I decided to leave Seoul for one weekend and discover what Taipei has to offer, since it was definitely on my bucket list. Taipei is a beautiful city that definitely represents Asia well. Plus: there is lots to do and see. Of course three days could never be enough to discover all the different sides of Taipei, however I do feel like I got a nice overview. And I can definitely recommend Taipei for a weekend trip, because it is much smaller than Seoul.
Day one – City overview
The first day, I decided to get a great overview of the city and look at the mainattractions downtown. I started at 10 AM, which meant I had a very relaxed morning. I went to Taipei 101 first, and walked around the neighborhood. To me, the area around Taipei 101 gives the impression of a business district. Inside the Taipei 101 building is a huge mall, which has lots of different shops, in case you should be interested in going shopping during your trip. The mall has all different types of shopping opportunities, from Zara to Chanel, Gucci and other luxury brands.
After walking around, I decided to get some lunch in the Taipei 101 food court, which I definitely recommend. They have a large selection and prices are very reasonable.
Once I finished my lunch, I went to the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial. He was the founder of Taipei, and therefore has a huge memorial dedicated to him in his name. It consists of three main buildings, the memorial itself, a large concert hall and the national theatre. Also, it is surrounded by a beautifully maintained garden, which is very impressionable.
I decided to go walk to my hostel, in order to just experience all the streets and the overall flair of Taipei. Walking distances in Taipei are fairly short and you can reach many attractions by foot.
At night, I visited the Shilin Night Market, which was the highlight of my day. You can find pretty much anything there, from great streetfood to electronics or clothes and cosmetics. Prepare yourself for many people and great inexpensive food. You can either grab a bite at one of the many streetfood stands, or you can go into the inside part of the market and sit down in a relaxed restaurant-like setting. In case you get bored, there’s also the possibility to play lots of different arcade games, especially interesting to watch was the shrimp-fishing.
Day 2 – cultural activities
Because Taiwan’s history is so interesting, especially taking into regards the discussions about the relationship between China and Taiwan, I decided to go to the famousNational Palace Museum. When I researched this museum, I found that it was often compared to the Forbidden City in Beijing. I had the amazing opportunity to visit the Forbidden City a few years ago, however, I would not compare them. The National Palace Museum is a place I would definitely recommend. It is close to Shilin, and you can reach it by bus from the MRT Shilin Station. The property is very large and impressive, decorated by large arches in the front, making the entrance look even more spectacular. The museum is a very large and multifaceted, and of course you could get lost in it for hours. There are many things to see, especially art made of jade, bronze and wood. Also, calligraphy and the history of different rulers is largely represented.
After visiting the Museum, I took the MRT back to Yuanshan Station in order to visit two temples there. I was very lucky and discovered that there was a Buddhist farmer’s market going on. They had lots of different veggie street food, which was extremely tasty. Unfortunately, I don’t know if this is a weekly market or if this was an exception. From there, I walked to the Confucius temple, as well as the Bao-an temple. There is lots to see in this district, and I would recommend just walking around, because you might as well discover something I haven’t seen.
At night, I went up the Taipei 101 tower to enjoy the beautiful view over Taipei. I would recommend doing this at night, because it actually gives you an amazing overview of the size of Taipei and you can enjoy the beautiful city lights on the second highest tower of the world.
Day 3 – Hike, food and relaxation
On the last day I Dzhikeddz up Elephant Mountain to get a perfect view of Taipei 101 and the city. To me, this didn’t really have much to do with hiking, but much rather with going up many stairs. It takes about 25 minutes from Xiangshan station. I would recommend going early and bringing food and drinks, so you can enjoy a nice picnic on the top of the mountain. Also, it wont be too hot in the morning, so you should think about taking advantage.
Once I finished my hike, I walked to Taipei 101 from there, which didn’t take very long, since it is also just one subway stop away. I really wanted to eat at Din Tai Fung, because they are extremely well known for their delicious Taiwanese soup dumplings. Because it is such a popular restaurant, the wait is quite long. I had to wait 50 minutes, but it was OK, since you get a ticket and can walk around the mall until your ticket is called. The food was absolutely amazing and I highly recommend going there in case you are ever in Taipei! However, you don’t necessarily have to go to the shop in the basement of Taipei 101, there is also another shop in one of the higher Taipei 101 floors, and a shop located at Dongmen station.
To finish off my trip with some relaxation, I went to the hot springs of Xinbeitou. There, you can find naturally hot springs, and you can even jump in at either the public park, or several different private pools. I decided to go to the public pool, which consisted of three different pools, all differing in temperature. In the highest tear of the pool, the water flows in directly from the source, and it is extremely hot (about 45 degrees Celsius). It was so hot, that I could only put my feet in for a quick moment. The secondtear was the best temperature for me, with about ten degrees Celsius less. The last tear then again was ten degrees less. The public pool was nice, it was however quite crowded, which is why next time I would probably prefer a private pool. I think that with the private pool you can relax much more, and it would be the perfect ending to your Taipei experience!
You can rent bicycles and drive around the city by bike. There are several stations where you can pick up and drop off these city bikes. Also, the entire city has biking lanes. You can register the bikes at almost every train station, and you pay with your metro card. A simple, fast and fun way to get around Taipei!