In this Destination Guide you will find information for : Taipei
♦Currency: Taiwan Dollar (NT$) (TWD)
♦Zone: +8 GMT
♦Phone Code: +886
♦Best time to visit: Nov-March
♦Must eat: Stinky Tofu, if you can...
♦Must drink: "Bubble Tea"
♦Don't miss: "Elephant Mountain view"
Number of times visited: 2
Getting there and transportation: As Taiwan is an island, arriving is only possible by air. From Europe and America it can only be done direct by the local airlines, Eva Air and China Airlines. From Taipei Eva Air flies to a few destinations only in Europe and you will also have a transit stop in Bangkok on most flights. China Airlines only flies direct to Amsterdam, Rome, London and Frankfurt in Europe and also reaches direct from Australia and New Zealand. Other Asian airlines also offer flights to Taipei with a connection flight, sometimes this being cheaper. Also in recent years many Gulf carriers have started flying there including Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar and Turkish Airlines.
Within the country the transportation is very advanced and modern. There are plenty of busses and high speed trains and local trains reaching every town across the island. Even from the airport it's possible to reach other districts by fast speed rail and bus. Busses are well organised, by numbers for identification, and many of them now offer WiFi on board.
Attention!: In Taiwan it's not allowed to drink, eat and chew gum in the Mass Rapid Transit system (MRT) within trains and stations. It's actually considered disrespectful if you drink on-board, even if it's just water! You might get people looking at you strange if you dare to! Try to refrain from it as well on trains around the country and public transportation overall.
Weather and temperature: Taiwan has a moderate climate, and not so tropical as other Asian cities. However summer's can very hot and humid during April to June. Winter's are mild, (December to March) with an average temperature of 22C. Nights however will be fresher so take adequate clothing. Taiwan is also sensitive to tropical storms and typhoons, this happening during the rainy season (July to September) so expect strong winds, heavy rain and often a cloudy but humid sky).
Food and drink: Much of Taiwan’s culinary heritage comes from China. Culinary styles come from all over China including Canton, Hunan, Mongolia, Peking, Shanghai and Szechuan, with Taiwan itself contributing a considerable amount of signature dishes in its own right.The island’s cuisine has also been subject to Japanese influence, while seafood is unsurprisingly a speciality across the nation. It's popular to find street markets and stalls selling all kinds of food to go or to eat in, being a true local experience, dinning with the locals in these markets. Taiwanese eating traditions comes in the form of xiaochi (little eats), which in effect are a Taiwanese version of tapas. Buying various xiaochi dishes to make up a larger meal is a particularly common way of eating at night markets. For visitors, it’s also a great way of sampling a wide range of what’s on offer. They include spring rolls with peanut satay, sweet-and-sour spare ribs, bean curd in red sauce, oyster omelette, steamed pork dumplings and numerous excellent seafood's.Specialities in Taiwan include:• Cantonese food: Fried shrimp with cashews and deep-fried spring rolls and tarts.
• Pekinese food: Peking duck, steamed prawns, eels with pepper sauce and ham marrow sauce.
• Szechuan food: Mother Ma's bean curd, aubergine with garlic sauce, fried prawns with pepper sauce, minced chicken with gingko nuts and fried breads.
• Shanghai food: Shark's fin in chicken, mushroom with crab meat, ningpo (fried eel), shark's fin soup and West Lake fish.Suggestion: Try this modern favourite, the Hot Star, large Fried Chicken. The first Hot-Star location opened at Shilin Night Market. Today, the restaurant has chains across Taiwan and across the globe. It's famous for the slabs of the juicy fried chicken breast, which comes spicy or normal. It can be eaten anytime of the day and its a popular option for takeaway by locals and visitors!
"Stinky Tofu": there is one smell that comes up immediately as intriguing when walking around Taiwan, it is the stinky tofu smell (chou doufu in chinese). Taiwanese people love it whereas most visitors find it horrible. The first time you smell stinky tofu, it doesn’t really makes you hungry. Surprisingly, it doesn’t taste as terrible as it smells. Wouldn’t say that it tastes good either, but most visitors can at least find it , "eatable" or better say "swallow-able".
Stinky tofu is usually fried, boiled or served in a soup. It often comes with cabbages and sweet chilli sauce on the side. You will find it on most street markets and stalls.
As for drinks: Tea is a major component of Taiwanese culture, with the island producing many acclaimed varieties "oolong" being the most famous. Teahouses are found in great numbers, ranging from the traditional to the contemporary. Many teashops embrace modern innovation, as a result is the global popularity of bubble tea (a cooled tea-based drink containing small tapioca balls and drunk through a straw), which originated here.
Alcohol is easy to come by, although there’s not always a huge variety on offer. The most popular drink is Taiwan Beer, while something stronger is the local firewater, gaoliang jiu, which is made from sorghum.Suggestion: Try the best cold drink in Taiwan, "Bubble Tea"! This is the most typical and renowned drink in Taiwan, and now is available to buy worldwide as it has become so famous. The tapioca pearls at the bottom of the drink are often mistakenly referred to as the "bubbles." However, bubble tea is another term for milk tea. Bubble tea (also known as pearl milk tea, bubble milk tea). It was invented in Tainan and Taichung in the 1980s. It contains many different flavours of tea which you can choose, milk, as well as sugar and ice (optional). The toppings are also many, such as chewy tapioca balls (the most typical to have in Bubble tea), also known as pearls, fruit jelly, grass jelly or agar jelly. The two most popular varieties are black pearl milk tea and green pearl milk tea. Best drank cold, with some ice during the hot months (May to September).
Introduction: The capital of Taiwan has a lot to offer to the traveller, in recent years the city has modernised tremendously making it more accesible for tourists, easier to navigate around the streets, more international and the creation of many new attractions and points of interest for the visitor. The capital offers great sights, both from natural mountains and hills sorrounding the city to impressive skyscrapers!
It's also a mecca for food lover's, where to find every kind of asian dish and cuisine. Nightlife is also popular in Taipei, every scene is represented, bars, clubs and relaxation hot-spring saunas are also popular! Definitely a city where you can't get bored!
Transportation: Taipei is a very advanced and modern metropolis where public transportation is well developed, everywhere you go, is easy to reach by public transport.First, arriving to Taipei's main international airport, you can connect into the city centre by bus or high speed rail. The cheapest option is to take the direct bus link into the city centre. Bus 1819 goes to Taipei Main Station, with a frequency of 15min in either direction and the trip takes just under one hour.(Price is 135 TWD). The busses are big enough for luggage and provide free WiFI.If you are travelling in hurry, there is also the MRT Airport line, (Purple Line) part of the Taoyuan Metro system, which can take you directly to Taipei Main station and then you can interchange with the Taipei Metro. Tickets cost 160 TWD one way and there is a stop at Terminals 1 and 2. There is also high speed rail, if you are connecting to other cities in Taiwan. But you need to take the MRT first from the airport to Taoyuan HSR Station, and transfer to the High Speed rail.
Within the city, the metro is the most popular transport system and is very easy to read and understand with English translation numbers and electronic panels which give you live information on the go. Below you will find the metro map for Taipei available to download.
You can buy single tickets, day tickets for 150NT or 24/48/72 hours tickets (180/280/380 NT respectively). As well as the Easycard if you stay longer in Taipei. (see below). There is also a good network of local busses around the city, organised by numbers and with sings in English.
Tip, buy the "easycard": It's the Taipei multi-use card. You can use it on the metro, busses and the Gondola to the Maokong Gondola (next to Taipei Zoo). As well you can pay with the card on convenience stores and other shops. It costs 100NT plus the balance you want to load it with. It will save you a 20% versus single tickets (tokens) on the metro.
What to see and do? There is a lot that the city offers for the travellers, and every year you can find new attractions or shopping malls opening. It's a modern city which is constantly developing and growing. But also there is a lot of history and tradition in Taipei, if you investigate deeper into the city. The main highlights to visit and see are:
Nightlife: Taipei is great place to go out at night. There are plenty of venues for all tastes. From sport style bars, alternative pubs and a gay scene in a setting of neon lights, outdoor terraces and good music, open to everyone. You will find this area next to Ximen Station. As well there are plenty of restaurants, cinemas and bars along the area close to the station. It's worth to visit specially in the evening.
Suggestion, visit the Hot Springs: Taipei is not only about partying, you can also relax and unwind in one of the city's top attractions, the volcanic hot-springs. Located out of the city centre, (closest metro station Shipai, on the red line). Walking there is all up hill so would be a good idea to get a bus or a taxi from the metro station. Taking the bus opposite the MRT station of Shipai, number 508, 8 or 536 all take you to Xing Yi Lu Si ( stop name 行義路三) where the hot springs are located. Note that busses finish around 22h. It's a recommended visit and a truly relaxing experience where both locals and visitors come to enjoy.
Accommodation: Taipei is more expensive to stay at than mainland China. The quality of the establishments are better and staff are able to speak better English. Hotels can cost around €30 per night whilst hostels are cheaper if you don't mind sharing (€12 per night). Safety is very good in Taipei,and there is hardly any crime. However if you find very cheap Hotels, most often they will be locally run Hotels with poor front desk service and the conditions could be worse than on the pictures. Look up reviews before booking! Also it's possible to book private accommodation, with Airbnb as it becomes more popular in Asia.
Recommended duration: Taipei is bigger than it might seem at a first glance, therefore there is always something new to see or do. To see the city comfortably and in a relaxed mode 4 nights would be enough, with a weekend included, to enjoy the city's nightlife.