Travel: Seven things to do on a trip to Taipei
phil attaway explores taiwan’s capital, teeming with markets, skyscrapers and temples
1 Have a cuppa
If you like tea as much as the Taiwanese, then this trip is not to be missed. Take a glass-bottomed gondola from Taipei Zoo and in around 20 minutes you will reach the village of Maokong, located on the top of a mountain. There you can sit back with a cuppa from one of the many tea houses while taking in the breathtaking views of Taipei City.
2 Visit a temple
One of the oldest and largest temples in Taiwan, the Mengjia Longshan Temple was built in 1738 as a place of worship for Buddhists and Taoists. One of the ‘Big 3’ in the historic Wanhua district, this ancient temple has stood the test of time and lasted through several natural disasters and wars, including being bombed during the Second World War. Entrance is free, but donations to maintain the upkeep of the temple are welcomed.
3 See Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
This stunning national monument to a former president is located in the Zhongzheng district. It’s surrounded by 62 acres of beautiful gardens, and is also home to the National Theatre and National Concert Hall. The highlight is the changing of the guards every hour.
4 Shop at night
Raohe Night Market is one of the oldest street markets in Taipei. This 600-metre-long bustling bazaar is a feast for the eyes with stall after stall selling mouthwatering – and sometimes a little strange – Taiwanese delicacies. A stone’s throw from Songshan station, it starts at 5pm but the best time to go is around 7pm.
5 Go to the zoo
Taipei Zoo, also known as Muzha Zoo, is Taiwan’s most famous zoological garden and the largest in Southeast Asia. It is situated in the Wenshan district of Taipei, just a short ride on the metro from the city centre and is home to over 400 different animal species. These include the zoo’s resident giant panda celebrities, Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan and their cub Yuan Zai, born in the zoo in 2013. Open year round except for Chinese New Year’s Eve, it’s a great day out.
6 Enjoy a great view
At 509 metres high, Taipei 101 is still one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. Towering above the city like a giant bamboo stalk, 101’s pressure controlled lift takes a mere 40 seconds to get from ground level to the 89th-floor observation deck. It’s also home to a shopping mall and food court on the lower floors. Don’t miss the massive gold-coloured iron wind damper that keeps the tower stable through typhoons and earthquakes.
7 Take a hike
For the best views of Taipei and Taipei 101, make a hike up the many winding steps of Elephant Mountain. The best time to go is during the late afternoon, to catch the sunset and the stunning nighttime view of the city, plus it’s a little cooler at that time and less humid. Depending on your level of fitness, it takes around 20-40 minutes to get to the top, but there are several stops and seats along the way if
you find you need a breather.
The entrance to the famous market
Skimming the treetops in a gondola
Garden enthusiasts will love it
A colourful place of worship