10 Quirky Things to do in Taipei Alone

Clean, safe, easy to get around Taipei is a great city for solo travel but what are some of the best things to do in Taipei alone? And more importantly, what are some of the more unique things that suit a solo traveller down to the ground. Well, here’s my list of ten great ideas…

Visiting Taipei 101 is on most people's to do list , but what other fun things are there to do when travelling to Taipei alone. We have a list

I’ve been to Taipei twice now – once totally solo and once, with my partner (but still alone for half the day while I did blog research) and while I think you could do any of Taipei’s big sights like Taipei 101 or the Chaing Shek Memorial Hall alone, I’ve also found a few things to do in Taipei that particularly suit a Taipei solo trip.

And, let’s start with an odd one – after all, the whole point of this blog is that it’s full of quirky stuff – I might be trying to be useful here but I still want to surprise you.

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.

Book a Massage – With Knives

Massage is generally a pretty solitary activity and Taipei has a number of spas attached to high-end hotels in which to get your knots pummelled out (the Wellspring Spa at the Regent has won Best Hotel Spa in Taiwan more than once) but for an ‘only in Taiwan’ massage experience book yourself a knife massage.

Knife massage is a traditional Tawianese massage technique - and it's a great thing to do if you're travelling alone in Taiwan.

Well, I say knives, technically, they are blunt meat cleavers that are tapped up and down the body.

The idea is not that the motion of the knives directly relaxes the muscles, but instead that they help control the flow of energy in and out of the body to create a sense of balance.

I had two on my last trip. The picture above was taken in the mall under Taipei Main Station (near exit Y 16) which was fantastic at sorting out my stiff back from walking.

However, if you’re travelling alone in Taipei and feel a bit vulnerable lying with your eyes closed in a public place book a private appointment with Olivia at Light Project Ximending and let yourself relax in their private space. It costs 1500NTD for a 70-minute session. Book via their Facebook page.

Climb Elephant Mountain

I don’t do many hikes when I travel somewhere solo as I tend not to like to wander too far away from civilisation on my own so Elephant Mountain was great.

Elephant MounTain walk in Taipei offers one of the best views of Taipei 101. It's also a great thing to do in Taipei alone.

Not only is it just a short walk from Xiangshang train station, last stop on the red line and just by Taipei 101, it’s also very popular with locals. Even on a weekday morning, you’ll find lots of other people on the 5-600 steps that make up the climb.

However, the fact that it feels super secure is not the reason it’s made this list of what to do in Taipei alone – that’s because it’s really steep and you’re not going to be able to chat to anyone as you climb anyway.

I wasn’t quite expecting that as everything I’d read about Elephant Mountain just said it was a 15-20 minute walk – I think I must have glossed over the climbing up the near vertical stairs bit.

To add to things, those stairs are a really odd height – not quite tall enough to comfortably climb one at a time, but two at a time is cause for a coronary!

I was surprised at how tough I found it (admittedly, a knee injury means I’m not fighting fit right now). I was puffing, bright red, sweating and at one point had to have a little sit down – had I had anyone with me, I’d have died from the humiliation – especially as there were people in their 70s climbing ahead of me! Awkward.

Despite my whining, go at a cool part of day (sunset is apparently breathtaking but I went in the morning) take water, wear insect repellent, go steady and you’ll be fine – the view definitely doesn’t suck.

Visit The Moomin Cafe

There are a lot of super cute cafes that you’d be happy to wander into if you’re travelling alone in Taipei, but Moomin Cafes add a little something extra for solo travellers.

The Moomin Cafe in Taipei is a great place for those travelling alone in Taipei. If you go in for a coffee solo they'll bring a moomin to sit with you.

Based upon the book characters of the same name (which look something like a cross between a hippo and marshmallow if you’re not familiar), if you enter a Moomin Cafe alone, they’ll bring a Moomin, or one of the other characters from the book to share your table so you don’t feel alone.

Sob.

The other advantage of being alone, you can eat all of the themed desserts no sharing required!

The stack of Moomin Pancakes for two will cost your 420NTD. If you’re looking for something less likely to test your waistband, ice creams or Moomin Pudding cost from 120-200NTD

The Moomin Cafe is at 81, Section 1, Da’an Road. It’s open from 11.30 to 9.30

Have Your Hair Washed

If you watch the Taipei episode of The Layover, the series with the late Anthony Bourdain, his female friends suggest this as one of the must do things in Taipei.

Keen as that made me to try it, I hate having my hair washed. Yes, that’s right, I’ll willingly pay money to be hit with a meat cleaver, but suds, foam and someone massaging my head actually makes me cringe.

However, Rita from Take Mum Along blog (follow her on twitter at @takemomalong) has had a Taiwanese hair wash many times and told me. “You can go to any hair salon to have it done. I like the chain Showlin-salon which is all over Taipei, but honestly, if you just see a friendly stylist who speaks some English try it out.

I’ve had my hair washed in subway station underground salons, by hipster stylists and by older ladies – all excellent. Cheapest, basic package with no frills shampoo should be about 200-300 TWD. It shouldn’t ever cost more than 500TWD. That price tag usually includes some sort of treatment for perfumed oil.”

The thing that’s really interesting thing about Taiwanese hair washing though is that they wash your hair sitting up using a squirty bottle to apply the water – no bending back over one of those really uncomfortable sinks. They only use that to rinse off the suds. Why can’t all salons do that?

See Cats, Coal and Trains

Taipei is really easy to get around, and if you do get stuck someone will always try and help you, as such, taking a day trip by train or bus is totally feasible even if you’re not always the bravest solo traveller.

Three of the most popular day trips from Taipei include Jiufen, Shifen (below) and Houtong Cat Village.

Shifen is an easy day trip from Taipei and famous for floating lanterns and the train that runs through the town.

I planned to see all of these, but in the end had to pick two and so picked Shifen and Houtong for a couple of reasons.

1. Jiufen involved a bus trip and while I’m pretty sure it would have been straightfoward, I prefer travelling on trains to buses as I spend the whole journey panicking I’ll miss my stop!

2. It seemed easier to combine Shifen and Houtong than Juifen and another destination and I wanted to see as much as I could in the day.

3. Crowds annoy me and it seemed Juifen was full of them.

4. Erm – Houtong is a village full of cats…..

Admittedly, when I arrived at Shifen I had massive FOMO, The main activity there is to float huge sky lanterns up into the air – which is more fun if you have willing buddies with you.

I did like the train that runs through the town though – and I mean literally though the town. People crowd the railway tracks, lighting lanterns, taking photos, wandering from A-B then every so often lots of whistles blow, everyone clears the train tracks. The train thunders past then, two seconds later it’s like it was never there as everyone crowds back on the track again.

You can also take a 20-minute walk over to the nearby Shifen waterfall.

I, however, was too excited about my trip to Houtong Cat Village – an ex-coal mining town that is now home to a lot of, now very spoilt, stray cats – I headed straight out of town on the next train to meet the kitties.

Visiting Houtong was one of the main reason I wanted to come back to Taipei! And it didn’t disappoint.

Even all the old coal side of things was fascinating in a dystopian, pretend you’re in the Hunger Games kind of way.

Houtong Cat Village is an old mining town that's now home to a lot of stray cats. It's a great day trip from Taipei.

To visit both Shifen and Houtong, get the train from Taipei Main Station to Ruifeng, then change onto the Pingxi line which calls at both.

My advice would be to go to Shifen first, then come back to Houtong – the rationale is that there are more trains back to Taipei from Houtong than from Shifen.

If cats, coal and trains aren’t your thing – and pretty winding streets, tea houses and red glowing lanterns are, Jiufen might be a better choice for you.

Top sights include the Amei Teahouse with its bright red lanterns, the old cinema with its cutesy movie photos and the rather fabulous sausage lady with her OTT wig and sunglasses!

To get to Jiufen, take the 1062 bus from Zhongxiao Fuxin Station. They run roughly every 15 minutes and the one hour journey costs 100 NTD.

Soak in the Hot Springs

Just outside central Taipei is Beitou – a geothermal area famous for its scalding sulphur waters like that one below.

Don’t panic, I’m not suggesting you sit in that.

Instead, all around the area are toasty warm hot pools to sit in. These might be private hot pools you can hire associated with hotels in the area, but the cheapest and easiest place to soak in Beitou if you’re travelling solo is the public spa – aka Millennium Hot Springs.

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

Here it will cost you just 40NTD to soak in any of their three pools.

Go early in the morning, about 8am and your soaking buddies will be senior locals starting their day with a relaxing soak and they’ll be very keen to chat. And usually fascinated if they find out you’re travelling solo.

Just one thing to know – you have to wear the right type of swimwear to get in. For women, this means a full swimsuit (no bikinis) and for men, it means cycling short style swimwear – no boardies or speedos. These might not be that easy to get outside of Taipei but they do sell them at the hot springs if you’re stuck.

Also, bring something to tie up any long hair and make sure you have a shower before you get into the water.

To get to Millennium Hot Springs get on the red line to Beitou. Then change to the dedicated hot-springs line that takes you to Xinbeitou which is closest to the springs. Don’t forget to talk a walk up to the ‘no soaking’ springs at Beitou Thermal Valley before or after your soak

Cuddle a Kitty

If you’re feeling in need of some attention on your solo Taipei trip – but not keen on that of the human kind, checking out one of Taipei’s many cat cafes could be your answer.

I choose to visit the one that claims to be the first in Taipei.

Known as either Kitten Coffee Garden or its original name of Cafe Cats and Dogs (which is still on the sign) it’s home to two dogs (one of whom doesn’t like people that much) and about 10 cats of varying degrees of fluffiness.

There are a lot of cat cafes in Taipei - if you're feeling lonely on your solo trip to Taipei just head to one for a cuddle.
Yes, I am aware one of these is a dog!

Like most cat cafes you have to spend a minimum amount to come here but it was a pretty reasonable 140NTD. I had a 160NTD Ice Chocolate which came with a cocoa cat on the top which made me happy.

The cats also seemed happy – apparently, they are all rescued or rehomed -and, unlike some cat, and other animal cafes I’ve been to in the past, it doesn’t smell bad. The cats also choose to come to you, there’s no forced play time or anything.

Kitten Coffee Garden is one of Taipei's most popular cat cafes - and it's a great place to go if you're planning a solo Taipei trip
No, he didn’t drink any of it

Kitten Coffee Garden is a short ride on the red line to Zhisha station. You could easily combine it with a trip to Beitou or Shilin Night Market.

When you get there, come out of exit one, turn right, then right again as if you’re going back on yourself and you’ll find it less than a minute’s walk away. The official address is 129, Fuhua Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111 and it’s open from noon to 10pm.

Eat all the Food

I love travelling solo, but after a few days I like to have a chat with someone – and, as I prefer hotels to hostels, to do this I have to find folk other than where I’m staying – and my solution is normally to book myself on some kind of organised tour for a couple of hours – and they normally involve food.

On this trip I choose to do the XinYi Backstreets Food Tour with Taipei Eats – partly to meet people, but also because they give you the chance to eat Betel Nut – a natural stimulant – and that wasn’t something I’d do alone.

I also wasn’t something I needed to repeat (and that’s a story for an upcoming post) but, the rest of the tour was great.

Taking a food tour is a great idea if you're wondering what to do in Taipei alone. It gives you the chance to try a huge variety of food - and meet people.

You start off in the local market learning about native fruits and nibbling the most amazing scallion bread; we then stopped off for (deep breath) bao, betel nut, stinky tofu, noodles, dumplings, pork rice and dessert.

Yes, I was as stuffed as you would expect after that lot.

It was a great introduction to all the food – and, gave me a chance to sample things I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

I mean I like dumplings – but I don’t want to eat 12 of them by myself – but on the tour I got to try a couple of each type – and learned that Din Tai Fung (the famous Taiwanese noodle chain is not the only place the locals go – they also choose one called Kao Chi).

Search Out Some Art

Yes, you can go and hunt for street art in many cities but often it involves heading into sketchy areas that maybe you might not feel safe wandering about alone. That’s not the case in Taipei.

There's no need to wander into dodgy neighbourhoods if you're looking for street art in Taipei. One of the best displays is in busy Ximen.

The main area for street art is right in the middle of uber touristy Ximen located in the parks and alleyways around Taipei Cinema Park.

Other good areas for Taipei Street Art include Zhongshan and Treasure Hill – although I couldn’t for the life of me work out how you get into this.

But also keep your eyes peeled for art when you are travelling on the metro.

Taipei’s transit system has over 50 pieces of art hidden in and around stations – and some of them are quite incredible.

Some of my favourites included the ceiling of LED lights at Songshan Station, the 3D work at Taipei Arena, the hand chairs at Da’an station and, the flipping faces at Taipei 101.

Nibble Your Way Throug a Night Market

I left this to last because a) it’s in EVERY blog post on what to do in Taipei, but b) because while on the face of it, Night Markets should be a great thing to do when you’re alone in Taipei – after all, there’s none of that ‘table for one by the toilet’ business, no-one is trying to hurry you up to make way for that couple glaring at you in the corner, I personally don’t like it as a solo activity.

See for me, the whole point of going to a night market in Taipei is to try all the incredible food on offer – and, just like with the dumplings, I can’t do that if I’m solo.

Visiting a night market is one of the must do things in Taipei - but is it a good idea if you're travelling alone in Taipei. Depends how much you want to eat.

It doesn’t mean I’m saying don’t go to the Night Markets when you’re travelling alone in Taipei – but, if you’re a foodie like me, go very hungry and maybe wander up and down once to pick your must-eats so you don’t get too stuffed to try something that looks absolutely amazing from that last stall.

The two biggest night markets in Taipei are Rahoe and Shilin. I prefer Rahoe Market to the much bigger Shilin, partucularly when I’m on my own.

It’s smaller and with just one road up and one road down easier to navigate on that first recee. Shilin is also full of more games and sideshows which again, are more fun with others – cue FOMO again.

There are also a lot of smaller, more local night markets in Taipei – ask at your hotel for the closest.

Talking of hotels you’re probably wondering…

Where to Stay in Taipei When Travelling Alone

The first time I came I stayed in the Amba Zhongshan, which was great as the rooms were the perfect size for just me, it was on a busy road so I felt safe walking back late at night and it was close to a metro station so that walk wasn’t very long.

As I said, this trip my partner was with me so we needed a bigger room and we picked the Dandy Hotel Taijin which was just round the corner from the Amba. But if I come back solo again, I’d stay here too.

It’s spotlessly clean, the staff are always at the front desk, it’s only just off the main road so no worries about trekking down quite backstreets and there are convenience stores and restaurants nearby if you can’t face heading out too far after a day’s sightseeing.

Plus, one of the (big) rooms has a unicorn picture in it! I’m a sucker for a unicorn.

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.

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If you're planning a solo trip to Taipei what should be on your to do list? Of course it should have big sights like Taipei 101 but we've also come up with a few things to do in Taipei that are specifically suited to solo travellers. Click to read it now or save it to your Taipei, or Taiwan boards for later. #taipei #thingstodointaipei #taipeisolotravel

2 Comments

  1. Kristen

    Knife massage and hair wash is officially on my list. Wouldn’t have known either of those for this weekend with out this post! Thank you so much ❤️

    Kristen
    Kristenabroad.com

    Reply
    1. Helen from Differentville (Post author)

      Thank you. Love to hear that people are trying things because they read them here.

      Reply

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