Frenetic, dynamic, food-mad Taipei is a manic metropolis with much to see, much to do and much to eat. Read on as we break down the Taiwanese capital in ten stops.
The former titan of world skyscrapers is the most dominant landmark in Taipei. Though Burj Khalifa now dwarfs Taipei 101 by a mile, what sets the Taiwan wonder apart is careful focus on aesthetic details: numerology, cultural symbolism, feng shui precepts, nods to Buddhism and traditional folklore all highlight the extraordinary typhoon and earthquake-proof tower.
National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
The memorial to the “Father of the Nation” is as much a community center, library and exhibition hall as it is a tribute to a revolutionary, political leader and first provisional president of the Republic of China.
Tea in Taiwan is a singular blend of Chinese customs, primarily of course, but Japanese and Western customs as well. The result, from field to tearoom, is magical. Hotels in Taipei offer some of the best afternoon tea services in Taiwan. Particular hotels to keep in mind include the The Ambassador Hotel Taipei and legendary The Grand Hotel Taipei. Both transform high tea into an artform.
Yangmingshan National Park
Though Taiwan is home to just seven national parks, they evince some of the most spectacular scenery in East Asia. Yangmingshan is easily accessible from metro Taipei and unfurls hot springs, cherry blossoms, scenic hiking trails and awesome Qixing Mountain. Just watch out for the venomous snakes.
Taipei Botanical Garden
Taipei’s colourful Botanical Garden doesn’t get nearly the respect it deserves, most notably from locals who seem to take it for granted (which pretty much mirrors the experience of most urban botanical gardens). Nevertheless, we love the 15 hectare space, which includes over 1500 plant species.
A trailblazing museum of contemporary art, MoCa Taipei has been a cultural stalwart since 2001. Ample space is set aside for both local and international envelope-pushers of the avant-garde.
Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines
The Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines celebrates the comprehensive and impressive legacy of Taiwan’s native peoples. Indigenous textiles, tools, ritual artifacts and weaponry highlight just some of the eclectic exhibits on display.
Shilin Night Market
For an unforgettable Taipei experience, meander through Shilin Night Market, aimlessley and with an open heart and mind. The city icon is a bona fide feast for the senses and a hive of activity until well past midnight. A street food mecca for global epicures, the market is one of many in the city that serves the rapacious populace at large.
National Taiwan Museum
A Baroque and Renaissance treasure, the National Taiwan Museum stands in stark contrast to ultra-modern Taipei. The important museum dates back to the late 19th century, the era of colonial Japan, and offers superb exhibits on anthropology, botany and zoology. A terrific primer on Taiwan as a whole.
National Palace Museum
Ancient art and priceless relics sprawl over one of the most vital Chinese heritage museums on the planet. The National Palace Museum covers 8,000 years of history and is a twin, of sorts, to the Forbidden City Palace Museum in Beijing.