Taipei is a large city with many hidden neighbourhoods, some cool and chic, some trendy and creative with lots to do. We discovered when venturing through Taipei’s neighbourhoods these hidden places can easily be missed. So, we’re sharing our cool and creative to do list with you.
Our Cool List of Things to do Starts in Xinyi District
Everyone knows or has heard of the modern and attractive district of Xinyi (Shiny), featuring the spectacular Taipei 101 tower.
Our first cool is to make your way to Taipei 101’s observation deck located on the 89th-floor and check out the amazing views. While you’re there purchase a couple of postcards, like we did and use the mailboxes at the top to send them off to your family and friends, a cool way to post your postcard.
After sending your postcards and admiring the view jump back into the elevator, as we did, and head down to the 35th-floor and walk into Starbucks. While most Starbucks outlets are on street level this one is perched high up in the Taipei 101 tower. It overlooks Taipei’s busy streets below making it a unique destination for coffee lovers.
OUR TIP: Taipei 101 Starbucks is very popular, so you’ll need to book at least one day in advance as many locals use it as an office café to get creative. Also, check out our blog on ‘Awesome Things to do in Xinyi District, Taipei‘.
Cool and Creative Ximending – Taipei
Ximending (She-men Ting) is a cool and creative neighbourhood where the younger generation usually hang out. Surrounded with fun activities and unique things to see and do Ximending provides an opportunity to get your creative juices flowing, as it did for us.
We spent the afternoon walking around and enjoying the live street performances, finding hidden temples and checking out the people dressed in wacky outfits. A great place to people watch, leaving us smiling for the whole day.
Food is a plenty so make sure you check out the variety of food, from the famous beef noodle soup to yummy dumplings and the delicious local dan bing pancake. Do what we did, walk around in the evening, enjoy the neon lights, grab a local dish and mingle with the Taiwanese.
If you’re on a budget Ximending is also one of the cheaper places to stay, so keep this in mind when booking your next trip to Taipei.
If the hipster scene is your thing then add Ximending to your list when looking at visiting Taipei’s coolest and creative neighbourhoods.
OUR TIP: Visit the Red House, a 100 plus year-old heritage brick building that today serves as a cultural-creative and performance space. You can enjoy live theatre, shows, drink fine tea and purchase local handmade items. It’s an artistic hotspot which is definitely worth a visit.
Cool and Colourful Historical Tamsui is Next on Our List
Do as we did and jump on the MRT (train) and enjoy the ride to historical Tamsui, it’s the final station on the red line and can be reached in around 30 minutes from the city centre.
Tamsui is a historic town located at the mouth of the Danshui River with hidden gems of history everywhere within walking distance.
Firstly, we took a walk through the traditional old streets of Tamsui where we were taken back in time. It’s there that we learnt more about Taipei’s history and culture.
The architecture and infrastructure told us a story about the past and its progression. It’s one of the coolest and hip destinations for Taiwanese history today.
Along our walk, we visited the red castle and enjoyed a light meal while taking in the unique views of Danshui River. We also visited Longshan Temple hidden deep inside the local markets where the Taiwanese still worship at today.
While walking through the town we stumbled across the Alethia University/Oxford College. One of the oldest institutions in Taiwan originally named Oxford University way back in 1882. It boasts characteristics of traditional Chinese architecture with a symmetrical structure. During weekdays you can enter the beautifully manicured grounds.
OUR TIP: Grab the Taiwan Lonely Planet Guide and follow the historical walk located in the guide under ‘Around Taipei’ – Tamsui (Danshui) otherwise you may not find these hidden historical gems.
Creative and Lively Daan District
Daan District is where we chose to stay while visiting Taipei. We stayed at the Inhouse Residence in Longuan Street. A small creative and chic, boutique hotel taking us back in time with its 1960’s decor and feel.
The Daan area houses many hole in the wall eateries making it very easy to indulge in local food offerings. A great way to taste the traditional Taiwanese food.
Our hotel, located near the bustling Shida Night Markets provided us with some of the best street food in the Daan District.
Another area, frequented by local university students, we recommend, is Yongkang Street for its street foods, ice cream eateries, trendy bars, live music and chic boutiques.
Taipei’s largest park Daan Forest Park is also located in the Daan District and not too far from our Inhouse Residence Boutique Hotel. The local Taiwanese use it for relaxation to escape the busy streets of Taipei. Walking through the park we came across people dancing, exercising and singing, a must when visiting Taipei. Especially if you’re looking for some time out and some local culture and people watching.
Conveniently located, the hotel is within walking distance of either Guting MRT train station on the green line or Dongmen MRT station on the red line making it ideal for getting around Taipei.
OUR TIP: After a day filled with shopping and haggling in the markets, head over to Sappho Live for some live music. A variety of music is featured from blues, jazz, swing and funk. The bar also serves a mix of western and Asian cuisine, but we couldn’t go past the ever-popular Sappho Burger.
Our Last Cool and Creative Taipei Neighbourhood – Songshan District
We found Songshan District to be more relaxed and affordable when it came to food. It’s also a more conservative place to stay and a much slower paced city lifestyle. If you’re looking to get off the beaten city track and slow down, then this is the place to visit.
We rented a bike and rode the Keeylung River cycle track, enjoying the fresh air, slower pace and colourful bridges along the way.
Don’t forget to visit Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, the creative park is an ecological area on 6.6 hectares of land open to the public free of charge. The cultural centre displays exhibitions, performances and other events and ‘may’ charge a small admission fee.
Also, if shopping is your thing then we also suggest some retail therapy while in Songshan. We discovered the Wufenpu Clothing and Raohe Night Markets, here we found everything from antiques, clothing and more delicious mouth-watering street food.
OUR TIP: You can’t miss the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. Every day and every hour from 9am to 6pm, carefully choreographed in sync the guards change.
Don’t Forget to Grab an EasyCard or iPASS
Before venturing out of your hotel to visit these cool and creative area’s we recommend purchasing an EasyCard or iPASS. They’ll make travelling around easier and can be used for YouBike rentals and as an e-wallet for small purchases at designated shops.
And by the way, don’t forget to have fun in cool and creative Taipei!