The historic 300-year-old city of Taipei is something of a living museum, with Japanese-era wooden floored mansions and Taoist temples. Situated on the northern coast of beautiful Taiwan, Taipei is the country's historic and commercial centre, offering an eclectic mix of modernity and heritage in a captivatingly beautiful package. There's no shortage of things to do in Taipei, ranging from taking a gondola ride over a forest of Japanese hairy maple trees, browsing the quaint local markets for souvenirs or sampling the local delicacies. Thanks to the wide range of attractions and places of interest, there truly is something for everybody in Taipei. Starting at the Xinyi District, you can take a trip to the top of the Taipei 101, a huge skyscraper that stands at 509 metres above the bustling streets of the city. Active holidaymakers will enjoy a trek across Elephant Mountain -- great for those that like to put on their hiking boots and climb their way to stunning views.
If you'd love to take in the mountainous views but don't like to trek or have limited mobility, you can join the Maokong Gondola to take in captivating views of the mountainous landscape from the comfort of your seat. When it comes to man-made wonders, Taipei has more than its fair share here too. At the National Palace Museum you'll come face to face with centuries of Taiwan's royal lineage in the form of artefacts, giving you the chance to learn more about the country's long and rich heritage. As you'd expect from the capital of Taiwan, the city is well in-touch with its spirituality. If you're keen to immerse yourself in more spiritual pursuits, take a trip to the Hsing Tian Kong Temple for a spot of meditation or simply mindful thought.
Things to Do
Taipei has a gentle grace and welcoming atmosphere, as well as a cosmopolitan culture. Many of the best attractions here are based around the country's heritage and culture, as well as its natural beauty.
Explore Taiwan's history
The National Taiwan Museum is the prime location to explore and learn more about the culture, geography, zoology and heritage of the country. Here you'll go on a fascinating journey of discovery about Taiwan across four floors of exhibit displays and halls that teach you more about botany, zoology, earth sciences and anthropology. The museum was established back in 1908 and is the oldest in the country, while the current building was built in 1915 on the site of a former Matsu Temple. On the second floor, you'll find captivating exhibits on Taiwan's indigenous and prehistoric cultures.
Works of art
You can see some of the country's best contemporary works of art at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum as well as listen to live debates about art and learn more about what is influencing modern artists in Taiwan. The Taipei Fine Arts Museum has a carefully-curated collection of contemporary and modern Taiwanese works of art. Here you'll find pieces by Taiwanese artists like Ai Weiwei, as well as internationally-acclaimed artists like Andy Warhol. The museum is located in a cube-shaped structure made in glass, concrete and marble, with striking suspended corridors that are shaped like the Chinese symbol for fountain.
Reminders of the past
Nestled amidst the bustling city you'll find a traditional Japanese park which serves as a tribute and memorial to one of the most defining events in Taiwan's history: the repression and massacre of thousands of Taiwanese people toward the end of World War II. This sombre attraction is important in understanding the heritage of Taiwan and serves as a memorial to those that suffered and died during this dark period in the world's history. The park itself is one of the oldest parks in the capital and embodies the resilience and bravery of the Taiwanese people in the face of adversity, with the gently-winding pathways, neat trees and glimmering rock pools embodying the beautiful character of the country.
Top of the world
The Taipei 101 is one of the world's tallest skyscrapers and offers striking views across the capital and beyond. Taipei 101 was named one of the Seven Wonders of Engineering by the Discovery Channel and has held the Guinness World Record for having the world's fastest passenger-carrying elevators (good news if you don't like stairs). Standing at an incredible 508 metres tall, the Taipei 101 has a glass façade that incorporates feng shui elements to bring you good energy flow and luck.
At Taipei Zoo you can get up close and personal with animals from across the world at Asia's largest zoo. The zoo has well-thought-out avenues that lead straight past the spacious enclosures so you can get great views of adorable zoo favourites like pandas, big cats and monkeys.
Calendar of Events
Taipei has a busy events calendar that is brimming with fantastic events and festivals throughout the year. It's important to remember that events in Taiwan are generally based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar, so you'll want to double check dates in Western calendars to be sure.
- Chinese New Year. The most important festival in Chinese culture, the Chinese New Year, is celebrated on the first day of the new lunar cycle (in either January or February each year) and pays tribute to the coming of spring and the end of winter. Chinese New Year is important in giving families an opportunity to thank their ancestors and the gods for their blessings and ask for protection and good luck. The event is marked with fireworks, outdoor celebrations and huge dinners and dance parades.
- Lantern Festival. Another important Chinese festival is the Lantern Festival, which takes place on the fifteenth day of the Lunar New Year (in either February or March). This popular celebration marks the end of the Lunar New Year celebrations and is marked by people carrying decorative lanterns through the streets, making wishes and releasing the lanterns into the sky.
- Dragon Boat Festival: One of Taipei's most popular festivals and a spectacular attraction for tourists, the Dragon Boat Festival takes place on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month (in either May or June). This event features dragon boat racing and celebrations with eating of zongzi, a type of sticky dumpling that is wrapped up in bamboo leaves.
- Taiwan National Day: If you're interested in an event that celebrates important dates in Taiwan's history, time your visit to coincide with Taiwan National Day or Double Tenth Day on 10th October annually. This festival marks the start of the Wuchang Uprising in 1911 that resulted in the overthrowing of the Qing dynasty, and is celebrated with public celebrations and spectacular firework displays.