Explore my city guest blogger Nick Kembel from Spiritual Travels
We welcome to the blog this week Globetrotting Dad Nick who shares with us his insider tips for exploring his home city of Taipei with kids.
Welcome to Taipei, one of the most kid-friendly cities in Asia! Even with only one day in Taipei, it’s possible to get a good taste of Taiwan’s lively, traditional-meets-modern capital city.
My kids Sage (4) and Lavender (3) were both born in Taipei, where we still live today. I first came to Taipei 10 years ago, and met my wife Emily (on the Taipei MRT!) my first year here. We spend most of our weekends exploring the best kid-friendly attractions in Taipei and traveling around Taiwan with our kids.
Wondering what makes Taipei so suitable for families? For starters, Taiwan is one of the safest countries in the world. Forget about bartering and scams; prices are mostly set in Taiwan, and nobody will ever rip you off.
Second, Taipei’s transportation system is world-class. The MRT connects every corner of the city. Trains are sparkling clean, come every few minutes, and passengers always give up their seats for parents of young children. Speaking of that, Taiwanese people are famously polite and hospitable, especially to families with children.
Finally, the city’s got some great things to do with kids, which I’ll introduce below. I think that planning the perfect 24 hours with kids in Taipei depends on when you are coming and how old your kids are. That’s why I’m going to give you several options to choose from for your perfect day in Taipei!
If you’ve got more time in Taipei, you can also check out my itinerary for three days in Taipei!
Famous Places: CKS, Ximen and Taipei 101
If your main goal is to cover Taipei’s most famous attractions in a day, then I would suggest these three with kids. Start at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, a large hall and square honoring the former dictator. It’s a good spot for family-in-Taipei shots, and kids should be impressed with the sheer size of the Hall, as well as the classical Chinese-style National Theater and National Concert Hall on site.
For lunch, hop on the MRT to nearby Ximen, the “Harajuku” of Taipei. This colorful neighborhood is a hangout and shopping spot for local teens. Make your kids laugh by dining on poop-shaped foods at Modern Toilet Restaurant. If that’s too weird for you, then your kids may also enjoy eating sushi from a driving choo-choo train at the first conveyor belt sushi shop in Taipei.
In the afternoon, head to Taipei 101, once the world’s tallest building. The elevators from the 5th floor entrance up to the 89th floor observation deck are (still) the fastest in the world! Our kids loved visiting the 360-degree observation deck, spotting famous buildings in the city and the large H helicopter landing pads on tops of buildings. Also, don’t miss the 730-ton stabilizing ball hanging in the middle, which keeps the building from falling during earthquakes!
Animals & Nature: Taipei Zoo and Maokong Gondola
The Taipei Zoo is at last stop on the driverless brown MRT line (sit at the front to look out the window!) The first thing we always do at the zoo is grab an English map of all the animals from the info desk just inside the entrance, then go straight to see the panda couple and their famous cub, Yuan Zai.
Usually, when you enter the zoo, they give you a ticket with a designated time to visit the pandas, to manage crowds. Next, we hop on the mini-train beside the panda building, taking us to the top of the zoo, from where we work our way back down. For specifically Taiwanese animals, go right just after entering the zoo, instead of left for the pandas and train.
A few hundred meters from the Taipei Zoo entrance and MRT, you’ll find the Maokong Gondola, which takes you up into the hills above Taipei, where oolong tea is grown. If your kids are brave enough, make sure to get in the line for the “crystal cabins,” which are glass-floored. The exhilarating ride offers fine views, including Taipei 101 in the distance.
If you’ve got the energy, the second last stop, Zhinan Temple, is worth getting off for a look. At the final stop, Maokong station, there is a convenience store and collection of food stalls (great for a simple lunch). There are also some teashops where you can try locally grown tea or delicious oolong tea-flavored soft serve ice cream.
Most locals come up here to drink tea in the many teashops spread out in the area. Many offer views over tea fields, but beware that drinking tea is meant to be a long, drawn out (and kind of expensive) group affair, as you often need to buy a whole pack of tea. We usually just go for the ice cream!
If your kids are old enough (or you can put them in a carrier as I’ve done), there are some fairly easy hiking trails in the area. A great one is the 1-hour return hike to Silver Stream Cave and Waterfall, but it can be a little tricky to find.
Taipei in Winter: Beitou Hot Spring and Danshui
Winters in Taipei can be damp, chilly, and often drizzling rain, especially January and February. Usually, for us, November to March is the season of hot springs. I look forward to this every year, and the Beitou thermal area is possibly our favorite place to go in Taipei.
Our kids get excited before we even arrive, as we take the one stop pink MRT line, which crawls slowly uphill from Beitou to Xinbeitou station at the base of Yangming Mountain, a dormant volcano.
Directly across from the MRT exit, the kids love running along the boardwalks and paths of Hot Spring Park, with a hot creek flowing through it. About 10 minutes up, you’ll reach Millennium Hot Spring, the public outdoor spring. With kids, we prefer getting out own private tub in one of the many spa hotels on either side of the park.
You do pay for the convenience of enjoying a hot spring right in Taipei City, though. Private rooms here are NT1000-1500 for 90 minutes, but you get your own tub and room, which is great because you can relax while the kids play as they wish without disturbing anyone. Kyoto Hot Spring Hotel is a decent cheaper option (approx. 700) further up a small road from the park.
You also can’t miss Hell Valley, the huge steaming source of the hot springs in the area. Entrance is free (closed Mondays). I had my kids convinced we were in dinosaur territory.
After visiting Beitou thermal area, you can return to Beitou MRT station and head north on the MRT to the terminal stop, Danshui. This is where the Danshui river meets the sea, and there is a long riverside promenade with food stalls, shops, and children’s games. You can also catch a river ferry to Fisherman’s Wharf, where our kids love running around on the boardwalks by the sea. It’s also known for its gorgeous sunsets.
Final Thoughts on Taipei with Kids
Well, I hope I’ve inspired you to add Taipei to your list of great places to travel with kids! Taipei is home for us, and while the above are some of our favorites, we still never run out of new places to explore. Come find out why so many parents speak so highly after they visit Taipei and Taiwan with kids!
Also see here for more ideas on things to do in Taipei with kids!
About the Blogger
Nick Kembel is the author of Taiwan in the Eyes of a Foreigner and creator of Spiritual Travels, a site focused on mindful travel and destinations in East Asia.
You can follow along with Nick and his family adventures here:
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