TaipeiThe city and the countryside, the old and the new, high culture and the downright dirty, whatever you are looking for, Taipei has everything today’s discerning traveller could wish for. Set in a natural basin amongst lush green mountains, the city is just a stone's throw away from unspoiled beaches and wild coastline, and boasts all the distractions a modern metropolis can offer while at the same time providing a glimpse into its ancient past.
The CityIf you’re looking for a taste of old Taipei, then head for the Wan Hua district. Located on the Dan Shui River, Wan Hua was an important Chinese trading post and the prosperity of the period is reflected in its ornate temples, one of which is the Lungshan temple. Another historic part of the city is the Da Tong (Tatung) district. Among the winding alleys you will find European style colonial buildings standing beside intricate Chinese temples. Take a stroll down Di Hua Street, which is lined with traditional shops selling all manner of potions and cure-alls! The Shi Lin (Shihlin) district is renowned for its bustling night market, whilst Taipei’s vibrant night scene bumps and grinds until the early hours in nearby Da An (Ta An). In the bustle of modern Taipei, Zhong Shan (Chungshan) the former commercial centre is now known for its shops, bars and cultural sights, which include the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. The current hub of commercial activities, Song Shan (Sungshan) is also one of the most cosmopolitan districts and packed with foreign restaurants. Zhong Zheng (Chungcheng), the political centre, is home to municipal parks and museums, of which the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is the most renowned.
Do & See
Taipei has so much to offer, lots to see and experience. There is everything from ancient temples to night markets to keep both first-time and return visitors occupied. There are also plenty of museums to visit, like the National Palace Museum, and abundant green parks to stroll around.
The regional cuisine is a mix of Chinese, Japanese, and aboriginal Hakka styles. It is also influenced by its island geography and the scarcity of arable land. Fish and poultry, therefore, play a major role in local cooking. However, the base of all dishes is made up of seasoning varieties particular to Asian cooking, such as soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil, supplemented with black beans, peanuts, chilli peppers, and a local variety of basil.
After a long day of city sightseeing or shopping, there is nothing better than to relax with a cup of coffee at a cafe. Taipei has a great cafe culture, and you will find plenty of coffee shops around the city. Many of them offer fresh coffee, tea, and if you happen to be craving something sweet they have an assortment of tasty desserts, too.
Bars & Nightlife
As the sun sets on another day of trading, the city turns its attention to the serious business of fun. Under the shimmer of the neon-lit sky, the city's bars come alive to the sound of laughter and the shouts of "Gan Bei" (dry the cup!). If you still have the energy after the day’s exertions and are looking to shake it off, then head off to one of Taipei's nightclubs. The pace is frantic and the atmosphere charged as crowds groove until the early hours.
Taipei is a shopping extravaganza that caters to every budget. For those who are looking for an authentic Taipei shopping experience and like a bargain, the night markets are the places to head for. At Shi lin (Jiantan MRT) you can find everything from clothes to traditional regional foods. Stop for a bite to eat at one of the roadside food vendors, whose specialities include oyster omelettes. Looking for souvenirs? Then try the Chinese handicraft market (1 Syujhou Road), or Lin-Tien Bucket Shop, the only handmade wooden bucket shop in Taipei (108 Zhongshan N. Rd), or visit the Zau Ho Market where you will find the Shandong Hsiaomo Sesame Oil Shop, which has been trading for nearly 150 years and sells all manner of cooking oils. If it’s a more up-market shopping experience you’re looking for then head towards (Taipei City Station MRT) and the Living Mall (Core Pacific City). These stock the usual brand name goods.