Taipei: Taiwan’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest
Wouldn’t you love to go on an adventure in the beautiful city of Taipei? You don’t know what to expect? Don’t worry, we’ve compiled a list of the best sights and must-see attractions this fascinating city has to offer.
Taipei in a Nutshell
Taipei is Taiwan’s capital and largest city. It’s also the country’s economic, cultural, and political hub, and a lively, modern metropolis with a population of millions.
In fact, the city was still swamp and grassland roughly 300 years ago. The Pingpu people lived in higher-lying areas at the time and could only get there by canoe. Only in the year 1709 did Taipei finally become a city. During World War II, Taiwan was heavily attacked and destroyed by the Americans. At the end of the war, the country, which had previously belonged to Japan, became a province of the Republic of China. Today, about 23.6 million people live here.
Taiwan is in the Pacific Ocean, roughly 160 km off the southern coast of the mainland. Neighboring countries include Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. It covers an area of 36,000 km², and includes several small islands, such as the archipelagos of Penghu (Pescadores islands), Kinmen (Quemoy) and Matsu.
The island stretches about 394 km, and mountain ranges cover two-thirds of the total land area. Yushan Mountain is Taiwan’s highest mountain summit in Northeast Asia, with a hight of 3,952 m. On the island, earthquakes are common due to plate tectonics.
Taiwan has a unique climate due to the different climatic zones in a relatively small area. It’s subtropical in the north and tropical in the south. So, the typical yearly temperatures in the north are 22 °C, but in the south, they can reach 24 °C.
Summers typically last from May to September and are often hot and humid. Winter is rather short, from December to February. You may even see snow in the higher mountains. However, the country is hit by up to four typhoons every year, most of which occur between June and August. Check out our climate guide to see how to best plan your trip.
Taiwanese cuisine is characterized by many influences. Pork, rice, and soybeans are common ingredients. Due to the widespread belief of Buddhism, you’ll rarely find beef. Otherwise, you can enjoy tasty seafood and fresh fish – these include tuna, grouper, squid, and octopus. Many delicious fruits, such as papaya and melons, are available locally.
One of the most popular dishes is lu rou fan. It consists of rice and braised pork, which is prepared with soy sauce and seasoned with a variety of spices. It’s both sweet and salty, a very tasty combination. In fact, according to a 2017 CNN poll, Taiwan is said to have the best food in the world. Don’t you want to experience it for yourself?
Taipei has a very well-developed bus and metro system. The main station in downtown Taipei is completely underground. The Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR), which began operating in 2006, is a high-speed rail line. Several airports are within about a one-hour drive. In addition, you can also easily get around the city by bike.
Taipei also hosts insanely interesting festivals! The Dragon Boat Festival takes place in the summer and is one of the oldest traditions in Chinese culture. The festival, which is also a national holiday in Taiwan, is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. This corresponds to late May or June in the Gregorian calendar. A dragon boat can hold up to 12 people.
Finally, some interesting facts about this diverse capital – Taipei is the most LGBTQI+ friendly city in Taiwan. And did you know that the city was home to the world’s tallest building until 2007?
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Taipei
Now, let’s get to the part you’ve been waiting for – the Top 10 Places of Interest in Taipei!
We briefly mentioned it before – Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building until 2007, when Burj Khalifa took its place. This skyscraper is the capital’s landmark. It’s 508 m high and shaped like a bamboo tube. You have to see this majestic building with your own eyes. If you visit, you can also marvel at the largest shopping center in Taipei.
The building has 101 floors, hence its name, and an observation deck for visitors on the 89th floor. Take the elevator up and enjoy the incredible view of Taipei and the surrounding area. Fun fact: Until 2013, the city also had the fastest elevators in the world. Do you fancy a little adrenaline rush?
If you want to see Taipei’s breathtaking skyline, make your way to Xiangshan. The mountain, also called Elephant Mountaindue to its shape, is only 183 meters high. You’ll have to climb several flights of stairs to get to the top, but the view is breathtaking. Once you’ve reached the summit, you can climb the popular rock and take a great souvenir photo with the skyline in the background.
The Ximending district is extremely popular, and for good reason. It’s located in the northeast of the Wanhua district. There, you can find the “tattoo street”. There are more than seven different tattoo studios in which you can get a tattoo. Read our article about getting a tattoo abroad if you want to get inked there.
Mengjia Longshan Temple
Wanhua is home to the Mengjia Longshan Temple, also known as the Dragon Mountain Temple. It measures over 1,600 m² in size. The layout of this fascinating temple is based on a special Chinese character, a characteristic of traditional Chinese architecture. We highly recommend visiting it.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is in the center of Taipei. It was built in memory of Chiang Kai-Shek, who was the president of the Republic of China for many years, as well as its senior military commander. The architect’s design combines various traditional Chinese architectural styles. The building was opened on the official fifth anniversary of the former president’s death on April 5, 1980. It’s an extremely impressive structure with elaborate decorations on the inside, a library, and a museum. Definitely put it on your sightseeing list!
Night Markets in Taipei
Taipei’s night markets are incredibly remarkable and diverse. You’ll find a wide range of goods on offer – whether it’s hot food, clothing, or electronics. Night markets are an integral part of Taiwanese culture! Although, historically, they have been around for a very long time, they only gained popularity at the end of World War II. Don’t worry, though – the stalls are often inspected for cleanliness. Fancy a little night trip?
Beitou Hot Springs
The Beitou Hot Springs, just an hour away from the city center by metro, are a great place to visit for a short trip and a little relaxation. The area is full of history, and there are several hot springs that have varying types of health benefits. The Millennium Hot Spring is open to the public, so don’t forget to bring your swimwear!
Daan Forest Park
Daan Forest Parkis easily comparable to New York’s Central Park. If you’re craving nature in this urban jungle, this is the place to go. There are two large lakes, pavilions, an amphitheater, a playground for kids and a basketball court. There’s something for everyone here – even if you want to do some sports. It’s a beautiful park that’s easily accessible by metro. The metro station with the breathtaking atrium is especially worth seeing. A local architect designed it. Relax on the benches among unique trees and nature’s greenery.
Yangmingshan National Park
Yangmingshan National Park is only a few minutes away from Taipei, and is located in a mountainous region with stunning waterfalls. The mountain range was formed by volcanic activity over 2 million years ago. With the surrounding lakes and rice fields, you’ll have a magnificent panorama. Walking routes and mountain paths wind their way through the park, lasting anywhere from a few hours to all day. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to take breaks or have a picnic. Spend a wonderful day in Taiwan’s nature at Yangmingshan National Park!
Dihua Street and Dadaocheng
North of Yungchang Street, you’ll find a section of Dihua Street. It’s historically significant and really well-preserved. Over a century ago, this street was the largest wholesale and retail market in the capital. Today, you’ll find houses built in the European style there as well. On this fascinating street, you’ll get a great insight into bamboo, rice mills, and lantern stores, and you can eat everything your heart desires.
Dadaocheng is a very urban area and one of Taipei’s oldest districts. During the Qing dynasty, it was mainly a trading port, only a few remnants of which can be seen today.
Isn’t Taipei versatile and fascinating? Whether you are a fan of history, nature, or sports, you’ll get your money’s worth here. Taiwan’s capital will mesmerize you. If you want a breathtaking bird’s eye view, visit Taipei 101’s observation deck. Or climb Elephant Mountain for an amazing panorama of the skyline and snap some shots.
The Ximending District and the night markets have a unique and unforgettable charm. For a taste of Taiwanese and Chinese history and culture, visit the Mengjia Longshan Temple or the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Visit Beitou Hot Springs, Yangmingshan National Park, and Daan Forest Park for pure relaxation.
As you can see, Taipei has so much to offer, you’ll never get bored. A unique trip awaits you. How about your next adventure taking place in the Taiwanese capital?