Below are some of the more popular things you can do in and around Taipei, but most of these things can also be done in the other cities like Taichung, Kaohsiung and Tainan.
Taipei is in a basin and so it’s surrounded by mountains. If you like hiking then you’ll love living in Taipei because there are a large number of great hiking trails. Yangminshan is the tallest mountain in the area and it is a really nice hike that takes about two hours up and about 1.5 hours down.
I’ve hiked it several times and the views can be stunning if you go on a clear day. At Yangminshan you’ll also get to see some interesting things like the sulfur deposits, which billow up from the rocks (just make sure to hold your nose as you walk by!).
Another very popular hike is Elephant Mountain (you can see the view from the mountain in this post). Elephant mountain itself is a short (but steep) hike that only takes 15-20 minutes, but once you get to the top there are other trails that can be done in about 1-2 hours. The view on top of Elephant Mountain at sunset is spectacular and it’s not to be missed.
There are dozens of other great hiking trails all over the city and surrounding area, so you will always have access to new hikes to try out.
Biking is another very popular outdoor activity in Taiwan and the great news is that there are lots of good places to go biking. If you aren’t scared of biking on the streets, then going for rides on mountain roads is a great way to get some exercise and see some really pretty parts of Taiwan (note: biking on streets is popular, but just like driving a scooter it can be a little risky).
Taipei also has many excellent bike paths that line the rivers that run through the city. I’ve done most of my biking on the river paths and highly recommend it. What’s great about the river paths is that there are many bike rental stations set up in various spots around the city, so it’s easy to rent a bike for an afternoon and go for a ride on the river.
Taipei City also has a fantastic bike rental service called Youbike (see main picture of this post for Youbikes). Youbike has many stations around the city that house public bikes. Basically, all you need to do is scan your Easy Card (same card as used on the MRT) to unlock a bike and then you can ride it around and return it to any Youbike station. Over the last few years the service has become extremely popular and the government has expanded the number of locations so that they are all over the city.
As I’ve mentioned before, eating in Taiwan is as much an activity as it is a meal. There are so many great kinds of cuisines to try and if you like Asian food you’ll definitely love the variety that can be found here.
I’ve covered night markets before and they are a fantastic way to try out various Taiwanese dishes. Hot pot restaurants are fun to go to in the colder months. At hot pot restaurants you get a big bowl of soup in a simmering pot along with a variety of uncooked meats and vegetables and you throw the food in and cook it in the pot. Teppenyaki is actually from Japan, but it’s very popular here and one of my favorite kinds of food in Taiwan.
There are also great barbecue places, dim sum restaurants, and many other kinds of cuisines.
I have to defer to my wife on this one as I don’t shop much, but Taipei has many great places to shop, especially if you are a girl. In the Zhonxiao Dunhua area there are tons of small clothing shops with a variety of styles. You can get everything from name brand stuff to funky clothing in this area and the prices range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars (USD) depending on the shop.
Night markets are also great shopping areas and you can go to places like the Shilin night market and Shida night market (near Taipower MRT stop) to check out many different kinds of clothes and shoes. One place not to be missed is the famed Wufenpu garment market. Wufenpu has hundreds of small stalls and stores hawking the latest fashion from all over Asia and is definitely worth a visit just to check out even if you aren’t interested in shopping.
I’ve written about the nightlife before, but I’ll say it again – Taipei has a great nightlife. Whether you are looking for bars, clubs, music, and even things like comedy shows, chances are you’ll be able to find the kinds of activities you want to do.
If you are a late night person then you will definitely love living in Taipei because you can easily stay out until 3 or 4am (or even later at some bars/clubs).
If alcohol isn’t your thing then there are a lot of other options like movie theaters with the latest movies from around the world (Taipei has numerous 3D and even a couple iMax theaters), nightmarkets, eating at restaurants, bowling, pool, and more.