A mini-guide to visit Taipei, the largest city in Taiwan
Taipei is the capital of Taiwan and an Asian gem not yet well explored. The city is often compared to Hong Kong because of its location, climate and use of the Chinese language. But while Hong Kong received more than 58 million visitors in 2017, the whole of Taiwan received just under 11 million.
Taipei may be very cosmopolitan, as it is home to several technology companies and has one of the tallest buildings in the world, but it still has the vibrancy of the traditional night markets, and the calm and peace that the numerous temples and parks bring. This mini-guide to Taipei will give you a taste of the many experiences available in this fascinating city. Keep reading if you are planning a trip there or if you would like to know more about Taipei.
What to do in Taipei
The Chiang Kai-shek (CKS) Memorial Hall is a national monument erected in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, the former president of the Republic of China. The roof of the building has the shape of a blue octagon, a form related to the symbolism of number eight, which is generally associated with abundance, prosperity, and good fortune in Asian cultures. (A curious fact is that stairs have 89 steps, the age of Chiang when he died.) Near the monument, you will see the National Theater and the National Concert Hall, which were built in the traditional Chinese palace style and deserve attention, at least for their architecture.
To see what was once the tallest building in the world, go to Taipei 101. It lost its position after the imposing Burj Khalifa was built in Dubai, but today it is still on the list of top 10. The tower has a pagoda shape with 8 segments, each containing 8 floors (again number 8) and the structure incorporates square and circular shapes to achieve a balance between yin and yang.
If you're interested to see the largest collection of Chinese art and artifacts, be sure to visit the National Palace Museum and spend some time there, enjoying the beautiful ceramics and objects it contains. I advise hiring a guide (or taking along an audio guide, available there) to learn about and understand the artifacts and their history.
Take a few hours of your day to see one of the city's temples, such as the Longshan Temple or Qingshan Temple. The Wuji Tianyuan temple is a little bit out of the way from the city (at the end of the MRT's red line), but if you are going during the cherry blossom season, like me, you might be able to see the lovely trees full of cherry blossoms. Although it is a bit far, it is worth a visit for the cherry blossoms.
To stay outdoors head on over to 228 Peace Memorial Park, a beautiful park in the city, dedicated to the victims of the February 28 incident - the biggest political tragedy in Taiwan.
When night falls, go to one of the traditional night markets to explore the mouthwatering choices of Taiwanese cuisine. The Shilin Market is the most famous, but others - like the Linjiang Street Night Market - can also be found throughout the city. And do not forget to order and try bubble tea!
And since you've come so far, take a day to get to know one of the nearby towns. A quick ride from Taipei already offers a change of scenery, and gives you the opportunity to have some views of the Pacific Ocean. Jiufen and Pinxi are the main and most popular choices for day trips.
Where to stay in Tapei
The Shangri-la Eastern Plaza Taipei (daily rates from $ 140) has a beautiful view of Taipei 101, however is not next to any of the MRT stations, so you will need to walk 10 to 15 minutes to the nearest one. The W Taipei (daily from $ 330) is another good, but more luxurious option - it has a nice design and city views.
What to eat in Taipei
Din Tai Fung for xiao long baos - visit one of the many establishments of this restaurant chain while in Taipei, where it all started, before becoming the big chain that it is today; Lao Tzang Beef Noodles to try the famous Taiwanese noodle dish; and be sure to try the Bubble Tea while in town, an interesting and refreshing drink that mixes iced tea, milk and pearls (tapioca balls).
Practical information for visiting Taipei
Some nationalities are visa-exempt, see if that is your case here. Before planning your trip, make sure to pay a visit to, send an e-mail to or call the Taipei Economic and Trade Office of your city/country.
The local currency is the new Taiwan dollar.
The bus system can be confusing, but the MRT (subway) is great. Buy an Easycard as soon as you get the chance - it's a prepaid transportation card and will make your life easier while traveling around the city.
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