I’m guessing you have landed here because you are planning your Taipei itinerary. This 4 day Taipei Itinerary was created after months and months of research as part of a 13 day trip to Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand. A friend and I escorted 9 ladies on this trip who were all visiting Asia for the first time. Taipei was the perfect first stop. This vibrant, modern city offers a taste of Asia with many of the comforts of home to soften the culture shock. Our 4 days in Taipei were filled with great company, amazing restaurants and all the fabulous sights of this buzzing metropolis. Whether you are a first time visitor or a seasoned veteran, I hope you find something here to delight that you will include in your very own Taipei itineraries.
Where Is Taipei?
Taipei is located in Taiwan. The official name of Taiwan is the Republic of China (ROC) and it’s political status is somewhat uncertain. In 1945 after WWII the Republic of China took control of China and its territories including Taiwan. Shortly afterwards, the Chinese Civil War was won by the Communist Party who took control of mainland China forcing the ROC Government to flee to Taiwan, while still claiming to be the legitimate ruling party of China. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s Taiwan (ROC) transitioned from a one-party dictatorship to a multi-party democracy. In 1971 Taiwan (ROC) was removed from the United Nations and replaced by the Peoples Republic of China (PRC or China), but it wasn’t until the late 1990’s that ROC dropped it’s claim over mainland China. PRC maintains it has jurisdiction over Taiwan (ROC) and continues to advocate a one China policy to the point where they refuse to engage in diplomatic relations with the nations who recognise ROC. Given very few nations do recognise Taiwan (ROC) as a nation in it’s own right, most countries do not maintain a Consulate or Embassy in Taiwan. Whether Taiwan is a country or not depends on who you ask and which list you check. This one suggests Taiwan (ROC) is a country, while this one doesn’t. When I spoke to a local about the situation, he simply said that Taiwan maintains it’s independence and they don’t want to make China angry so they don’t rock the boat.
Introduction To Our 4 Days in Taipei
Taipei is the largest city in Taiwan and has been the nation’s capital since 1949. Taipei has a population of ~2.6 million and is one of the most densely populated urban centres in the world. I visited Taipei for the first time in October 2019 with 10 ladies from the USA. My friend and fellow blogger Robin of This I Do For Me and I organise a group trip every second year and in 2019 we went to Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand. Taipei was our first stop, largely because direct flights were available from both Sydney and Chicago, but also because Taipei is a brilliant introduction to Asia. The group flew from ORD – TPE on EVA Air (yes it was the Hello Kitty plane!) and I flew on China Airlines from SYD – TPE. By happy coincidence, both fights landed in Taipei’s terminal 2 within minutes of each other. Despite this, I chose to fly into Taipei 1 day ahead of the group to ensure everything was perfect for our 4 days in Taipei. There was a lot of pressure on me for this trip as I had the hopes and dreams of our 9 travellers weighing heavy on my shoulders. Many, many months of research went into planning not only our 4 days in Taipei, but the entire 13 days away to ensure they had the trip of a lifetime. The ladies that I travelled with were truly an inspiration. They trusted Robin and I implicitly to plan every detail and we all had the most amazing time. I am truly humbled to count every single one of these women as one of my friends and I am grateful every single day for the unusual path that brought Robin and I together. Here is our full 4 day Taipei itinerary …
Artree Hotel Songshan
There are 12 distinct districts in Taipei; Zhongzheng, Daan, Zhongshan, Songshan, Wenshan, Nangang, Neihu, Shilin, Wanhua, Datong, Beitou and Xinyi. The metro in Taipei is comprehensive and makes the city very easy to navigate so you can’t really go wrong with any of these districts as long as you are close to a station, but each district does have it’s own distinct appeal. We chose to stay in Songshan which is the prefect base for many Taipei day trips. The ladies that I travelled with are a discerning bunch and not just any hotel would do. I checked out every single hotel when I was deciding where to stay in Taipei before I selected the arTree Hotel as our home away from home. The arTree Hotel is about a 30 minute drive from Taipei International Airport and just a few kilometres from the city centre. The arTree Hotel is stunning! Taking inspiration from nature, every aspect of the design has been carefully thought out. From the amazing jungle themed restaurant, to the imaginative elevators, to the superbly appointed guest rooms, every area is a delight. We booked our stay at the arTree hotel through Agoda and paid ~AUD$260 per night.
Taipei Itinerary Day 1 – Arrival, Pineapple Cakes & Night Markets
5am – Arrival & Getting Settled
Landing at 5am is never ideal. After a 9 ½ hour flight from Sydney with very little sleep, I was glad to find Taipei International Airport almost deserted when I arrived. I sailed through customs and baggage claim in under 30 minutes. I hit the ATM in the arrivals hall and collected the Taiwanese SIM card that I ordered through Klook. The driver that I booked through Klook was waiting and I was settled into my private car and on way my by 6am. If you are on a budget, you may prefer to take the train. The drive into Songshan in darkness on almost deserted roads was an opportunity to rest my eyes before the busy day ahead. I arrived at the arTree Hotel at 7am, well before the 4pm check in time. I dispensed with the necessary paperwork quickly and the hotel kindly stored my luggage securely. Minutes later I hit the streets to explore the local area and stock up on essentials at the nearby Wellcome supermarket. When my feet became weary, I jumped into an Uber to get my hands on some of Taipei’s world renowned Pineapple Cakes. Pineapple Cakes are prolific in Taipei, but if you want the best you need to head to Sunny Hills or Chia Te. I went to both! I’m still undecided about which one was best, but I preferred the shopping experience at Sunny Hills, given I had to queue for about 30 minutes to get in the door at Chia Te. If you don’t want to wait in line order your Chia Te Pineapple Cakes here for collection at Taipei Airport on departure. If you can’t get to Taipei, try this amazing Pineapple cake recipe at home. I found Uber in Taipei easy and efficient and we used it extensively during our 4 days in Taipei. Even ordering 3 cars at a time for the 11 of us was never an issue. The following day when the group arrived, we spent the morning in the conference room at the arTree Hotel so that we had a comfortable place to settle in and complete our orientation. It made for a relaxing start to the trip and was a whole lot better than hanging in the lobby for hours.
12pm – Lunch @ Dian Shui Lou
We wanted to sample some of the local delicacies for our first meal in Taipei and we chose Dian Shui Lou. Dian Shui Lou serves up Taiwanese cuisine with a focus on local produce at 8 locations across Taipei. We visited the Nanjing Store which was a short walk from the arTree Hotel where we enjoyed a leisurely lunch in a private room. We ordered a selection of dishes from the menu and shared all the plates banquet style. My picks were the Pan Fried Scallion Pancakes and the Stir Fried Beef with Ginger. We headed back to the arTree Hotel at about 2pm and as luck would have it, our rooms were ready two hours before check in. My friends from the US had endured a 15 hour flight plus another 9 hours on the ground and were delighted to have the chance to freshen up and settle in a little early.
6pm – Taipei Metro & Night Markets
Taipei is famed for it’s night markets and there are many to choose from. We chose Gongguan because it was a direct trip on the Taipei Metro green line between Taipei Arena (G17) and Gonguan (G07). The fare was just TWD25 (~AUD$1.20) for the thirty minute trip and the journey was super easy to navigate. The ticket machines at each Metro station are very easy to use and the instructions are in English. First you will need to look up your destination station on the map and the appropriate fare will be displayed underneath the station. Once you know what the fare is simply enter that into the ticket machine and select how many tickets you need. For a single fare ticket a plastic token will be issued which you use to access the automatic gates. A single fare ticket can only be used on the day of purchase so you can’t stock up on them. If you intend to travel on the Taipei Metro frequently during your stay you may want to consider one of the other ticket options. You can purchase a one day pass for TWD$150 which will allow you unlimited use of the Taipei Metro for a single calendar day. You can also purchase a 24 hour (TWD$180), 48 hour (TWD$280) or 72 hour (TWD$380) Taipei Metro pass which is valid for the specified amount of hours from the first use. Finally you may want to consider a Taipei Fun Pass. Taipei Fun Passes come in 1, 2, 3 or 5 day durations (TWD$180, $310, $440, $700) and are good for consecutive days on Taipei Metro and Taipei Buses. You can also purchase a 1 day Taipei Fun Pass with access to the Maokong Gondola for TWD$850. Regardless of which ticket you chose, there are some etiquette rules that riders are expected to follow. The locals obviously take these rules seriously as one of our group was approached respectfully and advised that gum chewing on the train is a big no-no. Gongguan Night Market was just a few minutes walk from Gongguan Metro Station (G07). There are multiple vendors and small shops selling a variety of goods. When we first arrived at Gongguan Night Markets, I was underwhelmed. We walked the first isle which was dominated with food stalls fairly quickly and when we reached the end, it seemed like that’s all there was to the markets. To make matters worse, the heavens opened and let’s face it, walking around stalls in a downpour is nobody’s idea of fun. We decided to head to dinner and wait the rain out and return to figure out the markets once we were done.
7.30pm Bao @ Lan Jia Gua Bao
The other reason we chose Gonguan Night Markets, over all the others on offer was it’s proximity to Lan Jia Gua Bao. Bao is one of the most famous dishes in Taiwan and Lan Jia Gua Bao is famed for dishing up the best in Taipei. Often described as a Taiwanese hamburger, Baos are a fluffy bun with a variety of fillings, usually pork. It was a little tricky to find Lan Jia Gua Bao and despite having Google Maps on, we still made a few wrong turns. When we finally arrived it was packed to the rafters and there was a queue out the door. Many of those ahead of us chose to take away to avoid the crush, but we oped to wait for a table in the small dining room. It didn’t take as long as I feared. The menu at Lan Jia Gua Bao is tight, but it doesn’t really matter what else is on offer as everyone comes for the Bao. You can order your pork fatty, lean or half and half. Most of our group ordered half and half, but I opted for the lean as was very glad I did. The drink menu is limited and wasn’t to my liking so I grabbed a coke from the Family Mart next door when we were done. When we were done exploring, we hopped in an Uber back to the arTree Hotel for the bargain price of TWD$176 (~AUD$8.50). After a long day it felt pretty goof to flop into bed and I slept like a baby.
Taipei Itinerary Day 2 – Taipei 101, Hot Pot & Taipei Eye
10am – Taipei 101
I found myself awake much earlier than I had hoped, having not quite yet adjusted to the new time zone. After breakfast we met in the lobby at 9.15am. Had I not been with a group of 10 others, I probably would have walked to Taipei 101 given it was only 2.5klms away. You know that meme about walking huge distances? I’m that one friend and the group no longer trusts me when I say it’s not far. I bowed to peer pressure and ‘we’ decided to Uber to Taipei 101. By now we had our Uber game down pat and ordering three cars for our group of 11 was a piece of cake. The cars arrived quickly and we were in the thick of Taipei rush hour before we knew it. The fare was a paltry TWD$115 (~AUD$5.50). Taipei 101 is one of the world’s most iconic buildings. Tall and thin, Taipei 101 was designed to resemble a bamboo shoot and held the title of the world’s tallest building from 2004 – 2010. As of April 2019, it is still the world’s tallest green building. Tickets to the observation deck can be purchased on the 5th floor, but we chose to purchase ours through Klook to avoid the lines and save a couple of dollars. Choose this ticket for a free serve of chicken nuggets thrown in, this one for the priority pass or this one for the ultimate Taipei 101 experience, which includes priority pass and the Skyline 460 outdoor experience. High speed elevators whisk visitors up to the observation deck on the 89th floor in 37 seconds where they can enjoy 360° views of the city. Make sure you have a look at the wind damper while you are up there. This huge steel ball has the very important job of keeping Taipei 101 stable during high wind and earthquakes. When you are done with the views, head to the Taipei 101 mall and indulge in a little high end shopping.
12.00pm – Lunch @ The Green Room
Now I wouldn’t normally pick a vegan restaurant, but this trip was about trying new things and The Green Room was the perfect place to do just that. The Green Room is just 1.2 klms or a 16 minute walk from Taipei 101, but of course the group chose to Uber for a measly TWD$152. Booking our table for 11 at The Green Room was a feat in itself. Try as I might I was not able to secure a booking before we arrived in Taipei as The Green Room could not take the deposit from my card by phone or email. I had little choice but to pop in on the first day I arrived ahead of the group to make the payment. The Green Room has an extensive menu of vegan delights and we tried most of them banquet style with everything going in the middle to share. You must try the Thai Pumpkin Mooncakes and save room for dessert because the cake of the day was out of this world!
5.30pm – Dinner @ Orange Shabu
Eating at 5.30pm is not ideal, but we had theatre tickets tonight so an early dinner was a necessary evil. You can’t visit Taipei without eating hot pot and Orange Shabu is largely regarded as the best. We arrived on the dot of 5.30pm and were immediately guided to our private room. The menu was a little tricky to decipher at first glance, but take my advice and go for the set menu. Between your group choose different meats and share them around. Despite arriving so early, we still ran out of time and had to get our dessert to go. Sadly this also meant we missed out on Orange Shabu’s signature congee which the staff will whip up at your table from your leftover stock. Read what the Michelin Guide had to say about Orange Shabu here.
8pm – TaipeiEYE
Time to get our culture on! Straight after dinner we headed to TaipeiEYE. Yes of course we Ubered and the fare was just TWD$94 (~AUD$4.50). We had already purchased our tickets on Klook beforehand and were able to go straight through. There are no assigned seats at TaipeiEYE, so I was pleasantly surprised to snag great seats despite our late arrival. As soon as we settled into our seats the lights dimmed and the show began. While we couldn’t understand everything that was going on, we were able to follow along on the teleprompter which was in English. The costumes at TaipeiEYE were nothing short of spectacular and it was a delight to see a traditional performance while in Taipei. The show at TaipeiEYE changes each month, but you can always expect to see a mix of traditional dance and opera. Once the show was over we Ubered back to the arTree Hotel.
Taipei Itinerary Day 3 – Maokong & Juifen
9am – Maokong Gondola
After an early breakfast we ordered some Ubers to head to the Maokong Gondola. We had all intended to go to the Taipei Zoo South Station, however two of the cars ended up at the Taipei Zoo Station instead. How???? I still don’t quite know, because I was in the car that ended up in the right place! All the gondolas end up in Maokong so that wasn’t a problem, but one person was holding all 11 of the tickets we purchased beforehand on Klook, so those in my car were ticketless. Thankfully I was able to access the electronic tickets on my phone and after a bit of mucking around both groups were issued with 11 return tickets despite us trying to say that we didn’t need that many. This would not normally have been a problem, but after I handed out three of my eleven tickets to my car mates I was still holding 8 return tickets (so 16 cards in total). I didn’t think anything of it when I scanned my ticket in to enter, but when you exit you must use the same ticket you used to enter. After a heated discussion with security on the other side, he made me stand there and scan every ticket until I found the winner I entered with. It was ticket number 15. I was less than amused. Maokong itself is a delightful little town in the mountains which feels a million miles from the hustle and bustle of Taipei below. It’s famous for it’s tea houses and we whiled away some time in a cute one near the gondola station. While the rest of the group drank tea, I drank beer. I would have had wine, but there was none on the menu and a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. We took a crystal cabin with a glass floor back down to Taipei which did not sit well with one of my car mates. She repeatedly reminded me of rule 2, which was to remain seated at all times. I didn’t listen. There is a cute little gift shop at the main Taipei Zoo gondola station and the group bought up big before we jumped into our Ubers back to the hotel.
1pm – Juifen & North Coast Tour
We only had about 15 minutes to spare when we got back to the hotel before our Juifen and North Coast tour so we didn’t have enough time for a sit down lunch. We bought some delicious pastries from a nearby bakery and made it back just in time for our pick up. We booked our group half-day tour though Klook and there were only two other people on our bus. The bus had certainly seen better days, but our guide Danny Boy was incredibly knowledgeable and peppered each sentence with a joke. After we picked them up we hit the road for Juifen. We made two brief stops on the way to see the East China Sea up close and personal and a stunning waterfall. Juifen is incredibly popular and the bus dropped us just outside of town so we could walk the rest of the way in. We spent about an hour and a half exploring the stalls before piling back on the bus and being dropped back at the arTree hotel at about 5pm.
7pm – Hop On Hop Off Bus
Our Maokong Gondola tickets came with night tickets on Taipei’s hop on hop off bus. Rather than sticking together as a group of 11, we left the ladies to their own devices to grab some dinner and bus it around town at their leisure. After a big day, I’m sad to report no-one (including Robin and I) made it to the bus. We settled on a quiet night in with Indian from Balle Balle through UberEats. It was a little disappointing if I am honest. Most of the group decided to venture to nearby Banco for Italian which was passable. A better option if you are looking for nearby food might be Little New York Pizza where I ate on my first night in town. My custom creation of a tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese base with added spinach, ricotta cheese, onions and peppers (TWD$480) was delicious, light and fresh.
Taipei Itinerary Day 4 – Taipei to Hoi An
11am – Check Out
We had a 2pm flight to Danang Vietnam with an 11am pick up, so it didn’t leave a lot of time for activities on our 4th day in Taipei. We had a leisurely breakfast in the arTree Hotel before checking out and being picked up by our private driver who whisked us to Taipei airport. Check in for our Bangkok Airways flight was a bit of an ordeal. The extra luggage that we had booked apparently was not visible to the check in staff which created confusion all around. A supervisor was called and it was finally sorted out, but it did mean we had to run for the flight despite leaving plenty of time. We transited back through Taipei Airport at the end of our trip and because we had a few hours wait between flights we chose to while away the time at the Plaza Premium Lounge. I first heard about the Plaza Premium Lounge when we were in Phnom Penh. Our visit in Phnom Penh was included in our Qatar Airways business class ticket, but as we were flying economy this time we had to pay for entry which we pre-booked through Klook. It sure beat waiting at the gate. If you have a later flight or a full 4 days in Taipei you might want to consider a scarf making class, a trip to Beitou Hot Springs or a Taiwanese Cooking Class. I didn’t have time to try them out myself, but they were all on my short list.
The Final Word On Our 4 Day Taipei Itinerary
I used Klook extensively in Taipei to book our tours and activities. I love Klook and find it’s the best place to get discount tickets with the ease of booking online. If you have never used Klook, sign up here and get a AUD$5 credit to use on your first booking. As I mentioned earlier, Taipei was our first stop of a two week trip through Asia which also included Vietnam and Thailand. Want to see our full itinerary? It’s included in the members only section of my blog. Sign up now and get free access to exclusive benefits just for subscribers.
Have you been to Taipei? I’d love to hear about your favourite activities in Taipei in the comments below …
Until Next Time …
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Disclosure Statement: This review is not sponsored and I paid for all the accommodation, activities and meals in full. The information in this article is based on my own personal experiences and has not been influenced in any way by the brand(s) featured. This post may contain affiliate links which if clicked may earn me a small commission on purchases at no extra cost to you.