I already wrote a special post on Jiufen and Spirited Away, here is the rest of our trip to Taipei.
Our hotel (LIO Hotel) was in the electricals area, a 10min walk from Taipei Main Station, I was surprised to see a homeless man having a shave on the street close to our hotel when we arrived. Taipei had a lot of homeless people in all areas and many stray dogs. As a dog lover I did find it quite upsetting to see these dogs, but they were mostly cared for, they didn’t look too skinny or mangy. Another thing that surprised me was all the mopeds and how people rode them, we saw whole families on them, dogs, people carrying tvs, flowers etc… you name it – if you sat and watched long enough you’d probably see it.
Our first major sightseeing stop was the Taipei 101 building, which at one point was the highest free standing building in the world. We ate at the famous Din Tai Fung Michelin starred restaurant on the ground floor, browsed some shops (all high end designer ones!) and then went to the top. The queue was pretty lengthy, so we decided to splash out and pay double (1,000NTD instead of 500NTD) for a fastpass. For this we got a nice glossy brochure, free postcard and a jump to the front of the queue. Bypassing hundreds of people.
We rented a free audio guide and learnt about the different parts of Taipei city.
Most evenings after that we visited different night markets, most consisted of food stalls and amusements.
The duck head stall was very popular!
We also visited Wufenpu shopping district where shops buy their wholesale clothing, but anyone can also visit and buy direct.
Food in Taipei was excellent and so unbelievably cheap.
The small dumplings are famous in Taipei and super delicious, these we ate at a night market and cost 70NTD.
We also ate lunch at some local small places, spicy soup and gyoza cost us 50NTD for two people!
But of course the best place we ate at was Din Tai Fung, in the Taipei 101 building. We had to queue for about 30 mins for a table, but by the time we left the wait time was up to 70 mins!
The service and food were great, in the middle of the restaurant you could watch the chefs preparing the dumplings.
We ate so much and the bill only came to 1200TWD for two people including drinks.
Taiwanese beer was drinkable, but the best drinks were bubble teas and fresh fruit juices! We tried many different teas such as oolong x pineapple, mango and regular milk tea.
There were actually a lot of Japanese restaurants in Taipei, so it was hard to find places for us to eat as we didn’t want sushi or udon! A lot of shop workers and waiters etc.. spoke good Japanese, and quite a few times people spoke in Japanese to us too, which was fun.
Apart from shopping and eating we did manage to fit in some traditional culture too, we went to a palace, park and Lungsham temple.
Praying in the temple was nothing like in Japan, we felt a little lost when we went in, and wished we’d read up on it before going.
We had heard good things about Taipei Zoo so spent half a day there, its apparently the biggest zoo in Asia and is famous for their giant pandas.
The zoo was actually really good fun, the layout and amenities in the park were excellent. Doesn’t the panda look like he’s had enough pictures?! “No more please!!!”.
Another half day trip we took was on the Maokong Gondolas (which are Hello Kitty themed!).
We rode the crystal glass bottom gondola!
At the last gondola station you can see tea plantations and visit one of many tea rooms, by the time we reached the top it had started to rain so we didnt stay long.
Our final day trip was to Beitou, on another rainy rainy day. We just visited the outdoor public hot spring.
It was very hot in there, but still fun, despite the rain!!
Looking back on my trip I did have some good times, but they were dampened by the rainy weather, dodgy taxi drivers, stray dogs and general attitude of some people. I have to admit I was pretty glad to return to Japan!