Top 10 Things to Do in Taipei
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to spend 12 days to truly experience what it is like to live like a local in their country! What does that mean? Well, in this case, it means a lot more time to explore Taiwan your way, rather than with a guided tour. Here are my top 10 things to do while in Taipei.
- Maokong Gondola
The Maokong Gondola will give you one of the most beautiful views of the Taipei from up in mountains. It’s easily accessible by transit and can be boarded at the Taipei Zoo. The scenic gondola ride takes you up over the lush forest on Maokang mountain, and overlooks all of Taipei. The region is known for its traditional tea plantations, and is also the same mountain where you can experience a traditional tea tour at one of Taipei’s most historic plantations. TIP: Book your gondola ride in the “crystal cabin” for a glass-floor experience!
- Traditional Tea Tour
The Tea House at the top of Maokong Mountain, accessible right of the gondola, is simply an experience you cannot pass up. The tea master of this tea house is one of the most infamous in all of Taiwan. He has travelled, studied and practiced the traditional forms of tea making across multiple regions in Asia, is a professor in his craft, and his home houses a mini-museum of ancient artifacts used throughout history in the tea making process. One of my favorite parts of this experience was learning about the different porcelains used when serving tea, and how each dynasty throughout history, had their own royal collections. The tea made from this master is also sought after all over the world for its quality!
- Jiufen Old Street
Looking back on my time in Taiwan, I think it’s safe to say that Juifen Old Street was one of my absolute favorite things to experience. The street was a total sensory experience. Imagine music, food and all of the colours you can imagine on one street. It was a cultural overload at its finest. It’s called an “old street” because it’s still maintained most of Taiwan’s older architecture. The street can be found in the Ruifeng District of New Taipei City and is accessible by train from downtown Taipei. Be warned, there is “Stinky Tofu” found on this street, it’s a very distinct cuisine, and has a very powerful smell!
- Pearl Milk Tea
Fun fact, Pearl Milk Tea, or bubble tea as we know it, as was actually invented in Taiwan! I happen to be a seasoned bubble tea drinker and had absolutely no idea it was invented in Taiwan. Therefore, I made it my personal mission to have as much of it as I could during my stay there. There are hundreds of bubble tea houses on every street you wander on. You will have no problem finding it, and it’s an absolute must while you’re in Taipei.
- Beitou Hot Spring
Another fun fact, Taiwain is also known for its many naturally occurring hot springs, many of which can be found in or near Taipei. Beitou is a popular destination for all those seeking a little relaxation in the city. Its worth a day trip, and is like most things, accessible by the train. Beitou is home to a natural Geothermal Valley which we unfortunately couldn’t make it to due to a storm, but its something I really wish we saw. Instead we experienced one of Beitou’s Hot Springs in a luxurious bath house which were modelled after European bath houses, meaning you are expected to wear swimming attire, so make sure you don’t head in there naked!
- Aquatic Addiction
Okay, this place isn’t really a tourist attraction, it’s just a really incredible restaurant you have to check out if you are into seafood. Our friend Jessica from Bon Traveler recommended it to us and finally dragged us to it on our last day. We weren’t expecting much, because I eat mostly vegetarian now, but we got an experience that was unforgettable. The sushi at Aquatic Addiction was hands down, some of the best I have had in my whole life. PLUS, the wine was cheap and the concept was cool! A definite must for foodies! WARNING: This place is not vegan/vegetarian friendly. In some cases, you pick your crab before you eat it…while its alive!
- Taipei 101
Oh my gosh, where do I start with Taipei 101. This is perhaps the most iconic building in all of Taipei. It’s visible from pretty much the whole city, is the tallest tower in Taipei, and is one of the most uniquely designed towers I have ever seen. If you have the chance, you should book yourself a ticket to the Taipei 101 observatory and experience one of the coolest and most internationally recognized buildings in the world. It’s so cool and is definitely one of the things you should do in Taipei.
There also happens to be a shopping mall at the base of Taipei 101 which houses some of the world’s best luxury retailers, as well as some local stores that you wont want to miss if you’re looking for things to do in Taipei. There is also a bakery at the bottom which is famous for their Pineapple Cake, try it. Trust me, you will love it!
- Wu Fen Pu Shopping District
This shopping district is something we kind of worked into our itinerary. It was SUPER easy to get to, and was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. If you want to find affordable clothes, this is the area to do it. It also happens to be the district where so many wholesalers and retailers go to pick out clothing for their stores. Let me put it this way, imagine all of Forever 21’s clothing, at an extremely discounted price, and getting it before they do. This is that place, a shopping paradise. I left with a shirt that I paid the equivalent of about $5 CAD for, or $2.50 USD!
- Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Park
When people think of Asia, they think of immaculate, colourful and elegant temples and impeccable architecture. This park is basically the epitome of what you had in mind. The park was founded in memory of the former President of the Republic of China, and is located near the Zhongzheng train station. This park was one of the most memorable aspects of Taipei for me. The Liberty Square Main Gate was my favorite part of this park, because it simply took my breath away. The park also holds the National Concert Hall and the National Theater, which bears that traditional Chinese architecture you might expect, only better.
- 228 Peace Memorial Park
There are many parks located throughout Taipei, and the 228 Peace Memorial Park is not even one of its best, but I wanted to share it because it meant something to me as soon as I learned more about it from Joshua, our My Taiwan Tour guide for the day. The park happens to be a memorial for a massacre that happened on February 28 (2/28), 1947. The government at the time killed more than 10,000 civilians at this time, and in this park. The event was not allowed to be spoken of publically for decades, but was finally acknowledged and remembered in 1995. It was then made into a memorial park to remember the victims and pay homage to their families. Most of the victims of the original massacre were students and children who were standing up for what they believed in. This park is absolutely beautiful and although small, it is definitely a great thing to do in Taipei.
Disclosure: The trip to Taipei provided by The Taiwan Tourism Bureau, however all opinions are entirely my own.
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