48 hours in Taipei – Weekend Edition
Taipei In Less Than 48 Words
During the 1960s, when Taiwan wasn’t quite yet the economic juggernaut that it is today, there was only one way to describe Taipei: ugly. A few decades later, though, the city underwent a radical transformation, coinciding with the country’s rise as one of the wealthiest in the region.
Mengjia Longshan Temple (Photo by Dan)
First 24 Hours
You can arrive at the computer-savvy city of Taipei via the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, which is located in the Dayuan Township, Taoyuan County. From there, you can catch a bus that will take you directly to the Taipei city center. Alternatively, you can use a taxi, or rent a car. Another option is to ride a bus to the nearby THSR Taoyuan Station, whose trains are connected to the heart of the city.
Taiwan is a well-planned metropolis, and one can point out that its officials had done a remarkable job of planning the city. It is quite easy to navigate, helped immensely by its efficient public transportation system. However, it is still advisable to visit one of its tourist information centers at the Taipei Main Station (No.3, Beiping W. Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City 100, 886-2-2312-3256), where you can get valuable tourist information. It is open daily from 8 am to 8 pm.
CHECK IN: Get your bearings back at Taipei’s hotels
You can arrange for a nice place to stay in during your 48 hour visit in Taipei at one of its excellent hotels. One of the best in the city is the Les Suites (No.12 Ching Cheng Street, Taipei 105, 02-8712-7589, website). It is at a convenient central location and offers excellent service, complete amenities, and a delicious Chinese/Western breakfast buffet.
A nice alternative is the San Want Residences (No.128 Nanjing East Road, Section 1, Taipei, 02-2511-5185, website), which is ideal for the business travelers, with its very attentive staff who serve coffee and check on your departure flight information. You can also try out the Riviera Hotel (No.646 Linsen North Road, Taipei 104, 02-2585-3258, website). It is a five-star hotel providing comfortable and clean facilities, plus professional service.
TAIPEI 101: Let’s take a view
Perhaps one of the most compelling landmarks in Taipei is the Taipei 101 (45 ShihFu Road, Hsin Yi District), which was for almost six years the tallest building in the world. Made up of exactly 101 floors, it stands at a height of 509.2 meters, and is hailed both as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and the Seven Wonders of Engineering. Today, it still lays claim as the world’s second tallest tower, and is filled with bars, restaurants, cinemas, and designer boutiques. However, the highlight of a visit there is taking one of its high-speed elevators to the observation deck at the 91st floor, where you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the cityscape.
MIRAMAR ENTERTAINMENT PARK: Entertain yourself
A certified tourist magnet in Taipei is the Miramar Entertainment Park (No. 20, Jingye 3rd Rd., Taipei City, +886-2-2175-3456, website). It is a shopping complex best known for its 70-meter high Ferris wheel, which is the second-largest in Taiwan. The ride is fixed on its roof, giving it a total height of 100 meters. The mall also has an IMAX Theater with the largest movie screen in Asia, at a dimension of 28m × 21m. You can watch the latest commercial flicks there.
Miramar Entertainment Park (Photo from Google images)
XIAHAI CITY GOD TEMPLE: Visit one of Taipei’s holiest sites
Have a spiritual experience at the Xiahai City God Temple (No.61, Sec. 1, Dihua St., Datong District, Taipei City, +886-2-2558-0346), which is considered to be one of the most important places of worship in the city. It has a history of over a hundred years, and is dedicated to Taipei’s City God.
LANDIS PAUSE RESORT: Relax in a hot spring
You can relax and unwind at the Landis Pause Resort (61 Yanti Road, Wulai, Taipei County 233, (886-2)-2661 8000, website). Taiwan is famous for its numerous hot springs, and this particular resort is an ideal place to try out the relaxing warm water. The complex has 37 private hot spring pools, which are surrounded by mountains, forests, and the Ton Ho River.
DINNER TIME: Discover Taipei’s restaurants
You are guaranteed a delicious dinner at the restaurants available all over the city. One of the best in the city is Din Tai Feng (194 Xin Yi Road, Section 2, Taipei City 106 Taiwan, 886 (0)2 2321 8928). It is considered as one of TIME’s top 10 worldwide restaurants, its best offers being the tsai rou jeng jiao and xiao long bao. A nice alternative is Grandma Nitti’s Kitchen (8, Lane 93, Shi Da Road, Taipei City 106 Taiwan, 886 (0)2 2369 9751), which is a three-storey restaurant serving Western cuisine, and is popular among the expat/student/young professional crowd.
Have a taste of Italy in Taipei at Osteria Rialto (5 Lane 260, Guang Fu South Road, Taipei City 106 Taiwan, +886 (0)2 2363 9790). It serves an authentic Italian cuisine, and is known for its pastas, pizzas, salads, and a top-notch Continental wine selection. You can also try out Hindustan (1, Lane 313, Fu Xing North Road, Taipei City 105 Taiwan, 886 2 2718 5608), which serves a diverse Indian menu, featuring seafood curries, spinach/chicken dishes, and buttered/plain/garlic rottis.
Next 24 Hours
You can discover Taipei’s other tourist attractions during your next 24 hours in the city. One of the best sights that remain unexplored is the Mengjia Longshan Temple (211 Guangzhou Street). It is a Taoist temple built in 1738 by the settlers from the Chinese province of Fujian. The structure was severely devastated during World War II, with numerous art works and artifacts destroyed. However, it has been renovated, and is known for its dragon designs, incense-burning, and the so-called “ghost money”.
NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM: Appreciate Chinese history
One of the most popular attractions in Taipei is the National Palace Museum (No.221, Sec. 2, Zhishan Rd., Shilin Dist., Taipei City 11143, +886-2-2881-2021, website). It is China’s national museum, and contains one of the largest collections of Chinese art works and artifacts in the world – over 650,000 of them. The exhibits are believed to span the 8,000-year old Chinese history, from the Neolithic era up until the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is also considered as the 15th most visited museum on the planet.
National Palace Museum (Photo by Brady Montz)
Inside, you’ll find around 3,000 pieces of Chinese calligraphy, 562,000 documents, 5,200 paintings, 12,000 jade items, and many more. Some of the most notable works you’ll find there are the “Jadeite Cabbage”, “Meat-Shaped Stone”, and the “Carved Olive-Stone Boat”. The site is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, and admission will cost you around NT$160.
SHUNG YE MUSEUM: Learn more about the Taiwanese Aborigines
The Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines (282 Sec. 2, Chih-shan Rd., Shih-lin, Taipei 11143, +886-2-2841-2611, website) is a museum dedicated to preserving the culture and history of the Taiwanese Aborigines. They are the country’s indigenous people who thrive in Taiwan’s eastern and southern mountains. Inside the complex, you’ll find numerous exhibits and artifacts which will give you an idea of how they had lived. The site is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, and admission will cost you around NT$150.
SHILLIN: Visit a night market
You can also try to pay a visit to the Shillin Night Market, which is located near the Jiantan Station on the Danshui Line. It is considered to be the largest and the most popular night market in Taipei, and is a favorite especially among tourists. Shops all over the site sell clothing, fashion items, souvenirs, and other items, while the Old Shilin Market Building features mostly food vendors and eateries where you can buy unique dishes such as a small bun wrapped in large bun, stinky tofu, pearl/bubble tea, and oyster vermicelli. The market comes to life around 4 pm, and doesn’t close until around 2 am.
Shillin Night Market (Photo by Spiros K)
NIGHTLIFE: Enjoy Taipei’s vibrant nightlife scene
At night you may proceed to Taipei’s bars and clubs to have a taste of the city’s exciting nightlife. One of the most popular is Room 18 (18, SongShou (SungShou) Rd., B1, (02) 2345-2778, website), a somewhat a pricey club frequented by the young and glamorous, with a neon-lit bar, and live music.
A nice alternative is the Opus Bar (39 FuSing South Road, Section 1, 886 858 354 216, website). It is a club frequented by Taiwan’s celebrities; so you can expect paparazzi hanging around to get a shot of them. You can also try out the Blue Note (4F, 171, Roosevelt Road, Section 3, 02-2362-2333). It is a bar for jazz lovers, and hosts live instrumental jazz performances.
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