Ancient temples right by the tallest skyscrapers, a myriad of fine dining and mouth-watering street food in your line of sight, and vibrant city life that’s filled with a rich tapestry of culture and history. Taiwan is a place where two worlds collide and here are the best spots to check out on a budget!
From the bustling streets of Taipei to the calming beauty of Sun Moon Lake, the dramatic cliffs of Taroko Gorge to the mouth-watering aromas of night market delicacies, Taiwan is a place where tradition meets modern magic. With generally great weather all year round, plus the warm hospitality of the Taiwanese, I always leave Taiwan wanting to go back again.
It’s also one of the places with extremely low crime rates, making it safe for solo female travellers or if you’re planning your first trip abroad with friends. The fairly lower flight fares, affordable attractions, and food make it a great holiday destination. So while you’re planning your next trip to Taiwan, be sure to check out YouTrip Perks before you book your flights, accommodations, and attractions to maximise your savings! And don’t forget to make use of your YouTrip card before checking out to cash in on the best rates all day without those pesky bank fees.
On a budget? Well, we’ve found some of the best things to see and do while you’re there that are either free or at extremely low prices so that you can travel without having to worry too much about breaking the bank. Let’s get into it!
10 Free Things To Do In Taiwan:
1. Taipei Zoo
Image Credits: Taiwan News
Taipei Zoo, also known as the Muzha Zoo, is one of the largest zoos in Asia with 11 different exhibitions featuring animals from different parts of the world and different climates. From animals unique to Taiwan to birds, penguins, and koalas from around the world, it’s almost as if you get to step into different parts of the world with every exhibit. The Taipei Zoo is also home to mother and daughter panda duo — Yuan Yuan and Yuan Zai — who have been popular additions to the zoo.
🕜 Opening Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM
📍 Address: No. 30號, Section 2, Xinguang Rd, Wenshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 116
🎟️ Entrance fees: NT$60 (~S$2.60)
YouTrip’s Budget Guide: Free things to do in Taiwan 2023 — For more information on the Taipei Zoo, check out its website here
2. Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Image credits: Lonely Planet
Right in the heart of Taipei, the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial stands as a symbol of the nation’s history and journey towards modernity. Chiang Kai Shek is one of the most influential leaders in Taiwan’s history and was one of the first leaders of the nation. But more than just a memorial for a person, the square itself has been an important part of the nation’s history, with people meeting for mass gatherings, and as the hub for political events and parades. Be sure to catch the change of guard parade that happens every day at 5 PM.
🕜 Opening Hours: 9 AM – 6 PM
📍 Address: 100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District
YouTrip’s Budget Guide: Free things to do in Taiwan 2023 — For more information on the memorial, check out its website here
3. Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Image credits: Ocula
Locally known as TFAM, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum was established in 1983 as Taiwan’s first museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The building itself is a work of art, designed by Taiwanese architect Kao Er-Pan, and is home to many local and international contemporary and modern art. There are permanent and temporary art exhibits that are worth checking out, and it’s fun to just wander to the modernity of the place too.
🕜 Opening Hours: 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM
📍 Address: 181, Zhongshan North Road Section 3, Taipei City 10461
🎟️ Entrance fees: NT$30 (~S$1.25)
YouTrip’s Budget Guide: Free things to do in Taiwan 2023 — For more information on TFAM, check out its website here
☁️ Cultural Activities
4. Wenshan Tea Plantation
Image credits: Eco-Cha Teas
Taiwan is known for its high-quality tea leaves and tea culture too! One of the best ways to get a taste of Taiwan is through tea tasting and trying out the different types of leaves from different plantations. The Wenshan Tea Plantation is a picturesque tea plantation, known for its beautiful terraced fields, and for the Baozhong and Dong Fang Mei Ren (Oriental Beauty) teas. There are many tea houses and shops that allow you to try out a variety of teas, and to appreciate the way it’s prepared and served. There are also occasional tea festivals to check out, with tea ceremonies and cultural performances that tell of the long and rich history of tea culture in Taiwan.
🕜 Opening Hours: Varies between shops
📍 Address: Wenshan District, Taipei
YouTrip’s Budget Guide: Free things to do in Taiwan 2023 — For more information on the tea plantation, check out its website here
5. Beitou Hot Springs
Image credits: WarmCheapTrips
Nestled within the city of Taipei, Beitou is a district that has long been known for its hot springs that provide a therapeutic respite from the busyness of the city. The mineral-rich waters are naturally heated by the Tatun Volcanoes, and the springs are made up of different compositions of elements like sulfur springs, carbonate springs, and radium springs, each known to have different healing properties.
While you’re there, be sure to check out the Xinbeitou Historic area which preserves a slice of Beitou’s history with well-preserved Japanese wooden buildings, which are where the museum and library lie. Depending on how long you want to stay, there are bathhouses and resorts for longer stays, and also free thermal foot spas around if you’re just intending to dip your toes into the warm waters that will bring comfort to your soul.
🕜 Beitou Hot Spring Museum Opening Hours: 10 AM – 6 PM (Closed on Mondays)
📍 Address: No. 2, Zhongshan Rd, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112
YouTrip’s Budget Guide: Free things to do in Taiwan 2023 — For more information on the springs, check out its website here
6. Cijin Island
Image credits: Kaohsiung Travel Website
Located off the coast of Kaohsiung in the southern part of Taiwan, Qijin or Cijin Island makes for a great day-trip destination. The island is accessible by ferry from the Gushan Ferry Pier in Kaohsiung and spans about eight kilometres in total. Besides the long sandy beach, there are attractions like Fort Cihou, a military installation built back during the Qing Dynasty, and the Chijin Shell Museum which has an extensive collection of seashells and marine life specimens.
There’s also lots to see, taste, and experience as the island is known for some of the freshest oysters and its street food. You can opt to travel around on foot or rent a bike to get around and explore the island. At the right time, there are also several festivals like the Cijin Sea Goddess Festival that feature exciting parades, traditional performances, and different ceremonies to celebrate the event. Ferries depart every 10 minutes from the pier, making it extremely accessible at a low cost.
🕜 Ferry Opening Hours: 5 AM – 2 AM
📍 Gushan Ferry Pier Station Address: No. 579號, Zhongzhou 3rd Rd, Qijin District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan 805
🎟️ Ferry Fees: NT$30 (~S$1.30)
YouTrip’s Budget Guide: Free things to do in Taiwan 2023 — For more information on Cijin Island, check out its website here
7. Lugang Town
Image credits: Spiritual Travels
With a history dating back almost 300 years, Lugang Town is one of Taiwan’s oldest towns. Known for its history, well-preserved Fujianese-style architecture, and cultural heritage, the town is one of the best places to visit if you want to immersively learn more about Taiwan’s cultural roots. There are plenty of temples that you can visit, with the most popular temple being the Tianhou Temple that’s dedicated to Mazu, the goddess of the sea.
There is the Lugang Old Street that is lined with shops that sell traditional snacks and handicrafts, perfect for a little souvenir to take home. Throughout the year, there are different cultural events like the Lugang Mazu Cultural Festival and the Ghost Festival that include exciting celebrations that really highlight some of the traditions and ways of life of Taiwanese that have been preserved and celebrated through the years and all its changes.
🕜 Longshan Temple Operating Hours: 6 AM – 9:45 PM
📍 Address: No. 32號, Guangming Road, Lukang Township, Changhua County, Taiwan 505
YouTrip’s Budget Guide: Free things to do in Taiwan 2023 — For more information on Lugang Town, check out its website here
8. Elephant Mountain
Image credits: John Ellis Photography
Elephant Mountain or Xiangshan, is one of Taipei’s most popular hiking destinations right in the heart of Taipei. It’s a relatively short and manageable hike that offers breathtaking views of Taipei’s skyline which makes the hike all the more worthwhile. It does involve stairs and can be quite steep, but it’s good for most levels of fitness and can be completed between 20 to 30 minutes at a leisurely pace.
For the best views, it’s best to go during the sunrise or sunset to watch the beautiful skyline in its entirety against the backdrop of the rising or setting sun. Elephant Mountain is pretty close to Taipei’s Xinyi District like the Taipei 101, Taipei World Trade Centre, and the Xinyi Shopping District, so there’s plenty to do in the area!
🕜 Opening Hours: 24 hours
📍 Address: 110024, 4F, No.1, City Hall Rd., Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan
YouTrip’s Budget Guide: Free things to do in Taiwan 2023 — For more information on Elephant Mountain, check out its website here
9. Taroko National Park
Image credits: BucketListly Blog
Taroko National Park, also known as the Marble Gorge or Grand Canyon of Taiwan, is a beautiful national park located in Hualien, the eastern coast of Taiwan. There are different landscapes to admire, from the majestic marble canyons carved over millions of years by the Liwu River to the Taroko Gorge and lush forests, every corner makes for a photo-worthy moment. It’s a great way to enjoy the nature of Taiwan and for a refreshing walk through the tranquil sanctuary.
Depending on the time of the year that you visit the park, the landscapes transform from bright, pink cherry blossoms in spring to orangey hues in autumn. It’s definitely one of the must-see places especially if you love nature and all that it has to offer.
🕜 Taroko Visitor Centre Opening Hours: 8:30 AM – 5 PM
📍 Address: No. 291, Fushi, Xiulin Township, Hualien County, Taiwan 972
YouTrip’s Budget Guide: Free things to do in Taiwan 2023 — For more information on Taroko National Park, check out its website here
Image credits: Royist
What better way to get to know a country than by partaking in its festivities and celebrations? There are plenty of festivals and celebrations all year round in Taiwan that celebrate and feature the traditions and beliefs of the Taiwanese. There are more culturally significant festivals like the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, Dragon Boat Festival, and even the Qixi Festival (Chinese Valentine’s Day) that give you a glimpse into years and years of traditions and folktales, as well as more light-hearted events that are just fun to see and be a part of like the Biennial Butterfly Beauty Festival and the Taiwan International Balloon Festival.
Some of the festivals that are more unique to Taiwan’s history and culture are the Jinshan Fire Fishing Festival which pays tribute to the dying art of fire fishing, and the iconic Lantern Festival in the Pingxi District with thousands of lanterns released into the sky at once. There are so many culturally rich festivals and activities that Taiwan invites you to be a part of, so be sure to check them out when you’re in town!
YouTrip’s Budget Guide: Free things to do in Taiwan 2023 — For more information on festivals in Taiwan, check out the schedule here
Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow
There’s so much to experience, see, and taste on a budget in Taiwan, so what are you waiting for? It’s time to book your next adventure and explore all that Taiwan has to offer! If you’re looking for other similar guides, check out our guides on free things to do in Japan and Barcelona! Taiwan’s also giving out stored-value cards and accommodation vouchers to visitors, so be sure to see if you’re eligible to maximise your savings.
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