3 days in Taipei seems awfully short as we discovered. With a tiny tot in tow, it was certainly a challenge to get out of our hotel early to wander about or even to go far.
Taipei City, one of the most densely populated metropolitan cities in the world, sits in the Taiwan Basin surrounded highlands of Yangmingshan to the north, Linkou to the west, and Xueshan to the southeast. The city is the business, financial, and technology hub of Taiwan. It is quite a beautiful scene from the skies.
Taipei’s standard for public amenities, civil planning and cleanliness matches its continuous strive to be a world leading city paralleling Japanese cities and Singapore.
What’s probably the top activity when visiting Taipei? It is undoubtedly, food related. Taiwan is synonymous with street snacks at night markets, chinese tea, ice tea and bubble tea(or is it now pearl tea or boba tea?).
In Taipei City itself, wikipedia lists 17 night markets alone and in New Taipei City, a fast developing area of several counties surrounding Taipei City, has another 12 busy night markets. Unless you stay long term in Taipei and have lots of disposal cash, it is impossible to eat, drink and play your way through all the night markets. These markets range in sizes and have certain attractions that pull in the crowds. Shilin is arguably the largest and most frequented by visitors. Raohe, Ningxia, Jingmei, Huaxi, Gongguan, Tonghua and Lehua are some of the more popularly visited, as we were told.
Another day time activity is to visit the ‘old streets’ such as Jiufen, Shifen, Yingge, Sanxia and Pingxi. These destinations are connected by railway so its easy to get to. Shifen offers a side attraction of the Shifen waterfall – 1 km hike from the railway station.
Short on time, we visited only Shilin market in the Taipei City, and Tamsui (Danshui) old street. We highly recommend Tamsui district as you can wander the coastal walkway and relax at the park besides the street market and old street attractions. From the Tamsui MRT station, its a 4.5km walk to the tip where the Fuyou Buddhist Temple, Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf ends your journey. Along the way there will be many places of interest such as the Fort San Domingo, Tamsui Presbyterian Church, Tamsui Historical Museum, Hobe Fort and Lover’s Bridge. You don’t have to walk, of course, when you can rent a bicycle. You can even cycle from Taipei City because Taipei, in general, is very accessible for all – young, old and physically challenged.
Before heading out to the night markets, there is always daytime shopping for that cardio workout to work up those hunger pangs. Taipei 101 has the luxury goods, and WuFenPu for the wholesale clothing and accessories, There are many malls but XiMenDing in WanHua district is often the recommended place for apparels and accessories. Ximending is open during the day only rocks on later in the evening. If you are seeking gadgets and electronics, then GuangHua Digital Plaza and Syntrend Creative Park in Zhongzheng District is the ideal place to shop. With more time, there are so many more day markets and retail centers to discover.
If you are not interested in wading through hordes at street markets for clothing, snacks and games, or visiting historical and cultural centers, we were advised the Yangmingshan National Park in New Taipei City is one of the key places to get out of the city and into nature trails. There are several peaks here, Mount Qixing is the highest at 1120m. Nature hikes and camping is something we need to do more when Luca grows up.
Upon researching for this post, we missed some great coastal attractions in the Northern coastal districts. There is the natural geological wonders of Laomei Green Reef in Shimen, and Yehliu Geopark in the Northernmost tip of Wanli district. Taipei has so much to offer. We definitely need to come back for a longer stay.
In Taipei, we stayed at the Grand Mayfull Hotel Taipei, located in the Dazhi district. It is situated between Dazhi and Jiannan Road MRT. Jiannan is closer by 200 meters with the added attraction of the Miramar Ferris Wheel and shopping center.
The hotel was opened nearly 3 years ago which makes her a little older than Luca. The hotel certainly lives up to its grand name which its grandeur entrance, high ceilings, spacious rooms, luxury interior and services. Grand Mayfull serves up a wonderful spread of Taiwanese, Japanese and Western cuisine spread for breakfast
How long should one stay in Taipei?
If you are city traveller then Taipei offers so much. Museums, temples, cafes, tea houses, night markets, shopping, and all the modern conveniences of a world class city plus an opportunity to get out into nature for a day or two. We suggest a minimum of 5 days so you have time to wander, to be distracted, and sink your teeth into various snacks and desserts, and wash it down with a hot or cold oolong tea, black tea, green tea and white tea found in one of many tea shops around.
We traveled with a infant toddler for 2.5 days here and it was obvious it wasn’t enough with all the parenting duties required.