If you follow our Instagram page, you probably know that we were in Taiwan recently for work and we did some sightseeing during our stay. For a change, we used more of public transportation during this trip rather than renting a car (that is also because we didn’t have our license in hand ☺️).
Taiwan is an interesting country with its busy markets, ancient temples and shrines, scenic views and Mesmerizing architecture. Here is what we found interesting during our stay and we recommend you to add it to your itinerary.
Hot spots in Taipei
Chiang Kia Shek Memorial Hall – This memorial is a famous tourist attraction built in memory of Chiang Kia-Shek – former President of Republic of China. There is no entrance fee and if you are lucky you may also witness military drill. It is easily accessible through Chiang Kia Shek Memorial hall train station (MRT – green line).
Longshan Temple – Taiwan has dozens of temples and if you are fond of grand architecture then this Buddhist temple might be of interest to you. This temple doesn’t have any entry fee for tourist but is the most busiest temple. If you visit this temple around 5pm you will see many worshippers engaged in chanting.
Top of Elephant Mountain – Best spot for sunset over Taipei City. You will need to climb stairs for approx 20 mins to get beautiful view of the whole city. The closest train station is Xiangshan (MRT – red line) after which you will need to walk another 1.5 km. We recommend you to go by Uber or Taxi to save time. This journey Involves a lot of hiking trails so stock up your energy before going. Best time to visit is during sunset.
Tamsui old street – Just a few minutes walk from Tamsui station is Tamsui old street. A Street full of small shops and loads of street food. A sour plum juice is a best way to cool off the summer along the river side from this street. There are variety of street food stalls and food that we tried are – stuffed chicken BBQ wings and freshly baked pineapple or regular cake which they pack and give as take away. Food in this street cost less than NT 100. You could also visit Fort San Domingo and Alethia University which is close to the street. These places have interesting structure but nothing much to do.
Taipei zoo and Maokong gondola – This could take a full days time and is a best and cheap day trip. You can start with Taipei zoo which gets interesting when you walk deeper inside. Towards the end of the zoo you will reach gondola station that will take you through a scenic ride of Taipei and stop at the top of the mountain where you will find wide variety of tea houses to enjoy a cup of tea with a beautiful view of Taipei. There is a long walking trail that takes you through tea fields and small waterfalls. There are maps drawn on the road that can help you understand the trail before you start walking. You will also find shuttle busses at the mountain top that can take you back to the MRT train station if you wish not to take the walking trail.
– Use Easy card at the zoo and gondola station as it provides you a good discount and entry without standing in que for ticket.
– Gondola is closed on Mondays.
Day trip to Pinxi – We had booked a day trip through a local website – Taobao. Booking through a local tour makes it cheaper, however you will need help from someone who can understand local language and best option is to approach hotel staff. This day trip took us to amazing places –
Golden Falls in Jinguashi – Jinguashi is where the gold was mined and a quick stop at this waterfall is a beautiful spot for seeing a glinting gold yellow waterfall. You will also notice that the sea water from here has two distinct colors, yellow and blue.
Teapot mountain trail – As you pass through the golden falls you will find yourself going through narrow roads up hill. This mountain has a great ocean view and is something not to miss. Along with the scenic view you will notice the glinting gold yellow mixing with blue sea water from top of the mountain.
Shifen waterfalls – This scenic waterfall is something not to miss at Pingxi area. But keep in mind that the waterfall gate closes at 4.30 pm.
Elephant trunk rock – This place has a huge rock in the shape of an elephant trunk. You may not find any signs from the main road but our guide helped us to find the spot and within 5 mins we were at the rock. This place is usually crowded by tourists so there is no escape from that but it is advisable to check the weather to avoid rain as the rocks can be slippery.
Longdong walking trail – Also called as the ‘Dragon cave’ because of its rock caves. This place is well known as a rock climbing area and an excellent spot for scuba and fishing. It has a stunning view from the top of the mountain.
Pingxi lantern – To end this adventurous day, how about enjoying a snack and lighting a lantern into the sky and watch it fly. Each color of lantern has a different meaning and costs NT 150. It is a very touristy spot where you will see many people lighting up their lantern and writing their wishes on it. Since this takes place on a train track, you will witness a whistle and everyone clearing the track for the train to pass and hop into the track again to fly their lantern.
National palace museum – This museum has finest collection of Chinese treasures. Museum provides English headphone guide so you can take your time to see all the beautiful collections and punch in the guide number to listen about it on your headphone. This museum has 3 floors containing Ming and Qing dynasty collections of jade and bronze, Chinese ceramics and paintings, calligraphy and ornaments and exhibits of Ming dynasty furnitures.
Tips on transportation
MRT train is a best option to go around in the city of Taipei. You could either take an Easy Card and recharge it on the go or take a 5 day pass which cost NT 700 and can be used unlimited for 5 days in train and bus and comes with a tourism map which is very handy to find the nearest station for each spots.
Food and Drinks
Meat love Korean BBQ restaurant– This place has best meat and they grill in charcoal on your table. So you eat it fresh and hot with lots of side meals served along. This place is pricy but a must try. We tried, grilled lamb chops, pork belly and beef. They change the grill stand for every meat so don’t worry about mix in flavor in case you don’t eat some kind of meat. Cost per dish is approx NT 1000.
Din Tai Fung – located near Taipei 101, this place is ideal for trying dumplings. The que to get a table over the weekend could be long so grab a number from the counter and go for a quick shopping in the mall or check out Taipe 101 in the mean time.
Si Fang A Jiu Minced Pork restaurant – We found this small restaurant in the streets of Taipei, very close to Longshan temple. Restaurant is small and service is fast and is known for minced pork and rice. Best local place for a quick meal and costs very low. Approx cost per dish is NT 40.
Street food – There are many night markets in Taipei city where you could try some street food. But be ready to smell the ‘Stinky Tofu’ throughout the market.
Ounce – A cocktail bar hidden behind a secret door. This place has no menu. Bartender or the staff will ask your preference of spirit and flavor (sweet/sour) and bring a cocktail that suits your taste. Highly recommend you to try this hidden bar.
Archemy speakeasy bar – Another hidden bar behind a door that looks like a book shelf. This bar has a vintage style lounge with dim candle lights and a good selection of cocktails.
Clubs – You will find many clubs in ATT4FUN building. You can also try babe18 and Omni which is around the same area. If you are not a club person, you will find many outdoor and indoor bars around the same area.
Local fruits to try:
Wax apple – Ideal fruit for beating the summer heat and quenching one’s thirst.
Jujube – Also called as Chinese date and looks like green apple from outside but is sweet and juicy.
Shopping in Taipei
DIY lovers – If you love DIY crafts then an ideal place to shop all your DIY materials is Bear Mom DIY store. Closest station to this store is Beimen Station (green line). You will also find smaller shops around this store but it is easier to buy here since it is well organized and easy to pick items.
Taipei City Mall – Unique shopping experience located undergraound at the Taipei main station. You can shop souvenirs, gadgets, video games, anime toy stores and many more. All you have to do is walk, walk, walk.
Facial masks – Japanese face mask are easily found in Japanese pharmacies in Taipei. There are many articles on Japanese beauty products on what to buy or you could simply ask the pharmacist in store for recommendations.