Shilin Night Market

Takeaways From Traveling in Taipei

Home to more than 2.6 million citizens and known for its vibrant night markets and lush greenery, there are so many things to do here. Planning a trip can feel overwhelming. So, what should you know when traveling in Taipei?

This article brings you key takeaways from traveling in Taipei, so you know what to expect when traveling to this underrated city in Taiwan.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below may contain affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase.

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall from the outside

Key takeaways

  • Learning basic Mandarin phrases greatly enhances your experience in Taipei.
  • An EasyCard is very convenient for traveling in Taipei.
  • Tipping isn’t common practice in Taipei.
  • Downloading useful apps simplifies planning and navigating around Taipei, ensuring a smoother experience discovering hidden gems throughout the city.
  • The city is very green and has a strong focus on sustainability.
  • There aren’t many public trash cans around.
  • The city is filled with lively night markets. It’s common and highly recommended to stroll around here in the evening.

What to know before traveling in Taipei?

Before you pack your bags for Taipei, there are a few things you should be aware of. Discovering the city’s unique pace and embracing its green spaces will make your trip here unforgettable.

Learn some basic Mandarin

Mastering some basic Mandarin phrases will transform your travel experience in Taipei. Although English is spoken in Taiwan, knowing a bit of Mandarin will make traveling here so much easier.

Knowing how to say some basic phrases allows you to connect with locals. You’ll find that being able to ask for directions, order food at a market, or simply exchange greetings adds a layer of authenticity to your adventures in Taipei.

Here are some useful phrases:

  1. “你好 (Nǐ hǎo)” – This means “hello” in Mandarin Chinese, the official language of Taiwan. It’s a polite greeting to use when interacting with locals.
  2. “谢谢 (Xièxiè)” – This means “thank you” in Mandarin Chinese. It’s important to express gratitude when receiving help or service during your travels.
  3. “请问 (Qǐngwèn)” – This phrase means “excuse me” or “may I ask” in Mandarin Chinese. It’s useful for getting someone’s attention or asking for assistance.
  4. “这个多少钱?(Zhège duōshǎo qián?)” – This means “How much is this?” in Mandarin Chinese. It’s handy when shopping or negotiating prices in markets or stores.
  5. “我要去… (Wǒ yào qù…)” – This means “I want to go to…” in Mandarin Chinese. You can follow this phrase with the name of your destination to ask for directions or tell your intended location to a taxi driver or a local.
  6. “买单 (Mǎidān)” – This means “the bill” in Mandarin Chinese. You can use this phrase when you’re finished dining and want to request the bill at a restaurant or café.
  7. “这个要 (Zhège yào)” – This phrase means “I want this one” in Mandarin Chinese. It’s helpful for indicating to the vendor the specific item you wish to purchase. You can follow this phrase by pointing at the item you want to buy.
man selling food at night market

Get an EasyCard

Grab an EasyCard the moment you land or step into Taipei. This prepaid card is your magic key to smoothly travel across the city and beyond, letting you hop on trains, buses, ferries, and even rent public bikes with a simple tap.

You can also use it for small purchases in shops and vending machines around Taiwan, making it incredibly handy.

Recharging this card is easy; top-up stations are found at most MRT stations and convenience stores across the city. Having an EasyCard means spending less time queuing for tickets and more time exploring the amazing spots that Taipei has to offer.

With this card in your pocket, getting around becomes very easy and affordable.

man in bus in Taipei

Be mindful of tipping customs

Understanding tipping customs in Taipei is essential for any traveller. Unlike many Western countries, Taiwan does not have a strong culture of tipping. This means you don’t need to leave extra money at restaurants or in taxis.

The locals usually don’t tip, and your service charge often gets included in the bill already. So, keeping your change to yourself won’t offend anyone here.

Especially when exploring vibrant night markets and sampling amazing food, remember that the price you see is typically what you pay.

By respecting these local customs, you’ll blend in more with residents and experience the city like a true local.

man holding fried chicken piece with chopsticks

Download convenient apps

To make the most out of your Taipei adventure, download some essential apps. Here are the best apps to download while traveling in Taiwan. Some of them include Food Panda (food delivery) and TaxiFind (ordering taxis).

Other must-have apps include Google Translate or Papago for overcoming any language barriers. Taiwan Railway is convenient to download for all your train travels across the island.

To make your experience on Taipei’s Metro system easier, download the Go! Taipei Metro app. This gives you comprehensive maps including station exits and transfer information.

man looking at his phone while traveling in Taipei

The city doesn’t feel as rushed as other large cities

Unlike in many other large cities where the hustle and bustle can be overwhelming, Taipei offers a more serene atmosphere.

The streets are lively yet not chaotic, providing a refreshing balance between urban life and tranquility. You notice people walking at an easy pace; there’s no typical rush. Sit down in one of its cute cafes and just watch the world go by a little.

In this city filled with greenery and vibrant night markets, you quickly appreciate how calm everything feels. Traffic flows without the blaring horns typical of other big cities.

Now and then, you might even spot little birds darting around tree-lined streets. This was my personal favorite thing about Taipei: the sounds of the birds in its many trees lining the streets.

Taipei 101 with girl standing in front of it
Taipei 101 views

It’s a very green city

Taipei stands out for its commitment to green spaces and a progressive environmental attitude, truly making it an ecological destination. There are parks filled with centuries old trees such as the lush Daan Forest Park.

This emphasis on maintaining natural landscapes within the urban environment provides a refreshing break from the concrete jungle. You’ll find yourself enjoying moments of peace as you stroll through the city.

Its nature and its attitude towards nature is one of the reasons why this country is worth visiting.

The city’s dedication to being eco-friendly extends beyond just its green spaces. Initiatives like extensive cycling paths and comprehensive recycling programs show Taipei’s commitment to sustainability.

These efforts make the city not only a place of beauty but also a leader in environmental conservation among cities worldwide.

Majestic trees in Daan Forest Park
Tree at Daan Forest Park

There are lots of night markets worth exploring

Exploring night markets in Taipei offers a glimpse into the city’s culture, where vendors serve up tasty Taiwanese dishes. The largest night market in Taipei is the buzzing Shilin Night Market, home to many food options.

Here you can walk through crowded lanes, trying snacks you’ve never heard of before and soaking in the lively atmosphere unique to Taipei.

Make sure you try some iconic Taiwanese snacks like bubble tea and stinky tofu – they’re an essential part of the night market adventure.

These night markets are perfect for those who love food. There are many different night markets, but each has its own charm. My personal favorite one is the popular Raohe Night Market. I think the atmosphere here is the best.

Raohe Market
Raohe Street Food Market

There aren’t a lot of public trash cans

When walking around the city, you’ll quickly notice something different about Taipei’s streets. You might find yourself holding onto your rubbish longer than expected because finding a public trash can can be quite a challenge.

This scarcity is by design; the Taiwanese government has set it up to encourage everyone to take responsibility for their own waste. It’s a move aimed at promoting recycling and responsible disposal of waste.

You won’t find dumpsters around, and public bins are almost nonexistent, especially if you’re exploring outside the more developed areas.

It means carrying your trash with you until you get back home or find a rare bin might become part of your daily routine in Taipei.

This system also ties into why Taiwan requires specific official trash bags for non-separated garbage – it’s all in an effort to keep their city clean and green while encouraging recycling habits.

bike in Taipei streets

Where to stay in Taipei?

Choosing where to stay in Taipei can shape your entire experience of this vibrant city. Look for accommodations that offer both comfort and convenience, giving you the perfect base to explore everything Taipei has to offer.

Waikoloa Hotel: Luxurious yet affordable

Waikoloa Hotel is where I’ve personally stayed and which I find one of the best hotels in Taipei. This hotel offers a luxurious experience without breaking the bank. You’ll find yourself relaxing in clean and spacious rooms.

The hotel also provides free WiFi, making it easy to plan your daily adventures or catch up on work.

Moreover, Waikoloa Hotel goes above and beyond with breakfast included in your stay. It’s a great place to come back to after a day of exploring.

If you want to read an extensive review, you’ll find that over here.

Lobby at the hotel

City Suites Taipei Nandong: Close to Raohe Night Market

Another great hotel I’ve personally stayed at is City Suites Taipei Nandong. Here you’ll find an extensive review.

Choosing  City Suites Taipei Nandong means you’re just a short walk away from the Raohe Street Night Market. This location is definitely one of the best things about this hotel.

If you’re a food lover, you’ll definitely enjoy strolling to this night market in the evening. Additionally, this hotel offers easy access to different MRT stations within about a 10-minute walk.

Taipei City Suites Nandong
City Suites Taipei Nandong

Places worth exploring from Taipei

So, now that you know what to be aware of when traveling to Taipei, what places are also worth exploring from here?

Well, here are some places that are definitely worth exploring from Taipei:

Jiufen

Exploring Jiufen offers a magical retreat into what feels like a scene from the beloved fantasy movie, “Spirited Away”. This mountain town is home to historic narrow streets lined with shops and restaurants.

You’ll find yourself walking through lanes in the iconic Jiufen Old Street, filled with heritage and mystery. It’s possible to soak in the atmosphere in just a couple of hours.

However, I would highly recommend staying here instead. Opt for two to three days here to fully experience Jiufen and its green surroundings.

It usually takes a little less than 1.5 hours to reach Jiufen from Taipei.

greenery in Jiufen
Jiufen and its greenery

Taroko Gorge National Park

Another place you should definitely visit from Taipei is the impressive Taroko Gorge National Park. This place is filled with breathtaking natural scenery and lies about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Taipei.

You can also take a train from Taipei to Hualien and from here work your way towards the national park (I would recommend hiring a driver).

You should especially visit this place if you’re a nature lover. With its impressive cliffs and the scenic Liwu River carving through the gorge, it’s a true paradise. Here you’ll find challenging hikes, but also more accessible trails such as the beautiful Shakadang Trail.

In theory, you could visit this place during a day trip from Taipei, however I would highly recommend staying in the area for at least a couple of days.

Danae on the trail with a background of mountains

In conclusion

Taipei is a unique city, due to it being a lot greener than the average capital city. It’s home to many green spaces and lively night markets.

Before going here, make sure to download essential apps and to learn a few phrases in Mandarin. This will make your travels here a lot easier.

Away with Danae

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