Taipei, and Taiwan by extension, feels like Japan and China had a baby with both of their best features in one place. It's a beautiful city, with a huge variety of things to do, a lot of culture, very modern architecture, a vibrant nightlife, all packaged in this small, and I mean deceivingly small (250 km2), gift of a destination.
Being this small, with this many things to do, Taipei is super easy to get around. Meaning you can use it's impeccable train system, bike hire system, and just plane old walking to get to all the major destinations you want to go. Make sure you get an Easy Card to access the public transport.
Not only is Taipei fun and easy to get around, it gets the Thrifty Backpacker tick of approval on the budget side. How cheap is Taipei? For how modern and 1st world it is, it's cheap - not cheaper than Bangkok, but definitely not as expensive as Tokyo. It sits in at around Prague, or Lisbon costs.
48 Hours in Taipei isn't enough to experience everything, but you can absolutely try. I've compiled a list of some of the best activities to do, places to visit, and food to eat, let's get started.
Things To Do In Taipei
1. Eat Beef Noodle Soup - National Dish
The delicious national dish of Taiwan, this is one of the best comfort foods you could get while in Taipei. It's a right of passage, and you should definitely try it while you're in town. The two best places I've had beef noodle soup in Taipei are here and here. The second one is really popular and cheap.
2. Explore the Shilin Night Market
It's a massive night market that's one of the most popular, if not, the most popular night market in Taiwan. It's got everything from famous food stalls, to desserts, to county fair type games.
The Taiwanese, and by extension, Asian culture of night markets is something that's truly beautiful. It's a way to spend a night in a wholesome manner, having a few drinks and trying a lot of food - definitely give it a go.
3. Get a View of Taipei 101 Tower from Elephant Mountain
Elephant Mountain that's located near the famous Taipei 101 tower, has a challenging but well defined trail with stairs that'll be perfect for a small hike. Not only do you get to enjoy the surrounding nature, but you'll get a fantastic view of the city and Taipei 101, at multiple points of the hike - you don't need to nessarily go to the very top.
A lot of people opt to go for the sunset when it's cooler. If you go during the day, like I did, you will get very sweaty on a hot day, as pictured below...
4. Stroll through Ximending Walking District
If you've been to Japan, imagine a combination of Akihabara and Shinjuku. These streets are littered with flashing lights, billboards, street performers, shops, restaurants, and bars. It's the perfect place for an evening of exploring and you'll no doubt find something you want to do.
5. View the Massive National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
A famous historical landmark with surrounding grounds that stretch very far. You'll see tourists trying to get the best picture, and people sitting on the stairs of the hall looking out over the grounds.
6. Party it up at Triangle
Triangle is bar/club that's a hot-spot for a combination of Taiwanese youth and young expats. As Taipei is small, the expat community is as well, and it's quite easy to meet people and become a part of the conversation. If you're planning on moving to work in Taipei, this is a fantastic option to meet people.
7. Try Taiwanese Style Fried Chicken Steak (Ji Pai)
Yes this is an actual list item for things to do! Its ridiculously popular among Taiwanese street food vendors and locals. This chicken breast is flattened, crumbed and fried, then seasoned with whatever seasoning you want. You'll regularly see people walking around with this giant hash-brown looking thing in their hand - that's what you want.
Hot-star is a famous stall that does these and you can find them in many places, Shilin night market is one of them.
8. Hike up and through Yangmingshan National Park
The national park is famous for it's post-volcanic activity, you can definitely smell sulfur, and there are a few crack where you'll see it steaming out. There are frequent buses from Jiantan MRT Station (30 & 208) and the whole hike should take you around 2-3 hours - depending on how far you go.
If you're into hiking, you should definitely give this place a try.
9. Try out some Night Clubs in the Xinyi District
Wave Club and a bunch of other all-you-can-drink clubs are around in the area where they'll take a higher entry fee but you've got unlimited drinks. You'll see long lines at these places every night - be careful as they usually under staff so as to serve drinks slowly and minimize expenses on the all you can drink model.
Regardless, these clubs are quite fun and if you're there over a weekend and want to party all night, this is the place to be 🕺
10. Browse through some great exhibits at the Taiwan National Museum
The National Museum is quite central and also connects to a permanent exhibit across the road that's got a wide variety of dinosaurs, and indigenous mammal skeletons. It's very interesting and you could easily spend the better part of a day perusing the hallways and learning new things about the history of Taiwan, other countries, art, and science.
Can you do all of this in 48 hours? Probably not, but everyone likes different things and I'm sure that there's a good combination of things to do up there that'll fill your 2 day trip, and many more things that you'll need to stay longer to get to!