So you wanna know what (and where) are the best temples in Taipei, Taiwan? It’s a difficult question to answer actually. There are so many of them in and around the city.
And it depends what kind of temples you like. Some people like big ones. Or colorful. I personally like old ones with a lot of smoke. Places where crazy, ancient Chinese rituals can happen at any moment.
But, yes, there are some temples in Taipei, Taiwan that could be described as unmissable attractions.
And here they are:
Longshan Temple, Taipei City
Some say that Longshan is the best temple in Taipei. Many say if you only have the time to visit one temple in Taiwan’s capital, it should be it. I have to admit that I agree with that.
Longshan is probably the busiest religious building in Taipei. Not just inside. The whole area around the building is packed with people, little shops that sell traditional gifts, restaurants and food stalls. You can’t get bored there. There’s a lot going on. Enough to keep your eyes and senses busy for hours.
Inside the temple, there’s the entire family of ancient Chinese gods. God of War, God of Peace, God of Education… Taiwanese people buy sticks of incense at the main gate, light them up at gas burners on the right, and walk around (counter-clockwise) to pray to the different deities. Want good grades? Visit Mr. God of Education. Need cash for credit card bills? Easy…. Ask someone to show you where the God of Money is and burn a stick for him.
Longshan Temple is extremely crowded with worshipers during the Chinese New Year Holiday as well as other Taiwanese festivals such as Ghost Month, Moon Festival, and Dragon Boat Festival.
MRT Station: Longshan Station
Hours: 6am to 10pm
Confucius Temple – Taipei City
This temple dedicated to the most famous and respected teacher in Chinese culture is not to be missed if you want to see classical Chinese architecture. It is very much like the big Confucian shrines found in Taichung City (in Central Taiwan), and Kaohsiung City (Southern Taiwan), but it looks older and it is much busier.
The best time of the year to visit this alluring place is on Teacher’s Day (September 28th) where you can witness ancient rites / dances / music being performed in honor of Confucius birthday.
MRT Station: Yuanshan Station
Hours: 8:30am-9pm Tue-Sat, 8:30am-5pm Sun
Baoan Temple – Taipei City
Across the street from the Confucius Temple, Baoan is not as quiet or elegant, but it’s nevertheless a worthy stop on Taipei travel itinerary. There’s much more action and noise than across the street, that’s for sure. Every day, worshipers come to make offerings of food and clothes. It also sees a decent amount of tourists due to its proximity to the popular Confucius Temple. Head there early in the morning to see a Chinese priest recite ancient scriptures.
MRT Station: Yuanshan Station
Hours: Daily, 6am-10pm
Qingshui Zushi Temple – Sanxia
If you have more than a couple of days traveling around Taipei, take a bus to Sanxia, about an hour south of Taipei City and check out Qingshui Zushi Temple. It is a very unique place with incredible architecture. It’s one of the only places in Taiwan where I have seen so many professional photographers who came to the island simply to see one place – that place!
Every year, the “Sacred Pig Festival” is held on the front courtyard, where thousands of people gather to see one of the oddest celebrations on Formosa. It started as a contest where families force- feed pigs until they become gigantic and can’t even walk, and, well, the family who’s got the biggest hog wins. How memorable those Chinese festivals!
How to Join Free Guided Temple Tours
One thing I often do when I visit temples in Taipei – or anywhere else in Taiwan – is this: I look for a group of white tourists who are following a Taiwanese guide. I trail behind them and listen to what the guide is saying. I have “joined” many tours this way, and learned lots of interesting facts about Taiwanese temples, Chinese religion, and all the images and symbols found into shrines.
There’s more than temples in Taipei, Taiwan…
More Taipei Attractions
So you’ve taken the time to see the religious sites around town, now it’s time to explore the museums and memorials.