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Your guide to Taipei
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August 8, 2022 | View OnlineSign Up

Asia collides in spectacular fashion in Taipei, a city that’s had one eye on the future for some time now.


While its identity remains a controversial subject, the years of political back and forths have gifted the city with a wondrous blend of Chinese, Japanese, Southeast Asian, and even Western culture. It’s evident in the people, the architecture, and most importantly on any Taiwanese visit, the food.


Oddities abound in this often overlooked urban jungle that deserves far more appreciation than it gets compared to its better-known neighbors.


Welcome to Taipei.

| FUN FACTS

It’s only officially recognized by 14 countries worldwide

Taipei and the rest of Taiwan have a complicated history that’s molded it into the place it is today. After being briefly settled by the Dutch hundreds of years ago, the island and what became Taipei was administered by the Qing dynasty in China.


After losing the island to Japan in the late 19th century, it was returned to China after World War II. But when civil war tore China apart, the Nationalist government fled to Taiwan, where it planned a retaliatory retaking of the mainland that never materialized.


Since then, Taiwan has followed its own path, culminating in a staggering rise to one of the wealthiest countries in Asia, as well as a major global business center. However, only fourteen nations fully recognize it as a country, with the UN classifying it as a Chinese territory. Its identity is still a major point of contention.

| KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

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Easycard = Easy life

One of the first things you should do on arrival in Taipei is grab an Easycard. Originally designed as a cashless option for buses and the MRT transport system, it’s been expanded to work in loads of stores across the city.


You can pick up your own Easycard at any MRT station for about NT$100 (around 3 dollars). Once you’ve got one, top it up with some cash, and you enjoy traveling around the city with less change rumbling around in your pocket. Just keep a rough idea of how much you’ve spent.

It’s safe and friendly

Taipei is an extremely safe and friendly city. Crime is low, although you should keep an eye on your stuff as petty crime can happen anywhere. It’s also a brilliant city for solo female travelers who can enjoy themselves in a safe setting. The LGBT+ community can look forward to a pleasant welcome, too. Taiwan was the first country in Asia to legalize gay marriage!


On a day-to-day basis, don’t be surprised to have multiple helping hands if you look a little lost. Locals are wonderfully helpful and always ready to jump in and show tourists directions or offer advice.

Getting in is easy

If you’ve ever traveled to mainland China, you’ll understand how complicated the VISA process can be. At best, you’ll need to drive a few hours to your nearest Chinese embassy two or three times, hope you get a VISA, and then enjoy the forthcoming immigration process. 


Taiwan, despite its confusing designation, is straightforward for most countries. American citizens can enjoy up to 90 days VISA-free, making the whole process a breath of fresh air.

| TOGETHER WITH

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| THINGS TO DO

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Visit the Taipei 101 Tower

The Taipai 101 skyscraper is easily the most iconic feature of the city’s skyline. But towering above the ultra-modern city, 101 is more than just a vantage point.


Once the tallest building in the world, the 101 is easily the biggest tourist attraction in Taipei. The viewing deck itself is worth the entrance fee alone, offering stunning views of the entire valley and city below. But visitors should set aside an extra hour or two to enjoy everything the tower has to offer.


Different exhibits detailing Taipei’s history and development, as well as a look at some of the most innovative architectural feats that are part of 101’s design, round off a trip to the top viewing deck. An outside viewing deck is also open now on the very top floor. It was once closed for private events and VIPs, but the general public is now able to enjoy the 360 views of the city. 

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Explore the National Palace Museum

For the history buffs among us, the National Palace Museum is one of the best in the world to visit. Visitors can enjoy the largest collection of Chinese art in the world by detailing thousands of years of Chinese history and tied tightly to Taiwan’s own identity in the past century.


Detailing artifacts from as far back as the neolithic era and chronicling the dynasties through the ages, a full day could be spent submerged in Chinese history.


The museum itself was founded back in the twenties with the most valuable possessions of the last Royal family and extended when the nationalist government fled Beijing. It retains close ties to the Forbidden City in the Chinese capital and is often viewed as a kind of sister museum.


If you’ve time for more museums, Taipei has a vast selection. Quirkier choices like the Miniatures Museum, the Paper Museum, and the Museum of Drinking Water (seriously) make for a change of pace from the more traditional Fine Arts Museum or Taiwan History Museum.

Hit the trail

Taipei may seem like a concrete jungle, but it's surrounded by staggeringly beautiful landscape, ripe for a morning hike. It’s rare to have such wonderful hiking opportunities so close to the city, so take advantage while you’re there. The trails range from easy walks to tough climbs, so there’s something for every level.


At the tougher end of the scale is Wu Liao Jian. This full-day hike is definitely not for the less active among us. A steady uphill climb is punctuated with daunting ropes and ladder climbs, making the hike a full-body affair. Of course, the views are worth the exertion. And you’ve earned an extra few dumplings.


The Four Beasts, despite its intimidating name, is an easier option with just as rewarding views. The four actually refer to the mountains located close to the city, and day hikers are rewarded with stunning skyline views. It’s far easier than Wu Liao Jian and one of the best intros to the region's beauty.

| WHERE TO STAY

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High end, low price

Taipei is wonderfully affordable for travelers, and much like cities in Southeast Asia, it’s not hard to find a high degree of luxury for a fraction of the cost in the US.


While a rooftop pool or views of Freedom Tower in NYC would set you back hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, the same amenity with a view of Tapei 101 plus a room double the size might scrape $200 on a bad day.


Take advantage of the value and find a gem.

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Image: Shangri-la Taipei

Our Top Pick: Shangri-La Taipei

Taipei, Taiwan
$$ | See inside

The tallest hotel in Taipei offers unparalleled views of the city. From its high-floor dining options to the sprawling guestrooms, visitors are privy to the entire city while being treated to the luxury associated with the Shangri-La brand. 


With nine restaurants and a rooftop pool overlooking the city, all for under $200, your Taipei trip could be stylish and affordable.

Book Your Stay

Other Top Picks

| WHERE TO EAT

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Market value

Taiwan is home to one of the best culinary platforms in the world; cheap, diverse, and in line with the rest of Asia, undeniably tasty. It’s not hard to find any kind of Chinese, Japanese, or even western food here.


Beef noodles, stinky tofu, soup dumplings, and seafood vermicelli are among the highlights of the must eat foods in Taiwan, best enjoyed in one of their unbelievable night markets. Food is so affordable that many apartments in the city aren’t even fitted with kitchens, so that you can look forward to affordable feasting.


And, of course, it’s now basically synonymous with bubble tea.

Our Top Pick: RAW

Taipei, Taiwan
$$$ Menu

Taiwanese cuisine meets French cooking style. After you’ve hit up a few street vendors for a taste of Taipei, scramble for a table at Raw to see an elevated take on the same things. This two-Michelin-starred restaurant has tasting menus set at less than $100, a steal considering similar menus go for hundreds and even thousands more in the US and Europe.


As one of the best restaurants on the planet and often called the best in Taiwan, you’re in for a treat at Raw. And the decor is astonishing. Just make sure you book well in advance. You can now book up to six months before, so get in there earlier.

Reserve a table

The Best of the Rest

| WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING IN TAIPEI

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