If you’re like me, you enjoy starting off a city break with a good food tour. It helps you learn the lay of a city, try some delicious food, and get a sense for what you want to try more of while you’re in town. So start off day one on Taipei Eats’ Xinyi District food tour. It takes you to 12 different spots over four hours. When I went, we started in the market learning about and tasting the different native vegetables (loofah is a vegetable, who knew!?) and fruits like pink dragon fruit. We also tried 100-layer scallion bread and sampled pickled radishes.
Moving on from the market we learned a lot about the city itself and visited a memorial, a converted tobacco factory (that now houses creative local shops) and stuffed ourselves with stinky tofu, bao, dumplings, noodles, and more.
After the food tour, burn off those calories by taking a walk over to the Taipei 101. This impressive 101 story building was the tallest building in the world until the Burj Khalifa was built in 2010. Visit the 91st floor outdoor observatory by riding up in one of the world’s fastest elevators. In addition to over 20 food stalls (if you’re still hungry), you can also visit the world’s highest Starbucks on floor 35. Beware though, you need to call in advance to get a reservation!
After taking in the amazing views, consider giving your feet a break and getting a Taiwanese hair wash. Yup, it’s a thing. There are hundreds of hair salons in Taipei to choose from. I chose Showlin based on a recommendation for a really “local” place and was not disappointed. The process starts with a neck and shoulder massage. Your stylist then proceeds to wash your hair while you sit upright in the chair (you don’t get wet at all!). Your scalp gets a serious scrub down and then you can get a blow dry and style – all for about US $9! If you’re jet lagged and need a break tonight, hole up in your hotel and order Din Tai Fung on UberEats!
Today take a free walking tour with Like It Formosa. I especially enjoyed the story telling and broad historical perspective I got from the Historic Tour. Plus if you’re short on time, it takes you to all the best spots.
The walking tour ends at the Chiang Kai Shek memorial which is a great place to explore on your own. Every hour on the hour there is a changing of the guard ceremony inside the memorial. Also look out for the number of stairs walking up to the memorial. There are 89 steps – one for every year of his life. It really puts your own life into perspective when you think about it. Take a moment to stop and reflect when you get to the step representing your own age.
After visiting the memorial, spend the afternoon doing a little shopping. Take an Uber over to Dihua street. This area was built in the 1850’s and was the major trading center for Chinese medicines, herbs, teas, and more. Now you can find all kinds of shops selling Chinese New Year groceries, medicines, souvenirs and more. It’s quite a lively atmosphere. Make sure to stop into the City Temple as well – I really liked that the different Gods around the temple were labeled in English.
Next head over to the Huashan 1914 Creative Park for a modern day taste of Taipei. The area is a converted winery complex that is now a multipurpose park for events, locally made goods, and art.
This evening plan on a standing dinner and hit up Raohe St. Night Market. It’s a lively but relatively small market meaning you can really take a look at everything and try multiple things. The 600m long market is complete with grab and go food stalls, restaurants to sit at, little game arcades and more. Check out the top 5 dishes to try at this market according to Michelin… YES Michelin!
After getting your fill, take some time to visit the Ciyou Temple – it was far more beautiful than the more popular Longsham temple and has a calm vibe at night. The colors are STUNNING and it is elaborately decorated with dragons and stone lions.
If you have more time in Taiwan, definitely make some time to get out of the city and explore the wild coastlines and gorgeous interior of the country! Enjoy.