A quick best-of list.
* “Cheat Sheet” is a series where we simply give you basic but the best info, like how we would text to a friend who’s planning for a destination we know by heart. No photos, no fancy verbiage. It’s all very iMessage and WhatsApp-friendly.
FROM THE AIRPORT – There’s a railway that takes you to Taipei Train Station, from there you can MRT to your hotel. You’ll also find very affordable private car service (less than USD $50) or taxis available at the airport.
IN THE CITY – Taxis are really cheap and prevalent. Meters start with USD $3. MRT is also very convenient and clean. Uber is also available.
Din Tai Fung – For the best soup dumplings in the world, there are several locations throughout Taipei. They all require wait, no reservations allowed. I’d go around European dinner time (8:30pm) which is later than Asian dinner time, to avoid massive crowds.
YEN – This is the best dim sum in Taiwan, tasty and beautiful presentation. Located on top of the W Hotel, it only serves dim sum during lunch.
KiKi – It’s spicy Sechuan cuisine, near the Eslite Bookstore so after touring the bookstore you can have dinner at Kiki. It’s really good!
Bridgehead Hot Pot – Super yummy hot pot you can choose whether you want it spicy or not. It’s located in a former residential apartment. Eat here after shopping in the East District’s little alleys (more deets below).
MUME – The chefs came from Noma in Copenhagen and opened a gastronomic restaurant in Taipei, the dishes combine Scandinavian’s minimalistic approach to cooking with Taiwanese produce and ingredients. (Reservation required.)
RAW – This is chef Andre Chiang’s super popular restaurant, paying homepage to his Taiwanese roots and French cooking techniques. (Reservation required.)
Family Li Imperial Cuisine – This is one of my favorites because of its unique concept, if you want to discover how and what the emperors used to consume.
*Do the 1st 3 together, since they’re close in proximity.
Taipei 101 – You can visit the observatory on top or just take a photo outside is enough.
Sisinancun Quancun Museum – Get a glimpse of how people used to live, and you can buy local arts & crafts from artisans. If you can, hit this up on weekends because there’ll be a small artisanal market at the museum. You can do this in 20 minutes and it’s a 3-minute walk from Taipei 101.
Sun Yat Sen Memorial – It’s one of my favorite architectures in Taipei. It’s a monument honoring Sun Yat Sen who is considered as the George Washington of Taiwan.
National Palace Museum – One of the most important museums in the world after Louvre and the British Museum, because it has the most complete collections of Chinese artifacts. Don’t miss the Jade bok choy, and the meatloaf carving.
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial – A tribute to Chiang Kai Shek, Head of Kuomingtang Party (KMT). After Chiang lost to Chairman Mao in China, he fled to Taiwan with his troops and followers. This resulted in today’s bipartisanship in Taiwanese governmental administration: KMT and Democratic Progressive Party (aka: Green Party) which is represented mostly by local Taiwanese who’ve lived on the island for decades before Chiang’s arrival and believe that Taiwan should strive for total independence from China.
Night market – There are several in Taipei, the most famous one is in Shilin. I’d schedule one dinner here and feast on street food.
Hot springs in Beitou – There are several resorts you can look up to enjoy the famous hot springs. Some are outdoor, surrounded by greenery and hills. Some are in Japanese-style homes.
Maokong Gondola – A great way to see the city is riding the Maokong Gondola. There are several stops during the ride, with one of them at a temple. This is pretty cool, even for locals.
Spend half a day in Jiufen – It’s an antique town that’s gotten very touristy recently, but see where local Taiwanese lived decades ago, this can be a fun day trip.
Hike up Yangmingshan Park – During springtime, there are cherry blossoms that light up the park. If not, once you reach the park, find a spot to enjoy a cup of Taiwanese tea.
KTV – If you’re into karaoke, Taiwan has great amenities with top-notch food and snack services while you sing your heart out.
Ounce – Cocktail bar.
R&D Cocktail Lab – Hidden speakeasy bar.
Draft Land – Crafted beer bar.
Barcode – Lounge bar.
CÉ LA VI – Nightclub.
East District – Best local and fashionable boutiques in the little alleys. Exit Zhongxiao Dunhua or Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT exit. If you head over to Taiwanese designer Chloe Chen’s boutique, you’ll find tons of other authentic shops around here.
Yongkang Street – Tons of local boutiques after you exit Dongmen MRT Station. You should also have mango shaved ice here.
Taipei 101 – Including areas around Vie Show and Shin Kong Mitsukoshi shopping centers. Here you’ll find international, premium and luxury brands you can find everywhere else.
Breeze shopping centers – They uniquely carry Japanese brands, both mass market and premium labels.