5 TAIWANderful things to do in Taipei

I am really fascinated with the culture of East Asia, making me wanting to visit the countries of this region. I was able to book a cheap flight to Taiwan in April, read blogs and reviews then went with my parents in this beautiful country in July 2017.

Taipei is the capital of Taiwan, with a population of 2.7 million. It has a really efficient subway system, making it easy for travelers to go around the city. We were able to stay in NiHao Hostel in Taipei Main Station, which is a perfect location because the hostel is 2-3 minutes walk from exit M3 of the station (Kuo Kuang Bus station to and from Taoyuan Airport is a 5-8 minutes walk from the hostel).

While there are so many good experience during our trip, let me share to you the best things to do while in Taipei.

  1. Immerse in the worship culture by visiting a Temple

A visit in East Asia will not be completed without a temple visit. We decided to go to Longshan temple, the most well known in Taiwan. It was built in 1738 by settlers from Fujian as a gathering place for Chinese settlers. Entrance is free, so enjoy seeing the locals doing their worship.

How to get there: Take the MRT Bannan Line to Longshan Temple, exit 1, entrance is free.

  1. Feel so small with the massive Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

If you get to see postcards or images of Taipei, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall will be familiar. This is the most prominent historical landmark in Taiwan. It is built in honor and memory of Chiang Kai-shek, the former President of the Republic of China.

Entrance is also free, make sure you bring water especially when you go daytime as it gets really hot in summer.

One highlight of our visit was witnessing the Changing of Guards. This happens hourly from 9am to 5pm. Make sure you get a good spot 10 minutes before so you can enjoy the ceremony.

How to get there: Take the MRT Red Line, get off at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, entrance is free

  1. Go up the mountains via the Maokong Gondola

When I was 16 years old, I wrote in my bucket list that I wanted to try riding a cable car. It came true in Taipei! We tried the Maokong Gondola, a heart-stopping experience to be up there and see the entire Taipei landscape.

We rode the cable car from the Taipei Zoo station then stopped in Maokong station. We tried the tea houses and bought some, and also had snacks (milktea and sausage yaaay!) Going back, we were lucky to ride the crystal cabin, meaning you can see what lies down there! It was really exciting and fun experience!

Price: Taipei Zoo Station to Maokong Station is 120 NTD

How to get there: Take the MRT Wenhu Line to Taipei Zoo (last stop), turn left after the exit

  1. Shopping at Shilin Night Market, Tamsui Old Street and Ximending

Night markets are a must-try when in Taipei. We chose to go to Shilin Night Market being the biggest, and nearest to where we’re staying. It opens around 4 or 5 in the afternoon. They have a selection of goods and products, from souvenirs, to shirts and clothes, and a selection of street food. We were able to buy mochi in boxes (100 NTD) and other goodies.

How to get there: Take the MRT Red Line and get off at Jiantan (not Shilin).

I put Tamsui in our itinerary because originally I wanted to visit the Fisherman’s Wharf. We were able to go to Tamsui Old Street which is a day market, with cheaper finds. A must try is the Pineapple Cake (40 NTD) and sugarcane juice. There are a lot of stalls selling food and drinks.

How to get there: Take the MRT Red Line and get off at the last stop, Tamsui.

If you will ask young people where to shop, they would definitely lead you to Ximending. This is a shopping district in Taipei downtown that you shouldn’t miss. It actually reminded me of Myeongdong in South Korea. They have high end shops, but also some affordable ones. There are also a lot of Japanese restaurants in this area.

How to get there: Take the MRT Bannan Line to Ximen, exit 6.

  1. Be delighted in the gastronomic adventure in Taipei street food and restaurants

The best thing about Taipei – food! Enjoy a variety of street food – from bread, to milktea and cakes. Wherever you go, there are food stalls waiting for you to enjoy. Plus, it is really affordable. The pineapple cake is a must try, as well as the beef noodles and milk tea.

We were able to save a lot by eating in street food, but Din Tai Fung is a must try. The birthplace of this Michelin restaurant is in Dongmen. They do not accept reservations so give time waiting in queue. We were able to try their beef noodles, pork chop fried rice and pork Xiao long bao. It was so good! We paid around 1000 NTD (including dad’s beer) but all worth it.

How to get to Din Tai Fung: Take the MRT Red Line to Dongmen, exit 5.

I fell in love with Taipei! With kind people to efficient transportation system, this country is definitely a must-visit. I was so happy to travel with my parents, who are until now sharing beautiful stories they have experienced. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Taiwan has tentatively announce the implementation of visa-free entry by September 2017. So what are you waiting for? Buy a ticket and experience and be enticed in Taiwan. 🙂

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