Global Cultures

In a day: Taipei

November 2015

Taipei, Taiwan's biggest city, is a mix of traditional Chinese charm and Japanese influence dotted with delicious eats along the way.

If you're visiting, start the day right with a proper Taiwanese breakfast of warm soy milk paired with shao bin you tiao, a fried Chinese cruller wrapped in a flaky sesame covered flatbread. Scrambled egg is optional but don't skimp on soy sauce, hot sauce and other condiments! Shops selling these are everywhere in the city but one popular chain to note is Yong He Soy Milk King.

For anyone with even a passing interest in Chinese art and history, a visit to the National Palace Museum- which boasts a collection of nearly 700,000 ancient Chinese imperial artifacts - is a must. The precious works are originally from the Forbidden City in Beijing and were moved to various parts of China in 1933 by Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Government to keep them out of the hands of the Imperial Japanese Army. Later during the Chinese Civil War, the most prized items were evacuated to Taiwan.

The most famous pieces in the collection are jadeite carvings including the 'Jade Cabbage', a single piece of jadeite carved into a remarkably lifelike Chinese cabbage with locust and katydid insects camouflaged within its leaves. Additionally the 'Meat-Shaped Stone' has been crafted to resemble an appetizing slow-cooked fatty pork.

From the ancient to the ultra-modern, Taipei 101 was briefly the tallest building in the world at 1,671 ft. This is the prime spot to take in Taipei's ever-growing cityscape. Visitors can be transported from the 5thfloor to the observatory on the 89th floor in an impressive 37 seconds.Grab lunch or a snack on Yong Kong Street, located near exit 4 or 5 of Dongmen station. The original Din Tai Fung (famous for soup dumplings all over Asia) is on this street. Other things to seek out are beef noodle soup and shaved ice.

It may be a busy metropolis, but Taipei showcases an abundance of natural beauty. Drop in for a soak at one of the natural hot springs in Beitou, in the northern end of the city. Visitors who take the MRT can alight at New Beitou stop and walk across the street to Beitou Hot Springs Park.

With numerous night markets Taipei is a great city for night owls. Taiwanese night markets traditionally sprung up around temples, selling medicine or handicrafts. Shilin Night Market, by the Jiantan MRT station, is the biggest and best-known. Sample the delicious fried chicken breast (in spicy or non-spicy versions), oyster omelette, panfried dumplings and, if you dare, stinky tofu. Chances are, the longer the line, the better the food. So come along with cash and a bit of patience.

Taipei 101 was briefly the tallest building in the world at 1,671 ft