10 Best Day Trips from Taipei
Taipei is a magical city that has the ability of appealing to just about every type of traveler, including adventurous day trips from Taipei to the surrounding towns. If you enjoy any mix of active adventures, opportunities for relaxation, and learning about different cultures by experiencing the food and traditions firsthand, look no farther than Taipei to encompass all of that and more.
Taipei is the capital of Taiwan (officially the Republic of China). It is known for busy shopping streets and night markets, ancient museums, and a booming street food scene. With many sites of interest in the heart of the Taipei, it is possible to spend multiple days soaking up the history and culture of this now modern city that got its start in the 18th century. When you have had your fill of life in the bustling city, consider taking some day trips from Taipei to the surrounding towns, also bursting with interesting people, places, and things to see and do.
The public transportation options in Taipei are plentiful, allowing easy access to many excursions both within and outside of the city. Taxis, buses, and trains will get you wherever you need to go with some careful planning. Car and scooter rentals allow for more flexibility and control over your schedule, especially when visiting areas that are a bit more remote or that would require transferring buses or trains more than once to get there. Regardless of the wheels you take to get there, you will want to pack your walking shoes to enjoy the multitude of side streets, walking paths, and hidden gems waiting to be explored.
Whether you prefer budget-friendly lodging and street food, elegant accommodations and gourmet dining, or a mix of it all, Taipei has you covered.
Best Day Trips from Taipei
Night Markets may be one of the top things Taiwan, and Taipei specifically, is known for. A favorite with the locals, and one of the busiest markets is Tonghua Night Market, which serves delicious foods to throngs of visitors each night. Stinky tofu, one of the most popular street dishes in Taiwan, can be found here in a variety of preparations. Taipei is also known for its skyscrapers, the tallest of which is Taipei 101 at almost 510 meters. An observation deck is open daily offering 360-degree panoramic views over the city below. After spending some time enjoying the city, consider hitting the road on one (or more!) of these day trips from Taipei.
While Beitou is technically within the city limits, it is almost on the outskirts, and really requires an entire day to fully enjoy the area, making it an easy day trip from Taipei. The ambiance is noticeable different as soon as you arrive in the lush oasis of Beitou.
Begin your day by taking a quick tour of the first public hot spring bathhouse in Beitou at the Beitou Hot Springs Museum. Offering free admission, this museum allows guests to walk through a few rooms with artifacts and information about the hot springs. Nearby is another free museum, the Plum Garden, the former home of Yu-You-ren, a trailblazer for Chinese journalism and the art of calligraphy. The Plum Garden is worth a quick walkthrough to see some of Yu-You-ren’s calligraphy and the unique architecture and furnishings on display.
The most popular public bath house in Beitou is the Millennium Hot Springs. There are several outdoor, open-air pools here, starting with the hottest at the top of the steps, with the water cooling a bit more at each subsequent pool until you reach the largest and coolest (but still warm!) at the bottom.
The jade-colored water in the Thermal Valley, also known as Hell Valley, eventually finds its way to all the spas, resorts, and bath houses in Beitou. At this point in its journey, the water is at a constant boil and much too hot to swim in. The steam rolling off the top of the water even in the hottest of days is a unique sight and can make the area extremely humid in the summer months.
One of the most well-known and most visited attraction in Taiwan, the Yehliu Geopark is an easy day trip from Taipei. The park is only about an hour and a half from Taipei but feels worlds apart with such a unique natural landscape.
The park is home to many famous rock formations made when the soft limestone in this area is eroded and placed under pressure. This natural phenomenon still takes place to this day, leading experts to believe that some of the famous formations in the park now may eventually break apart or erode naturally. Preserved fossils and sea candles can be seen throughout the grounds with a breathtaking view of the Pacific as a backdrop.
Taiwan’s first ocean park, Yehliu Ocean World, is next to the Geopark. The facility houses a large aquarium with sections devoted to jellyfish, endangered sea turtles, and marine-life native to Taiwan. Outside, guests can watch a live show involving synchronized swimmers, sea lions, seals, and dolphins.
Yangmingshan National Park
A short jaunt north of Taipei is a beautiful patch of green just outside the bustling activity in the city. The Yangmingshan National Park is a popular hiking day trip from Taipei, given its proximity to the city, and the numerous well-maintained paths to choose from.
The Qingtiangang Grasslands section within the park is one of the most popular places for guests to begin their day in Yangmingshan. This elevated flatland was formed by volcanic lava and is now the serene home to grazing cattle and other wildlife, with mountain peaks rising in the distance. A trail offering unrivaled views of the park below circles the grassy knolls where visitors can enjoy a picnic lunch or simply bask in the warm glow of the shining sun.
Xiaoyoukeng is site to a dormant volcano within the park, giving you the chance to feel the geothermal heat under your feet as you explore this area with sulfur deposits and crystals. Fumaroles emit steam in the distance and the ground literally bubbles in places along the walking path to a viewing platform where the volcanic cones of Bamboo Mountain and Qixingshan rise in the distance.
This little town has a lot to offer guests looking for a day full of varying activities that together give a classic Taiwan experience. Shifen is home to history, nature, delicious food, and pays homage to Taiwanese traditions. You can take part in all of this and more during this easy day trip from Taipei.
Shifen has its own Old Street area full of shops, food booths, and restaurants. Here the Old Street is situated along the railroad tracks of the Ping Hsi Railway. Trains come through only now and then, bringing visitors into Shifen from nearby towns, allowing the tracks to serve as a wide walking path the rest of the time.
The railway has a history in coal mining and transportation. You can learn more about the importance of coal mining in Taiwan and Shifen specifically at the Taiwan Coal Mine Museum, erected on an old coal mine. The tour includes a train ride and guided tour through a mine tunnel.
Many of the shops on Old Street sell paper sky lanterns in all varieties of colors and designs allowing visitors to participate in the famous tradition of releasing a lantern towards the skies for good luck. Once you find the perfect lantern, take time to decorate it however you like, writing any dreams and wishes down before moving to the center of the train tracks to release your lantern and watch it float away.
The Shifen Waterfalls, affectionately called “Taiwan’s Niagara Falls” is a short and easy walk from Old Street. The walk is beautiful among towering trees before the path opens to the horseshoe shaped falls. Enjoy the cool spray of the water while taking photos in front of the gorgeous backdrop of rushing water and foliage.
In just about one hour’s drive, you will reach one of the most popular day trips from Taipei. The small town of Jiufen was once a gold mining outpost which turned to a ghost town after WWII and is now a quaint escape from the bustle of the big city.
The Jiufen Old Street is really a narrow alley brimming with souvenir stands, food booths, pottery and craft shops, and a few tea houses. You will want to indulge in some of the Taiwanese specialties served here but be sure to save room for dessert. A-zhu Peanut Ice Cream and Taro Ball Soup (usually consisting of taro balls, sweet potatoes, and various beans in a sweet syrup) are two popular options available in Jiufen and are sure to change the way you look at desserts in the future!
The famous red lanterns of the Amei Tea House mark the path to one of the most well-known attractions in Jiufen. Amei Tea House is in the perfect location on a small hill overlooking the town and the distant mountains from the multi-level building. It is highly recommended to make reservations in advance, especially when visiting in the evenings or on the weekends.
TIP: For ideas on how to combine attractions in Shifen and Jiufen into one day, check out this “5 Days in Taiwan” itinerary on our site!
Another of Taiwan’s most popular tourist destinations is Taroko National Park, named for the famous Taroko Gorge, the landmark of the park. With mountains, canyons, and lush vegetation Taroko is another wonderful spot for outdoor enthusiasts looking for hiking day trips from Taipei.
Taroko National Park covers just over 350 square miles, with over 30 hiking paths ranging from scenic and easy to much more advanced trails requiring experience and equipment. One of the most unique trails in the park is the Tunnel of Nine Turns. This path runs along a gorgeous section of the Taroko Gorge and Liwu River, with an endless number of marble facades, cliffs, and colored stones to snap photos of at every turn.
Not far from the Tunnel of Nine Turns is Swallowtail Grotto, where a path along the rocky overhangs and sheer cliff walls, to the middle of the canyon. Rock formations and endless cliffs dotted with green shrubs and trees surround the cool water and river boulders below, making this one of the most serene and beautiful locations in all of Taiwan.
A mountain village in North Taiwan, Wulai is still home to aboriginal people of the Atayal Tribe, whose word for hot springs (ulai) gave the village its name. As the closest aboriginal village to Taipei, Wulai is a popular tourist destination where there is much more to see and do in Wulai than soak in the hot springs.
Locals create their own makeshift hot spring pools along the Nanshi River by arranging walls of rocks at the waters edge to enjoy the reparative waters while picnicking along the beach. If you prefer a more luxurious experience, or at least something less DIY, there are an abundance of fine hotels and spas in the village with public and private bath houses to choose from.
Wulai Old Street is packed with tons of food booths and stalls selling souvenirs and aboriginal arts and crafts. One of the unique items on offer in Wulai is aboriginal millet wine, sold in many varieties and flavors. If wine does not suit your fancy, there are also unique liqueurs and beers available, like the popular betel nut liqueur.
The Wulai Atayal Museum is worth a visit to get a better understanding of the aboriginal culture you will spend the day enjoying. Four floors are filled with sculptures, artwork, clothing, tools, and personal effects, while informational displays give background information and facts about life in this area and the traditions of the aboriginal people here. Admission is free!
Tea lovers will rejoice with a visit to the rural, mountainous area of Pinglin. Once famous for producing dyes, Pinglin is now known around the world as a tea town, most well-known for producing the pouchong variety of tea. Pouchong is similar to green tea, but slightly fermented and brews to a light-yellow color.
With more than 80% of the people living in Pinglin District associated with work in the tea industry, it is no surprise that the Pinglin Tea Museum is the largest and most comprehensive collection of information and artifacts dedicated to tea in the world. Various exhibits showcase how tea is cultivated and the cultural influence it has had on Taiwan and the entire world.
On Pinglin Old Street you will find typical souvenir shops amid snack stands, and of course, tea shops and tea houses. The local pouchong tea is used in a variety of snacks like tea cakes and cookies, and even pasta. Pinglin’s tofu is also well known for being made with pure mountain water, making it another “must-do” food while enjoying the atmosphere on Old Street.
Tamsui is a seaside district along the river of the same name. Within the last twenty years, this sleepy town on the water has enjoyed an uptick in tourism helping it to continually grow, offering visitors plenty of reasons to consider Tamsui an ideal spot for a day trip from Taipei.
Fort San Domingo has a storied history involving the Spanish, Dutch, and British, and today you can learn about its past and enjoy sweeping views of the harbor below from its perch atop the hill. Next door is the Former British Consular Residence which was eventually the residence of the ambassador to Taiwan.
Fisherman’s Wharf is a modernized market and entertainment district along the water. A large wooden boardwalk overlooks the promenade and waterway, with Lover’s Bridge in the background, with its white arches sweeping over the water. This is an extremely popular location to view the sunset and has become the site of many wedding proposals since the completion of the bridge. Fresh seafood can be purchased in the fish market and taken to nearby restaurants where it will be cooked to your specifications.
Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail
Sandiaoling is a sleepy village located on the Keelung River, only about thirty minutes away from the center of Taipei. The trail is just under two miles long, so even when enjoyed at a leisurely pace, a hiking day trips from taipei to one of the nearby towns like Shifen to continue sightseeing, would be a perfect addition to the day.
To reach the Waterfall Trail, you will follow the train tracks and river to the village of Yuliao, which is the official start of the hike, with a map and visitor’s information posted. Be prepared with proper footwear and a rain jacket as the paths can be slick and muddy, with moisture in the air most of the time. The complete trail will take you to three waterfalls, Hegu, Motian, and Pipa Cave. Take the opportunity to stop at each one and snap some photos of the tranquility surrounding you. On hot days, feel free to jump in the water and cool off before continuing your trek.
Taiwan is a country that truly has it all, and its capital city of Taipei is no different with a past steeped in history and many cultural influences contributing to its unique vibrancy today. Within the city are limitless options for shopping, dining, and learning, but there are so many more opportunities outside of the city as well. Be sure to fill your itinerary with plenty of day trips from Taipei to truly gain an appreciation of the people and culture in the City of Azaleas and beyond.