Taipei Travel Guide
Perched at the northern end of Taiwan, Taipei is this island-nation’s political and commercial capital (just don’t say that to the Chinese). A constant buzz of activity surrounds the densely compact yet naturally attractive Taipei, offering endless options for eating, drinking and exploring the unique variation of Chinese culture found only on this beautiful island.
From any lofty perspective, one can see that Taipei is a city built around a sea of small hills with the Keelung River cutting through the middle. The effect is a sprawling metropolis naturally divided into tight little neighborhoods. Nature is never far from the pavement, and as the Taiwanese love to walk in the hills, there are trails and temples on virtually every slope in the city.
A mix of the modern and the traditional, Taipei’s districts tend to blend business with cultural arts and entertainment at every turn. The riverside Shi Lin district has the city’s largest night market, while Da Tong has a touch of the old European trading days. Zhong Zheng is the political heart of Taipei, yet is also home to its finest performing arts centers. After dark, check out Da An for entertainment or ride to the top of the world’s tallest building, the 101, for the ultimate in views.
Botanical Gardens: so vast is this urban oasis that you’ll forget there’s a seething metropolis just outside the trees. Paths are lined with informative signs about the myriad flora on display.****
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall: this impressively grand hall in the heart of the city is a hub of activity and the site of the prestigious National Theater and National Concert Hall.****
Lungshan Temple: the oldest Confucius temple in the city is packed with incense-burning worshippers day and night, and is just one of several spiritual masterpieces in the wonderfully traditional district of Wan Hua.
National Palace Museum: this world-renowned museum contains, among many other Chinese cultural wonders, a stunning collection of artifacts which were looted from the mainland’s Forbidden Palace by the KMT.****
Shihlin Night Market: Taipei’s largest night market is an absolutely fascinating world unto itself, full of endless diversion after dark.
The 101: currently the planet’s tallest building, the bamboo-inspired 101 is not only a beautiful skyscraper, but the views from the observation platform are nothing short of surreal.