Taiwan’s beautiful northern city of Taipei has something to offer everyone. World-caliber museums, towering skyscrapers, mega-department stores, memorial halls, sophisticated art galleries, and ultra-trendy walking districts are offset by a laidback attitude and rich cultural links to the past. Uncover secrets and legends of the mystical Far East in colorful exotic temples tucked away throughout the city. Whisk your way to the observation deck of one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. Betel-nut girls, tea stations, and noodle shops on every corner mean you won’t lack for cheap food in your belly and a taste of local culture. With a wide variety of activities to choose from and a unique blend of East meets West, Taipei promises to be an exciting adventure for locals and tourists alike.
Start your day off at the Ay-Chung Noodle Shop in Ximending. Ay-Chung’s has been in business since 1975. Ay-Chung’s isn’t just famous for its hearty vermicelli bursting with flavor. Served in 15 seconds flat for $1.50US a bowl, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a cheaper or faster lunch. Look for the long line-ups and a crowd of people squatting or standing with their bowls of noodles. There are no tables here to sit at, but don’t let that fact scare you away from a unique dining experience. MRT: Blue Line, Ximen Station, Exit#6. No.8-1, Er Mei St., Wanhua District.
Make a beeline for the trendy streets of Ximending, where you can mingle among Taipei’s young and hip crowds. Ximending combines great food, shopping, and a cool arty undertone. Flashing neon billboards and giant screen televisions can be found on every level, and storefronts are a jumble of colored lights, naked wires, and kitschy signs. You’ll find trendy boutiques, cinemas, department stores, street vendors, and tattoo and piercing shops here. For the full experience don’t miss exploring the small alleys in this eight block district. There are picturesque European style coffee houses and patios snuggled away in hidden corners, while the streets are, in some places, literally works of art. MRT: Blue Line, Ximen Station, Exit#6
Taipei’s most easily recognized and beloved of all landmarks is visible from any direction. Night or day, Taipei 101 offers an incredible view of the city. By dusk, visitors can enjoy a sunset view from one of two observatories at the 89th and 91st floors. Whether you’re looking at the view, shopping in the posh shopping mall located on the first five floors, or enjoying the spacious Asian-style food court in the basement, 101 is a must-see on any traveler’s list of things to do in Taiwan. MRT: Blue Line, City Hall Station. Address: 89th Floor, No 7 Xinyi Road Section 5.
For the true pleasure-seekers, there are international five-star restaurants of every variety throughout the city of Taipei. However, if you’re trying to make the most of your 24 hours in Taipei, you might want to give Shilin night market a try. Not only will you get to experience a great variety of Taiwanese culinary delights, but you’ll also do it at a fraction of the cost you’d pay in a restaurant. Night markets are the most common places for outdoor dining in Taipei. As a result, eating in Taiwan has become an epicurean’s playground. The food is an international smorgasbord of culinary delights, with a budget in mind for every wallet. Go local and sample a little bit of everything. Stinky tofu, oyster omelets, fried dumplings, baked pork buns, Taiwanese style fried chicken, noodles of every variety, and the savory aroma of delicately brewed local teas should all be at the top of your hit list. MRT: Red Line, Jiantan Station.
Just a few stops from Shilin night market is the opulent The Grand Hotel, where you can combine sightseeing at one of Taipei’s biggest tourist attractions and sleep under the world’s largest Chinese classical style roof for $120 – $165 US a night. The hotel, also known as the Dragon Palace, claims to have over 200,000 images of dragons both inside and outside its walls. There are eight floors of guest rooms, each decorated in the style of a different Chinese dynasty. MRT Red Line Yuanshan Station. Address: #1, Chung Shan N. Rd., Sec.4.
Enjoy Eastern or Western cuisines in the Golden Dragon Restaurant, or in the Grand Garden Western Dining Room in the lobby of the hotel. Classical Chinese musicians will help you relax with the sounds from the Chinese pipa and zither. After breakfast, take some time to look at the Chinese art displays in the main lobby or explore one of the temples in the area. Breakfast here will run you between $7 and $15 US. However, the sense of tranquility you’ll be starting your morning off with is priceless.
9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Catch up on your history at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Once you’re finished admiring the unusual blue octagonal roof and sparkling white walls, retreat into some of Taipei’s finest gardens. On weekends, everything from art exhibits and music concerts to drill practices and marching bands can be found here. You might even be able to catch the changing of the guard. MRT: Red line. CKS Memorial Station, Exit# 5