Taipei City, the nation's sophisticated capital, is the ultimate showcase. It's a place full of contrast. It's got quiet parks encircled by hectic streets and traditional markets right next to the trendiest boutiques. It's old enough so you can feel its past, modern enough to get Wi-Fi coverage all over the city.
In my opinion, Taipei is on par with Kyoto for the beauty of its temples. Hard to believe? Maybe... But I think it's only because its religious sites don't get as much publicity as the ones in Kyoto. It's only a matter of time until the world realizes that Taiwan's capital has some of the most fascinating places of worship in the world. Click here to see them all...
The city is home to the famed National Palace Museum - repository of the world's biggest collection of ancient Chinese culture artifacts and to many, many more fascinating exhibition halls. Also, make sure the three main memorials are on your must-see list. Furthermore, in this section, I'll show you my favorite historical monuments.
Conquer your fear of heights and ride the world's fastest elevator up to the observatory (89th fl) to appreciate unparalleled views over the capital. Shop 'til you... run out of cash in the massive mall where you'll find top designer boutiques, a bookstore with over 150 000 English titles, the city's largest food court, and so much more... Check out the 101 building now!
What do Taiwanese love doing most? Eating, of course. And what's next? You bet... shopping! And things aren't different here in the island's biggest megapolis. The night markets will keep you busy well past twelve, and the traditional Chinese bazaars will test your dealing skills. Avant-garde or antique, at a stall or in a mall, you're guaranteed to find what you need.
I am of Italian descent. And I thought I knew all about gourmandism. How astonished I was when I first came to Taiwan! I remember thinking: "Wow, these guys really know how to eat, they simply never stop!" And Taipei is the ultimate glutton heaven - 24/7. Tip: Wear sweatpants if invited for a meal by a Taiwanese. Warning:Stay away from Taipei if on a diet. Find restaurants...
Feel like singing some good old Lionel Richie alll niiight looong... at a KTV bar? Or how about something more recent like Vanilla Ice? Ok, if singing isn't your thing, know that the city has some of Asia's best pubs, bars, nightclubs, musical venues, lounges and bowling alleys. (euh... maybe I should cover that one in another section...) Check out the city's nightlife here!
You'll have no problem getting a room here. There's an extensive array of excellent accommodation scattered around the city. When looking for a place to stay, the big question should be "where?" It's important to find a hotel or a hostel that's in an area that will have the kind of restaurants, shops and attractions you like to frequent. My listing will help you with this.
It's cheap, fast, clean, safe, modern and it will take you to pretty much all the sites you'll want to visit around town. The city's Mass Rapid Transit system (metro) is one of the best in Asia and makes traveling around the city a breeze. Hundreds of buses also zig-zag their way throughout the capital, but they're a little more confusing for the first timer.
I'll always remember the first pictures I ever saw of the city, in a geography class. There were buildings, some buildings and also some buildings. At that time I would not have believed there were green places in that concrete jungle. But really, the area has a number of very decent natural attractions, like the Maokong tea plantations and Yangming Mountain.
10 FRIENDLY FOLKS
Throughout my travels, I've realized that big cities usually come with a bunch of impatient and indifferent people. Not Taipei. Somehow, the city's residents have kept a certain coolness in spite of the urban stress. And they are friendly with visitors. Genuinely so. They are the soul of the city and the reason why a trip here is such a remarkable experience.