During my trip to South Korea, I decided to fly over to Taipei for a weekend. I wanted to visit the Taipei 101 skyscraper but apart from that I didn´t know much about the city. I was surprised what a super modern, clean and bustling place I discovered. Here are my Taipei highlights:
8 things to do in Taipei
1. Taipei 101 Skyscraper
The visit of the Taipei 101 tower is a must. With 508m height it is the #8 of the tallest buildings in the world (#5 in Asia). I have seen videos of the New Year´s Eve fireworks that are fired from the tower. An amazing spectacle! No surprise that Taipei 101 is one of the top 10 destinations in the world to celebrate New Year´s Eve.
It is recommended to buy the tickets in advance (Website). The entrance fee is ~ 18,5€.
The view from the observatory is a highlight for sure! I was lucky to catch a bright day with blue sky. It is very impressive to see the giant “ball” (steel pendulum) that has the function of a damper. If a typhoon or an earthquake hits Taipei, the “ball” will start swinging to balance the tower. In 2015, during typhoon “Soudelor”, the pendulum moved 100 centimeters! There are some videos on YouTube about it ;).
2. Pineapple Cake
Pineapple cake is a Taiwanese dessert. The cake contains butter, egg, sugar & pineapple jam and has a dry consistency. Typically served in small packaged pieces, it is a great gift to bring for your loved ones back home.
SunnyHills (Website) is a pineapple cake brand with shops around Asia. I visited the “SunnyHills on the Park” shop & cafe, where you get a tea plus a pineapple cake for free. How cool is that? I couldn´t believe it and asked 2 times where to pay, but no! The cafe is really stylish with minimalist design and an interesting architecture. There is another shop at the airport.
Chia Te Bakery
Chia Te Bakery (Website) is another popular place to buy pineapple cake and won many awards. I was surprised how busy the shop was. People were queuing! There are plenty of different variations of the pineapple cake, as well as other cookies & sweets. Good thing is you can select them piece by piece, so you can try many different ones :).
3. Polar Bear Latte & Cool Stores
Polar Cafe (Website) is a tiny cafe within the hip area of Zhongxiao Dunhua. The Polar Bear Latte is pricey (~6€) but worth the picture ;). You have to be quick, the bear is made of foam and will melt after a while (the “sinking” bear in the coffee was such a sad picture). There is a small terrace that is equipped with USB chargers (I love Asia!).
Have a walk around the area. There are plenty of cool stores, vintage shops & boutiques with independent brands. It´s fun to discover all the hidden places in the side streets as well. I found some nice jewelry shops and bought myself golden gingko earrings and a necklace that are one of my favourites now.
4. Eat in a local Taiwanese eatery (even if you don´t understand a word of the menu)
I was walking around without a real destination and accidentally came across this typical Taiwanese food place. There was a fantastic smell coming out of the door and I felt curious to see what kind of food they prepare. I stepped in and was looking around helpless. The menu on the wall was all in Taiwanese and the lady who was cooking also didn´t understand a word of English.
All of the sudden another guest, a Taiwanese lady, came and asked if I needed any help (in English!). We started talking and it turned out that she had lived many years in New York and is teaching English in Taipei now. She told me that this little eatery is her favourite place. She comes here already since when she was a kid, more than 50 years ago!
Now she wanted me to try all the typical Taiwanese dishes. It was funny because she also translated everything to the cooking lady and everyone wanted to see my reaction if I would like the dishes they chosed me to try. Everything was delicious! I was a little skeptical when I saw the brown egg. It is actually an egg that is cooked in meat sauce. But also very tasty! Sometimes it´s turns out good to take risks.
5. Have a Riverside Walk at Tamsui & enjoy Fried Octopus To Go
The kind Taiwanese lady from the eatery gave me a lot of instructions on which sights I should visit and that´s how I decided to visit the Tamsui area and afterwards to take the cable car to Maokong.
I took the red metro line until Tamsui station and just followed the crowd towards the Tamsui River. It was a sunny and warm day and I enjoyed to walk on the riverside and watch the fishermans trying their luck.
Opposite to the park there are plenty of shops and street food stalls. The speciality here is the fried octopus to go. The octopus is cutted in small pieces and served in cups or even in one piece on a stick. I love octopus so I was curious to try. Nomnomnom, it was so delicious. The meat super soft and the outside crunchy. Surprisingly one of the best octopus I had.
Afterwards I walked around to see the shops and was surprised to see 2 German bakeries that even sold Black Forrest Cake. So funny! The last thing I would expect to find in Taiwan ;).
6. Take the Cable Car to Maokong & try Green Tea Ice Cream
I started my cable car ride from Taipei Zoo Station (easily reachable by metro). There are 4 cable car stops in total and Maokong is the last one. The ride took about 20 min and is beautiful! You can see all Taipei and it feels like going from the city to the jungle since this part is really green.
Once I arrived to Maokong first thing I saw was huge advertisements for green tea ice cream. Of course I had to try :). It´s an interesting flavour.
There are many tea plantations in Maokong that invite to have a drink. Many of these places have terraces with city view (and some of them even Taipei 101 view). I guess it must be a popular place for dates :).
For going back I decided to take a bus and not do the cable car again. I had no idea where I am going, but somehow I arrived back to the Taipei Zoo Station ;). One old friendly lady took my hand to show me where to get off the bus. People in general are very friendly and trying to help if you get lost, no matter if they speak English or not.
7. Alice in Wonderland Cafe
As you already know, I love theme cafes. Alice in Wonderland is one of my favourite movies from my childhood. When I read that there is an Alice in Wonderland cafe in Taipei, I had to go! The Alice is coming cafe (Facebook) is located in the centre, close to Ximen Station.
Everything is decorated in Alice in Wonderland style. There is a giant blue tea cup that serves as a table, the floor has checkerboard pattern in black & white, you´ll find overdimensioned bunnys and “guards” made of playing cards. The staff is dressed up lovely with cute blue dresses and laces.
The menu is really creative and tasty. I ordered a rose coffee and a green tea cake that was adorned with a playing card. So sweet! For sure it´s a nice place to have a tea ceremony, just like in the movie :).
Prices are not cheap though. But hey, you can´t have coffe & cake in an Alice in Wonderland place everyday, right?
8. Discover the Night Markets & Temples
Taipei offers a huge variety of night markets for everyone`s taste. I visited the Dongmen Night Market and the Shilin Night Market. Both were really colorful with lots of interesting street food options. You don´t know where to look at first, there are so many choices!
It´s also nice to simply walk around the city in the evening. The temples are beautiful illuminated and you can take stunning pictures.
Are you looking for a nice hotel to stay?
See my article about: NiHao Cafe Hotel