The capital city of Taiwan is situated at the northern tip of the country along the Tamsui River, and its energy, people, history and politics have made it a hub for arts, economy and tourism. While there’s enough to entertain and educate visitors for weeks, this one-day itinerary for Taipei allows travelers to sample a little of everything that makes this destination truly unique.
Start the day by watching the sun rise over Mengjia Longshan Temple. Built in 1738 by immigrants from Fujian, China, it has weathered earthquakes, fires and other natural disasters. Residents continually gather to renovate and restore, but the temple’s traditional architecture and historical significance make it well worth a visit. Travelers can explore the restored corridors that contain traditional art and religious artifacts, while also experiencing the Buddhist and Taoist traditions familiar to Taipei.
Next up is the National Palace Museum, where you can spend a couple of hours combing through the extensive collection and beautiful grounds located on a 198-acre plot of land on the outskirts of Taipei City. The museum houses the largest collection of Chinese artifacts and artwork in the world, with rare displays of scroll paintings, calligraphy, jade and unique items from the former imperial family.
After spending time wandering the museum, tuck into the cozy couches of the Eclat Lounge at Hotel Eclat between the hours of 2:30 and 5 p.m. to enjoy the truly Taipei experience of high tea. Delicate silver spoons and fine bone china cups line white-clothed tables inside this lux hotel where members of high society gather under hand-blown glass chandeliers and Salvadore Dali sculptures to enjoy an afternoon tea break. This tradition includes a three-tiered trap of scones with tea, as well as uniquely Taipei treats, like boiled shrimp atop savory biscuits, rich eggs topped with fresh herbs and two-bite sandwiches to wash down with a steaming cup of tea.
After enjoying high tea, wander over to Ximending, Taiwan’s first pedestrian zone and home to premium shopping. Some call the popular destination the Harajuku of Taipei, as Ximending came out of a period of Japanese colonization. Some 3 million shoppers visit this hub of culture, entertainment, food, drink and fashion each month, making it a favorite stop for travelers looking for a taste of Taipei city life.
Round out the day with a dinner of traditional Taipei cuisine with braised pork over rice at the much-loved Jin Feng Lu Rou Fan, at 10 Roosevelt Road, Section 1. The savory, fatty pork, thick sauce and steaming white rice make up a favorite Taipei dish, and most agree that Jin Feng serves up the best. End the meal with a refreshing mountain of shaved ice covered in fresh fruit. This simple but traditional sweet is the perfect end to a busy day.
End this day of Taipei with a stop at Taipei 101, the tallest tower in the world. Hop aboard high-speed elevators and shoot to the 89th floor, where an indoor observation deck offers uninterrupted views of the city skyline, the countryside and far-off mountains, too. Arrive early and spend some time wandering six floors of world-class shopping, or skip the stores and head straight to the top.