May 23, 2013
Top 10 things to do in Taipei - part 2
Top 10 things to do in Taipei - part 2
Completing the top 10 list of the last post, again in no particular order:
CKS Memorial The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park consists of three buildings, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (also known as the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall but we won't get into why here) which is flanked by the National Concert Hall and National Theater. All of these buildings are worth a look, but unless you are actually going to a performance, the Memorial Hall will be of most interest. There are often exhibitions being held in the Memorial Hall ranging from dinosaurs to artists. The paved Memorial Square between these buildings is often occupied by groups practicing dance routines, families taking a stroll, photographers taking snaps, and this is one of the attractions I think. It's a great place to people watch where people aren't rushing.
Museums There are a surprising number of museums in Taipei on all sorts of interesting topics including art, history, fashion, miniatures, paper, and even water. A must see for any visitor is the world famous National Palace Museum which contains the largest collection of Chinese historical artifacts on the planet. Great fun and very interesting if you have the time to wonder through the vast hallways of the museums. Another great place to visit is the Museum of Contemporary Art with exhibits on cutting edge contemporary art from both overseas and Taiwan. Personally I like the diversity of Taipei's strange and unique museums. If you are in the mood for something different, check out the Taiwan Postal Museum, Miniatures Museum of Taiwan, and the Su Ho Memorial Paper Museum.
Hot springs An intrinsic part of the local culture, hot springs can be found in nearly every corner of Taiwan. Around Taipei, areas such as Beitou on the slopes of Yamingshan and Wulai in the hills above Hsin Tien are famed for their springs and hot spring resorts. Many spas and resorts have a large communal pool of some sort, and many are co-ed thereby requiring that bathers wear bathing suits and caps. However, many also feature gender segregated areas where bathers are usually nude. If you prefer privacy then most spas and resorts have private rooms with hot and cold pools. A hot spring experience is a healthy and relaxing opportunity to unwind, and a truly Taiwanese cultural experience. It's a healthy and relaxing way to get in touch with the leisurely side Taiwanese life, and worthwhile even in the heat of a Taiwan summer.
Night markets Taipei is a wonderful place to explore on foot. It seems that every alley has something unique and worthwhile to explore. Whether it be a teahouse, vegetable market, temple or night market, Taipei has something of interest for the Indiana Jones within all of us. Perhaps the best place to start this exploration is with the smells and delights of a Taipei night market. One of the best aspects of a night market is that they are not set up for tourists (unless the name involves a serpentine reference), and they are very popular with the local Taiwanese. Hence you get to see a real slice of life and sample some real Taiwanese food. If biggest is best, then head to Shi Lin Night Market. Other popular night markets include Yong Kang (not so crowded, a bit more upscale) and Tong Hua (favourite of many Taipei residents).
Taipei 101 No longer the tallest building in the world, and to be honest it doesn't really look that tall, but it is an essential place to visit for most people coming to Taiwan. If it's clear then the views from the top are excellent, and if it's raining it's a good place to keep cool and relax. There's a good bookshop and small cafe type places on the fourth floor, and a bustling food court and top supermarket in B1, including Din Tai Fung (see number 10 on this list). If you would like to try Din Tai Fung, I recommend putting your name down first as you will probably have to wait for 30 minutes or more. Alternatively there are more expensive sit down restaurants higher up. There are a plethora of stores, and in fact the area where 101 is located is a bit of a shopping zone. Actually this is another reason to visit 101, as walking round the many malls provides for some good people watching. And hey, it is still the most famous building in Taiwan.
*All images used by permission of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau.
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