So much to do in the (Family) Friendly City
Some of the headline attractions in Taiwan’s capital also come with big price tags – such as the Taipei 101 observation deck at NT$600 adults (that’s US$20) / NT$540 for big kids, the National Palace Museum (NT$350), or the nightly TaipeiEYE performing arts theater (NT$550). The Taipei Fun Pass is worth considering if you’re intending to visit all the main paid attractions. But Taipei also offers days and days’ worth of outings that cost little to nothing at all, once you’ve covered transportation to get there.
With the extensive MRT system and EasyCard in your pocket, virtually the entire city is accessible within an hour of almost any hotel. The convenience of being able to do out-and-back trips from a home base makes it easy to explore a different neighborhood each day of your trip, or even break up your day into morning/lunch – afternoon nap & recharge – evening/dinner (good not only for dealing with jetlag but also heat & humidity if you’re in the city during the warm months).
This link-list of free or low-cost attractions is organized roughly by neighborhood: especially in the downtown core there are several metro stations within walking distance of many attractions:
Downtown Taipei – South (Da’an and Wanhua districts)
Longshan Temple – Station BL10 (of the same name) on the Blue Line, then 2 blocks north – is an historic and still-working Buddist and Taoist temple. The architecture and artwork inside is bold and instructive of the pre-war period. Directly across Guangzhou Street is nicely-sized Bangka Park with its giant Zodiac tile installation, and the Guangzhou Street Night Market begins immediately to the west.
Taipei Botanical Garden – Xiaonanmen Station G11 on the Green Line (2 blocks south) - is both a serious research center and also a relaxing place to walk among exotic tropical flowers in a park-like setting.
National Taiwan Museum – at NTU Hospital station (R09) and immediately west, or about 3 blocks south of Taipei Main Station (BL12 or R10) – costing a very reasonable NT$30, this classical museum has exhibits on Taiwan’s plants and animals, as well as its native peoples.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall – at Station R08 (Red Line) or G10 (Green Line) - while the historical exhibits in the main exhibition halls might be a bit dry for kids, the gardens surrounding the square are extensive, and the architecture is dramatic.
Yongkang Street – at the Dongmen Station (R07 / O06); 2 blocks east and then stretching southward – is the most-famous “food street” in the city, with the flagship of steamed-dumpling king Din Tai Fung on its north end. There are dozens and dozens of restaurants and cafes along the street, and the traffic they generate has also pulled in giftshops, clothing boutiques, and other stores for finding souvenirs.
The Shida Night Market (north about 3 blocks from the Taipower Building Station G08 station, or about half a kilometer south of the Yongkang Street eateries) sets up along a roadside park next to Shida University and is oriented toward college students, featuring seasonal fashions, open-air entertainment and music, and creative / craft items.
Da’an Forest Park – at the Da’an Park Station (R06) – is nearly a kilometer long and half a kilometer wide, with ponds, glens, and thick stands of trees. For an easy, relaxing pace and chance to get out of the built city and back to nature, this is a convenient spot to recharge.
Jian Guo Weekend Flower Market – one block east of Da’an Park station – is another fun way to connect with nature during your trip. All sorts of live plants and cut flowers are on display, farmers’ market-style.
Downtown Taipei – North (Zhongzheng and Zhongshan districts)
Maji Square (Yuanshan Station R14) is on the southeast corner of the Taipei EXPO complex of convention halls but also big open parkland. The Square is a big food court but there are also places for kids to run around and play. There is a Sunday farmers’ market held here, and just east across the highway is the Fine Arts Park. (The Taipei Fine Arts Museum is inside but is under renovation.) From there, you can take pedestrian trails another 500 meters to a larger park complex (Xinsheng Park) that includes a garden maze.
Just east of Taipei Central Station (Shandao Temple Station BL13, then north 1 block and east 2 blocks) is a broad prairie park called Central Art Park which has sculptures and is a favorite place for people to take their dogs to walk around.
Downtown Taipei – East (Xinyi, Songshan, and Nangang districts)
Songshan Airport (station of the same name, BR13) is both very busy through the day and also very friendly to children. It has a big observation deck right above the terminal that is free – and you don’t have to go through security! There’s also a respectable food court in the pre-security section.
One of the big-name attractions on the Blue Line is the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall (station of the same name, BL17). While there is understandably a lot of space devoted to the leader’s history and biography, there are also general art exhibits which kids may find interesting. Many travelers also comment on the hourly changing-of-the-guard military ceremonies!
The Raohe Night Market (Songshan Station G19) has a mix of traditional street foods as well as tourist-type merchandise on offer, but it also includes the Wufenpu garment / fabric wholesale market – family members interested in fashion and crafts may want to make a visit.
The last stop on the Red Line (for now) is Xiangshan Station (R02), just past the Taipei 101 complex. Just outside the station entrance and stretching south is Xiangshan Park, with trails and playground equipment. At the very far end of the park is the trailhead for Elephant Mountain. If you and your kids are physically active and want a hiking challenge for several hours, this is your place for outdoor adventure literally in the heart of the city. The reward is the stunning view over the city, literally eye-to-eye with the skycrapers.
The Shilin Night Market (one block north of Jiantan Station R15) stands on ground used for trade and warehousing for nearly 400 years, has inhabited its current building for over 100 years, and is the biggest market of its kind in the city. By day it functions as a food wholesale terminal, but by night it is a literal shopping center and ultimate food court.
The Taipei Children’s Amusement Park (Shilin Station R16 or Jiantan Station R15; take the “Taipei Children’s Amusement Park shuttle bus” from there – or it is about a 20 minute walk from Shilin Station) has a cheap NT$30 admission, and kids under 6 years old get in free. Rides are extra, but also cheap at NT$20-30 each.
The National Taiwan Science Education Center is right next to the amusement park and is a good-sized kid-friendly science museum, and it incorporates some English in its exhibit texts. Admission is NT$100 for adults, NT$70 for kids. It also has a 4-D projection theater with its own separate admission price.
The Taipei Astronomical Museum is right next to the Science Education Center and of course specializes in outer space. Admission is only NT$40 for the exhibits hall and NT$100 for the IMAX shows.
From the Dazhi station (BR14) walk 2 blocks south to the Keelung River to access the Meiti Riverside Park on the north side of the river. The Dazhi Bridge can also be crossed to get to the Yingfeng and Dajia Riverside Parks on the south side. This is where the dragonboat teams practice!
Miramar Entertainment Park (BR15 Jiannan Road station, 1 block southeast) is essentially a Western shopping mall, heavy on the movie theaters and upscale dining, but it has a quite large Ferris Wheel. For a bigger family this could get a bit spendy, however (NT$150 to ride Monday-Friday and NT$200 on weekends).
The Taipei Zoo, at the end of the Brown Line (BR01) is over 100 years old and one of the largest in East Asia. It has both indoor and outdoor exhibits, including ones on tropical rainforests, Australian animals, a bird aviary, a children’s petting zoo, and of course a panda enclosure. Admission is just NT$60, and preschoolers get in for free.
The Maokong Gondola picks up at the Zoo and travels up the mountainside to Maokong village, famous for tea-making. This would be a several-hour excursion, and with roundtrip fares at NT$240 (with NT$40 discount for using your EasyCard), it’s on the fence whether this activity should be included in this article J
And check these weninchina articles: