Searching for things to do in Taiwan for your upcoming vacation? Relax! We have you covered. In this article we dive deep into the regular sights you’d expect to find, but more importantly, we include the fun things to do in Taiwan, including if the kids are in tow.
As dedicated tour designers and travellers ourselves, we’re all over what keeps two year olds, teens and everything in between happy on the road. Whether you’re after a collection of beautiful travel memories from this gorgeous island of stunning landscapes, incredible views, and gentle people, or simply researching your next big adventure, be sure to take notes from our trusty Taiwan tour guides on the ground.
Ready to put pen to paper? Perfect! Let’s start with creating a list of fabulous places to visit in Taiwan.
While it may be a relatively small island, there is a remarkable number of wonderful places to visit in Taiwan. Not limited only to amazing landscapes and sights of cultural significance, Taiwan also offers the curious traveller insights into its unique history, reflected through the many influences of other cultures, foods, and traditions. Beyond the well known sights that make it onto the list of every visitor to Taiwan, there are many others that are also worthy of inclusion. Taiwan’s famous night markets, which rival any in the world, are just the tip of the iceberg. Its many festivals, tea culture, and delightful handcrafts weave a rich and interesting fabric of life that will hold appeal if you’re looking for an enriching travel experience.
You may have walked a mile or two by day, but that shouldn’t stop you from stepping out under the night lights in Taiwan, especially if you’re a deeply passionate lover of all things culinary. If you’re on a Taiwan tour and it’s the evening, it can only mean one thing. You can’t go past the many and varied night markets, which are in virtually every town and city, so there’s no shortage of choice. For food lovers, Taiwan’s food markets are a mecca and definitely one of the fun things to do in Taipei, if that’s the only city you have an opportunity to visit.
Shilin Night Market, Taipei
Save yourself by day before heading to the Shilin Night Market in Taipei City. First opening in 1909, this food lovers’ market has some serious pedigree, not least because it’s the largest and most famous in Taipei. With over 500 vendors to choose from, it will be hard narrowing your must-try dish list to a sensible number, but while in Taipei, we recommend you opt for all the classics: oyster omelets, tempura, oyster and pork vermicelli, pan-fried buns, bubble tea in every flavor, fried chicken, and stinky tofu if you can bear the aroma. Incredibly, you will find street food vendors that have made it to the Taipei Michelin guide (amazing, we know!) at Shilin Night Market and other 70 odd Taipei night markets. Our best tip here. Eat. Walk. Repeat.
Ningxia Night Market, Taipei
If you’re after something smaller but with a comparable choice of Taiwanese street food classics, look no further than the Ningxia Night Market, located near historic Dadaocheng and Dihua Street. With a reputation for being the original organized food night market, Ningxia has great appeal for its history in the Japanese colonial era, when it started out as a small hub of street food stalls. And although the market closed for a period during, it re-emerged bigger and more popular than before, as locals and travelers alike sought to embrace and enjoy the delicious food, ambience, and local culture. With the unusual moniker “stomach of Taipei people’, Ningxia Night Market is home to some very special stalls, a number of which are multi-generational. There is the famous braised pork rice shop that is over 50 years old, a bar that is 80 plus years old, a stall selling oyster omelets that’s been operating 50 years, and a milkfish congee vendor that’s operated over 40 years. Think you might find it difficult to choose? Why not try our recommendations. Read more
Try the deep fried taro balls (芋丸) at the market’s most popular stand (yes, there’s always a line even before opening), which is the Michelin recognized Liu Yu Zi deep fried taro balls (劉芋仔芋餅). They sell just two items: Taro balls and taro balls stuffed with salted egg and pork floss. Other popular stalls to visit are Rong’s Pork Liver (豬肝榮仔) and Fang Chia Shredded Chicken on the Rice (方家雞肉飯). Some other very good reasons to visit Ningxia are the awesome traditional mochi and deep fried oysters that are on offer.
Liuhe Night Market, Kaohsiung
Wander around the Liuhe Night Market in Kaohsiung, which first opened in 1950. Liuhe Night Market has over 170 food stalls that offer an eclectic mix of classic local street food and snacks, as well as specialties from different cultures. Popular local Kaohsiung dishes include seafood congee, papaya milk, Tube rice pudding, cuttlefish soup, stinky tofu and sticky rice dumplings, however you will also find steakhouses, Mexican taco stalls, and even vendors selling Turkish ice cream.
Fengjia Night Market, Taichung
Fancy a visit to street foodie’s heaven? Go no further than the Fengjia Night Market in Taichung, which first appeared as a small market around Fengjia University. Attracting over 100 million visitors every year, it is arguably bigger than Shilin Night Market. Like every Taiwan night market, Fengjia has its signature dishes: Octopus meat balls, crepes, oyster omelets, deep fried chicken, honey lemon aloe vera drink, cheese potato, stinky tofu, and bubble tea. Once your appetite is taken care of, wander the surrounding area, which features upmarket department store shopping.
Dongdamen Night Market, Hualien
Expect a full-blown immersive experience encompassing food, music, and local culture when you visit Dongdamen Night Market in Hualien. A modern interpretation of night markets and an aggregation of the many small markets that operated in Hualien, Dongdamen only first opened in 2015. It caters to local and international visitors alike, and of course, it offers its share of unusual dishes. Fancy a serving of stinky tofu, grilled sausages, and braised pork belly rice? You’ll find it all here. An absolute must is the famous ‘coffin cake', a delicious thick stuffed savory sandwich of sorts and the cuisines of local Indigenous people.
Miaokou Night Market, Keelung
Originating during the Japanese colonial era, Miaokou is one of Taiwan’s most famous night markets. Like all its competitors for the top spot, Miaokou stakes its reputation on some of the finest street snacks. A popular destination for travelers between destinations, Keelung is popular for its ding bian cuo, pao-pao ice, salty chicken, oyster omelet, tempura, charcoal-grilled sandwiches, stir fried noodles, and crab soup. Are you hungry, yet? Make a visit here a priority if you’re in the area.
Luodong Night Market, Yilan
It seems like every market sprukes itself up as the largest and best, and depending on the location, the fans would be right. And so it is with the Luodong Night Market in Yilan. Boasting some of Taiwan’s most delicious street food, your biggest challenge when you explore the market is deciding what to try. We can recommend the famous local mutton stew with Chinese angelica, pancakes loaded with local fresh scallions - a Taiwanese favorite, the sweet red bean soup with glutinous rice balls, stinky tofu, and a deep-fried paste of chicken, pork and prawn meat. If you can’t fit it all in on a single night, head back for a second round and try the famous soup-filled buns, scallions and meat skewers, or the delicious ice-cream with ground peanut wraps.
Tiehua Music Village Slow Market, Taitung
For a night market with a difference, visit the Tiehua Music Village Slow Market in Taitung, located on Taiwan’s southeast coast. Housed in an abandoned old dormitory for Taiwan Railways Administration operators, this market caters to the creative indie artists and musicians in the area. If music is your thing, along with indigenous artisanal crafts, organic farm produce, food and snacks, candles, paintings, and more, then this is the market for you. While food and crafts are a feature, the different styles of music are what really make this market. Depending on the time of year and day of the week - the market is only open Wednesday through to Sunday - if you’re looking for things to do with kids in Taiwan you can enjoy the creative work of solo artists, musical students, bands, and local indigenous musicians.
On your Taiwan tour you may spend the days on your feet, but once the sightseeing is done it’s always fun to step out for a show or two. Taiwan offers plenty so be sure to save a little of yourself for what’s on offer at various famous venues that host performances and exhibitions showcasing ancient and modern creative arts.
As somewhat of a cultural destination, Taiwan offers both modern and contemporary options that can be easily integrated into any Taiwan tour itinerary. For distinctively Taiwanese art forms, you cannot go past Taiwanese opera and Taiwanese glove puppetry. Read on for where to go for a first hand experience.
Taiwanese Opera, also referred to as Ke-Tse Opera, is representative of local Taiwan art. Performed by a number of troupes, perhaps the most famous among these are the Ming Hwa Yuan Arts and Culture Group and the Tang Mei Yun Taiwanese Opera Company. Check performance schedules for a rendition of the most iconic work of Taiwanese opera, the Fan River Fortress; a tale of complicated love. Taiwanese opera is physically demanding for performers, not least for its combination of martial arts, singing, and storytelling. Definitely worth a view for impressive displays of physical prowess and high drama.
Taiwanese Glove Puppetry (Potehi )
Whether you’re a child or a child at heart, experiencing a Taiwanese glove puppetry performance is definitely the stuff of one-off travel memories. By comparison with the other two forms of traditional puppetry - string-puppets and shadow puppetry - glove puppetry is more representative of Taiwan. For a particularly delightful experience, our tip is to visit the See-Join Puppet Theater, at which you can enjoy a live performance of this fascinating and colorful cultural art, while imbibing a delicious meal.
It would be misleading to suggest that the best of Taiwan is only visible by day, because as a place that seamlessly blends old and new, natural and man made, and the beautiful with the interesting, you would be missing a complete experience if you didn’t make time to experience Taiwan by night.