Things To Do In Taipei
In Taipei 101 -- the landmark skyscraper formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Center -- you can ride the world’s fastest elevators (according to the Guinness Book of World Records.) You will truly have a panoramic view of Taipei City during your race to the top on these specially-designed elevators. Or, for a totally different kind of experience, the Elephant Mountain hiking trail is fun to do. In the summer it is best to go there early in the morning, however, because the climb is quite steep and the daytime weather will actually be too hot for so much exercise.
Explore the imposing Chiang Kai -Shek Memorial, the impressive architectural beauty that stands in the middle of the Metropolis of Taipei. An Opera Theater can be found there too. At the night market, taste the local street food varieties as well as the fine selection of dumplings and other examples of Taiwan’s sophisticated cuisine. It's absolutely the best way to end a day of wandering along the busy streets and seeing the numerous sights in Taipei.
When To Go:
The high season months of October to January are the best for visiting this city, because the climate is agreeably cool and the skies are clear. The rainy season lasts from April to October, with incidental tropical storms that occur in the middle of the year. The city essentially closes down for a week throughout the Chinese New Year celebration (which typically falls in late January or within the first two weeks of February).
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These are the top things to do when in the city of Taipei...
Taiwan National Palace Museum
For those without any idea about the foundations of Chinese culture, this is the best place to have a good introduction. The Taiwan National Palace Museum clearly conveys the rich cultural origins of many old Chinese traditions. The museum is very large and full of interesting archaeological pieces. It is one of the main attractions in Taipei and is popular with tourists from around the world. A ban on taking pictures is strictly enforced here.
The exhibits on display offer an impressive wealth of rare finds and artifacts. Notable sections are the collections of vases; antique bronze, silver, copper, brass and jade works; the ivory miniatures; and the small exhibit of contemporary work.
The museum has a refreshment center where visitors can eat and drink; there is also a large store that sells copies of some of the most important pieces in the museum. This museum shop in fact offers a selection of objects and artifacts that will satisfy the tastes of even the most demanding aficionados. Be sure to visit the large garden built in traditional style and filled with rare flowers and squirrels; it is pleasant to walk around its manicured lawns after a busy day at the museum.
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
On the grounds of the majestic Chiang Kai Shek Memorial stands the huge statue of the founder of modern Taiwan. It is part of an enormous square with temples on three sides. The museum in the basement illustrates the respect and gratitude of the Taiwanese people to the man who guided their country. The memorial is also full of color and vitality. In the galleries, there are art exhibitions and beautiful orchids that adorn and perfume every corner. It is imperative to visit the site before noon, to be able to witness the choreographed changing of the guard ceremony that will take place at that hour. The park is also the site of the Memorial Concert Hall where cultural events, formal concerts and modern art exhibitions are held every night.
On every commemorative public holiday; the citizens gather to pray, burn incense, and make offerings of flowers and food in honor of the great leader. It becomes a lively place but full of peace and calm at the same time, because although there are a lot of crowds, the people maintain absolute respect for the historic symbolism and the importance of the memorial. On weekends, tai-chi and kung fu lessons occur in its landscaped gardens. The memorial is easily accessible via the subway train if you take exit 5 of the MRT station located in the Zhongzheng District.
The LungshanTemple is the perfect setting if you want to enjoy the unique atmosphere of a religious holiday in Taipei. The traditional Chinese temple is very beautiful, from the building itself down to the details of the design, murals and paintings. You can simply rest in the courtyard near a small waterfall and feed the fish, or watch the parishioners as they participate in the holy service.
Admission is free and there is always a huge number of people burning incense and making wishes. Despite being crowded at most times, the atmosphere of Buddhism and an indescribable feeling of happiness and bliss prevails. This is a very ancient and stunning complex unaffected by the changing and fast-paced modern times. Everywhere you look there are delicate carvings and statues of Buddha, being revered and honored by faithful devotees. After a visit, you can check out and shop for local souvenirs at the night market located on the right side of the temple.
Ping Hsi Branch Railway Line
Pingxi (Ping Hsi) is a small town located right on the railway line, and it is mainly known for the Lantern Festival of the Chinese New Year (the best time to visit Taipei). Here at the Ping Hsi Branch Railway Line, these lanterns can be flown all year round! Many stores offer the lantern and its accessories. According to popular belief, you should write wishes on the four faces of a lantern and let it go -- it will eventually ascend into heaven where the gods can read them. The Ping Hsi Railway line is located northeast of the city of Taipei. Along this railway there are also several small stations, where you can visit and have the opportunity to take pictures of the quaint villages and small-town life.
To reach this tourist attraction, start the trip from the Taipei Main Station. The famous railway line runs along the river and there are places where you can buy snacks and souvenirs. You can also visit a temple above a small cave with passages. You might stop at Houtong: it is a small village where you can visit a coal plant that was built in the early part of the last century. Also in this town, you can find many cats and shops selling souvenirs with the cat theme. Be sure to start early for this day trip because if you miss a train, you have to wait 45 minutes for the next ride. But in short, this trip is easy to do in a day -- plus, it is also very budget-friendly as you can use the Metro Train which is the most convenient and practical way to get around the city of Taipei.
A tour of Taipei 101 is a must when in the city. It takes time to get the access ticket for a trip to the top of the tower; however, the experience is really worthwhile. You can buy a ticket inside the department store, and you need to have patience because of the long lines. The ride then goes very high with a super-fast elevator. The feeling of being inside the express elevator is surreal. At the top you will be information with details about the stability of this stunning building.
It is amazing to experience modern engineering in this gigantic wonder that towers over the city and is acknowledged all over the world as the fifth-tallest building at 1671 feet. The ball damper solution designed for balancing earthquake vibrations and tremors is impressive. The 89th floor observation area is breathtaking and you can look in every direction over Taipei and take great photos. Moreover, there is much information about the Tower provided on this floor, which is very interesting. On the 91st floor there is an outside platform, which is only open in good weather with little wind, but protected by high walls and screens making the view somewhat limited.
Beitou Hot Spring
The paradise-like Beitou Hot Spring is composed of several pools with different ranges of temperature. The higher the pool is located, the higher the temperature (up to 120 degrees.) There are also pools with cooler water to relax if you don’t enjoy the hot spas and sauna. Just a short step from the center of Taipei, the baths with a Japanese-themed atmosphere are really pleasant. On weekends there are few people, and you can really relax and have a beautiful spa experience.
Do not forget to swap your shoes for sandals upon entering. The infrastructure of the hot spring is really attractive. Do visit the Hot Spring Museum (free) located within its premises. You can get an audio guide and learn so much factual information about the hot springs. Not far away, there is also a museum about local ethnic groups in Taipei. It is focused on the people from the surrounding mountains, is very informative, free -- and air conditioned!
Yangmingshan National Park
This is one of the best natural parks you can find in Taiwan. If you want to take a nice day trip from Taipei without the need to go far, the Yangminghsan National Park is the ideal place to explore. There are numerous parking areas along the road, with panoramic terraces where you can appreciate the forest all around. Beyond the mountain you can go down to the north coast side and see more idyllic 360-degree views of the city. It is equipped with safe trails suitable for older people, meeting places with toilets and snack kiosks, and tourist information booths. The scenery here is not only gorgeous -- it also produces great pictures and wonderful memories of nature and Taipei.
The Maokong Gondola is a fairly long ropeway/cable ride adventure that allows quick access to the villages and temples situated high in the mountains surrounding the city. It is located on the outskirts of Taipei, near the zoo. You can certainly survive the long queue for tickets, but it is much more convenient to apply for and use the EasyCard. The starting station of the Gondola Maokong is well connected to the center of Taipei; use the Wenhu Line (brown line) to the last stop of the MRT Taipei Zoo.
The subway trip provides nice views; try to take the first carriage and sit in the first section for the best view. The height is not excessive and the gondola ride with transparent glass bottom is enjoyable for everyone. Reach the summit and enjoy walking around the temple (Taoist Temple of Zhinan), residential houses, zoo, and tea plantations (Taiwanese tea is some of the best in the world); it is a fabulous experience. Take another ride to descend in the evening and you will have a stunning view of the city and the famous skyscraper Taipei 101 dramatically illuminated by the setting sun.
This is a large temple that is accessible from the subway. It is best to go in the late afternoon, when people are lining up to be blessed by the nuns dressed in blue. Every little blessing lasts for a minute, maybe less.
It is interesting to see so many young people come to be blessed -- often dressed in the latest fashion, but having such fervor. There are also always lots of offerings on huge tables. At this solemn temple, it is actually watching the people that will touch and enlighten every traveler who stops by.
Near the Xingtian Temple there is a night market that you can visit after paying your respect to the deities of the temple.
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
The Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall was built in honor of a hero of the Chinese revolution in 1911. This uprising put an end to the Empire and led to the beginning of the Republic. Dr. Sun Yat Sen is a national hero who is even celebrated in mainland China. The building is beautiful, and the statue of Dr. Sun Yat Sen is majestic.
The esplanade and garden are a peaceful haven in the city center near the Taipei 101 tower. Don't hesitate to stop here, and especially try not to miss the changing of the guard, which is a spectacular ceremony occurring every hour from 9 am to 5 pm. Check out the huge library that holds so much information about Taipei’s rich political and cultural history. Visit the garden with a small lake -- your pictures of the city and Taipei 101 with these gardens and statues in the foreground will be quite special.