Long weekend at Taipei
In one word – Yes!
Very recommended, a very cool place!
I have landed in Taipei on Friday noon, and pondered if to take a taxi or a bus downtown.
Eventually I took the bus – and it was the right call indeed! Around 10% of the taxi fee and it’s the same drive time – around 40 min to “The grand Hyatt hotel” (close by to the famous 101 building).
I got off the bus and started walking a bit – and loved it already! It’s very clean and welcoming and luckily for me the weather was excellent as well.
After a while I got to the guest house which turned out to be just ok, not much more (nor less).
After dropping the bags, I’ve headed to the city with a friend (that kindly waited for me at the guest house).
We walked throughout the city, to the famous 101 trade centre building – which was the tallest in the world up until 2010, and then we headed to the very nice “Shilin” night market.
Shilin night market has got 2 parts, one is the built up part and the other is open.
In both of them you will find a lot of food stands – worth a try! And a lot of small souvenir stores.
The prices are fair in most places, and the variety of things available is pretty big.
In the built part, on the basement floor there is a food court – in which there is a very good “schnitzel” – highly recommended – and in general there is a variety of cool food to try out.
An important tip for the market and in general for Taipei – the prices are set, there is no bargaining – and believe me – after living in Beijing and exploring the markets here – the prices are really fair! And in general, it seems like the Taiwanese are fair people.
That evening we went to KTV (karaoke) to celebrate a Jewish holiday which is called Purim – it was a very long and funny night.
If you are going with friends / meeting friends in Taipei – go try it out, buy some alcohol and go sing, a fun and funny night is guaranteed! (Take some videos).
That morning I woke up to a great weather, it was sunny with perfect temperatures.
Went outside and walked around the 101 area taking some pictures and having an easy going morning.
While walking I’ve heard music so I went to check it out and came across a band contest audition – so I stayed a while and listened – was pretty cool to watch Asian rock bands.
That’s one of my favorite things about travelling and “getting lost” somewhere – when you wonder around without plan you are likely to come across cool stuff that you wouldn’t have heard about otherwise, even if you are in a place you “know” you can get lost.
Later on that day we went to Maokong (貓空) mountain – which is very beautiful and very recommended, but as experience taught me, it’s better to go early – at around morning time.
There are 2 ways going up, a bus and a cable – since the cable had a very long line, we took the bus, and the road was just beautiful.
The road was winding up the mountain and it looked like a painting – with every curve of the road another beautiful sight was revealed to us (a good day for my camera!).
On the mountain we ate some food (which was a little too oily) and we had a nice stop at a tea house which had a great view.
Then we just walked on the mountain road for a while until it got dark and then we took the cable down – a very good view of Taipei at night.
Later on we went and had dinner and continued to a local pub to have a beer.
At the end of this day happened something that proved to me the integrity of the Taiwanese people.
I took a taxi from the pub to my guest house and the driver took the wrong lane at some point and went into an underground parking lot – which caused us a detour (not too short).
After the driver realized his mistake – while getting back to the right way towards the guest house, he told me that he will charge me 40$ less because of the detour.
I can tell you that this was much unexpected and caught me off guard – I was very surprised.
When I got to the guest house there was another surprising event – on my door I saw a post it not that said: “dear guest – please leave the fee on the table before you leave and then put the key in the marked placed at the reception” – it was amazing that they are so trusting that they didn’t even want to see the money, they just have basic trust of people.
At the exit of the guest house they have a cabinet with a hole especially for the key – so I guess that’s the custom.
I woke up and arranged my bag which was overflowing as I bought 2 pairs of shoes and a bunch of Taiwanese traditional sweets for friends.
After all was packed I left the guest house and took the subway to meet my friend.
We went to “the citizens square” where there was an exhibition of 1600 paper panda bears.
The exhibition was to promote environmental protection and to raise awareness of the endangered wildlife as well as their conservation – for more details about the exhibition click here (although it’s written in traditional Chinese).
From the citizens square we continued to the Tamsui River which is just outside of Taipei – in new Taipei (just a few subway stops).
A beautiful area with cool small markets (mostly fish and vegetables), and its got nice small restaurants to grab something to eat at.
If you do go there – plan something extra to do with the day as this is not a full day activity.
After we travelled around and were quite tired I got back to the guest house, finished arranging everything and took off to the bus station, luckily for me I went to buy the ticket and the bus left 5 min after I arrived.
Some tips and facts about Taipei:
– There are no trashcans! When you walk throughout the city you will hardly run into trashcans, yet the city is very clean! Maybe this is the reason?
– Even though I’m not a subway kind of guy (too crowded for me usually) the subway in Taipei is very nice and usually you’ll find a place to sit.
There are seats especially for elderly and for pregnant women / women with children – and those seats are marked, make sure you don’t sit on one.
– Eat street food! If you read my blog, you know that I like street food – and in general the street food in Taiwan was better than restaurants in my opinion (and it’s much more available and straightforward).
That is about it – Taipei was very nice, clean, and is an excellent choice for a long weekend vacation – but not less than 3 days (I would recommend 5).
Explore, have fun and keep it simple:)