Taiwan is a unique country with a rich blend of Asian and Western influence. Because of this, Taiwan is a super popular tourist destination. If you are visiting Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, and really want to experience the city and Northern Taiwan like a local, you’re going to have to try some new things!
Taipei is filled with street food, markets, and restaurants. Since there are so many options, the main questions are where do I go and what do I eat?
Eat like a local in Taiwan
Visit a Morning Market
There are so many night markets in Taipei that tourists often miss out on morning markets. They’re definitely worth getting up a little earlier for though! This is when the locals are out and about doing their shopping. Morning markets are also a great time to get a good deal. Vendors are usually out selling clothes, snacks, and other items at a cheaper price than they do at night.
TianMu ShiDong Market is a great place to try.
Din Tai Fung
If you have not heard of Din Tai Fung, you are in for a treat. It is a restaurant that originated in Taiwan with locations all over Asia but only a few in the United States. They are famous for their unbelievable pork xiao long bao, which are soup dumplings that literally melt in your mouth. Everything on the menu is inexpensive, so you can try a bunch of different dishes. If you visit the original location in Taipei, you can watch the cooks make the dumplings through the glass before sitting down. Not sure what else to order? Try the shrimp shao mai, hot and sour soup, and one of the dessert dumplings to finish off the meal.
Keelung Night Market
Taiwan is famous for it’s night markets, but some of them are packed with people. For a less crowded experience, you’ll have to get out of town. The Keelung Night Market is about 40 minutes outside of Taipei, so you’ll have some time to build up an appetite on the way over. Keelung is a port serving some of the freshest seafood. While you’re there, you have to try the oyster omelette and one bite sausages. If you are feeling adventurous try the traditional dish, Ding Bian Cuo, which is made of rice paste, veggies, meat, and shrimp.
Explore like a local in Taiwan
If you are looking to get out of your food coma, or at least take a short break from eating, there are some other activities that allow you to really experience Taiwan. From trying local activities to exploring some of Taiwan’s most beautiful places, these are some of our favorites way to explore in Taiwan.
Hiking Elephant Mountain (Xiangshan Hiking Trail)
This is a trail right at the edge of the city. The hike takes about 15-30 minutes depending on your speed but has amazing views of Taipei. You can watch the sunrise or sunset over the city from the top. There isn’t an entrance fee for this trail so you are really free to go whenever you want.
If you’re looking to try something a little different, shrimping is a great option. Shrimp is a staple in many Taiwanese dishes so it’s no surprise that shrimp fishing is a popular activity. The city of Taipei has indoor shrimp fishing to fit the lifestyle of city-living. It’s a super cool place to visit, but there are also tours around the area that go off into the waters at night for fishing!
Visit some hot springs
The best to relax while you’re in Taiwan? With a soak in some natural hot springs, of course! The Beitou Hot Springs and Wulai Hot Springs are two great choices. They’re both pretty close to Taipei but more popular with locals than with tourists—so you won’t find them too crowded.
Hiking the Sandiaoling waterfalls
Taiwan is full of waterfalls, so you’ll probably want to visit at least a few. This hike, near the famous Shifen Old Street, is home to three waterfalls, and isn’t too crowded. It’s a great place to experience some of Taiwan’s natural beauty!
Get away from the hustle and bustle of Taipei with an afternoon at Chaojing Park. There’s less tourists, so it’s a great place for a quiet picnic or a walk, and you’ll have great views of the bay and the sunset.
Keep in mind too that locals in Taiwan are very friendly—don’t be afraid to ask your hosts or hostel staff for recommendations! Ready for your trip to Taiwan? See how cheap our flights to Taiwan are.