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20 Free Things To Do In Taipei To Prove That You Don’t Need To Be Ballin’ To Travel

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:

1. Hike up Thumb Mountain for panoramic views of Taipei 101

Taipei - Skyline from Thumb Mountain
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 trailsElephant Mountain, Tiger Mountain, Leopard Mountain, and Lion Mountain, offering a tranquil retreat. After all, it’s located at the highest portion of the trail.

Taipei - Thumb Mountain
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 Mountain
Address: 115, Taiwan, Taipei City, Nangang District
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily

Elephant Mountain
Address: Number 31, Alley 401, Lane 150, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily

2. Ride a gondola to a tea plantation haven in MaoKong

Taipei - Maokong view
Image credit: @outdoor.lazyneko via Instagram

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.

Taipei - Maokong street food
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

Taipei - National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine
Image credit: @freedomsessions via Instagram

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. 

Taipei - Changing of guard ceremony
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. 

Taipei - Chiang Kai-shek Memorial HallImage 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’ Shrine
Address: Number 139, Beian Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10491
Opening hours: 9am-5pm, Daily
Contact: +886 2 2885 4162

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Address: 100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District
Opening hours: 9am-6pm, Daily
Contact: +886 2 2343 1100 

4. Witness a Spirited Away scene come to life at Jiufen Old Street 

Taipei - Jiufen
Image credit: @brilliant.bijou via Instagram

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 224
Opening hours: Mon-Thu 8am-7pm | Fri-Sun 8am-10pm
Contact: +886 2 2406 3270

5. Do a half day trip to Wulai, with an 80m waterfall & street stores

Taipei - Wulai falls
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. 

Taipei - Wulai street food
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 Falls
Address: Number 16, Pubu Road, Wulai District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 233
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Contact: +886 2 2661 6942

6. Join a free walking tour at Longshan Temple 

Taipei - Longshan temple
Image credit: @mmmamook via Instagram

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

Taipei - Lukang Old Street
Image credit: @marionbess via Instagram

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. 

Taipei - Sweet Osmanthus Village
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 505
Opening hours: Mon 12am-6am, 10am-6pm | Tue-Sun 10am-6pm
Contact: +886 4 776 4923

8. Visit Beitou Hot Spring Museum, a popular filming location

Taipei - Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Image credit: @liveasabear via Instagram

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.

Beitou Hot Spring Museum - Male BathroomMale 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.

Beitou Hot Spring Museum - 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 Hokutolitea 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 112
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm (Closed on Mondays)
Contact: +886 2 2893 9981

9. Chill at Fulong Beach for sand sculptures & scenic sunsets

Taipei - Fulong Beach
Image credit: @nytrsck via Instagram

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. 

Taipei - Fulong Beach sand sculptureImage 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 228
Opening hours: 8.30am-6pm, Daily
Contact: +886 2 2499 1188

10. Window shop at Ximending night market & shopping district 

Taipei - XimendingRoam 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 108
Opening hours: 5pm-10pm, Daily

11. Have a picnic date & catch music performances at Da’an Park

Taipei - 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 106
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Contact: +886 2 2700 3830

12. Absorb artsy vibes at Huashan 1914 Creative Park

Taipei - 1914 Huashan Creative Park
Image credit: @patchenist via Instagram

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. 

1914 Huashan Creative Park - CinemaImage 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 100
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Contact: +886 2 2358 1914

13. Stroll along the Japanese-style 228 Peace Memorial Park

Taipei - 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 Park
Address: Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Contact: +886 2 2303 2451

228 Peace Memorial Museum
Address: No. 3 Ketagalan Boulevard, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City 100
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm (Closed on Mondays & the day after national holidays)

14. Explore the oldest Mazu temple in Beitou, Guandu Temple 

Guandu Temple - GuanyinImage credit: @aimewaran via Instagram

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.

Guandu Temple - River viewRiver 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 112
Opening hours: 7am-9pm, Daily
Contact: +886 2 2858 1281

15. Visit National Palace Museum for 8,000 years of Chinese history

Taipei - National Palace MuseumImage credit: @jjeveuxvoir via Instagram

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. 

National Palace Museum - Jadeite CabbageImage 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 111
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 9am-5pm (Closed on Mondays)
Contact: +886 2 6610 3600

16. Drop by Taipei Fine Arts Museum to appreciate contemporary art

Taipei - Taipei Fine Art MuseumImage credit: @tfam_museum via Instagram

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 10491
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 9.30am-5.30pm (Closed on Mondays) 

17. Bathe in hot springs & explore a live volcano at Yangmingshan 

Taipei - YangmingshanImage credit: @larrisim via Instagram

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.

Yangmingshan - Hot springsImage 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, Taiwan
Opening 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

Taipei - Bao an TempleImage credit: @vladimirzhoga via Instagram 

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. 

Taipei - Baosheng Festival
Image credit: @welcometoasia_wta via Instagram

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 103
Opening hours: 6.30am-9pm, Daily
Contact: +886 2 2595 1676

19. Dig into black pepper buns & iced tangyuan at Raohe Market

Taipei - Raohe Night 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

Raohe Night Market - Black pepper bun
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.

Raohe Night Market - Iced tangyuan
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 105
Opening hours: 5pm-11pm, Daily
Contact: +886 2 2766 8876

Bonus: Hop on a sightseeing bus

Taipei - Hop on hop off busImage credit: @genptrc via Instagram

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