48 Hours in Taipei
Taste.Company’s travel writer Marky Ramone Go counts the interesting sights to see in Taipei in forty-eight hours.
As a tiny nation, Taiwan most definitely packs a huge bag of goodies for travelers. It is surprising to discover that Taiwan possesses an abundance of destinations for explorers of all sorts; foodies, outdoor enthusiasts, shoppers and even arts and architecture junkies alike. Spending a week might become too short to cover the whole of Taiwan, but good news for time-pressed wanderers, the capital city of Taipei can be fully explored in 2 whole days – thereby giving you an ample glimpse of this country bursting with savory cuisine and colorful history and culture.
To help you plan your Taipei trip, here is a sample two-day itinerary:
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Start your day by paying a visit to the memorial hall dedicated to Taiwan’s founding President; the late Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek. Take a photograph at one of Taipei’s popular postcard images which includes the iconic Liberty Square Main Gate, the National Concert Hall and Theater and of course, the Memorial Hall Square. Don’t miss witnessing the hourly changing of the honor guards. The synchronized marching movements of the guards is something to watch out for. Walking out of Exit 6 of Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Taipei Metro station will lead you right here.
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. Photo Courtesy of Nomadic Experiences
National Museum of History
The first ever museum established in Taiwan, this is the perfect place to familiarize yourself with the country. Housed inside a Japanese architecture inspired building, are a vast collection of historical items and a rapidly growing art collection. This museum is walking distance from the Xiaonanmen Station of the Taipei Metro.
No city tour is complete without dropping by a National Museum. Photo courtesy of Travel Taiwan
National Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall
This memorial dedicated to the founding father of Taiwan; Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, covers more than 28 acres of open city space which includes a small pond, surrounding gardens and the main building housing an exhibition center, performance hall, museum and a library with a collection of more than 30,000 books. A certified must for history junkies and travelers who mix learning and wanderings. This is easily reachable by taking the Metro (Blue) line and getting off at the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Station.
Getting to know Taiwan’s National Father; Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. Photo Courtesy of Nomadic Experiences
Taipei 101 View Deck and Lunch at Din Tai Fung
Check out the cityscape of Taipei from the former tallest building in the world. The 1,671 foot high tower has an observation deck located at the 88th and 89th floor with an outdoor deck – which is the second highest skyscraper observation deck, at the 91st floor (1,285 feet).
The view from the 91st floor of Taipei 101. Photo Courtesy of Nomadic Experiences
After that, cap off your Taipei 101 experience with a sumptuous lunch at the Michelin starred dimsum restaurant Din Tai Fung located inside Taipei 101 mall. Specializing in steamed dumplings (xiao long bao), it easily charms diners into feasting on their variety of dumpling fillings, which include this author’s favorite: the Chocolate Xiao Long Bao.
You said ‘Yummy’? I concur. Photo Courtesy of Nomadic Experiences
Built in 1738 by Fujian settlers and dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy; GuanYin, it remains as one of the busiest temples in Taiwan where worshippers of the Buddhist religion and even believers of many deities of Taoism come to pray. Soak up at the solemn atmosphere here especially during the afternoon where the devotees start to chant in unison while offering their prayers. This temple is situated a little more than 200 meters from the Longshan Temple Station of the Metro’s Bannan Line.
Witness Buddhist devotion while offering a prayer of your own at Longshan Temple. Photo courtesy of Nomadic Experiences
Lin Family Mansion and Garden
Almost every corner of this lavish old mansion screams of Instagram-material. This old residence of the Lin Ben Yuan Family was first built in 1847. Today, the whole property is hailed as an embodiment of a “traditional Chinese garden architecture”. Aside from the stunning antiquated design of the mansion, fixate your sights on the revolving colors and vibes, as you walk from one area of the mansion to another charming corner. Lin Mansion is walking distance away from the Metro’s Fuzhong station.
The architectural taste of the Lin Family of the 1840’s are lit AF. Photo courtesy of Nomadic Experiences
Dubbed by many as the Shibuya crossing of Taipei, this area made exclusively for pedestrians only encompassing a few streets filled with colorful and trendy shops, is an ideal destination for medium to upscale shopping and food destination. It is located just outside of Ximen Metro station.
If you want to know about what tomorrow may bring? Go down the underpass located beside the temple and you will see the “Fortune Teller’s Street”. You can choose from a dozen fortune tellers here to get a peek at your future.
Food and shopping abounds in Ximending. Photo Courtesy of Nomadic Experiences
Elephant Hiking Trail
Of course by this time you still have heaps of energy, right? This is what makes traveling so addicting. Satisfying a never-ending curiosity. Now, ever wonder how the city of Taipei looks like from another perspective other than being on top of Taipei 101? Standing atop a view deck at Elephant Mountain will provide you the answer. A brisk 20-minute hike will reward you with a spectacular sunset view of the city while the towering Taipei 101 building elevates the scene to a postcard-like setting.
Cameras on stand-by ready to capture the glorious sunset. Photo Courtesy of Nomadic Experiences
Shilin Night Market
On your first night, experience what everybody’s been raving about Taipei; the street food culture. Circle your way through rows of streets filled with food stalls selling some of the most interesting and sumptuous road side gastronomies ever. About 300 meters away from Shilin Metro station, Shilin Night Market is easily reachable wherever your hotel in Taipei is located.
Otherworldly is the first word that comes to mind when you see the vast expanse of Yehliu Geopark. Exceptional and spectacular rock formations awaits visitors at Yehliu Geopark. Stretching over 1,700 meters – this wonder of nature carved by thousands of years of geological movement, now showcases a stunning list of remarkable stone formations such as; Queen’s Head, Ginger Rocks, Princess Head and Kissing, Elephant, Ice cream rock just to name a few.
Are we in Mars yet? That’s the kind of vibe Yehliu summons to mind. Photo Courtesy of Cubebreaker
Jiufen Old Street
Despite director Hayao Miyazaki’s denial that the old mining town of Jiufen served as an inspiration for the depicted anime town in Spirited Away, hordes of travelers visit this place for this reason alone. With or without the hit anime’s association with Jiufen, navigating the winding alleyways and stairways filled with quaint shops, is enough reason to enjoy the vibe of this revitalized olden town.
Exquisite architecture and oriental fixtures abounds at Jiufen. Photo Courtesy of Nomadic Experiences
Shifen Old Street and Waterfall
Cure your fix for nostalgia and satisfy a childhood’s fantasy of letting a lantern fly up in the sky when you visit the old street of Shifen. The town’s marketplace sits adjacent to an old but still operational railway track where tourists writes down their respective wishes on their sky lanterns before releasing them in the sky. Just make sure to step out of the track when you see everybody doing so and you start hearing the incoming train’s horn.
Peace, stable career and a new lovelife reads the wishes of the lady. Photo Courtesy of Nomadic Experiences
A couple of kilometers away from Shifen Old Street, on the upper tier of Keelung River, travelers can make a side trip to view the 66-foot Shifen Waterfalls.
Don’t go chasing waterfalls… Photo Courtesy of Nomadic Experiences
Since all three; Yehliu, Jiufen and Shifen are all located just outside Taipei, it is recommended to take one of the many tours offered in Taipei for a day trip covering these three destinations. Departing at 8:00 am will have you back at your hotel before 6:00 pm – just in time to prepare for a food tripping at another night market.
Raohe Night Market
This night market may be smaller compared to Shilin but it’s easier to navigate on foot especially since most of the food stalls are located in one compact street. Still, Raohe brings a historical angle as it is the oldest night market in the city.
Be sure to come at Raohe Food Market with an empty stomach. Photo Courtesy of Nomadic Experiences
So, there you go, a primer on where to go and what to do in Taipei in 48 hours. Of course, this is just a handy guide and you are free to tinker with your itinerary depending on your own choosing. There are other kid-friendly museums, amusement parks, Taipei Zoo and more – if you are traveling with the whole family. The options are aplenty in Taipei but one thing’s for sure, you won’t be disappointed with the FOOD!