Best Filming Locations in Taipei

city543-theme-film-icon-may-2015 This month City543 explores one of the biggest forms of entertainment in the context of Taiwan, from Ang Lee to Martin Scorsese’s Silence to the New Wave Cinema Movement to Taipei’s best film festivals.


Bursting with dramatic scenery and skyscrapers, the small island of Taiwan is growing as the go-to Asian film hub for many of Hollywood’s biggest flicks. Whether you are one of Hollywood’s biggest directors (Yes, we’re waiting for you Steven Spielberg, David Fincher and Christopher Nolan) or an independent filmmaker looking to direct your own short, this handy guide should make location scouting a piece of Pi.

Chinese Architecture: National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂)

national chiang kai shek memorial hall taipei taiwan gates

Constructed in 1980, the neo-classical style white structure with its blue roof is the most prominent historical and political landmark in Taiwan. Along with a spacious square and the Chinese National Theater and National Concert Hall, the complex’s many elements are grandiose and evocative of Chinese palatial design, including a marble arch gate and an imperial-style central staircase.

Japanese Architecture: Pine Zen Garden (松園禪林)

pine zen garden japanese building interior taipei taiwan

There’s every reason to look for a Japanese setting in Taipei, as Taiwan was Japanese’s first overseas colony. Pine Zen Garden is a Japanese restaurant that sits quietly amongst the pine forest of Yangmingshan. It retains every characteristic of Japanese aesthetics—simple, elegant and with restraint. With a verdant garden and mountainous scenery, Pine Zen Garden is perfect for a countryside production or your next Akira Kurosawa-esque epic.

Western Architecture: Control Yuan (監察院)

control yuan building taipei taiwan

Taiwan’s best-preserved baroque architecture is found at the island’s highest supervision organization, highlighting the influence of European arts and architecture on the 20th century Japanese imperialists. From the Byzantine-style domes to the red brick walls, the Control Yuan is a popular spot for wedding shoots. This gorgeous relic celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

Modern Architecture: Taipei 101

taipei 101 skyscraper building taiwan

The modernism of the tallest building in Taiwan comes when East meets West—the combination of western skyscraper architecture with bamboo-inspired Chinese design. The structure is even more beautiful when it is illuminated at night, particularly every New Year’s Eve when fireworks erupt from the skyscraper.

Campuses: Taipei National University of Arts (國立臺北藝術大學)

taipei national university of arts campus building trees walkway college

The wall-less Taipei National University of Art is a Western-style campus filled with red brick, gray wall buildings with black-tile roofs, as well as an endless grass patch that stretches along a mountain slope littered with sculptures and art installations. At once an outdoor museum and a college, the campus—the setting for the Taiwanese film Love—would serve well as the location for teen films.

Green Spaces: Yangmingshan National Park (陽明山國家公園)

yangmingshan mountain taipei taiwan

Forested mountains, hot springs, rolling grass hills—the mountains of the breathtaking Yangmingshan National Park welcomes visitors any time of year: Spring is the floral season, summer is ideal for hiking; in the fall, visitors come to enjoy the autumnal scenery, whilst winter welcomes a sea of mists and clouds, perhaps reminiscent of scenes from a Zhang Yimou wuxia film.

Thematic Spot: Taipei Railway Workshop (臺北機廠)

taipei railway workshop abandoned building deserted taiwan

Constructed during the Japanese colonial era, the abandoned Taipei Railway Workshop was once the main base for train maintenance and modifications. Today,  visitors can still find the abandoned railways, air raid shelter, employee dormitory and even the bathhouse, making for the perfect meeting spot for gangsters in your next neo-noir crime film.

Historic Site: Taipei Martyrs’ Shrine (臺北忠烈祠)

taipei martyr's shrine taiwan

This shrine marks the memory of the almost 400,000 soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting for the Republic of China. The magnificent complex built in 1969 is in the style typical of Chinese palaces, modeled after Taihe Dian Imperial Palace in Beijing. Sitting on the hill and facing Keelung River, the shrine itself is a serene yet solemn tourist spot.

Religious Venue: Taipei Confucius Temple (臺北市孔廟)

taipei confucious temple taiwan

Constructed in the late 1920s, the Taipei Confucius Temple is a handsome example of the blend of Minnan-style architecture with Taiwanese decorative art that would serve well as the backdrop of many a period piece. From the beams to columns, the decorations are nothing ostentatious, symbolizing the modesty central to Confucianism.

Art Venue: The Red House (西門紅樓) 

ximen red house ximending taipei taiwan night

This Western-style red-brick octagonal structure is an excellent choice for a retro theater setting and the most iconic building in Ximending that once served as Taipei’s first public market. These days, it’s a multifunctional cultural center with regular live performances and activities. In the south court, you will find a number of restaurants and gay bars.

Transportation: Taipei Songshan Airport (松山機場)

taipei songshan international airport taiwan

Whether your character is a drug smuggler or chasing a loved one, airports are often crucial destinations in a film. Founded in 1936, Taipei’s Songshan Airport is now a military airbase and an in-town airport that serves mainly domestic flights. Appearing in a number of Asian films, this airport is a nice option if you are doing a new adaptation of Casablanca, for example.

Commercial District: Xinyi Commercial District (信義商圈)

xinyi district taipei shinkong mitsukoshi shopping area taiwan

Just like Canary Wharf in London and Midtown Manhattan in New York, Xinyi District is the most prosperous area in Taipei. By day, the trendsetting space bustles with the fast-pacing energy of business as Taipei’s commercial and financial center. Yet at night, the crowds, neon lights, boutiques, hotels and illuminated skyscrapers set a vibrant mood.

Museum: National Taiwan Museum (國立臺灣博物館)

national taiwan museum taipei exterior

Many memorable moments in film history have taken place inside the walls of art museums (See: The Da Vinci Code, Vertigo); the National Taipei Museum is your museum for such shoots in Taiwan. The island’s first public museum is one of the most representative examples of Japanese colonial architecture imitating classical Western architecture.

Nightlife: Club MYST

club myst taipei taiwan interior lights disco

Located at ATT4FUN in Xinyi District, MYST is the largest of all nightclub in Taipei. This venue has both two indoor bars, a huge stage and dance floor and a terrace with a stunning night view of Taipei City. If your production includes a clubbing scene as Luc Besson’s Lucy did, Myst is the place to be.

Hotel: W Taipei

W taipei hotel taiwan pool night scene

There’s a reason the W Taipei has proven itself to be the most popular hotel with celebrities visiting Taiwan in recent days. Besides being smack dab in the heart of the Xinyi District, this avant-garde hotel is filled with a lot of wood and stone chic decoration, as well as a cutting-edge light installation. The spectacular view of the Taipei skyline ain’t half bad either.

all images via the Taipei Film Commission

orange hotelThis post is presented by Forte Orange Hotel 福泰桔子商務旅館

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