A Guide To Taipei (and places around the city)

Taipei is the capital of Taiwan – it’s filled with cultural discovery, cheap CHEAP food and really friendly people.  The best way to get around in Taipei is to travel by MRT. The MRT is usually close to everything and it’s really REALLY easy to use. It’s also really cheap and convenient. Don’t be afraid to ask others how to get to other places either because Taiwanese people are all pretty friendly.

First let’s cover some of the sites that I included in my itinerary.

Taiwan is filled with temples and you can’t leave without visiting one. You might even stumble onto one while you broswing through a night market for food.

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Longshan temple is one of the biggest temples and oldest temples in Taiwan. It’s conveniently located near the Longshan MRT station and you usually filled with tourists. But you also have a chance of seeing monks doing their daily rituals.

It’s definitely worth visiting for its cultural value and authenticity.

Rating: 8/10

National Palace Museum 國立故宮博物院 is another cultural site that many visit for the culture and also to see artifacts such as the Bok Choi made of Jade. It’s a huge place that one could probably spend hours visiting but problem is it’s usually very busy and filled with tourists from China. This made it difficult to see anything without feeling burdened from all the other visitors. It doesn’t become a leisurely museum tour but instead a place that you want to escape from.

Rating: 5/10 – too many people to enjoy. If you are visiting, try to visit when there are less people. Also it’s somewhat far from the main city so you need to transfer from the MRT to a bus to get there or take a taxi – making it inconvenient.

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The Songshan Cultural Creative Park is definitely somewhere worth going. It’s artsy and educational at the same time. They have different exhibits on during different parts of the year. But it’s not like the typical art exhibits you see at museums, It’s more educational and different. You need to see for yourself. When I visited the exhibition “We are Power” was on and it was really inspiring.

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You will also see people with yellow bags with pictures of bread on the front. Go to the Wu Pao Chun which is inside the building for their bread. You can ask anyone and they will tell you where it is.

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Rating: 8.5/10 – I really enjoyed the exhibition here and I also enjoyed the bread. It’s conveniently located and a good size to explore.

Taipei 101 is commonly visited because of it’s tall structure and gorgeous views. Unfortunately, both times I visited Taipei, I did not go up to the top because I didn’t think it was worth seeing and because it was over priced. To me, I think the whole point of the Taipei skyline is Taipei 101 itself. So alternatively you can visit Yangmingshan or Maokong for the views of the skyline. Inside the Taipei 101, the bottom levels have shopping and on the very bottom they have a food court and sell souvenirs like pineapple cakes etc.

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If you want to get away from the city but don’t want to go to far – Yangmingshan is great for the view of the city and to take in the nature side of Taipei. It’s very picturesque but it can be quiet cold and windy in the Fall seasons. Here you can see the flower clock etc. A word of advice – it’s somewhat difficult to get around Yangmingshan by bus. Some buses go to specific places and they don’t’ run all the time. It’s best to go to Yangmingshan by car so that you can drive to the different sites around the mountain.

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Rating: 6.5/10 – I would visit for the sites, but it’s inconvenient to go around by bus which is why I gave it a lower rating.

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Another place away from the hustle and bustle of Taipei but not too far would be Beitou – where you can visit the Thermal Valley, the Library and Man Lai Hot Spring Ramen. Word of advice – the Thermal Valley is closed on Mondays so don’t be like me and come on a Monday. Beitou is accessible by MRT – you just get off at the last stop of the line and you will be there. It’s quiet a peaceful and nice place.

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Rating: ?? – Because I didn’t get to see the main attraction I can’t really rate it fairly.

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Danshui Lover’s bridge is slightly outside of the city and only accessible by bus. It’s great for lovers because you can take pictures with this huge heart. Many Taiwanese dramas have also been filmed here. But to me, it wasn’t really worth going. There’s nothing here but the bridge and touristy food places that weren’t worth eating. If you’re single, you’ll feel kind of depressed coming here because of all the couples, so be warned.

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Rating: 6/10 – Not conveniently located. There’s not much to do here or much to eat.

If you do have spare time – please travel out of the city to visit Rui Fang which will connect you to Jiufen, Shifen and Pingxi. I give you a more in depth guide in THIS POST.

Rating: 8/10 – Worth exploring for the sites but it can be somewhat confusing getting there and it’s somewhat far from the city.

Another great place for night views is on Maokong. Take the Maokong gondola up there and enjoy the beautiful sunset on a clear day. The gondola ride is about 20 minutes long. Maokong is famous for its tea.

Rating: 7/10 – somewhat far from the city and the gondola ride is pretty long but the view makes up for it.

Other Sites that I didn’t visit but are famous in Taipei

Taiwan Presidential Office – No. 122 Section1, Chongqing S Road Zhongzheng District Taipei

This site is known for their changing of the guards during a few times of the day. It’s close to the Ximending area.

I personally didn’t visit because I didn’t have time but the changing of the guards is known to be exciting.

 

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall are both historical sites in Taipei. Both figures had huge influences on Taiwan’s political structures and history. If you enjoy learning about political figures in history, then these are the places for you.

Now, not everyone visit Taipei for the sites. Eating is a HUGE factor in traveling to Taipei but WHERE to eat is also an important question. I was on a tight budget so I ate the cheapest food possible which was basically ALL the night market’s in Taipei. There are so many night markets and I didn’t get to go to all of them but I really enjoyed all the ones that I did go to. My goal was to eat my way through the night markets in Taipei but unfortunately I missed a few. Each night market has their own famous food. For example Raohe Night Market is famous for it’s Shao bing (these delicious pockets of meat wrapped in dough). Shilin Night market is famous for its Big sausage wrapped small sausage. ShiDa is famous for it’s chicken and also pineapple buns. Gong Guan area is famous for its bubble tea.

I didn’t eat anywhere but night markets and night markets open pretty early – around 3pm which is good for snack and dinner. When I wasn’t eating at night markets, I ate at stands on the side of the street and mostly just snacked around. The key to finding good food in Taipei is to find any line ups. If you see a line up, join it.  But be warned, some places are hyped like FU HANG DOU JIANG but still worth going.

Nightlife is thriving in Taipei. There are lots of bars and clubs in Taipei and they are mostly clustered around the Taipei 101 area. There’s big clubs like Club Myst, Babe 18, Elektro, OMNI that are all between the Taipei 101 and Xinyi Anhe area. Be on the lookout – Wednesday is Ladies night at most clubs. There are also clubs that have all you can drink which is great. If it’s not ladies night the fee for clubs can run from 200-500 depending on the night and the club.

Shopping in Taipei really depends on your tastes and style. If you are looking for high-end brands you can check out Taipei 101. They have all the expensive brands inside but buying brand names in Taipei is not cheaper than other places.

Another place to shop would be in the Xinyi shopping district. Here you will find ATT4Fun and Neo 19. Inside these tall malls there are many brands such as H&M, MUji and other local brands.

Personally I enjoy visiting Eslite (many locations around Taipei) – they have a variety of books and so many levels. I could probably spend hours in there if we didn’t have other itineraries. Of course you can find Eslites in other place such as Hong Kong but I like the Taiwan ones.

Another shopping area in Taipei that is frequently visited for it’s historical value but also it’s shopping and food is Ximending. They are famous for their Mian Xian which can be found in other parts of Taipei and also their Huge Ah Hao Chicken Steaks which can also be found in other places in the world.

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