10 Savvy Travel Tips for Your First Visit to Taipei
In this guide, we highlight 10 Taipei travel tips that will help you plan the perfect first visit to Taipei. Get useful info and handy hacks to make your first visit to Taiwan’s capital city a success!
Taipei, Taiwan’s bustling metropolitan capital city literally has something for everyone – no matter your interests. Here you’ll find everything from buzzing night markets, centuries-old temples, museums and the former tallest building in the world.
If you’re planning your first visit to Taipei, this guide includes everything you need to know before visiting Taipei. From practical Taipei travel tips like when to go, how to get around and even where to stay and eat.
With these handy Taipei travel tips you’ll have everything you need to make your first visit to Taipei beyond epic and explore the top things to do in Taipei hassle-free.
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Taipei Travel Tips for your First Visit to Taipei
If you’re planning a Taiwan itinerary, chances are you’re probably going to spend quite a bit of time in Taipei.
Since there is so much to do in Taipei, I highly recommend spending at least 3-5 days in Taipei to experience all of its best bits. However, if your time is limited, this layover in Taipei guide will give you some great ideas on how to make the most of your time.
To fully enjoy your stay in this bustling hub, there are a few things you need to know before visiting Taipei. Here are my top Taipei travel tips to help you plan and make the most of your first visit to Taipei.
When is the Best Time to Visit Taipei
The best time to visit Taipei is during the shoulder seasons, spring (Apr – Jun) and autumn (Sept – Oct). Not only will you save money as it’s cheaper to travel during these months, the temperatures are also much cooler and more bearable.
Although peak season is during summer (Jul – Aug), you definitely do not want to make your first visit to Taipei a sticky one. Summer in Taiwan is brutal and often unbearable for most people who aren’t used to humidity. Temperatures rarely reach above 40C, but the humidity is so high that you’re likely to feel sticky and uncomfortable 24/7. Summer also brings lots of rain and it is considered typhoon season.
Winter in Taiwan is cold and wet. Although it only snows on the mountain tops and you won’t see much more than a few snowflakes in Taipei (if you’re lucky) it does get pretty cold here. Temperatures rarely dip below 5C but it’s a different kind of cold. You won’t need a big winter jacket, but you’ll definitely need some thermal wear and a good down coat to stop the freezing winds. Especially, seeing that Taipei is quite windy during winter.
One more note to consider…
Chinese New Year (usually a couple of days in Jan/ Feb) is usually super crowded and costs increase greatly. Most shops and businesses are also closed for the first few days of this holiday.
Planning a night out in the city? Check out the best things to do at night in Taipei.
What currency is used in Taipei, Taiwan?
Taiwan’s currency is the New Taiwan Dollar (NT$). There are a few coins starting at NT$1, 5, 10, 50 and the notes are in denominations of NT$100, 500 and 1000.
Visa and master card are widely accepted at most hotels, chain stores, department stores and fancier restaurants. However, cash is king everywhere else. Especially at places like convenience stores, night markets, bus and train stations and that quaint little Chinese restaurant that you spotted on the street.
As for getting cash, ATMs are widely accessible in Taipei (and the rest of Taiwan). Simply pop into any convenience store, and you’re bound to find an ATM. You can also keep an eye out for the ATM signs which are usually either on the windows or on the convenience stores’ signage. The ATMs dispense either NT$100 or 1000 bills. This most probably goes without saying, but there is a small international service charge to withdraw money from any ATMs within Taiwan. So, plan well and make sure to always draw enough money to avoid extra charges and have some cash on hand.
If you need to exchange currency, the best place to do so is at the airport. However, you can still change money at most hotels, banks and even some department stores. Just remember to take your passport with you.
Pro Tip: Grab an Easy Card (basically a metro card) at any convenience store. You can use it on all public transport systems and even at convenience stores. Top it up at top-up machines in the subway station or at your nearest 7-11.
Arriving in Taipei
Taipei has two airports nearby, Taoyuan Airport and Songshan Airport. Most commuters usually arrive at Taoyuan Airport, which is Taipei’s International Airport. Luckily, no matter where you arrive, accessing the city centre is easy.
The fastest way to get from Taoyuan to Taipei is by MRT. Buses leave every 15 minutes from Taoyuan Airport and taxis take around 40-60 minutes to the city centre.
Since Songshan airport is located less than 15 minutes drive from the city centre, the fastest way to access the city is by taxi. Alternatively, opt to take the MRT or bus, which will be cheaper.
To save money and the hassle of tugging your luggage along, you might like to consider booking a private transfer from Taoyuan or Shongshan airport. They’re comfortable, reliable, and far cheaper than a taxi.
Do I Need a Local SIM card in Taipei?
There are more than 4000 wifi hotspots in Taiwan making it really easy to have a reliable connection. While it is certainly possible to get by in Taipei without a local sim card, it’s a good idea always to have internet on the go when traveling abroad. If you aren’t sure which service provider is right for you, these tips on buying a tourist SIM card in Taiwan will come in handy.
How to Get Around Taipei
Taipei is extremely easy to get around and the best way to get anywhere in Taipei is to take the MRT (subway) or walk. Transport is an absolute breeze, so there’s no need to worry about getting from A to B.
If you don’t feel like walking, either use the super easy MRT system to get around the city or see all the must-see sights by Hop On Hop Off Bus. And of course, the easiest way to get around either by subway or on foot is without carrying heavy bags. Many subway entrances have both stairs and escalators, but they are likely to be crowded. Luckily, there are plenty of storage lockers in both the MRT stations and the train stations where you can safely and securely leave your bags whether it’s for a couple of hours, the day or longer. Locker rentals go per hour, and start at NT$10. So, remember to carry some small change with you if you want to store your bags.
Taxis are also plentiful in Taipei and flagging down a yellow cab is hardly ever an issue, unless it’s raining of course. Day rates usually start at a base rate of NT$120 for the first 1.25km and then increase by NT$5 per 200m. Fares at night start at a slightly higher rate. Be sure to always have your destination’s address in Chinese with you, as most taxi driver’s won’t know the English names or addresses. You could simply just show them the Chinese address on Google Maps or ask your hotel to jot down the address for you in Chinese.
If you are looking for a cheaper option, Uber is very popular in Taipei. Simply use the Uber APP to get your taxi.
Don’t have WiFi? Just pop into any convenience store and use the Ibon machine (only in Chinese though) to get a taxi or simply ask the staff to help you.
Bike rentals are plentiful. And, a great way to combine sightseeing and transportation. Riding a bike in Taipei is safe, as most sidewalks are wider and some streets even have bike lanes. You can grab a bike at any of the u-bike stations dotted across the city. You’ll need a Taiwanese SIM card (which can receive calls/messages) to register and an Easy Card to release and pay for the rental. When you’re done exploring, simply return your bike to any u-bike station and remember to tap your Easy Card to complete your payment.
Pro Tip: Whether you’re spending 48 hours in Taipei or planning an extended stay, the city packs the perfect mix of activities. That said, a change of scenery is always nice. If you are thinking of exploring the outskirts of the city, check out this guide on the best day trips from Taipei which you can easily reach by either train, MRT or shuttle services. Also, consider getting a Taiwan Unlimited Fun Pass if you plan on using public transport a lot or simply want to save a few bucks.
Language Barriers in Taipei
If it’s your first visit to Taipei, you might be a bit worried about the language barriers. Luckily, you don’t need to worry too much. Most locals can speak some basic English. Especially, in the more touristy spots. Finding your way around is relatively straightforward as most signs in the stations and street signs are in both English and Chinese. When you venture out of the city, knowing a few basic phrases in Chinese will go a long way. Plus, the locals really appreciate the effort.
Start with a few easy phrases like…
nǐ hǎo – hello,
nǐ hǎo ma? – how are you?
duōshǎo qián? – how much? and,
xièxiè – thank you.
You can also check out our complete guide on handy Chinese phrases that will make you look like an absolute pro on your first visit to Taipei!
Can I drink the tap water in Taipei?
One of the most important travel tips for Taipei I can give you is (please) do not drink the tap water in Taiwan. The tap water in Taiwan is not save for consumption, and it’s best to avoid drinking it to avoid getting a sick and spoiling your trip. It is, however, safe to brush your teeth with it. But, just make sure not to swallow large amounts of water.
Bottled water is easy to find and sold at all convenience stores, supermarkets and vending machines. Expect to pay roughly NT$20 for a small bottle and NT$30 for a 2L bottle. If you don’t want to buy water every day, most hotels or hostels also have water coolers to make refilling your water bottle easy. If you haven’t invested in a reusable water bottle yet, check out these best reusable water bottles. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also help reduce our plastic footprint on the earth.
Ice in drinks at bars, hotels and reputable restaurants is usually safe, too.
Food & Tipping in Taipei
Taipei is a foodie’s dream. You might be wondering why I think it’s important that you know that before you go to Taipei. But if you’re a foodie like me you might want to do extensive research on the restaurants and coffee shops you want to try. I always spend hours going through blog posts, Pinterest and Instagram before a trip – reading reviews, looking at photos and making lists of what I want to try.
Although Taipei has many trendy restaurants, hipster cafes, and weird themed dining spots, don’t forget to eat at the night markets and try some of the local delicacies. The local food is delish, even though some dishes, like stinky tofu and pig’s blood rice cake, are still too weird for me.
But, whatever you do decide to feast on, don’t leave Taipei without trying bubble milk tea, beef noodles, dumplings and steamed buns!
Tipping in Taipei is not required and pretty much everywhere else in Taiwan. If you are dining at a nicer-looking restaurant, expect a 10% service charge to be worked into your bill.
Where to stay in Taipei
Taipei is most probably one of the easiest destinations to find excellent accommodation options. No matter your budget. This guide highlights the best hotels in the city and exactly where to stay in Taipei.
However, I always like to stay close to the city center and tourist spots to make getting around easier. Here are some of my favorite districts to stay at:
Da’an: If you’re looking for more of an artsy vibe, whilst still being within walking distance from Taipei 101 and Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, Da’an – the cultural district of Taipei, is an excellent choice.
Xinyi: Those seeking to stay in the financial district, head to Xinyi. Not only will you be close to Taipei 101, but there are tons of trendy cafes in the area. Not to mention, upscale bars and clubs.
Ximending: Budget travelers can head to Ximending – Taipei’s shopping district, which boasts with plenty of cool options.
Taipei Main Station: If it’s your first visit to Taipei, you might be looking to stay a bit closer to the train station. Especially if you plan to travel onwards from Taipei. If so, there are plenty of budget-friendly options.
Is Taipei Safe?
One thing that I always spend hours researching when I’m considering my next adventure is safety. If you’re planning your first visit to Taipei, you might be doing exactly that, too. But, fortunately, you can stop stressing. Taipei (as well as the rest of Taiwan) is extremely safe.
For female solo travelers, it’s safe to walk around at night. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of our surroundings and make silly choices. As a rule of thumb, always choose well-lit streets and don’t walk down dodgy alleys alone. And, always remember to keep your valuables, such as passports and credit cards safe, whilst only carrying the essentials with you.
All that’s left now is to pack! You’re ready for your first visit to Taipei!
So, have you traveled to Taipei? What Taipei travel tips do you have for the first visit to Taipei? Feel free to comment below!
To learn more about living and traveling in Taiwan, be sure to also check out this great resource guide.
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