Taipei is a very walkable city, with wide sidewalks, traffic lights to control the flow of cars and scooters, and a very high safety rating. Although there are lots of things to see in Taipei, two days give you enough time to cover the highlights.

If you’re an international visitor to Taiwan, you will probably land at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, which is a short 35-minute ride on the new Airport MRT (metro) to Taipei’s city centre.

When your feet get tired, there will be a metro station (MRT) nearby. Taipei has five colour-coded MRT lines (in addition to the Airport Line) with directions and stations clearly spelled out in English, and trains coming every few minutes. Riding the MRT is really cheap too, with fares starting at NT$20 (less than a dollar). You get a 20% discount if you use an EasyCard, a rechargeable plastic card that’s really convenient f you plan on using public transit a lot for your Taipei sightseeing. There is an initial cost of NT$100 for the card. (It’s accepted on the Kaohsiung public transit too, if you plan on visiting that city as well.)

Taipei street (2 days in Taipei itinerary)

Here is how I recommend you spend 2 days in Taipei. A weekend (Friday-Saturday or Saturday-Sunday) is an ideal time to follow this itinerary, while Mondays are not recommended, as many museums and art galleries are closed on that day.

What to see and do if you have 2 days in Taipei

DAY 1

9:00 AM: You may be jet-lagged, so it’s OK to have a late start this morning. If your hotel doesn’t offer breakfast, ease yourself into this new city at centrally-located Sunny Cafe, a well-priced comfortable coffee house near the Ximending area. If you’re not really a breakfast person and are just looking for a quick bite and a coffee, any convenience store (7-11, Family Mart, Hi-Life) should be able to provide that.

Where it is: Sunny Cafe, No. 23, Section 1, Zhonghua Road, Zhongzheng District. MRT: Taipei Main Station or Ximen Station.

10:00 AM: Explore Ximending, a brash and trendy area which serves as an entertainment district for the young set. The intersection of Chengdu Road and Hanzhong Street brings to mind Manhattan’s Times Square, while the pedestrian area to the Northwest is full of novelty and design shops, fast food and entertainment venues. Wuchang Street is lined with cinemas, while Lane 50 off Hanzhong is devoted to tattooing and nail art.

On the South side of Chengdu Road stands the instantly recognizable Red House built in 1908 as Taipei’s first public market. Nowadays it’s used as a cultural centre but on weekends, an artist and designer markets sets up outside starting at 2 PM.

Where it is: MRT: Ximen Station

Ximending, Taipei (2 days in Taipei itinerary)

Ximending district, Taipei

11:00 AM: Head to Longshan Temple, a Buddhist temple and one of Taipei’s top religious sites. Founded in 1738, it is also one of the oldest. Although it is dedicated to Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of mercy, there are over 100 other gods worshipped here. Watch the crowds of locals as they burn incense and candles, make offerings, pray, and ask their fortune. As is common with Taiwanese temples, every surface is dripping with colourful carvings and other ornamentation.

Where it is: 211 Guangzhou Street, just across from the dancing fountains. MRT: Longshan Temple.

12:00 PM: Your next stop is Dihua Street, more specifically the section between Minsheng W. and Nanjing W. roads. Lined with two and three-story shops traditionally selling Chinese medicines and fabrics, this is what Taipei used to look like before the skyscrapers rose up. Now restored, the street is home to an increasing number of restaurants, cafes, and art studios. If you’re looking for good coffee, yo may want to keep your eyes peeled here. When you’re hungry, find a place that looks good and settle down for lunch.

Where it is: Dihua Street is a 10-minute walk west of Zhongshan MRT station.

2:00 PM: Time to visit two more temples: the Temple of Confucius and Bao’an Temple (a Taoist temple) are right next to each other. The Confucius Temple, dating from the late 1920s, displays information in English and presents some free Confucius-themed movies (with English subtitles) in their 4D cinema.

The Bao’an Temple is much older (founded in 1760 but added to and renovated over the years) and is the recipient of a UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for its restoration and revival of temple rites and festivities. If you see only one temple in Taipei, make it this one!

Where it is: 275 Dalong Road and 61 Hami Street. MRT: Yuanshan Station

Bao'an Temple, (2 days in Taipei itinerary)

Bao’an Temple, Taipei

3:30 PM: You may way want to take a coffee break at this point. If you like cats, you could make it a cat cafe. Taiwan is the country that started the cat cafe trend back in 1998, and that original cafe is now called, appropriately, Cafe & Cats 1998.

Where it is: Cafe & Cats 1998, 129 Fuhua Rd, Shilin, MRT: Zhishan station

5:00 PM: If it’s Friday or Saturday, head to the National Palace Museum (open until 9:00 PM on those days) to visit it without the crowds. This is Taipei’s #1 museum and houses the world’s largest and finest collection of Chinese art including painting, statuary, ceramics, jade, lacquerware and more.

On other days, the museum closes at 6:30 PM, so you may want to skip the cat cafe and come here directly. If you prefer contemporary art, you could visit the Fine Art Museum instead. (Closes at 5:30 except Saturday at 8:30. Closed Monday.)

Where it is: to get to the National Palace Museum, get off at Shilin MRT station, exit 1, and catch the R30 bus (and possibly minibus 18 or 19 as well). There are directions in English and arrows pointing the way to this most popular attraction.

8:30 PM: Experience a Taiwanese Night Market for dinner. You could choose the Shilin Market (the largest and most tourist-oriented) which is covered, or Ningxia Market (outdoors, along a street that becomes pedestrian at night). Both are near the red MRT line.

Where it is: Shilin Market: opposite Jiantan MRT station. Ningxia Market: along Ningxia Road between Minsheng and Nanjing roads. MRT: Shuanglian or Zhongshan station

Ningxia Night Market (2 days in Taipei itinerary)

Ningxia Night Market, Taipei

DAY 2:

8:30 AM: Start your second day with breakfast at Fuhang Soy Milk (closed Monday) which offers traditional Taiwanese breakfasts like shao bing (flat bread stuffed with a long deep-fried donut and/or a fried egg and served with a bowl of sweet or savoury soymilk). This restaurant is very popular though, so you will have to line up and wait perhaps 30 to 45 minutes. Be warned: these breakfasts are very filling.

Where it is: On the second floor of the Hushan Market, 108 Zhongxiao E Road, section 1. MRT: Shandao Temple Station

10:00 AM: Make your way to the 2-28 Peace Memorial Park and have a walk around to help you digest. The southern section, between Ketagalan Blvd and Guiyang Street is especially pretty and peaceful. If you’re interested in Taiwan’s recent history, you can also visit the 2-28 Memorial Museum in the park. (Get the multilingual audioguide if you don’t read Chinese.)

Where it is: NTU Hospital MRT Station

2-28 Peace Memorial Park (2 days in Taipei itinerary)

2-28 Peace Memorial Park, Taipei

11:00 AM: Walk (it’s only a couple of blocks) to the entrance of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. You can’t miss the gate! The massive courtyard with its ornamentals gardens and sculpted trees leads to the blue-roofed hall, with the National Concert Hall on your left and National Theatre on your right. Hopefully, the hall will be free of tarp by the time you get there. Inside the main hall, which features an enormous statue of General Chiang Kai-shek, a crowd comes to watch and photograph the changing of the honour guard every hour (so you may try to arrive just a little before the hour.) There is also an artefact museum with items from the leader’s daily life.

Where it is: 21 Zhongshan S. Road. MRT : Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Station

Gateway to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial (2 days in Taipei itinerary)

Gateway to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial, Taipei

12:30 AM: Head to Yongkang Street for lunch. There are many restaurants here serving Taiwanese specialties and catering to visitors (with English menus and sometimes English-speaking staff). I tried and enjoyed the following:

  • Fuchen Food, No. 8-1 Yongkang Street (South Taiwanese specialties – try the shrimp rolls)
  • Chi Fan Chi Tang, No. 5, Lane 8, Yongkang Street
  • Sun Merry Bakery (Chinese pastries), on the corner of Yongkang and Xinyi.

There are also several restaurants here where you can try Taiwanese desserts such as the famous mango ice.

Delicious lunch at Chi Fan Chi Tang (2 days in Taipei itinerary)

A delicious lunch at Chi Fan Chi Tang, Taipei

Where it is: MRT: Dongmen Station. Yongkang St. goes south from Xinyi Road.

2:00 PM: If it’s the weekend and you’re a die-hard shopper, you may want to check out the Jianguo Weekend Flower and Jade Market, stretching along Jianguo Road between Xinyi Road and Renai Road. It is covered (located under an elevated road) but gets insanely crowded. If it’s a nice day and you want to enjoy the outdoors instead, head straight to Da’an Forest Park, Taiwan’s version of Central Park and a great place to relax and people watch.

Where it is: both the market and the park are near the Da’an Park MRT Station.

4:00 PM: Make your way to Elephant Mountain where a staircase climbs up to various viewpoints providing the iconic city view with the famous Taipei 101 tower rising above the skyline. Try to start the climb at least an hour before sunset. The stairs are steep and you will require at least some degree of fitness, but take your time and you should be able to get high enough for good views. It can get quite crowded before sunset but people are very polite and do not shove.

Where it is: Xiangshan MRT station. Follow the signs (walk along the street parallel to the mountain then left toward it.

View from Elephant Mountain (2 days in Taipei itinerary)

View from Elephant Mountain, Taipei

6:30 PM: Dinner at Din Tai Fung. Now that you’ve seen the Taipei 101 tower from above, head over to the building itself. The Din Tai Fung location in the building’s concourse is a little less busy than the original branch. The specialty here is soup dumplings. Get your name on the list and wander around the swanky shopping mall while you wait. The wait will likely be at least half an hour, but it’s worth it.

8:30 PM: After dinner, make your way to the fifth floor to buy your tickets for the tower’s observation decks on the 88th and 89th floor. (Last ticket sale is at 9:15 PM.) The pressure-controlled lift will whisk you up at a speed of more than 60 kms/hr.

Where it is: right next to the Taipei 101 MRT station

Ding Tai Fung in Taipei 101 (2 days in Taipei itinerary)

Ding Tai Fung in Taipei 101

9:30 PM: If you still have some energy left, you could enjoy some nightlife.  Or you could do like me, call it a day and get some rest. You deserve it!

Where to stay in Taipei

All these places are centrally located, affordable, and close to a MRT station.

A few more tips

Taipei is the Taiwanese city where you will find the most expats and people who can speak some English. The majority of visitors to Taipei (and Taiwan in general) are Asian though, so if you’re not, prepare to be in the “visible minority”. But there is no need to worry. The Taiwanese are very polite (they don’t stare), respectful, and helpful. If you stand in a public place staring at a map or your phone looking confused, someone will stop to help you.

Finally, 7-11 convenience stores are everywhere in Taipei and can be a lifesaver when you need a quick coffee or breakfast, some snacks, or want to add credit to your EasyCard. Most have an ATM too, and some even have pubic toilets. Family Marts and Hi-Life are other chains with similar services.

Have a good trip and I hope you enjoyed this two-day Taipei itinerary!


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