Although it’s still largely off the Asia travel circuit, Taipei is a must-see for anyone. Steeped in history and culture, Taipei provides its visitors with world-class restaurants, picturesque monuments, exotic night markets, and intoxicating temples – all in a safe, cosmopolitan cityscape. Of course, one could easily spend months in Taiwan’s capital city without experiencing all it has to offer, but one day will certainly give you a feel of the city’s energy and culture. Here is our idea of the perfect day in Taipei:
6:30 am – Sorry, there’s no sleeping in if you’re travelling with us. Get up early and set out to Da’an Park. You’ll see plenty of older Taiwanese practicing Tai Chi and exercising on the free pull-up bars in the park. Don’t be shy though—the locals will welcome you to join in!
7:30 am – All that Tai Chi probably made you hungry. Grab some ‘dan bing’ at a local breakfast shop. This yummy Taiwanese style crepe comes with contents such as bacon and cheese, and is drizzled with a savory sauce. The street side stalls might not look like much, but the local delicacy is delicious. You’ll find breakfast shops all throughout Taipei, and nearly all of them serve ‘dan bing’.
8:00 am – After breakfast, it’s time to soak up a bit of history at the National Palace Museum. Taiwanese have a running joke that this is the place to go should China ever decide to bomb as it is filled with the world’s largest collection of Chinese art.
Some of the pieces date back thousands of years into Chinese history, including Buddhist artifacts inherited from the Forbidden City.
11:00 am –One of Taiwan’s most unique cultural and spiritual experiences is in a visit to one of its temples. Two popular options are the Longshan and Confucius Temples. At many of the temples in the city you’ll find people praying with incense sticks and leaving food for the gods. It is also common to see people throwing small oracle blocks to the ground. This is a method of fortune telling, in which ‘yes/no’ questions can be answered via the way the blocks land. It’s acceptable for foreigners to give it a go, so feel free to ask the gods any question you please!
12:00 pm – Hungry again? Head into a local restaurant—odds are they are going to have a delicious variation of the national dish, beef noodles, or ‘nu ro mian’. Big chunks of fatty beef, chewy noodles, and a bit of a spicy broth comprise this tasty dish. Each restaurant has its own family recipe; don’t be afraid to try this dish again and again!
1:00 pm – Now it’s time to walk off a bit of the calories from lunch. Take the metro to Danshui, a quaint, riverfront neighborhood on the outskirts of Taipei. Check out its bustling Gongming St and waterfront walkway, where street vendors, performers and carnival games are plentiful.
3:00 pm – Next up is the memorial for the founder of modern China. The Sun Yat-sen memorial serves as a monument to the leader as well as a social and educational center. There is a decent museum that provides information on Dr. Sun, as well as an elaborate changing of the guard.
4:30 pm – The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial is the perfect place to stroll in the late afternoon. The grounds are also home to the National Concert Hall and National Theatre, a beautiful area to wander and grab some photos. Once you’ve gotten your fill of smiling at the families wandering the grounds and the teenagers practicing their dance moves, climb the steps to view the colossal statue of and tribute to Chiang Kai-Shek.
6:00 pm – Din Tai Fung is a scrumptiously delicious dumpling house. It originated in Taipei, but now can be found all over the world. It’s an extremely popular restaurant, so expect to wait in line a bit before a table is available. However, you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to try xiao long bao, a house specialty.
8:00 pm – Hopefully you didn’t eat too much at dinner, because now it’s time to navigate Taiwan’s largest and most famous night market. At the Shilin night market you’ll find everything from stinky tofu and chicken hearts on a stick to carnival games and pearl milk tea. Grab a snack and try not to get overwhelmed by the crowds!
10:00 pm – The Taiwan Beer Brewery is the last stop of the day. Grab a glass of the local brew and enjoy the live music—you’ve earned it.