We recently returned from our two-week trip to Taiwan, and let me tell you, it was amazing. Taiwan is probably a destination that many of you haven’t even considered, but we need to change that right away. 

I first encountered Taiwan over 15 years ago through the fashion world. A bag brand called Banana Taipei caught my attention. Just because of the name of this label, I started learning about Taipei and Taiwan, although only briefly. Taiwan came up again when I met a good friend of mine. Her family partly comes from Taiwan, and since she traveled there regularly, she always had so much to tell. 

Fast-forward to 2024, and we finally made it to Taiwan. Our journey began with five days in Taipei, and that’s what I’ll be focusing on here. In the following, together with Horizn, I’ll share more about our days in Taiwan’s capital city and what we did, and, of course, give you some tips in case you’re planning to visit Taipei soon or in the future. 

Before we start: by using the code HsxTravelguide, you’ll get a 20% discount on all non-discounted products at Horizn. 

What You Need to Know Before Traveling to Taipei 

Visa: If you have a German passport, you don’t need to apply for a visa in advance; you will receive it on arrival. It is valid for 90 days. 

Currency and Money: The currency in Taiwan is the Taiwan Dollar (TWD). Currently, 1 Euro is approximately 34 TWD. So don’t be alarmed when you see the initially high prices. Overall, Taipei wasn’t expensive; in fact, it appeared to be quite affordable. However, we noticed that cash was still widely used. Therefore, it’s advisable to withdraw some TWD at an ATM upon arrival at the airport. ATMs are found everywhere, and if needed, every 7-Eleven has an ATM where we can easily withdraw cash with our German credit cards. VISA cards are sometimes accepted, or you can download the “Line” app. You can use it for cashless payments, reservations, and more. 

EasyCard: With the EasyCard, you can use public transportation in Taipei, among other things. You can get it directly at the airport at the entrance to the metro station (note: we had to pay in cash; VISA was not accepted). You can also top it up at 7-Eleven, where card payment is possible. Besides public transportation, you can use the EasyCard to pay at 7-Eleven if you rent a car, in parking garages, etc. However, make sure you have sufficient balance on the EasyCard. 

Google Translate: Although Taipei is a big city, our English sometimes didn’t get us very far. But that was not a problem because people always tried to help us despite the language barrier, and we used Google Translate to communicate. It was super easy—without it, we would have been a bit lost. 

Traveling with a suitcase: Taipei is incredibly luggage-friendly! Usually, it’s exhausting to travel in a big city with luggage. However, in Taipei, the sidewalks are well-built, plenty of space, and every metro station has escalators or elevators. Therefore, traveling with large and small luggage was fine. We didn’t have much luggage, so we used our H5 in All White from Horizn. I love its minimalist design, how much space it offers, and how lightweight it is.

Five Days in Taipei: What You Should Do 

We spent five days in Taipei, and I would do it the same way again. I recommend planning at least three full days for Taipei because the city and its surroundings have much to offer. Even in five days, we couldn’t do everything we had planned. In the following, I’ll tell you what we did and what you should include in your Taipei travel plans. 

Getting Around Taipei by Metro and on Foot 

I love exploring new cities by choosing an interesting neighborhood and just walking around. And that’s precisely what we did in Taipei. I must say, though, that it was a bit challenging to figure out which areas might be interesting for us. In the end, we mainly stayed in Da’an, particularly the Yongkang St. District, the Songshan District, and the area around Taipei 101. 

The area around Taipei 101 can be considered the CBD. Everything there is quite modern and clean, with shopping malls and larger chains of stores and restaurants. On the other hand, Da’an and the Songshan District are younger and trendier. You get a completely different impression of Taipei and can discover many small, independent cafes, restaurants, shops, and boutiques. Da’an is the area where I would look for accommodation on my next trip to Taipei. 

You can easily reach all these areas by metro or bus, but we mostly used the metro and walked a little further. The metro system is generally easy to navigate, and I enjoy observing people there. In my opinion, it gives you a glimpse of local life. 

For such days, having the right bag or backpack with you is essential. When I’m out and about from morning until evening, a few things come together that I definitely want to take with me. Therefore, I either used my Horizn Shibuya Toteback or the Chiado Cross-Body Bag during our time in Taipei. Both bags offer plenty of space, keep my hands free, and are comfortable to carry. 

Elephant Mountain Trail

If you plan to visit Taipei 101, you should also include the Elephant Mountain Trail. That was one of the absolute highlights of our trip to Taipei. The hike takes about 20 minutes. Yes, it’s not necessarily a walk in the park because 20 minutes of climbing stairs with different heights can get quite tiring after the first few meters. However, it’s definitely worth it for the view you’ll get at the top. You’ll get a beautiful panoramic view of Taipei, including Taipei 101. And fortunately, the descent is much easier. 

Markets in Taipei

One of the highlights in Taipei was the markets, especially the night markets. The city offers a lot regarding food, but more on that later. Let’s focus specifically on the markets in Taipei. 

During the day, you’ll find stands in the small alleys where food is prepared or where groceries such as fruits, vegetables, fish, or meat are sold. Observing the hustle and bustle there is an absolute highlight, and if you’re hungry, you can confidently eat something from the small stands. Street food in Taiwan is one of the cleanest you’ll find. 

I’m usually wary of such things, but we ate almost exclusively at the markets and small stands in Taipei. We loved the night markets in particular. The buzz and the variety of Taiwanese cuisine delicacies made it so enjoyable to stroll through the market and try different things.

Since the markets can get quite crowded in the evening, avoiding carrying a big bag is best. I always had my Gion Cross-Body Bag from Horizn with me. It is the perfect size for my phone and wallet or money, and it doesn’t take up much space so that you can walk freely and unburdened through Taipei’s night markets. 

Culinary Tour of Taipei: Cafes and Restaurants 

I’m generally a big fan of Asian cuisine, but being a vegan is not always easy, so I was a bit unsure about what to expect in Taiwan. In short, we didn’t have any problems at all. There are plenty of vegetarian restaurants, and Taiwanese cuisine has completely vegan dishes. In vegetarian restaurants, we could always ask for vegan options. 

Whether at a night market, street stall, restaurant, or cafe, we found vegan options everywhere. My highlights included all the delicious dumplings (make sure they’re not fried in lard), stinky tofu, tofu skin, green onion cakes (often made with eggs, but they can be omitted), and mochi. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. 

When it came to food, we didn’t pay much at the stalls and markets. But one thing turned out to be quite expensive: coffee. A small Americano usually costs around 4-5 Euros. So we always went to 7 Eleven, where we actually liked the coffee the best. For a medium-sized cup, we paid only about 1 Euro. Take note if you’re a coffee enthusiast like us. 

We noticed, though, that tea is provided for free with your meal in restaurants and constantly refilled without extra charge. 

But once, we treated ourselves to a small cafe where we ordered drip coffee, which is quite common in the trendier cafes in Taiwan. By the way, how do you like the cool cardholder from Horizn? I love the contrasting seams, and I used it for the cards we could use in Taiwan throughout our trip. 

Day Trip to Jiufen 

Taipei has a lot to offer, but it’s also worth exploring the areas around the city, as there are a few more highlights. Apart from national parks and hiking trails, Jiufen was at the top of our list. Since the weather was not so great, we couldn’t do most of the things we wanted to do, so we decided to take a day trip to Jiufen. The bus ride took about an hour, but it was super easy as you don’t have to change on the way when going from the Taipei Main Station. 

Jiufen is a small mountain town north of Taipei and is known for its Jiufen Old Street. Here, you’ll find not only history but also stunning views of the mountain landscape, authentic tea houses, and lots of goodies. 

We didn’t have a specific plan for the day in Jiufen; we just strolled along the Old Street. We were offered delicious samples to try everywhere, and there were small shops and tea houses along the way. We even found a fully vegan eatery. The only thing we didn’t have was the view because it was cloudy due to the rain. Nevertheless, I would say that Jiufen is worth visiting even in the rain because it gives the place a mystical vibe, which also has charm.