Taipei is such a beautiful city but being sandwiched between huge tourist destinations like China and Japan (and South Korea), it often gets overlooked. However, the Taiwanese capital should not be kept under the radar for much longer, as it has something to offer for everyone! Combined with friendly people and great food, a trip to Taipei is always an enjoyable one! So let’s look at 10 of the very best things to do in Taipei and make sure you add them to your itinerary!
10. Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is a Taiwanese national monument that was erected in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, a former Chinese President. It is located in Zhongzheng District of Taipei, pretty close to other tourist attractions and markets, so there’s no excuse to miss on this cultural relic.
9. Bopiliao Ancient Street is where visitors can see well-preserved streets and traditional homes from the Qing Dynasty, as well as buildings from the Japanese occupation and early post-war periods. These buildings have witnessed the development of parts of the Wanhua District over the years and form an important part of Taipei’s historic urban landscape. Bopiliao Ancient Street is very similar in culture and appearance to Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul and even the Xintiandi enclave of Shanghai – both of which were included in my top 10 attractions for those cities!
8. Beitou Thermal Valley (further reading: Letting off some steam at Beitou) is a lush and verdant area on the northern outskirts of Taipei, which provides good quality of life for its local people. It is also a popular tourist hangout because of its natural hot springs and booming hospitality trade.
7. Shilin Night Market is the largest and best-known night market in Taipei and is located a few minutes’ walk from Jiantan Metro Station (further reading: The King of the Night Markets). Shilin is not only popular among the locals but is also a must-visit attraction for travellers. It is famed for a wide array of authentic Taiwanese eateries as well as fashionable clothing.
6. Ximending is said to be the “Harajuku of Taipei”. You will see the similarities with Tokyo’s youth culture – and not always in legal ways (further reading: Ximending: Shopping and Sex)! While the area is indeed known as something of a prostitution hotspot, Ximending is best known for its wonderful array retail opportunities and fast food outlets. The vibe here is much like that at Myeongdong in Seoul: a real hip and happening place!
5. Zhinan Temple is perched atop Monkey Mountain and is reachable only by scaling 1200 steps. There are many Taoist temples in Taipei, but Zhinan Temple is the most spectacular of the lot! It is said that if unmarried couples visit Zhinan then fate will have it that they split up, as the main deity of the temple, Lu Dongbin, was something of a womaniser and is capable of seducing single mortal women even in the afterlife…
4. Elephant Mountain is simply the best way to see Taipei city from above – and it’s free! Head out to Xiangshan Metro Station and begin your hike up this tropical mountain. The best time to hike is late afternoon, as you can catch the epic Taiwanese sunset. The hike takes a total of around 20 minutes each way, but when you’re at the top you’ll be rewarded like never before!
3. Raohe Night Market is the finest example of a Taiwanese night market in the capital (further reading: Biting off more than I can chew at Raohe). A little more ‘genuine’ than Shilin these days, Raohe is a feast for the eyes and possibly a shock to the senses, but whatever you do, make sure you try the black pepper buns!
2. YangMingShan National Park (further reading: YangMingShan: too scary to go solo!) is not only known for being the site of Taiwan’s tallest volcano, but also some amazing cherry blossoms, world class hiking trails – and for venomous snakes! Only a 45 minute ride on the Metro from downtown Taipei, YangMingShan provides everybody with the chance to escape the hustle and bustle and get back to nature.
1. Taipei 101 is undoubtedly the icon of Taipei. It can be seen from all over the city (and beyond). Whether you are admiring the skyscraper from afar (like on Elephant Mountain in the photo above) or standing underneath it and looking up in amazement, you cannot escape the sheer size of Taipei 101! While not the tallest, Taipei 101 is probably the best-looking skyscraper in Asia.
Some of my Taipei blogs are quite old now, but one thing’s for sure: I’ll be back to Taiwan soon so it won’t be long before I can start blogging again about this great country!