Whenever Taipei is mentioned, many immediately think of the iconic Taipei 101, bustling night markets and mouth-watering small bites. With various hot spots to visit, food to eat and activities to undertake, here is our Taipei fun guide.
Lungshan Temple is located in the district Manka of Taipei. Founded in 1738 and dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy (Kuan-in in Chinese, or Avalokitesvara in Sanskrit), Lungshan Temple is a masterpiece of traditional Chinese architecture and a well-established Buddhist temple. The Taiwanese government designated it a historical site on 19 August, 1985. Within walking distance from the temple is the well-known Snake Alley located on Huaxi Street & Mengjia Night Market. This place is a night market with an interesting history and a unique character. In the early years before becoming a tourist destination, it was a red light district where gangsters hung out.
Ximending abounds with youthful energy and rightly so. It has been called the “Shibuya of Taipei” and is youngsters’ territory. Occupying a few blocks along Chunghwa Road, the area is filled with shops, cafes, restaurants and food stalls. Ximending features the country’s first and largest pedestrian area and is a bustling, energetic place. Before movie theatres exploded all over Taipei, people used to go to the main “theatre street” in Ximending to watch the latest films or shows. The Red Theatre (www.redhouse.org.tw) is one of the oldest in the country and now hosts cultural art events and live performances. On the weekends, you’ll find college students selling handmade jewellery and other handcraft items at the many stalls occupying the theatre plaza.
Must Eat Classic Taiwanese Noodles
You cannot leave the island without trying a bowl of thick soupy vermicelli noodles with oysters and/or braised pork intestines, topped with black vinegar, minced garlic and coriander. This classic Taiwanese dish can be found in night markets all over the country, but I highly recommend Ay-chung (MRT Ximen Station Exit 6), which is located in Ximending. The store is impossible to miss, since you’ll see a lot of people queuing outside. Tables and seats are not offered here so be prepared to stand and slurp.
Image: davidreid, Flickr
One of Taipei’s best feature is the ease of getting around the city and offers a variety of transport modes including its highly praised MRT system. However, accessibility really shoots up at ground level with YouBike which is officially Taipei’s Bike Sharing System. It is made up of a large network of bicycle rental kiosks in Taipei City. There are now over 160 YouBike posts throughout the city. You can rent a bike from place A and return it at place B. To rent a one, simply buy and top-up an EasyCard from any convenience store, such as 7-Eleven or FamilyMart, and register on the official YouBike website (www.youbike.com.tw). The website is helpful because it also tells you where all the YouBikes are parked, whether there are still YouBikes available or free parking space. Upon leaving the country, just return the card at any MRT station to get back what is still left in the card.
Changing Of The Guards At Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Watch the changing of the guards at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (www.cksmh.gov.tw). Take the MRT to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station. You may enter from any direction but the main entrance faces Zhongshan South Road, with a large white and blue archway inscribed with the words, “Plaza of Freedom”. The entire site occupies a large area of about 250,000sq m. The changing of the guards takes place everyday, every hour from 9am to 5pm except special holidays. It is said that the guards are “carefully selected” to ensure they were “presentable.”
Slurp A Bowl Of Beef Noodle Soup.
You’ve not been to Taipei if you leave the island without having slurped a bowl of beef noodle soup! Taiwan’s version of the beef noodles soup is made with cubed braised beef and sour vegetables in clear beef broth. The trick to locating a good, authentic bowl is to search for a restaurant that doesn’t look like much. Try Yong-kang Beef Noodle (MRT Dongmen Station Exit 4), which is only a 10-minute walk away from the Memorial Hall. I would suggest going during non-meal periods to avoid having to queue for too long. Stroll around the streets; Yong-kang street itself is a lane packed with foodie attractions.
Drink Milk Tea With Pearls
Moving towards the commonly known “east area”, the busy region off Zhongxiao East Road, the many SOGO Department stores are attention-grabbers, while numerous self-owned boutique shops occupy the lanes and alleys creating a minor buzz as well. In this neighbourhood, you’ll also be welcomed to all sorts of restaurants, cafes and diners. Taiwan’s pearl milk teas are must-haves, but it is difficult to find freshly made pearls; a large batch for a day tends to be made in the morning. Ten Ren Tea (www.tenren.com.tw) (MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Station Exit 8), located near the intersection of Dun Hua South Road and Zhongxiao East Road, remains one of the city’s most adored tea escapes despite its higher price.
Taiwanese Style Breakfast
Taiwanese style breakfast is a must-have without a doubt. The typical breakfast combo people is a deep-fried strip of dough known as “youtiao” with rice congee, a baked sesame flatbread with rice milk, or an egg pancake with soy milk. You can easily find breakfast vendors in the morning all over the city, but there are also many in town that serve breakfast 24 hours a day. Chiang Family’s (MRT Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Station Exit 3) offers a large range of quality tasty items on their menu.
Traditional Shaved Ice Dessert
Traditional shaved ice with three or four choices of toppings is one of the most well-liked, mainstream desserts in Taiwan. The choices of toppings would usually include the infamous pearls, of course, red and green beans, peanuts, taro balls, sweet potato, jelly and local fruits. Many stores featuring traditional shaved ice have been affected by newcomers; however, some have survived unscathed. East District Pearls (www.efy.com.tw) (MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua Station Exit 3) is one of these.
New architectural additions like Taipei 101 (www.taipei-101.com.tw) (MRT Taipei 101 World Trade Centre Station), have placed the city firmly in the international spotlight. Designed like a bamboo, the building represents growth – the bamboo – and double prosperity – the two number eights. Go up to the observatory on the 89th floor from the fifth floor via the world’s fastest elevator; takes only 38 seconds. You’ll be vowed by a 360-degree view of the entire city.
There are many options when it comes to accommodations. Low costs hostels and youth camps are available all year round. For a more luxurious holiday, there are many international class hotels that will cater to every need. Whatever your budget, check out http://www.travelmatrixz.com for the best deals in hotels accommodation.