The capital of Taiwan is a marvel in its own right. The hub of economy, finance, tourism and even fashion, Taipei is ever-changing and life ever-quickening. The booming metropolitan embraces modernity like two peas in a pod, yet fiercely preserves its traditional values passed down through generations. The skyline is built to impress, but as you venture through the exciting city, you will find little delights in its splendid natural beauty or in the locals’ charmingly warm hospitality.
Best of Taipei
1. Taipei 101
The icon of Taipei, and the prominent centre of the city, the skyscraper is the tallest green building in the world. The post-modernistic structure boasts 101 floors of shopping outlets, conference centres, offices, restaurants and both outdoor and indoor observatories. Head to the top for a stunning and unobstructed view of Taipei City!
2. National Palace Museum
Get schooled on eight centuries of Chinese cultural heritage at the National Palace Museum, one of Taipei’s top attractions. Thousands of crates from Beijing’s Palace Museum were moved to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War, forming a collection of nearly 700,000 imperial treasures and priceless artefacts. As only 3,000 items can be displayed at a time, exhibits are changed every three months.
3. Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Another famous landmark of Taipei, the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall was built in memory of the former president of the Republic of China. The hall and square is now the hub for cultural events, and the National Concert Hall and National Theatre are in the vicinity as well, housing performances from the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, the Vienna Boys Choir and even the late Luciano Pavarotti himself.
4. Taroko Gorge
A two-hour train ride from Taipei is the beautiful Taroko Gorge. Located within the Taroko National Park, the gorge is known for its magnificent natural beauty and its abundant supply of marble. Visitors can get in touch with nature as they explore the many sights around, such as the Eternal Spring Shrine, Swallow Grotto, Buluowan Village and many others.
5. Yehliu Geopark
Mother Nature shows off her sculpting abilities in this rocky stretch jutting out into the East China Sea. Voted the best landscape in a Taiwanese poll, the geopark features ginger rocks, candle-shaped rocks and mushroom rocks, including the iconic Queen’s Head.
6. Shihlin Night Market
There is a plethora of night markets in Taipei, but the most famous one of all is the Shilin Night Market. Food hunters crowd over for its many food vendors and small eateries especially amongst the 539 stalls in the food court. After dinner, the many attractions such as movie theatres, video arcades, shops and karaoke stores will have you staying till the wee closing hours.
Shopaholics will be happily satiated in Taipei’s main wholesale garment market, offering the latest fashion and trends at enormous bargain prices. The shops open from morning till midnight every single day, and haggling is a gift that will be a blessing in disguise that will take you far when you’re roaming the streets of Wufenpu.
Bright lights, cosplayers and exciting stalls – Ximending is everything and anything the local youths strive for in a brilliant explosion of colours. Expect a crowd on weekends as you browse through the many fashion stalls and quirky restaurants, or even catch the street cosplayers for a photo opportunity or two. An exciting place to be!
9. Beef Noodle Soup
Taiwan’s national dish is braised beef and noodles in a flavourful soup of soy sauce and rice wine, seasoned with various herbs. Taipei holds a festival in its honour and deservedly so. A dish that takes several hours up to a few days to make should be worth the wait.
10. Café Culture
It’s not hard to see why Taipei’s coffee scene is world-famous. You can find cute latte art and great brews everywhere in the city, with thousands of cafes—both chains and small standalone shops. Hang out in cozy or themed cafes, perfect places for hanging out after a day of walks and tours.
11. Xiaolong Bao
Steamed in bamboo baskets, these delicate soup-filled dumplings are popular in Taipei and made even more famous worldwide by the Din Tai Fung chain. Eating these small parcels of meat involves dipping them in ginger and black vinegar, nibbling the side to suck in the soup and gobbling the whole dumpling.
12. VVG Something Bookstore
Taipei makes headlines with one of its less-known charms – the VVG Something bookshop was dubbed one of the top 20 beautiful bookstores in the world by Flavorwire.com. Small and cozy, you’ll find unique knick-knacks, precious stationary and special edition books that will have the bookworm in you squirm with delight.