24 hours in Taipei, Taiwan

I love Taiwan if you haven’t already guessed.  It is one of the few places that I have gone back to repeatedly but obviously because I have ties to this country.  My parents were born there and so each time I go there, I see a different side of the country than I would typically see as a tourist.  In October, I had the opportunity to show Taipei to some of my favorite people and that helped me come up with what to do in Taipei if you only have 24 hours.

–          Taipei 101.  This used to be the world’s tallest building back in like 2007 but has been beat out.  You can’t miss it if you’re anywhere in main Taipei.  It’s a giant green glass building that stands over the entire city.  You can go into the mall and in the basement is the entrance to take the elevator up to the top of the building.  I think it’s still the world’s fastest elevator but if it’s not, it’s still in the top 10. You’ll take the elevator up to the 89th floor and you can get a 360 degree view of the city.  If it’s not too windy, take the stairs up to the 91st floor and you can take a look out over the city.  Then go down to the 87th floor and you can see the baby.  It’s a giant viewing area and lots of information regarding the baby.

–          Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial.  This is a giant memorial in the middle of the city.  It has a theater and a museum along the plaza leading up to the memorial.  You can go into the memorial and take a tour or stick around for changing of the guards.

–          Longshan Temple: This is an old temple in Taipei that is pretty cool to visit.  You can buy incenses at the entrance to the temple and say a prayer when you go in.  When we went, we got to be there during a prayer activity which is really a surreal experience.

–          Taipei National Museum: If you’re into museums, you could spend hours here. It’s pretty cool and there’s a lot of really cool Chinese history in these museums that you would probably never see in the States.

–          Taipei National Zoo.  The National Zoo is a big deal there.  I don’t remember it too much it’s always really entertaining to see how other countries view animals. One of the zoos I went to in Taiwan had a “western animal zoo exhibit” which was a deer, a rooster and a guinea pig in the same area eating from the same trough.  It was weird.

–          The Grand Palace Hotel.  This is the nicest and oldest hotel in Taipei.  It’s just something to see from the outside. If you get a chance, go check it out.

–          Maokong Gondola:  You can take this gondola from the zoo up into the mountains/hills of Taipei and look out over the city.  This does take awhile and it’s along the outskirts of town so plan accordingly if you want to do it.  You can get a pretty fantastic view from the 101 but the Gondola will give you one perspective that includes the 101 in the view.

–          Ximending or ATT4FUN: These are the two main shopping areas in Taipei.

–          DanShui (aka TamShui).  It’s a coastal portion of Taipei and there’s a cool bridge plus a golf course.

Night Market:

–          Shi Lin Night Market:  Biggest night market that has two separate sections for food and shopping.  But if you don’t wanna deal with that, I liked RaoHe which is one of the oldest ones.  It’s a little easier to navigate and doesn’t take as long.  Plus it has more of a Taiwan feel than tourist feel that you get at Shi Lin.  Just depends on the vibe you’re going for.  Night markets are a staple of the Taiwanese culture and you should expect that most people will eat dinner at the night markets.  It’s usually cheaper.

Food:

–          Modern Toilet:  Everyone talks about this restaurant.  I’ve never been cause I judge it but it’s a novelty place to go. You eat out of toilets and get drinks in urinals and such.  It’s more funny than anything else.  (It’s located near Shi Lin so just keep that in mind for route planning)

–          50Lan: Look for this bubble tea place.  It is my FAVORITE bubble tea place. It’s a chain in Taipei so you’ll see it. If not, you can go to any bubble tea place.  I highly recommend getting it because bubble tea started in Taiwan and it’s amazing.  You can pick the amount of ice and the amount of sugar you want in it so be prepared to give a response on that.  They typically do it in percentages.

–          Rose apples (also known as Lian Wu): You can find this at the night markets.  This is my FAVORITE fruit in the world.

–          Fruit in general.  You will never taste good fruit till you’ve had it in Asia.

–          Dumplings: look for dumplings at the night markets.  They’re freshly made and delicious.  Usually they’ll be filled with pork and you will have the option of spice or no spice.  That will typically be your own choices.  Dumpling Bun is a street vendor that’s amazing.  They have three types of dumpling buns and you just pick and eat.  Delicious.

–          Pancakes: They’re more a dessert item.  I call them pancakes because that’s what they look like but they are slightly more fluffy and not as sweet as US pancakes.  Usually they’re about the size of a sand dollar and you get two with something sandwiched between.  I personally love the chocolate options and the red bean paste option.

–          Shaved ice: If it’s warm enough, shaved ice will be around.  You have to try it.  They do shaved ice differently over there.  Typically you get a thing of shaved ice and put toppings like red beans, green beans (these are sweet and not like our vegetables) or fruit and then condensed milk poured over the top.  It is amazing.

–          BEEF NOODLE SOUP:  It’s a specialty in Taiwan.  It may be hard for you to find legit good beef noodle soup but if you have to settle one at a restaurant that’s fine.  If you find a hole in the wall that makes it, it’s called “niu ro mien” and in chinese it’s written like: 牛肉面.  They may ask if you have a specific type of meat you like, and it’ll depend on whether they ask in English or Chinese… If it’s Chinese just let them pick.

–          Pastries:  If you go to LongShan Temple, there’s a bakery across the street called 85degrees.  Asian pastries are the best.  If you don’t go there, you’ll find a bakery along the street that you can check out. (Note: 85 degrees is also a huge chain in LA but it’s great to try it from the original home)

–          Soy milk.  You can ask for it hot or cold, sweet or savory.  If they do savory just be warned that they add sausage and chinese donuts in it.  I love cold and sweet.  I personally like Asian style soy milk over Silk Soy…

–          Chinese donuts.  They’re long fried pieces of dough and worth every bite.  You can either dip them in sweet soy milk, eat them alone or dip them in soy sauce.

Things to keep in mind:

–          The MRT is super efficient. It’ll have everything in English, Chinese and written out so you’ll be fine.  You’ll want to buy a token at the machines before going in.  They utilize plastic little blue coins that you scan on the way in and then there’s a little coin slot that you drop it in on the way out.  You’ll know how much to pay by looking at the MRT map when you buy your token and it’ll tell you how much it is to each station from where you are. Shouldn’t ever be more than 30NTD

–          When you get to the platfroms for the MRT, look down.  You’ll notice at every door for the train there’s areas to line up. Hang out in the lines, they use them to board.

–          Stand on the right, pass on the left.  They hold true to that.

–          If you hear the doors beeping, you can try running for the doors but if it’s during a busy time – you will be stopped.  In the Taipei Main Station during rush hour, they have volunteers to do crowd control.

–          Watch out for scooters.

Is there anything you like doing in Taipei that I missed?  I love discovering new things in this city.

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