Once called “Ilha Formosa” (beautiful island) by the Portuguese in the 16th Century, the island of Taiwan is rich in natural scenery and the cityscape is a perfect travel destination for travelers.
Taiwan’s capital city is a mixture of modern and traditional Chinese culture. It is a diverse city which is open to other cultures (Chinese, Western and Japanese traditions). Apart from the bustling cityscape, Taipei is surrounded with lush mountains and geological formations that are located within the urban center.
Here are some of the places we’ve been to and an overview of the culture and subculture, the cityscape and “some” culinary highlights of Taipei.
Once we arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, we zoomed in using the Express train to our hotel. There are two choices in going to the Taipei Main Station (city), the Express train (Purple train) and the Commuters train (Blue Train). We took the express train (purple train) from the airport to the main station in 35 minutes. For fast and a pleasant ride, the express train is equipped with luggage racks and a free 4G wi-fi access. Great right? LOL!
The Taipei Main Station
The Main Station is more than just transportation. It’s surprisingly large. The four-level station houses the subway (MRT), High-Speed Rail (HSR), and railway (TRA) train and bus services. It is your gateway to other cities in Taiwan and to the airport. Aside from transportation, the main station is connected to lots of shopping stores and restaurant for a quick fix meal. The train station signs and directions are clearly outlined in bilingual form (Mandarin and English).
The Hotel Papa Whale is a great choice. It has a retro pop culture interior motifs and is conveniently located near the shopping district and a few minutes walk to the Ximen station. If you’re into large room hotels and intercontinental breakfast, this isn’t a great choice for you.
Ximending is a happening place. It is located in the Wanhua district and is the first pedestrian zone in Taiwan.
If you are into cheap street food hunting, night markets, and swimming in crowded places then this would be a great place to visit. Morning looks like a typically quiet street and once it reaches twilight, the street is lit to a festive street of food, shops, souvenirs, and different street performers.
One thing I noticed here in Taipei is that the people are crazily obsessed with the claw machine games. The claw crane shops are everywhere, from every street and corner there are arcade machines. Mostly flocked by adults and teens, the claw machine shops are mostly open 24/7.
My advice is to save your coins from this crane machines, the night market is just outside the corner.
Known to be as a foodie destination, the night market of Taipei is to satisfy your appetite with this delicious street foods. From sweet savory smell to the stinkiest smell of food, the night market has tons of small food stalls, bubbles teas, and desserts. We had fun lining up for a hot bowl of misua soup and the famous bubble tea. Not bad, foods are exceptionally good and are budget friendly. LOL!
If you are into more night markets, try exploring the Shilin (largest market), Raohe and Shida Night Market.
The street art scene in the city is very artistically bold and beautiful. Famous artist has their presence muraled on the walls of the building and sidewalks. Most of this urban art are clustered around the Ximending Cinema Park which is a safe and legal place for the artist to showcase their artworks.
Once called the tallest building in the world overtaking the Petronas Twin Towers in KL, the Taipei 101 is still the largest green construction or sustainable building in the world. Besides the tower, it houses a multi-level shopping mall, restaurants, a hidden Starbucks coffee shop (35th floor) and an indoor and outdoor observation deck (88th and 91st floor). An iconic landmark and with its unique design, the 101 tower is worth a visit and have an obligatory touristy photo. LOL!
If you want a better view of the tower, a 15-minute walk to the Elephant Mountain will take you there.
The 101 building is located at the Xinyi District.