Taipei, Taiwan | Must-See Places in Downtown Taipei
Taipei is what everyone calls “big things come in small packages”. Yes, it is among the smallest capital cities in the world. But their caboodles of attractions are larger than life, bigger than imagined & too many to fit in a short holiday spree.
In 2015, Taipei ranked 11th in Mastercard’s survey of the best travel destinations in Asia with tourist spending of about $9.5 billion. In 2016, Taiwan received close to 10 million international tourists. And the reason is obvious; it’s fun in Taiwan!
Taipei, the new hottest travel destination in Asia
There are so many reasons why tourists love Taipei. It has the best nightmarket with heaps of great streetfood & fashion knock-offs, quirky cafes & free WIFI everywhere. It also keeps a neat landscape of a megacity beautifully crouched by Chinese pagodas & gardens. Above all, the city is clean, its people are warm (and they smell good too).
Here are some of the interesting sights that would make you sashay in Taipei!
Ximending is no doubt the “it street” of Taipei. It is home to the best shopping, dining & entertainment scenes of this supercity. Contemporary culture & other urban subcultures were born here & have thrived to live as the Harajuku & Shibuya of Taiwan.
Taipei 101 is the 8th tallest building & the largest green building in the world. At a height of 508 meters, it surely dwarfs everything & everyone around it. And if you find its stature intimidating, wait ‘til you ride its double-deck elevators at a chilling speed of 60.6 kph, transporting passengers from the 5th to the 89th floor in 37 seconds!
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
The history of the world remembers a great Chinese hero named Chiang Kai Shek. His brilliant political & military legacies are honored in a mammoth memorial hall decked with museums, a theater, a park & a wide public square.
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Dr. Sun Yat Sen is the founder of modern China & his heroic contributions are showcased in various exhibit chambers within the memorial hall. This historic site is also popular for Zongshan Park where carpets of flowers frame the building’s landscape.
National Palace Museum
The biggest collections of Chinese artifacts are not in China but in Taipei! When Chinese Civil War broke out, 600,000 pieces of ancient historical pieces were relocated to Taiwan to escape desecration. This massive collection is housed at the National Palace Museum in Shilin District.
Mengjia Longshan Temple is the most popular temple in Taipei. It was built in 1738 by the Chinese from Fujian Province & have since stood time, natural catastrophes & history. Visitors adore this temple for its intricate architectural style & details.
Shilin Night Market
Among the top Facebook check-ins in Taiwan are its night markets. Shilin is one of the most visited because it’s amazingly huge & trains the widest choices of food, clothes, souvenir stuff and what-have-you. Tip: don’t miss the oyster omelet.
It is the largest zoo in Asia & home to some of the most exotic furry fellas, the pandas! You gotta meet Yuan Zai, the first giant panda cub born in Taiwan. Taipei Zoo keeps a sexy flock of flamingos too.
Wanhua District is also called Bangka, the oldest district in Taipei. If you love heritage buildings, cheap shopping, temples & traditional hand-pulled noodles, then this is your universe.
Among the top 3 popular temples in Taipei, Qingshui Temple is well loved by all Taiwanese for its antiquity. It is tucked within the historic Wanhua District.
Taipei Story House
This 1913 English Tudor-style mansion once received some of the world’s known merchants & affluent guests. Today, it is an open museum dedicated to tea & Taiwan’s history. It is also a venue for musical performances & art exhibits.
Catch the best view of Taipei from Elephant Mountain. Come here at late afternoon & shoot that artsy sunset timelapse with Taipei 101 in the horizon.
The Red House
The Red House is the convergence zone for creative & cultural activities. It is where artists, designers & all those who want to be seen check-in. Explore the square at the back of the building for LGBTQ-friendly pubs.
Having witnessed Taiwan’s historical moments since the time of Chiang Kai Shek, the Grand Hotel has become a landmark too. Its palatial structure & color cannot be missed when you are on Zhongshan District.
Taiwan National Museum
Located within the Peace Memorial Park, the Taiwan National Museum is a repository of vast Taiwanese art & historical pieces.
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Taipei Expo Park keeps a gem & that is the Fine Arts Museum. Exhibited here are art pieces by the finest artists from all over the world.
If you love tea & you adore it most with a view, take the gondola up to Maokong. It is a hilltop community where its ridges are decked with teahouses serving premium Taiwanese tea.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
This old winery has been wickedly converted into a creative space, hosting contemporary art exhibitions, interactive multimedia installations, cafes & a library.
Tourists running around the night market nearby often miss this small temple. Qingshan, albeit tiny compared to other temples is nonetheless short of ornate detailing to wow its visitors.
Traveling around Taipei is also easy. With its neatly laid-out city train system & prominent tourist assistance centers, weaving in & out of its tourist attractions is very smooth.
Taipei had finally become the “it destination” in Asia (especially now with its relaxed visa requirements). It wouldn’t be a surprise if it will ultimately run over other cities that have been dominating the region’s tourism scene.
The attractions featured here are just the sights in downtown Taipei.
Watch out for the list of favorite getaways around Taipei’s suburban areas.