Because it is somewhat isolated in the Pacific, and is surrounded by powerful nations like China, South Korea and Japan, Taiwan is generally paid little attention. Despite it’s being spoken of so infrequently, however, Taiwan boasts a rich history, a vibrant culture, postcard-worthy beaches, jungles as dense as broccoli, and perhaps best of all, incredibly kind citizens.
On the northern tip of this amazing island state sits the glimmering capital of Taipei: a city of nearly 8 million people, and a must-see for anyone exploring Northeastern Asia.
What to do
Taipei’s long list of attractions ensure you’ll never be bored in the city. No matter your interests, you’ll find plenty that excites you inside this amazing island metropolis. For more cultural experiences, try the National Palace Museum, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall or Lunghsan Temple of Manka. If architecture is your thing, take a trip over to Taipei 101, a glimmering spire that stabs skyward from the city’s Xinyi District. And finally, if you’re up for a bit of a sweat, take a hike up Elephant Mountain—named for its trunk-like shape, not because there are elephants on it. From this lush mountain’s summit, you’ll get a view of Taipei that will blow you away. Just remember to dress appropriately and bring a water bottle—it’s an arduous climb.
Where to eat
Taipei—and really, Taiwan as a whole—has some of the best food in the world. All it takes to sample the island’s incredible fare is a walk into any market, where you’ll find dozens of food stalls populated by locals who work busily over sizzling woks and burbling pots. Of course, Taipei is also home to some amazing restaurants too. For fantastic Chinese food, try Yen Chinese Restaurant or Wulao Zhongshan. For Indian, head over to Mayur Indian Kitchen or Balle Balle Indian Restaurant. If you’re feeling especially carnivorous, try No 168 Prime Steakhouse. And finally, it’s worth noting that Taiwanese convenience stores, particularly 7-Eleven and Family Mart, are culinary wonderlands all their own. In the aisles of these stores, you’ll find delicious food-to-go at affordable prices, and plenty of Taiwanese beer and cold tea with which to wash it all down.
Where to drink
Packed to the edges with fantastic pubs, bars and clubs, Taipei is very much a drinker’s city. For a cozier pub-vibe try Bing, Prozac Balcony, or Brown Sugar where, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch some awesome live jazz. For a livelier vibe, try Ez5 Livehouse or Revolver—a favourite among hip expats. Finally, if you’re interested in mingling with Taipei’s glamorous socialites, try Marquee Taipei. Oh—and don’t forget to sample the fruits of Taiwan’s exploding craft beer scene. For that, you should check out Zhang Men Brewing Company or Alphadog Craft Beer.
Where to shop
Perhaps the most interesting shopping experiences in Taipei are Raohe Night Market and Shilin Night Market, where you’ll find everything from clothing items, to accessories, to collectibles, to authentic Taiwanese food. For a swankier, Western shopping experience, however, turn your attention to Breeze Center Mall, Taipei 101 Mall and Bellavita Shopping Mall, both of which house outlets from some of your favourite high fashion and luxury brands.
Where to stay
If your budget allows for it, the place to stay in Taipei is the glimmering, 5-star Mandarin Oriental Taipei, or the Shangri-La’s Far-Eastern Plaza Hotel Taipei. On the off chance that you’re not a pharmaceutical mogul or oil tycoon, however, the city is also home to dozens of more affordable hotels such as the Howard Plaza Hotel Taipei, the San Want Residences Hotel, and the Okura Prestige Taipei. And then, of course, there are the budget options: a range of surprisingly comfortable capsule hotels like Hive House and Bouti City Capsule Inn, and the expected roster of hostels. Wherever you stay, however, you can expect to enjoy the full and wonderful extent of the Taiwanese people’s legendary hospitality.