Taiwan is a beautiful country that features a diverse mix of nature, history, art, and culture everywhere you look. It’s been a popular destination for many Filipinos given its proximity to the Philippines, multiple airports in the country serving direct flights to Taiwan, and the fact that it's visa-exempt for Filipinos.
Travelers also have the option to book different tours for the guided Taipei experience or build their own itinerary, especially since public transportation is convenient and accessible throughout the country.
If you’re looking for unique spots with no admission fee to visit outside of the traditional tourist spots like Taipei 101, here are our recommendations to get a little bit of everything on your next trip to Taiwan.
Located in the northernmost part of Taipei City, Beitou is famous for its hot springs. The Red Line of Taipei’s MRT system will take you straight to the district, where tourists can take the Xinbeitou Pink Line that will bring you to the heart of the attractions.
While you can take the beeline to Beitou’s Thermal Valley (or Hell Valley, as it’s also known), Beitou’s Hot Spring Park and even the paths leading up to it have a lot of side attractions that are worth your time.
First up is the original train station in Beitou. When you exit the current train station, you can take a look at the history of the food and other cultural festivals in Beitou. There are also souvenirs available with items from postcards to tea towels, dinnerware, and other trinkets. After this, walk forward to enter the Hot Spring Park, where you’ll find the Hot Spring Museum, Public Library, and Thermal Valley while admiring the different plants, trees, and wildlife.
Shifen is located in the Pingxi District of Taipei, and is home to multiple sites such as the Shifen Waterfall (often referred to as the Niagara Falls of Taiwan) and Shifen Old Street (where Sky Lanterns are released into the air). Given that this is a bit farther from New Taipei City, it’s advisable to either book a tour or charter a private car. If you’re willing to make the trip, you can go to Pingxi via the Pingxi Line of the Taiwan Railways.
Those traveling to Shifen cannot miss out on releasing a sky lantern. You will be instructed to choose a colored lantern of your choice (with its corresponding theme of wishes) and then be free to write down as many wishes or manifestations on the four sides. After this, a local will help you light the candle and take the perfect pictures as you release it into the sky. The sight of multiple sky lanterns being released into the mountaintops is definitely a core memory.
Jioufen, also referred to as Jiufen, is a mountain town that has become famous lately for the Amei Tea House. The tea house has been referred to as the inspiration for the bathhouse in Studio Ghibli’s film Spirited Away. While this has been denied by Hayao Miyazaki, the tea house bears a similar resemblance to the bathhouse with its red and green exterior and iconic red lanterns.
The town is built along the landscape of the mountain, so expect a lot of slopes and stairs as you navigate the town. Also present is a movie theater, where documentaries about the town and Taipei are featured all day round.
Jioufen’s Old Street is also grounds for some of the best-tasting street food such as taro soup, fishball soup, and countless other desserts and savory snacks to taste.
Nanya is a tourist spot that’s famous for its natural rock formations and its coral shores. Due to the iron oxidation in the rocks, the formations feature beautiful spirals and distinct shapes. There are many similar rock formations that double as tourist attractions, such as the Yehliu Geopark further up north.
Tourists can also head to the observation deck to view the rock formations from above. During the summer, you can also expect to see one of the famous features of Nanya: the different colored water (gold and bluish-green) hitting the shore. The gold-toned water is due to the different metals present in the area, which is why it used to be a mining town decades ago. The north district’s mining history is still well preserved in the area. Visitors can also view the “13 Relics” mines on the mountain facing the water.
Shilin Night Market
Taipei is home to many night markets, making all of them hotspots for trying out Chinese cuisine. Shilin Night Market is known as the largest and arguably most famous of them all. Tourists can go underground to try out the different mini-restaurants or look around the street for different food, drink, and game stalls.
There are stalls offering some of Taiwan’s notable street food such as stinky tofu, bubble tea, fried buns, dumplings, and more.
These are just some of the many sites to see in Taiwan. What’s impressive about the country is that all of these places are accessible by the country’s inexpensive and efficient public transportation system. With COVID restrictions easing in 2023, Taiwan is a travel bucket list item you should definitely check off.