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A modern city with ornate Chinese temples and mountainous landscapes, Taipei also boasts colorful markets and excellent museums. Whether you’re searching for a dose of culture, a day out in nature or a piece of history, you’ll find plenty to explore in this capital city. From a bamboo-shaped skyscraper with an observation deck to centuries-old landmarks, here are the best things to do in Taipei.
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Home to hundreds of statues of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian deities, the Lungshan Temple mixes traditional Chinese and palace architecture to create an enchanting atmosphere. Marvel at the vivid creatures that grace the temple walls and admire the stone statues that dot the temple grounds. Built in 1738 by settlers from Fujian, it was a gathering place for Chinese settlers and has stood the test of time, lasting through anything from natural disasters to wars.
Sample some of the most popular Taiwanese snacks at the Shilin Night Market, where you can meander down alleyways to discover an array of new cuisines. Widely regarded as the largest market in the city, it has been in operation for over 100 years and comes alive at night when hundreds of stalls sell souvenirs, wares and food. Indulge in tempura, bubble tea and stinky tofu, while oyster omelet is a must try street food with its mix of egg, chives and oysters.
A world-class museum that houses an eclectic collection of treasures kept by Emperors ruling from the Forbidden City, the National Palace Museum is a must for any history enthusiast. It’s one the world’s most important collectors of Chinese imperial art and artifacts, boasting more than 700,000 pieces that highlight the history of Chinese dynasties. After browsing historical relics, step outside to wander the gardens on the peaceful pathways that are dotted with ponds, bridges and a pavilion.
The tallest green building in the world, Taipei 101 is one of the most notable skyscrapers in the city. Spanning 101 stories above the ground at almost 1,700 feet, it is home to a popular outdoor open-air observation deck where you can soak up mesmerizing views of the capital. After you’re done being captivated by the glittering nightscape, visit the base of the building to explore a multi-level shopping mall, food court and various restaurants and stores.
A historical factory warehouse, Huashan 1914 Creative Park was originally home to one of the largest producers of wine in Taiwan. It now serves as an important events venue where you can see a variety of large-scale exhibitions, installations, theater productions and performances. Considered a hub of creative arts, visit here to get a dose of culture as it celebrates music, art, theater and literature in a range of events.
The perfect place to pick up the latest fashions or to simply stroll and people watch, Ximending is a collection of alleys and streets that make up a trendy outdoor market. Walk down one of the many pedestrian-friendly shopping streets, such as Emei Street, to find boutiques selling all kinds of wares and clothing. It’s one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods, full of clothing shops, eclectic restaurants and bars, while you’ll also see street performances and exhibitions.
Located in the heart of the city, Xingtian Temple is a popular religious landmark in the city, dedicated to Guan Yu, a famous general in the Three Kingdoms Period. Admire its flying dragons details as you enter the temple and watch as devotees kneel in prayer, while the main alter sees offerings of fresh flowers and tea. Watch one of the traditional ceremonies are performed by temple officials in royal-blue robes, then walk down the Fortune Telling Street nearby.
Get your cameras ready for this natural wonder, as Yehliu Geopark is a sight to see with its unique geological formations. Sculpted by nature, these seemingly pieces of art were created over centuries of wind and waves that formed the current stones. Wander around the park to see mushroom-shaped rocks, honeycomb-like pockets and tall columns and rocks that have been dubbed “Sea Candles”, “Fairy Shoe and “Elephant Rock”.
If you want to learn more about the region’s history, visit the National Taiwan Museum. Admire its Grecian facade with towering columns and stained-glass skylights before stepping inside to browsing its exhibits that trace the country’s history. Here you can see rare dinosaur fossil and special animal specimens, in addition to golden and silver ingots in treasure chests. You can learn about Taiwanese culture, wildlife and geology, while there’s a special focus on subjects like anthropology, zoology and botany.
A natural wonder that is 65 feet high and 131 feet wide, Shifen Waterfall is the widest waterfall in Taiwan. Nature enthusiasts flock to this unique horseshoe-shaped waterfall, as its easy to enjoy the natural beauty of the area nestled against the Keelung River. Lace up your hiking boots for a day of exploring its scenic trails, or simply sit back and admire the powerful surge of water cascading into the pool below.
Dubbed the “Santorini of Taiwan,” Jiufen is worthy of a day trip. This small mountain town sits in the northeastern region of Taiwan, east of Taipei, and is known for its small, cobbled alleyways of its picturesque old town. The streets are packed with historic teahouses, street food stalls and souvenir shops, while those wanting to learn about its history as a mining hub in the Japanese-era gold rush can visit the Gold Mine Museum.
You’ll find a diverse array of scenic landscapes and native wildlife at Yangmingshan National Park, with a chance to soak in nearby hot springs afterwards. Admire the beautiful collection of plum, cherry, peach and pear trees, while those who visit in spring will be delighted with the cherry blossoms in full bloom. Visit Bamboo Lake to see its landscape of calla lilies, then stop to photograph the famous Flower Clock composed of a colorful display of seasonal flowers.