Overflowing with night markets and trendy cafes, Taipei is a true food-lover’s paradise. But Taiwan’s capital city is also home to some of the best shopping and culture in East Asia, making for one of the region's most underrated cities (trust us). Even better, with just 24 hours you’ll be able to pack in a whole load of activities. And one thing’s for sure, you won’t be leaving hungry. Without further ado, here's exactly how to perfect a layover or quick visit:
3pm: Late Lunch
Before anything else, get rejuvenated at Yong Kang Beef Noodles. The beloved shop has been around for decades, ladling out bright red bowls teeming with tender meat and bouncy noodles. The kick of spice will certainly get your energy level back up post-flight.
4pm: Chic Stay
Check in time! Convenient location, chic design and top-notch amenities — Swiio Hotel’s got everything you need for a whirlwind stay in Taipei. The rooms are minimalist and bright with modern art on the walls and there are fun shared spaces, like a screening room. Best of all, it’s located in Ximending, where you can eat, shop and drink to your heart’s content without ever leaving the ‘hood.
6pm: Shop ‘Til You Drop
Pop out to the pedestrian mall at Ximending to pick up trinkets, clothes and snacks. It’s been dubbed Taipei’s Harajuku, so don’t be surprised to see people walking around in cosplay. Bonus: everything’s open late in case you need a little nighttime retail therapy. The historic Ximen Red House is also worth a pit-stop — it was once home to Taipei’s first public market.
8pm: Night Market Munchies
Taipei has no shortage of night markets and you’ll have a delicious damn time at any one of them, but only the Raohe location is home to the city’s famed black pepper bun. The Anthony Bourdain-approved snack draws long lines and there’s good reason why — each doughy pocket is molded and stuffed by hand, then cooked in a clay oven ‘til the outside is crispy and the peppery pork filling is juicy and piping hot.
11pm: Cool Off
Don't forget to make room for a late-night dessert. No trip here is complete with shaved ice and Ice Monster is king when it comes to the silky, flavor-infused ribbons. Mango Avalanche is by far the most popular, but the underrated star is Bubble Milk Tea Sensation, which true to its name is basically boba tea in dessert form.
1am: Sing Your Heart Out
Head back to Xinmending for Asia’s favorite late-night activity — karaoke, or KTV as the locals call it. For an upscale experience, book a private room at PartyWorld, which is open round the clock, has an extensive drinks list and surprisingly decent food.
7.30am: Get Caffeinated
Named after an incredibly fun to pronounce town in Australia, Woolloomooloo is the perfect spot for coffee drinkers to get their java fix. The beans are sourced from Down Under roaster Toby’s Estate and they go into serious espresso drinks, including of course, a classic Aussie flat white. It’s also just a few blocks away from sites such as Sun-Yat Sen’s Memorial Hall and Taipei City Hall, so build in some time to take a nice cultural stroll.
8.30am: Traditional Breakfast
Brace yourself for a wait because there always is one at Fuhang Doujiang. The beloved breakfast-only spot has lines that snake out from the second floor food court all the way down to the street and around the block. That’s just how good their traditional breakfast of sesame-studded, egg-filled flatbreads and steamy soy milk is.
11am: Sky-High Views
Time to work off the carbs. For sprawling views of the city, you head up Taipei 101, but for the best view of Taipei 101 itself, you hike Xiangshan, or Elephant Mountain. There’s a path that leads straight up to a peak with plenty of panoramic views. It’s a little steep, but the photo op is totally worth the sore calves.
1pm: Next-Level Soup Dumplings
Give your legs a rest and refuel with dumplings and noodles at Din Tai Fung. There’s a location within walking distance on the ground floor of Taipei 101. Yes, it’s a chain, but it originates in Taiwan, and is truly heavenly. Insider tip: the thin-skinned pork and crab roe xiaolongbao are exquisite.
2.30pm: I Scream for Ice Cream
Wrap up your trip with a final walk down Yong Kang Street (home to yesterday’s soul-warming beef noodle soup). There are lots of darling cafes and food stalls, but the goal is dessert. Depending on what mood you’re in, head to Smoothie House for shaved ice or piled high with fruit and even pudding, or creamy gelato in interesting flavors like hojicha and rose.