Free things to do in Taipei
When we think of things to do in Taipei, the first thoughts that come to mind are mouthwatering street food and loads of shopping. But we all know how much travelling can burn a hole in our pocket.
For those who still want to explore the city authentically without breaking the bank, you can still cruise through this city’s wonders one free adventure at a time with these 20 free things to do in Taipei:
Table of Contents
Free things to do in Taipei1. Hike up Thumb Mountain for panoramic views of Taipei 1012. Ride a gondola to a tea plantation haven in MaoKong3. Witness the guard change at National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine4. Witness a Spirited Away scene come to life at Jiufen Old Street 5. Do a half day trip to Wulai, with an 80m waterfall & street stores6. Join a free walking tour at Longshan Temple 7. Travel back in time at Lukang Old Street8. Visit Beitou Hot Spring Museum, a popular filming location9. Chill at Fulong Beach for sand sculptures & scenic sunsets10. Window shop at Ximending night market & shopping district 11. Have a picnic date & catch music performances at Da’an Park12. Absorb artsy vibes at Huashan 1914 Creative Park13. Stroll along the Japanese-style 228 Peace Memorial Park14. Explore the oldest Mazu temple in Beitou, Guandu Temple 15. Visit National Palace Museum for 8,000 years of Chinese history16. Drop by Taipei Fine Arts Museum to appreciate contemporary art17. Bathe in hot springs & explore a live volcano at Yangmingshan 18. Catch the Baosheng Cultural Festival at Bao’an Temple19. Dig into black pepper buns & iced tangyuan at Raohe MarketBonus: Hop on a sightseeing bus
1. Hike up Thumb Mountain for panoramic views of Taipei 101
Image credit: @matuglow via Instagram
Everyone knows that you ought to head to Taipei 101 for panoramic views of the city. But your wallet may not agree with its price tag of ~S$26.25. Well, if you’re free – and fit – the alternative is the bird’s-eye view from Thumb Mountain.
It’s nestled within the renowned Four Beasts Hiking Trail, which includes 4 other trails – Elephant Mountain, Tiger Mountain, Leopard Mountain, and Lion Mountain, offering a tranquil retreat. After all, it’s located at the highest portion of the trail.
Image credit: @sheshc via Instagram
As you ascend the mountain, make sure to keep an eye out for a shrine as a marking point to know when to go off the main trail in order to reach its peak. You should budget around 45 minutes to 1 hour to get to the top.
If you have more time, consider pairing your Thumb Mountain hike with Elephant Mountain, a more popular route within the hiking trail.
Thumb MountainAddress: 115, Taiwan, Taipei City, Nangang DistrictOpening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Elephant MountainAddress: Number 31, Alley 401, Lane 150, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
2. Ride a gondola to a tea plantation haven in MaoKong
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Tucked away in the scenic hills of Wenshan District lies MaoKong. Once the largest tea plantation area in Taipei, MaoKong is renowned for its rich tea culture that has stood the test of time. If you’re not that much of a tea person, it’s also known for Zhangshan Temple and Zhinan Temple, which offer breathtaking views of Taipei’s skyline.
Image credit: @marklimexiang via Instagram
Besides trying street food such as tea-flavoured ice cream and stinky tofu, you can also hike the various trails here. One of the newer trails, Camphor Trail, takes you through tea fields – leading to a temple that offers great views of the Muzha district.
If you’re up for a challenge, embark on the hike to Yinhe Waterfall, where a temple is skillfully carved into the cliffside. Be careful not to fall as it can get quite slippery during wetter months.
How to get here: Hop on bus G12 from Xindian MRT Station, and alight at the Yinhe Dong bus stop. The bus departs at 8.15am and 10.15am. Alternatively, you can drive here or ride the gondola.
3. Witness the guard change at National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine
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If you’ve got a penchant for historical monuments, experience the captivating guard change ceremony at the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine. Designed with architectural inspiration from Beijing’s Forbidden City, this majestic shrine pays homage to the courageous soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the wars with Japan and against the communists.
Image credit: @gulchekhra.shadieva via Instagram
The hourly changing of the guards ceremony is a symbolic display of honour and precision. You can also witness a similar ceremony at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which takes place every hour between 9am and 5pm.
Explore the main hall and museum housing various rooms documenting Chiang’s life, career, and Taiwan’s history, along with exhibits showcasing Chiang’s personal belongings, including his Cadillacs, office desks, and chairs.
Image credit: @juswandi88 via Instagram
To better assist tourists, they also have a free guided tour in English. Do note that you’ll have to book it at least 7 days in advance of your arrival on the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall website.
National Revolutionary Martyrs’ ShrineAddress: Number 139, Beian Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10491Opening hours: 9am-5pm, DailyContact: +886 2 2885 4162
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial HallAddress: 100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng DistrictOpening hours: 9am-6pm, DailyContact: +886 2 2343 1100
4. Witness a Spirited Away scene come to life at Jiufen Old Street
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Straight out of a scene in Spirited Away, Jiufen Old Street offers more than just good photo spots – it’s actually known for its teahouses and street food. Amei Teahouse is arguably one of the most famous ones there – so a reservation before arrival is recommended.
If you love unique local products, make sure to drop by Magical Ocarina, another spot to check out here. It’s a quaint musical instrument store specialising in ocarinas – a type of flute. All instruments are playable no matter how small they seem.
This place is so pretty, you can spend hours just exploring. Since it’s a popular tourist spot, the streets can be easily cramped, especially since they’re narrow and steep, so make sure to come around 10am when the stores just open if you’d like to avoid crowds.
Address: Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224Opening hours: Mon-Thu 8am-7pm | Fri-Sun 8am-10pmContact: +886 2 2406 3270
5. Do a half day trip to Wulai, with an 80m waterfall & street stores
Image credit: 吳誌偉 via Google Maps
Nature truly is Earth’s best gift. It’s also usually free. If you’ve got half a day to spare, consider a short trip to Wulai. It’s home to the Atayal tribe, one of the main indigenous groups in Taipei.
While you’re here, don’t miss the main attraction of Wulai, the waterfall. It stands an impressive 80m tall in height. You can easily admire it from observation spots across the road, opposite the stream that feeds the Nanshi River.
Image adapted from: @_ydntk, @_ydntk via Instagram
You can also expect to come across plenty of local Wulai cuisine including millet mochi (TWD35, ~S$1.50), stir-fried mountain vegetables (TWD80, ~S$3.50), and bamboo-tube rice (TWD120, ~S$5.20). For those who are adventurous with food, wild-boar sausages (TWD35, ~S$1.50) may pique your interest.
Afterwards, head down to the nearby Chief’s Cultural Village. It’s got a souvenir shop and interactive activities for tourists such as a DIY workshop. There’s a small performance hall where Atayal song-and-dance performances are staged 4 times a day – perfect if you’re interested in Atayal culture.
How to get here: Take the MRT to Xindian Station, transfer to bus 849, and hop off at Wulai Old Street.
Wulai FallsAddress: Number 16, Pubu Road, Wulai District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 233Opening hours: 24 hours, DailyContact: +886 2 2661 6942
6. Join a free walking tour at Longshan Temple
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For those who prefer a more passive approach when it comes to holiday planning, consider joining free walking tours by local guides. These span a total of 3 hours and usually bring you through all the main attractions of Taipei.
For example, the Historic Route stops by attractions like Longshan Temple, Bopiliao Historical Block, and Ximen Red House. There are other routes available, including the Golden Age Route and Modern Route. This way, you can easily customise your tour experience depending on what kind of attractions you’re interested in.
7. Travel back in time at Lukang Old Street
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Old streets and alleys are one of Taiwan’s trademarks. If you love the aesthetic of 90s Taiwan, Lukang Old Street is not one to miss – it’s filled with old-school houses and lanterns lining the streets. Longshan Temple, arguably the most famous temple in Taiwan, is also a stone’s throw away from this quaint street.
Image credit: 曾百貨 via Google Maps
After you’ve absorbed all the vibes of Lukang into your film camera, head down a few lanes west of the old street to Sweet Osmanthus Lane Art Village. Lined with Japanese-era dormitories, this lane is easily recognisable by its colourful lanterns. Here, you can expect to find local handicrafts and art shops as well as many Instagrammable spots, if that’s more your thing.
Address: Number 3, Butou Street, Lukang Township, Changhua County, Taiwan 505Opening hours: Mon 12am-6am, 10am-6pm | Tue-Sun 10am-6pmContact: +886 4 776 4923
8. Visit Beitou Hot Spring Museum, a popular filming location
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Taiwanese movie fans should be familiar with Beitou. In fact, this area was dubbed the “Hollywood of Taiwan” in the 1960s, as it has appeared in over 100 films such as Fantasy of the Deer Warrior, and Vengeance Of The Phoenix Sisters.
Male bathroom.Image credit: @ak_yu_ via Instagram
One of the must-sees is the Beitou Hot Spring Museum. Reopened to the public in 1998, this 1913 estate gives you a sneak peek into what it’s like to visit a public bathhouse during the Japanese colonial era.
Hokutolite.Image credit: Beitou Hot Spring Museum
The 1st floor shows the layout of the hot springs while the 2nd floor showcases the other exhibits. Highlights include an 800kg Hokutolite – a rare compound made when green sulphur passed through Beitou’s creek) – and a Memorial Yueqin, which is a moon guitar.
Address: Number 2, Zhongshan Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112Opening hours: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm (Closed on Mondays)Contact: +886 2 2893 9981
9. Chill at Fulong Beach for sand sculptures & scenic sunsets
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Chill on the coast of Fulong Beach as you admire the sunset and the crashing waves with your bae. Bring your own beach equipment like mats and umbrellas, and you have yourselves a free romantic date in Taipei.
Image credit: New Taipei City Tourism and Travel Department
Perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and other recreational activities, Fulong Beach comes equipped with rental services in case you’d like to try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding (from S$69.99/2 pax) and other water activities.
Travel between May and October andyou might even catch the annual Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival in action. There’s a different theme every year, such as Pixar movies and Ancient Greece, so don’t be surprised if you spot some familiar characters.
Address: Gongliao District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 228Opening hours: 8.30am-6pm, DailyContact: +886 2 2499 1188
10. Window shop at Ximending night market & shopping district
Roam around Ximending as you soak in the hustle and bustle of night market go-ers.Image credit: @bigpeakture via Instagram
Ximending is a street food haven that needs no introduction. If you walk past a store with a crowd of people slurping up thick vermicelli soup, chances are it’s probably Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle (from TWD60, ~S$2.60/bowl). They are known for their umami oyster soup base and have got a loyal fan base of foodies queuing all day.
Besides street food, this shopping district is lined with street performers and buskers alike, especially at night. Free entertainment? Count us in.
You can also window shop at local booths selling handmade products like wood carvings and little charms – most of them are outside Ximen station’s Exit 1. Tianhou Temple, one of the few major temples from the Qing Dynasty, is also located here.
Address: Number 127, Hanzhong Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108Opening hours: 5pm-10pm, Daily
11. Have a picnic date & catch music performances at Da’an Park
Image adapted from: Hl輝龍 C via Google Maps
Pack your own food and have a cute picnic date at Da’an Park. As one of the largest public parks in the country, you can spot some notable landmarks including a Buddha statue, a bamboo forest, and even an open-air theatre in the centre. This means, if the stars align, you may even be able to catch free music performances.
There are even bicycles up for rent (TWD10, ~S$0.44/30 minutes) in case you want to go for a light pedal around the park to admire all the flora and fauna.
Address: Number 1, Section 2, Xinsheng S Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106Opening hours: 24 hours, DailyContact: +886 2 2700 3830
12. Absorb artsy vibes at Huashan 1914 Creative Park
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If you’re in an artsy mood, drop by Huashan 1914 Creative Park for free art exhibitions. Since many of these art galleries are up to rotational vendors, it’s best to keep a lookout on their website to stay in the know.
Once an alcohol factory, this hipster spot is now filled with a good mix of restaurants, art markets, and even local wineries stocked with homemade plum and strawberry wine. You can even head to SPOT Huashan Cinema for spontaneous indie movie sprees.
Image credit: @project_normal_ via Instagram
How to get here: Ride the MRT Blue Line (Bannan Line) going to Zhong Xiao Xing Sheng Station. Proceed to Exit 1, then walk straight. You should spot an underpass and a giant red diamond. Afterwards, cross the street and you should be at your destination.
Address: Number 1, Section 1, Bade Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100Opening hours: 24 hours, DailyContact: +886 2 2358 1914
13. Stroll along the Japanese-style 228 Peace Memorial Park
Image credit: 李祥銘 via Google Maps
Take a stroll around Taipei’s oldest park. Despite being built in commemoration of Taiwan’s darkest history, in commemoration of victims of the 28th February 1947 protest against Kuomintang, 228 Peace Memorial Park has also become a common practice area for Tai chi.
This Japanese-style park houses pagodas and statues, drawing inspiration from Qing Dynasty architecture. If you’d like to catch a glimpse of blooming flowers, come in March.
For those who are keen to uncover the history behind the incident, explore 228 Memorial Museum – situated in a building that was once a national radio station. There are free headsets up for rent for English translations.
228 Peace Memorial ParkAddress: Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100Opening hours: 24 hours, DailyContact: +886 2 2303 2451228 Peace Memorial MuseumAddress: No. 3 Ketagalan Boulevard, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City 100Opening hours: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm (Closed on Mondays & the day after national holidays)
14. Explore the oldest Mazu temple in Beitou, Guandu Temple
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Spot a majestic golden Guanyin with lots of dragon carvings and intricate architecture at Guandu Temple. Built in 1661, it’s considered the oldest temple dedicated to the goddess Mazu in northern Taiwan, which explains why it has so many worshippers.
River views.Image credit: @hury0915 via Instagram
After you’re done exploring its interior, head over to the hill right beside the temple for stunning views of mangroves and the river. There’s also a Buddha Cave that’s about 80m tall. Its exit provides more picturesque views of the river that is worth checking out.
Address: Number 360, Zhixing Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112Opening hours: 7am-9pm, DailyContact: +886 2 2858 1281
15. Visit National Palace Museum for 8,000 years of Chinese history
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Art and history enthusiasts can check out the National Palace Museum. Besides having one of the largest permanent collections of historical Chinese artefacts – almost 700,000 to be exact – it also houses temporary exhibitions frequently.
One of its most prominent pieces includes the Jadeite Cabbage. Originally from Bejing’s Forbidden City, it’s speculated that this little bok choy belonged to Jin Fei, Guangxu Emperor’s Consort.
Image credit: @bryanming via Instagram
Once you’ve got enough pictures of the Jadeite Cabbage, you can check out the other guest exhibitions if you’ve got time to spare. Current ones include exhibits surrounding cultural ceramics and calligraphy.
Address: Number 221, Section 2, Zhi Shan Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111Opening hours: Tue-Sun 9am-5pm (Closed on Mondays)Contact: +886 2 6610 3600
16. Drop by Taipei Fine Arts Museum to appreciate contemporary art
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Enjoy free admission to the Taipei Fine Arts Museum from 5pm-8.30pm on Saturday nights. Whether you’re a casual viewer or a serious contemporary art enthusiast, you’re free to take your pick amongst the variety of exhibitions here.
Head down to galleries 1A and 1B for sculptural works and large-scale exhibitions. For historical artworks, check out galleries 2A and 2B. They also have a selection of up-and-coming expos by young artists, usually held in the basement in galleries D, E, and F.
Address: Number 181, Section 3, Zhongshan N Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10491Opening hours: Tue-Sun 9.30am-5.30pm (Closed on Mondays)
17. Bathe in hot springs & explore a live volcano at Yangmingshan
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If a live volcano and a hot spring bath seem like a relaxing way to spend your afternoon in Taipei, head to Yangmingshan National Park.
Image credit: @agiddything via Instagram
Notable scenic spots within the park include Qixing Mountain, Taiwan’s tallest dormant volcano, and Lengshuikeng Hot Springs. Technically, “Lengshuikeng” translates to “cold water pit”. But don’t be fooled though as the water is still pretty hot, though below 40°C. Visitors are welcome to take a plunge here.
How to get here: Take Bus 260 from Taipei Main Station or the Red 30 or 208 from Jiantan MRT Station, and drop at Yangmingshan Bus Station. Alternatively, consider hiring a private charter if you want a more comfortable ride.
Address: 9F, Number 290, Section 4, Zhongxiao E. Road., Da’an District, Taipei City 106433, TaiwanOpening hours: 8.30am-4.30pm, Daily (Closed on the last Monday of every month)Contact: +886 2 2861 3601
18. Catch the Baosheng Cultural Festival at Bao’an Temple
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For those visiting Taipei in April or June, make sure to plan accordingly if you’d like to catch the annual Baosheng Cultural Festival. It takes place typically on the 15th day of the 3rd lunar month. You’ll get to witness Taiwanese Taoists pray to the deity Bao-Sheng for good health.
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At the festival, which is held annually at the UNESCO-awarded Bao’an Temple built in 1825, you can expect lavish performances, including dance performances and symbolic rituals during this month-long extravaganza.
Address: Number 61, Hami Street, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103Opening hours: 6.30am-9pm, DailyContact: +886 2 2595 1676
19. Dig into black pepper buns & iced tangyuan at Raohe Market
Image credit: 許小咕 via Google Maps
If you still haven’t gotten your fill of night market exploration, head to Raohe Market.
Image credit: @midaugust2002 via Instagram
One of their must-trys include Hu Jiao Bing, AKA Black Pepper Bun (TWD50, ~S$2.24). The shop can be easily spotted as it’s located right at the entrance of the market – Fu Zhou Shi Zu Pepper Bun.
Image credit: Peichien Lee via Google Maps
Iced tangyuan is also another notable delicacy. Yu Pin Yuan Iced and Hot Tangyuan (from TWD70, ~S$3) serves up delectable rice balls with peanut or sesame filling on ice. Unlike the aforementioned Black Pepper Bun stall, this is located in a building to the side of the walking street.
To avoid overwhelming crowds that start streaming in after 9pm, plan your visit around 7pm as that’s when all the shops open.
Address: Raohe Street, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105Opening hours: 5pm-11pm, DailyContact: +886 2 2766 8876
Bonus: Hop on a sightseeing bus
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Sightseeing buses are undoubtedly one of the easiest ways to tour the city. And in line with the Taiwan government’s plan to increase tourism, they are giving out 10,000 free tickets for tourists till 30th June 2023.
This ticket entails a 4-hour bus ride, where tourists can hop on and off anytime. You’ll also get to choose between 2 routes: the blue line between Taipei Main Station and the Palace Museum or the red line with stops in Longshan Temple, Taipei 101, and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Those staying at participating hotels can also opt to get the tickets from your hotel or collect them at the Discovery Centre of Taipei at the Taipei City Hall. In addition, tourists also stand a chance to receive TWD5,000 (~S$219) allowance from Taiwanese government.
Explore Taipei with these free things to do
Exploring Taipei doesn’t mean you have to drop a bomb on touristy experiences – this city has more to offer than just street food and a sky observatory.
Whether you’re the type of explorer who prefers visiting nature spots when you’re in a new city or you like to join the hustle and bustle of iconic attractions like Jiufen Old Street, you can still discover Taipei like a true tourist without spending a dime with these 20 free things to do in Taipei.
For more free things to do in other cities:
Cover image adapted from: @marionbess via Instagram, 李祥銘 via Google Maps, @matuglow via Instagram