Whether it’s street food, scenic views, or stationary you’re after, Taiwan’s capital city,Taipei, has it all. And what’s great about the city is everything’s tightly packed together and easily accessible by public transport, so you can really do a lot in as little as three to four days if your plan your trip well
Where to go
The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is one of Taipei’s most-visited tourist spots, but for good reason. The landmark sits in between the National Theatre, National Concert Hall, and lush green gardens. It’s great to wander around the square and learn about Taiwan’s history. Plus, the area is so beautiful, there’s literally a photo op everywhere you look!
For the best view of Taipei City, hike up Elephant Mountain, otherwise known as Xiangshan. Follow the Nangang District Hiking Trail up to the viewing platform for a clear view of the skyline, including the Taipei 101 tower. The trail involves a lot of stairs but is a fairly easy walk and only takes around 15-20 minutes. An ideal time to visit is in the afternoon, so you can watch the sunset and the city light up.
Yangmingshan National Park, located in northern Taipei, is home to picturesque parks, hiking trails and world-famous sulphur hot springs. February and March is peak flowering season; you can see cherry blossoms, camellias, wild peonies and many more flowers in bloom.
Where to shop
Kwang Nan is your one-stop shop for anything and everything, starting with electronics and homewares on the first floor and leading up to a makeup and stationary heaven at the top. It isn’t hard to spot the bright yellow building from afar. Grab a basket and go crazy; everything’s so cheap that you can afford to!
Another great place to visit is the Red House, a historic theatre and Taipei’s cultural and creative centre, in Ximen. On weekends, there is an independent designer’s market outside the theatre. There, you’ll find rows of stalls selling everything from handmade jewellery and leatherware to postcards and potted plants – and if you’re lucky you might get to meet the artists behind the designs.
If you’re more into tech and electronics, head to Guang Hua Digital Plaza: a six-story, indoor market full of the latest and cheapest electronic gadgets.
What to eat
For some authentic Taiwanese style breakfast food – like shao bing (baked wheat cake), dan bing (egg pancake rolls), and soy milk – you can visit Fu Hang Dou Jiang near Shandao Temple Station. But be warned: the line is always super long and the wait time can be up to an hour, so try to get there as early as possible. For a more modern take on the popular egg pancake roll (and if you’re tight on time) try LoCo Food where they serve many variations of the classic dish. As a bonus, the place is highly instagrammable so don’t forget to bring your camera along.
If you’re a milk tea fanatic, you’re in the right city. One of the most popular places to go for Taiwanese bubble milk tea is Chen San Ding in Gongguan where an endless line of people queue up for their famous brown sugar milk tea. Right across from the shop you can find another famous stall that sells delicious gua bao (steamed pork belly buns), which makes a great on the go snack!
When night falls, there is no other place to be in Taipei than a night market. There are an overwhelming number around the city, but if you only have time to visit a couple, make them the Shilin and Raohe night markets. Both are popular with tourists but also with locals, and you will find a huge selection of goods on offer.
Popular Taiwanese street foods every foodie must try includes da chang bao xiao chang (which literally translates to small sausage in large sausage), oyster omelette and the infamous stinky tofu. And if you still didn’t get your fill at the night markets, there’s no better way to top off a meal in Taipei than with a bowl of mango shaved ice for dessert.
Of course, you can’t leave Taipei without trying pineapple cakes. You can find them just about anywhere, but the most popular place is Sunny Hills – the cakes here have the perfect balance between the sweet, sticky pineapple jam and the slightly savoury, shortbread-like pastry. Pineapple cakes also make an excellent souvenir to bring back home with you from your trip!