Taipei City Guide
Taipei is the energetic capital of Taiwan and situated in the valley of the Danshui River. Taipei was once an agrarian economy, home to rice and vegetable farmers but today Taipei is a bustling vibrant city, which is the capital of a diplomatically isolated nation home to a population that is quite up to speed and connected with all that goes on in the world.
The city of Taipei experienced rapid economic growth after World War II and today it is a thoroughly modern urban center which is littered with soaring skyscrapers, the most famous of which is the heaven touching Taipei 101 tower which is named for its 101 floors and is the city’s international financial center and chief tourist attraction.
Taipei as a city has much to offer in the form of excellent restaurants, glitzy hotels, bustling shopping malls, animated street markets museums, temples, spas and gardens all of which contribute to make it an invigorating vacation destination.
Where to stay in Taipei
Taipei’s many hotels are scattered all over the city. Most of the leading hotel chains in the world have a presence in Taipei.
The Xinyi District is the financial district of Taipei which hosts several business-centric buildings of the city like Taipei 101, Taipei City Council, the Taipei International Center and The Tapei Convention Center. Also located within the Xinyi district are many restaurants, Taipei luxury hotels, attractions like the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and some of the best shopping haunts of the city. The various conveniences offered by the Xinyi district make it a favored accommodation option with both business and leisure travelers on a visit to Taipei.
Zhonghshan is a verdant area of Taipei that hosts several green spaces like Rongxing Garden, Xinsheng Park, Zhongshan Fine Arts Park, the Dajia Riverside Park, and the Taipei Municipal Children's Recreation Area. This area also hosts numerous hotels of various grades and types along with a lively bar district and various other attractions like the Xingtian (Singtian) Temple. Zhongshan is well connected to the rest of Taipei via the Yuanshan Metro Station and if you have preference for green surroundings then perhaps one of the many hotels located in the Zhongshan will meet your accommodation requirements.
The Da’an neighborhood of Taipei hosts the city’s main educational institutions. The neighborhood also offers excellent shopping areas like Zhongxiao East Road, Dunhua South Road as well as popular department stores and malls like Breeze Center and the Pacific Sogo Department Store and markets like the Guanghua computer market, the Jianguo Holiday Flower and Jade Market, the Shida Night Market and Tonghua Night Market.
Yet another attraction of Da’an is the restaurant row of Yongkang Street, which hosts the original outlet of the world-famous, Taiwanese restaurant, Din Tai Fung, which now has outlets all over the world. If shopping and dining are your prime interests on your trip to Taipei, then one of many hotels located in Da’an should get your vote.
Places to see in Taipei
The National Palace Museum
This museum houses the fabulous works of art annexed by the Chinese emperors since the 10th Century. The collection has traveled through many locations and has found its resting place in Taipei. At any one time not all of the collections are on display. The treasures are stored in a vault carved into the mountainside.
The Taipei International Financial center is currently the world’s tallest building at 508 meters. It is said to have been constructed on a fault line. There are observation decks at various levels; the first one is on the 89th floor though if you want to go up further you are required to pay additional fees. If you do not want to go up to the observation decks, you can indulge in the delights of the shopping mall and fantastic Asian food court on the lower floors. Both these attractions cater to the local Taiwanese obsessions for eating and shopping. The Taipei 101 is the most popular attraction in the city that is considered to be a must-visit by visitors on a vacation to Taipei.
The Chiang Kai Shek Memorial
The magnificent memorial to the late leader stands in the National Democracy Park and is built of marble. Well manicured lawns and Koi ponds are located all throughout the memorial, which also has a statue of Chiang Kai Shek and a library on the ground floor. The library offers exhibits of photos and other memorabilia. Adjacent to the Memorial are the National Theater and the National Concert Hall; both of which are exponents of traditional Chinese style.
The most famous temple of Taipei dedicated to the goddess Guanyin was built in 1738 by settlers from the Fuijan province of China. Over the years, the temple has been destroyed by earthquakes, typhoons and even bombings by the Allies in the Second World War. The Taiwanese have rebuilt the temple time and again. The temple is symbolic of the resilience of the Taiwanese people.
The Postal Museum is a museum devoted to the mail delivery systems of Taiwan. It chronicles the development of this system over the ages along with exhibits of 80,000 stamps from 120 countries. In addition, the postal system also has exhibits of postal uniforms etc. This is perhaps one of the most unique museums in the world.
This temple devoted to the great philosopher Confucius is generally a peaceful sanctuary except on October 28th each year when there are elaborate ceremonies held here to commemorate the great philosop birthday.
Pao An Temple
Located in the vicinity of the Confucius temple is the 230 year old Pao An Temple. The temple is a place of worship for followers to Taoism and the deities worshipped here are Pao Sheng (god of medicine),Ju Lai Fo (god of luck) and Chu Seng Niang Niang the goddess of birth and fertility.
This shrine is dedicated to Taipei’s fallen heroes. The shrine is an exponent of the architecture associated with the Ming dynasty. The shrine is accordingly adorned with a splendid archway, tranquil paths and a changing of the guards, which is quite like the one at Buckingham Palace and a major attraction.
Sun Yat –Sen Memorial Hall
This monument, which is devoted to the father of the Republic of China, is adorned with an impressive bronze statue of the leader and other memorabilia such as photos. Tours of the memorial also include a multi-media presentation highlighting the events in the life of Dr. Sun Yat- Sen.
Best time to visit Taipei
Taipei experiences a typical humid subtropical climate. The city generally experiences hot humid summer temperatures that tend to usually record highs of 29.4°C or 84.9° F.
The city also experiences the Pacific typhoon season, which generally lasts between the months of June to October. The winters in Taipei are generally drier with cooler daytime temperatures of around 14.9°C or 58.8°F. Based on the information of its weather patterns, you can summarize that Taipei is an all weather destination which can be visited at any time of the year.
Fare Buzz offers attractive flight and hotels deals for Taipei routinely, so it doesn’t matter when you plan your trip to Taipei for it is likely that Fare Buzz will have a Taipei travel deal waiting for you.
Getting around in Taipei
Taipei can be accessed via its Chai Kai Shek international airport which is located just outside the city on the north east side in Taoyuan County. Many Asian and other international carriers serve this airport. Fare Buzz periodically offers great flight deals for Taipei so if you are looking for a cheap air tickets or even last minute flights to Taipei, be sure to call Fare Buzz at 1.888.808.4123 to get access to these attractive deals.
Taipei is very easy to navigate as it is served by an excellent public transport system .The MRT or Mass Rapid Transport system runs from 6am until midnight. An all day pass purchased for use on the MRT can also be used on the bus service.
The bus network in Taipei is also well developed with buses connecting areas not served by the MRT. Metered taxis are also easily available in the city but the drivers rarely speak English so it makes sense to carry a card with the Chinese translation of your destination before your hail a taxi in Taipei.
Where to shop in Taipei
Like its other Asian siblings, Taipei offer bountiful shopping opportunities for an enthusiastic shopper. The city’s various neighborhoods encompass many diverse shopping sites like malls, boutiques, specialty stores and animated markets including night markets, which remain open for business until the wee hours.
If you have luxe shopping on your shopping agenda for Taipei, you should concentrate your efforts on the city’s sites like Zhongshan North Road, home to luxe malls like the Regent Galleria and outposts of well-known luxury brands like Hermes, Gucci, Bulgari, Prada, Louis Vuitton and others. More upmarket shopping can be had at locales like Taipei’s Xinyi district which also hosts various upscale malls and stores like Bellavita, a grand luxury brand-filled mall and the Taipei 101 mall located at the base of the world-famous Taipei 101 tower. Other opportunities for retail therapy in the area include locales like the upscale Shin Kong Mitsukoshi department store and the flagship store of the Eslite chain of bookstores.
For more affordable finds try the lively markets of Taipei like Wufenpu located just off Yongji road and its surrounding lanes. Also recommended are the city’s Shida and Shilin Night Markets. For trendy apparel and all things avant-garde head to Taipei’s Ximending district,a pedestrianized enclave populated with many trendy apparel stores and boutiques. A similar shopping experience can be had at Zhongxiao East Road, home to three large Sogo department stores and many trendy stores and boutiques.
The best spots for souvenir shopping in Taipei are locales like the Taipei Handicraft Promotion Center and the Longshan Temple Underground Shopping Bazaar. However, if you need to shop for electronics and gizmos whilst in Taipei, then you should focus your shopping jaunts on sites like Camera Street, the NOVA building and the Guanghua Market.
Where to eat in Taipei
Taipei is regarded as one of the gastronomic capitals of Asia. The city abounds with diverse restaurants and eateries catering to every preference and taste. Additionally, the city is also renowned for its legendary street foods scene which features a whole host of delectable eats.
Acclaimed eateries in Taipei currently include dining hotspots like Fireweeds (Japanese-Taiwanese fusion fare), Shanghai Pavilion (Shanghainese cuisine), Tripod King (hotpot), Din Tai Fung and Kao Chi (dim sum restaurants) Flavors, Abu Authentic Cuisine, Abu Authentic Brasserie (fine dining continental restaurants), Pin Xian (local Taiwanese stir ries), Tartine Bakery, Melange Café, Dazzling Café (renowned for its honey toast), Room for Deserts and Sumie Nouvelle Cuisine Japanese.
Nightlife in Taipei
As a major international city, Taipei is equipped with a lively nightlife scene featuring bars, pubs, dance clubs and KTV lounges galore. Taipei’s luxe shopping district Xinyi is also the epicenter of its nightlife scene and located here are swanky nightspots like the Wet Bar at the W hotel and dance clubs like Myst, Marquee and Spark at the Taipei 101. Other popular nightlife haunts in Taipei include establishments like Revolver and Underworld (both live music venues), 346 Taiwan Beer Bar, Carnegie’s, China Pa and Mr. 83 (a cozy Japanese whisky bar).