Taipei, Taiwan: 8 Things To Do in Taipei

August 23, 2018
Taiwan: 8 Things To Do in Taipei by Posh, Broke, & Bored










EAT, SEE, & DO: 8 THINGS TO DO IN TAIPEI, TAIWAN 


The last time we met in my Taiwan travel stories, I was showing you highlights of the world’s greatest collection of Chinese art at the National Palace Museum and the art-themed tasting menu at Silks Palace. I’ve also told you the story about how my family are connected to the founding of the country and how Taiwan, also known as Republic of China (not to be confused with their Communist cousins, the People’s Republic of China) came to be. Picking up where we left off, in today’s travel story I’d like to share with you the eight things you must see, eat, and do when in Taipei. Whether you have a personal history with Taiwan or looking to visit this young, curious country; whether you have just days to spare or have the luxury of a long trip, I daresay my recommendations encapsulate the essence of the best sights and experiences Taipei has to offer. 


First things first...

STAY
W TAIPEI


The perfect base for your stay; be it long or short, is the local outpost of W Hotels. The W TAIPEI offers the same level of ‘too-cool-for-school’ 5-star luxury that we’ve all come to know from and love about the brand. Nestled in the heart of the business district with views of the iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper and the mountains, the location is simply unbeatable. Slick cocktails at the WOO BAR (a favourite with both local and international ”work hard, play hard” tribes) and pool parties at the WET BAR make the W TAIPEI  the place to see and be seen.


Further reading:
MY REVIEW OF 5* LUXURY HOTEL W TAIPEI


Taiwan: 8 Things To Do in Taipei by Posh, Broke, & Bored

ABOVE
NATIONAL REVOLUTIONARY MARTYRS’ SHRINE

BELOW
DR SUN YAT SEN MEMORIAL HALL


1
SEE & DO
THE HISTORY OF TAIWAN


Begin your introduction to the history of modern-day Taiwan at the National Yat Sen Memorial Hall. The vast space is dedicated to the National Father of the Republic of China and his work toward uniting the chaotic post-imperial China. Then, move on the National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine. Dedicated to the dead of the Republic of China, the  390,000 spirit tablets of the fallen will put into perspective the souls who died in the ultimately futile struggle to prevent China from falling to Communism. 

Afterward, climb the 89 steps to pay your respects to the first president of the Republic of China (first in Mainland China from 1928 to 1949, then in exile in Taiwan up till 1975) at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall (left). If you have the time, make the drive to Grass Mountain Chateau (below), the first Presidential Residence in Taiwan, and former home of President Chiang Kai Shek. The chateau is now a little museum with a cafe offering stunning views of Yangmingshan National Park.

Further reading:
MY FAMILY HISTORY & CONNECTION 
TO THE FOUNDERS OF TAIWAN



2
SEE & DO
NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM

The collection of the National Palace Museum boasts the largest collection of Chinese art in the world, all of it narrowly saved from the infamous Cultural Revolution. The museum’s collection of 700,000 pieces (encompassing 8,000 years of Chinese history) is spread out over 4 floors and best appreciated with at least a day...


3
EAT
SILKS PALACE RESTAURANT

...followed by dinner at the nearby Silks Palace Restaurant. To complete the art and history experience, indulge in the 9-course Imperial Treasures Tasting Menu. The dishes are inspired by and designed to resemble some of the museum’s most famous and most precious exhibits - including the Jadeite Cabbage, Cauldron of Duke of Mao, and of course the Meat-shaped Stone.

Further reading:
A DAY OF CHINESE ART & FINE DINING AT 
NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM & SILKS PALACE


Taiwan: 8 Things To Do in Taipei by Posh, Broke, & Bored


4
SEE & DO
TAIPEI 101 OBSERVATORY DECK


Taipei 101 is to Taipei what the Empire State Building is to New York City. The 101 floor skyscraper is the city’s icon, postmodernist in style with traditional Chinese design elements - bamboo, ingots, and ruyi symbols, among othersTaipei 101 is the first record-setting skyscraper to be constructed in the 21st century; with accolades such as the fastest ascending elevator, being the world’s tallest building from 2004 - 2010, and being the largest and tallest green building in the world. Numbers and records aside, the main attraction of Taipei 101 are the observation decks. Come to the Indoor Observation deck on the 88th and 89th floor and the Outdoor Observation deck on the 91st floor for breathtaking 360 views of the city and the mountain range beyond.





5
EAT
BEEF NOODLES, DUMPLINGS, & MORE


If you dribble at the thought of soup dumplings and pork belly buns, you have Taiwan to thank for it. Taiwanese cuisine is unique and varied, with different types of Chinese and even Japanese influences in the cuisine. 

Local specialities to try when in Taipei include lu rou fan (rice topped with minced, braised, fatty slow-cooked pork), Taiwanese hot pot (the country’s answer to shabu shabu), gua bao (pork belly bun - a fat fluffy bun stuffed with braised pork belly and pickled mustard greens), xiao long bao (soup dumplings - although strictly from Mainland China, its the Din Tai Fung chain that brought this delicious morsel to the international stage), bubble tea (milky tea filled with tapioca pearls), and stinky tofu (an acquired taste and smell, definitely for the adventurous).

If you have only ONE thing to eat, make it niu rou mien (beef noodle soup). A Taiwanese favourite, there are countless ways to serve it. My personal favourite are the beef noodles served at W TAIPEI - with aromatic broth laced with black tea and impossibly tender wagyu beef slices.

Left: The niu rou mien at W TAIPEI
Bottom, left: EEE BB U WAN SUM BEEF?
Bottom, centre: EEE BB U WAN SUM PORK RICE DUMPLING?!
Bottom, right: EEE BB U WAN SUM MORE BEEF NOODLES?!!




Taiwan: 8 Things To Do in Taipei by Posh, Broke, & Bored

Taiwan: 8 Things To Do in Taipei by Posh, Broke, & Bored
6
SHOP
NIGHT MARKETS


If you want to see Taiwanese nightlife as its most authentic, head to a night market. While night markets began as a Chinese phenomenon, the Taiwanese scene is among the best in the world. And no wonder for a country where snacking from dusk to dawn is a social activity, nay, a way of life. Expect chaos; from a constellation of neon lights, the cacophony of stall vendors shouting to be heard, the crush of crowds, and a heady array of street food aromas.

Shilin Night Market is the most famous and one of the biggest night markets in Taipei, and one of the most touristy too. Irregardless it’s still local and authentic; packed with locals descending for late night shopping, snacking, and socialising. Arrive at midnight to catch all the action. 

Raohe Night Market is another must visit. While not as grand nor sprawling as Shilin’s, the first impression is stunning as the start of the market is flanked by Songshan Ciyou Temple. Of all the night markets, Raohe is the foodie destination, which is why it starts in the evening, peaks at dinnertime, and closes relatively early at 11:00pm. Street eats to try: fried dumplings, blowtorched steak, all manners of meats on skewers, pepper pork buns, pork rib soup; and of course, bubble tea.


Taiwan: 8 Things To Do in Taipei by Posh, Broke, & Bored

Taiwan: 8 Things To Do in Taipei by Posh, Broke, & Bored


Taiwan: 8 Things To Do in Taipei by Posh, Broke, & Bored

7
SEE & DO
TEMPLE RUN


Even the most ardent atheist can appreciate the intricacies of Taipei’s temples. Two of the city’s most established are the Lungshan Temple of Manka and Dalongdong Bao’an Temple.

Lungshan Temple of Manka is a Chinese folk religious temple, dedicated to Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. Built in 1738 by settlers from Fujian during Qing rule, the temple is eclectic; its halls and altars housing hundred of statues of Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian deities. The temple walls, grounds, and roof are covered in vivid paintings and stone statues of mystical figures (dragons, phoenixes, and deities, oh my!). Lungshan Temple has been declared a Secondary National Heritage Site.

Dalongdong Bao’an Temple was founded in 1760 by immigrants from Fujian province, dedicated to both Baosheng Dadi (Saint Wu - a historical figure revered for his medical skills) and Shengnong, the god of agriculture. I had the great good fortune to visit during Baosheng Cultural Festival, the annual folk arts festival from March to June which includes the Five Day Completion Rituals to Thank GodsBao’an Temple also hosts regular free events, including Taiwanese opera performances, parades, and the gods' birthday celebrations. 





Taiwan: 8 Things To Do in Taipei by Posh, Broke, & Bored


Taiwan: 8 Things To Do in Taipei by Posh, Broke, & Bored
8
SEE & DO
NEW TAIPEI CITY

Should you feel like a breath of fresh air from the urban charms of Taiwan’s capital, a day trip to nearby New Taipei City is in order. Formerly Taipei County, New Taipei City is a special municipality in northern Taiwan that completely surrounds Taipei. Covering a vast territory with varied landscapes including a substantial stretch of the island's northern coastline, Taipei Basin, mountains, hills, and plains; the sights are just as varied: from former mining towns overrun with cats, geological formations by the sea, hot springs, and a rustic town in the hills that inspired the fantastical and whimsical Hayao Miyazaki film Spirited Away.

I’ll tell you more about New Taipei City in my upcoming Taiwan story, the last of the series. Watch this space...

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