No other city has ever stirred someone’s appetite like Taipei. A bustling metropolis, this city is where tradition meets modernity, where its busy night markets meet the peace and quiet of its most amazing temples. It’s an amazing Asian destination that is often overshadowed by nearby Hong Kong, but Taipei deserves a lot more recognition than it normally gets. The city is packed with places to see and activities that are always a must-try for every traveler.
There are two airports mainly used for travel in Taipei - Taoyuan International Airport and Taipei Songshan Airport. Taoyuan Airport is the main international hub of the city that services flights to Los Angeles, Manila, Tokyo, etc. Meanwhile, Taipei Songshan is the airport that caters mainly to domestic routes as well as flights from China. You can get to downtown Taipei from here by simply taking a cab, train, or bus.
Getting to the city from Taoyuan International Airport won’t be troublesome because the bus station is nearby that takes you to the heart of the city and the high-speed rail is also nearby that quickly links the airport to the city. Taking a cab would be the most convenient way if you don’t want to navigate around to find the bus and the train since these are just outside the airport. The trip should take around 40 minutes to an hour maximum.
Like most Asian cities, Taipei is linked by an extensive train system that rivals every other. It’s guaranteed that there will be stops in places that you have to see and visit during your first time. The city bus is also available if you want to do more of a scenic tour. There are over 300 bus routes in the city and each one would take you to a different attraction.
If you want to be more adventurous, then biking around the city would be a great way to avoid traffic. The Maokong Gondola is another unique mode of transport that would take you to the zoo, Chihnan Temple station, and back around the Maokong station.
Taipei is an exciting Asian destination that offers many things to do and places to see. Next to the food, people always think of Taipei 101 whenever they go to Taipei. Standing at 508m, the tower is one of the tallest in Asia. It houses several floors of luxury dining and shopping as well as a viewing deck that would give you one of the best 360 views of the city no matter what time.
Meanwhile, the National Palace Museum in the Shilin District is the best place to get to know the history of the country. It boasts a collection of over 600,000 artifacts collected over the years before and during the civil war. The Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall in Zhongshan District is a prominent monument that was built in honor of the former president.
People who flock to Taipei also find their way around three other nearby destinations namely Yehliu, Shifen, and Jiufen. All three attractions are always busy because of the sheer number of tourists and locals they attract.
Yehliu is a geopark where unique rock formations are seen next to the sea. It offers a picturesque and unique view of the Taiwanese coastline especially since the rocks create an amazing contrast against the sea. Shifen is a small town that has attracted people because of its stunning waterfall. Not only this, but Shifen Old Street is littered with various eateries in every corner. You can also release a sky lantern here while writing down your wishes.
On the other hand, Jiufen is similar but also different. Peering down its winding streets that inspired Spirited Away is an array of shops that sell traditional clothing, crafts, and food. It’s a great way to peer into the history of how Taiwan came to be.
The first order of business while in Taipei would be food. With the number of night markets around the city, it may be hard to choose. If it’s your first time, then tried and tested local favorites would be the best place to start. A staple in Chinese cuisine, beef noodle soup is popular in the city no matter what temperature it is. The best places to get this would be Ling Dong Fan, Yong Kang, and Lao Wang Ji.
Near Taipei 101, you will find the original Din Tai Fung. It’s easily noticeable because of the long lines it always has during lunch. The restaurant is home to the ever popular xiao long bao that people here and abroad have come to love.
For those with a sweet tooth, the pineapple cakes of Taiwan would be your best bet. They are known for this unique dessert that often comes in a box for everyone to share. For traditional eats, Jiufen and Shifen would be your best bet for traditional fish balls and the delicacy, stinky tofu. The famous Taiwanese sausage can be found here and its famous glutinous rice cakes too.
It must be said that Taiwan’s personality can be seen through its food. They aren’t afraid to have fun with it because of all the weird themed restaurants that can be found around the city. The best example would be the Modern Poo restaurant in Ximending District. They serve a wide variety of food and sweets that mostly resemble a bathroom business. The Rilakkuma Café and the Hello Kitty Café are spots that should be visited by every kawaii loving tourist. Most dishes look too good to eat, but it’s nonetheless a great experience for fans of the characters.
The city comes alive at 6 PM. This is quite obvious given that the city scattered various night markets around it and its bars are everywhere too. Recently its nightlife has been given new life with speakeasies opening up here and there. Wa Shu is a well-known Japanese style dive bar that’s famous for its no-fuss cocktails that are straight to the point.
Fourplay is another must because it serves anything. It has no menu and customers can simply just order whatever they feel like having. Mono Mono is a hidden gem in the city with its unassuming exterior. Inside you’ll find the most intimate atmosphere where people can simply relax and chat after a long night. The menu is a range of octopus, duck, scallops, and all sorts of seafood.
There are a lot of things to do in Taipei, which may be a bit overwhelming for some. Understandably, finding the best place to stay in will not only be ideal, but strategic. The Zhongzheng District of Taipei would be best if it’s your first time visiting the country. Meanwhile, Xinyi District offers a lot of good accommodation if you want to experience the nightlife the most.
With a string of clubs and bars in every corner, you are bound to encounter one that would make a memorable night. If you want a quieter neighborhood, Zhongzheng is a great place to book your Taipei hotel because it also has a lot of sightseeing spots. Staying here brings you close to the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial and the Botanical Gardens.