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Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is a fascinating city filled with things both ancient and new. Over the centuries, it has been under the rule of the Japanese, Chinese, and the People’s Republic of China. As a result of this multiculturalism, the city is packed with Chinese and Japanese colonial history, urban architecture, ancient traditions, and skyscrapers. Its bustling food scene draws culinary tourists to the city on a regular basis and there are tons of places to see and experience. Here are ten awesome things to do in the Capital of Taiwan:
1. Taipei 101 Skyscraper
Taipei’s skyline is dominated by the 1,669-foot tall Taipei 101 skyscraper. Whether you take in the skyscraper from afar at scenic viewpoints such as Elephant Hill, or you want to head up to the 83rd-floor observatory tower inside the Taipei 101, the sights are incredible.
2. Eat at Shilin Night Market
The night markets in Taipei are buzzing and Shilin Night Market is the best of the bunch. With one of the world’s top street food scenes, locals and tourists alike flock to Shilin Night Market, which is open every day of the week. The market is split in two, with a food section and a goods section, where you can find clothes and household items. When you’ve worked up an appetite, some of the best foods to try include the fried fish ball skewers, garlic prawns on a stick, an oyster omelet, or a pork bun. Wash your food down with a fresh tropical fruit juice and when it’s time for dessert, there’s an interesting ‘phallic ice cream’ store that’s hard to miss. It sells ice cream and popsicles shaped as male private parts — good luck keeping a straight face!
For travelers who are eating their way around the continent, be sure to add these Top 5 Cities for Asian Food to your itinerary.
3. Visit the National Palace Museum
The National Palace Museum houses the world’s largest collection of Chinese art, with a permanent collection of 700,000 pieces spanning across 5,000 years of Chinese history. During World War II, troops seized some of the most important items to protect some of China’s national treasures, and today they can be seen at the National Palace in Taipei. The museum is designed in the style of a Northern Chinese palace and it’s a beautiful building to admire. You’ll find guided tours available in a variety of languages.
4. Take a Day Trip to Jiufen
Santorini in Greece is so busy with tourists, why not get a similar experience at Jiufen, which is known as ‘the Santorini of Taiwan’. The stunning town is just a short train ride from central Taipei and resembles a classic town as seen in anime films. The town oozes a mystical feel and is surrounded by misty mountains and lush green scenery. It’s well worth the day trip.
5. Explore the Ancient Streets of Bopiliao Old Street
Walking around the ancient streets of Bopiliao Old Street is like taking a trip back in time several hundred years. The buildings lining the streets in this historic part of the city date back to the Qing Dynasty, which came to power in the 17th century. Bopiliao history has been well-preserved and is yet to have been touched by the modern development that is happening rapidly throughout much of the city.
6. See Fort San Domingo
Fort San Domingo is a fortress that was originally built by the invading Spanish empire in the 17th century. It was built with the intention to aid the Spanish impose their rule on the people of Taiwan, however, the Spanish were quickly pushed out by the Dutch.
7. Explore Liberty Square
Liberty Square is an impressive square of more than 50 acres that pays homage to Taiwan’s historical past. The square is home to four important buildings — the Gate of Great Centrality and Perfect Uprightness, the National Theatre, the National Concert Hall, and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Visit the buildings and marvel at traditional Taiwanese architecture.
8. Relax in the Beitou Thermal Baths
The Beitou Thermal Baths are a short trip from Taipei city center and are technically located in the city limits. You can escape the hustle and bustle and unwind in the hot springs that are set within a lush green setting. There are four different pools and each has its own temperature, with the hottest pool being at the top. Watch out — it’s very hot! If you want to mix things up, there’s a museum where you can find out more about the history of the hot springs and their cultural importance.
If you love relaxing in the open while feeling cleansed, these 7 Best Hot Springs in the U.S. are a must-visit.
9. Party in Ximending
Ximending is the coolest part of Taipei and is filled with bars, clubs, late-night shopping malls, arcades, and eateries. It’s known as the social hub of the city and you’ll find the best nightlife here.
10. Visit Longshan Temple
Longshan Temple is known as Taiwan’s most-loved temple. While there are plenty of temples in Taiwan, the Longshan is popular due to its historical importance and architecture. The temple is almost 300 years old and has survived wars, occupation, and earthquakes. It’s located in the heart of Taipei’s historic Bopiliao neighborhood and is a temple dedicated to several faiths, including those of Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian.