Desire to discover an inspiring city, convene with nature, tantalize your taste buds, and travel with ease? Then go to Taipei, Taiwan!
Taiwan versus mainland China, the comparison is stark and inviting.
The sharp contrast is in the orderliness, quiet ease, patience and kindness of the Taiwanese. Chinese are open and greeting you with smiles, though are always in a rush with a huge ME mentality. The pace is so fast in mainland where in Taiwan people are definitely on the move, though with an ease and level of respect that feels so comfortable.
50 years of Japanese occupation, a democratic government, and an entrepreneurial creative youth culture make Taiwan an extremely comfortable and inspiring place.
An hour and 20 minute flight direct from Ningbo to Taipei cost us $350 round trip. Flying in Asia you receive a hot meal and great service on even the shortest of flights. Upon arrival to Taipei, you are immersed in a squeaky clean airport surrounded by green vegetation.
The airport is west of Taipei in Taoyuan. The best way to get to downtown Taipei is take a bus from the airport to the HSR, High Speed Rail station. Then take the HSR to Taipei Main Station. English is widely available through the ticketing counter or automated machines.
We stayed in Ximending, the youth art cultural center of Taipei. The area is filled with eateries, bars, 24 hour fruit stands, shopping, and interesting alleyways. It makes for a great day of strolling and snacking.
One of my loves, fresh fruit smoothies!! So when I can get a smoothie for US$2 or 12rmb, makes me soooo happy!!
After the smoothie discovery, we had some great beef noodles down a side alley, always a good bet, then onto The Modern Toilet. Toilet you say? Yes, that’s the name of the restaurant! It’s quite entertaining…
Yes, your food is served in a toilet bowl, your seats are toilets, and the table is a glass covered sink.
The food is not highly recommended, but the ice and ice cream sundae is refreshing and hilarious! What else is it served in but a bed pan, oh yeah!
After checking into our nondescript hotel, we wandered a little more before meeting friends for dinner. In Ximending there is an outdoor restaurant and bar area with a tasty Thai restaurant and a wide variety of cocktails. A shout out to Reach To Teach Carrie and John for dinner, 谢谢！
If you prefer more high end dining options, they are definitely available. I’ve heard Din Tai Fung, a Michellen star is highly regarded and affordable.
When in Taiwan, the night scene is all about the night markets. There are three: 1) The biggest, Shilin, 2) Snake Alley, Huaxi, 3) Handicrafts and fruit ices, Raohe. We hit up the Shilin market. When we left at 11:30pm on a Saturday night it was still packed! They go on until about 2am!
The next morning I rose early to soak in the public hot springs north of the center in Xin (new) Beitou. The new, convenient subway takes you about 20 minutes from Taipei Main. Check out how cool the subway is decorated…inspired by local art.
From the Xin Beitou station, the hot springs are a 10 minute walk up the hill, just follow the ‘thermal valley’ signage up the street following the park. Entrance fee is NT(new Taiwan)40 dollars = US$1.25, if you don’t have a bathing suit, you can purchase one there. This is the easiest hot spring to get to in the neighborhood of the city, though you can also book a hotel nearby with your own private hot springs.
Another travel option farther on is the Lihuangku geothermal scenic area in Yangminshan park surrounded by hiking trails and more private hotels. Next trip, I am definitely booking a couple nights there!
Maokong gondola and hiking is another day trip I hope to do.
There are many more mountainous and hiking areas just within or outside the city limits.
In the spring you can pick call lilies in a sea of white and green.
I love this place!!
What’s great about Taipei is you don’t have to travel far for great eats and gorgeous parks. Best of all it’s not crowded and you can find a great latte for about US$2, or a milk vending machine.
Along with the cool art scene is graffiti art and dog love.
As we were waiting for the train that evening to our next destination, we wandered around the high end shopping and eatery area that is Taipei Main. Who new you would find a Kiehl’s in a transportation hub in Asia, awesome!!