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Taipei

Taipei
Taipei (tái běi 台北) is Taiwan’s largest city. It is the main administrative, commercial, manufacturing, and cultural center of the island. The first settlement on the present-day site of Taipei was established in the 1700s. Taipei is a city of many faces, where ancient and modern co-exist. Taipei is gradually moving towards the standards of Western metropolitan cities. With rapid transit system (MRT), plenty of buses and cheap taxis, it is fast and cheap for the tourist to get around in Taipei. Popular areas include Xinyi District (xìn yì qū 信义区) with Taipei 101 (the world’s tallest building), Taipei Train Station and the Eastern District Shopping Area (from Sogo Department Store along Zhongxiao East Road (zhōng xiào dōng lù 忠孝东路) all the way to the Taipei 101 area). Tourist attractions include the world-renowned National Palace Museum, Huaxi Street (huá xī jiē 华西街), Guang Hua electronics market and so on.


Overview

Taipei City is the center of Taiwanese commerce and culture. As the financial and governmental center, Taipei is not only the most advanced city, but also the most prosperous city in Taiwan. Due to its political and economical significance, Taipei is one of the most popular cities for tourism in Taiwan.

Taipei is a modern city with newly planned business districts and impressive achievements, such as the construction of Taipei 101, the tallest building in Asia; Taipei World Trade Center, the exhibition halls to hold international exhibitions and important events; Eslite Xinyi Bookstore (xìn yì chéng pǐn shū diàn 信义诚品书店), a twenty four hour book palace. In addition, this city offers a wide range of entertainments, such as shopping malls, night markets, night clubs, and exotic restaurants.

TaipeiTaipei City is also well known for having a wide variety of sightseeing locations. Tourists may enjoy appreciating natural sceneries at Zhuzihu Scenic Spot (zhú zǐ hú jǐng qū 竹子湖景区) and Guandu Nature Park (guān dù zì rán gōng yuán 关渡自然公园), visiting historical landmarks like Chiang Kai-Shek Shilin Residence (shì lín guān dǐ 士林官邸) and Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, learning about Taiwanese culture and beliefs by visiting the Longshan Temple (lóng shān sì 龙山寺) and National Palace Museum, relaxing in the great outdoors at Maokong (māo kōng 猫空) and Yangmingshan National Park (yáng míng shān guó jiā gōng yuán 阳明山国家公园), enjoying a hot spring vacation at Beitou Hot Spring, or simply taking pleasure in some casual shopping at the Shilin Night Market and Ximending.


History

Prehistoric Taipei was wet. The mountains surrounding present-day Taipei were majestic then as now, but the basin in which a great metropolis would one day rise was under water. It was a pretty lake, we’ve no doubt, but it was completely lacking in restaurants, museums, hotel rooms and even people. We’d have advised all but the most adventurous travelers to postpone their trip for a few million years.

TaipeiAt some point, over 6000 years ago, the now (mostly) dry basin between the mountains began to be settled by people who’d sailed over from other islands in the Pacific. Anthropologists would later collectively describe the first settlers as ‘Pingpu’ or ‘plains aboriginals’. Their descendants still live in Taiwan.

Fast forward to the last millennium. Having been ‘discovered’ by Han Chinese, Taipei (along with the rest of Taiwan) was subject to a slow but inexorable influx of settlers from China’s east coast. These settlers forced the original inhabitants of Taipei to retreat into the surrounding mountains. They then renamed the displaced aboriginals ‘mountain people’, perhaps to make themselves feel better for having evicted them from the plains.

During Western Europe’s great age of conquest, Taiwan was "discovered" again, and in fairly rapid succession by the Portuguese, Dutch and Spanish, all of whom decided that they liked the place well enough to plant their respective flags around the island. The Spanish took a particular interest in Danshui (or Tamsui, now part of Taipei County) and before leaving they built a fortress that still stands today. Sensing that European interlopers were getting too attached to the island, in 1709 the Qing court reversed a Ming decree forbidding settlement on Taiwan and granted citizens in China’s Fujian province permission to emigrate.

TaipeiMany of these Fukkienese settlers came to present-day Taipei, founding communities along the Danshui River (dàn shuǐ hé 淡水河) in areas that today are considered central Taipei. These early communities became trading ports for tea and camphor and set the stage for more settlement from China as well as economic development.

By 1882 Taipei had become a fully fledged city, large enough to warrant the construction of a wall. Though the wall is long gone, four of the five gates leading into the city can still be visited. Alas, the city wall – the last to be built under the Qing – proved merely cosmetic to the Japanese, who took the city (along with the rest of Taiwan) through strong-arm ­diplomacy rather than arms, in 1895.

Under Japanese rule (1895–1945), Taipei became the administrative headquarters for the island. Although the Japanese ruled with an iron hand, their engineers left behind good basic infrastructure. Buildings remaining from that era are among the city’s most prized. After the decampment of Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces to Taipei in 1949, the city expanded, growing to its present size (272 sq km) and governmental structure of 12 districts. It’s in this present-day city that your tour begins.


Climate

Taipei has a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate which is slightly short of a true tropical climate. Summers are very hot, humid, and accompanied by occasional heavy rainstorms and typhoons, while winters are short, mild and generally very foggy due to the northeasterly winds from the vast Siberian High being intensified by the pooling of this cooler air in the Taipei Basin. Due to Taiwan's location in the Pacific Ocean, it is affected by the Pacific typhoon season, which occurs between June and October.


Geography

Taipei City is located in the Taipei Basin in northern Taiwan. It is bordered by the Xindian River (xīn diàn xī liú 新店溪流) on the south and the Danshui River on the west. The generally low-lying terrain of the central areas on the western side of the municipality slopes upward to the south and east and especially to the north, where it reaches 1,120 meters (3,675 ft) at Cising Mountain (qī xīng shān 七星山), the highest (extinct) volcano in Taiwan in Yangmingshan National Park (yáng míng shān guó jiā gōng yuán 阳明山国家公园). The northern districts of Shilin (shì lín 士林) and Beitou (běi tóu 北投) extend north of the Keelung River and are bordered by Yangmingshan National Park. The Taipei city limits cover an area ranked sixteenth of twenty-five among all counties and cities in Taiwan.

TaipeiTwo peaks, Cising Mountain and Mt. Datun (dà tún shān 大屯山), rise to the northeast of the city. Cising Mountain is located on the Tatun Volcano Group (dà tún huǒ shān qún 大屯火山群) and the tallest mountain at the rim of the Taipei Basin, with its main peak at 1,120 meters (3,670 ft). Mt. Datun’s main peak is 1,092 meters (3,583 ft). These former volcanoes make up the western section of Yangmingshan National Park, extending from Mt. Datun northward to M.t. Caigongkeng (cài gōng kēng shān 菜公坑山). Located on a broad saddle between two mountains, the area also contains the marshy Datun Pond. To the southeast of the city lie the Songshan (sōng shān 松山) and the Qingshui Ravine (qīng shuǐ xiá gǔ 清水峡谷), which form a barrier of lush woods.

 


Attractions

National Palace Museum

National Palace MuseumLocated in Taipei City, the National Palace Museum (tái běi gù gōng 台北故宫) displays the world's greatest and rarest collection of traditional Chinese art crafts and historical documents. These priceless treasures include ancient Chinese paintings, archeological remains of bronze weapons, ceramics, jade, sculptures, books and other antiques. With more than 700,000 items on display, many of which once belong in Beijing's Forbidden City. The National Palace Museum truly reflects the rich cultural heritage of Chinese civilization and ancient Chinese culture. The National Palace Museum was established in 1925 and was expanded and remodeled in 1965. The museum now has a magnificent exterior with tile roofs and moon gates. The National Palace Museum is currently a major guardian of the Chinese artifacts and Chinese cultural items in Taiwan tour.

Location: No.221, Sec. 2, Zhishan Rd., Shilin Dist., Taipei City 11143, Taiwan
Tel: +886-2-28812021
Opening Hours: 8:30-18:30 all year around; 18:30-20:30 every Saturday
Admission Fee: TWD 160
Transportation:
(1) Take the MRT Danshui Line to the Shilin Station and take bus R30 (Red 30 - Low-floor bus) to the National Palace Museum. Other routes that will take you to and near the Museum plaza are buses 255, 304, 815 (Sanchung – NPM Line), Minibus 18 and Minibus 19.
(2) Take the MRT Wenhu Line to the Dazhi Station and take bus B13 (Brown 13) to the National Palace Museum, alighting before the Front Facade Plaza of the Museum. Alternatively, visitors may choose to take the Wenhu Line and get off at Jiannan Rd. Station, then take bus B20 (Brown 20) to NPM's front entrance (Main Building).


Taipei 101

Taipei 101Towering above the city like the gigantic bamboo stalk it was designed to resemble, Taipei 101 (tái běi yī líng yī 台北101) is impossible to miss. At 508m, Taipei International Financial Centre 101, as it's officially named, is the world's tallest building (Dubai eat your heart out, for now at least!). In addition to holding the world record for height, Taipei 101 also holds the record for having the world's fastest elevator. The pressure-controlled lift travels at 1010 meters per minute and takes 40 seconds to get from ground level to the 89th floor observation deck.

Location:
No. 7, Sec. 5, Xinyi Rd., Xinyi District, Taipei City
Tel: +886-2-8101-8898
Transportation: Taipei 101 is a 15 to 20-minute walk from the Taipei City Hall MRT station.
Opening Hours: 10:00-22:00, Tuesday through Friday
Admission Fee: TWD 400
Recommended Golden Time: Late afternoon
Travel Tips: You’d better get in the observatory of Taipei 101 before 21:15.


Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial HallChiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (zhōng zhèng jì niàn tang 中正纪念堂) is located in the heart of Taipei City. The area is 250,000 square meters and it is the attraction most visited by foreign tourists. Outside the gate of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, there are poles carrying the sign of true rightness. The architecture of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is inspired by Tiantan (tiān tán 天坛) in Beijing. The four sides of the structure are similar to those of the pyramids in Egypt. The material is white marble. The roofs are decorated with deep-blue glass as part of the reflection of blue sky and bright sun. It adds a touch of grandeur. The garden is planted with red flowers. As a whole, the colors of blue, white and red express the National Flag and the spirit of freedom, equality and brotherhood.

Location: No.21, Zhongshan S. Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City
Tel: +886-2-2343-1100-3
Transportation: Take THSR or train to Taipei Station. transfer Taipei MRT to CKS Memorial Hall Station.
Opening Hours: 09:00-18:00
Admission Fee: Free


Shilin Night Market

Shilin Night Market (shì lín yè shì 士林夜市) is the one of the largest night markets in Taipei. The market is centered on Yangming Theater (yáng míng jù yuàn 阳明剧院) and Cicheng Temple (cí chéng gōng 慈诚宫). The night market is formed by many prosperous shops on Shilin Night MarketWenlin Road (wén lín lù 文林路), Dadong Road (dà dōng lù 大东路) and Danan Road (dà nán lù 大南路), etc. Among them, Shilin Market was built as early as in 1899 and the market is famous for various snacks and eatery. Many visitors have come to Shilin Night Market to enjoy the delicious foods, such as large pancake enfolding small pancake, hot pot on stone or Shilin sausage. Shilin Night Market has become a renowned place for great foods.

Because the night market is close to many schools, students are the main customer group. Goods are sold at less expensive prices as compared to regular stores. There are special areas for furniture, clothing, photo shops or pet shops. The finery shops and cold dessert shops in "lover's lane" attract most student customers.

Location: In the neighborhood of Dadong Rd., Danan Rd., Wenin Rd., & Jihe Rd.
Tel: +886-2-2882-0340
Opening Hours: 17:00 - 24:00
Transportation:
1. MRT Jiantan Station - On foot 5 min.
2. Bus 203, 216, 218, 224, 266, 269, 277, 280,308, 310


The Presidential Office Building

The Presidential Office BuildingThe Presidential Office Building (zǒng tǒng fǔ 总统府) is located on Chongqing S. Road (chóng qìng nán lù 重庆南路) and facing Ketagalan Boulevard (kǎi dá gé lán dà dào 凯达格兰大道). On the back it is Bo’ai Road (bó ài lù 博爱路), on the left it is Baoqing Road (bǎo qìng lù 宝庆路), and on the right it is Guiyang Street. The Presidential Building is close to Taipei Main Station and Ximending (xī mén dīng 西门町). The building was built during Japanese colonization period. It was the governor’s mansion at that time. During the ending period of World War II, the building was seriously damaged due to bombing. After Taiwan was reclaimed by R.O.C., the building was re-constructed in 1946. The building was re-named as “Jieshou Building (jiè shòu guǎn 介寿馆)” in celebration of the 60th birthday of former president Mr. Chiang Kai-shek. The building has been used as the presidential mansion after the central government of R.O.C. was re-instated in Taiwan.

Location: No.122, Sec. 1, Chongqing S. Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei
Tel: +886-2-2311-3731
Transportation
By THSR:
Take the THSR to Taipei Station, transfer to the MRT or bus. Taiwan High Speed Rail
By MRT:
Take MRT to NTU Hospital Station, and walk 15-min.
By Bus:

Take Bus No. 20, 263, 47 get off at Hengyang Road.


Ximending

Located in west Taipei, Ximending (xī mén dīng 西门町) is one of the most popular tourist spots among both local and international travelers. Ximending features a wide selection of fashionable clothing and accessories in many styles include Japanese, Chinese and Western. Ximending is similar to Shibuya in Japan. Both of them are famed for a diversity of entertainments and activities that allure large numbers of young people and young adults. It is often a gathering site for young people and has been noted the most fashionable and popular shopping area in Taiwan.

XimendingXimending is filled with all kinds of shopping options, from department stores to shops and stores, including various CD shops, hair salons, Eslite Department Stores, movie theaters, Karaoke and many others. Other than enjoying various activities, do not miss the chance to sample famous dishes of Ximending such as “Ya Rou Bian (yā ròu biǎn 鸭肉扁)” for tasty duck meat, “Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle (ā zōng miàn xiàn 阿宗面线)” for an unique experience appreciating delicious rice noodles in long line, “Simonfood Tempura (tián bù là 甜不辣)” for mouth-watering Taiwanese style tempura, “Lautianlu (lǎo tiān lù 老天禄)” for stewed and braised food, plus many other delicacies that will satisfy  your taste buds.

Ximending is often crowded by visitors as there are abundant options of shops and restaurants. Being a hot spot in Taipei, a lot of celebrities choose to hold concerts and events at the Ximending Walking Street. With an excellent location close to Taipei Main Station, Ximending offers great convenience in transportations with MRT and a multitude of buses. For travelers coming from other cities, they may simply take train or THSR (Taiwan High Speed Rail) to Taipei Main Station and then take a short MRT ride or 10mins short walk to Ximending area.

Location: Sec. 1, Zhonghua Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City
Tel: +886-2-2720-8889
Transportation:
1. Take the THSR to Taipei Station; continue by MRT to Ximen Station.
2. Take the train to Taipei Railway Station; continue by MRT to Ximen Station.

Beitou Hot Spring

Located in Beitou District of Taipei City, Taiwan, Beitou Hot Spring (běi tóu wēn quán 北投温泉) is one of the most popular hot springs in northern Taiwan. The famous Beitou Hot Springs are Hushan Village Hot Spring, Geothermal Valley (dì rè gǔ 地热谷), Xingyi Road Hot Spring (xíng yì lù wēn quán 行义路温泉), Phoenix (or Fenghuang in Chinese) Hot Spring and Longfeng Hot Spring (lóng fèng gǔ wēn quán 龙凤谷温泉).

Beitou Hot SpringBeitou district was originally dwelled by the Ketagalan tribe (kǎi dá gé lán zú 凯达格兰族). The name of the tribe was changed to Pataauw in Ching Dynasty when the Hans came. Most of the hot spring facilities and manmade attractions in Beitou area were established during the Japanese occupation.

Due to the difference in altitude and location on the Datun volcanic belt, Beitou Hot Springs are in different colors and distinctive components. Beitou Hot Springs have a pH value of 2.5 – 6.5 with a temperature varies between 37 degrees Celsius and 40 degrees Celsius and are comprised basically by three components: green sulfur(sulfate), white sulfur(copperas), and iron sulfur (carbonate). White sulfur hot springs are gentle, while green sulfur hot springs are erosive and sulfurous, and iron sulfur hot springs contain iron containments with spring water colored light red-brownish.

Location: Zhongshan Rd., Beitou Dist., Taipei City 112, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Tel: +886-2-2893-9981
Transportation: Take the THSR or train to Taipei Station, transfer Taeipei MRT to Xinbeitou Station.


Food & Specialties

Oyster Omelette

Oyster Omelette
Oyster omelette (kē zǎi jiān 蚵仔煎) is a Chinese dish that is widely known in Taiwan, Fujian, and many parts of Asia for its savory and addictive taste. Variations of the dish preside in some southern regions of China although the actual taste and appearance of these can vary by a lot from the original version from Taiwan. Oyster Omelette is often sold in night markets, and has constantly been ranked by many foreigners as the top cuisine from Taiwan and one of the most addictive food in the world.


Coffin Board

Coffin Board
This Tainan specialty often turns peoples’ heads for its very unusual name. The sandwich is a thick slice of toast with a hollow center filled with a mixture of chicken meat and liver, shrimp, carrots, potatoes, and milk. The filling is then covered with another piece of toast and cut into four pieces. The coffin board (guān cái bǎn 棺材板) tastes best when served hot.


Pineapple cake

Pineapple cakePineapple cake, locally known as “fonglisu (fèng lí sū 凤梨酥)”, won an online vote for the best home-grown offerings tourists must try. This is a famous pastry from Taiwan. These little square cookie-like pastries are filled with real pineapple (not like pineapple bun or bo law bao which does not have any pineapple). Most of pineapple cakes in stores are not made with pineapple anymore. Instead, it is filled with some kind of melon and flavor with pineapple extract.


Small Sausage in Large Sausage

Small sausage in large sausage (dà cháng bāo xiǎo cháng 大肠包小肠, literally means "Small Small Sausage in Large Sausageintestine wrapped in large intestine") is a snack invented in Taiwan in the late 20th century. A segment of Taiwanese pork sausage is wrapped in a (slightly bigger and fatter) sticky rice sausage to make this delicacy, usually served chargrilled. It may be compared to a hot dog. Deluxe versions are available in night markets in Taiwan, with condiments such as pickled bokchoi, garlic, wasabi and thick soy sauce paste to complement the taste.


Din Tai Fung

Din Tai FungDin Tai Fung (dǐng tài fēng 鼎泰丰) is well-known for its delicacies; especially dishes like Steamed Pork Dumplings, Steamed Chicken Soup, and Fried Rice with Eggs and Shrimps are classic cuisines with high recommendations. The new developed dishes, "Shrimp-and-Pork Wontons in Red Chili Oil" and "Pork-and-Vegetable Wontons in Red Chili Oil", are spicy, delicious, and most important of all, with the scent of Chinese herbal medicine. In recent year, Din Tai Fung keeps computerizing operations to improve their services and efficiency which win them a good reputation in restaurants industry.

Location: No. 194, Sec. 2, Xinyi Rd., Taipei  
Opening Hours: 10:00-21:00, Monday-Friday; 09:00-21:00, at Saturday/Sunday/Holiday
Telephone: +886-2-2321-8928 or +886-2-2321-5958

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 August 2012 18:46
 

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