Taipei, capital city of Taiwan, is a lively, proud city. Like any massive Asian metropolis (just under a third of the nation’s population of 23.5 million lives in Greater Taipei!), it can be a little daunting to jump right in.
It helps to know, however, that the city is incredibly safe, and the locals love visitors. The following tips, written by someone who has been living in Taipei for over a decade, will help to get you started!
Taipei is blessed with one of the best public metro systems in the world. With 131 stations and counting, the MRT goes almost everywhere, with lines reaching well into New Taipei City, the megacity that surrounds Taipei City (think of it as the suburbs of Taipei), and to the airport.
The MRT is mega clean and organized, but there are a few rules that keep it that way. Always line up in the designated spots, wait for passengers to alight before boarding, and leave the dark blue seats to the needy. No eating or drinking is allowed, voices should be hushed, and on the escalators, the right side is for standing.
Get an EasyCard, which you can load money onto then scan when you enter or exit the station. You can also use the EasyCard on buses, ferries, and to rent YouBikes. The EasyCard also gives you a discount on each tide. There’s a NT$100 deposit, which you can get back anytime.
If you have any concerns about eating street food, it’s best to leave them at the airport. Taipei has the best night market scene in all of Asia, with dozens of them attracting crowds nightly.
Night markets are at the forefront of the culinary scene in Taiwan, with new dishes or innovative takes on classic ones being spawned all the time. You haven’t experienced Taipei until you’ve spent an evening strolling through one, stopping to sample whichever delicacies catch your eye.
The five big ones are Shilin, Raohe, Ningxia, Tonghua and Huaxi night markets. You can also get more local at Nanjichang or Gongguan night markets.
Taiwan is a non-tipping country. To leave a tip in a restaurant could be awkward or even insulting. The same goes for taxi drivers, who won’t let you get out until you accept your NT$5 change. The only cases when you might leave a tip in Taiwan are at massage parlors or to a travel guide, and even then only if you want to.
Also don’t bother worrying about scams. Still have your wits about you, but on the most part, taxi drivers and market vendors in Taipei are honest and trustworthy. If you accidentally overpay, they will likely chase you down the street.
Summers in Taipei are extremely hot and muggy. Taipei sits in a bowl that captures heat. The humidity can make it feel about 10 degrees hotter. On top of that, a handful of typhoons usually strike Taiwan in summer, which can force much of the city to shut down and stay indoors for 1-2 days each time.
Spring and autumn are ideal in Taipei. Winter can be gray and chilly, but it’s also the best time for enjoying hot springs and seeing cherry blossoms.
As a compact nation, you can easily travel just about anywhere in the northern portion of the country as a day trip from Taipei. Even if you based yourself in Taipei for weeks, you’d still never run out of fascinating places to visit outside the city.
Volcanic fumaroles and hot springs? Check! Fishing harbors and fresh seafood? Check! Gold mining villages and mountaintop markets? Check! Excellent beaches and surfing? Check! Hiking opportunities and tea farms? Check!
Last Updated September 6, 2021