Bakehouse, so sweets and bakeries are often at the top of my list when I travel. Although this wasn’t my style of cookie (it was much more dry and dense than my preferred underbaked cookie with a crispy exterior), it was a cool shop to visit and great to see the cookie trend has reached Taipei. If you want to try my style of cookie, you might want to check out my online cookie class.
If you fancy a bubble tea, Tao Tao Teahouse was my favourite find (and trust me, I drank my weight in bubble tea on this trip).
Things to see in Taipei
Taipei 101 Observatory is the number one choice for a view over the city and is especially beautiful at sunset.
The Beitou hot springs are a popular spot 30 minutes from downtown and a great way to escape the city hustle and bustle.
Fancy a hike? Xiangshan Trail is a short 45-minute hike that offers a great view of Taipei, especially at sunset.
If you fancy a day trip, Jiufen is a beautiful mountainous town with authentic teahouses. It feels a bit like stepping back in time.