Taipei is a destination of strong contrasts: the dizzying heights of its contemporary buildings are enough to make the world's tallest skyscrapers envious and the natural beauties just a stone's throw from the city will be able to surprise you.
Taipei, the capital of Taiwan is a modern metropolis that is influenced by Chinese, Japanese and at the same time Western culture. The dizzying heights of its contemporary buildings are enough to make the world's tallest skyscrapers envious and the natural beauties just a stone's throw from the city will be able to surprise you. Let's set off for the Island of Taiwan and see what to do and see on a trip to Taipei.
Taiwan and the Republic of ChinaThe Republic of China is an island state de facto not recognized by the People's Republic of China and its capital is Taiwan. The territory of the Island of Taiwan is substantially divided into two: to the west of the Island, there are mostly flat areas, where the majority of the population resides, while the eastern area is occupied by the characteristic tropical forest, a paradise of biodiversity. There are many rivers and lakes in Taiwan, and Taipei is located on the right bank of the Tamsui River, at the northern end of the island.
In the seventeenth century, the island of Taiwan was colonized by Spanish and Dutch settlers, who favored the arrival of Chinese labor. The city of Taipei was founded in 1708 by Chinese immigrants from Fujian and Taiwan's commercial and industrial development was mostly due to the Japanese, who occupied the island at the end of the 19th century.
Taiwan's turning point came in 1949 when a massive influx of refugees began as a result of nationalist defeat. Alongside the flourishing business of the tea and rice processing steelworks and textile and mechanical industries also developed. Today Taipei is the seat of the government of the Republic of China, one of the countries with the highest population density and an important commercial hub in both the chemical and electrotechnics industries in both the IT sector and in telecommunications industry.
The must-see of Taipei: skyscraper 101The skyline of Taipei is dominated by the famous Taipei 101 skyscraper, located in the very modern Xinyi district, full of offices and commercial buildings. The characteristic Taipei 101 building is taller than 500 meters and more than being one of the Taipei must-sees...it would be impossible not to see it! It is an extremely elegant skyscraper inspired by the shape of a bamboo cane in which a solid with a pyramid-shaped base supports eight modules stacked one on top of each other.
At the base of the skyscraper are auspicious symbols, including four giant coins and steel dragons, and there are exclusive shops. You can take a very fast elevator to reach the highest place in the city and one of the attractions you absolutely must see in Taipei: the observatory located on the top floors of the skyscraper offers a breathtaking view of the city and understandably makes the Taipei 101 the symbol of Taipei worldwide.
What to see in Taipei: Longshan TempleTemples are one of the main attractions of tourism in the far east. The Longshan Temple is not only the oldest in Taiwan but is also the one that best represents the mixture of Buddhist and Taoist elements that, even on a decorative level, identifies the local religion.
Taoism is the main religion of Taiwan and is professed in many other areas of Asia. The Temple Longshan is one of the must-sees of the city and one of the places of greatest interest to see in Taipei. The complex is very large and always crowded by people of all ages who read Chinese texts, pray and light incense to the gods. One of the most significant religious moments that can be witnessed in the Longshan Temple is that of the sung prayer which takes place at different times of the day, from sunrise to sunset.
Discovering Taipei: the history of TaiwanOne of the places to see in Taipei to better understand Taiwanese culture is the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, the monumental complex dedicated to the revered President of the Republic of China. Chiang Kai-Shek was a Chinese general which took over leadership of the nationalist party and opposed the communists during the Chinese civil war. He is considered to be the father of the country because once defeated, he withdrew to Taiwan and founded the Republic of China, of which he became the first President until his death.
The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial is an imposing complex of buildings surrounded by a splendid park with waterfalls. Inside there is the Arch of Peace, which is the entrance, the National Theatre, and a concert hall. At the bottom of the grand central avenue, the Democracy Boulevard, raised above the rest of the buildings stands the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Building.
In Taipei, there is also the Mausoleum of the Martyrs of the Revolutionerected in memory of those who died during the Chinese Revolution of 1911, a sign that Taipei is very proud to its story. Another tribute to Taiwanese culture is the National Palace Museum which contains more than 700,000 Chinese works of art, including very rich collections of ancient art and several paintings from the Imperial Palaces in Beijing.
What to do in Taipei: the cable car, the markets, and XimendingTaipei is a very modern city that combines different cultures. If you are looking for the shopping district and at the same time the home of the alternative worlds go to the north-eastern part of Wanhua district and explore Ximending: this is Taiwan's fashion district, and there are also plenty of clubs and pubs. Ximending is the first pedestrian area created in Taipei and is currently also the largest.
Taipei is known above all known for its various night-time markets where you can the delicacies of the local street food and enjoy exploring a different aspect of the city. One of the things to do in Taipei is, therefore, to go by night to the Shilin Market, located north of the Keelung River, and Rahoe Market in east Taipei.
One of the delights of Taipei is the Maokong Gondola, the cableway that connects Maokong to the Zoo and allows you to admire the city from above observing the immense tea plantations that are famous all over the world.
Nature and the parks in TaipeiTaiwan is very rich from the point of view of natural beauty spots. On the island, there are in fact eight national parks, some of which are just a few minutes from the city center. One of these is Yangmingsham Park, a group of volcanoes that reach an altitude of 1120 meters and is popular with both tourists and locals alike.
Taiwan is also an island of water, and the Beitou sulfurous hot spring pools are the ideal destination for anyone who wants to admire the scenery while relaxing in the vapors of the pools obtained in the most fascinating natural scenery surrounding them.
Taipei is a green city and there are several trails that you can follow not far from the city center. One of the most popular excursions in Taipei is the one along the Xiangshan's trail leading to Elephant Mountain: from the top of the peak you can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view and to get there you cross a pleasant neighborhood far from the major tourist routes.
Finally, one of the main attractions in Taipei is the Zoo. Taipei Zoo is a large nature park much loved by children and those who want to discover the local fauna: after all, you can't come back from a trip to Taipei without having seen the world-famous Chinese pandas!
Excursions on the island close to TaipeiJust outside Taipei, you can visit some of the most picturesque places in Taiwan. One of these is the Taroko National Park which in the indigenous language means "magnificent and beautiful." The peculiarity of this park is undoubtedly the famous Taroko Gorge, one of the most spectacular gorges in the world, which runs for over 20 km and has walls as much as 1000 meters high.
An hour's train ride from Taipei will take you to the mountain town of Chiufen, a jewel of the Taiwanese tradition that can be reached by crossing spectacular scenery overlooking the sea coast.
One of Taiwan's must-sees is the Yehliu Geopark, perfect for a day trip from Taipei. On this promontory, you can see the unique geological formations of Yehliu, including the iconic Queen's Head.
What to eat in TaipeiWith so many restaurants and street food kiosks, it's hard to resist Taipei. Taiwanese cuisine is influenced by Korean, Japanese and Chinese cooking; in Taiwan, people eat mainly meat dishes, but also tofu, century eggs and occasionally fried insects and snakes. Let's look at some of the typical dishes and delicacies that can be found in Taipei.
Beef noodles steamed with pak choi and seaweed are the Taiwanese national dish and white rice with pork braised and seasoned with soy sauce, shallots, garlic, and spices is also very popular. You can also find hotpots, ba wan - dumplings made from rice flour and stuffed sweet potatoes and served in broth - and baozi rice buns steamed with a filling of sweet beans or meat that are also eaten at breakfast.
On a trip to Taiwan, you have to taste xiao long bao, delicious ravioli stuffed with meat and broth originally from Shanghai and loved throughout the world. The typical Taiwanese street food snack is guao Bao, namely bacon cooked with coriander, peanuts and pickled vegetables enclosed in a slice of steamed bread; the perfect sweet snack during a walk is the tanghulua typical skewer of candied fruit. It should also be remembered that Taiwan is the home of bubble tea, the famous drink that was invented in Taipei in 1983.
To go to Taipei you need to have a passport with residual validity of at least 6 months on the date you leave for Taiwan. No visa is required for stays up to 90 days, provided you have a ticket (return air ticket) for your return or to continue your journey to another destination.
Taipei is an island with a tropical climate with a rainy summer and a mild winter. The period from May to September is very hot and humid because of the summer monsoons and, in general, the intensity of rain depends on the exposure to currents. The best time to visit Taiwan is from November to March when the climate is mild and the rainfall is low.