Are you flying from Hong Kong to Taipei soon? Taipei is a metropolitan city with a mixture of modern vibes and deep cultural roots of the city. If you are a first-time traveller to Taipei, you may get overwhelmed because there is just so much to see and do, you may not even know where to start! Don’t worry, I have compiled a list of must-see and must-dos in this article.
- Taipei 101
The skyscraper Taipei 101 is the tallest building in Taiwan at 509.2 m, as measured to the architectural top of the building. It is designed to resemble a giant bamboo stick. The iconic building is recognisable and visible from everywhere in the city. As one of the top attractions of Taipei, I couldn’t leave Taipei 101 out of the list. The outdoor observation deck on the 91st floor is worthwhile to visit. The 360 degree view as you walk around allows you to see all the mountains to the south and east, and extensive views of the city to the west. The view is incredible and you will have fun spotting different parts of the city.
- Elephant Mountain
If you take one MRT stop past the Taipei 101 station, you can get an even better view of Taipei City from Elephant Mountain, with Taipei 101 in your scenic view. The hike from the park entrance to the top is suitable for everyone as it only takes around 15-20 minutes. Once you get to the top you get the incredible view and skyline of Taipei, but you can also hike to the other 3 “beasts”through the hiking trail: Tiger Mountain, Leopard Mountain and Lion Mountain. One tip if you want to visit Elephant Mountain: the best time to hike is during sunrise or late afternoon before sunset. This way you can experience the sun setting across Taipei. It is also cooler as Taipei’s weather can get quite hot and humid.
- Shilin Night Market
You can’t visit Taipei without taking a trip to the night market, and Shilin Night Market is often considered as the largest and famous night market in Taiwan. To get to the night market, you get off from MRT Jiantan Station, and it only takes you one minute to arrive. The night market is always crowded with people, both locals and tourists from around the world. The food here is cheap and authentic. There are too many must-try Taiwanese street foods to list them all out, but some of the most famous ones include oyster omelette, fried chicken fillets, tempura, vermicelli stew, stinky tofu and bubble tea. The cuisine plays an important part in Taipei’s food culture and showcases Taiwan’s culture with its vivid colour and atmosphere. Although Shilin Night Market is the largest and most famous in Taipei, I would also suggest trying one of the less popular ones, such as Raohe, Tonghua, Ningxia, or Huaxi, which are also very appealing.
- Beitou Hot Springs Resort
Just take the pink line, or a 30-minute short drive from Taipei is Beitou, located at the foot of Yangming Mountain. The Beitou Hot Springs has trapped the geothermal energy of the active Yangming Mountain volcano. It is a popular hot spring area and worth a great day trip from the busy city, many tourists also enjoying spending one or two nights here. You can choose from a wide range of options for the hot springs: less expensive public hot springs as well as private baths and deluxe hotels and resorts.
- Yangmingshan National Park
Although Taipei is known for its vibrant city and nightlife, there are in fact a lot of natural scenery not too far away from the Taipei city centre. Accessible by a short bus ride from Taipei City, Yangmingshan National Park is one of Taiwan’s most beautiful national parks, and is one of the attractions you must visit. There are quite a few scenic spots in the park. Qingtiangang is the most popular area in the park, as you can enjoy the pretty views of Taipei City without hiking too far. You may also find cows feeding on the green and lush grasslands. If you are interested in decommissioned mines then you should check out Liuhuanggu. Yangmingshan is a favourable place to hike in all four seasons as it brings different types of beauty to the area. During Spring, rhododendrons and cherry blossoms cover the mountain slopes. By Autumn, the mountains are covered with golden red maple leaves. There are no admission fees to the national park, though you will have to pay for parking in car parks if you drive there.
- Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park opened in 1916 was formerly a privately owned winery during Japanese ruling. In 2005, Huashan 1914 Creative Park opened as a multi-purpose park designed to offer artists to display and sell their artwork and non-profit organisations to hold events, making it a hub for Taiwan to preserve their culture and develop creative industry. It is opposite to what the traditional temples, gardens and night markets may offer and is also one of the best places to visit with kids.
- Taipei’s Temples
There are many beautiful temples around Taipei and many of them are easily accessible by MRT. One of Taiwan’s most famous and popular temples is Longshan Temple. The temple is located in Wanhua, the oldest district in Taiwan. The beautiful temple is dedicated to a mixture of faiths: Buddhist, Taoist, and Confusian. When you visit Longshan Temple, you can watch and listen to the worshippers praying and make offerings and donations. Many people also visit the temple to predict their future using stones, a stick and fortune sheet. If you have some time and are interested in exploring different temples in Taipei, I suggest you also visit the Taipei Confucius Temple. It is located near the Yuanshan MRT Station and is a surprisingly large and beautiful temple complex that is worth a visit.
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