Ancient temples, big city high tech and fantastically scenic nature, all in one destination? Really? Yes, really! This island state with its colorful history might look small, but it holds all this, and so much more, it would really be a shame to miss it. So make sure you don’t, alright?
Taipei is the capital of the Republic of China – or perhaps Taiwan rings more of a bell? Either way, mainland China and Hongkong aren’t far away, but there’s enough to see and do in the area to keep you busy for ages! You’ve got the ocean, picture-perfect mountain tops and a super-exciting metropolitan city – throw some hot springs into the mix and you’ll be golden!
Are you ready to get convinced that Taipei needs to cut the queue and take the top position on your bucket list? Cool, let’s go!
Pro Tip: It will be warm – rarely under 10 degrees Celcius in the mild winters – but it will also rain a lot. So pack your wellies and rain poncho, or you can just enjoy the warm rain!
There are skyscrapers all over the city – it is an important hub for business, finance and technology, after all – but this, this is something special. Towering over the city is Taipei 101, around 500m tall and with observation decks on the 88th and 89th floors, there’s no better place to see Taipei blanketing out beneath you – even the elevator ride is a little adventure in itself! Make sure you won’t miss the enormous tuned mass damper, which keeps the building stable when it’s windy.
If you prefer a view of Taipei 101 rather than from it (why not both?!), then this is where you’ll want to be heading: Elephant Mountain. It’s a short but rather steep hike – only 20-30 minutes – and when you’re there, turn around and be amazed but the absolutely stunning view of the city of Taipei. Seriously, some say that it’s even better than the majestic Taipei 101. And, since it’s all free without any regulations you can go there in the night as well (imagine the lights!), but bring some water. Lots of water.
Shifen is an absolutely charming little place a bit outside of Taipei and very easy to get to via train. Stroll down the rustic, picturesque Old Street, munch on some street snacks and, most importantly, get a lantern, write your hopes and wishes on it before lighting it and letting it float away into the endless sky. There’s no guarantee it’ll work, but worth a shot! If your wish was to see a fabulous waterfall, then it’s your lucky day because within walking distance you’ll find the fantastic Shifen Waterfall, suitably nick-named Little Niagara. The photo opportunities are as endless as the sky. Almost.
Want some more sweet scenery from Mother Nature and haven’t had nearly enough of glimmering waterfalls yet? Well, in this park you’ll get that, with grassy hillsides, mountain tops and a fantastic color palette as icing on the green, floral cake. Hike all you want, give the mega mountain bike trails a go and don’t forget to stop and take in the most beautiful of surroundings. While you’re resting your hardworking legs, keep an eye out for cool rocks and minerals as well as colorful sulfur. Oh, and there are old volcanoes in the area. Pretty sweet.
On the northern coast (it’s still close, promise) of Taiwan around Longdong, the most amazing little paradise for any rock climber is located. Fantastically climbable golden and gray cliffs stretch out for 2km, and beneath is the grand swirl of deep blue and azure that is the Pacific Ocean. The climbing here is absolutely incredible, and if you’d rather not hug the rocks, you can go hiking – or snorkelling and swimming! – But the daredevil can both cliff-jump and deep-water solo. Yep. This place has it all.
The thing with spots that look good on photos is that they are rather amazing to visit as well – and you might stumble upon other excellent locations on your way there! There are temples, of course, gorgeous, old temples and one of the best ones is definitely Longshan, and if you pop to Bopiliao Historic Block, you’ll find not only some of the oldest architecture around but also beautiful murals.
If you want some more (and we mean more) color and don’t mind going to Taichung City, a visit to the Rainbow Village will not disappoint. Oh, and then there’s the Wanli UFO Village, complete with abandoned old flying saucer buildings. Perhaps we should make a post on just this.
Remember the volcano activity we mentioned earlier? Well, where there are lava-spouting mountains, there are also hot springs (at least in this place)! You don’t even have to leave the city to enjoy the hot springs, the museums and restaurants, and fascinating artefacts from one of the old Taiwanese tribes. There’s also Thermal Valley – or Hell Valley, as it’s also known as. It’s too acidic to bathe in, but seeing the steam coming up from the large pool full of scalding spring water, the green color of which coming from sulfur, is still fantastic.
See what we did there, making sure that you know this is gonna be about food? We’re smart – and considerate – like that. But first, we’re gonna have a look at some other things. Food will come, you have our word. So, there’s a green bus in Taipei, that’s actually green: it’s full of plants and will take you where you want to go, which in this case is a karaoke bar!
After singing your heart out, you might as well check out the night markets, and then, what we’ve all been waiting for: food! Visit themed restaurants (think Hello Kitty), try some stinky tofu (yes, it’s a thing) and some Baobing (a very icy dessert). Oh, and don’t forget to drink loads of bubble tea – it’s originally made in Taiwan, after all!
Actually, it’s not it, not at all, because there are loads of other things to do and see in this beautiful, crowded but still down to earth, city. Don’t believe us? Well, you’re gonna have to go see for yourself then!