Thursday, March 8, 2018

Top 10 Things To Do: Taipei


teapot mountain taiwan


              Taipei, the sprawling capital city in northern Taiwan, is well worth a visit for any traveler wishing to take an amazing city vacation in a far away land.  Taipei offers world renowned food, transportation, hospitality, and experiences and should be on anyone’s bucket list of cities to visit.  Whether you have only a few days or weeks to spare, you can easily fill your time with awesome experiences, great sites, and amazing food.  If you are looking for what to do here is my list of the top 10 things to do in Taipei.



1. Night Market


grilled sguid sanhe night market taipei taiwan
Grilled sguid in Sanhe Night Market


              Night markets are easily my favorite thing in Taipei.  If you are looking for a real Taiwanese experience then the night markets are a must.  There are many night markets throughout Taipei, most districts having their own, so you won’t have to travel far to find one.  Sprawling through alleyways these markets open up at night, some staying open all night, and offer everything from consumer goods and food to carnival like games.  Though you may find yourself doing some window shopping as you stroll through one of these markets, the real pull is the food.  Offering an array of food stalls, you will certainly find something you like or something new to try.  What’s even better is that street market foods tend to focus on smaller easy to carry and eat foods so you can try even more.  


shilin night market taipei taiwan
Shilin Night Market


              Shilin Night Market is the most popular of the markets in Taipei, but it is also one of the most visited making it very congested at times (especially on weekends and holidays).  Though it has a main section the market has begun to spill out onto the roads and alley ways around it.  It can easily be walked to from the Jiantan Station on the Red Line.  


roahe night market taipei taiwan
Roahe Night Market


              Roahe Night Market is another famous market.  Reported to be the oldest night market in Taipei it is also the largest.  Like Shilin, Raohe also gets very busy, and due to its popularity, it also brings in a lot of tourists.  It is still worth a visit to the renowned night market to try some of their authentic Taiwanese street foods.  If you exit the Songshan Station (last stop) on the Green line you won’t be able to miss it.  



2. Teapot Mountain


hiking teapot mountain taiwan
Hiking Teapot Mountain


              Teapot Mountain comes in second on my list of top 10 things to do in Taipei.  A short bus ride outside of town, it is well worth the trip for those wanting to add a little adventure to their trip.  Though it is named after a rock formation in the shape of a teapot, it is only one of many sites to see on this amazing hike.  The four-hour hike starts up stone steps over looking the old gold mines and ocean below, with many overlooks along the way to enjoy the view.  Once at the teapot formation the hike turns more adventurous for those wanting to continue on.  Climbing over rocks, along ridges, and up paths with the aid of ropes to keep you from falling off brings you to the mountain ridge above with an amazing view of the ocean and mountain range (you can even see Taipei 101 on a clear day).  The end of the hike is an easy downhill hill trek by a Japanese Shinto Shrine and ending at the Gold Mine Museum. 


japanese shinto shrine teapot mountain taiwan
Japanese Shinto Shrine on Teapot Mountain


              To get there take the train to the Songshan Station (end of the Green Line) and catch the 1062 bus outside exit 4 of the station.  Ride the bus to the last stop (Quan Ji Tang), then walk up the road.  From here you will see the ocean and the trail head will be down the road to your left. 
              The same bus will take you back to Taipei and can found outside the exit of the Gold Mine Museum.



3. Temples

 
prayer baoan temple taipei taiwan
Prayer at the Baoan Temple


              Coming in third is the temples of Taipei.  Religion plays an important role in Taiwanese life and the temples are at its forefront for both religious and community events.  Ranging in size from small temples in the living rooms of first floor houses to large temple complexes, temples can be found everywhere in Taipei.   The beautiful architecture and colorful designs make the temples of Taipei a must see for any traveler.  Some of my personal favorites are Longshan, Confucius, and the Baoan Temples.  


longshan temple taipei taiwan
Longshan Temple


              To get to Longshan Temple, take the Blue Line to Longshan Temple Station, leave through exit 1, and walk through the park.


confucius temple taipei taiwan
Confucius Temple


              To get to Confucius Temple, take the Red Line to Yuanshan Station and leave through exit 2.  Cross the road and walk 3 blocks (about 5 minutes), turn right and half way down the block you will see the entrance on your right


baoan temple taipei taiwan
Baoan Temple


              The Baoan temple is located near the Confucius Temple.  Across the street from the entrance of the Confucius Temple is the Baoan Park.  Entering the park and turning right will lead to the Baoan Temple.  You can also go around the park, but I highly suggest taking a look at it.  It is a very interesting park and well worth at least a walk through. 



4. Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial


chiang kai shek memorial taipei taiwan
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial


              The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial complex is as beautiful as it is imposing.  Celebrating Chiang Kia-Shek, the founder and once the leader of Taiwan, the complex features a huge courtyard sided by the gateway, two theaters, parks, and the memorial itself.  Climbing the staircase of the memorial leads to the large statue of Chiang Kai-Shek and if you are there on the hour, you can witness the changing of the guard.  


chiang kai shek memorial complex taipei taiwan
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial complex


              To get there take the Red or Green Line to the C.K.S Memorial Hall Station and leave through exit 4.  From here you can either walk north 2 minutes to the southern entrance, I recommend walking the few extra minutes by following the road around to the western entrance.  It is here that you can enter through the Gate of Liberty Square and see the full grandeur of the memorial. 



5. Elephant Mountain


taipei 101 elephant mountain taiwan
Taipei 101 from atop Elephant Mountain


              Elephant Mountain is a relatively short mountain on the edge of Taipei.  It is not an adventures hike, but it is worth climbing the 15-20 minutes to the top to get an amazing view of Taipei 101 and the town below.  There are three overlooks, the second of which has rock formations popular for Instagram, but the best view of course is at the top.  It is best to do the hike on a clear day to get the best view.
              To get there take the Red Line to Xiangshan Station (last stop) and leave through exit 2.  From here it is an 11 minute walk to the trailhead.  Follow the sidewalk along the park then take a left turn and a right at the split.  From there you will take the next right and the trailhead will be on your left.  


6. Taipei 101


taipei 101 taipei taiwan
Taipei 101


              Once you have seen Taipei 101 from above the next step is to head there to look up at it from below and then take the elevator all of the way up to the top and see Taipei from there.  Once the tallest building in the world, Taipei still holds the title of tallest building in Asia.  It has three viewing decks at the top; 88th floor is a closed observation deck, 89th floor has the large golden ballast ball, and the 90th floor is an open observation deck.  The ticket to the top is fairly expensive so check the visibility at the ticket office to make sure it is clear before going up (you don’t want to pay to go up if you can’t see anything).  Once your done with the observation deck come back down to the first floor and get a table at Din Tai Fung, the Michelin Star restaurant in Taipei 101. 
              To get there take the Red Line to Taipei 101/World Trade Center Station and leave through exit 4.  Upon exiting it will be the really tall building in front of you



7. Tamsui Old Street



              Tamsui Old Street might not technically be in Taipei, but it is a quick trip down the red line railway and easy few hour-long excursion.  The wharf is lined with shops and food stalls for the passer biers to indulge in and I highly recommend doing so.  The tempura calamari here is the best I have ever eaten in my life and is worth the trip on its own.  The tempura crab and Lebanese Ice Cream are also good recommendations to try.  From the wharf you can also take a short walk to the Fort San Domingo to take in a little history if you would like.


fort san domingo tamsui taiwan
Fort San Domingo


              To get there take the Red Line north to the last exit (Tamsui).  From there, exit the rear of the train station and you will be on the wharf.



8. Maokong Gondola


maokong gondola taipei taiwan
Maokong Gondola


              The gondola ride in Taipei is a great experience.  I suggest going in the evening so you can see the scenery during the daylight on your way up and Taipei lit up at night on your way back down.  You will have the option of two types of gondola cars, a regular and a glass bottomed one (which has a much longer line since there are not as many of them).  We took the glass bottomed up and the regular back and in my opinion the glass bottomed car wasn’t worth the wait.  There are three stops total along the way; the zoo, Zhinan Temple, and the Maokong station (mountain top).  I suggest once at the top walking up the street to one of the tea houses and grabbing a cup of tea.  There is nothing like drinking a nice cup of tea, made from tea leaves grown meters away, on the edge of a mountain side. 
              To get there take the Brown Line to the Taipei Zoo stop (last stop) and walk southwest for 350 meters. 



9. Parks


baoan park taipei taiwan
Baoan Park


              You don’t have to walk far to find a park in Taipei.  There is a wide array of different parks in Taipei, each with its own distinct touch.  Whether you are looking for some green expanse, creative/artsy, or wanting to do some people (or their dog) watching you’ll find a park in Taipei for you.  The more notable parks are Daan Forest Park and 2/28 Peace Park (plus one of my favorite – Baoan Park).  


goose daan forest park taipei taiwan
Daan Park


              Daan Forest Park is Taipei’s answer to New York’s Central Park.  Though no where close in size or scope, it does offer a great get away for people and their families.  With green grass, shade trees, a lake inhabited by lots of different birds and turtles, and walkways snaking throughout the park you will easily see why this is a popular getaway.  It is located at the MRT Daan Park Station on the Red Line.


peace park taipei taiwan
Peace Park


              2/28 Peace Park is another large park with relaxing pathways, ponds, and pavilions, but also houses a museum as well.  Well worth a visit to the park if you are in the area.  It is located near the western entrance to the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial at the NTU Hospital Station on the Red Line.



10. Craft Beer


sunmai taiwan craft beer
Sunmai, Taiwanese craft beer


              Rounding off my top 10 things to do in Taipei is craft beer.  It should be no surprise that the craft beer scene would make my list of top things to do in Taipei.  Like most of the rest of the world, the craft beer scene in Taiwan has exploded in the past few years.  Taiwan boast almost 20 craft breweries on the small island, most of which are located in Taipei.  Many of the breweries classify their beers into two different categories; Western and Asian styles.  The Western styles being Pale Ales, IPAs, Stouts, ext. and Asian styles being fruit or herbal beers.  You can get some of the beers in your local grocery stores but if you want to try a larger sampling of breweries you will need to venture out to the different brewery taprooms or local bars associated with the breweries.  They are located all over Taipei so it will best to search online for one near you. 



Instagram:


atop teapot mountain taiwan
Sitting atop Teapot Mountain


              The Instagram culture is alive and strong here in Taiwan and there are many Instagram worthy places to snap that perfect pic.  Some places are more popular than others and have gained tourist stop status, bringing in tourist from around the country to get a famous Instagram shot.  

What do you think?  Have you ever been to any of these places?  What are your favorite? 

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