Asia has received quite a lot of travel attention recently, as more foodies, digital nomads, and adventure-seekers flock to this exotic region for its many bewildering sights. However, most will go to see the famous Gardens in Singapore, or head straight for the honey-hued beaches of Thailand, whereas certain areas have yet to steal the touristy spotlight for their incredible beauty. Enter: Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, and an urban marvel that blends the extraordinary Chinese and Japanese culture with Western influences.
Alas, when you head to Taipei the very first time, you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer selection of possible spots to visit. Beware, foodies, as the city is famous for its delicious menu, while its fusion of history and modernity presents a perfect backdrop for your explorations. Without further ado, let’s take a look at a few must-do items on your Taipei checklist, so that you’ll be prepared for a marvelous adventure of a lifetime when you arrive!
History in the making
As any versed traveler, you ought to start with the essentials. One of the most notable buildings that has made Taipei famous is the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall 捷運中正紀念堂 built in memory of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Its white marble combined with piercing blue make it an architectural marvel, but the surrounding green areas are equally stunning to stroll through. Also, keep an eye out for outdoor exhibitions, since you’ll find an occasional artist boasting some of their most prominent work there.
Mingling with the locals
In a city whose population counts over two million people, and has a touristic reputation that draws people from all over the globe, it pays to choose your stay wisely. For starters, opt for a reputable Taipei hotel 台北酒店 that will give you access to nearby landmarks for a history lesson, but also to some of the finest eateries on the map.
The former means you’ll get your fair share of sightseeing, while the latter will put you smackdab in the heart of the local population where you can get a glimpse of their authentic lifestyle and pace of living. And what is the purpose of exploring new regions if not to immerse yourself in new cultures?
Escape to its emerald treasures
A remnant of the Japanese influences, the famous Beitou Hot Spring 北投溫泉 is both a historic sight and a modern-day favorite for locals to get away from the concrete jungle of Taipei. Located at the base of the Yangming Mountain, it’s surprisingly easy to reach via the local metro – so don’t miss out on its healing perks and stunning greenery surroundings.
Temple hopping 101
If you’ve been to other Asian regions, you already know that temples are somewhat of a common theme of their cultures. That is precisely why you’ll find Taiwan’s capital and its surrounding areas to be a treasure trove of beautiful, well-preserved temples. Originally built in 1879, Confucius Temple 台北市孔廟 is one of those testaments to the region’s conflict-riddled history, as well as its roots in philosophy. With dozens of temples in addition to this one, you’ll be able to travel back in time and get a better understanding of their religious beliefs founded in Taoism and Buddhism.
Fill up on smelly tofu
In Taipei, people apparently regularly have a hankering for smelly tofu, hence the colorful (and somewhat smelly) Shen Keng Old Street 深坑老街 in all of its stinky glory! This is one of those places unique to the Asian region, and a place that will teach you that the Asian cuisine you’ve tasted in the West is nothing like the real deal. A locally beloved delicacy, and an ingredient often found in many of their meals, tofu comes in many shapes and sizes on their menu – try anything from barbecued tofu, tofu ice cream (yes, it’s a thing), all the way to boiled tofu.
However, if you’re up for a more diverse foodie setting, a trip to Dihua Street 迪化街 is the oldest, tastiest nook of Taipei for foodies and shopaholics alike. Just remember to go hungry, and brace your taste-buds for new, never-before discovered tastes!
Everything about Taipei, its history, culture, and its mindset is enthralling. Make sure to add it to your bucket list, and you’ll be in for a real travel treat!