Taiwan/Taipei tips for newbies

Discussion in 'Asia' started by HaveMilesWillTravel, Jun 3, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,503
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Thinking about doing a quick trip to Taipei. This would be my first time, and I am looking for any advice on what to do in the city or country. Thinking about a four or five night stay.
     
    mynameismud and Kalboz like this.
  2. mhf
    Original Member

    mhf Silver Member

    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    147
    Status Points:
    355
    Check out the Shilin night market: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shilin_Night_Market

    If museums are your thing, the National Palace Museum is worth a visit (the jade cabbage!).

    The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall should be on your agenda at some point, and it's also a fun place to go at night to sit on the steps and drink beer.

    The observation deck of the 101 supposedly offers stunning night views of the city.

    Wander around the Ximending shopping area.

    The last time I was there we did a weekend trip to Kaohsiung and Tainan (I think it was a few hours by high-speed rail from Taipei), but you could probably find enough to occupy you for four or five days within the general Taipei area. I'm forgetting a crapload of stuff--I'll have to go through photos to jog my memory.

    Taipei is an excellent "eating city". Some highlights off the top of my head:
    • Flavors Restaurant: Swedish food? Amazing food! The ambiance is a little on the intimate/romantic side, but I'd endure it solo to eat here again.
    • Din Tai Fung: If you like xiao long bao (soup dumplings) the original DTF is a tasty treat.
    • Taiwanese shaved ice: they pour condensed milk on it. I recommend green tea flavor.
    • Night Markets: Save at least one dinner for the night markets. You can just browse the stalls and piece together a satisfying meal.
     
  3. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,503
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Yup, did that.

    Did that, too. Saturday afternoon isn't the best time, but towards the evening the crowds thin out quite a bit.

    One of the first things I did, during the day and without beer. Also has a Chiang Kai-Shek "museum" to learn a bit about the history (through rose colored glasses).

    It does, but make sure it doesn't "rain" because the seem to like closing the outdoor area :mad:

    Didn't really have time to leave Taipei other than to take the metro all the way to Danshui at the coast.

    I was traveling by myself and generally don't spend a lot of time in real restaurants by myself. The food courts in the Taipei 101 mall and the one at the city hall MRT station were quite interesting. Lots of "unidentifiable" items.

    I was surprised how few (western) tourists I came across and about the English language skills of many people (compared to, say, Japan).
     
  4. mhf
    Original Member

    mhf Silver Member

    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    147
    Status Points:
    355
    Yeah, Taiwan isn't really on Western people's radar when it comes to travel. It's an amazing place, though.
     
    Kalboz, mynameismud and lin821 like this.
  5. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    If you can, take a day trip out of town to see the hot springs and geysers, visit a village and stop in a traditional tea shop, see the coast and perhaps have a fish dinner there.

    There's a small museum (limited hours) on the campus of the national academy devoted to the anthropology of Taiwan. The national university (located in a different place) has some interesting old buildings.

    In addition to the big main museum of art and artifacts (palace-type treasures), you can see the house of a former leader in the same area, on the outskirts of the city. There's an art museum downtown, not too far from the Hyatt in the modern city. I found the Chiang Kai-shek museum and especially the cars to be fascinating. While there, you should explore the opera house and related cultural/performance buildings.

    Near a famous night market there's a old wooden pagoda-style building in a prominent location; it's hard not to notice the building. When I was there, my impression was that I probably would not want to stay there, but it's interesting to enter and walk around, perhaps for tea or a drink or to check out their gift shop.

    Take some time to wander around,especially in the older part of the city. (Some of it is a bit of a red light district.) It's a delight (like elsewhere in Asia) to turn a corner and discover a small temple, but don't miss the big and well-known temples either.

    I was told by a local to be cautious about taking local taxis as there have been some incidents. It's best to go to a major hotel to get a taxi. My hotel (the Landis) has a system of only permitting certain taxis to pick up guests, The doorman used self-carbon paper to write down your name/room, destination, time, the taxi number, and driver's name. One copy was given to the desk and one held at the concierge desk until the guest's return.

    Be careful about food and beverages. It's easy to get sick here. Also, watch out for traffic, especially buses, and stray dogs.
     
  6. mhf
    Original Member

    mhf Silver Member

    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    147
    Status Points:
    355
    And roaches.
     
  7. MSPeconomist
    Original Member

    MSPeconomist Gold Member

    Messages:
    58,563
    Likes Received:
    98,528
    Status Points:
    20,020
    and mosquitoes.
     
  8. mynameismud
    Original Member

    mynameismud Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,106
    Likes Received:
    2,894
    Status Points:
    1,425
    go to Longshan, if you are into temples
     
    Kalboz and HaveMilesWillTravel like this.
  9. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,503
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Next time. My four days in Taipei really were meant as a quick peek -- my wife wants to come with me next time. But I couldn't let the opportunity of free time and a seemingly affordable last minute air fare pass by.

    Yup, I spent a bit of time at the Chiang Kai-shek memorial and the other neighboring buildings.

    I must have missed the red light district part of town, but I do like wandering around "aimlessly" through different neighborhoods instead of just playing whack-a-mole, popping out at different metro stops to look at sights and then disappear back into the A/C'ed underground.

    I only saw one or two dogs, on leashes. I was actually surprised about the lack of dogs.

    Yes, I saw a few big ones. Not that Taipei is the only place in the world where those exist (*cough* New York *cough* Hawaii...) But after seeing a few of those in the night markets... and also the raw chicken skewers stacked in a box on the ground (outside at 90 deg F) waiting to be BBQed, I opted against eating my way through the night market. I definitely did not want to get sick before or during my TPAC flight back to the US.

    Two bites... no dengue as far as I can tell :D
     
    Kalboz and savydog like this.
  10. savydog
    Original Member

    savydog Gold Member

    Messages:
    34,689
    Likes Received:
    234,029
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I have a friend who lived in Hong Kong for 4 years and the locals there invited him on a 3 day weekend foodies trip to Taipei, he had a ball. The first meal was just after midnight, when they had settled into their hotel and on it went from there. Amazing food he tells me :)
     
  11. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,503
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    I think knowing or meeting locals or "insiders" can be quite valuable in many places. I work for a global company, and while I rarely travel for work, I have benefitted even on private trips from connections I have made at work with colleagues abroad.
     
    Kalboz, lin821 and savydog like this.
  12. HiIslands
    Original Member

    HiIslands Silver Member

    Messages:
    462
    Likes Received:
    759
    Status Points:
    720
    No one's mentioned the weekend flower market/jade market/cultural market!

    I lived in Taipei for two years and it was one of my favorite places to wander around on a Saturday or Sunday morning.
    The flower market has everything from bonsai to orchids to tea. The jade market has cut stones, antiquities, and even some Buddhist relics. The cultural market has pottery, artwork, wood carvings and even a fortune telling bird. It's a very laid back, pleasant setting where the residents of Taipei take a break from the city's frenetic pace.

    The markets are located under the freeway viaduct that runs north-south on Jian Guo So. Road. The jade market is on Jian Guo north of Jen Air East Road, the cultural market is on Jian Guo south of Xin Yi Road, and the flower market is between the two. The markets get started at around 9am, with the Jade market hitting its full stride an hour or two later.
     
    Kalboz and lin821 like this.
  13. NYBanker
    Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    Messages:
    32,725
    Likes Received:
    191,901
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Kalboz and lin821 like this.
  14. Kalboz
    Original Member

    Kalboz Gold Member

    Messages:
    8,994
    Likes Received:
    22,425
    Status Points:
    14,520
    Reviving an old thread with a new article: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/travel/asias-glittering-secret-isle-20140626-3auzw.html


    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/travel/asias-glittering-secret-isle-20140626-3auzw.html#ixzz364f8lctc
     
    HaveMilesWillTravel likes this.
  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,503
    Likes Received:
    20,197
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Kalboz likes this.
  16. HiIslands
    Original Member

    HiIslands Silver Member

    Messages:
    462
    Likes Received:
    759
    Status Points:
    720
    I'd especially recommend the scenic ride up to the mountain teahouses of Maokong village. It's an easy way to escape the fast pace of Taipei and an opportunity to experience the traditions of Taiwan's excellent tea.

    Take the MRT to the Taipei Zoo Station. Walk one block to the Maokong Gondola station (lots of signs to guide the way). You can board the gondola simply by swiping your Easy Card at the entrance; no need to buy tickets. Enjoy the views from the gondola and ride it all the way to the end. At the top there are a number of pleasant little teahouses serving snacks and food. You can also try some of the well-marked mountain hiking trails.

    I'd suggest you go early or late in the day and not on the weekend to avoid waits at the Gondola.
     
    Kalboz likes this.
  17. Terry Yap

    Terry Yap Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,464
    Likes Received:
    2,934
    Status Points:
    1,425
    yup, Maokong Gondola ride was great;)
     
    Kalboz likes this.
  18. HiIslands
    Original Member

    HiIslands Silver Member

    Messages:
    462
    Likes Received:
    759
    Status Points:
    720
    For those interested in the latest high tech devices I'd also suggest a visit to the Guang Hua digital plaza. It's a modern, six story treasure trove of shops and exhibition space. You can try the latest smart phones, tablets, gadgets, and products you didn't even know existed. There are also shops that sell a wide variety of Asian movies on DVD. The surrounding area has a lot of smaller but similar shops and, on weekends, there is a Taiwan farmer's market where you can sample teas, honey and fresh fruits.

    To get there, take the MRT to the ZhongXiao XinSheng station and walk a block north. It's at the intersection of XinSheng N. Road and Civic Blvd. It's also an easy twenty minute walk from the Taipei Sheraton or the Howard Plaza Hotel. If you want to take a taxi, show this to the driver: 光華數位新天地 新生北路--市民大道

    Enjoy!
     
    Kalboz likes this.

Share This Page