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4D3N Taipei Itinerary: Insider guide to exploring Taipei and its outskirts like a local

4D3N Taipei Itinerary: Insider guide to exploring Taipei and its outskirts like a local

Here’s our guide to rediscovering and exploring Taipei and it’s outskirts a little differently.

Taipei. One of our favourite travel destinations in Asia. Most of us visit for the shopping and food — sticking to the usual hotspots, not venturing far from places like Ximending (西門町), Shilin (士林) and the famed Yongkang Food Street (永康街). I must admit that this happened on my previous 2 trips to Taiwan too.

But after meeting a couple of Taiwanese friends on our travels, I realised there’s much more to Taipei and Taiwan than shopping and eating (买东西,吃东西). Eating is still a BIG part, but so are the scenic outdoors, culture, and stories behind the different towns on the outskirts of Taipei.

Elephant Trunk Rock - Taipei Itinerary

Even for the touristy stuff, we found that there are often more interesting and local ways of experiencing them differently.

So here’s our 4D3N insider Taipei itinerary to make the most out of your trip here.

By the way, UOB Cards x Jetstar x Klook is having a promo with discounted fares and activities! More information below.

Day 1: Rediscover Taipei City

Arrive in Taipei

We flew in to Taipei from Singapore via Jetstar, arriving 06:00AM at Taoyuan International airport, giving us a full day ahead to explore.

WIFI/4G Connectivity:
While there’s free (but slow) wifi at the airport and numerous hotspots around the city, nothing beats having the convenience of Google at your fingertips. We used the 4G sim cards which gave us unlimited data and connectivity even at the mountainous regions!

I suggest pre-ordering your 4G sim cards (from S$13) or wifi device (from S$3/day) to save time. If you’re booking via Klook for the 1st time, use for an additional S$5 discount!

Sim Card Collection Airport - Taipei Itinerary

Getting to the city:
The most common and cheapest option is via the metro (NT$160 or ~S$7.20). But for just S$2 more, you can carpool from the airport to your accommodation directly in the comfort of a car. No need to lug your luggage around.

Eating local in Taipei

Fu Hang Soy Milk (阜杭豆漿) - Taipei Itinerary

Fu Hang Soy Milk (阜杭豆漿) Queue - Taipei Itinerary
This queue stretches to the bottom floor

First agenda of the day… food! We headed straight to Fu Hang Soy Milk (阜杭豆漿), a breakfast spot popular with both locals and tourists. The unique salty soy milk and crispy dough sticks are hot favourites, though we heard the egg crepes were pretty good too.

Fu Hang Soy Milk (阜杭豆漿)
Address: 100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District, Section 1, Zhongxiao East Road, 108號
Opening hours: 05:30AM – 12:30PM, closed Mon
Cost: ~NT$25-60

*Pro-tip: Arrive before opening hours if you can. We queued for 30 minutes (at about 9:00AM) and heard it could have been longer.

Huashan 1914 Creative park - Taipei Itinerary-7
Cool creative district with lots of galleries, cute shops, and photography spots.

After a short walk around Huashan 1914 Creative Park, it was back to eating as we hunted down one of the best beef noodles in Taipei. Most people go to Yongkang Beef noodles, but we headed the other direction instead after a local friend’s recommendation.

Lin Dong Fang beef noodles (林東芳牛肉麵) shopfront - Taipei ItineraryLin Dong Fang beef noodles (林東芳牛肉麵) - Taipei Itinerary

Tucked in a shabby looking shop along Bade Road is Lin Dong Fang beef noodles (林東芳牛肉麵). All I can say is that we weren’t disappointed. The beef was rich and super tender, and I especially loved how their chilli oil is made out of beef grease, which complimented the broth super well. Don’t spend too long sitting around or taking pictures though. The shop auntie (大姐) will definitely get impatient with you. True hallmark of a local food joint I guess.

Lin Dong Fang beef noodles (林東芳牛肉麵)
Address: No. 274, Section 2, Bade Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10491
Opening hours: 11:00AM – 04:00AM, closed Sun
Cost: NT$140-230 per bowl. The small bowl is pretty big portion.

Roji Monster Ice (路地 氷の怪物 - 市民大道店) - Taipei ItineraryRoji Monster Ice (路地 氷の怪物 - 市民大道店) with Rachel - Taipei Itinerary

Then we were off for some desserts at Roji Monster Ice (路地 氷の怪物 – 市民大道店). This snow ice joint took Taichung by storm and recently opened up a branch in Taipei. I mean with it’s instagrammable too cute to eat shaved ice (please eat it, it’s delicious) and unique toppings, it’s no wonder why.

Roji Shaved Ice (路地 氷の怪物 – 市民大道店)
Address:106, Taiwan, Taipei City, Da’an District, 市民大道四段10號
Opening hours: 11:00AM – 11:00PM
Cost: NT$130-200. Min. of 1 order per pax.

Experiencing Taipei 101 differently

Taipei 101 View - Taipei Itinerary
View at the top of Taipei 101

No visit to Taipei would be complete without visiting the iconic Taipei 101. Instead of heading straight to the top, check out the highest Starbucks in the world.

Taipei 101 group shot - Taipei ItineraryTaipei 101 Starbucks - Taipei Itinerary

Located on Level 35 of Taipei 101, this secret Starbucks even requires you to make a reservation a day in advance (by phone +886 2 8101 0701) due to it’s recent popularity. I must say it was quite cool having a cup of coffee so high up.

*Pro-tip: Buy your Taipei 101 tickets in advance as it is cheaper than purchasing it on the spot. Get it online here.

Elephant Mountain (象山) Taipei 101 View - Taipei Itinerary

The part that many of us miss though, is the view of Taipei 101 together with the rest of the city. Just a couple of minutes by foot from Taipei 101 is Elephant Mountain (象山). It’s a bit of a climb up the hill (15-20 mins from the bottom of the trail), but if 60 year old uncles and aunties can climb those steps, I don’t see why we can’t! I assure you the views are worth it.

*Pro-tip: Bring water. The only shops are on the road leading towards the start of the trail.

Tong Hua Night Market – The local’s choice

Tong Hua Night Market (通化夜市) - Taipei ItineraryTong Hua Night Market (通化夜市) Street Food - Taipei Itinerary

After the short climb, it’s time to reward ourselves at the night market. We headed to Tong Hua Night Market (通化夜市), also known as Lin Jiang Street Night Market near Taipei 101.

It’s not as big as Shilin Night Market or Raohe Night Market, but it’s less touristy and more frequented by locals. I mean, it doesn’t matter how big a night market is. Even if you are in a group, there will be tons of shops selling the same food to your limited stomach capacity. At Tong Hua Night Market, you get a similar experience with a more manageable crowd.

Tong Hua Night Market (通化夜市) pastry - Taipei ItineraryTong Hua Night Market (通化夜市) Fried Squid - Taipei Itinerary

Be sure to try the unassuming and simple Ice Fire Dumpling (御品元冰火湯圓-台北總店). The refreshing hot sesame/peanut  tang yuen on shaved ice is very popular amongst locals. Perfect after all the street food in the night market.

Tong Hua Night Market (通化夜市) Ice Cold Dumpling - Taipei Itinerary
Ice Fire Dumpling – Tang Yuen on shaved ice

Ice Fire Dumpling (御品元冰火湯圓-台北總店)
Address: No. 31, Alley 50, Lane 39, Tonghua Street, Da’an District, Taipei City
Opening hours: 06:00PM – 12:00AM weekdays, 05:30PM – 12:00AM weekends

Accommodation in Taipei – Flip Flop Hostel Main

Flip Flop Hostel Common Area - Taipei ItineraryFlip Flop Hostel Main Beds - Taipei Itinerary

Flip Flop Hostel is the epitome of budget-but-not-too-shabby accommodation. Clean, modern, and an unbeatable location just 5 minutes by foot from Taipei Main Station. The dorms also have personal lockers so you won’t have to worry about your valuables. There are private rooms for those who want a little more privacy too.

People often ask why we prefer hostels, and the answer is simple. It’s cheaper so you can spend more on experiences (and eating) instead. Hostels are also a great way to socialise and get information too.

Cost: 6-bed dorm at NT$600/night (S$27)

Day 2: Motorcycle Tour — Exploring Shifen, Jiufen, North Coast

Motorcycle Tour rest spot - Taipei Itinerary

Day trips out of Taipei are common, but on a motorcycle? That’s a first! When we found out there was a motorcycle tour to the places we wanted to visit, we knew we had to make this the highlight of the trip. What better way to explore the outskirts of Taipei than on the transport of choice amongst the locals.

Note: You will be riding pillion with an experienced rider, so don’t worry about not having a motorcycle licence.

Motorcycle Tour -Taipei Itinerary

When we saw our guides turn up at our hostel in the morning, we knew we were in for an awesome day. With their shiny customised bikes, these guys are actually local bike enthusiasts who banded together to provide an alternative experience for the more adventurous.

To be honest, we were a little hesitant at first. But our guides Ah Wei, Darren, and Edward were very professional and always kept safety in mind. Only after we were comfortable did they try to make our ride more fun. ?

Find out more about the Taipei motorcycle tour here.

Charm of Shifen Old Street (十分老街)

Shifen Old Street 十分老街 - Taipei ItineraryShifen Sky Lantern - Taipei Itinerary

Our first proper stop was at Shifen Old Street (十分老街), a marketplace near the train station where people can release Sky Lanterns with well wishes on them. The railway track between the two rows of shops are still in service, which makes for an interesting sight when the train approaches and everyone scurries out of the way.

It’s mainly a tourist town now, but we still found it charming with all the xiaochi (snacks) and mountainside scenery.

Shifen Waterfall - Taipei Itinerary

Nearby is the impressive cascading Shifen Waterfall (十分大瀑布), Taiwan’s widest waterfall, which some nicknaming it Taiwan’s Niagara Falls.

Eating in Jiufen Old Street (九份老街)

JiuFen Old Street (九份老街) - Taipei ItineraryVegetarian Rice Cake at JiuFen Old Street (九份老街) - Taipei Itinerary

We were then off to the village of Jiufen, a formal gold mining town which inspired the setting for Miyazaki’s 2001 film Spirited Away. These day it’s another popular day trip destination where people come to feast on Taiwanese snacks and food.

Wild Boar Sausage at JiuFen Old Street (九份老街) - Taipei Itinerary

Wild Boar Taiwanese Sausage and the adorable shop owner at Wu Di Wild Boar Sausage (無敵黑豬肉香腸). Please try the double sausage and rice in sausage too.

Peanut Ice Cream Roll at JiuFen Old Street (九份老街) - Taipei Itinerary

The queues can be long, but A-Zhu Peanut Ice Cream Roll (九份阿珠雪在燒) is another must-try here at Jiufen.

Scenic North Coast

Elephant Trunk Rock - Taipei ItineraryElephant Trunk Rock Kayaking - Taipei Itinerary

It was then a nice scenic ride along the coast, with the sea on one side and mountains on the other. Eventually we ended up at Shen Ao Elephant Rock (深澳岬角), which has a pretty distinctive feature that looks like an elephant’s trunk.

The best part of the tour though, wasn’t the sights. And it also wasn’t about feeling cool riding through the city and countryside. The best parts were actually the warmth and sincerity of our guides. They’re a very fun bunch, always eager to accommodate, and have an interesting outlook on life. They showed us their life, and brought us to smaller spots along the way. There was even this secret photo spot recommended by our tour leader Ah Wei, where we had to ride slowly through the narrow winding roads up the mountain.

Motorcycle Tour North Coast Mountain View - Taipei Itinerary
Secret photo taking spot.

It’s cliche to say this, but we came as strangers and left as friends. I guess that’s the beauty of travel, meeting people from another part of the world, and leaving with a warm heart and more open mind.

For those with an adventurous spirit. This motorcycle tour is something you definitely have to experience.

They have a couple of predetermined routes, but the guys are flexible and open to suggestions. For us, we booked their 8hr Maniac Tour & 4hr Dusk Tour, and combined it into a super long customised tour.

*Pro-tip: Use the chat app LINE to work out the plan with the tour leader before your trip. You will receive the contact details after booking the tour. Do request for an English speaking guide if your Mandarin isn’t too fluent!

If motorcycles aren’t your thing, there are cheap and convenient shuttle busses that can bring you to explore the outskirts of Taipei too.

Day 3: Beitou Hot Spring & Keelung Port City

Beitou – The local hot spring town

Took a convenient MRT ride to Xinbeitou to explore the hot spring town. It’s a sleepy town, with key sights like Thermal Valley (地熱谷), the Hot Spring Museum, and Public Library to slowly explore.

Beitou Thermal Valley - Taipei Itinerary
Lots of gas that day at Beitou Thermal Valley

The highlight though, was a visit to a local hot spring called Xinbeitou Public Hot Springs/Millennium Springs (新北投千禧湯露天溫泉). For NT$40 each, we soaked for 2 hours, alternating between the hot and cold pools. Perfect after the previous day’s activities.

Do remember to bring proper swimwear, as board shorts and FBTs are not allowed.

Man Lai Hot Spring Ramen (滿來溫泉拉麵) - Taipei ItineraryMan Lai Hot Spring Ramen (滿來溫泉拉麵) Hot Spring Egg - Taipei Itinerary

We then had a late lunch at Man Lai Hot Spring Ramen (滿來溫泉拉麵), well known for their Taiwanese style ramen, hot spring eggs, and tofu. Avoid meal times if you don’t want to queue for too long!

*Pro-tip: Order the fried tofu and the staff will ask you to play a secret game for a small discount!

Man Lai Hot Spring Ramen (滿來溫泉拉麵) Fried Tofu -Taipei Itinerary

Man Lai Hot Spring Ramen (滿來溫泉拉麵)
Address: No. 1-8, Zhongshan Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112
Opening hours: 11:30AM – 09:00PM
Cost: Ramen NT$150-220. Sides NT$30-150.

Underrated Keelung

After half a day in Beitou, we headed back to Taipei for our bags and left straight for Keelung via a local train for NT$41 (~S$1.80).

Miao Kou Night Market (廟口夜市) Snack - Taipei Itinerary

Keelung is a port city that is probably past it’s golden days. A strategic fort in the past, it’s now better known for food and the 24hr Miao Kou Night Market (廟口夜市) that rivals the night markets of Taipei. Most stalls close by 11:00PM, but the stalls have a rotation system to make sure there are enough places open to support the people in the fishing industry who work all night.

Peace Island Keelung view - Taipei ItineraryPeace Island Keelung sunrise- Taipei Itinerary

The beautiful Peace Island (和平島公園), which was a short bus/taxi ride from the town centre.

Yam Ball at Keelung Lien Cheng Bakery (基隆連珍餅店) - Taipei Itinerary

Do also check out Keelung Lien Cheng Bakery (基隆連珍餅店) for their awesome Yam balls as well. Taiwanese celebrity Xiǎo S visited once and said it was one of the best bakeries she has been.

Keelung Lien Cheng Bakery (基隆連珍餅店)
Address: No. 42, Aier Road, Ren’ai District, Keelung City, Taiwan 200
Opening hours: 08:00AM – 09:00PM

Keelung Midnight Fish Market Tour - Taipei ItineraryKeelung Midnight Fish Market Tour Seafood - Taipei Itinerary

While most people visit Keelung on day trips, the real gem lies in what happens after hours. Kanziding Fish Market (崁仔頂漁市場) is the biggest wholesale seafood market in Northern Taiwan. Chefs from as far as Taichung supposedly come here for the best fresh produce.

Wanting to understand the culture and famous fish auction better, we went on a local midnight fish market walking tour that currently only runs every Thursday.

Keelung Midnight Fish Market Tour Group Shot - Taipei Itinerary
Checking out a secret alley

Keelung For Walk Tour Audio Receiver- Taipei Itinerary

The wireless earpiece was a nice touch as it allowed us to hear our guide even if we wandered off or was too noisy.

What made the tour special though, were the interactions with the locals. Most tours usually bring you to places where people are trying to sell you things. However, the ones on this tour were very authentic. From a whiskey bar owner sharing local drinking culture, to the veteran fish auctioneer who showed us the nuances of the auction game, they simply wanted to share their knowledge and love for Keelung!

Find out more about the Keelung Midnight Fish Market adventure here.

Keelung Midnight Fish Market Tour Locals - Taipei Itinerary
With our veteran fish auctioneer on the left

After the tour, we couldn’t resist getting some fresh sashimi at Zhutian (朱添鮮魚號).

Zhutian (朱添鮮魚號) Sashimi Keelung - Taipei Itinerary
Fresh from the seafood market

Zhutian (朱添鮮魚號)
Address: 200, Taiwan, Keelung City, Ren’ai District, Rensi Road, 45號號
Opening hours: 03:00AM – 06:00PM

Accommodation in Keelung – Yung Feng Hotel (永豐旅店)

Yung Feng Hotel is pretty basic. But at just 2mins by foot to Miao Kou Night Market, and 5mins by foot to the Fish Market, the location is perfect for exploring Keelung.

Cost: Quadruple room at NT$1780 or NT$445/pax (~S$20)

Day 4: Yehliu Geopark & Taipei City

Touristy but spectacular Yehliu

Klook Taipei Private Charter - Taipei Itinerary
Booked a 4-seater but got upgraded!

Yehliu Geopark Scenery -Taipei Itinerary

The next day, we headed back to Taipei and dropped our bags at the lockers in Taipei Main Station. Before taking a 4hr private car charter to visit Yehliu Geopark and it’s surroundings. This was perfect as it allowed us to maximise our last day in Taipei instead of wasting time taking public transport.

Yehliu Geopark Queens Head Rock -Taipei Itinerary
The famous Queen’s Head Rock
Yehliu Geopark Glass shoe - Taipei Itinerary
Can you figure out what this is?

Yehliu Geopark Tiles - Taipei ItineraryYehliu Geopark Creative Photos - Taipei Itinerary

Some of the rock formations do require some imagination, so come with an open mind. ?
Nevertheless it was very scenic.

*Pro-tip: Try to visit when the park opens at 08:00AM in the morning to avoid the crowds. We arrived too late and many of the tour busses were already there.

Round up Taipei

Lunched at San Ho Yan (參和院), a local chain restaurant that serves Taiwanese and Chinese dishes with a twist at a reasonable price.

San Ho Yan (參和院) - Taipei Itinerary
Top left to bottom right: Ma Po Tofu, Lu Rou Fan, cute Dim Sum, Fern with egg, sweet potato and fried chicken, porcupine char sau bao

San Ho Yan (參和院) Cute Dimsum - Taipei Itinerary

The food looked and tasted good. Especially loved the cute dim sum dishes.

San Ho Yan (參和院)
Address: No. 14, Lane 101, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Da’an District, Taipei City
Opening hours: 11:30AM – 12:00AM

Tamed Fox donut and drink - Taipei ItineraryTamed Fox Instagrammable Cafe - Taipei Itinerary-57

We then visited Tamed Fox Cafe for a break and some really Instagrammable food (looks better than it tastes). The cafe has a very nice vibe, and you can easily spend hours chilling there.

*Pro-tip: Buy a donut and drink to make your own Instagram creation

Tamed Fox
Address: No. 56, Lane 122, Section 4, Ren’ai Road, Da’an District, Taipei City
Opening hours: 08:00AM – 5:00PM Mon to Wed & Fri, 10:00AM – 6:00PM Sat & Sun, Closed Thu.

Snow King Ice Cream (雪王冰淇淋) - Taipei Itinerary

Finally, we ended our Taipei food hunt at the famous Snow King Ice Cream (雪王冰淇淋), which serves some really unique ice cream flavours. Their pork floss ice-cream, really tasted like pork-floss in ice cream. Ask the staff for the popular flavours. Please don’t make the same mistake as us.

Snow King Ice Cream (雪王冰淇淋)
Address: 100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District, Section 1, Wuchang St, 65號
Opening hours: 12:00PM – 08:00PM

Chia Te Bakery-Pineapple Cake Souvenir Set - Taipei ItineraryKlook Food Souvenirs - Taipei Itinerary

It was then off to the airport by carpool, before collecting the food souvenirs we pre-ordered online at the airport. I liked how it was already packed into a box (we removed them for photos), so you can easily check the entire box in without having to worry about repacking. The more brittle snacks were also bubble wrapped for extra protection.

We got Chia Te Bakery’s Pineapple Tarts, Kuai Che’s dried and crispy pork, and nougats from Sugar & Spice.

Cheap direct flights from Singapore to Taipei

Jetstar Flight - Taipei Itinerary

There are many flights to Taipei from Singapore, but Jetstar offers pretty good value with it’s price and flight timings. They have up to two flights a day, and we chose the early morning flight there (arrived Taipei 6:00AM), and evening flight back (departed Taipei 8:20PM) to maximise our time in Taiwan. Annual leaves are often in short supply, so such flight timings are very ideal!

It’s also a direct flight, so no time wasted changing flights or transiting at another country.

Jetstar fares from Singapore to Taipei start from S$119.

UOB Cards x Jetstar x Klook Promo

For those planning their next getaway, UOB Cards, Jetstar and Klook are having a special promo!

From now till 1 Oct 2017, purchase any two Singapore outbound flights via Jetstar from as low as S$38 to 24 destinations! Plus, complete your travel itinerary with S$10 off travel activities, wifi, transfers or tours on Klook (min. S$80 spend).

Find out more here.

Useful Phrases (Taiwanese Min / Taiwanese Mandarin)

Most Taiwanese speak Mandarin, though the older ones speak the Taiwanese Min dialect — similar to Hokkien spoken in Singapore.

Hello/Greetings你好 (lí-hó) / 你好 (nǐ hǎo)
Thank you感謝 (kám-siā) / 謝謝 (xiè xie)
Cheers! (toasting)呼乾啦! (ho͘ ta là!) / 乾杯! (gān bēi)
Sorry歹勢 (phái-sè) / 對不起 (duì bù qǐ) or 抱歉 (bào qiàn)
Goodbye再見 (chài-kiàn) / 再見 (zài jiàn)

Other Useful Information

Time zone of TaiwanGMT +8 hours (Same as Singapore)
Telephone code+886
CurrencyNT$ – Taiwan New Dollar (NTD)
Power plug & socket outletTypes A & B – 110V 60Hz.Taiwan Power Plug

Hope you found our Taipei Itinerary useful. Do let us know in the comments below if you have any other recommendations!

This post was brought to you by UOB Cards x Jetstar x Klook

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