Updated: Oct 17, 2019
Taiwan is one of my favorite places to visit. This energized country has a gazillion things to do. From street food to night markets and everything between, you will definitely enjoy your time spent here.
The amazing view from Jishan Street. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
A quick introduction
Taiwan is a small island off the coast of China.
It has a population of around 24 million people.
The United States in comparison is 273 times bigger in size. You can imagine that this country takes advantage of every square inch of space.
Taiwan is a world leader and packs a cultural, culinary and technological punch.
If you are visiting, you'll probably fly into Taoyuan International Airport, which was recently named the world's 15th best airport and number one in immigration according to Skytrax.
After you land, you'll probably end up heading to Taipei, which is a cheap bus ticket and a one hour drive away to Taipei Main Station.
I highly recommend checking out the super-detailed information that Anthony from The Travel Mentor has provided to help you out on how to orient yourself at the airport and how to take the bus to Taipei here.
*UPDATE* You can now take the Taiwan High Speed Rail from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei which will only cost you about $6 USD ($160 TWD) for a standard seat and it's a super-fast 20 minute ride.
Once you settle into your accommodation, check out these 8 things you can do in and around Taipei.
Selfie in front of Shilin Night Market. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
1. Check out a night market
When you visit Taipei or any Asian city, number one (or close to it) on your list should be to visit a night market. Lucky for you, there are many night markets in and around Taipei.
Whatever one you decide to check out, you'll definitely have a good time exploring the various stalls and people watching.
When you are in Taiwan you must try the street food or else why visit? (Photos by Digital Nomad Foodie)
2. Eat street food
When you are in an Asian city like Taipei one of the first things you should seek out to do is street food. Not only is it cheap, but tastes good and it's fun to try new things. Taipei is known for many unique foods like stinky tofu and sweet smoked sausages. You will find something that satisfies your stomach.
You can find these handmade pens in Jiufen. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
3. Take a day trip to Jiufen
Jiufen is about an hour drive or train ride away from Taipei Main Station. This mountainous town is located east from Taipei. There you will see magnificient views of the East China Sea and the northern coast of Taiwan. You'll also have the opportunity to check out Jiufen Old Street. This narrow alleyway is filled with food and clothing stalls, also many handmade items like animal pens, which are sculpted out of wood. Don't be surprised to see many dogs walking around. Don't worry though because they aren't wild dogs, they are owned by many stall owners, which they allow to mingle with the crowd.
If you want a very memorable experience in Taiwan, go launch a red lantern! (Video by Digital Nomad Foodie)
4. Release red lanterns in Shifen
If you have seen the world-famous red lanterns being released you might have wondered where this originated from. Well if you visit Shifen then you will have the chance to pick out your own red lantern and you can even paint messages on them prior to launch. What makes the launch area cool here is that you will be standing on a railroad where you'll be instructed to release as a large group. It's definitely something you should try at least once, especially when in Taiwan.
One of many hot springs in the Beitou District. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
5. Skinny dip in a hot spring in Beitou
If you like to practice mind, body and soul cleansing, you need to indulge in one of many hot springs around the Beitou District, just north of Taipei. The hot springs usually work by segregating men and women into their own private areas, where you can dip into various degrees of water hot to cold. You can spend as much time as you want and then once you are finished, you can meet up in a co-ed area where food and drinks are usually purchased to complete the experience. If you are shy, please be aware that many hot springs will be nude in the respective gender segregated areas. I'm shy, but when it comes to hot springs, I don't care because the health benefits of relaxing in a hot spring is such a relaxing experience. Try it!
The Wanhua District is jammed packed full of stuff for everyone. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
6. Explore Ximending in the Wanhua District
The Wanhua District is an amazing section of Taipei that offers a little bit of everything for everybody. Most specifically in Ximending you'll find street food vendors, tons of highly-fashionable clothing stores, unique places to eat like the Modern Toilet Restaurant and if you like clubbing there's a decent nightlife there too.
Taipei 101. (Photo by Digital Nomad Foodie)
7. Witness the height and architecture of Taipei 101
What is a list of awesome things to do without include the infamous Taipei 101 building, which at one point in time (back in 2004) was the tallest building in the world. If you go inside you'll find shopping, restaurants, various businesses, artwork, an observatory and the tallest Starbucks in the world.
8. Watch the Taipei Dragon Boat Festival
If you are in Taipei at the right time of the year, you should always check to see if you are lucky enough to partake in all the excitement that surrounds the Taipei Dragon Boat Festival. Only the best teams representing various towns in Taiwan compete. The race takes place in the Keelung River and you'll enjoy a great race, showcasing some very cool boats.
As you can see I've pretty much only covered the upper portion of Taiwan. I love this country, it ranks up there probably in my Top 5 favorite countries to visit. I want to add to this list by visiting the central and southern parts of the island. Have you? If so, please share in the comments section.
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