Taipei Travel Guide
From Towering Plazas to Taoist Temples, Taipei has much to offer to visitors of all stripes from those seeking ultra-modern gadgets to those seeking a respite from the bustle of modern life.
If you're looking for the juxtaposition of old and new then you won't want to miss out on Taipei's many temples, where ancient ways live on beneath the shadows of skyscrapers. If the pursuit of the latest high-tech gadget is your cup of Oolong tea, then a visit to the Kuanghua Computer Market or indeed any one of the many computer markets that are popping up like mushrooms in the city may well be in order. Whether you're shopping for the latest fashion or just looking to see and be seen, then a trip to the ultrafashionable Hsimending will be necessary.
From high-tech shopping areas to low-tech night markets to traditional Chinese art, music and culture, today's Taipei has a lot to offer visitors of all stripes. And being a modern metropolis surrounded on all sides by natural beauty, getting out of Taipei is as simple as catching a bus or train heading in nearly any direction.
Taipei is easy to get around, either by foot, bus or subway. A walking tour of the downtown area is a good place to start. At a loss of which direction to head? Try the observation deck of the Landmark Taipei Shingong Tower for a bird's-eye view of the city and pick a direction to walk, it's right across from Taipei Main Station. Heading west from there takes you into Hsimending where the young and beautiful shop. There are restaurants for all tastes in Hsimending, from coffee shops and steak houses to sushi bars of the cheap and expensive variety. There are 24-hour dim sum restaurants where you can get stewed chicken feet and other Cantonese delicacies at any hour. Not surprisingly, Hsimending's main cash trade is in the field of corporeal beautification, boasting at least one outlet of every trendy clothing place found in Taiwan, as well as hundreds of smaller stores. While you might not find them along the main drag, the smaller alleys boast no fewer than six storefront tattoo parlors, if jewellery just isn't permanent enough for you.
Lovers of Qing dynasty architecture won't want to miss Hsiao Nanmen, a beautiful old square fort with a northern Chinese "palace" style roof. A quick subway ride north will bring you to the Confucius Temple and the Taipei Fine Art Museum. Close to Shilin MRT Station you'll find Chishan Park, which has a genuine Song dynasty style garden, complete with pavilions, ponds and arched bridges.
If you'd like to skip the culture and shipping in favor of just chilling out, head to Ta-an Forest Park on Xin-yi Road Section Two, a great place to play frisbee, read or just relax. If you really want to relax, head up to to forget that you're anywhere near a major city from way up on Yangming Shan. When night falls, head back down into the city and to the Shihlin Night Market, where traditional Taiwanese snacks can be bought. The Huashi Street Night Market, otherwise known as Snake Alley is perhaps the most famous tourist street in Taipei. In addition to snake meat soup and strong liquor infused with snake bile (said to be an aphrodisiac), the area is noted for its fortune tellers, traditional Chinese herbalists and of course, excellent food. It's also a good place to buy small religious items, ornaments and other stuff to impress the folks back home.
For those who really want to stay up all night, the area around Fushing and Chunghsiao Road is well known for its many bars and clubs. After partying the night away, hungry night owls with a hankering for after-hours cuisine know to head south on Fushing to a stretch known collectively as "breakfast row," where excellent traditional Taiwanese eats like dumplings, fried fish and that surefire hangover cure sweet potato rice porridge can be bought 24/7. Just look for the lights and the people eating.
For a hot night at the hot springs, the area directly around the New Peitou station is loaded with hotels and guesthouses that pipe sulfurous hot-spring water up from underneath the mountains. If you want to spend less, there are public hot springs located across from the oddly named "Anti-Calamity Park." Wulai also is renowned for its hot-spring resorts, though it's a bit harder to get to, requiring a subway ride to Hsintien Station and a 35-minute bus up to the mountain town of Wulai (signs from the subway station are clearly marked in English). Hotels will set you back NT $600 for three hours and considerably more for the night, but the public hot-springs charge a paltry admission fee of between NT $50 and 100.
- Tour Code: TW01
- Days: 1
- Destination: Taipei