12 Free Things to Do in Taipei for Budget Travellers

12 Free Things to Do in Taipei for Budget Travellers

Experience the beauty of Taipei without burning a hole in your pocket!

Despite its towering skyscrapers, luxury hotels, and upscale shopping malls, Taipei is said to be more affordable than other popular destinations in East Asia. Whether you’re into the city’s vibrant and bustling side, or its traditional and cultural side, there’s always something for everyone going to Taipei on a budget. 

So, for those of you who want to enjoy your vacation without breaking the bank, I’ve got you. In this article, I will guide you through a list of free things to do in Taipei. That way, you can have a great time even with a shoestring budget.

Also read: 8 Budget-Friendly Airbnb Apartments in Taipei for Your Next Trip

Best free things to do in Taipei while on a budget

1. Enjoy panoramic views from the Four Beasts Hiking Trail

Four Beasts Hiking Trail

The view from Elephant Mountain | Image credit: SeanPavonePhoto via Canva Pro

When we think of Taipei, we often immediately think of Taipei 101. But we all know how much going up that skyscraper can burn a hole in our pocket. Well, if you have enough time (and are fit enough), an alternative would be hiking up Elephant Mountain for overlooking views of the downtown cityscape. It is located within a network of trails known as the Four Beasts Hiking Trail. This network also includes Thumb Mountain, Tiger Mountain, Leopard Mountain, and Lion Mountain.

At 320 metres in height, Thumb Mountain is one of the highest points in the Nangang Mountain Range. Similar to Elephant Mountain, its peak also features beautiful 360° views of the city. 

2. Roam around Da’an Forest Park

Da’an Forest Park - free things to do in taipei

Image credit: Leung Cho Pan via Canva Pro

Wander around Taipei City’s biggest public park, Da’an Forest Park. Built in 1994, the park is used by locals as a green space for various outdoor activities. It is also where the Water Resources Agency showcases the country’s water preservation efforts, in hopes of educating citizens about its importance.

With its abundance of grasslands, trees, flowers, and other plants — it is no wonder Da’an Forest Park is known as the Lungs of Taipei. Besides all that greenery, there is also a Buddha statue, a bamboo forest, an open-air theatre for art performances, and a recreational area. That said, visiting this park is an ideal choice if you’re looking for free things to do in Taipei that involve nature (minus the hiking). 

3. Witness the guard change at National Revolutionary Martys’ Shrine

National Revolutionary Martys’ Shrine

Image credit: ziggy_mars via Canva Pro

If you have a thing for historical monuments, this is for you! Built in 1969, the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine is perched on Chingshan Mountain and commands a view over the Keelung River. Wide grass fields surround the shrine, creating a serene and peaceful atmosphere. The shrine is said to be designed with architectural influence from Beijing’s Forbidden City and serves as a tribute to the brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the war.

National Revolutionary Martys’ Shrine - free things to do in taipei

Image credit: Velkiira

As you step foot into the shrine, you will see military police officers stationed at the main gate. If you stay a little longer, you will get to witness the hourly changing of guards ceremony as a symbol of honour and precision. What’s better is that it is free!

4. Travel back in time along Jiufen Old Street

Jiufen Old Street

Image credit: Leung Cho Pan via Canva Pro

One of the many free things to do in Taipei includes exploring the historic Jiufen Old Street.  As a small village nestled in the mountains, Jiufen was once a bustling gold-mining town. Today, it is renowned for its nostalgic appeal, characterised by narrow alleyways and traditional teahouses. Its charming aura and beautiful landscape offer many good photo spots, too. So, get your cameras ready and snap away!  

Jiufen Old Street - free things to do in taipei

Image credit: Paul Arps

Speaking of the teahouses, one that you shouldn’t miss is Amei Teahouse. Due to its strong Japanese architectural influence, it looks like a whimsical setting from the anime, Spirited Away. For budget-conscious travellers, feel free to admire the teahouse from outside!  

Besides this, you can wander through the market to try delicious food like taro balls and fish cakes. But, of course, these are some activities that you have to shell out money for. Also, keep in mind that Jiufen is a popular tourist spot, so the narrow alleyways can get really packed. To avoid the crowds, consider coming before 10am, which is when most of the stores open. 

Also read: 10 Destinations in Asia That Inspired (Or Were Inspired by) Studio Ghibli Movies

5. Get artsy at Huashan 1914 Creative Park

Huashan 1914 Creative Park

Image credit (L-R): Taipei Tourism Official Website; Chi-Hung Lin

Tucked away in Zhongzheng District, Huashan 1914 Creative Park is a creative space that was once an alcohol factory. This extensive park has evolved into a hub for emerging artists and creative individuals, so you will find many colourful exhibitions and eye-catching art installations here. You can also catch one of the many theatre productions, musical performances, and cultural events that take place at this multi-purpose park. That said, it is certainly a must-visit for your budget travel in Taipei! 

P.S. — There are also cafes and art markets for those willing to spend a bit. 

Also read: 15 Best Cafes in Taipei for Coffee, Brunch, Milk Tea, and More

6. Drop by the Beitou Hot Spring Museum

Another of the best free things to do in Taipei would be to visit the Beitou Hot Spring Museum. Housed within a public hot spring complex constructed during the Japanese colonial era, the museum is split into two levels. The first floor showcases the no-longer-used public bath, offering insights into hot spring history. On the second floor, you will find an observation deck, a multimedia room, a tatami-floor recreational area, as well as exhibitions on Beitou’s history and on Taiwanese Hollywood. 

Do you know that this building had fallen into severe disrepair previously? But, thankfully,  local preservationists intervened just in time to rescue this building from the brink of demolition. Today, it serves as a destination to delve into Beitou’s hot spring culture and explore its historical significance. 

7. Visit Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Image credit:  Leung Cho Pan via Canva Pro

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is a national monument and tourist attraction built in memory of Chiang Kai-shek: the former president of Taiwan. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular free things to do in Taipei! The memorial hall features a blue octagonal roof, which symbolises the number eight: traditionally conveying abundance and good fortune in Chinese culture. You will also find two sets of white stairs, each consisting of 89 steps, signifying Chiang’s age at the time of his passing. 

Feel free to walk around the main hall and museum if you want to learn about Chiang’s life and Taiwan’s history. And in case you didn’t visit the National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine, you will also be able to witness a similar guard ceremony here. 

To better assist tourists, they have a complimentary guided tour in English. However, please keep in mind that you must make a reservation on the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall website at least seven days in advance. 

8. Chill at Fulong Beach

Fulong Beach - free things to do in taipei

Image credit: Wunkai

At the estuary of the Shungxi River in New Taipei City, you’ll find Fulong Beach. Boasting a three-kilometre golden-sand shore, it is the most popular beach in Northern Taiwan

This place is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and various recreational activities. You can even try water sports like stand-up paddleboarding; there are rental services available for the equipment. But if you are visiting Taipei on a budget, you can take this chance to relax on the shores while enjoying the sunset and the crashing waves. Feel free to bring your beach essentials, like mats and umbrellas, for a cost-free outing. 

For those travelling from May to October, you might even have the chance to witness the annual Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival. Each year, locals build sand sculptures that feature a distinct theme, such as Pixar movies and ancient monuments.  

9. Explore the natural wonders of Yangmingshan National Park

Yangmingshan National Park

Crater of Qixing Mountain | Image credit: Chen Te

Yangmingshan National Park is another place to go if you’re looking for free things to do in Taipei. You read that right: Entrance to the park is completely free! It spans 11,338 hectares, so it would probably take you a day to explore the entirety of it. 

Yangmingshan National Park - free things to do in taipei

Lengshuikeng Hot Springs | Image credit: lienyuan lee

Some of the must-see attractions in the park include: Qixing Mountain, Taiwan’s tallest dormant volcano; and Lengshuikeng Hot Springs. Consider hiking up Qixing Mountain or simply admire it from afar. After all, it is a popular tourist attraction for hikers, bird watchers, photographers, and nature lovers! 

Yangmingshan winters can be very cold and wet, which offers the perfect time for a relaxing soak in the hot springs. Fun fact: Lengshuikeng translates to “cold water pit.” Nonetheless, the springs’ temperature, which is less than 40°C, is enough to keep you comfortably warm during the winter season.

Yangmingshan National Park

Image credit: lienyuan lee

Meanwhile, in springtime (typically in March and April), you will be greeted by the magnificent sight of mountains covered in a sea of pink and white cherry blossoms. The national park also holds an annual Yangmingshan Flower Festival. With more than 60 years of history, this festival puts on display cherry blossoms of different varieties, including cold cherry, Taiwan cherry, Showa cherry, and many more! 

Also read: 12 Breathtaking National Parks & Other Nature Attractions in Taiwan

10. Catch the Baosheng Cultural Festival at Dalongdong Bao’an Temple

Dalongdong Bao’an Temple - free things to do in taipei

Image credit: S.R.G – msucoo93

A world-renowned religious attraction, the Baosheng Cultural Festival of Dalongdong Bao’an Temple happens between April and June. The event also attracts a large number of people every year. So, be sure to schedule your visit accordingly if you want to witness it. 

This grand event usually occurs on the 15th day of the third lunar month. During this festival, Taiwanese Taoists gather at the temple to pray to the deity, Bao Sheng, for good health. The festival mainly features a Surname Folk Opera, a Fire Lion show, the traditional Ceremony of the Three Offerings, a Feast for the Gods ceremony, and worship ceremonies for their birthdays. It is a unique traditional god-thanking activity that perfectly blends art and culture, making it a must-visit if you’re looking for free things to do in Taipei!

11. Spend your day reading at Eslite Bookstore

Eslite Bookstore

Xinyi flagship store | Image credit: Wing1990hk

As a fellow bookworm, I would highly recommend Eslite Bookstore — a true paradise for book enthusiasts! Its first shop was established in 1989, along Dunhua South Road in Taipei’s Daan District. Back then, it focused primarily on art- and humanities-related books. Eslite was also the first to set up a 24-hour bookstore in Taiwan, attracting many night-time readers. 

With currently seven stores across Taipei City, you can get access to all the latest books from your favourite authors. One of the more popular outlets would be the flagship store located in Xinyi District. Containing nearly 200,000 titles and a million books, this outlet holds various exchange activities such as new book publications, used book auctions, performing arts, and many more! 

Another outlet to consider would be the Spectrum Sonyan store located in Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. This outlet features an enormous conference centre and a movie theatre. It even holds regular arts and crafts workshops. Besides visiting the bookstore, you can head out to the park, where you will see buskers holding mini concerts and wild geese running around.

12. Take in the sights, sounds, and smells of Taipei’s best night markets

Taipei’s best night markets - free things to do in taipei

Raohe Night Market | Image credit: fazon1 via Canva Pro

When the sun goes down, and the street lamps illuminate the city, Taipei’s streets come alive with bustling night markets. These offer an array of delicious street food such as lu rou fan, orh ah mee sua, and bubble tea. For those with an adventurous palate, consider giving stinky tofu and pig’s blood a try! Apart from the food options, most of which come at a low cost, strolling down these night markets is a great way to explore Taipei on a budget.

If you’re in the city, you won’t want to miss checking out the famous Shilin Night Market. This night market is just across from Jiantan station, so it is really convenient to get to. Besides the food, there are plenty of souvenir stores, street fashion stores, and fun carnival games to keep you entertained. 

Another night market to visit would be the Raohe Night Market in Songshan District. While smaller than Shilin, this night market is home to several food stalls recommended by the Michelin Guide. The market also offers quick massage and manicure services.

Also read: 14 Night Markets in Asia for Street Food and Neon-Lit Views

There you have it: a list of not-to-miss free things to do in Taipei. Also, if you’re into budget travel, there are plenty of other Asian destinations to explore without overspending. Check out our budget-friendly travel guides for Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur, too. 

So, go ahead and give our recommendations a try. Afterwards, feel free to let us know how much fun you had on our Facebook and Instagram pages!

Featured image credit: Huashan 1914 Creative Park | Official Website

About Author

Anthea Wong
Anthea Wong

Anthea loves adventures, so much so that she will plunge into the unimaginable depths of different cultures and traditions when she is travelling. Besides tasting different cuisines, witnessing stunning landscapes, and meeting fascinating people — she enjoys documenting her experiences, too.