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Taipei Taiwan Travel Guide for First Timers
If you are planning a trip to Taiwan for the first time, there are many areas to visit to make the most of your trip. While there are many beautiful, historic areas, the following are my personal favorites for traveling in Taipei. Please feel free to use it as a personal Taipei travel guide when planning your Taipei vacation.
- Taipei 101
We start our Taipei tour at Taipei 101. It is a skyscraper located in Xinyi District. In 2004, it was listed as the tallest building in the world at 1,671 feet. Burj Khalifa in Dubai held the title for 6 years until it was eclipsed by Taipei 101 in 2010. The tower has 101 floors and there is an outdoor observation deck on the 91st floor, similar to the Empire State Building in New York City, where you can see beautiful views. surrounding area.
On the bottom five floors of Taipei 101 is a luxury shopping mall with upscale stores such as Burberry and Louis Vuitton. At the indoor observatory on the 88th floor, you can see the 730-ton Mass Damper, basically a giant ball that acts like a pendulum to counteract the swaying of buildings during high winds. Without these dampers, people on high floors could suffer from motion sickness from the constant rocking of the building! Taipei 101 is a city landmark that is visible for miles across the city. Every New Year, Taipei 101 attracts thousands of visitors to witness its spectacular fireworks display.
- Buy Ximending
If you’re shopping, you can’t go wrong with Ximending. It is a shopping area in Taipei’s Wanhua District and is considered the fashion capital of Taiwan. On weekends, Zimending streets are closed to traffic and become pedestrian shopping malls. The area is popular with street performers of all kinds, and because it’s a hotspot, you can catch celebrities hosting small outdoor concerts, album launches, and other events.
Ximending is also famous for its “Theatre Street” where Wuchang Street is home to many movies. For history buffs, however, the most famous theater in the district is the Red House Theater which was built during the Japanese occupation in 1908 and is still an operational theater with regular performances.
- Yangmingshan National Park
I can’t recommend Yangmingshan enough if you’re looking for beautiful sightseeing while traveling. It is the largest natural park in Taipei. Yangmingshan is great for hiking and has numerous trails that can last a whole day or just a few hours. Popular trails include Seven Stars Peak which takes you to the 1120 m (3600 ft) peak in Taipei, or check out the stunning waterfalls of the Zhuanxi Waterfall Trail.
Every February to March, Yangmingshan is the site of the Yangmingshan Flower Festival when many types of flowers, such as azaleas, camellias and especially cherry blossoms, reach their peak bloom. Every evening of the festival, the cherry blossom trees are lit up for a particularly romantic scene. Visitors can also enjoy lunch and dinner at one of the many restaurants such as The Top or Grass Mountain Chateau for spectacular views of Taipei.
Between the beauty of the cherry blossoms and the city views, Yangmingshan is a famous romantic spot for lovers in Taipei. From April to May, when calla lilies are in full bloom, you can pick your own lily flowers for just a few dollars from many flower farms.
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 gardens have been kept as they were when they were occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Chiang. The house is a two-story traditional Chinese house, with reception rooms and offices on the first floor and Chiang’s personal residence on the second floor where his paintings and personal photographs are still on display. The gardens are especially beautiful in spring when the flowers are in full bloom. As a bit of trivia, it is noted that many of the bushes are planted in bunches of five – symbolizing General Chiang’s “5-star” rank.
- National Palace Museum
Next, we look at the National Palace Museum, which opened in 1965. If you love history, this is the place! The National Palace Museum houses a massive collection of 700,000 Chinese imperial history and artifacts spanning more than 2000 years as well as prehistoric Chinese artifacts and artifacts from the Neolithic period, or “Stone Age”.
The most popular item in his collection is the Jadeite Cabbage. Carved in the 19th century, it is a piece of jadeite shaped like a head of Chinese cabbage with a locust and locust between its leaves. Legend has it that the sculpture is a metaphor for female fertility, white cabbage stalks represent purity, green cabbage leaves represent fertility and insects represent children.
- Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Another historically significant landmark on our trek to learn about Taiwan’s history is the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. It is a national monument built in honor of the former President of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek. This monument is the geographical and cultural center of Taipei. It is the most visited attraction of foreign tourists. The pagoda-style Memorial Hall houses the Presidential Library and the ground floor museum.
The main hall features a large, seated statue of Chiang Kai-shek, similar to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Memorial Hall and its surrounding Liberty Square Plaza cover 60 acres and include several ponds and garden spaces. The plaza also houses two of Taipei’s performance art buildings, the National Theater and the National Concert Hall.
- Beitou Hot Springs and Public Library
My favorite place to visit while in Taiwan is an area called Beitu. Beitou is a hilly district north of Taipei City and is famous for its hot springs and its magnificent public library. The mineral waters from several natural geothermal vents in Beitou are renowned for their healing and therapeutic properties. An entire industry of hot springs bathhouses and hotels offering aromatherapy, massage and hydrotherapy has developed in Bitu. There are many places where tourists can soak their feet in hot springs. A must visit is the Hot Springs Museum. When it was built in 1913, it was the largest public bath in Asia. Today, the museum offers a glimpse of its bathhouse facilities and Beitou’s history.
Next, visit the Beitou Public Library. Its wooden structure that fits seamlessly into its Beatu Park setting. Using eco-friendly features and design, the library is Taiwan’s first “green” building. The library opened in 2006 and was built to minimize water and electricity use. To do this, the architects used large windows for natural light and solar panel roofs to provide the electricity needed for operation. Also, the library collects rainwater and uses it to flush toilets.
- Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf
Our last stop is Tamsui. Tamsui is on the western tip of Taipei and our favorite spot was Fisherman’s Wharf. We learned that not only do the restaurants lining the Fisherman’s Wharf boardwalk offer the freshest seafood, they also offer breathtaking sunset views. Fisherman’s Wharf still serves as a harbor for local fishermen and they proudly provide harbor for 150 vessels! Our favorite walk is across the “Lovers Bridge” pedestrian bridge, so named because it opened on Valentine’s Day 2003.
Its architecture resembles the masts of a sailing ship. It was about a 3-minute walk across the bridge, which was magnificent at sunset. Lover’s Bridge is also a great place to watch the annual fireworks show and concert that the city holds every year to celebrate Chinese Valentine’s Day (which falls in August, not February 14). Another way to experience Tamsui is to take a ferry from Tamsui Ferry Pier and disembark at Fisherman’s Wharf. Ferries are an inexpensive way to see the spectacular views of the Tamsui waterfront. One way fare is only $2 USD and takes only 15 minutes.
Our Taiwan vacation seemed like it was over in the blink of an eye, but it was amazing! While there was a lot to see, we think we made the most of our trip to Taipei. I hope your journey is as educational and inclusive as ours.
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