Taipei is just one of my favorite countries to visit. I went there a few times and the thought of visiting again still excites me because I know I got so much more to explore in this small country.
Now, if you’re planning or, perhaps, preparing for a trip to the heart of Asia and want to make the most of it, this is a guide to get you to four different places in just one day.
Yangmingshan National Park
I’m not the “spring” type of a girl, though I admit that the flower season can be a really exciting event especially for those of you in places with four seasons. For me who lives in a tropical area, I’ve always wanted to play in the snow on a winter. That’s why I went to Taiwan in the first place—to feel the winter chill despite not having snow. Lol.
The place I stayed in was up on the mountain so it was really cold but the beautiful cherry blossom tree inside the vicinity took the blues and negatives away. It was the first full-bloomed cherry blossom tree I’ve ever seen and I considered myself lucky for having witnessed the flowers flown by the breeze every single day—well, technically, during my whole trip.
A friend in Taiwan offered me and my travel buddy a tour to Yangmingshan National Park and thanks to the breathtaking sakura tree, I was inspired to go see other flower varieties at the popular spring site.
Truly, it’s one of the best sightseeing areas in Taipei. It was just before the start of spring so not all the flowers bloomed, hence, I didn’t get to enjoy the cherry blossom path as much as if it was in March or April. But the place still took me in awe. I saw many types of early-blooming colorful flowers that were displaying themselves so elegantly, and I couldn’t trade the experience for anything else.
Yangmingshan National Park is a perfect place to actively unwind with nature. Since it was a Sunday, there were lots of people strolling in hiking suits, especially grannies. You can go there any day of the week and still enjoy seeing and taking photos of the picture-perfect landscapes and flowers that coincide with the spring feeling. I enjoyed my experience, and I believe you would as well.
Going there, you can only take either a bus or a cab. If you want to travel like a local, take the bus. You should note, though, that this mode of transportation can be difficult at first, especially if you’ve never tried the buses in Taiwan.
From Taipei Main Station, you can take the MRT to Shilin or Jiantan Station. Once you’re out of the station, look for any bus stop facing north and wait for the bus 260 or 小15 (small).
If, however, you prefer a smoother and faster ride, take the cab. It can help save your time and energy for the whole trip as well.
After exploring Yangmingshan National Park, head to Wenshan District and take a ride in one of the gondolas (cable cars) in Maokong.
Take a ride up in the sky while relishing the view of the mountains and the city of Taipei. It’s a very awe-inspiring experience, and you will absolutely love it. Once you get to the other end of the Maokong station which is situated on top of a mountain, you can find a variety of stalls, cafes, and restaurants.
In my experience, I walked through the whole area but I never found a strictly vegan resto to dine in. I actually don’t think there is one in there at all. But if you have found or ever find one when you get there, please be nice enough to share them in the comments below.
On the other hand, you can try a cat cafe there. Not the one that serves matcha sundaes with cat-shaped matcha biscuits (there’s dairy in the mix) but another one a few blocks further down the road. It’s an open and more nature-loving cafe that serves premium green tea, so you can chill out while viewing the towering Taipei 101.
It’s easy to get to Maokong Gondola from Yangmingshan. Assuming you’re already at Shilin Station (which is in the red line), take the MRT and transfer to the brown line going Taipei Zoo. The Maokong Gondola is just a 2-minute walk from the Taipei Zoo TPE Metro station.
Beitou Hot Spring
A Maokong Gondola trip can be energy-draining too, especially if you’re like me who loves seeing what’s more beyond the path you’re walking on (literally) and end up strolling for hours. So, when you’re done viewing the area, head to a hot spring in Beitou and relax your weary muscles.
One of the innumerable hot spring resorts in Taipei is the Japanese hot spring or “onsen.” According to one of my Taiwanese friends, it was built during the Japanese colonization and has since gained its popularity for its reputation as a Japanese heritage. It’s actually my favorite so far, and I’d love for you to try it too!
The onsen has two separate areas for males and females, respectively. Each area has a steam room, a hot shower, a sauna, and of course, three different pools of varying temperatures: 40°C, 42°C, and an extremely cold one. If you need a rigorously relaxing experience, you can try their hot massage for only 100 NTD. The entrance fee is 250 NTD, which is much cheaper than most of the other hot springs I’ve tried.
Despite the site being popular, not many tourists go there as the exact location can be a bit tricky. You might get lost if you don’t know your way around, but as long as you have your Google Maps with you, you’ll be fine.
I suggest you take an Uber ride to the onsen instead of a taxi. Since the place is quite a bit farther from the main road, taxis can be more expensive, and they don’t have a fixed price compared to Uber. But if you want a bit of adventure and experience local life, try the bus.
Take a bus ride from Shipai Station to a bus stop near Huang Chi Parking Lot. You can then walk your way down to the Super Public Bath (the onsen; as seen on Google maps). You’ll walk down the steep stairs with red handrail and in the bottom, you’ll pass through a kinda-Japanese bridge, still with red handrail. On the other end of the bridge is the onsen. It’s a complicated trip going there but fun and way cheaper than taking a cab.
It’s a public bath, so, you can make friends with Taiwanese people while feeling your muscles relax from the neck down. Just a side note, though: it’s Japanese, hence, naked. If it’s a “yikes” for you, you can try other hot spring resorts nearby (just a few steps away, actually), but if it’s a “wow,” then go ahead and enjoy!
When you feel your body saying “I’m good” with the onsen, but you still have the energy to make use of the time left, Taipei 101 is waiting for you!
This jade-green skyscraper was the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2010, superseded by Burj Khalifa. It also has the fastest elevator until Shanghai Tower took the title in 2016. But, of course, these successions never slowed down the operations of Taipei 101 and it still is the highest and tallest green building in the world, so, you shouldn’t miss it.
Riding the elevator can be pretty exhilarating, but once on-site, you’re going to have to wait in line as you’re not the only one who wants to savor the best of this tower.
Taipei 101, as indicated in its name, has a hundred and one floors. The 101st floor, however, is reserved for celebrities and other VIPs, so it wouldn’t be easy to get in there.
Even though you’re in none of the “elite” classes, you can still reach the observation decks: levels 88, 89, and 91—which is great for you because it’s in these levels where you get to have the closest look at the world’s heaviest tuned mass damper. It was built for the Taipei skyscraper to withstand earthquakes.
It’s also in these levels where you get to see so much—from the collection of fascinating corals and gemstones to the wide city view from the observatory decks. There is more to enjoy at the top of the building and I’m really sure you won’t regret going there.
Getting to Taipei 101 from the onsen is simple. Just hop on a bus (of the same number; or you can ask the driver) heading down the Shipai Station then take the MRT. Taipei 101 station is on the red line, so, you don’t need to transfer and just wait till you get to the station.
Be on the top of the world at the 101 and create good memories you’ll never forget.
Dozens Of Things To Do
While this may be a “one-day, four places” travel guide, you have all the freedom to customize your own trip. Whether you decide to take one site a day or insert others from your own bucket list, I believe it’s going to be very enjoyable! Moreover, if you’ve already been to these places, don’t hesitate to share your story and personal tips below.