So we’re almost a little over two months into 2018…where has all this time passed by?
2018 for me began with a New Year trip to Taipei. This was my first time in Taiwan, a modern, metropolitan city, deeply culturally rooted – hmm sound’s to be like Tokyo, no?
Taipei is a little over 2000kms away from Tokyo – making it an extremely accessible and convenient place to visit, especially during a long weekend perhaps. Taipei is much smaller in size compared to Tokyo, however in many aspects both the cities resemble profoundly. This may be because Taiwan was once under the Japanese rule between 1895-1945. You’ll find some areas and architectures that are heavily Japanese influenced. Commuting within the city and even during the day trips outside Taipei was exceedingly easy and not to mention how helpful and sweet the locals are. In spite of the language barrier (most of the Taiwanese locals we met didn’t speak much English, so yes Google Translate was a liberator), there was never once where we felt lost or stumped.
So as I scrolled through my iPhone gallery, I realized how I have prolongated this travel blog post – so here’s a 101 guide to Taipei starting with places to see within Taipei city.
Prior to this trip, very little was researched and looked into, a few Google searches and a small collection of saves on Instagram here and there.
So, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, however the overall trip exceeded my expectations immensely!
Beyond the rave behind Taiwan’s shopping and food, here are some must visit places in the country known to be The Heart of Asia. Let the preceding visuals do the talking for you! Here’s part 1 out of this two part blog post on Taipei wonders!
The Longshan temple is known to be one of the oldest temples in Taipei City. It was built by the first Chinese settlers in 1738. It is located in Wanhua, the oldest district in Taipei, well known for the biggest markets in the city. The temple has stood the test of time as it has been through several natural disasters and wars. Declared as the Secondary National Heritage Site, the temple is decorated with dragons, phoenixes, and other auspicious creatures along with paintings of vivid creatures and stone statues that are deeply rooted with cultural significances. It’s amazing to see how this temple that was built during the Qing Dyansty remains a big part of the bustling 21st century even today.
BOPILIAO OLD STREET
Located near the Longshan temple is the Bopiliao Old Street. The buildings on this street represent a part of Taipei that has not been affected by the city’s rapid development. The architecture here dates all the way back to the Qing Dynasty to the Japanese colonial period and to World War II. It retains the looks from over two hundred years ago, making it a significant link to Taiwan’s cultural history.
Liberty Square is one of the most impressive places you can find in the capital. The square serves as an important place for public gatherings and events. The 240,000 square meters is home to four important national buildings; Gate of Great Centrality & Perfect Uprightness, National Theatre, National Concert Hall and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall: This grandiose monument was made in honor and memory of Taiwan’s former leader Generalissimo China Kai-shek, former President of R.O.C. Unfortunately, during the time I visited, the exterior was under renovation however, seeing this massive courtyard in person was amazing. A giant statue of Chiang Kai-shek sits atop 89 steps (one step for each year that he lived). The hourly change of the honor guard is a popular sight amongst visitors, so make sure to see this.
Taipei 101 is impossible to miss. Designed to resemble a gigantic bamboo stalk, Taipei 101 stands 449 meters tall and is one of the most prominent skyscrapers in Xinyi district. As we made it just in time for the big extravagant New Years countdown at Taipei 101, it was an absolutely spectacular sight to see the stunning and most popular fireworks show.
ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN HIKE
The Elephant Mountain hike offers the most spectacular views of the city both at day and night. We did this hike on January 1st and kickstarted the year with a gorgeous view of Taipei. The Elephant Mountain Taipei, officially known as the Xiangshan Hiking Trail isn’t a conventional hike. Meaning, it’s not as complex and takes around 30 minutes to reach the top, so it’s great for newbies like me! Enjoy the picturesque views of the city along with the iconic Taipei 101.
Sharing with you short and beautiful day trips taken outside Taipei city on part 2 of this 101 Guide to Taipei – stay tuned!