26 Unusual Things to Do in Taipei

Do you want to stay in a haunted hotel, try a massage done with knives or meet a fortune-telling bird – well, they’re just a few of the unusual things to do in Taipei you shouldn’t miss. It really does have something for everyone – even those who might feel the need to win a fluffy penis at some point in their life!. Check out our guide the most unique things to do in Taipei – I hope you have as much fun trying them as I did.

Things to do in taipei include visiting the famous foodie night markets

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which mean I earn a small commission if you use them to book. This does not cost you any extra.

Unusual Things to Do in Taipei

Explore the Abandoned UFO Houses

Back in the 1960s, a Finnish designer created a ski lodge that looked, basically like a UFO on legs. Called Futuro Houses, there are less than 100 of them left in the world – which is why exploring a small village of at least 10 of them that have been left abandoned really is one of the totally unique things to do in Taipei.

Taipei is home to a village of abandoned UFO Houses. Here's the story and how to get there.

And marvelling at why the people living in them seemingly just all up and left one day – even leaving things like furniture, TVs and video recorders behind is an even more unusual.

The Wanli UFO village is reached by the 1815 bus which you catch by Taipei Main Station. Check out this longer post if you want exact instructions, a fuller explanation of why they are empty, plus more pictures of this amazing abandoned village.

Book Yourself a Knife Massage

Why confine yourself to the soothing kneading of hands on your holiday, when you can book a massage which effectively sees you being tapped a few thousand time with a blunt knife.

Don’t worry, it’s way more relaxing than it sounds.

Knife massage is a traditional type of massage in Taiwan carried out with two blunt cleavers. Here;s what it feels like and where you can give it a try.

Knife Massage is a traditional art in Taiwan and there are a few places in Taipei where you can book to have it done including in City Mall which runs under Taipei station, or Light Project in Ximending.

There’s a more detailed post here if you want to find out more about the process and where to book.

Go Fire a Gun in a Bar

Guns and alcohol are not an obvious combination, but this doesn’t seem to concern the team at Bunker 1942 who have added a shooting gallery to the side of their bar!

Pick your weapon of choice from handheld pistols, machine guns or rifles and off you go.Bunker 1942 is a bar in Taipei with a shooting gallery. You can shoot rifles with a beer. It's definitely one of the more unusual things to do in Taipei

The good news is, you’re not shooting bullets, but small plastic pellets.  You pay for the number of pellets you fire.

Find Bunker 1942 at No. 24號, Lane 177, Section 1, Dunhua South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10690. They open at 6pm – but are closed on Mondays.

If you get there a bit early, this is actually a great area for wandering with lots of hipster shops and cafes.

Munch on a Betel Nut

As you wander around Taipei you’ll notice a lot of shops with neon signs outside them that look a bit like a flashing ship’s wheels. These are betel nut sellers.

A betel nut seller in Taipei. Trying betel nut is one of the unique things to do in Taipei.

Betel nut is a stimulant used around Asia to keep people energised. It’s also responsible for the splashes of bright red you’ll often notice on Taipei’s pavements as you don’t swallow the nut or the liquid that comes from it, you simply chew it to extract the juice and then spit it out. 

I tried it as a part of a food tour I booked with Taipei Eats.

Going on the tour is a good way to try betel nut as not only do you find out how to eat it properly, you also don’t have to buy an entire packet of them to see if you like it. Personally, it’s not something I ever need to try again. let’s just say, I didn’t enjoy the experience (the nut, not the tour) and thought I was going to have a heart attack! You can read the whole story here.  But some other folk on the tour loved it.

Note, it’s now illegal to spit betel nut juice into the street in Taipei so if you do go it alone, then make sure you have something to spit in. 

Sit on a Giant Lilypad

Shuangxi Park, about a 10-minute walk from Shilin metro station slightly north of Taipei, is home to beautiful gardens, a quirky zig zaggy bridge and a lake full of enormous lily pads. While they’re cool enough to see on their own, at some points in the day the park folk put out a reinforced lilypad you can sit upon. Cue lots and lots of posts on instagram! 

Giant Lilypads floating on a lake in Shuangzi Park Taipei.

Sadly, we went quite late in the day, so we just had to marvel at the size of the natural ones. But even they are pretty cool.

Stay in the ‘Haunted’ Hotel

The first time I went to Taipei it was for work and I was lucky enough to be put up for my last night in the Grand Hyatt hotel – this is where celebs, royalty and politicians stay when they are in town and I was excitedly googling all the loveliness when I saw the words ‘Taipei’s haunted hotel’…erm, say what now.

Rumour has it that the Grand Hyatt was built on land once used for a prison camp- and this past incarnation has left a few souls behind. Reviews on Trip Advisor talk about uneasy feelings, some people have even checked out in the middle of the night so spooked were they by the experience.

Sadly (well for the sake of this story if not my sleep patterns) I didn’t see anything spooky – I do admit that I slept with the nightlight on though!

If you want to channel your inner Ghostbuster, here’s where to find more info and booking details for the Grand Hyatt Taipei.

Visit the Toilet Themed restaurant

This wasn’t just on my list of fun things to do in Taipei, it was the primary reason I wanted to go.

Called Modern Toilet it’s a theme restaurant based around everything lavatorial – food comes served in toilet-shaped bowls, you drink out of specimen bottles, your ice cream is brown and poop shaped – it’s a weird travel lovers dream.

I wrote a full post about it if you want to see all the details, get a map (and find more pics!)

Ice creamed shaped like poop at Modern Toilet restaurant in Taipei

Where is the Toilet Restaurant?: The one I visited is in Ximending, a lively shopping area nicknamed Taipei’s Harajuku. Nearest metro is Ximen

Eat a Sugary Tomato on a Stick

Taipei is famed for street food, particularly in the night markets of Shilin and Raohe which are normally top of any list things to do in Taipei for foodie folk.

I’d researched list after list of what people suggested I should eat within them – but after I tried the Pepper Pork bun that people queue ages for and wasn’t keen at all – I decided to go on my own quest, finding the oddest thing at the market to eat.

There’s plenty to choose from – giant squid on sticks, stinky tofu (definitely a contender), a bitter green jelly drink called Frog’s Eggs (which I quite liked) and deep fried milk – but the winner was the below…cherry tomatoes on a stick covered in hard sugar – think of it as like a toffee tomato.

I admit I could only eat half of it before I worried for my fillings – but it was rather nice.

Eating at the night market is one of the top things to do in Taipei - we tried toffee tomatoes

Where to find Tomatoes on Sticks: I had them at Raohe Night Market which you get to via the Green Line to Shongshan station. The stall was about three-quarters of the way up the market on the left-hand walkway if walking away from the Ciyou temple.

Have Your Fortune Told by a Bird

Eating strange food isn’t the only unique thing to do in Taipei Night Markets you can also have your fortune told by a bird.

For the price of 300NTD, your little feathered guru will hop out of his cage and pick out three tarot cards that tell your future. You’ll find him almost directly opposite the famous Pepper Pork stall with huge queue right at the entrance of Raohe Night Market.

You’ll also find feathery fortune tellers around the Long San Temple MRT station.

One of the unique things to do in Taipei is have your fortune told by a bird. Two birds are in a cage with a sign saying Spirit Bird Divination

Another fun thing I did was spotting all the stall holders dogs that hang out around the markets – the king of them has to be this guy. Why walk when you can ride a cart full of stock that your mum is pulling.

Dog riding a cart at Taipei Night Market

 

Ride The 3rd Fastest Elevator in the World

One of the other unique things you can do in Taipei is whizz upwards at a rate of knots…. The elevators in Taipei 101 travel at a whopping 60.6 kilometres an hour

This was the fastest in the world until Dec 16 when the title got awarded to China’s Shanghai Tower (and that’s just about to be beaten by China’s CTF Tower) – but they are still pretty speedy – as a reference, the lifts in the world’s tallest building, The Burj Al Khalifa only travel at 23 kph.

A handy infographic in the lift tells you exactly how fast you’re going. This does make it much easier for people scared of heights (like me), you’re up there before you really think about where you’re going.

Behold the Super Big Wind Damper

The Taipei 101 skyscraper is one of the biggest attractions in Taipei – in draw and size. It’s one of must do things in Taipei and I admit, the views from its 89th floor around 380m above the city, are spectacular, but one of the most intriguing elements of it for me, is inside the building not outside – the giant gold ball called the Super Big Wind Damper.

Suspended in mid-air by eight giant steel cables this is what keeps this tall building steady during high winds or earthquakes.

If something causes the building to rock, the Super Damper starts to sway in the opposite direction counteracting the movement and keeping everything stable.

Lots of buildings have super dampers – most don’t make a big fuss about them. Taipei 101 is different – they’ve even made it the official mascot of the building! Now that is unique!

Take a moment to appreciate it’s shinyness – and how safe it’s keeping you. Prebook your Taipei 101 tickets here or if you want to jump the queue,  try a Priority Pass.

The Super Big Wind Damper at Taipei 101 keeps it safe and stable

Drink Beer With Some Cats

Beer Cat Bar near Zhongshan station is famous not just for the range of beers it sells – but because it has two super cute cats that call the place home. If you’re looking for something to do in Taipei at night – with a difference – add this to your list.

One of the residents of Beer Cat bar in Zhongshan, one of the fun things to do in Taipei

Walk in and within seconds someone small and furry will be winding around your ankles asking for attention. 

Find Beer Cat atNo. 9號, Lane 1, Section 2, Chengde Road, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103. The beer is quite pricey so don’t expect a cheap pint but it’s a nice chilled bar to hang out in.

If you’re more a dog fan – or on a budget – head to Beer Geek where three French Bulldogs will be your fluffy friends of choice for the night – and they have a super cheap happy hour.

Find them at No. 8, Yongji Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 11067.

Have Coffee with an Alpaca

It’s not in Taipei itself, but a bus and train ride away, but, if you’re looking for unusual things to do in Taipei, visiting Oia Art Cafe with it’s three resident alpacas has to be up there.

Basically, you sit at the tables enjoying your coffee, pasta, ice cream or whatever else you’d decided to order and Snow, Li Bai and the little brown one who I think was called Baby just wander about chewing anything that isn’t nailed down!

To get to Oia Cafe involves taking the train to Tamsui, then getting on a bus (the 860 is the one we took). Click here to find exact details and more photographs.

Visit the World’s Highest Starbucks

If you’re a coffee fan, you might also want to add this to your list of unusual things to do in Taipei – it’s home to the World’s Highest Starbucks.

Located on the 35th floor of Taipei 101, you can’t just wander in, however – you have to be a bit organised and phone to make an appointment at least one day before you want to visit – and they have set times when you have to arrive. This is why I didn’t get there – I couldn’t find a slot that suited everything else I had to do.

The easiest thing to do is ask at your hotel or hostel to give them a call on your behalf. The number is 02 8101 0701. 

If you do go note, you will need to wear smartish clothing (no shorts or flip flops) and there is a minimum spend per person of 200 NTD.

Soak yourself in Beitou Hot Springs

About a 30-minute metro ride north of Taipei centre is Beitou Thermal Valley – a small town in a volcanic crater that’s teaming with hot springs and all the hoo-ha that goes with them.

There’s spa hotels, a huge steaming pool of gorgeous green water to look at (but not touch) and, just as you come up the hill, a public spa that you can sit in – for as little as NTD40 (£1 or AUD$1.70).

This is where I spent my time. Called Millennium Hot Springs it consists of three pools – nicely warm, a bit hot and oh my god I’m going to faint.

If you want to add this to your list of fun, unusual things to do in Taipei, note…soaking here comes with a few rules: you must shower first, you have to immerse your whole body, not just dangle in your feet and THE most important rule is that to enter the springs you must wear proper swimwear and for women this means a full swimsuit, for men it’s cycling short style swim shorts – no speedos or boardies.

You will be refused entry – or asked to buy new bathers if yours aren’t right.

Beitou Thermal Valley is one of the top things to do in Taipei

Don’t despair if your togs don’t make the grade, you don’t need any special kit to just soak your feet in the springs in nearby Fuxing Park.

I did that and it was really cool to see everyone here catching up with the local gossip, reading the paper, there were even some people nearby practising their ballroom dancing.

Clear off your drips when you lift your feet out though or you’ll get told off by an old lady with a towel on her head. I may have learned this the hard way.

How to get to Beitou Hot Springs: Take the Red Line to Beitou and then change to the ‘sauna themed’ offshoot line to Xinbeitou. Sessions run 5.30am-7.30, 8-10, 10.30-12.30 and so on until 10pm

Looking for some other unusual Taipei ideas – why not try one of these tours?

 

Try and Win a Fluffy Penis

This is another unique thing to do in Taipei – specifically at the night markets. I have no idea why but fluffy penises were everywhere. You could win them by shooting things, by popping balloons with darts and in the little grabby hand machines.

Oh, you can also buy penis shaped waffles, hot dogs and ice pops, but I was travelling alone and while I’ll do many things solo for this blog that put me out of my comfort zone, eating a phallic ice cream with no-one to laugh with just seemed a bit sad!

If you are looking for some good ideas of things to do in Taipei alone though, check this post out – there’s a few extra ideas in that one specifically for solo travellers.

Fun Things to Do in Taipei - win, erm, interesting prizes

If fluffy male body parts aren’t on your list of things to take home from Taipei, you can find a heap of other strange things in the grabber machines in the arcades that line the night markets. You know you’ve always wanted your own piece of toast to keep forever and ever without pesky things like hunger or mould getting in the way.

You can win all sorts of unique things at the Taipei Night Markets.

Where to Win a Penis: Shilin Night Market had the most games, but they were in the arcade at Raohe too.

See the Gate with the Brilliant Name

With limited time in Taipei, the obvious tourist sights weren’t top of my must- see list, I was looking for more unique things to do, but I was really glad I found time to visit Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall – the monument erected to the former leader.

The hall itself was interesting, but the gate outside it blew me away.

Pictures don’t do justice to its scale (it’s 30 metres high and 80 metres wide and that’s only a tiny bit of it below) – and until I went there I also had no idea of its brilliant name; The Gate of Great Centrality and Perfect Uprightness. That makes me extraordinarily happy.

How to Get There. Take the green or red metro Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall: If you do walk though be very careful when you put this in google maps. I walked from my hotel only to discover after about 45 minutes strolling that there is a very similarly named lecture hall at Taipei University. Do not make this mistake – it’s annoying!

♥ If you want to find all the things on my list here, you’re going to need a good map – so why not pick up a SIM card at the airport to set you up from the get-go. I ordered mine from Klook and it was great. Here’s where to find the details ♥

Eat Noodles with Intestines

I’d always said there were two things in life I would never eat – brains and intestines. But after a trip earlier this year saw me eating brains twice in a week, I decided I might as well conquer the last hurdle too – and the famed Ay-Chung Flour Rice Noodle in Ximending gave me a chance.

These flour noodles in a thick rich sauce come with added intestines to pep things up a bit. You get your bowl and then add chilli oil or other sauces to adapt them to your tastebuds.

The stand is easy to find – look for the huge queue and a massive number of slurping people.

30TD ( £1 or AUD$1.25) bought me a small bowl and liberally dousing it with chilli oil I tucked in.

I can see why everyone raves about these noodles – they were full of flavour, super filling and very cheap. And as for intestine – it wasn’t bad, it doesn’t have a strong flavour, it’s just kind of chewy.

A bargain dinner, it also gives the chance for some brilliant people watching as you sit and watch the world go by.

Eating at Ay Chung Flour rice Noodle is one of the top things to do in Taipei

Where is it? Ay-Chung Flour Rice Noodle is at 8-1 Emei Street. Just look for the queue.

Munch on a Puppy Cake

An image of these being eaten in a cafe in Taichung, Taiwan went viral a while back and as such, they quickly made their way to Taipei too.

They are actually made of a mousse and come in a few different sizes and shapes – you can also buy cat ones! 

This realistic puppy shaped mousse cake was a big craze in Taipei

I found mine at a cafe by the One Piece restaurant, close to Bunker 1942. Look for the lit up pictures of puppies and cats outside.

Warning – putting a spoon in this is actually really traumatic. And, if you post the video of you doing so on Facebook your friends will stop talking to you for a couple of hours! 

Go See the Leaning Post Boxes

If you ever need a metaphor for modern life, these post boxes are it.

Damaged by the high winds of Typhoon Soudelor in 2015, the city was going to take them away, but, they became an Instagram sensation and so, instead of dumping them and replacing them with new, upright post boxes, they left them there and gave them a plaque!!

Two leaning mailboxes in Taipei were damaged by a typhoon. They're now one of the quirky things to see in Taipei.

You’ll find them outside a convenience store on Longjiang Road, just past where it meets Nanjing East Road.

They do still accept mail and apparently, if you post something in them it has a special stamp saying that you used the wonky post boxes. 

Stand on a Train Track

Not normally an advisable thing to do – but the train tracks in Shifen, a short day trip from Taipei isn’t a normal railway track. 

It runs right through the middle of the main street in this the tiny town.

Girl standing on train tracks in Shifen - a village near Taipei which has train tracks running down the main street. It's one of the many unusual sights in Taipei.

Most of the day the tracks are full of people sending good luck lanterns into the sky, but when the train comes, whistles blow, everyone clears out of the way until the train passes. It’s pretty cool. 

To get to Shifen, take the train from Taipei Main Station to Ruifeng, then change onto the Pingxi line. 

Check out the Village Full of Cats

Close to Shifen is Houtong Cat Village – and entire village where cats rule.

You’ll find them lounging on walls and roofs, sitting inside cafes or just watching the world go by on the pavement. 

Houtong Village near Taipei is home to hundreds of stray cats. It makes an unusual day trip from Taipei

If cats aren’t really your thing, cross to the other side of the bridge in Houtong and you’ll find the remnants of the coal trade that used to thrive here. It makes for some great photos.

Houtong Cat Village is on the same train line as Shifen, so you can do both in a day very easily.

Eat Dumplings

‘That’s not an unusual thing to do in Taipei,’ I hear you cry – ‘every blog tells you to do that.’ 

That’s right, they do – but unlike almost every other blog, I’m not going to tell you to go to Din Tai Fung to do it.

Dumplings for Kao Chi, Taipei - an alternative to Din Tai Fung

After all, while Din Tai Fung might be Taipei’s most famous place to eat dumplings, it’s also now an international chain and as such, you might even be able to eat dumplings at Din Tai Fung in your home town – however, a more unique thing to do in Taipei is to eat dumplings at the other local favourite Kao Chi.

There’s a few of these around town so, check google maps for your local offering. 

They do fantastic soup dumplings just like Din Tai Fung do, but often without the guaranteed huge queue and millions of other tourists.

Wander Down a Dark Alley

Again, not something I might suggest you do in many other cities, but, in the Zhongshan area, close to CatBeer, you’ll find that alleys hide secrets – of the street art variety.

I knew the area was famed for its murals, but I could not find them while I was wandering about – until I saw the sign spray painted on the wall above. Of course, I followed it. 

There's a growing street art scene in Taipai, particularly in the alleys around Zhongshan.

If you want to do the same, head to Hudson Coffee on Chifeng Street and poke your nose down any alleys you see. 

Try the Cake YTM

Yep, that’s right, it’s a vending machine that dispenses entire cakes! 

We spotted this while admiring the amazing LED art at Songshan Station. Sadly, we were on our way to eat all the things at the night market at the time and so buying a huge cake wasn’t massively feasible – but it looks super cool.

Taipei is full of unusual things to do - this YTM dispenses cakes at Songshan station.

It’s made by cake company Yannick and it sells a sponge cake filled with goey cream. If you’ve got a spare 699NTD, an empty stomach and a rather good metabolism, give it a try – and let me know how you got on.

And lastly, the most unusual thing to do in Taipei: Just wander enjoying how chilled it is

I went to Taipei expecting the normal sensory overload you get in a city in Asia, my overwhelming feeling of Taipei was how calm it was.

There’s not the frantic madness of mopeds and traffic you find in Vietnam or Bangkok, it’s missing the relentless bustle of people you find in Tokyo, there’s none of the hawker hassles you get in Hong Kong,

Walking down the street is positively peaceful – it’s easy to cross the road, you can see who is coming towards you, and often notice that they are working up to say Good Morning in English – I was surprised at how many people did.

I loved the city and really enjoyed the two visits I’d made to it – I can see a third in my future as there’s still do much to do. So, watch this space.

♥ Top Tip: The easiest way from the airport to town is the fast rail link – book your ticket in advance here and save.

Where I stayed in Taipei

Before my night in the Hyatt, I picked the Amba Zhongshan as it was close to a metro station and pretty much in the middle of all the things to do in Taipei that were on my list.

It was a great choice – clean, quiet and relatively inexpensive.

The hotel is surrounded by local restaurants in the backstreets behind – or, if you need an easy option after a long day of sightseeing, I recommend the food court on Nanjing West Road just a few minutes walk away!

I’d definitely chose this hotel again – or one of the other Amba properties around Taipei. They had a really nice feel.

On my second trip I stayed at the Dandy Hotel Tianjin Branch, which again, was a fantastic hotel. It had much larger rooms than the Amba and was one of the few hotels in Taipei we found that had a king sized bed which is important when I’m travelling with my partner rather than solo. 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which mean I earn a small commission if you use them to book. This does not cost you any extra.

Sharing is Caring

So are there any other unusual things in Taipei people should check out that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments.

Also, if you like this post, you can share it on social media with the buttons and pins below. Go on, you know you want to tell people all about toffee tomatoes and fluffy penis competitions!

Planning a trip to Taipei and looking for some off the beaten track ideas. Check out our guide to 26 of the most unusual things to do in Taipei. From the strangest place to sleep, a relaxing massage - with knives - and the super cute cafe that sees you having coffee with an alpaca. Click to read it now or add it to your Taipei or Taiwan boards for later. #thingstodointaipei #taipei #taiwan

 

3 Comments

  1. Dannielle

    I love posts like this! I still haven’t made it to Taipei but think I need to move it up my list after reading this.

    Reply
    1. Helen from Differentville (Post author)

      I loved it – but now need to see more of Taiwan too.

      Reply
  2. Jess

    Wow! There are so many neat things packed into this article. We’re a sucker for hot springs and delicious food. I don’t think I would be able to eat some of those foods though, particularly the one served in a toilet. Great guide!

    Reply

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