Here’s a no frills guide to Taipei that you can use for your trip:
Take Bus 1819 (Kuokuang Line) from the airport to Taipei Main Station for NT$125 per person (5:30AM to 12:20AM). If you’re arriving outside the given bus schedule or you just want to save time and go straight to your hotel, you can take the taxi which would cost around NT$1200.
For ease and savings in transportation while you’re in the city, get an Easy Card and load it up with NT$500. This will be enough for around 3 days for your train and bus rides. You can spend the extra credit on purchases from convenience stores like 7-eleven or Family Mart.
If you want to bike around Taipei, try the U-bikes that can be found in bike kiosks all over the city. You will need an Easy Card and a Taiwanese mobile number to register at the kiosks. It would be a great help if you know someone who has a mobile number.
Since a Taipei trip is almost all about food, it would be a good idea to choose a hostel near one of the night market areas (Shilin or Ximending) so you won’t have trouble travelling back to you hotel after a night of pigging out on all the street food that you want to try.
Taipei Main Station is also a good area since it’s very accessible to and from the Airport.
Below is a sample itinerary for those who have limited time in Taipei but want to visit as many tourist spots as possible.
Day 1: Essential Taipei
Longshan Temple – Light some incense sticks and offer some prayers.
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial and National Theatre – Enjoy walking and taking pictures around the memorial grounds.
Lunch: Din Tai Fung Xiyan – the first branch of this world-acclaimed restaurant
Taipei 101 Mall and Observatory – best time to go up is right before twilight so you can see the view transition from day to night.
Dinner: Modern Toilet – your usual food served in toilet bowls and urinals.
Ximending Night Market – a very young and vibrant crowd awaits in here
Day 2: Northern Taipei
National Palace Museum – most popular exhibits: Meat-shaped Stone and Jadeit Cabbage
Yangmingshan National Park
Beitou Hot Springs – visit the Japanese Bath House Museum on the way to the Thermal Valley and dip your feet in one of the accessible streams.
Dansui – go around the old town to check out the old buildings then ride a bus to the Fisherman’s Wharf to enjoy the sunset from the Lover’s Bridge.
Shilin Night Market – this is arguably the best place to try all the Taiwanese street food.
Day 3: Sunset Views of Taipei from the Top
a) Taipei Zoo and Maokong – see the cute pandas and enjoy a laid-back gondola (cable-car) ride to Maokong for tea. Make your way back to the city just in time for sunset for a breathtaking vista of Taipei.
b) Elephant Mountain – a physically demanding long hike within the city with a rewarding view of Taipei.
Day 4: Jiufen and Yehliu
If you still have some time to spare, do a day trip around Northeast Taiwan to see rock formations and traditional villages.
Other places you might want to explore within Taipei are the Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Hall, Martyrs’ Shrine. You may want to include these in your itinerary if you have extra time.