When visiting Taipei for the first time, you may feel a little overwhelmed. The busy streets, bright lights, and old, timey buildings may be a bit much to take in at once. If you are strapped for time, you may stand to miss out on some of the best that Taipei has to offer.
Don’t you worry, though, that’s why I’m here! This piece will help you as your first step to exploring the beauty and uniqueness of Taipei.
No more delay; let’s go!
1. Raohe Street Night Market
If you have been following my work for any length of time, you will know that I have a soft spot for street foods from around the world. Raohe Night Market begins this list and finds itself amongst any of my top street food market lists.
While not the biggest, it is one of the oldest and most established in Taipei.The best thing about night markets has to be the crowd. This is not a spot that was made purely for tourism’s sakes. The night market does not just consist of food and locals flock here nightly, not only to eat but also to get themselves a bargain at any one of the stalls set up here (1).
With the food being the main star, you really do have to make your way here for a night at least. In addition to the local fare that they provide (the pork pepper buns are a huge hit), they also serve an array of international cuisines. Japanese food is making a splash in Taipei, so be sure to try to Okonomiyaki here (2)!
Raohe Night Market is the perfect place to escape the giant tourist crowds and dine with the locals. After eating your fill, be sure to head down to the shops and find yourself something pretty to wear! Clothes are a mainstay, but you will find bags, shoes, and many other accessories if you’re willing to look hard enough.
2. Taipei 101
Its bustling city center is one of the highlights of Taipei, which puts Taipei 101 right in the center of the spotlight. As one of the tallest ‘green’ buildings in the world, it is impossible to miss, both with its stature and its architecture. Take its high-speed lift up to the observatory floors, where you can step out on the calmer days (3).
As it is built to withstand some of the most devastating natural disasters, many businesses have made Taipei 101 its home. The first five floors make up a gigantic shopping center, while a gorgeous little café serves up delicious coffee on the 35th floor.
No matter where you stand, Taipei 101 is impressive. From the outside, the eight sections of its pagoda-like shape show its international influence, while on the interior, some of Taipei’s strongest financial powers work their magic. Oh, and the highest restaurant in the country also resides here (4).
Nowadays, with everybody trying to outdo everybody else in height, Taipei 101 will go down as one of the best. It has stood through earthquakes and typhoons without the slightest crack or crease, and its architecture perfectly encompasses Taipei – modern while still embracing tradition. Phenomenal (5).
3. The National Palace Museum
With so many things to do in Taipei and so little time to do it all, you may be wondering why I would choose a museum, of all things. Other than being over 90 years old, this museum was actually originally located in Beijing, before being moved to Taipei in 1949, housing decades of history between the two territories.
If you have any interest at all in Chinese culture and history, I would seriously recommend you visit. The exhibits on display will vary each and every time you visit, with the displays only given a few months of air time before being pulled and kept, to prevent degradation (6).
You will not find a finer and wider range of ancient artifacts anywhere around Taiwan or China. Whether you would rather spend the day wandering around at your own pace, or just the afternoon on a guided tour (in English, too!), they will be delighted to help cater to your wants and needs (7).
Spanning dynasties, each of these works of art is worth a fortune and tells the fantastic tale of times past. Get past the noisy crowds outside and let yourself be immersed in the weight and vastness of Chinese culture, from the eyes of the Taiwanese (8).
4. Laomei Green Reef
As an avid (albeit amateur) photographer, I love anything that does not require any editing to look good. I was in Taipei in March of last year and I happened to chance upon the fabled Laomei Green Reef... I have not yet looked back since. ‘Unique’ and ‘stunning’ fits this little gem to a T.
As the cool air settles inland, green algae and seaweed begin to cover and carpet the rocks along the shoreline. These are usually underwater and are essentially reefs that have passed on, but as they emerge from the tidal change, the beauty stares you right in the face (9).
These are volcanic rocks that have been shaped over the years by the changing tides. As a sight in itself, it is quite phenomenal to behold. The high tide offers a glimpse of the bright greenery underwater, and yet as the tide drops, the furry, dense green carpet make for the perfect photo-op (10).
Not only is this a sight to behold, but also the grooves and ridges provide a lot of shelter for fish to hide in and feed during the high tides. At the low tide, it is not uncommon to see the locals come out and try their hand at fishing for their dinner in the nearby shallows.
5. Xi Men Ding
How could you go anywhere in Asia without splurging a little? As one of the quickest developing shopping streets in Taiwan, Xi Men Ding was actually the first-ever pedestrian crossing in the region.
From the top looking down, the streets are reminiscent of the big cities in Japan, the country it took inspiration from.Buskers, students, and businesspeople alike make their way along the busy streets of Xi Men Ding.
Big international brands display their stunning fare along the sidewalks, while the smaller, local brands look right at home alongside their far more powerful cousins (11).
If you feel a little fatigued from all the walking and shopping, fret not! They do serve up some delicious food here, from humble noodle stalls to fancy restaurants, you have your pick right in the complex. Oh, and did I mention that the tea in Taipei is delicious (12)?
As with all the other attractions in Taipei, the government has been able to balance the pull to both tourists and the locals. Young Taiwanese people love hanging out here, so you will have the chance to live like the locals, even in the most touristy spots of the country (13)!
-Personally, Taipei is the perfect place to be, especially if you are a first-time traveler. The attractions are awesome, the people are lovely, and the food is delicious! Plus, they are modern without compromising their history.If you enjoyed this piece, please share it around!
Let me know if I missed YOUR favorite spot in this wonderful little city and I will visit it next.Travel safe!