Taipei City Guide - Taipei Travel Tips
Called “Formosa”, which is Portuguese for “Beautiful Island”, Taipei is that city waiting for you to be discovered. Food, night markets, nature… Everything is ready for you.
Reasons to visit
Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, has about 2.6 million inhabitants and is visited by many tourists throughout the year for a number of reasons.
This city is perfect to visit is you if you are a nature lover, you enjoy outdoors and hiking. Mountains are really close and public transport is very efficient and very easy to use.
In my opinion Taipei has a wonderful zoo and it’s a good place for families and a must visit for animal lovers and easy to reach by public transport.
Taipei is also famous for his night markets, very popular among locals and tourists. It’s the perfect place to try local food and other dishes, very cheap and tasty. You will never regret if you visit any of them.
Taipei 101 is the icon building of the capital and it’s great to spend your time here and you must not miss the Observatory’s view, but first you must check the weather if you want to enjoy the best view.
People are very nice and helpful if you ever need help or if you want to have some local friends. If you want to try different food must ask a Taiwanese friend what he would recommend for you.
Taiwan doesn’t have 4 seasons but you must know about the sub tropical climate. You must avoid raining seasons because of risks of typhoons.
My advice is to plan your trip between April and June or September and November because the weather is very nice and it’s not tourist peak.
If you are traveling on budget you can choose to travel between December and March. You must be aware it might be raining, so don’t forget your umbrella and plan wisely if you intend hiking.
Taipei has a friendly public transit system including subway, connecting areas of interest of the city, and buses. The public system transport works very well, it’s affordable and it’s very easy to use.
EasyCard and Taipei Pass are the choices to move around. EasyCard is just a reloadable card for buses and metros and can be with 20% cheaper than a singular ticket. It requires an NT 100 deposits and after that recharge with the amount you need. Can be purchased at the machines at MRT stations and can be refilled at convenience stores.
Taipei Pass it’s a not reloadable pass which covers unlimited transport on the metro and buses for 1, 2, 3 or 5 days. This card also can be purchased at the machines at MRT stations and the cost starts for NT 180 for 1 day to NT 700 for 5 days.
Taipei MRT it’s a modern metro system which cover most of the areas of the city and works from 6 AM until midnight. It’s very easy to use and tourist friendly because the announcement are also in English.
The main language in Taiwan is Taiwanese Mandarin which is based on the phonology of the Beijing dialect. Other languages speak are Taiwanese Hakka (native Taiwanese), and Formosan languages. You might hear some Japanese from the prior Japanese period.
English it’s a must learn in school, so young people, under 40 can speak basic. Don’t worry, as a tourist you will not have any issues, Taiwanese people are friendly and happy to help you even with the language barriers.
In Taiwan, the power plugs and sockets are of the type A and B. Having your smartphone or camera charged for taking pictures is mandatory in this beautiful city. We suggest having this travel adapter.
In Taiwan, the currency used is the New Taiwan Dollar or short, NT. You can exchange your money at most local banks or their exchanges. Another option can be using ATM`s, which is safe and very easy to use.
Must Try Food
In my opinion, Taipei is the city where you can find food at every corner of the street. Not just convenience stores which sell so called junk food, but small restaurant, not fancy, but with multiple choices of food.
I will try to make a list with the most famous Taiwanese dishes you must try before you leave this country.
Oyster omelet it’s a dish you might find at any sea food restaurant but also at small restaurants. You might see a live cooking show. It’s easy to cook with simple ingredients but never eat with that brilliant sauce which made the best taste.
Beef Noodle Soup it’s a soup that you will find everywhere, at almost every corner of the street. This dish is one of the nationals dishes and every restaurant, family business or fancy has their own recipe.
Must know that every year Taiwan is hosting Taipei International Beef Noodle Festival. If you are lucky to find it go for it! More noodles for you.
Hot pot it’s a simple dish that you might enjoy as well. The soup will have a rich taste if it’s cook with meat and a sweet taste from seafood and vegetables. Can be cooked with beef, pork, chicken or lamb and, of course must not miss garlic, ginger, dried chili peppers. The recipe can be also adapted for vegan people which will love that when they feel the taste of tofu and mushrooms.
Sticky Rice Dumpling it’s almost a universal dish in Asia but Taiwanese recipe contain mushrooms, dried shrimps, peanut or chestnuts with pork. Another recipes might contain picked radish with salted egg yolk. Very affordable and very easy to find, I think you will find this dish at every restaurant.
Fan Tuan is breakfast choice and looks like a burrito made of sticky rice and braised egg, pork floss, bacon, pickled radish, pickled mustard greens and even sugar. If you are in hurry, this dish is an option on-to-go breakfast.
Taiwanese Fried Chicken is like the Korean fried chicken, fried twice tossed with pepper, salt and basil but it’s dusted with five different spices. It’s very delicious and very good for people which love tasty and simple dishes.
Scallion Pancake, also known as onion pancake it’s one of the best dishes on street food. Can be served with ham, cheese, eggs, corn and more.
Taiwan is famous for drinking tea and has a reputation for producing the Oolong tea. Of course, you can find plenty of others flavors because it’s the perfect place for producing because of the climate.
Pearl Milk Tea or Bubble tea is known as national official drink and it’s imported all over the world. It has a fresh and cool taste and it’s perfect for heat.
Taiwanese Whiskey is produced by Kavalan Distillery, and they have their own recipe. It’s very popular because of tropical fruit taste. It is very appreciate all over the world and won many awards in this domain.
Kaoliang liquor has a local recipe and the alcohol volume range between 38 and 63 percent but also can be stronger with 92 percent alcohol. It is considered one of the strongest drink in the world.
How to get there
Taipei is one of the most important hubs in Asia between the Nord and South. If you are flying its possible to have here a layover and it’s the perfect opportunity to spend a nice time here, even you didn’t plan it. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Taipei Songshan Airport are the airport that usually you will arrive.
So, in our opinion, it’s perfect for a city break here, the perfect escape. You don’t need to carry too many things, just enjoy your time here. If you want to check the best fly tickets you can trust kiwi.com. Kiwi can help to find also best fly on your way home.
You can spend good time in cars with locals, and they can suggest you different places to visit which could be more useful than guides.
Things to know
Eat and drink like a local. You will never regret because you will find plenty of dishes for your taste.
MRT rules: don’t eat, don’t drink, be quiet. Inside of metro station: walk on left, stand on right.
The Taiwanese can be superstitious so you must know a few things: don’t give as gifts clothes, white flowers, knives, scissors, or watchers, those items are related to death. Don’t open your gift as soon as you receive it.
Don’t talk about politics. Relationship between Taiwan and China it’s a sensible subject.
Dress as you wish, Taipei is a liberal city and you don’t have limitations. You can eat, drink, party as loon as you wish. You can have plenty of opportunity and options.
Where to stay
Taipei has multiple options for finding a cheap or expensive place to stay. As I said, could be expensive but you can fit also on a budget. If you don’t have to worry about your budget can book plenty of hotels rooms and pensions where you like on www.booking.com or www.agoda.com.
If you don’t worry about your budget we suggest The Gaia Hotel – Taipei with breakfast included and a nice view of the city. Another choice can be The Okura Prestige Taipei in great an area for shopping.
It’s a different city and must consider how much you will to walk, how close to the city center it is your place. If you like to hang out with a local you can book a room on www.airbnb.com and you can find a good price for your accommodation.
Also, if you can stay with them for free using Couchsurfing app. You can use it also only if you want to meet with them. If you are traveling on a budget or not couch surfing seems to be a good idea.
It’s a great opportunity for making new friends maybe for a week or maybe for a lifetime, you never know. Hostels are less expensive than a hotel room. Why spend 300$/night for a hotel room when you can spend 30$/night for a hostel room?! The culture of making friends never fails to amaze people.
Now we are getting to our top. Here are some of the most beautiful sites Taipei presents to its visitors. In other words, let’s start!
Landmark of Taipei, Taipei 101 is the eleventh tallest skyscraper in the world and used to be the tallest from 2004 to 2010. His original name is Taipei World Financial or Taipei Financial Center and it is situated in Xinyi District of Taipei.
It has 101 floors and 508 meters high and the architecture resemble with a bamboo growing from earth. It’s the most important financial hub from Taipei.
First floors are designated as commercial department, full of shops, restaurants and cafes. It preferred by most of the people for shopping and leisure.
Also, you can see an amazing view for from Observatory of the entire city, but you must check the weather before for outdoor observatory from 91 floor. Or you can have a nice view from indoor observatory situated at 89 floor.
NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM
This museum is the house of Chinese historical treasures during the past ten thousand years.
It has wonderful permanent exhibitions, and periodically changes its countless treasures from time to time. So, if you are an art lover, this museum must be on your bucket list.Entrance fee will cost around TWD350.
The place is huge, can take a few hours to fully explore it. I recommend some photos outside also, the palace looks amazing!
NATIONAL CHIANG KAI-SHEK MEMORIAL HALL
If you love or are interested in Chinese art, this is the place to go. You won’t find anything like it in mainland China as it was brought here when Mao established the People’s Republic. It is HUGE.
I can’t believe people complain that they didn’t see the entire collection. It will take several hours for even non-museum types to make it through all the rooms. Calligraphy, painting, porcelain, bronze, jade, you name it.
I also can’t believe reviewers comments like cost (approx US $10), cold (in the summer it’s stifling outside and with the volume of people inside wouldn’t you want AC), and crowds (isn’t that a good thing, that people–especially the Chinese–want to see what is there).
Go and enjoy, along with thousands of others, the greatest works from the Chinese that stretch back to before China even existed. It’s easy to get to by taking the metro red line to Shilin, then hoping in a taxi right in the queue outside the station, which will cost about $5.
Don’t miss the stunning outside (for free) and notice the steps that when looked at straight on form an artwork. There are lots of shops and a few places to eat and/or drink within the building. You can also store your belongings in a locker for free
SHILIN NIGHT MARKET
Taipei is famous for his night markets, is a Taiwanese way of spending time, hang out, good places to eat local food and for shopping. Shilin Night Market is one of the many night market that you must not miss.
Could me crowded but it worth it because the prices are affordable and the food… very delicious. You can try here local food like beef noodle soup, oyster omelet, hot pot or scallion pancake.
Taipei Zoo is the perfect zoo if you are traveling with your family and not only. You must reserve your entire day because are so many nice and cute animals to see.
To reach here is not that difficult, you can you your EasyCard or Taipei Pass. First you will take the metro and then after you with take the funicular. You will enjoy an amazing view of Taipei and your children will love it. Entrance fee will cost 60NT$ for adults and half for students and children.
Taipei Zoo is dedicated zoo to endangered species like Giant Panda, Red Panda, Koala, Gorilla and more. The Council of Agriculture, Taipei Zoo and the Natural Ecological Education Foundation join together to develop special project for these animals. Also, it has a rescue center.
It has great variety of animals to see, good and clean facilities, with enough choices for good food.
In my opinion, this is the best attraction in Taipei. The place is vast. Even so, it is navigable on foot. You can also take the zoo’s shuttle train avoiding walking. There are areas for eating and drinking (free water dispensers).
The animal enclosures are large (of course it does not compare to having them in the wild) and animals are wide-ranging. Some like lions, kangaroos, spotted hyenas were nowhere to be found in their enclosure
Lungshan Temple it’s a must visit to Taipei. It’s very easy yo reach here, you can find a ride on the Metro from anywhere in the city. We were encouraged by way the temple is actively embraced by the local Buddhist community.
Please, when you visit, be respectful of the believers who are practicing their faith. Don’t go sticking your cameras in their faces. They are not there for your entertainment.
Also, it was delighted to see that, even though it’s a Buddhist temple dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy (Guan-Yin in Chinese or Avalokitesvara in Sanskrit), the temple also features numerous Taoist deities, which demonstrates religious tolerance. Nice.
If you happen to catch a sunny day, the beautiful colors employed by master temple builder, Wang Yi-shun, truly pop in the sunlight. And inasmuch as this temple is located so near many other important sights, there’s no reason not to visit.
Shi-Men Ting it’s a shopping district, one of the famous in Taipei very popular during night and the perfect place for party people. Looks like a Japanese district, full of fashion stores, beauty salons, clubs, bars and more.
It’s a good place for you if you are very hungry, for shopping, drinking. Also, I need a hair make-over, so I dyed my hair here blue… yes, blue.
It’s located pretty close to Taipei Main Station, so is easy to reach here, don’t worry about it. Very popular for tourists and young people, has plenty of exhibitions and street performers.
TAIPEI MAIN STATION
Like its subway counterpart (the MRT), Taipei’s main station is the epitome of efficiency, good service, orderliness and punctuality.
While people working there may have some difficulty communicating in English, the signs are of great help. They are written both in the local language and in English and you just have to follow them and you won’t get lost.
As to the train schedules, again everything is so clearly indicated. All the details are posted: time of arrival, departure, destination, class, price, etc. The place is also very clean and modern.
There are also shops to while your time away while waiting for your train. Thumbs up to the Taiwanese!
NATIONAL REVOLUTIONARY MARTYRS’ SHRINE
The main reason for visiting National Revolutionary Martyrs Shrine was to see the changing of the guard ceremony. The ceremony takes place every hour on the hour with the last 20 minutes before closing.
The soldiers are immaculately dressed with mirror finish helmets and rifles with chrome fittings. The procession is synchronized and so precise that the path across the plaza is marked by straight lines of leather worn off from their boots.
You are able to walk with the guards as the crowds are much smaller than at the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. The highlight of the ceremony is the display of rifle handling skills at the shrine entrance gate.
Once the new guards come on duty a “dresser” cleans and arranges the guard’s uniforms so that they hang and look perfect.
Peace Memorial Park is located in the center of Taipei’s government district. The location is not fortuitous. Late in the 1940s, after World War II had ended and the Chinese Nationalist government had relocated to island Taiwan, an awful dispute over the island’s governance erupted over a small instance involving a vendor and police.
In the end, many native Taiwanese scholars, intellectuals, and prominent people were killed or incarcerated. Between that time and about 1986 (a very in-exact date), native Taiwanese often referred to the political and personal violence of that short time as the 228 Incident.
Taiwan subsequently, in the late 1908s and 1990s, developed a thriving tradition of democratic political expression and practice. Peace Memorial Park is one codification of Taiwan’s transformation.
Instead of a semi-secret, whispered about in one’s family living room, the 228 incident is now memorialized in the form of a prominent public park, complete with a pond, languid herons and ducks, always-busy pigeons, and teenagers practicing water-color painting. Black squirrels bounding from tree to tree across the grass add an industrious dimension.
This park is a nice place to visit. Tourists who want to remove themselves for a time from Taipei’s frenetic back-and-forth will like this enclave in the city center. Others more aware of the island’s political history will reflect on enormous changes that have occurred during the past 50 years.
Outside the city
HOUTONG CAT VILLAGE
Taiwan is an amazing country if you are a pet lover. When we were in Japan I wanted an experience with cats but was a little expensive, but here in Taiwan my dream come true really cheap. Cat cafes and cat purridise: Houtong Cat Village! Here you can have one of Taipei day trips.
The timing of our trip in Taiwan wasn’t the best because in January and February it’s raining season and it’s not so good for outdoor activities.
We love this cat purridise, but we didn’t all the beauty because of the heavy rain.
Houdong Cat Village is a Taiwan tourist attractions, a village in Ruifang District, New Taipei, Taiwan famous for its cat population. It was once a rich small mining town in Ruifang, renowned for a well-preserved culture surrounding its railway, which was built during the Japanese rule of Taiwan.
As the coal mining industry began to decline in the 1990s, the area also declined, but things started taking a turn for the better from 2008, when a local cat lover named Peggy Chien start offering abandoned cats a better life. Their efforts wasn’t in vain because people saw their pictures online and start heaving interest about.
This is how Houtong became a center for cat lovers as word spread, and the number of cats living there increased – thus reviving a declining village, and transforming it into a tourist destination. More information and experiences you can find here.
YANGMINGSHAN NATIONAL PARK
This destination is the most beautiful in Spring but is fantastic year round weather permitting. Locals and visitors visit this national park for mountains from which you have many nice views of Taipei city down in the basin.
There are many roads and hiking trails to explore and this is arguably one of the best places to go motorcycling in Asia if you have the skills. In winter visit the restaurant hot springs up there and in mid summer go to cool off.
Yangmingshan National Park is twenty minutes drive away from Taipei, so this amazing place is pretty close to the city.
This monument of nature is for people who love nature and wants to be as close to nature as possible. Walk from the main road to the water fall was excellent.
You need to be prepared to walk a bit – no hiking though. The waterfall is beautiful and if you get there at the right time, you might be lucky to see rainbows.
The suspension bridge that takes you there is also unique and offer such pretty site. A must do if you are in the area.
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