Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, a modern metropolis filled with beautiful and sophisticated buildings and streets. So why do I love Taipei? One of it would be the convenience that I experience where it is so easy to get you from one point to another by train, everything seems to be just in a walking distance. Filled with variety and assortment of flavourful local food. And one thing that totally captured my heart was the kindness and the sincerity shown by the locals. These are the reasons that should bring you one step closer to visit this beautiful city.
Personally, I have been there for 2 months as a student. So I am here to guide you on how to travel like a local at least, show you what are the top worthy places to visit as you travel there. So are you ready for this direct access from point A to point B guide?
Yang Ming Shan
Take a little hike up to this Yang Ming Shan national park. Be prepared to be bestowed by the amazing and picturesque view as you stand on top of the mountain. It is famous for its hiking trails, parks and also hot springs. The breezy and cooling atmosphere up there is really relaxing. Able to witness the wonders of nature, greeneries of hills together with the clear blue sky is definitely satisfying to the soul.
In order to get there, you may travel by bus. Get the train to Taipei Main Station and exit through M1 and take bus 260 to Yang Ming Shan. It will be about a 30-40 minutes bus ride. If you would like to take a quick round the scenic tourist spots, I would suggest you take on bus 108 once you have reached the Yang Ming Shan stop. I visited this place in the afternoon to escape the heat. That was what I initially thought. But, it was totally cooling up there and heat is nowhere to be felt. A bonus to get up there in the afternoon was being able to catch the golden sunset view. And final tip here, be sure to check on the last bus schedule to ensure you will not miss the last bus back!
2. Shilin Night Market
A one-stop food heaven for food lovers and adventurers out there. Shilin Night Market is the largest and the most popular night market in the city. Ooo.. yes you heard me right. So this is definitely a great place to discover the local authentic street food. Remember to leave your tummy empty and ready your taste buds as you reach there. Get there by train and stop at the Jiantan station, not Shilin station. It is much nearer if you alight at Jiantan and exit from exit 1. From there, just walk diagonally to the left and you’ll see many food stalls right there.
As you walk from Jiantan station exit 1, you will find a long queue. And that is a super large fried chicken stall that you must try. This can be the first food that you can go for as you reach there. This XXL fried chicken is really crispy and juicy, a little spicy and sweet hint as you take the first bite. There are a few fried chicken stalls, but I personally would recommend this one!
Stinky tofu is something you should not let go from your taste bud. Yes, the smell is super strong and it may not be bearable but it does not taste that bad after all. This is for the fried ones. Take note I meant the fried ones! You may come across the smell from afar and if you happen to walk passed a shop which serves steamed stinky tofu. Let me warn you, do not try this before the fried ones. If you are able to get through that, then maybe steamed ones can be your next attempt.
Every corner of this night market is filled with street food, they do sell clothing, beauty products, souvenirs as well. So try a little of everything. It is best to share it with your friends or family so that you can discover as much street food as possible.
Tamsui is also known as Danshui, a coastal town which lies in the riverbank. Just take the train right along the red line and alight at the very last station. Sunset backdrop and breathtaking view is something you should look forward to as you travel to this place. It is popular with its rich heritage and historical stories. So take a stroll down its memory lane at its old street and places like Fort San Domingo, Little White House, Oxford College and Danshui Church.
While for food, Zhengzong Ah-Gei and its Iron egg is something you should check it out! Ah-Gei is an authentic dish which consists of fried tofu stuffed with Green bean noodles drizzled with its thick flavourful gravy. There are several shops located along the same streets but the well-known ones are Original Ah-Gei, the Three Sisters Ah-Gei and Wenhua Ah-Gei. I would personally recommend you the Orginal Ah-Gei just located near Little White House and Fort San Domingo. So look out for it as you visit those historical places.
Another highlight is its iron eggs. It may not look that appetizing with its black colour look. But, take a bite of it and it feels like a bomb in your mouth. And from the first chewy bite, you would crave for more! It comes with different flavours from spicy, garlic, original and much more. Just try a bit of each flavour with your friends or family. But do note not to finish all up on your own as it will be quite heaty.
Catch the picturesque sunset view before you leave Tamsui. Just sit along the riverbank of Tamsui and enjoy the breeze as you much the street food. This is totally perfect, isn’t it?
So what do we have in Ximending? Just get off the train at the Ximen station along the blue/green line. After the exit, you will see beautiful buildings and bustling streets populated with visitors and people. There are plenty of shops from clothing either branded or not, shoes, beauty products, food and restaurants all here for you.
So get your first stop to Ah Zhong Mee Sua. This is awesomely good! Served in quickly. So do not let your hopes crushed if a long queue is set right before your eyes. It is pretty normal to see a long queue for good stuff in Taiwan. They serve you instantly and be sure to add on the condiments which is placed right at the left side of the shop. It is a must to add its chili, garlic and vinegar to your mee sua!
There is much more food to discover here. So feel free to be lost in this place for more adventures. Another highlight to note is its Uniqlo UTme which allows you to customise your own tee with its app. Design your own tee with cute and cuddly characters like Tsum Tsum and Disney characters to your heart’s content. And you can get your shirt right away once it is printed. So get one your own and get your designer dream checked on that day! Don’t miss this as you can only find this in Ximending Uniqlo!
For all the women out there! Beauty products and great deals are finally here. 86 shop and Little Three are two of the beauty shops that I went to shop for all my masks. A variety of brands and types are there. You will be sure to be dazzled by the numerous options they offer. One bonus here which is they do sell by piece rather in a pack. So feel free to mix and match here to try different types if you are indecisive and being overwhelmed by too many options. Yes, I do understand, we women love to grasp the get it all feeling as you shop in this beauty heaven.
Ximending is definitely a fun place for shopping and food! Be prepared to be entertained as well by its street performances and if you are lucky enough, you would be able to spot famous artists there!
5. Jiufen + Shifen
Another place which etched deeply in my heart was Jiufen. Despite its somewhat long journey up to this place, it is definitely worth a go. Here in Jiufen Old Street, you will get a glimpse of the heritage feel with its iconic red lanterns from Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award winning “Spirited Away” setting. Usually, Jiufen is paired together with Shifen. So it is highly recommended to visit both of these places in one day itself.
Once you get here, try its famous chewy taro balls served with kidney red beans and shaved ice. It is definitely a refreshing quench to the thirst if you visit during its humid summer days. As you walk along its narrow street from the entrance, you will notice a shop selling unique handmade balls of fish paste on your left. They have a variety of balls and all of them are freshly made. Try them with vermicilli for a less heavy meal.
And not forgetting its peanut ice cream. It is served differently and special where the taro ice cream is wrapped with a popiah skin and sprinkled with shaved peanut bits. The popiah skin balance up the sweetness you get from the ice-cream with its tiny hint of salty taste from the skin and peanuts. Certainly an all-time favourite and best to combat the heat.
While for Shifen, it has amazing view and sights as well. It still retains its old railroad, originally built to transport charcoal which is the charm of the site. It is famous for its sky lanterns as a symbolic form of sending wishes to the sky. Writing your wishes on the lanterns and releasing it to the sky signifies your prayers to be sent to heaven.
It comes with different colours of lanterns as well which cater for different types of wishes you are wishing for. So get your hands on with this sky lanterns to experience its local Chinese culture and ritual.
Remember to catch those amazing sight from this combo, Jiufen and Shifen!
You have not visited Taipei if you have not visited these places mentioned above.
Have fun exploring!
Hope this is useful to you and feel free to share with us on your experience in the comment area below!
Also, stay tuned for more interesting travel tips from us. See you soon!