Travel: Seven things to do on a trip to Taipei

phil at­t­away ex­plores tai­wan’s cap­i­tal, teem­ing with mar­kets, sky­scrapers and tem­ples

Woman's Own - - CONTENTS -

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

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