Updated: 8/22/2018 | August 22nd, 2018
Living Taipei was an interesting experience. The city sprawls out into the Danshui valley, and I found it to be very un-western when compared to a city like Bangkok. I had a lot of fun when I was there, but the city and I just never fully connected. Don’t get me wrong, I think Taipei is a great city, even though I wouldn’t live there again. Some cities you click with, some you don’t. However, Taipei has a lot to offer and I would certainly go back for a visit.
It’s refreshing to see that English is not common, there aren’t as many foreigners living there, the international cuisine is not as good or abundant, and the city is rather mellow. All of these factors combine to create a very unique destination, something like a mix between Hong Kong and mainland China. While Taipei is a sprawling and crowded city, you never really feel like you are drowning in chaos. I found the city to have a lot of open and green space and to be very clean. In most of Southeast Asia, you get used to controlled chaos. I never got that feeling in Taiwan and it was a nice change of pace.
If you find yourself in Taipei and are looking for some things to do, here are my top suggestions to help you get the most out of your trip:
Visit Taipei 101
Visiting Taipei 101 was hands down the best thing I did or saw my whole time in Taipei. Standing 509m, it’s the 5th tallest building in the world and was the tallest building in the world from 2004-2010. I love Taipei 101 and it’s one of the most impressive modern thing I have seen. I only saw it once but I wish I went more so definitely consider visiting more than once. Admission is 600 NT for adults, and the tower is open daily from 9am-10pm.
See Longshan Temple
The Longshan Temple was built in 1738 during the Ching dynasty. It’s one of the most famous temples in the country and a major tourist site, with influences from both Buddhism and Chinese deities. It’s been destroyed several times by earthquakes as well as during World War II but has always been rebuilt. There are three larges halls to explore, though you’ll want to come early to avoid the crowds. The temple is open daily from 6am-10pm and admission is free (though donations are encouraged).
Visit the Shinlin Market
This is the largest night market in Taipei and is famous for both its size and chaos. It get’s busy around 9pm and is open until well after midnight. You’ll find lots of great things here but the real reason to come is for the delicious food stalls. There are over 500 food stalls that serve up a wide variety of delicious (or at least interesting) Taiwanese food if you feel like sampling some of the local delicacies.
Enjoy free beer at Brass Monkey
Brass Monkey has free drinks for women on Thursday night, so if you feel like a night out and want to save some money, head here.
Check out the serenity of Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall at night
This is an underrated area if you ask me. At night you’ll find groups of people outside utilizing the space for activities like yoga, dancing, and music. But the park is very big and spacious so it’s actually quite quiet. Dimly lit, I found the area near the pond to be the most serene and relaxing. It’s a great place for an evening stroll.
Head to the hot springs
Located just 30 minutes north of the city by train, Danshui has some great hot springs if you’re in the need for some R&R. With so much volcanic activity, Taiwan has a lot of natural hot springs to offer, so don’t hesitate to treat yourself! Other great nearby places for a soak are Beitou, Wulai, and Yangmingshan National Park. Prices will range from 300-800 NT.
Enjoy all your can drink at the clubs in Warner Village
Before my visit to Warner Village, I’d never been to a place where it is all you can drink — but you can bet I took advantage of it! It’s right near Taipei 101, and there are plenty of cinemas around if you feel like catching a movie.
Visit the Taipei Zoo
This definitely one of the more popular attractions in the city, and the lines get very long on the weekend — especially to see the pandas. To dodge the crowd, try visiting on a weekday. In addition to the sought-after pandas, the zoo is home to tons of amphibians and reptiles, an insectarium, penguins, and more! The zoo is open from 9am-5pm during the week and then 8:30-5pm on weekends. Admission is 60 NT for adults, with discounts available.
Check out the Botanical Gardens
These gardens were first built in 1896 and span more than 8 hectares. There are some 2,000 species of plants here, as well. With such an expansive and relaxing space so close to the city, you would think this would be a popular thing to do but, even on a beautiful Saturday afternoon the gardens were empty when I visited. Come here for a nice stroll and some peace and quiet. The gardens are open daily from 5:30am-10pm and admission is free.
Visit Snake Alley
Located right next to Longshan Temple is the Huaxi Street Night Market, aka Snake Alley. It’s a night market infamous for some of its more peculiar offerings, including various snake drinks and delicacies. Up until 1991, this was actually a Red Light district so many of the locals aren’t big fans of the area. While I think it’s definitely worth checking out, I wouldn’t come here to eat.
Hike Yangmingshan National Park
If you really want to get out and stretch your legs, head to Yangmingshan National Park. There are several options for day hikes here, many that are popular with the locals. Inside the park you’ll also find a natural hot spring and plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat. You could easily spend a few days exploring the park and its trails, so be sure to get a map and proper directions ebfore heading out. From the main station in Taipei the journey by bus will take around 45 minutes and cost 30 NT. Admission to the park is free.
Whether you’re visiting for a single day or an entire month, Taipei has a lot to offer anyone willing to get out there and explore. With something to offer for everyone, I hope you can see why it makes a great Saturday City!
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