Once the capital city of the Republic of China, Taipei is now one of Asia’s leading high-tech hubs. With prosperous economic times, despite the recent financial crisis, Taipei has been experiencing a resurgence in both economic and cultural areas making this a perfect time for a trip to Taipei. For visitors this translates into easier ways to explore, such as newer transportations lines that are easier to navigate, safer, and cleaner! Not that a city’s aim is for the comfort of travellers, but in Taipei’s case, many of the suburbs are more accessible now with MRT lines making it easier to explore.
Considering Taipei is only 300 years old it has a history of Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Chinese rule. Taipei is great mixture of cultures in many aspects seen in the architecture, cultural traditions, and culinary diversity. There are plenty of historical areas within the city that feature buildings of varying time periods, but one of the main attractions is the towering Taipei 101. At one point, it was the tallest building in the world. This building is an incredible feat of design, built to withstand tsunamis and earthquakes, and it also has the best views of Taipei.
Places to Visit in Taipei
- Presidential Office Building
- Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
- Mengjia Longshan Temple
- Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines
Unique Things to See and Do in Taipei
- Check out the wooden houses in Datong District
- Take photos of the Chinese Baroque architecture on Dihua Street
- Explore Chiang Kai-shek’s houses on top of Mount Qixing
- View the entire city from Taipei 101 building
- Admire the Confucius Dalongdong Baoan Temple
- Ride the Maokong Gondola
Night Markets Galore!
Taipei is night market heaven. If the world held a contest for the city with the most “fantastic night markets,” Taipei would win, hands down. And the variety! Some markets focus on particular shopping items, others focus on types of food, and then there are the ones that only crop up in the evenings taking over regular throughways. Night markets are not a new thing and are steadily rising as a popular tourist destination, but most travellers don’t realize their historical significance.
Night markets actually date all the way back to the 7th century and have been an important source for trade throughout the centuries in China. Originally, markets began with a few vendors peddling on the street corners of busy temple plazas or urban centres. Over time, the markets grew with retailers and restauranteurs joining in on the late night hours. The evolution of their locations has moved from temple corners to outskirt areas, back into the old settlement and historical areas. Even larger franchise chains took an interest in where the night markets were located around Taipei and started opening outlets as close to them as possible.
Night markets are strong contributors to the local economies, and a perfect travellers destination for food, souvenirs, and cheap sundries. So which night markets in Taipei are worth visiting? Well, the most famous type in Taipei are the ones that cater to xiaochi, or “small eats.” And in Taipei eating at night markets has almost become a national past time!
You can find everything from oyster omelettes (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it – they are really good and not fishy) to food on a stick. Most of the foods you’ll find are quick and easy finger foods such as “sausage bites” which are bite-sized pieces served in a bag with toothpicks. Or you could try noodle dishes, corn on the cob, ice cream, shaved ices and seafood. You name it they have it. Even some very odd items like pastries in the shape of penis’ filled with red bean paste(!)?
Getting Around Taipei
Travelling around Taipei is pretty easy especially with the increased English signage (for those who don’t read Mandarin). The typical options are available, the train (MRT), taxi, bus, and of course walking. As with most Asian countries, a car is not necessary.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Taipei
Being an island, Taipei’s weather during the winter months is mild but wet. During the summer months expect hot and humid conditions with temperatures ranging anywhere between 22˚C to 35˚C.
Planning your trip around the rainy season can be tricky. Since Taipei is located in the north on the Pacific Ocean, it is affected by the Pacific typhoon season that typically hits in the summer between June and October. This will be the wettest time of year, but also has the highest amount of sunshine and warmth. Be sure to pack lots of layers and a rain coat.
There’s a festival or celebration happening in pretty much every month in Taipei, but probably the most spectacular is Chinese New Year. It is also the most crowded and needs to be booked well in advance. Also, check out the Lantern Festival on Jan 15th for the amazing paper lantern displays and all the crazy fireworks!
Ready to plan your visit to Taipei? Check out these popular guides and trips.