When it comes to Asian travel destinations, cities such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai tend to be at the top of peoples’ bucket lists. However, if you want to try something a little different for your next vacation, Taipei is where to go. The capital of Taiwan, this thriving metropolis is buzzing with history, culture, a lively food scene and plenty of entertainment, promising a rewarding and fun-filled getaway.
1) The Architecture
Taipei boasts some incredible architecture, with its most famous being the Taipei 101 building. For four years, this skyscraper was the tallest building in the world, and even held claim to having the fastest elevator in the world. With its extraordinary size, this is definitely the focal point of Taipei’s cityscape, with few other buildings soaring to such great heights, especially due to the high earthquake risk that Taipei constantly faces.
Another dominant piece of architecture would be the Grand Hotel – a five star establishment that was completed in 1973.
Also worth visiting is the Tao Zhu Yin Yuan Tower, which is a relatively new addition to the city. An easy walk from the Taipei 101 building, this twisted design is extremely eco-friendly, and hopes to soon be the greenest building in all of Taiwan.
2) The Culture
Although Taipei is highly urbanized, there are still so many pockets of culture to be found around the city, most noticeably at the city’s many temples. Taiwan itself is home to more than 15,000 registered temples, and a large chunk of these can be found in Taipei.
Of course, you won’t have time to visit them all, so here are a few temples that you definitely should not miss out on:
- Longshan Temple – one of the most iconic temples in the city, the local community renovates and maintains this historic building, retaining its traditional Chinese charm
- Xingtian Temple – perhaps the busiest temple in the city, this temple recently became famous for removing all incense burners as a way to cut back on air pollution
- Xiahai Chenghuang Temple – said to be home to the God of love, this is the temple to visit if you are looking for some help in the romance department
- Bangka Qingshui Temple – dating all the way back to 1787, this temple holds a very special place in the heart of the Chinese immigrants who first came to Taiwan many years ago
Don’t forget, since all of Taipei’s temples are active places of worship, make sure that you dress modestly and act respectfully at each one you visit.
3) The Nature
When planning a city break, spending time in nature isn’t something that people usually expect to be able to do, but Taipei truly does boast some exquisite natural beauty. Even better, these secluded pockets of greenery are not too far away from the city center, making it easy to incorporate them into your itinerary.
The Yangmingshan National Park is always a popular spot with nature-seeking tourists. If you head to the top of the Datun Mountain, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the city below. There are several small roads and trails throughout the park, as well as local cafes hidden within the forests, making this such an exciting area to explore.
If you head on over to the south-east part of the city, you will come across a suburb called Maokong. This area is famous for its tea plantations, complete with traditional teahouses tucked away in various corners of the hillsides. While you’re here, take a ride on the Maokong Gondola to enjoy some fantastic views of your surroundings.
4) The Food
Many people visit Taipei solely for its food scene, and it’s easy to see why. From fine dining restaurants to street-side stalls, there is delicious food to be found pretty much everywhere you visit in the city.
Not sure where to begin?
There are several food tours that you can sign up for if you would like an expert guide to take you to the best spots. Alternatively, you can meander through the city sampling local dishes at your whim. If you decide to do this, make sure that you do not miss out on these dishes:
- Beef noodle soup
- Daikon and scallion pancakes
- Taiwanese hot pot
- Braised pork rice
- Taiwanese fried chicken
- Pineapple cake
5) The Shopping
Just like the city’s food scene, the shopping in Taipei ranges from glitzy high end boutiques to bustling street markets, giving you the very best of both worlds.
When it comes to markets, the Shilin Night Market tends to be the most popular. This is the largest market in Taipei, selling everything from food to jewelry to electronics, all at fantastic prices. If you would prefer to do your shopping during the day, check out the Jade Market, as well as the Underground Shopping Bazaar at the Longshan Temple (the perfect excuse to combine culture with some retail therapy).
If you’re seeking out stores that are a little more upscale, the Taipei 101 building is home to several big-name international brands, from Dior to Louis Vuitton. The Da’an District is also great for luxury shopping, especially since this is where you will find our OROGOLD Taipei store. Feel free to stop by for a complimentary facial, product demonstrations and an insight into some of our exclusive products.
6) The Museums
If so, you will love Taipei. There are several museums to visit throughout the city, but, if you only have time for a couple, make sure that you pick from the following:
- National Palace Museum – this museum has won numerous awards, and is home to one of the largest collections of Chinse Imperial artefacts in the world, with 700,000 on display
- Taipei Fine Arts Museum – boasting some of the most impressive fine art pieces in the country, this museum offers up both permanent and temporary exhibitions
- National Taiwan Museum – the best place to learn more about the country’s history, culture and traditions
- Museum of Contemporary Art – a smaller museum, this one features some truly unique modern art
- Evergreen Maritime Museum – learn more about Taiwan’s naval forces, and have a go at commandeering a ship for yourself in the simulator room
7) The Hot Springs
Did you know that Taiwan is home to numerous hot springs?
A few of these can be found in and around Taipei, with the most popular being located in Beitou. Just a half hour MRT ride away from central Taipei, Beitou is where you will find the Datun volcanic range, resulting in several thermal valleys popping up around the area.
Begin your visit to Beitou with a stop at the Beitou Hot Springs Museum, which is free to enter. Featuring a mix of British and Japanese influences, this was the very first public hot spring bath in the area, making it well worth seeing.
After learning about the history of Beitou’s hot springs, you will probably be more than ready to have a soak in one for yourself.
Well, the main public hot springs in the area is known as the Millennium Hot Springs, and there are four different pools for you to choose from. Each one varies in temperature, beginning with the coolest pool at the bottom and the hottest at the top.
While you’re in the area, check out the Thermal Valley too, otherwise known as Hell Valley. This vividly green pool of water retains a constant temperature of around 100 degrees. Although it is way too hot to swim in here, being able to feel the immense steam rising from the surface of the water is still such an amazing experience.
8) The Festivals
Visiting a local festival is always a good way to immerse yourself in the heart and soul of a new destination.
Fortunately, Taipei hosts a number of festivals through the year, many of which are completely unique to the country. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting at certain times of the year, here are some of the festivals you may be able to catch:
- Lantern Festival – held at the start of the Lunar New Year, which is usually somewhere around February, this festival sees thousands of different lanterns released into the sky, each one featuring a handwritten message
- Jinshan Fire Fishing Festival – created to promote the tradition of fire fishing, this festival allows visitors to go out on the water with local fisherman, participating in some fire fishing
- Fulong Sand Sculpting Festival – take in some incredible sand sculptures at one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire country
- Dragon Boat Festival – featuring the largest dragon boat competition in all of Asia, this festival is packed with plenty of fun activities for the public to participate in
- Taipei Water Festival – a way to promote aquatic activities and a healthy lifestyle, this festival consists of everything from swimming pool fun to seaside excursions
9) The Nightlife
While Taipei is full of energy during the day, the city comes even more alive at night. In amongst the many night markets dotted around the city, you will also find some vibrant nightlife spots.
Wondering where to go?
Whether you’re seeking a pulsating nightclub, a sleek bar, or a relaxing lounge, here are some of the best nightlife spots in Taipei:
- Number 45 – once a traditional Chinese medicine store, this bar serves up everything from complex cocktails to draft beers
- 1001 Nights Taipei – a friendly venue with a restaurant, a bar and even a shisha bar, all accompanied by salsa, kizomba and hip hop music
- Ximen Red House Area – unofficially known as the gay district of Taipei, you will find numerous LGBT-oriented bars, cafes and restaurants here
- Landmark Taproom – an outdoor craft beer bar, which many locals would consider to be a hidden gem
- KOR Taipei – one of the largest cocktail bars in the city, offering up an impressive selection of drinks
- FRANK Taipei – a relaxing rooftop lounge with stunning views of the city’s skyline
10) The Day Trips
There is certainly plenty to do in Taipei, even if you have already visited the city before.
However, if you would like to venture a little further afield, Taipei actually makes a great location from which to embark on a few day trips.
Need some inspiration on where to go?
Check out these areas:
- Jiufen – an old Japanese mining town, Jiufen is a great place to learn more about the Japanese colonization of the country
- Yehliu Geopark – just north of Taipei, this area is full of natural beauty, along with some rare rock formations that have not been found anywhere else in the world
- Tamsui – this small coastal town is home to some incredible seafood, along with an ancient harbor and some of the best sunsets in the country
- Wulai – a mountainous region that will teach you more about the indigenous culture of Taiwan
- Yilan – if you love hiking and outdoor adventure, Yilan is the place to go. You will also find hot springs, markets, and even a large waterfall here
- Sun Moon Lake – the largest lake in Taiwan, Sun Moon Lake is a little further away from Taipei than the other day trips on this list, but the scenery here is more than worth the journey
With so much to see and do in and around the city, it is no surprise that Taipei is slowly earning itself the reputation of being a thriving tourist hotspot. Whether you enjoy learning about heritage and culture, or would prefer to spend your vacation eating, drinking and shopping, Taipei offers up all of this plus so much more.