Just an hour flight from Hong Kong, Taipei is an ideal destination for a weekend city trip. We flew there for a half marathon last winter, got the worst conditions to enjoy the city: the lowest temperatures in nearly 30 years, wind, rain and sore muscles. And guess what? We liked it anyway!
Some say it's a little Hong Kong in Taiwan style, other say it's much more messy than that... Actually, Taipei is a perfect blend of what travelers love about Southeast Asia combined with some of Northeast Asia's particularities.
Our trip was short and rainy, but we still got enough sunshine and energy to enjoy this creative capital. Taipei isn't like European cities: you can't just decide to go there and get lost in his beautiful streets -well, you can, but you might get end stuck in a dull neighborhood. Take a map with you, prepare your itinerary, and you're off on a great journey of exploration and discoveries...
When to go
October to December is a perfect time to visit Taipei: the heat is gone, but it's still warm enough. If you plan to come in Jan-February, don't forget to check the Chinese New year dates -everything will be crowded in Taiwan during this period.
WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK
Drink: Boba Tea of course (the famous Taiwanese bubble tea!), local tea and beers
Eat: Egg pancakes, Dim Sum at Din Tai Fung -the original restaurant of the famous chain-, Gua Bao (snack food), oyster omelette, beef noodle soup, chicken soup, Taiwanese tofu, Zongzi (sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves), beef wrapped pancakes, and of course pineapple cakes.
[My after-race comfort food] Sunday brunch at Pig & Pepper: As I told you, we came to Taipei for a half marathon. After two hours in the rain, it was time for some comfort food, so we've headed to Pig & Pepper, where they serve delicious juices and american cuisine (I know, nothing local, but I'm telling you, after 21.2kms in the cold, the only thing you're dreaming of is a big heavy brunch!). Beautiful atmosphere, loved it. [Address: 15, Lane 295, Section 1, Fuxing S Rd, Da'an District, Taipei City]
What to see in taipei
Taipei 101 was officially the world's tallest building until the opening of Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010. The structure is very impressive, it was designed to symbolize good fortune and prosperity. All the surrounding neighborhood is designed to prevent positive energy escaping and support the tower's feng shui. A must-see in Taipei!
Huashan 1914 Creative park
This early 20th century wine factory has been restored into Taipei's hipster venue. Taiwan-designed shops, workshops, installations, cinemas, art exhibitions, live music, street art, the factory became super hype! Perfect for a relaxed afternoon. If you're a digital nomad in search for an office for the day, check out the Fab Café. Delicious juice, friendly staff and free wifi!
Urban-shrimping is a popular Taiwanese pastime. It's basically fishing shrimp and drinking beers in an indoor concrete pool. Whatever you catch you can barbecue on the spot and eat. You want something local? There you go! Happy fishing!
It surprised me how artistic and creative is Taipei. Along the river is Treasure Hill, an old ramshackle village that now became a lovely artist village. Far from the busy city, with its different colored houses, art galleries and studios, it's a great place to relax.
TEMPLEs... A lot of temples
That's if it's your first time in Asia. If not, you might be sick of temple hopping already. There are a few worth visiting in Taipei, including Longshan Temple, with its magnificent waterfall right in the middle of the city.
BOPILIAO old street
A charming, well preserved historic section of Wanhua, a few hundred meters from Longshan temple. Photogenic street. Look out for the hidden street art!
The red house
The Red House used to be Taipei's first market. It's now another old building restored into a beautiful cultural and creative centre. During weekends, it becomes the Creative Bazaar, where you can find local designers, young musicians and many other artists.
HIKE TO THE ELEPHANT HILL
Vantage point of all the classic shots of Taipei 101, Elephant Hill is easily accessible by MRT. Can get you some stunning sunset views (if you're luckier than us with the weather!)
getting there and away
From the airport: There are plenty of public buses to go from the airport to the city. It's about 45min. Well indicated in the airport.
Public transports: It's very complete, cheap and convenient. You can reach any place by MRT, buses or even cycle. The metro is excellent, very clean and easy to use, it's a great way to get around the capital and explore Taipei.