Planning a Layover in Taipei? This article provides you with ideas on what to do in Taipei in 24 hours.
The capital of Taiwan offers an exciting mix of old and new, traditional and modern, and Eastern and Western. You will find centuries-old temples standing side by side with modern department stores. This kaleidoscope of experiences makes it worth exploring, even if you only have one day in Taipei.
For anyone expecting another polluted concrete jungle, Taipei will be a big surprise for you; the capital of Taiwan is amazingly green. With an abundant supply of cycling paths (about 100 kilometers in total, mainly alongside the rivers) and a ring of mountains surrounding the city from three sides, there is always the possibility to escape to nature at hand.
From the Taoyuan International Airport, it’s only 30 kilometers to the city center. No matter whether you only spend a few hours in Taipei or decide to stay a bit longer (2 years, in my case😊), it’s hard not to fall in love when visiting Taiwan.
Follow this guide to make the most of your trip, even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your layover in Taipei.
Taipei 1 day itinerary
You have to be prepared to narrow it down and to a little planning, but it turns out that one day is more than enough to see some of the main landmarks of Taipei.
This is my recommended itinerary for one day in Taipei.
- Taipei 101
- Elephant Mountain
- Longshan Temple
- CKS Memorial Hall
- Raohe Night Market
**You should know that this itinerary makes it possible to so see multiple places, but it’s a little rushed. There will be no long breaks in restaurants and no afternoon nap😊 If you want to spend more time at each location, you could skip the afternoon trip to Maokong, or consider spending 2 days in Taipei.
Map of the sights
One day in Taipei: Things to Do & Places to See
Are you ready for a serious sightseeing tour during your layover in Taipei? Here is my plan on what to visit to make the most of your time.
9:00 Panoramic view of the city
The iconic skyscraper Taipei 101 is definitely among the biggest and most visited attractions in the city. It’s worth waking up early to visit it before the noisy Chinese tour groups create an endless cue at the entrance.
Taipei 101 is the highest building in the country, and between 2004-2009 it was the highest in the world. It’s a true architectonical masterpiece; no wonder the Taiwanese are so proud of it!
Getting up there is an experience of its own. You ascend in a lift at a speed of 1050 meters per minute, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. The upper floors of the skyscraper contain a giant 660-ton ball suspended on thick steel ropes. It is a stabilizing pendulum, and in case an earthquake, it is able to rock back and forth to stabilize the movement of the whole building.
The locals say that if Taipei were hit by a devastating earthquake, Taipei 101 would be the last building standing in the city.
10:30 Hike up Elephant Mountain
Your Taipei experience would not be complete unless you take in an amazing city panorama that includes Taipei 101. There is a short but steep hike just one metro station away that makes this possible (there are clear signs along the way). As long as you visit Taipei on a clear day and the weather allows for it, Elephant Mountain is a great place to go.
Altogether, there are 500 stairs to climb to the rocky viewing point (the most popular place) and 600 stairs to the best viewing platform. The hiking trail is 1,5 kilometers long and you will need 30 minutes to get to the top if you are in decent shape (budget 45 minutes for the walk + photo taking time at the top).
This place is really worth all the effort. Elephant Mountain is 183 meters high, the views are unbeatable, and you can see pretty much all of Taipei from there. Make sure to bring water with you; there are no stalls on the way.
13:00 Observe Devout Locals at Longshan Temple
Concerning religion, most Taiwanese practice a blend of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Most temples in Taiwan combine elements from all three.
Longshan temple is Taipei’s most famous. Founded in 1738, it is the oldest temple in town and there are often special ceremonies taking place there. The temple is large and popular, so as a visitor you won’t stand out as much as in some smaller temples.
The Taiwanese frequently bring various gifts for the gods, for example fruits, probiotic drinks or other foods. You will notice that the offering tables are usually overloaded with offerings.
The neighborhood around the temple is interesting, too. Wanhua district is the oldest part of the city. If you are brave enough, you can even stop by nearby Snake Alley for a taste of snake soup.
14:00 Pay Tribute to the General
The authoritarian general Chiang Kai-shek arranged for the world’s largest collection of Chinese art to be stored in Taipei. Because you likely won’t have time to do the National Palace Museum’s collections justice if you only have one day in Taipei, I recommend that you see his magnificent memorial hall instead.
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall sits in a lovely square (my favorite square in Taipei) that looks amazing at any time of the day or night. The area is surrounded by greenery, so make sure to take a walk or choose a bench to relax for a while, observing the other impressive buildings in the square, including the National Theater and the Concert Hall.
The Commander’s bronze statue is located in the Main Hall, with 88 steps leading up to it (the age of the general when he died). A small museum exhibits objects and documents from the general’s days. Every hour on the hour, there is a changing of the guards ceremony inside the Memorial Hall.
Once you get hungry, head to a nearby local restaurant for lunch. Try Liao Beef Noodles for delicious traditional beef noodles, or choose from many other restaurants around Jinhua street.
15:30 Cable Car Trip to Tea Plantations
Your afternoon can be dedicated to the southeastern corner of the city. To checking out some stunning tea plantations, you’ll need to spend some time on the MRT; the trip starts from the final stop on the Brown Line of the MRT. The fresh air and magnificent views of the city make it worth the journey.
Hop on a cable car and take it to the top, Maokong Station, once the largest area of tea plantations around Taipei. The local tea museum offers insight into the history and principles of oolong tea cultivation, which were brought to Taiwan by Chinese migrants from Fujian province.
Local oolong tea and Maokong’s atmosphere are best enjoyed on the terrace of one of the local family-run teahouses. And if you haven’t tasted tea ice cream yet, don’t miss the chance (ok, I’m not going to lie; either you will love it or hate it. I am in the second group😊)
There are many hiking trails in the area. As you only have one day in Taipei and your time is limited, you should try one of the shorter ones. On your way back, you can make a stop at ZhiNan temple cable car station and visit this temple complex before heading back to the city center.
18:00 Sample Taiwanese Foods at a Night Market
The Taiwanese love food and are literally obsessed with it. When you visit a night market, you will understand why. If you can, let a local person guide you around. Street food is cheap and very tasty, and every market encompasses dozens of stalls concentrated in a small area. By far the largest night market is Shilin, but I recommend the smaller and more local Raohe Night Market.
And what should you eat? Grilled seafood, green onion pancakes, and shaved ice with mango are the definition of food porn. If you have the courage, give stinky tofu or pig’s blood cake a try.
Whatever your choose, be sure to wash it down with freshly blended fruit juices, including mangoes or avocados. You can get this vitamin bomb for less than 2 USD.
20:30 Sleepless Night
Spending a pleasant evening dining somewhere with a view of Taipei 101 is definitely a good choice if you’re out of energy. However, options for a crazy night out are there, too.
Start the evening at Revolver bar, which is popular with locals and foreigners alike. The bar on the ground floor offers draft beer for a decent price, while the upper floor is dedicated to live music. Concerts are held here several times a week.
The nightlife in Taipei is varied and offers plenty of options for dancing, drinking and general debauchery until sunrise. The most famous clubs are concentrated in Xinyi’s luxury quarters, close to Taipei 101.
Spending a wild night out is possible not only on weekends but even on weekdays: for the girls, try Wednesday, when some of the clubs offer a “ladies night” free admission (and often a free cocktail). Gentlemen have to pay the full price, but they will certainly enjoy the evening – European and American men tend to be popular among local girls.
1 day in Taipei: Alone or with a guide?
Sightseeing in Taipei is easily manageable at your own pace and route. However, it depends on how much you are prepared to handle on your own; if you want to pack a maximum amount of sights into one day, taking a tour with a guide can be an efficient option.
If you plan to travel on your own, it’s a good idea to get this transportation ticket for the whole day. You can easily book it online (cost: 6 USD) and pick it up at the airport upon arrival. It includes all transportation such as the MRT, city buses, shuttle busses and Maokong gondola cable car.
If you would like to visit with a guide, I recommend this Taipei sightseeing tour, covering the main sights in only four hours. You will visit CKS Memorial Hall, the Presidential Building and even have time to visit the enormous National Palace Museum. There are two tours daily to choose from – pick up for the morning tour is at 8 am and for the afternoon one is 1 pm.
Planning your Taipei Stopover – Tips & Tricks
There are several factors you have to consider that will determine if it’s worth leaving the Taipei airport on your Taipei layover. That will also make it easier to decide where to go and what to see in Taipei if your time in the city is limited.
01I Plan your stopover
First and most important is the duration of your layover. I would only consider visiting the city if your Taipei stopover lasts at least 8 hours. A lot depends on what time your flights are. If it’s in the middle of the night, you may be better off booking a room at an airport hotel and getting a good night’s sleep.
On my last visit to Taiwan, my dad’s flight was at midnight and mine at 6 am on the following day: we stayed in Novotel just 5 minutes from the airport (with a free shuttle to both terminals), and spent an evening relaxing in the spa on site. I still got a great sleep before flying so early. Plus, our room was facing the runway, so the views were priceless!
02I Get a visa upon arrival
If you want to leave the airport, you will need a visa. Travelers from most countries get 90 days travel visa almost automatically but make sure you have your travel documents ready.
03I Keep your luggage in mind
Always consider what will happen with your luggage. Most airlines make it possible to transfer your luggage all the way to the final destination; this is the easiest way and you won’t need to deal with it in Taipei. You will only need to lug around your carry-on, so remember to store everything that you need for the day in there.
If you have to pick up your luggage airport, it’s good for you to know that there are storage lockers in the the luggage claim halls of both terminals 1 and 2. It costs NT$ 200-500 per piece depending on the weight, and bonded luggage may be stored no more than 30 days.
Layover in Taipei: Spending time at the airport
Taoyuan International Airport is very modern. I have been there than 20 times in the past and I enjoy it every time, even when there is a lot of waiting time ahead.
- There are free showers at both terminals. They are open 24-hours. You have to bring your own towel (otherwise, rent one from Terminal 2’s Salon Shop.)
- There are a lot of decent spots to take a nap. Seating is generally comfortable, with recliner chairs at several gates.
- You can visit one of the many themed lounges. There is one for Hello Kitty, Aboriginal tribes and Yummy lounge with tea samples.
- I loved the e-Library lounge the most, which partners with the National Museum of Taiwan Literature to offer books, tablets, and e-books for free.
I hope that this one day in Taipei itinerary will help you to plan your trip. I have enjoyed every single visit to Taiwan, and the universe seems to be sending me back, again and again😊. I am sure I will be back in a few months!
Thanks for reading!
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