Taipei – Taiwan

Taipei is the capital city of Taiwan, it has so much to offer and plenty of visitors to Taiwan never leave Taipei during their vacation.

Things To Do:

1. The Taipei 101 building dominates the skyline, its currently the second tallest building in the world, and can be seen from miles away. The ground floor is a food court, then up from that there is a few floors of shopping mall, then offices and at the very top is an observation deck, waiting time can vary and tickets start at $600.

2. The Xiangshan Hiking Trail is a free alternative to the Taipei 101 observation deck, and personally I think it’s better because you can actually see the Taipei 101 building in your photographs! Xiangshan is the very last stop on the red line, exit the station and walk all the way through the park until you get to the other side and follow signs for the trail. It’s not a long hike but you will need some basic fitness.

3. For a perfect sunset photograph, join the dozens of tripod owners along the river banks at Yanping Riverside Park, there is a cycle trail and outdoor gyms along the way, the perfect place to spend a warm evening.

4. The National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is a very unique looking building compared to traditional Taiwan architecture, it’s more Chinese in style and is surrounded by beautiful gardens, the changing of the guards ceremony attracts visitors from all over. It’s flanked by two traditional buildings (the convent hall and theatre) and in front is an old arched gateway. Easily accessible on the red or green lines.

5. The Presidential Building is worth a short detour, your only allowed to walk past and not allowed to stop and take photos, but photos are allowed from the other side of the road.

6. The botanical gardens are free to enter and open daily, the central pond is home to all manner of birds and other wildlife. There’s also a herb garden which is quite interesting. Take the metro to the CKS memorial hall and walk about 15 minutes.

7. The Bopiliao Historical Block close to Lungshan Temple (an overrated temple for me) is a real step back in time to the old Taipei. The whole street has been restored to its former glory, and though we couldn’t read a lot of the Chinese plaques, we still enjoyed wandering in and out of the old houses. Entrance is free, 5 minutes walk from the Lungshan Temple Metro Station.

8. Heading slightly north of the city, following the red line to Beitou Station, you will find Beitou park and natural baths, and a little further on the Thermal Valley hot springs. The hot springs are too hat to bath in, and the volcanic sulphur gives them a stink that can’t be seen on photographs. It’s an absolutely incredible site to see, especially if you haven’t seen this kind of thing before. The minerals in the water make it a bright blue and the steam makes it look like something from a fantasy movie.

9. Shifen Waterfall is a full day trip from Taipei, like everywhere in this magnificent country, the water is a crystal clear bright blue. Located in Shifen (a beautiful old town famous for lanterns – you can buy one for $150). The hike to the waterfall is only around 45 minutes and is mostly flat with a few steps along the way. To get there you need to take a train from Taipei main station to Ruifang ($135 return) then take the tourist train along the Pingxi line ($80 for a full day ticket) to Shifen then walk back on yourself through the old street and follow signs to the waterfall.

Where To Eat:

If your staying in New Taipei then you will love the Rio Restaurant, we ate here on New Year Eve and paid around $320 each for 5 courses.

Most other nights we are at the Taiwan Buffet next to our hotel, it’s open till 11pm and is a self serve canteen. The price is pennies and the food is wonderful.

The Taipei 101 food court is surprisingly a really good budget option, take the entrance opposite the metro station. It’s absolutely huge with so much choice, although can still be difficult to find a seat during busy periods.

Getting There:

The express train from the airport takes 38 minutes and costs $160, the slower train costs $130.

The main train station is in the centre of the city and you can take a direct train from anywhere in Taiwan.

Once you get to Taipei, the metro system is fantastic, we used it every single day. It’s really easy to use, and ranges from $20 to $50 depending how far you are traveling.

Where To Stay:

Taipei is so huge that you can’t be next to everything, and the metro system is so good that you don’t need to be in the centre anyway.

We stayed at the Xinshe Hotel in New Taipei, we paid a ridiculous price for our first night as it was New Years Eve, then around £30 per night after that. Luckily we had reward points to offset the majority of the first night.

The hotel was really nice, and breakfast was good, the beds were huge and there was a bathtub in the room. It was only 5 minutes away from Taipei Bridge metro station.

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