▎  Exploring Taipei’s Hidden Gems: 12 Unique Locations with Stories to Tell

Grand Hotel’s Secret Passageways No. 1, Zhongshan North Road Section 4 

At a time when public singing and dancing were banned in Taiwan, the Grand Hotel stood out as one of the few places where nighttime revelry was allowed. Shrouded in the threat of war with Communist China, the hotel constructed secret passages running east and west to provide for emergency escape routes and ensure the safety of President Chiang Kai-shek and his esteemed guests.


Taiwanese People’s Party Headquarters : No. 45, Tianshui Road, Datong District 

Despite its seemingly ordinary appearance, 45 Tianshui Road is historically significant as the site of the former headquarters of the Taiwanese People’s Party—the first political party formed by Taiwanese people. Though the building has been demolished, standing on the spot invokes activist Chiang Wei-shui’s memorable phrase: “Compatriots must unite; true strength lies in unity.”


Yin Hai-kuang Residence : No. 1-1, Alley 16, Lane 18, Wenzhou Street, Da'an District

In the quiet and winding Alley 16 off Wenzhou Street stands the former home of philosopher Yin Hai-kuang, an advocate of liberalism. Despite being placed under lifelong surveillance for writing dissenting articles and advocating for the creation of an opposition party, Yin continued writing until his death in 1969.


Freedom Lane : Alley 3, Lane 106, Section 3, Minquan East Road, Songshan District 

Cheng “Nylon” Nan-jung played a crucial role in Taiwan’s pro-democracy movement. This narrow alley was on his daily route to his magazine offices. Today, the Nylon Cheng Liberty Foundation is located on the third floor at No. 11, where it preserves the appearance of the editorial office where he set himself on fire when heavily armed police moved to arrest him.


Changqing Temple & Banyan Tree : No. 34, Jinjiang Street, Zhongzheng District 

In an alley off Jinjiang Street stands Changqing Temple, a temple dedicated to the Earth God. Behind the temple stands an ancient banyan tree believed to be over 250 years old and with a circumference of over 10 m. This location was also the heart of the historical Guting Village.


Beitou Children’s Amusement Park : No. 2, Zhongshan Road, Beitou District 

When winter arrives, Beitou becomes the destination of choice for Taipei residents seeking respite from the cold. Beitou Children’s Amusement Park is a facility attached to the former public baths built in the Japanese colonial era.


Hexing Coal Mine : Lane 471, Alley 150, Xinyi Road Section 5, Xinyi District 

The term “coal mine” might evoke images of secluded villages in old movies, with mountain roads and rail cars shrouded in perpetual mist. It’s hard to imagine that the bustling Xinyi District contains Hexing Coal Mine, from the late Japanese colonial period. Despite its small scale, the mine gives a glimpse into the past prosperity of the mining industry in Taiwan.


Wufen Shangxi Mural : Opposite Lane 61, Kang Le Street, Neihu District

The next time you pass the natural boundary formed by Neigou Creek where Neihu meets Xizhi, take a look at the transformed natural environment, with its greenery, insect sounds, and bird calls. The riverside also features a cultural landmark: the Wufen Shangxi Mural.


Nangang Tea Exhibition Center : No. 336, Section 2, Jiuzhuang Street, Nangang District

On one side of the Dakeng River lies Jiuzhuang, on the other Xizhi. During the Qing Dynasty, Jiuzhuang attracted many Anxi tea farmers from China. Meanwhile, the area around Nangang Luoliao, surrounded by mist and clouds, was also the birthplace of Taiwan’s Baozhong tea. A faint aroma floats through the tea gardens, in this place that once played a crucial role in Taiwan’s tea, mining, and osmanthus industries.


Stargazing Rooftop Garden, Taipei Performing Arts Center : No. 1, Jiandao Road, Shilin District 

CNN called the Taipei Performing Arts Center the most innovative architecture of the year, the Guardian praised it as the best architecture of the year, and Time Magazine mentioned it when listing Taipei as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Places.  In addition to the performance space, the rooftop gardens are worth a visit.


Dah Hsian Seetoo Library, National Chengchi University : No. 36, Wanshou Road, Wenshan District 

Search “Taiwan’s most beautiful library” on Instagram, and you’ll likely find recommendations for the Dah Hsian Seetoo Library at National Chengchi University in Wenshan District. Looking up at the towering atrium or gazing down from the top floor, one can admire the spectacular and beautiful layers of bookshelves spanning seven floors.



Nishi Honganji Temple Square : No. 174-1, Section 1, Zhonghua Road, Wanhua District 

Nishi Honganji Temple Square is a place for relaxation and tourism, featuring a Japanese-style bell tower that’s great for taking photos and the former abbot residence where you can enjoy traditional Japanese sweets. Once upon a time, 341 households lived in this square, crowded in hundreds of corrugated-iron and wooden shacks.


Beitou Zhongxin New Village (main road to hot spring bathhouse) No. 9, Lane 22, Xinmin Road, Beitou District, Taipei City

Up the hill from Xinbeitou metro station, away from the bustling Beitou Hot Spring District, is a tranquil area filled with greenery and buildings—Beitou Zhongxin New Village, which is Taiwan’s only military dependents’ village with hot springs. The main road leads to the most distinctive hot spring bathhouse in the village.


Shuicheliao Trailadjacent to No. 29-1, Zhuzihu Road, Beitou District, Taipei City

Rice was cultivated in Zhuzihu in its early days, and during the Qing Dynasty what would later become the Shuicheliao Trail was a path used by locals to transport rice. After irrigation canals were dug, a farming village was established here. During the Japanese colonial period, the government decided to use this area to cultivate a new type of rice preferred by the Japanese, which was later named “Penglai rice”.


Sanjiaodu Ferry Terminaladjacent to the levee at No. 145, Lane 2, Chengde Road Section 4, Shilin District, Taipei City

Formerly a ferry terminal for crossing the river to connect three locations (hence the name sanjiaodu, meaning three-way ferrying), it also served as a transportation hub connecting villages and providing a harbor for the boats local residents needed to make a living. However, after the first engineering works to straighten the Keelung River in 1965, use of the terminal gradually declined and the structure disappeared. Nevertheless, local fishermen still refer to this place as Sanjiaodu.


Abode of Maya (Chang Dai-chen Residence)No. 2, Lane 342, Zhishan Road Section 2, Shilin District, Taipei City

At the home of famous Taiwanese painter Chang Dai-chien, visitors can browse through stories of the last five years of his life. In line with Chang’s wishes, after his passing this picturesque location was donated to the country and is currently managed by the National Palace Museum.

Bazhilan Fanzi WellNos 72–74, Lane 14, Zhongshan North Road Section 7, Shilin District, Taipei City

This old well, which still produces abundant water today, had already been built when Fujianese immigrants arrived here in the early 18th century. The well has a history of over three hundred years. Because the Han Chinese knew that it had been built by indigenous people, they referred to it as Fanzijing (“barbarian well”, coming from a derogatory term used for indigenous people at that time).


Zhishan Shrine Site (Yunong Exhibition Hall)No. 159, Yusheng Street, Shilin District, Taipei City

Although the Japanese colonial era Zhishan Shrine no longer exists, the 120-step staircase remains. On the site of the former shrine the Yunong Library now stands. The library was built by the post-war government in commemoration of Dai Li, courtesy name “Yunong”, who was a key figure in setting up R.O.C. intelligence units and a trusted confidant of President Chiang Kai-shek during the Second Sino-Japanese War.


Taisho Town Art Festival Muraladjacent to No. 102, Linsen North Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City

Crossing a busy junction on Civic Boulevard into alleys that were planned during the Japanese colonial era. The hit drama series “Light the Night” is set in the 1980s, a time of economic resurgence in Japan, when many Japanese businesses were setting up companies in Taipei. The Hikari Hotel scenes in the series were filmed at the entrance of the Sugar Bar located in the alleys of Linsen North Road.


Jiantan Mountain (Yuanshan Water Shrine)adjacent to No. 82-1, Zhongshan North Road Section 5, Shilin District, Taipei City

Next to the bustling Shilin Night Market lies a hidden gem, the entrance to the Yuanshan Water Shrine hiking trail. The entrance is hidden away in the Taipei Water Department Yangming Branch Office car park. It’s only five minutes’ walk to see the old water facilities built during the Japanese colonial period, before going on to the Yuanshan Water Shrine.


Taiwan Presbyterian Church Dadaocheng ChurchNo. 40, Ganzhou Street, Datong District, Taipei City

Located on Ganzhou Street, this church was built entirely using funds donated by tea magnate Li Chunsheng during the Japanese colonial period. For devout, wealthy connoisseur Li Chunsheng, full devotion meant using the best building materials and the most beautiful designs. In May 2002, then Director-General of the Department of Cultural Affairs Lung Ying-tai and others intervened to prevent the church from being demolished. It was decided to relocate and restore the building.


Jiahe New Village (Mayday Wall)No. 1, Lane 131, Yongchun Street, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City

In the bustling Shida shopping district, follow the directions to the riverbank, passing through the bustling Tingzhou Road and arriving at Yongchun Street behind the Tingzhou Branch of Tri-Service General Hospital. This street contains a hidden gem: Jiahe New Village. The red gates, brick walls, and old trees in the alleyways have drawn numerous music video, film, and television productions, such as Mayday’s “People Life, Ocean Wild” and the dramas “They Kiss Again”, and “The Way We Were”. The so-called Mayday Wall (a mural depicting the members of the band Mayday) in particular has become a prominent photo spot.


General Sun Li-jen ResidenceNo. 136, Nanchang Street Section 1, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City

During the Japanese colonial period, this was the official residence of high-ranking colonial officials and was sometimes used to host foreign guests. After the Second World War, this mansion became the residence of the Chief of the Army General Staff. The first general to reside here was the renowned General Sun Li-jen, who was later stripped of his military powers by the president. This residence was subsequently transformed into the Army Officers’ Club, and following democratization it was opened to the public in the 1990s.


Rishan (Air Raid Shelter) ParkNo. 65, Dongyuan Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City

This park represents a compressed history of the local area. During the war from 1944 to 1945, there were approximately 15,903 aircraft sorties and around 120,000 bombs dropped during air raids. In the early stages of post-war Taiwan, aircraft were relocated to the Taipei Technical Institute. The park retains the stone walls from the Japanese colonial period and the remnants of air raid shelters from the Second World War, serving as a reminder of the air raids and underlining the value of these historical relics.


Qingyun BuildingNo. 20, Alley 6, Lane 5, Huanhe South Road Section 2, Wanhua District, Taipei City

Apart from being a landmark of the red light district during the Japanese colonial period, the Qingyun Building was also the largest entertainment venue in Taiwan at that time. Today, it has been transformed into a vibrant cultural space. The exterior retains its magnificent appearance, while interior architectural details have also been meticulously preserved. The preservation and restoration team has carried out work on many elements of the building in a way that stays faithful to the cultural history behind it.


The Iso Eikichi Hut, NTU CampusNo. 42, Lane 42, Keelung Road Section 4, Da'an District, Taipei City

The phrase “The Story of Taiwan Rice” is printed on the curtain of a wooden hut, telling everyone who visits or passes by the story of the birth of Penglai Rice, the sticky, high-yield rice that is a staple in Taiwan. Iso Eikichi and his partner Suenaga Megumu dedicated their lives to research on rice cultivation, often discussing how to improve agricultural methods in this very hut. In 1925, they successfully developed Penglai Rice and changed the face of agriculture in Taiwan.


Mongolian and Tibetan Cultural CenterNo. 3, Lane 8, Qingtian Street, Da'an District, Taipei City

Lobsang Pelden Tenpe Dronme, the Seventh Janggya Hotogtu, was born in Qinghai Province in northwest China. One of the four greatest living buddhas of Tibetan Buddhism, the Seventh Janggya Hotogtu’s life was upended by the wars of modern East Asia and he was forced to migrate eastward and southward until he finally settled in a corner of southern Taipei City. He spent his last eight years in the alleys of Qingtian Street. In accordance with his will, his residence was donated and became the present-day Mongolian and Tibetan Cultural Center.


Huanan New VillageNo. 17, Lane 65, Xinguang Road Section 1, Wenshan District, Taipei City

The main feature of Huanan New Village is its two-storey, semi-detached red-brick houses. The village has served as a location for the filming of many dramas and TV series, including A Sun and The Teenage Psychic. Sunlight spills onto the red gates, and the traces of weathering reveal a warmth . This was the first university-managed dormitory to do away with gender-based segregation, breaking down barriers and opening a new chapter in standards of living in Huanan New Village.


Xiaokengxi Literary Trail (Xiaokeng Centennial Tudigong)No. 210, Lane 210, Zhengda 1st Street, Wenshan District, Taipei City

Next to the century-old Fude Temple in Xiaokeng stands a remarkable tree, eight stories high and with a canopy spanning up to 250m2. This ancient tree is believed to have been planted during the Qing dynasty in the mid-19th century, making it almost two hundred years old. The Xiaokengxi Literary Trail is named for the numerous poetic landscapes on both sides.


Jingmei Neighborhood Activity CenterNo. 13, Lane 57, Yueying Street, Wenshan District, Taipei City

Jingmei Old Street has a different air from the bustle of nearby Jingmei Night Market. In this serene environment, your pace naturally slows as you savour the moment. As you turn into Yuying Street’s Lane 57, you are greeted by nostalgic sight of military dependents’ houses.

“This used to be military dependents’ housing,” says the neighborhood chief cheerfully. “When residents moved out, it became vacant space, and later on it was transformed into the Jingmei Neighborhood Activity Center.”


Xikou (Rainbow) Wharfleft bank of the Keelung River at Chengmei Riverside Park (next to Songhe Street, near the No. 4 Water Gate entrance), Songshan District, Taipei City

As far back as 200 to 300 hundred years ago, this area was a key transportation hub. At that time, a ferry port operated here for commercial purposes, its prosperity second only to Wanhua. When the Qing dynasty Governor-General of Taiwan Liu Mingchuan planned the railway lines in Taiwan, he naturally set up a station here. The ensuing Japanese colonial period saw several rounds of expansion, and with transportation and industrial development, river transport was no longer the main mode of transportation, which led to the decline of the ferry port.


Songshan Cultural and Creative Park (Songshan Tobacco Factory Song Monument)No. 133, Guangfu South Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City

The Songshan Tobacco Factory Song Monument is an important monument to the Songshan Tobacco Factory song. It stands on the left of the entrance to the Taiwan Design Museum at the park entrance. The inscription on the monument was composed by lyricist He Zhihao, who came to Taiwan in 1949 and once held the position of Lieutenant General in the R.O.C. Army. The song consists of 73 characters and celebrates Songshan Tobacco Factory, the shining star in Taiwan’s economic history, which achieved a production value of up to NT$21 billion.


Tiaomi Old TrailNo. 100, Alley 600, Wuxing Street, Xinyi District, Taipei City

Located in the southeast of Taipei City, Wuxing Street can be described as a bustling but atypical street. The front part houses a lively market open from morning till night. However, after a turn, the middle and back sections lead to a tranquil area that resembles a small village. A 500-step stone stair trail leads approximately 700 metres into the mountains. This trail was once a shortcut for the transport of rice to Nangang, Muzha, Shenkeng, Jingmei, and other areas, and is also known as Tiaomi Old Trail.


Hu Shih Memorial HallNo. 130, Yanjiu Road Section 2, Nangang District, Taipei City

Hu Shih, one of the founders and leaders of the New Culture Movement in China, is known from school textbooks for having a mother who had a profound influence on his approach to life. However, less well known is that during the last three years of his life, this important figure in the intellectual history of the Chinese-speaking world actually lived in a Western-style house in Taipei (the house which subsequently became the Hu Shih Memorial Hall).


Xinfu Main Pit No. 131, Lane 131, Dahua Street, Neihu District, Taipei City

Xinfu Main Pit has borne witness to a century of mining history. The reconstructed mine carts and tracks allow you to embark on a small adventure, imagining yourself as one of the diligent miners who worked here. Like many mines in Taiwan, this one closed after a mining accident that claimed the lives of thirteen miners. Although the Taipei of today is modern and glamorous, its rapid economic growth was built on many tales of sorrow. The mine is a reminder of the sacrifices of those who went before us.


Tianshui Yuanyang Lake No. 44, Lane 44, Bishan Road, Neihu District, Taipei City

Located on Dalun Tou hill in Neihu, Tianshui Yuanyang Lake boasts abundant emerald green water. It is hard to imagine that less than twenty years ago, this place was a muddy pond covered in dry weeds. In the two-year clean-up project that only started in 2008, the city government eschewed the use of conventional cement, which is easy to use but bad for the environment, opting instead for a highly waterproof and environmentally friendly bentonite liner to repair the lake bed. The restoration was a success, and the restored pond was transformed into a secluded haven known to only a few people.