If you are planning your first trip to Taiwan, there are many areas worth visiting to make the most of your trip. Although there are many beautiful historical sites, the following are my personal favorites for traveling to Taipei. Please feel free to use this as a kind of Taipei travel guide when planning your Taipei vacation.
- Taipei 101
We start our Taipei tour at Taipei 101. This is a skyscraper located in Xinyi District. In 2004, it was ranked as the tallest building in the world, with a height of 1671 meters. This title was held for 6 years until Burj Khalifa in Dubai flooded Taipei 101 in 2010. The tower boasts 101 stories and has an outdoor observatory on the 91st floor, such as the New York City Empire State Building, which offers beautiful views of the surrounding area.
On the lower five floors of Taipei 101 is a luxury mall with upscale stores like Burberry and Louis Vuitton. In the 88th-floor indoor observatory, you can see the 730 tonne dampener, basically a giant sphere that acts like a pendulum to counteract buildings that fluctuate in strong winds. Without this damper, those on the high floor can really suffer from locomotor disorders due to constant fluctuations in the building! Taipei 101 is a city icon that can be seen for miles across the city. Every new year, Taipei 101 attracts tens of thousands of visitors with its spectacular fireworks display.
- Ximending Shopping
If you go shopping, you shouldn't be wrong with Ximending. This shopping district is located in Taipei's Wanhua District and is considered Taiwan's fashion capital. On weekends, Ximending Streets are closed to traffic and become a pedestrian mall. All kinds of street entertainers are popular in the area, and since it's a hotspot, you can attract celebrities who host small outdoor concerts, album launchers and other events.
Ximending is also known for its "Theater Street", where many films are concentrated along Wuchang Street. But for history lovers, the district's most famous theater is the Red House Theater, which was built in 1908 during the Japanese occupation and continues to be an operational theater with regular performances.
- Yangmingshan National Park
If you want beautiful sights when traveling, I can't recommend Yangmingshan enough. It is Taipei's largest natural park. Yangmingshan is great for hiking and has many trails that can last all day or even a few hours. Popular trails include the Seven Star Peak, which leads to the highest peak of Taipei at 1120 meters (3600 feet), or the stunning waterfall of the Juansi Falls trail.
From February to March each year, Yangmingshan is the venue for the Yangmingshan Flower Festival, when a variety of flowers such as azaleas, camellias and especially cherry blossoms reach their peak. The festival illuminates cherry blossom trees every night for a particularly romantic look. Visitors can enjoy spectacular sightseeing in Taipei, including lunch and dinner at many restaurants, such as The Top or Grass Mountain Chateau.
Between the beauty of cherry blossoms and city views, Yangmingshan is a well-known romantic spot for lovers of Taipei. From April to May, when the calla lily reaches full bloom, you can pick your own lily flowers at one of several flower plants for just a few dollars.
Finally, don't miss Yangming Shuwu, also known as Yangming Villa, the beautiful summer retreat of late President Chiang Kai-shek. The Yangming villa house and garden are maintained as occupied by Mr and Mrs Chiang. The house is a two-story, traditional Chinese home, with reception rooms and offices on the first floor, and Chiang's personal residence on the second floor, where their paintings and personal photos continue to appear. The gardens are particularly beautiful in spring when the flowers are already in bloom. As a small trivial note, we plant several shrubs in a pentagonal lump – symbolizing General Chiang's "five-star" rank.
- National Palace Museum
Then we find ourselves in the National Palace Museum, which opened in 1965. If you love our history, this is the place to be! The National Palace Museum's humane collection has 700,000 permanent exhibitions of Chinese imperial history and works dating back to 2000 years, as well as prehistoric Chinese works of art and works of art from the Neolithic era, or better known as the "Stone Age".
The most popular article in his collection is jadeite cabbage. A piece of jade carved in the 19th century, designed to resemble Chinese cabbage head, with locusts and grasshopper disguised in leaves. Legend has it that the statue is a metaphor for female fertility, with white cabbage stems representing purity, green cabbage leaves representing fertility, and insects representing children.
- Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Another historically significant milestone in our excursion into Taiwan's history is the Chiang Kia-shek Memorial Hall. It is a national monument built in honor of the former President of the Republic of China, Chiang Kia-shek. The monument marks the geographical and cultural center of Taipei. It is the most visited attraction of foreign tourists. On the ground floor of the pagoda-style memorial hall is the Presidential Library and Museum.
There is a large sitting statue of Chiang Kai-shek in the main hall, similar to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. The memorial hall and the surrounding Liberty Square plaza cover 60 acres and have many lakes and gardens. There are two Taipei performing arts buildings in the public area, the National Theater and the National Concert Hall.
- Beitou hot springs and public library
My favorite place to visit in Taiwan is the Beitou area. Beitou is a mountain district north of Taipei and is known for its hot springs and wonderful public library. Beitou is famous for its healing and therapeutic properties of mineral water from many natural geothermal vents. The entire industry of hot spring baths and hotels has expanded in Beitou, offering aromatherapy, massage and hydrotherapy. There are many places where tourists can soak their feet in a stream of hot springs. Be sure to visit the Hot Springs Museum. When it was built in 1913, it was the largest public spa in Asia at the time. Today, the museum offers a glimpse into the bathroom and the history of Beitou.
Then visit the Beitou Public Library. Its wooden structure fits perfectly into the Beitou Park environment. With its eco-friendly services and design, the library is Taiwan's first green building. The library opened in 2006 and was built to reduce water and electricity consumption. To do this, the architects used large windows to let in natural light and a solar roof to provide the electricity needed for operation. In addition, the library collects rainwater for storage and flushing toilets.
- Tamsui Fisherman's Quay
Our final stop is Tamsui. Tamsui is located on the western tip of Taipei and our favorite spot was Fisherman's Quay. We've learned that restaurants that mark Fisherman's Wharf Promenade not only offer the freshest seafood available, but also offer breathtaking sunset views. Fisherman's Wharf continues to be a harbor for local fishermen and is proud to provide a harbor for 150 boats! Our favorite walk crosses the "Lovers Bridge" pedestrian bridge, named after it opened on Valentine's Day 2003.
Its architecture resembles the mast of a sailing ship. It was about a 3 minute walk to the bridge which is wonderful at sunset. Lovers Bridge is also a great place to host the annual fireworks and concerts, which the city hosts each year to celebrate Chinese Valentine's Day (which takes place in August, not February 14). Another way to experience Tamsui is to take a ferry from the Tamsui Ferry Pier and get off at Fisherman's Wharf. The ferry offers great views of the Tamsui Waterfront. One-way fare is only $ 2 and takes about 15 minutes.
Although our vacation in Taiwan seems to have ended in an instant, it was amazing! Although there are many sights to see, we feel we have used most of our trips to Taipei. I hope your trip proves to be as educational and comprehensive as ours.