8 Fun Things to Do During a Short Visit to Taiwan
You are scheduled to have a little escapade in Taiwan very soon and would like to know what to do in Taipei. You are excited to again expand your horizon and experience the magic of life through a traveler’s eye but you have to stick to your budget hence opting out of a tourism package. If you are looking for exciting things to do and reasonably-priced tourist spots to see during your trip, here are some things to consider:
1. Visit the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
The hall is located at the Liberty Square also known as the Freedom Square. This is one of the most popular, gorgeously maintained tourist spots in Taipei. Aside from the memorial hall in the center (east), there’s the square’s iconic gate adjacent to it, the National Concert Hall on the north and the National Theater on the south.
The National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is where you’ll know more about Taiwan’s Iconic Leader Chiang Kai Shek and the country’s history and culture through photos, artworks, and memorabilia. You may enjoy this place for free, open 24 hours daily and as a bonus, you may watch the changing of the guards at the fourth floor of the Bronze Statue Hall every hour from 9 AM to 5 PM.
2. Go to the Taipei 101 Observatory at the Taipei 101 Mall
This mall is the tallest skyscraper in Taiwan and once the world’s tallest building. The indoor and outdoor observatories at floors 88th, 89th and 91st allow a sweeping 360 degrees city view, definitely something first-time visitors would find memorable especially at night.
It is open from 9 AM to 10 PM with the entrance fees of NT$600 for the general public, NT$540 for students with ID and free for children under 115cm. For some, NT$600 is not affordable but you decide; is the experience of a gorgeous city view worth that amount even for just one time?
In 2011, Taipei 101 was awarded the LEED platinum certification, the highest award according to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, and became the tallest and largest green building in the world. (Wikipedia)
3. Escape to the Maokong Highlands via Maokong Gondola
If you want to escape the city rush for a day, head on to the mountains through the cable cars of Taiwan. The crystal cabin price is NT$120 each way for adults, same with the regular cabins, although those with health issues are not allowed to ride them. The tickets for children 6 to 12 years old and seniors over 65 are priced at NT$50. The Maokong Gondola hours are from 9 AM to 9 PM with some days (holidays) opening 30 minutes early and/or extending to an hour late.
From the Taipei Zoo (Gondola) Station, there will be five stations until you reach the last stop, the Maokong Gondola Station. The Monkey Mountain, Chen Yang-Chun Art Gallery, and the Tea Promotion Center are just some of the spots you can visit via the cable cars. Once you reach the last station at the top, there will be some street food vendors and signs which route to take, usually by foot, if you want to visit some tea houses and other tourist spots in the area before going back to the city, again, through the cable cars or a bus.
4. Go shop and explore the Taipei night markets
The Shilin Night Market and Raohe Night Market are just two of the most popular most visited night markets in Taipei. The country is known for its vast number of night markets scattered all over the region. Some of the other popular ones are the Ningxia Night Market, Liouhe Night Market, and Keelung Temple Night Market. If you would like to shop for souvenirs or gifts to bring back home, these night markets are the places to go after a day’s sightseeing as they close late usually around midnight.
These are the places to go to if you want to taste the ultimate Taiwan street food. You will be astounded by the fresh fruits and freshly squeezed juices, the world famous giant breaded fried chicken, the grilled meats, sausages and seafood, the variety of rice cakes dipped in sauces, beef noodle soup, the infamous stinky tofu and more. If you are a tea enthusiast, don’t forget to try their Oolong tea and pearl milk tea. Affordable and overwhelming, night market hopping is definitely a must do in Taiwan.
5. Get your needed retail therapy through the popular Taipei shopping districts
The Ximending Youth Shopping District and Wufenpu Shopping District are just two of the popular shopping districts in Taiwan. Like the night markets, these shopping districts offer an overabundance of goods for sale from clothing, shoes, bags, and accessories. Some shops offer services like piercing, tattoos, and massages.
You will also find here street foods from sorbets to grilled mushrooms, noodles and more. Although unlike the night markets, these districts are already buzzing with people by midmorning to early afternoon.
6. Appreciate the “Santorini of Taiwan” in Jiufen
Take a train ride and go to the mountain town at the northeastern part of the country popular for its old streets packed with souvenir shops, street food stalls, tea houses, and restaurants. Take photos and walk the old street to shop for souvenirs or enjoy a leisurely afternoon having tea overlooking the beautiful mountainside with intricately designed temples and old houses with winding roads and thick forest in the background.
And whilst you are in the area, take a bus trip from Jiufen to the Shifen Waterfall to take in its natural beauty and then another side trip to the old railroad town Shifen Old Street for another hour of sightseeing. If you have NT$100-NT$150 extra, that’s the Shifen sky lantern price, to light and release your own lantern with all your wishes written on it.
7. Visit some temples all over Taipei
Taiwan is also home to ornately beautiful temples with the original structures going back hundreds of years. Majority of these temples are just a copy of its original buildings since most, if not all, were already destroyed by war and natural disasters but they have always been religiously restored.
You may be in for a unique spiritual experience as you will see the locals openly and earnestly praying, lighting incense and offering flowers and food, not really minding the flocks of tourists around them. Some of the most popular temples are Mengjia Longshan Temple, Confucius Temple, Baoan Temple, and Xingtian Temple.
8. Get to know the Animals at the Taipei Zoo
For those who would like to learn more about animals, head on to the largest zoo in Asia, the Taipei Zoo. It is open every day from 9 AM to 5 PM all year round except during the Chinese New Year’s eve February 15th. The Taipei Zoo entrance fee is NT$60 while the students’ rate with ID is NT$30. They offer discounted rates to large group of visitors and free admission for preschoolers and handicapped individuals.
If you are looking forward to seeing the pandas, the Giant Panda House is open 9:10 AM to 5:10 PM. With the current size at 165 hectares, make sure you wear comfortable footwear if you decide to go. The zoo also has the Penguin House, Amphibian and Reptile House, The Insectarium, the Education Center, and Eco House and more.
These were just some of the activities and places you could visit during your short stay in Taiwan. Have fun!
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© 2018 Sheila Navio-Pornan