Taipei in Taiwan is an incredible city in the heart of Asia that’s perfect for family travel. It’s safe, home to some of the best food in the world, has a fascinating culture and is easy to get around. There’s so much to do in Taipei with kids, it can be difficult deciding exactly what to pack into your visit!
We spent 8 days exploring this incredible city and found so many things to do in Taipei . Check out our top picks here, along with our guide to finding the best Taipei hotel, what to eat and how to get around.
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- 1 What To Do In Taipei With Kids
- 1.1 Take A Trip Up Taipei 101
- 1.2 Visit The National Palace Museum
- 1.3 Try the delicious shaved ice desserts at Smoothie House
- 1.4 Check out Taipei’s amazing (free) playgrounds
- 1.5 Eat your way around a local market at Yongkang Street
- 1.6 Visit Taipei Zoo
- 1.7 Visit the Ximeninding area and check out the vending machines
- 1.8 Try the ‘crappy’ food at Modern Toilet Restaurant
- 1.9 Take a ride on the Maokong gondola to beautiful tea plantations in the Taipei hills
- 1.10 Eat xiaolongbao dumplings at the world famous Din Tai Fung restaurant
- 1.11 Hike up Elephant Mountain for fabulous city views
- 1.12 See the quaint old buildings of Dihua Street
- 1.13 Visit a night market and eat your way around
- 1.14 Visit the beautiful Longshan temple
- 1.15 Marvel at the huge Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
- 1.16 Try a Bubble Tea
- 1.17 Visit a Taipei theme park
- 1.18 Visit the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
- 2 Recommended Day trips From Taipei
- 3 Where To Stay In Taipei – The Best Family Accommodation
- 4 Tips For Booking Taipei Family Accommodation
- 5 The Best Time To Visit Taipei
- 6 Getting Around Taipei
- 7 Getting To and From the Airport
- 8 Essential Items For Your Taipei Trip
- 9 Our Verdict on Taipei
What To Do In Taipei With Kids
Take A Trip Up Taipei 101
Taipei 101 is a huge skyscraper that at one point was the tallest building in the world, soaring over half a kilometre into the sky.
Constructed during the early 2000’s, this iconic symbol is one of the top Taipei attractions and a must see during your Taiwan travel. While no longer the tallest building on earth (that glory has gone to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai since 2010), it still boasts the world’s fastest elevator – travelling at a speedy 60km/hr to the top!
Our kids loved travelling in the elevator – they’re pressurised so you only experience minimal ear popping and in no time you’re at the top, looking out over all directions of Taipei.
The best time to visit is around 4.30pm, that way you get to see the city during daylight and watch as the bright neon lights begin coming on at dusk.
The elevator takes you to the Observation Deck at the 89th floor. As well as the incredible views, the story of how the tower was built is also fascinating, with lots of descriptive boards in English and Chinese.
Be sure to walk the stairs up to the 91st floor to the outside viewing deck (winds permitting) and when you come back inside watch the short movie about the construction of the tower.
Our kids also loved seeing the massive ‘tuned mass damper’ – a giant pendulum that hangs between the 92nd to 87th floor and helps stabilise the building in earthquakes and typhoons. It’s pretty amazing!
Tips for visiting Taipei 101 with kids
Taipei 101 is ALWAYS busy, given that it’s one of the top Taiwan tourist spots. It’s really worth paying a little extra for a skip-the-line priority ticket, especially when you’re with kids.
These tickets will save you at least an hour on queuing to get into the elevator. We got ours through Klook – the easy to use kiosk is right beside the main ticket desk and it’s so simple to redeem your voucher.
Check prices and purchase your Taipei 101 Observatory Priority Pass here.
Visit The National Palace Museum
The stunning National Palace Museum is stuffed to the rafters with almost 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese artefacts and artworks spread over 8,000 years, mainly collected by China’s emperors. If you or your kids are history buffs and love a good story, then this should be top of your list of things to in Taiwan.
The special thing about this collection is it is the largest surviving collection of Chinese artefacts in the world, as most were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
Before we visited we were worried that it would be too boring for the kids, but we needn’t have. The Museum has great audio guides – which are a must as pretty much all of the descriptions are in Chinese – but they also have a kids version with accompanying booklet in English.
Rather than tell the facts about selected artefacts, the audioguide brings to life the stories behind them in a way that really engages kids. We watched our two kids totally enthralled by the stories and it meant we could spend the whole afternoon there, rather than a quick one or two-hour visit.
A word of caution though – because of its cultural significance the museum is always incredibly busy, with large groups of Chinese tour groups visiting. We timed our visit in the afternoon and found by 3pm the crowds had emptied out and it was much more pleasant.
The museum closes at 6.30pm apart from late nights on Friday and Saturday until 9pm, so if your kids are up for it this may be the time to visit.
Purchase your National Palace Museum E-Tickets here.
Tips for visiting the National Palace Museum with kids
-The queues for audioguides can be long so be prepared and persevere as it’s totally worth it and you’ll get so much more out of your visit! You will need to leave your ID (passport or driver licence) as security for the audioguide. We didn’t have either on us, so they let us leave our mobile phone instead.
-No backpacks, food or drink are allowed into the museum, so you can rent a locker for a returnable deposit to put them all in.
-The onsite cafe is very good for lunch or a snack – Chinese style food as well as toasted sandwiches, cakes and very good coffee!
-To visit the museum by public transport the best option is to catch the MRT Tamsui-Xinyi line (Tamsui direction) and get off at Shilin Station. From there, walk towards the overpass and at the end of the station there are shuttle buses that take you directly to the museum. You need to pay the fare with your Easycard (see getting around).
-If you visit in the afternoon and early evening, then a good stop for dinner on the way back is the Shilin Night Market. Catch the shuttle bus back towards Shilin Station – BUT DON’T GET OFF AT SHILIN STATION! Despite the name, there is a closer stop at MRT Jiantan Station, saving you a confusing 20-minute walk!
Try the delicious shaved ice desserts at Smoothie House
Taiwan is famous for its shaved ice desserts and the good news is they are absolutely delicious!
Visiting the famous Smoothie House in Da’an (use Dongmen Station MRT to get there) is one of the best things to do in Taipei according to our kids!
We ordered the Strawberry and Mango Shaved Ice and it’s stunning – delicious and refreshing and crunchy all in one bite. We ordered one between the four of us and shared it which was plenty.
Tips for visiting Smoothie House
-The queues can be big at Smoothie House, so be prepared. We visited around 6pm after an early dinner and it wasn’t too bad
-You go to the counter and place your order, then you’re given a number to collect when your dessert is ready.
Purchase an e-voucher to redeem at Smoothie House here
Check out Taipei’s amazing (free) playgrounds
One of the things that made our Taipei travel so great was the copious amounts of free children’s playgrounds everywhere.
Despite being a thoroughly urban city, there is pockets of green space everywhere, and they really cater to families with modern, fun play spaces for kids.
These are nearly always accompanied by clean public toilets – often with kids toilet seats and breastfeeding rooms.
Our favourite mega playgrounds were at the fabulous Daan Forest Park right in the middle of the city – complete with roller skating rink, giant sandpit and lots of play equipment.
We also loved the play area at 228 Peace Memorial Park. The park is serenely beautiful with a lovely pagoda and fountain, sculpture and the giant peace bell, and people doing early morning tai-chi. But the highlight for our kids was walking on the ‘stone footpath’.
Reflexology is big in Taiwan, and the stone footpath encourages you to walk barefoot on the pebbles to help with whatever ailment you may be suffering from. It’s actually quite hard to do and sore! But a lot of fun. We even saw an elderly man lying and doing exercise on it, way more hardcore than us!
There’s also a big adult’s exercise area (another thing you see a lot of in Taipei’s parks) and a good kids playground with mega slides.
Eat your way around a local market at Yongkang Street
One of the best things we did during our Taipei travel was take a tour with ‘With Locals’ visiting the morning market at Yongkang Street.
Our guide Judy showed us through the market and we got to sample delicious street food including sushi, fishball soup, local fruit and vegetables, donuts, scallion pancakes and so much more.
Because it was the day before lunar New Year’s Eve, the market was even more buzzing than usual with people stocking up on ingredients for their big family feast the next day.
There were lots of New Year snacks and candy, and fruit with New Year messages on them including beautiful oranges and decorative pineapples.
We all enjoyed eating our way around the market and would thoroughly recommend taking this tour if you’re interested in learning more about the history of Taipei and the food culture here.
It gave us the confidence to try new foods for the rest of our Taiwan trip.
Tips for visiting Yongkang Street market with kids
This is a very local market and you’ll see some quite graphic stuff – butcher’s shops with every part of a pig or chicken cut up and on display. Some of the smells can also be confronting, but as long as you’re prepared for this, don’t be put off!
Our kids found it interesting rather than scary and it was a good opportunity to talk about different parts of an animal with them, the ethics of meat eating (we’re not vegetarian but think it’s important that kids know where their food comes from and the environmental impact of different foods), and cultural differences with food!
Visit Taipei Zoo
We don’t always visit zoos on our travels as we prefer to see animals in the wild or visit bonafide conservation centres, but the big drawcard at Taipei Zoo is Giant Pandas, and seeing we aren’t planning on visiting mainland China in the near future we put it on our itinerary.
The zoo isn’t too bad as far as zoos go – many of the enclosures were done well, the animals have a lot of space and there’s a big conservation programme which is heartening to see. The grounds are also beautiful with well-kept gardens.
The Formosan animal section, in particular, was really interesting, many animals and birds we’d never seen before, along with the insect and butterfly section and the reptiles with many snakes and creepy crawlies which our kids LOVED!
However, the really disappointing part for us ended up being the Panda House, which literally did feel like a zoo. You’re given a timed ticket for your entry along with your general zoo admission ticket (in Chinese, we only figured out what it was for once we stuck our head inside the building) then you wander through the exhibit gawping at a panda behind glass, all while a guy is yelling through a megaphone to keep moving (we presume).
To us the panda looked distressed, it was pacing around the enclosure and the noise was so loud in there that it must have been transmitting through the glass. We didn’t take any photos because we found the whole thing sad and quickly got out of there.
We also visited on Lunar New Year’s Day and there were thousands of people there. We wouldn’t advise visiting on a national holiday, and ideally, time your visit during a weekday.
Tips for visiting Taipei Zoo with kids
-The zoo is spread over a huge area, so pace yourself. We walked 22,000 steps that day! There is a shuttle train that runs around the zoo for a small fee but the queues were huge for it. It’s very stroller friendly if you’re travelling with little ones.
-There are lots of places to eat, various Taiwanese food options plus McDonalds and more Western options at a 7 Eleven. If you’ve got particularly fussy eaters then stock up on snacks and picnic food before you arrive.
-If you’re combining your visit with Maekong Gondola like we did (they’re right beside one another) then get there early as it really is a full day to visit both attractions. We would suggest visiting the gondola first for a couple of hours and then heading to the zoo, as you might find it tricky to drag kids out of there once they’re inside!
Visit the Ximeninding area and check out the vending machines
Ximending or Ximen as it’s known is the fun, youth-oriented part of Taipei and it reminded us a lot of the whole Shibuya area of Tokyo. It’s bright, loud and one of the fun things to do in Taipei with children.
One of the highlights for our kids were the rows of vending machines everywhere, selling all kinds of toys and random articles inside plastic eggs. For $60 Taiwan Dollars (around $2USD) you can point your coins in the slot and retrieve your tat.
Another craze currently sweeping Taiwan is claw machines. There are so many of them in the Ximen area especially, with loot including chocolate bars and soft toys of all sizes. Our kids tried this once but it’s almost impossible to do, despite us telling them many times it was going to be a rip off!
Tips for visiting Ximen with kids
It’s easy for kids to get carried away and overwhelmed with the choice, so we suggest setting both a time and money limit so you’re not there all day and to help avoid tantrums!
While you’re in the Ximen area, be sure to check out The Red House, another one of the famous places to visit in Taipei. The Red House was constructed in 1908 during the era of Japanese rule, and is now home to a theatre, cafe and shops.
Try the ‘crappy’ food at Modern Toilet Restaurant
Ever since we decided to visit Taiwan, our kids were obsessed with visiting the Modern Toilet Restaurant. Taipei has a number of themed cafes and restaurants, but this one, in particular, stole their imagination.
Also located in Ximen, basically it’s a toilet-themed restaurant, and the lavatory humour is on display as soon as you enter the restaurant. It’s now one of the top Taipei tourist attractions!
You sit on actual (non-plumbed!) toilets to eat your meal, complete with decorative toilet seats.
The menu carries on with the poopy and gross theme – anyone fancy the Modern Toilet Turd Sub Sandwich or a nice glass of Diarrhea Cocoa?!
We ordered a set meal of chicken curry, which came with a soup and poop shaped ice-cream dessert (which the kids LOVED) and spaghetti. We also ordered sides of fries and mozzarella sticks.
The curry came out in a toilet-shaped vessel, the spaghetti in a squat-style toilet pan. The tea was in a toilet-shaped mug. You can upgrade to a urinal if you really feel the need…
It was all good fun and the food was surprisingly ok. There were lots of other people snapping away at all the Instagram friendly decor and food.
Tips for visiting The Modern Toilet Cafe with kids
The cafe is very popular, so to guarantee a seat be sure to make a reservation or arrive right on opening time. We went when they opened at 11.30am and by 12 pm it was full.
Take a ride on the Maokong gondola to beautiful tea plantations in the Taipei hills
If you’re looking for some where to go in Taipei that isn’t tall buildings and crowded pavements, then head to the Maokong Gondolas for a ride up to the Taipei Hills.
Located right next to the entrance for Taipei Zoo, the gondola is just over 4 kilometres long and takes you up and over lush forest to Maokong, a small village that’s known for growing some of Taiwan’s best tea.
There are plenty of teahouses where you can relax, enjoy the tea and take in the great vistas back to Taipei.
You can pay for the ride either by cash or using your Easycard and it takes around 20 minutes to reach Maokong from the gondola station. If you have time, stop halfway along and visit the lovely temple on the way.
One of the things we loved about the ride was the dramatic change in fauna – banana trees and tropical ferns were growing at the start of the ride, yet it’s cold enough to grow tea at the top!
Again it’s always busy here, so if possible time your visit on weekdays rather than the weekends.
Tips for taking the Maokong gondola with kids
If it’s not too busy it’s worth waiting for one of the Crystal Cabins – they have see-through glass floors so you can watch the forest pass beneath your feet. Not recommended for those with a fear of heights however!
Eat xiaolongbao dumplings at the world famous Din Tai Fung restaurant
We had heard SO much about Din Tai Fung before we came to Taiwan and my goodness it didn’t disappoint.
Din Tai Fung sells all kinds of dishes but it’s most famous for its pork xiaolongbao dumplings. Originating in Shanghai in China, xiaolongbao came to Taiwan with the president of the day – in fact, much of the food in Taiwan has its origins in eastern China for this reason.
Din Tai Fung began operating in 1958 and these days has evolved to a worldwide phenomenon with branches in many locations including Singapore, Dubai, Australia, USA, China and many more places.
There are six stores in Taipei city, and we ate twice at the Taipei 101 branch and also in Kaohsiung. We also walked past the original store right by Dongmen station.
You can order the xiaolongbao in baskets of five or ten, and the steamed pillows of goodness arrive at your table still in the basket.
The etiquette is to take the dumpling, dip it into a sauce made from one part soy sauce to three parts vinegar and infused with ginger, then place it on your spoon.
Poke a hole in the dumpling to let the steam and ‘soup’ inside leach out, then place it in your mouth. So delicious!!
Tea and water are included in your meal, but you can also order soft drinks and alcoholic drinks if you want.
One of the best things about Din Tai Fung is that they have a glass viewing area so you can see into the kitchen and watch the master chefs making the dumplings.
We were busy watching and one of the lovely staff came up and shared some great facts with us about Din Tai Fung:
-to ensure consistency of dumplings, each dumpling is made with exactly 5 grams of pastry, 16 grams of filling, so a total of 21 grams per dumpling. Each one is weighed to ensure it meets this standard
-There are 18 folds of pastry at the top of each dumpling. When the chefs are first learning they need to count the folds, but as time goes by apparently they ‘just know by feel’!
-It takes three years of on the job training before you can officially become a Din Tai Fung chef
-Each chef spends 60 minutes at a time per station and they rotate the jobs. So you will be a pastry roller for 60 minutes, then filler, then twister etc.
-The Taipei 101 branch of Din Tai Fung makes between 8-9,000 dumplings per weekday, increasing to 11-12,000 per weekend day! That’s just the original pork flavour, not including the other options on the menu.
They really are as good as the legend goes, so a visit to Din Tai Fung is a Taiwan must see in our opinion!
Tips for visiting Din Tai Fung with kids
The queues can be horrendous for dining at Din Tai Fung, especially on weekends. Our first trip we absolutely fluked it and only waited 5 minutes at 4 pm! Our second visit was at 5 pm and we waited an hour and a half – by the time we left it was a 3-hour wait!
The good news is they have huge digital screens outside so you can see how long the wait will be, and you can take a number with a time slot and then come back. So grab a number, browse some of the shops at the mall but be sure to return in time for your precious seating slot.
You can also look up waiting times on the Din Tai Fung website.
To maximise your chances of not having to queue, visit between 2pm and 4pm.
Hike up Elephant Mountain for fabulous city views
Going up Taipei 101 is a fun experience, but hiking up Elephant Mountain is one of the best Taipei tourist spots that not everyone knows about.
Take the train to Xiangshan Station (the one after Taipei 101) and follow the well-marked signs to the base of the mountain.
There’s a lovely park there which is a great place to have a picnic or a play before tackling the mountain. It’s gorgeous in spring and we saw beautiful cherry blossoms too!
From there you hike up 150 metres – mostly all steps to the viewing platforms that offer incredible vistas out over the city and of course Taipei 101. Our kids managed it ok, but you would need to carry little ones as the stairs are quite steep in places.
If you want to make a day of it, there are plenty of other trails on the mountain also.
Tips for visiting Elephant Mountain with kids
Take plenty of water with you, especially in summer as it’s hot work climbing all those stairs! There’s a 7 Eleven on the street to the right before you start walking up to the trail which has all the water and snack supplies you need.
To maximise your vista opportunities, hike up at dusk and watch the city lights come on – you’ll need to take a torch with you though for the way back down.
See the quaint old buildings of Dihua Street
Thankfully Taipei’s not all concrete and high-rises, there are pockets of the city which are well preserved, and a glimpse into life in days gone by.
Your Taipei sightseeing should definitely include a visit to Dihua Street, the oldest street in Taipei and home to beautifully conserved architecture.
It’s a great place to casually wander and take photos, but we happened to visit at Lunar New Year where one of the biggest markets of the season takes place, so it was absolutely packed with people! There wasn’t a lot of photo taking but instead fun trying some of the food and candy on offer and watching the street performances.
It was incredibly busy though, and we held onto the kids’ hands tight!
Visit a night market and eat your way around
Visiting one of the many night markets is one of the top things to do in Taiwan, and when in Taipei is an absolute must-do during your visit.
It’s a great way of experiencing local culture, sampling some of the delicious world famous food and having a fun family night out.
Each market has different food and specialities but you’ll see some regularly appearing at the different markets – super long french fries, fried squid, dumplings, scallion and egg pancakes, grilled beef, custard filled donuts, candy apples, strawberries and tomatoes, sugar cane juice, and the ubiquitous bubble tea.
If you come across a horrendous smell (a bit like cow poo), then you’re nearby the famous ‘stinky tofu’ that is a true Taiwanese delicacy. It’s fermented tofu and is served a number of ways – our food tour guide Judy says her favourite is deep fried so it’s crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
We normally give most things a go when travelling, but to be honest, the stinky tofu was a step too far for us, it smells SO bad! Maybe you won’t think so though and be game to give it a go?!
We really enjoyed visiting Shilin Night Market, but there are plenty of places to go in Taipei to experience a night market.
Tips for visiting Taipei’s night markets with kids
It’s better to arrive early right when the market kicks off, so you can avoid the huge crowds and not have to queue as long. Around 5pm is a good time.
There is a lot of English around but not everything is labelled. Just point and say how many you want holding up your fingers and you’ll be fine! Most items cost only a couple of dollars so it’s worth trying to see if you’ll like it – even the stinky tofu if you’re game!
An ideal way to find your way around the night markets when you first arrive is to take a tour with a local Taipei tour guide.
This great tour at Ningxia Night Market will take you around some of the top hawker stalls in Taipei, including some included in the Michelin Guide for Taipei.
Check prices and book the Ningxia Night Market Michelin Food Tour here.
Visit the beautiful Longshan temple
There are over 15,000 temples in Taiwan, and taking some time to visit a temple should definitely be on your list of what to see in Taipei.
The most famous and notable of all is Mengjia Longshan Temple, which was built in 1738 by Chinese settlers. The temple has survived fire, earthquake and World War II bombings, and today is one of the most beautifully decorated in all of Taiwan.
It’s really interesting to take your kids along and watch the worshippers praying and the rituals they go through when visiting the temple.
We visited during the New Year holiday and again it was incredibly busy because it’s traditional to visit the temple during this time. We also saw lots of people lighting fires in braziers outside temples and burning joss paper, which is apparently a way of remembering their ancestors.
We also liked visiting the temple in the middle of Shilin Night Market. It was much smaller, but we were able to walk around and admire the beauty of the temple and the gorgeous New Year decorations. We bought some incense to light and the kids really enjoyed the experience.
Tips for visiting temples with kids
We were made to feel very welcome when visiting temples all around Taiwan, often the monks would stop and chat to us and ask us where we were from. It’s fine to take photographs inside as long as you are respectful of worshippers.
Marvel at the huge Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
If you’re interested in giant buildings and learning a little more of the history of Taiwan, then be sure to visit the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall.
This incredible building was constructed in 1972 as a tribute to the founder of Republic of China, Dr Sun Yat Sen. It houses displays about his life, but is also used as a concert and performance hall.
Our guide told us people fly over from Japan to attend concerts here, as it’s still cheaper than seeing it in their own country even with the travel!
Your kids will marvel at the huge statue of Sun Yat Sen in the foyer of the hall, and enjoy watching the two guards either side of it who stand completely still. Try and time your visit for the hourly changing of the guard.
Tips for visiting Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall with kids
Not really a tip about the hall, but it’s also a fabulous place to take photos of Taipei 101 if you’re not doing the hike up Elephant Mountain!
Try a Bubble Tea
Bubble Tea can be found in many places around the world these days, but it was originally invented in Taiwan at Chun Shui Tang teahouse in Taichung.
Trying Bubble Tea is one of the top Taiwan things to do – you can’t visit this country without trying this delicious drink. It’s essentially a bit like a milkshake, complete with small tapioca pearls in it which taste like chewy jellies. We were a bit apprehensive to start, but absolutely loved the taste and ended up trying a few different flavours. The brown sugar ones and strawberry were our favourite.
We learned that ‘tea’ in Taiwan doesn’t strictly mean black or green tea, it refers to any type of drink! So often you’ll see a drink referred to as a tea but it won’t have tea in it. If you do actually want a cup of tea then it will be labelled as ‘black tea’ or ‘green tea’ or often the origin of the tea eg ‘Alishan black tea’, ‘Formosa oolong tea’.
Visit a Taipei theme park
Unfortunately, we ran out of time to visit any theme parks while we were in Taipei, but there are a few on offer that are great for kids.
We’ve heard good things about Taipei Children’s Amusement Park, and many people recommend a visit here if you’re looking for a Taipei theme park for kids.
This Taipei amusement park comes complete with a carousel, ferris wheel (that you can see on the horizon from many parts of Taipei), monorail, swing chair rides, spinning tea cups, a small roller coaster and much more. It’s probably best suited for those with younger children rather than tweens or teens.
There’s an entrance fee, then you can use your Easycard (see below in the how to get around section) to pay for each ride you use.
Baby Boss Taipei is another popular option – similar to the Kidzania concept around the world where kids get to be the boss for the day and have a go at doing jobs that adults normally do. We’ve heard though that some English is used but the majority of it is in Mandarin.
Finally Leofoo Village Theme Park is a great option for fun things to do in Taipei with kids. This theme park has fun rides like the Big Canyon Rapids, Wild West, South Pacific and Ali Baba themed rides and a safari park complete with rhino, buffalo, zebras and giraffes that you can view from an old-fashioned steam train.
Klook offer a great option if you’re interested in visiting Leofoo Village Theme Park. They offer return air-conditioned transfers from Taipei Main Station to the park and an English speaking rep to help you with park entrance and ticket redemption, making it a truly hassle-free option.
Find out more and buy Leofoo Village Theme Park ticket and transfer package here.
Visit the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival only happens once a year on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year in the small village of Shifen, and we were lucky enough to be in Taipei when this was happening.
All we can say is if you ever get the chance to attend, grab the opportunity, as it’s absolutely magic! Thousands of people come together to write their wishes for the new year on paper sky lanterns, which are then lit and simultaneously released into the air.
The sky lights up with hundreds of lanterns and it’s the most incredible sight. It’s rated as one of the top festivals to visit in all Asia.
The festival is crowded with thousands of people, so the best way to experience the magic is to take a tour where they will handle all of the transportation and logistics, pre-order you a lantern and advise you when your time slot is open to decorate and release your lantern. I wouldn’t try and do it yourself based on our experience!
If you’re not in Taipei during this time but still want to experience a little bit of the magic, you can visit the cute town of Shifen where the festival takes place and decorate and release your own sky lantern.
It’s a lot of fun, and Shifen is a great place to spend a couple of hours.
We recommend the Shifen Half-Day Guided Tour with Pingxi Sky Lantern Experience – check prices and book here
This tour is with the same company that we did our festival trip with and they were fabulous! You also get to visit the beautiful Shifen waterfall nearby as part of this trip.
Recommended Day trips From Taipei
There’s a whole bunch of incredible Taipei day trips to the surrounding countryside. Some of the most beautiful places to visit in Taiwan are located within reasonable distance – including stunning old towns and beautiful national parks.
If at all possible we’d highly recommend putting aside one day to take a trip out of the city to experience some of the best places to go in Taiwan.
Top tip: Daytrips tend to book out quickly, particularly around national or public holidays, so book well in advance.
Here are our top picks for daytrips to take from Taipei:
Yehliu Geopark, Jiufen and Shifen
This is arguably the best tour to take if you’re interested in seeing some of Taipei’s surrounding beautiful scenery without travelling too far.
Yehliu Geopark features stunning rock formations next to the coast.
The village of Jiufen is an old mining town with gorgeous architecture and Shifen as described above.
It’s a great way to get a taste of the surrounds in one day. We looked at doing this by public transport, but it was going to be super complicated and take at least 1.5 hours worth of travel just to get to Jiufen, so this tour is the way to go.
Check prices and book the Yehliu Geopark, Jiufen and Shifen Shuttle Bus Tour here.
Beitou Hot Springs
The hot springs just north of Taipei are highly recommended due to their high white sulphur content that helps make your skin super smooth! Beitou is easily reached by the MRT.
The town of Beitou is the best and most convenient place to try the hot springs, and this tour to Spring City Resort is especially great for families – other tours often have an age limit of 12 and over, and have gender separated nude bathing making it difficult to experience as a family!
You can either choose from the unlimited time option public spa complete with 9 spas including a family and waterfall pool, or you can book a private 1 hour spa room if you prefer more privacy.
Check prices and book the Hot Spring Spa Experience at Spring City Resort in Beitou here.
Taroko National Park and Gorge
This is a big day trip and we’d only recommend if you’re in Taipei for longer than a few days – BUT in our opinion, Taroko National Park and Gorge were hands down the best places in Taiwan that we saw during our 3.5 weeks in Taiwan.
One of Asia’s seven wonders, it’s stunningly beautiful and reminded us a lot of our home country and the South Island of New Zealand. It’s that good.
If you only have a day and don’t plan to stay in Hualien for the night (the nearest town and not really that great we thought!) then a tour would be the best way to see Taroko National Park in the easiest way possible.
GetYourGuide offer a good option that picks up from any Taipei hotel, and includes return train transport, coach travel, lunch and an English speaking guide.
Check prices and book a Taroko National Park daytrip here.
Where To Stay In Taipei – The Best Family Accommodation
Taipei M Hotel – Main Station
Our Taipei hotel recommendation is Taipei M Hotel – Main Station – we loved our stay here. The location is great, a short walk from the main train station with connections all over the city via metro and further into Taiwan. It’s also easy walking distance to the whole Ximen area.
The room was clean and comfortable. The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful – we left a big suitcase there while we were touring around Taiwan and it was no problem at all for them. They also organised a very reasonably priced transfer back to the airport for us.
The first time we stayed we had an interior room with no window, but the second time we got one with a window which was better and slightly bigger, so maybe specify you’d like a room with a window when booking (costs are the same).
This hotel is a really great mid-range budget option.
Click here to view prices and book Taipei M Hotel – Main Station
Other recommended options:
Luxury Taipei Accommodation
Mandarin Oriental Taipei
If you’re looking for the absolute best place to stay in Taipei, then you can’t beat the Mandarin Oriental Taipei. This top hotel features an incredible swimming pool – perfect to relax in after your sightseeing around Taipei. The luxury rooms feature Diptyque toiletries from France and incredibly comfortable beds, and the hotel’s Italian restaurant comes highly recommended.
Check prices and book the Mandarin Oriental Taipei hotel here.
Grand Hyatt Taipei
The 5 star Grand Hyatt Taipei is one of the top hotels near Taipei 101, located in the swanky Xinyi area. You can’t beat this location and the stunning views of Taipei 101, and it’s a short stroll to the mall so you can easily sample all the delights of Din Tai Fung! The incredible breakfast here comes highly recommended. Rooms sleep 3, so you’ll need to get connecting rooms for larger families.
Check prices and book the Grand Hyatt Taipei here.
Mid-Range Taipei Accommodation
City Inn Taipei
Another recommended hotel near Taipei Station is the fabulous City Inn Hotel Taipei Station Branch 1. There are a few branches of this hotel, but Branch 1 is the one you want when you visit Taipei as it was newly renovated in October 2018.
The triple rooms are perfect for small families and the location is great for visiting all the Taipei must see sights.
Check prices and book City Inn Taipei here.
Diary of Taipei Hotel
It can be tricky to find hotel rooms if you’re a family of five taking a Taipei trip, so the Suite with City View rooms at Diary of Taipei Hotel feature 3 double beds.
The location is great as well, close to many of the Taipei top attractions.
Check prices and book Diary of Taipei Hotel here.
Budget Taipei Accommodation
D.Giraffe your space
Taipei isn’t a cheap city to stay in, so if you’re watching the pennies then hostel style accommodation is a good bet. D.Giraffe your space is a good option – the rooms are tiny and really only for sleeping in (don’t expect to spread out and unpack here!), and it’s a shared bathroom, but the location is fantastic and you can spend your money on all that amazing food instead!
Check prices and book D. Giraffe your space here.
Hey Bear Capsule Hotel
For something completely different, especially if you have older kids, how about staying in a capsule hotel in Taipei?
Hey Bear Capsule Hotel offers secure capsules where you can get a great night’s sleep in your own little pod. Kids will love the novelty factor of this one, complete with a cute bear theme throughout. It’s also located 2 minutes walk to the Sanhe Night Market so you can fill up on delicious food before bed.
Check prices and book Hey Bear Capsule Hotel here.
Tips For Booking Taipei Family Accommodation
-We stayed in two different places in Taipei – a hotel and an AirBNB apartment.
Normally we like to stay in apartments if we’re somewhere for more than a few days, as it offers us a bit more space and we can self-cater to save a bit of money.However, after experiencing both types of accommodation, I wouldn’t really recommend booking an apartment in Taipei as it doesn’t offer any advantages over staying in a hotel.
Generally speaking, the apartments are tiny, and the kitchens don’t lend themselves to preparing meals – after searching through hundreds of listings they’re pretty much the same from what we saw. Price-wise they are comparable to a hotel, and you don’t save a lot of money from a DIY breakfast than buying one at 7 Eleven!
The only advantage we could see is the washing machine we had (which is unusual anyway) but then there was nowhere to dry it and our tiny room as it was, ended up with wet clothes draped everywhere! There are plenty of laundromats around where you can do your own washing or pay a small fee more to leave it.
-Good accommodation tends to book up quickly, so don’t leave it too long to make your booking! In particular, rooms for families of 5 or more are in short supply, so plan in advance.
-The Taipei metro is wonderful – fast, efficient, clean and easy to use. It takes you all over the city, so try and book accommodation that’s within a short walking distance of the metro so you don’t need to use taxis or buses.
Heading to Tainan also? Check out our Tainan Attractions guide – what to see, eat and where to stay!
The Best Time To Visit Taipei
There’s no best month to visit Taiwan, but it’s handy to know what to expect in different seasons.
The winter months when we visited (February) was actually a great time to visit. We were lucky not to experience any rain and the temperatures were very mild – lows of around 16 degrees with most days being a very pleasant 21-23 degrees. This seems to be unusual however as temperatures are normally a bit cooler than this, and it does generally rain a lot in Taipei in December and January.
Spring during March to May is a fabulous time to visit – Taiwan tourism is starting to show that it’s a great alternative to busy Japan and South Korea for cherry blossom season, and they were just starting to come into bloom during our visit.
The summer months of June to September will be hot – Taipei has incredibly hot and humid temperatures during this time so you would need to factor this into your sightseeing during your Taiwan tour.
On the positive side, it’s the perfect excuse to indulge in an icy cold Bubble Tea and eat lots of shaved ice to keep cool! June to October is also typhoon season in Taiwan, so you will need to bear this in mind if you visit Taipei during this time and be prepared for any interruptions this may bring to your travels.
Autumn or fall is also a great time to visit Taiwan, the cooler temperatures will make it more pleasant to visit the many Taiwan tourist attractions.
Finally, special consideration needs to be given if you’re visiting Taiwan during the Lunar New Year season like we did. There are pros and cons – there’s a wonderful festive atmosphere as everyone is celebrating this special time of year, and there are lots of different foods and snacks to try that you won’t find at other times of the year.
However many places will close for the holidays, so you need to check open and closing times carefully and be prepared that some Taiwan attractions will not be open. It’s also a very busy time for public transport as people move around the country, so book train and bus tickets in advance and factor in extra time for traffic if you’re travelling by car.
Many tourists from neighbouring countries also visit Taiwan during this time, so many attractions will be super busy. We found this in particular at the National Palace Museum and Taipei Zoo.
Getting Around Taipei
Taipei is a reasonably compact city, with excellent public transport.
Metro (Taipei MRT)
The Metro is safe, clean and efficient and the best way to get around Taipei. It will take you to most of the Taipei places of interest.
If you’re in Taipei for 3 days or more, we highly recommend purchasing an Easycard to get around. You can get them from either the station or 7 Elevens everywhere. You then load amounts onto it as you go.
For us travelling as a family of four, it was super easy for each person to have a card, then swipe as we went through onto the Metro without having to worry about having change every time to buy tokens.
You also receive a 20% discount off fares by using an Easycard.
Best of all you can even use them to pay for certain attractions and to purchase goods at 7 Eleven.
The buses of Taipei will take you everywhere you want to go that the Metro won’t. Again you can use an Easycard to pay for fares and swipe onto the bus as you enter and off as you exit.
A tip we used when catching buses was to use Google Maps to navigate with while we were on the bus, so we could see where to alight the bus given that most signs are in Chinese.
Taxis are another good way of getting around, they’re plentiful, metered and you can hail them from the street. Ideally, have the name of your destination written in Chinese or show the driver where you want to go on Google Maps or the attraction’s website in Chinese in case they don’t speak much English.
The city part of Taipei is reasonably flat, making it perfect for cycling. To encourage cycling, you’ll see ‘YouBike’ everywhere – big racks of yellow bikes for hire. To use you need to register and use your Easycard to pay for bike hire.
We didn’t do this as our kids aren’t confident riders on busy city streets, but it would be a great thing to do with older kids. Find out more on the YouBike website.
Taipei City Tour
If you’re short on time, or would rather have someone else guide you around the city, then book a Taipei City Tour.
Klook offers some great options:
Taipei Double Decker Bus Tour – a Hop-on hop-off bus that takes you to all the top Taipei places to visit. There is a 4-hour or 24-hour pass option. Check prices and book here.
Explore Taipei City Tour – packs Taipei points of interest like CKS Memorial Hall, the National Palace Museum, the Presidential Building and famous shrines into four hours with an English speaking Taipei guide. Check prices and book here.
Hire a car and driver for a day – if you’re looking for a Taipei travel guide and want to get around the top things to do in Taipei but without the hassle of public transport and navigating yourself, then hiring a driver/guide is a great option. There are 4-hour or 8-hour options to choose from. Check prices and book here.
Free Taipei walking tour – if you’re on a budget, then join one of these free walking tours around Taipei. You will be expected to tip however on a pay what you want basis. Check details and book here!
Getting To and From the Airport
We booked a private transfer to get from the airport to our hotel because we were arriving after an eleven-hour flight at night, and dealing with tired kids, bags while trying to find your hotel in the dark is not a good combination! It’s around a one hour drive from the airport to Taipei city.
Our transfer through GetYourGuide was excellent – the driver was on time, it was a big van with seatbelts and plenty of room for our luggage.
Check prices and book your Taipei airport transfer here.
Alternatively, you can catch the Airport Express Train into Taipei Main Station, which takes around 40 minutes.
Purchase your tickets online and save up to 30% here.
Essential Items For Your Taipei Trip
The most important invaluable thing we had for our Taiwan with kids trip was a local SIM card for our mobile phone.
We used this all day, every day for navigating, translating and giving addresses to taxi drivers, looking up information about attractions, showing a picture of a particular dish we wanted to order to a street vendor.
Throughout our Taiwan trip we found the WiFi at hotels to be terrible, so we ended up just using our phone as a hotspot and then all running our devices off this.
We picked up a 4G SIM card from Chunghwa Telecom at the airport using this deal. The put it in our phone for us and the whole process took less than 5 minutes. It gave us unlimited data and it worked in all places in Taiwan, no matter how remote.
Check prices and buy your Chunghwa Telecom SIM card here.
We’d also recommend taking a good guide book with you – we used the which was handy for taking out and about in our daypack.
Another item that we always travel with is travel laundry bags – especially when there are four of us the dirty washing can get out of hand! Check out our guide to the Best Travel Laundry Bags here and our tips for dealing with all that laundry on the road!
Our Verdict on Taipei
To sum up, we absolutely loved our trip to Taipei and would love to visit again some time.
It’s perfect for families – incredibly safe, efficient, the most friendly people and enough variety of things to do to suit every family member. And did we mention that incredible food?!
It’s also a great destination for those who are venturing for the first time to Asia, it’s not as overwhelming and daunting as some other cities but still provides the culture and history that makes it a clear winner.
Let us know if you have any questions below about visiting Taipei with kids, we’d love to help!
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Travelling onwards to Tainan? Check out our Tainan attractions guide here!
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