Funky 100 – Number 47
5 Funky Things to do in Taipei
Why you should Visit…
I’ve never been surprised by a city like I was surprised by Taipei. Taipei is hardly the largest, newest, or most beautiful city in Asia. Yet this city, more than any other, has stolen my heart. Taipei is a bustling metropolis packed with people, culture, and incredible food! Not only is Taipei a world class city, but it’s remarkably inexpensive! In only a few days, I began to feel right at home wandering the wide, clean streets of Taipei. Not only would I recommend seeing Taipei, but I’ve got five things I insist you find!
1. Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
This massive memorial museum sits within the same central park that houses the National Theater and Concert Hall. These buildings are impressive and the grounds are gorgeously manicured. You can explore the history of Taiwan and the Republic of China in the Memorial Hall, or simply enjoy the scenery if history doesn’t interest you. The park is a wonderful place to bask in the shade on sunny day and watch locals practice Tai Chi. If you make friends, you might even get to join them!
2. Taipei 101
This towering marvel was once the tallest building in the world. Despite being dwarfed by other architectural marvels, Taipei 101 is still worth a visit. If high end shopping is something you enjoy, you’ll have a heyday inside the mall attached to the tower’s basement. The tourist desk at the top of the mall offers tickets to ride up to the tower’s observation deck. I can’t speak for the view, given the $15 entrance fee was too steep for my budget. However, the restaurants here are wonderful. I’d highly recommend having some Xiao Long Bao (pork soup dumplings) at the illustrious Din Tai Fung restaurant. For a star restaurant Din Tai Fung is remarkably affordable, and worth the wait, even during lunch rush. Trust me!
Ximending is a popular district attached to Ximen MRT station. This area is very popular with young people in Taipei and the streets are packed every night with restaurant goers, shoppers, and foreigners exploring. No matter your predilections Ximending is a pleasure to explore. Ximending is also home to Taipei’s cinema street, where you can catch a film in one of it’s many theaters. There are many, many affordable hostels and hotels here. I’d highly recommend staying in Ximending. It’s a happening place in the center of Taipei, with lots to see in do!
4. Shilin Night Market
Taiwan is known for it’s night markets, Taipei has many of them. The largest night market in Taipei City is the Shilin Night Market. This night market is both above and below ground. The city created this underground space in the interest of containing the market’s unprecedented expansion. You can shop for cheap wares above ground, or head down to dine at one of the many food vendors. They have all kinds of great food for the equivalent of 1 or 2 US dollars. Try everything from fried soft shell crabs, to beef noodle soup, or oyster omelettes. I recommend taking a few friends and sharing anything and everything that catches your eye!
5. Longshan Temple
This is Taipei’s most popular temple and is still heavily used. If you’ve ever wanted to see how people worship at a traditional Chinese temple, this is the place to go! The ornate architecture is fascinating and overflowing with statues, paintings, carvings, and symbols. Many people gather here to pray, burn incense, make offerings, or have fortunes interpreted. Tourists are welcome to mingle and explore the temple, even when it’s in use. I found Longshan Temple to be a fascinatingly enigmatic experience.
Michael is an English teacher for a Korean public school in Busan. He has lived in Korea for two years and explored much of it during that time. When not traveling, he occupies himself with writing, photography, and occasionally teaching.
This article was published in February 2015.