We arrived in Taipei from Kuala Lumpur in the early evening & checked into our wonderful suite at the modern boutique Madison Hotel. Right off the main strip in Taipei and about 8 blocks from Taipei 101. After we got settled in, we headed of to one of Taipei's world famous night markets.
Where we spent a few hours walking through the market, eating street food bites and browsing the shops. Immediately getting right into the Taipei nightlife and swing of things.
The next day we purchased inexpensive Taipei metro passes, and used them to reach all the historic sites in Taipei. Our first stop was a morning visit at the National Palace Museum.
The museum features the largest collection anywhere in the world of ancient Chinese artifacts and art. We spent a good 3 hours here, as well the buildings traditional palace exterior is great for photos.
We then headed across town to stunning Liberty Square, where can be found the imposing Chaing Kai Shek Memorial, along with the National Concert Hall and National Concert Theatre, two traditional buildings that both look like palaces. The whole square is enclosed in beautiful walls and gates, and a park like setting with hiking trails and paths cutting through the park. After which we made our way to the famous Taiwanese dining venue of Din Tai Fung for lunch/dim sum. We had to queue for nearly 45mins to be seated for 2, but oh was it so so worth it! Din Tai Fung originated in Taiwan, and while there are multiple locations in Taipei, we went to the original founding spot in Da'an district, a multi floor queue only location. Din Tai Fung has branches all over the world, including 3 or 4 in the Western US. From Din Tai Fung is wasn't far to get to Bopoliao Old Street, a traditional old world village street left somewhat intact for historic interests.
A few blocks from there was the highlight of our day, Longshan Temple. Here we visited multiple prayer shrines, witnessed an all female monk chant/prayer session and explored the temple, prayed to Budda and more. It was just fantastic and the perfect way to wrap up the day. That night went hit up Ximending, the hip trendy nightlife and shopping district of Taipei. We spent the night hours shopping to our hearts content, watching street performances & dining on delicious Japanese food. Ximending was very addicting, be careful to control yourself or you may never leave, lol.
The next morning we went to Taipei 101, the 101 floor skyscraper is one of the tallest buildings in the world at 1,667ft high. The viewing platform is found on the 83rd floor and the elevator takes only 37 seconds to reach it. From the viewing floor on a clear day (it wasn't that clear for us), you can see the whole of Taipei, and all of the north of Taiwan. We spent about 1 hour up there before heading back down. Exiting Taipei 101, we flagged down a taxi who accepted credit cards and negotiated with the driver for a half day trip (4 hrs+), to visit the traditional Taiwanese village of Jiufen up in the mountains outside of Taipei. He agreed to the service for 2,000 Taiwanese dollars (Approx $70US)! We happily agreed and off we went. It took about 1 hour to get there. Once there we realized just how popular this place was with the Asian tourist crowd. It was jam packed. We walked all the way up 'old street' lined as you go up stairs and paths ways with little shops, and food, food, food. We couldn't stop munching & taking pictures! It was an amazing experience. At the top we hunted for the famous but hidden A Mei Teahouse. We got lost trying to find it, but eventually we found it. We were guided up to the outdoor terrace on the 3rd floor for "Traditional Tea Service only", and loved every minute of the experience. After which we made our way back down Old Street, so slowly (eating again as we walked), finally reaching the bottom and calling for our driver to come get us. We ran a bit late, but it was no big deal with the driver, who returned us to our hotel for the end of the service.
Final day in Taipei, flight out in afternoon to San Francisco. We still had several hours at our disposal and shopping in the heart of Taipei is all too tempting. We headed out for a morning of shopping, then we made our way to the W Taipei, and enjoyed fusion dim sum at Yen, their in-crowd spot for Dim Sum in a modern trendy setting. We soon realized we picked well as the venue filled quickly upon beginning dim sum service with local Taiwanese who knew this was the place for high end dim sum in the city. (My wife picked well). A very cool way to cap off Taipei and the trip overall. As we headed back to our hotel after to check out and hop a taxi out to the airport for our departure.
Taipei was incredible, and I created my own label 'Mini Tokyo', after we returned to US. I would happily go back to Taipei again, and see more of the country and the city itself is very addicting.
We had a great time in Taipei for 3 nights enjoying all the amazing historic sites and temples the city had to offer, as well as blending in with the locals in Ximending and eating the best Taiwanese food ever.
Taipei also makes a great stop over destination city on your way to or from Asia, as many airlines including EVA Airlines, all use Taipei as a connecting gateway when flying over the Pacific. It is a beautiful modern cosmopolitan city with so much to offer the visitor, and the Taiwanese people are some of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of conversing with.
Do not hesitate to add Taipei to your bucket list. As I highly suspect we will be back again.
- Derek Schemonitz
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