Doing a walking tour is one of the best ways to experience a large city like Taipei, especially when you first arrive. It can help you get oriented, make new friends, and understand the culture and history from a local’s perspective.
Below I’m going to recommend four free Taipei walking tours run by two different organizations, Like it Formosa and TourMeAway. All of them highly informative and well organized, so I suggest you decide based on which one has the time, day, and places you prefer.
Keep in mind that even though these tours are “free”, tipping is recommended. Even though tipping is not expected for almost everything in Taiwan, the guides on free walking tours may be university students, elderly, and/or local volunteers who could really use the money. (Read more here about tipping in Taiwan.)
A recommended tip is TWD 200 to 500, for each person in your group, depending on how satisfied you are. This is still cheaper than a paid tour. Kids are allowed, but they’ll need to walk far and it can be very hot in the daytime.
I’ll also recommend some paid/private walking tours of Taipei at the end.
Four Taipei Free Walking Tours
The following four walking tours in Taipei are run by two different organizations, Like It Formosa and TourMeAway. They are in no particular order.
If you need to store some luggage before doing the walking tour, find out how to find and use Taipei’s luggage lockers here.
Like It Formosa: Taipei Free Walking Tour Historic Route
Like it Formosa’s free Taipei Walking Tour covers some of the most important modern and historical attractions in Taipei’s Old City (Wanhua district, also called Mengjia or Bangka), including popular Ximending neighborhood, and the adjacent Zhongshan district.
These include Longshan Temple (the city’s most famous and important temple), Bopiliao Historical Block (a walking street of old restored buildings), Red House Theater (Japanese era building now the center of Taipei’s LGBTQ+ scene), the Presidential Office Building, and 2/28 Peace Park, which commemorates the 2/28 tragedy.
You’ll finish the tour at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which you’ll probably want to further explore on your own.
This tour is run by passionate and highly knowledgeable local guides. It serves as a great intro the city. (First timers should also see my guides to getting from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei or Taoyuan Airport to Ximending).
It runs every day from 10 AM to 1 PM. Consider to avoid Mondays, when Red House Theater and Bopiliao are closed.
You’ll need to wait till the end for lunch, but don’t worry, there’s a mid-tour stop for traditional Taiwanese ice cream. The ice cream shop where they stop has been going since 1945, and this kind of ice cream is vegan (see my Taiwan vegan guide).
If you’re starving at the end of the tour, I recommend going for soup dumplings (xiaolongbao) here or here beside CKS Memorial Hall. These are good alternatives to the always packed Din Tai Fung, Taiwan’s most famous restaurant.
If you book the tour on Klook, use my Klook referral link to register for your account first. This will give you a free credit on the checkout page when you book any other activities, tickets, etc. in Taiwan.
Like It Formosa: Free Walking Tour Golden Age Route
Like it Formosa has another free Taipei walking tour. The Golden Age Route starts at Beimen, which was the northern gate of Taipei’s Old City. It is the only one of Taipei’s Old City gates that retains its original look.
From there, the tour goes further north to Dihua Street in Dadaocheng area. This is often called “Taipei’s Oldest Street”. This street thrived when Dadaocheng Port opened up beside it on the river. Today it is known for its Chinese herbs and medicine shops, tea shops, and traditional fabric market.
On the tour, you’ll also visit the small but very important Xia Hai City God Temple. This temple has one of the city’s noisiest parades on the god’s birthday (usually around June). There’s an elaborate sequence of rituals for doing prayers at this temple – the guides will show you how.
Join this tour if you’ve already done the main sights in the Old City and you want to get a little more off the beaten track in Taipei – with experienced locals showing you the way.
Like it Formosa also has a number of paid tours in Taipei and other cities in Taiwan.
TourMeAway: Old Town Taipei Tour
TourMeAway has been running another of the most popular Taipei walking tours for almost a decade. Over 20,000 visitors have joined this the Old Town Taipei Tour. It’s similar but not exactly the same as Like It Formosa’s Taipei Free Walking Tour and takes place in the morning instead of afternoon.
On this tour, the (usually young) guides introduce the 228 tragedy, Japanese history in Taiwan, and other aspects of Taiwan’s modern history and culture. The guides aren’t always Taiwanese, but they’re always very knowledgeable. The tour is a great introduction to Taiwan if you’ve just arrived.
Included on the tour are: 228 Peace Memorial Park, Presidential Office, Chengzhong Market, Zhongshan Hall, and Red House Theater in trendy Ximending. Red House is closed on Mondays, but you can still admire the building, and there’s still lots to see around it.
The free guided tour runs on Mon/Wed/Sat (May to September) and Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat (Oct to Apr). It starts at NTU Hospital MRT (one station south of Taipei Main Station) at 3:30 in summer and 2:00 the rest of the year. The tour takes 2.5 to 3 hours.
Make sure to sign up if you want to secure a spot.
TourMeAway: Longshan Temple Tour
Besides the free Old Town Taipei Tour, TourMeAway also runs second very popular free Taipei tour, the Longshan Temple Tour (see my own recommended walking route and how to pray at Longshan Temple if you want to visit on your own!)
Longshan Temple is Taipei’s most famous and important temple. On this tour, you can find out how to do local temple rituals like throwing moon stones, get your fortune read, and learn the history of this sacred place.
The tour provides a window into local temple customs, so you can have a better idea of what you are observing when you visit Taiwanese temples.
The tour also includes a foray into the neighborhood around the temple, where you’ll visit Mengxia Park (where local elders place Chinese chess), Herb Alley (an alley beside the temple where all kinds of Chinese herbs are sold), and Bopiliao Historical Block nearby.
This tour is currently held on Tues/Thu/Sun at 5 PM, with a meeting point at Longshan Temple MRT station. Make sure to sign up before you join.
They also have other paid tours by request and some free virtual tours of popular Taipei sights here on their site.
Taipei Private (Paid) Walking Tours
Doing a paid private tour in Taipei comes with a few advantages. The group will be smaller, or it might just be you and guidethe tour . This will give you more opportunity to ask questions and get to know the guide(s).
Depending on the tour, the timing may also be more flexible and the itinerary could be customized. Also keep in mind that most people tip the guides on the “free” tours I covered above, so paying for one of these tours isn’t much different. It will cost a little more, though.
- This private LGBT Walking Tour covers important LGBT sights in Ximending, the heart of Taipei’s Pride culture. It also visits 2/28 Peace Park, where Taiwan’s first Pride parade was held. Keep in mind that Taiwan was the first (and still, only) country in Asia to legalize equal marriage rights.
- On the Street Food Walking Tour, you will experience some of Taipei’s street foods, one of the city’s biggest claims of fame. You can choose the area to focus on.
- This Shilin Night Market Food Walking Tour will allow you to NOT get lost in Taipei’s largest and most famous night market. Let a local show you all the best foods to eat. See my guide to the best night markets in Taiwan.
- Klook also has paid walking tours of Longshan Temple, Shilin area (in the daytime, before the famous night market starts), and Dadaocheng.
- The Taipei Double Decker Sightseeing Bus will drop you off at popular sights around the city so you can walk and visit them yourself. It has two different lines.
- TourMeAway and Like It Formosa also have paid walking tours on their sites.
Should you tip the guides on a paid tour? Traditionally, tips are not given in Taiwan, even for guides. However, because many foreign guests do tip guides, they’ve become more accustomed to receiving them.
The choice is still up to you. It won’t be a big deal if you don’t, but if you’re really satisfied with the tour guide’s service and you want to, a small tip of 5-10% is appreciated.