Being back in Taipei feels like being back home. I was lucky enough to be living in Taiwan in different ocassions (around 3 years in total) which allowed me to visit many areas of this beautiful island. Said that, I didn’t write any post about Taipei in the past so let me show you a brief resume of places you should considering visiting in this city.
The most iconic building of Taipei is probably for many the most well symbol of this country. It was the tallest building in the world in 2004 and now remains the 5th (this competition has changed a lot during last years).
It is said (a friend told me..) that is often used as a lighthouse for people when they go back home after several drinks. You can visit the observatory and they have a terrace too but it might be closed depending on weather conditions. Another interesting point is that it contains the world’s largest and heaviest tuned mass damper (660 tonne!) to protect the building against strong winds making it more comfortable when you are up there. One last piece of information, if you visit it, pay attention to the elevator speed…it used to be the fastest elevator in the world! (Yes, it seems to be another competition about it too).
The most famous spot to appreciate how tall Taipei 101 is. If you are planning to take pictures of it you definitely should come here. You just have to be aware that this is a pretty famous place and there are many photographers in Taiwan. After the ´rocks´, if you keep walking , there are a couple of viewpoints more but you can expect the place to get full pretty earlier before the sunset. To come here you must take a 15 minutes stairs up path so don’t forget to bring water!
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (Liberty Square)
This monument stands in the hearth of Taipei in the so called Liberty Square. If you are lucky you will be able to see the guard changing ceremony. As a curiosity, the guards use the elevator that take them from the ground floor to the main chamber where the statue of Chiang Kai-shek remains. In the ground floor there is a free museum about the figure of Chiang Kai-shek.
From the monument you have a good look of the whole square and, if there are not many clouds in the horizon, you can get a pretty decent sunset. The square counts with another three interesting points: The National Theater, The National Concert Hall and The Gate of Great Piety.
This neighborhood is full os shops, restaurants and bars being pretty famous within young taiwaneses . It is also called the ¨Harajuku/Shibuya of Taipei¨ because of its similarities with the Tokyo neighborhoods. If you are looking for night photo opportunities or a crowded night life this can be a good start.
Maokong is a famous tea growing area at the south of Taipei. It is easily reachable by gondola from Taipei Zoo metro station in Wenhu Line. The gondola has 4 stations, the last one is one of the best places to try one of the local teas. Said that, I do recommend you to get off in the third one (Zhinan Temple Station) where you can visit 3 temples which are normally not really crowded. As usual in Taiwan, you don’t have to pay anything to get inside and, even if you are lucky, you could get someone to explain you things about the temple though you will probably need to speak some Mandarin.
From this elevated point you can really appreciate the seize of Taipei 101 which is stands out from the rest of the city.
This is as well a good spot to catch pretty good sunsets and relax until you get the gondola back to the metro station.
Longshan Temple is the most famous one and probably the most crowded. Unfortunately I just have a few old pictures of it, I will need to pay it another visit soon…. There are temples all around the city, this is just a small recopilation of my favourites ones. Confucius and Dalongdong Baoan temples are just next to each other, they got some small gardens around .Shilin Night Market is just one metrop stop further so it can be a good combo. Guandu Temple on the other hand is a bit more retired from the center but is my favourite one as it includes some corridor inside a small hill with several sculptures which makes it unique.
Longshan Temple (Map)
Confucius Temple (map)
Dalongdong Baoan Temple (map)
Guandu Temple (map)
Unfortunetely I don’t have any pictures of night markets, I guess my hands were pretty busy trying all amazing food you can buy in them. If you visit LongShan Temple there is a small night market called Huaxi Street Night Market (aka Snake Alley) next to it which well worth a visit though I definitely would recommend others. In any case, you can find on this one some interesting stuff like a famous snake soup with shoots. The ones I’d recommend you would be Rahoe Night Market which is one of the oldest ones in Taipei, Linjiang Night Market which is on a walking distance from Taipei 101 and Shilin Night Market which is the biggest one (if you are only gonna visit one this is your best option).
Taipei is a big city and there are many other interesting areas to see and discover but these are the must-see that comes to my mind right now. If you wanna see more pictures of Taipei (and surronding areas) you can see them here , a few more posts about this beautiful country here, and you can take a look to other several galleries of Taiwan in my travel map. Finally, let me give you one more advice, if you are thinking to visit Taiwan but you are afraid that language might be a handicap to manage everything by yourself I highly recommend you these guys: [holataipei.com] Hola Taipei . I know them personally (very good friends indeed!) and they are truly the best guides you could have, they know Taipei better that I know my own city! (true story)