Taipei — the world's most underrated capital city
Taipei is the capital of Taiwan, which is the common name for Republic of China. Taiwan is one of the Four Asian Tigers, and Taipei is a modern city and part of a major industrial area. The city is known for having the tallest skyscraper in the world (at least for now, Dubai is namely trying to take over the record) – Taipei 101 (101 being the number of floors, and the area code).
The National Palace Museum, a cultural landmark, art gallery and museum boasting one of the world's largest collections of artifacts from ancient China.
National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
Xingtian Temple (God of war and patron god of merchants).
Guandu Temple (early 18th century).
Baoan Temple, the most famous temple in Taipei, it is dedicated to God of Medicine.
Chitien Temple, with the legendary Mazu statue.
Longshan Temple (Buddhist), with outstanding hall and carved wooden pillars.
In the Taoist Xia Hai Temple you can pray for love.
Taipei Confucius Temple. The structure has similar construction to the temples in Zhangzhou, Quanzhou, and Chufu.
Things to do
There are numbers of ways to enjoy staying in Taipei besides shopping in the night markets or in modern malls. Here comes some other activities:
Hot springs in Beitou district, north of Taipei.
Boating and water sports in Taipei county area.
A gondola trip to mountaintop tea houses.
Xiao Ren Guo amusement park with miniature buildings from all over the world.
Beitou Incinerator Observatory´s viewing platform (in Zhoumei Sports Park).
Yangmingshan National Park, with hiking trails.
Taipei hosts numerous festivals throughout the year; the Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, and two Film festivals are the most well known.
Shopping & entertainment
Among many night markets, Shilin Night Market in the Shilin District is the most famous. Huashi Street Night Market is famous for snake shops.
Ximending, the well-known shopping and entertainment area since 1930s, has also a wide spectrum of restaurants. Shops and restaurants are to be found also around Taipei Main Station; among them Mitsukoshi department store at Shin Kong Life Tower. CPCity Living Mall, situated on the border of Hsin-yi and Sung-shan Districts, has a very outstanding architecture. This 12-stories high complex has a shopping galleria that stretches 7.5 km; there are about 85 restaurants and pubs there, many of them with a special theme.
Food & drink
Taipei exquisite cuisine spans from noodle street shops to haute cuisine with greater style. Every cooking style of the mainland is represented, as well as the Japanese one, since Taiwan was for 50 years Japanese colony. Taiwanese cuisine resembles mostly that of China's Fujian Province.
Ximending, an exuberant neon-lighted night life-and-shopping zone resembles Shibuya in Tokyo.
Getting here and getting around
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE, former name Chiang Kai Shek International Airport) is located 30 km away from Taipei, in nearby Taoyuan County. Bus, high speed rail, taxi are the transportation options for getting to Taipei. Songshan Airport in Taipei serves domestic connections and some special chartered flights.
The bullet trains connections with the rest of the island make all journey within the island quick and smooth.
Taipei has probably the best public transportation in the world (in custome´s eyes), it encompasses metro, light rail, buses, and Maokong Gondola. All traffic information is also in English. Taxi drivers speak seldom English, so choosing this way of transportation, it is advisable to have a destination written in down in Chinese.
Han Chinese populated the area in the beginning of 18th century. Prior to that, Taiwan was home to Ketagalan tribes. In 1886, when Taiwan was proclaimed a province of China, Taipei became its capital. China lost Taiwan to Japan in the First Sino-Japanese War. For 50 years the city was called by its Japanese name Taihoku.
Towards the end of WWII, the Chinese Nationalist assumed control of Taiwan, and in 1949 the Kuomintang (KMT) led by Chiang Kai-shek established Taipei as the capital of the ROC after the Communists forced them to flee mainland China after the Civil War. Republic of China was then often addressed to as Nationalistic or Free China. The rapid population´s growth (until the 1970s, when it stabilized), and the economic “Taiwan Miracle” was worldwide famous.
Today, some of the industries have moved to the Mainland, and Taipei concentrates on capital-intensive and technology-intensive products for export, as well as on service sector, especially for businesses. Taipei is one of world´s most dense populated areas.
Climate & weather
Humid subtropical. Hot and humid, rainy summers, and cool, damp winters. The average annual temperature is 23.6 °C (74.5 °F). The Pacific typhoon season occurs between June and October. The most comfortable season to visit is late autumn (October and November), when the average temperatures stay around mid 20°C and there is little rain.
Currency: New Taiwan dollar (NT$, TWD)
Time zone: CST (UTC+8)