A proud city with the oddity of a mixed Chinese-Japanese heritage, a fusion of the modern and the ancient, and a seamless blending of nature and city blocks.
As a capital, Taipei is considered small by international standards, but its thriving cultural scene and market hubs more than make up for its size. In fact, the city is home to several world-class architectural landmarks that'll make you feel tiny as an ant.
Once ignored by visitors, the city has now become a mainstay in travel blogs and articles as a top destination; so no more dawdling and write Taipei down on your bucket list, then tick it off ASAP—especially if you call yourself a foodie. ;)
Best time to visit: Mid September-Mid December for dry and pleasant weather.
Currency: New Taiwan Dollar (NT$)
Language: Mandarin (most signs are in English)
Taoyuan Airport (TPE) is the primary international hub of Taiwan which is conveniently connected to the city by rail.
Two trains, an Express and a Commuter, operate a direct service from the airport to Taipei Main Station, about 37min and 50min respectively; with the last train leaving at 11pm.
Fare: One way NT$160
Tip: If arriving at wee-hours, your best transportation, albeit expensive, is Uber. Fare: One way NT$800 - NT$1000
Getting around: MRT is the most efficient way to see the city, since most sights are walking distance from the metro stations. Fare: Buy the EASY CARD for NT$100 (no expiry date) + minimum credit of NT$100, Easy Card Perks: Convenience store purchases, 20% discount on MRT fares, Taipei Zoo admission, Youbike Bicycle rentals, City buses
Thank you : xie xie (shie-shie)
Hello : ni hao (ni-haw)
Good : hao
How much? : duo shao? (dwo-shaw)
Bill please : mai dan
Yes : shi (sher)
No : bu shi (pu-sher)
Do: Tip in bars
Don’t: Talk about Taiwan-China politics; Leave chopsticks standing upright in a bowl of rice; Wear shoes indoors; Tip in restaurants
10AM YABOO CAFE
Hipsters’ Coffee Paradise
Taipei's love for a good bite extends well to a good cup of coffee. This city is literally saturated with local coffee joints and hip cafés—truly a haven for caffeine junkies.
Yaboo sits cushily in the central part of the city, blending well with the narrow streets, boutique shops, eateries, and other cafés. A good place to start before wandering around one of Taipei's shopping hotspots.
It's always packed with a rather young crowd, who like drinking light roast coffee. Go with the café's drip choices, as they are excellent in bringing out the beans’ authentic flavor.
Take the RED line,
Alight at DONGMEN station,
Take EXIT 5,
Follow YONGKANG street and go past the PARK,
Turn RIGHT on LISHUI street for YABOO II
11.30AM CHIANG KAI-SHEK MEMORIAL
A Monument's Grandeur Without the Delusions
Stroll over to Taipei's most popular tourist destination after your shopping spree in Yongkang street. This enormous memorial hall is surrounded by a vast courtyard, a wide park, and 3 other notable buildings.
Fact: The characters behind Chiang's statue read "Ethics", "Democracy", and "Science".
The inscriptions on the side read
"The purpose of life is to improve the general life of humanity" and
"The meaning of life is to create and sustain subsequent lives in the universe".
It sees thousands of visitors each day, so it could get a bit suffocating here. Catch your breath by running down the steps into the openness of the grounds.
A Century Old Market
When you've had your fair share of playing tourist at the memorial park, go across the road (from the main entrance), and step inside Taipei's one-stop shop for fresh and dry goods, for souvenirs and quick bites, and… for FREE SAMPLES!
You can buy tea here for the lowest of prices, instead of going to specialty stores elsewhere in the city.
2.30PM MAOKONG GONDOLA
Crystal Cabin to the Skies
A captivating and relaxing cable car ride that stretches for about 4km (2.5mi) up the mountains. You'll be flying over endless hills clad in forest greens and tea plantations, as well as typical rural-life scenes.
The ride also offers marvelous panoramic views of the city, challenged only by Taipei 101. When you reach the final stop, saunter up and down the hills, then sit at one of the cafés for a sip of their local tea.
Take the RED line for Xiangshan,
Alight at DAAN station,
Switch to BROWN LINE for Taipei Zoo,
Get off at the last station, 5) Climb stairs to Gondola Station
Fare: Use Easy Card, Roundtrip NT$240
Tip: The queue for the Crystal Cabins are usually shorter. We strongly urge you to take this instead of the regular one.
6.30 RAOHE NIGHT MARKET
Your Gateway to Taiwan's Endless Night Markets
Eating hot pepper buns, grilled squid, fried squid, handmade mochi, dumplings, and many more scrumptious grubs, is best done in the night markets of Taipei.
Raohe is a good spot for night market newbies because of its less aggressive crowd and its pedestrian-friendly food stalls—a 600m walk along heavenly tempting treats.
Spend your first night in this market stuffing your mouth, burning it even, with all the delicacies Raohe has in line for you.
By MRT (From Maokong)
Take the BROWN line,
Alight at NANJING FUXING station,
Switch to GREEN line,
Get off at SONGSHAN station,
Take EXIT 5,
Follow Section 4 Bade Road
9AM TREASURE HILL
A Perfect Artists and Local Families Symbiosis
Start your day with a bicycle ride towards Treasure Hill, an illegal settlement turned artist village. A place rich in history unseen by the naked eyes, it serves as Taipei's closet full of unlabeled boxes, waiting to unravel its contents to the ever curious mind.
Treasure hill redraws and reshapes itself depending on the present art exhibits, so your experience here will absolutely be different from ours.
Tip: Permanent residents of the Hill offer free guided tours on weekends, you can join them for a deeper understanding of Treasure Hill. *Use your Easy Card to rent a city Bike.
12PM JIUFEN OLD STREET
To Be Spirited Away
Taiwan has a way of spoiling its visitors with excessive options. The Old streets are prime examples of this overchoice, there are many, but you can opt for the most famous or for the most convenient. Jiufen nabs the top spot as it is everyone's favorite. You'll see why. As you get off the bus and start to follow the flow of the throng, an initial agoraphobia-like sensation washes over you, it's ok… just breathe slowly and let them push you onwards.
The winding, dizzying street will seem infinite—sometimes taking you up, at times down. Again, just take it slow, there are several landings where you can catch your breath, grab a bite, and scrutinise some souvenir items.
Known as Miyazaki's inspiration for Spirited Away, the place is more exciting if you're an otaku—imagine yourself turning into a pig after eating all the good stuff under the reddish glow of the lanterns!
Stay here until late evening to witness the street in a different atmosphere.
By BUS (From Treasure Hill)
Take GREEN line for Sonshang,
Alight at XIMEN station,
Take Exit 2,
Take Bus 965 in front of Armed Forces Cultural Center
Fare: Use Easy card, One way NT$90
Tip: Taipei is also blessed with great breakfast-only eateries (wouldn't be a foodie heaven if there weren’t, would it?). Go ask a local where to find one near your lodging.