Lively Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, is a popular weekend break for holidaymakers in Asia. Known for its busy markets, historic roads and thermal valleys, the city is an amalgamation of history, culture and nature. While there is an abundance of activities to explore, we help you make the most of a short weekend adventure with five must-dos in Taipei.
1. Hike the Elephant Mountain
A great way to see the magnificent Taipei skyline is to embark on the Elephant Mountain trail. The climb to the top is rather steep and at times, gruelling, but can be scaled in around twenty minutes or so, and the views are oh-so-worth-it. We recommend setting out before sunset for views of the famous Taipei 101 skyscraper and beyond. Bring a snack as there are no stores or vending machines at the top.
Lane 150, Songren Rd, Xinyi District
2. Explore the famous night markets
Shilin Night Market is the most popular night market in Taipei. Nestled within the Shilin District, close to Jiantan Station, it comprises a labyrinth of food, food and more food. Local treats include fried buns, stinky tofu, Taiwanese sausages and of course, bubble tea. As well as cuisine, there are plenty of stores to satisfy your shopping needs, from cosmetics to souvenirs and sunglasses to jewellery. The best time to visit the night market is in the early evening from 5pm when the atmosphere is colourful and buzzing.
Lane 101, Wenlin Rd, Shilin District
3. Roam the halls of the National Palace Museum
Taipei’s National Palace Museum contains hundreds of thousands of Chinese artefacts and art; almost 700,000, making it one of the largest collections in the world. Pieces date back to over 10,000 years and many were accumulated by renowned Chinese emperors. This museum was originally founded in Beijing’s Forbidden City, but moved to its Taipei location in 1949 to preserve the treasures during and after the Chinese Civil War. With four floors and two exhibition halls, clear a few hours in your itinerary to marvel at some precious assets of Asia.
No.221, Sec. 2, Zhishan Rd, Shilin District
4. Experience nightlife under the red bricks
Ximending is the place to experience trendy youth culture; jam-packed with shops, restaurants and bars, it is one of the most happening districts in the city and not one to stumble across half asleep. Lying within is the iconic and beautiful octagonal Ximen building, also known as the Red House Theatre.
It was built in 1908 and houses a number of public events, as well as quirky shops, market stalls and cafes during the day. However, at dusk, it’s one of the go-to places for nightlife. The Taiwanese certainly know how to party, and here you can start with happy hours at the many outdoor bars and toast till the early hours of the morning under gorgeous architecture.
No. 10, Chengdu Rd, Wanhua District
5. Soak up the Beitou hot springs
After all that hiking, shopping and partying, a great option at the end of your weekend is a visit to the famous Beitou hot springs district – an area devoted to public and private resorts and hot springs. The area, in the north of Taipei, tucked among mountainous rocky formations and mineral rich waters, is a relaxing getaway from the madness of the city.
For those who have never been to a hot spring spa, it’s an assortment of bubbling sulphurous waters, hot and cold, where visitors dip in and revitalize. Often there are also relaxation areas such rooms with TVs and magazines and reclining sofas upon which to enjoy the day away. The hot springs in Beitou are vast and simply divine, and a great way to recharge the way locals do.
Wenquan St, Beitou District
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.