Here I’m telling you a little good kept secret. It’s about an Asian country which I’ve never even thought about it’s existence to be honest. Because it’s just not that well known as a travel destination in Europe. Well, the better for you – cause you will be one of the first travelers who will enjoy its beauty before everyone else does!
Let’s talk about Taipei. It’s the capital of Taiwan with a very interesting culture having roots from China, Japan, Southeast Asia and America. My lovely friends in Taipei, whom I met on my journey in Japan some months before, were so kind to reveal to me all about the most amazing sights to see, the special local foods to try and the places to go to beyond Taipei. So keep on reading!
This mountain is a must see for your trip. With a short bus ride and a little walk you make it to the bottom of the mountain leading you with many stairs to its top. It’s a nice work out as you soon can tell. Make sure to go there at dawn or even when it’s already completely dark. You will have the most scenic view ever on the city skyline! Take your good camera if you have one and capture the lights of the never sleeping citylife. There are about three platforms to make a stop. The last one is the best. It’s the one after passing the big rock that has given the name to the mountain. Take the small left way and you are at the platform with the best view on the city and the city tower 101.
Ximen might be the most touristic part of Taipei but definitely worth a visit. There is one shop after the other, several cinemas, restaurants, cafes and bars. At weekends you will find talented street musicians and the nightlife of Taipei.
Beitou Hot Springs
Did you know that Taiwan has several hot springs? A well known one, very close to Taipei city, is in Beitou. Going there you will see the Thermal Valley, Beitous landmark, a jade colored pool above the crater of the vulcano, where the water is all year round boiling hot. About 100 degrees Celsius is it within the pool, definitely just nice to see from outside. But there are several public bath houses near the Thermal Valley, where you can enjoy all the benefits of a natural hot spring with humid water temperatures. The sulfates in the water and the heat support healing and relaxation of the body.
Taiwan National Mueseum
Do you want to learn more about the country and its history and culture. Then make a visit to the National Museum. It is within a big, beautiful, green park that invites to rest under the shade of one of the Chinese temples. There are different topics covered. From a very interesting exhibition about the evolution of elephants, to the different tribes of Taiwan and a little part about the historical journey of the country.
Night Markets are a big thing in Taipei and this for a good reason. You can try all the great specialities that the country is famous for. I loved the skewers, the egg omelette and definitely try stinky tofu. Sounds not that inviting, right? My friend had some hard time convincing me to try it and I’m so glad she did ;-).
Here’s a list of the most famous Night Markets, but there are even some more. Just check Google Maps and there will be one close to your place.
- Ningxia Night Market
- Tonghua Night Market
- Shilin Night Market
Longshan Temple of Manka
This temple was built in 1738 and is one of the oldest and largest temples in Taiwan. It is worshipping a mixture of Buddhist, Taoist and Chinese deities.
Tamsui is a port town in the north, where the Tamsui River is flowig into the Sea. Famous for the beautiful sunset which is coloring the sea in golden tones, its also place to a large array of restaurants, food stalls, shops and street musicians performing. A special local food you get just here is “A-gei” a piece of fried tofu, stuffed with Glas noodles and surimi. Here’s where you get the best one:
This city is about 1:45 hours bus ride outside of Taipei on a beautiful lush green mountain. It is one of the most attractive tourist spots in Taipei and this for a good reason. During the Japanese colonization gold was found in the mountains what made the Japanese settle down and build their impressively beautiful tea houses in the hills. You will walk little aisles, steep stairs and this all between remarkable, ancient houses decorated with the traditional Japanese lanterns and with many many delicious food stalls along the way. Try the specialty of Jiufen – a dessert made by taro roots and sweet potatoes served with red bean and jelly. If you are into photography or just want to enjoy an incredibly magical view then go for a tea or dinner to the “A Mei Tea House” before sunset and get taken away by all the dreamlike lights around you.
A really unique place to visit is Yeliou Geopark. It’s at the north coast of Taiwan and attracts with beautiful rock formations which have been eroded by the sea over hundreds of years. A very famous one is Queens Head and Dragons Head. You will see why they got its names.
Famous for the railway making its way through the old town of Pingxi which is built into a hill. Many people come here to buy a Chinese lantern, write their wishes on it and and let them fly into the infinity of the sky.
If you have the time to make it a little bit farther than Taipei than it should be to Hualien. Personally I haven’t had the chance, but my friend recommended it to me and it looks spectacular! It’s a coast town at the east shore, about three hours from the capital by public transportation and has a beautiful scenery with the sea crashing against tall cliffs, green woods, awesome mountain trails… Definitely check it out!
This is a recommendation for a little, local secret dedicated to all the tea lovers and those who want to get one – I can bet you will be after trying it here. All teas are from pure, high quality and grown locally. You will have a big option of flavors to choose from and a unique tea ice cream which is similar to jelly from the consistency, but way healthier, totally delicious and refreshing cool.
Where to stay – Hostels
This hostel offers great value for little money with a very convenient location – close to Taipeis main MRT station. You pay approximately 13USD the night incl. breakfast. The beds are comfortable and the showers clean. Because the hostel is part of a hotel you will enjoy all the amenities of the big, delicious breakfast buffet too!
With only 10USD the night this is an unbeatable bargain. Of course for this price there’s no breakfast included but you they offer clean rooms with lockers and a big lounge are with a fridge, kitchen tables, couch and TV. The location is close to all the interesting places in Taipei. Very friendly stuff!
This hostel is modern and clean, with egg omelette and fruits for breakfast for approximately 13USD. If you like a calm, new place to stay in then this is for you. The location is about 7 minutes from the next MRT station and just around the corner of the always vivid Ximen streets.
Commuting in Teipei is very easy and convenient. Just get yourself a prepaid MRT card at the ticket office of a station and you can hop on and off the next bus, train or metro as you like. The public traffic system is great and very affordable.
This is it. I hope you enjoyed reading this travel guide and that it makes you a little bit curious about a beautiful and fascinating city that is just waiting for you to be explored! ✈️