SIGHTS IN TAIPEI
Taipei has many museums and temples of interest to visitors. The most popular and spectacular museum in Taipei is the National Palace Museum, which houses the largest collection of Chinese art treasures in the world, including paintings, calligraphy, bronzes, oracle bones, and art objects made of porcelain, jade and rhinoceros horn. The Taipei Fine Arts Museum houses many examples of contemporary Chinese art. This museum sponsors cultural exchanges between Chinese artists and artists from all over the world. Other interesting museums in Taipei include the Taiwan National Museum, which offers exhibits chronicling the history of Taiwan's aboriginal tribes, and the National Museum of History.
There are a number of Buddhist, Confucian, Chinese and Taoist temples in Taipei. The three main temples are the Lungshan (Dragon Mountain) Temple, a Buddhist temple dedicated to Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy; the Confucian Temple, located in the heart of Taipei, with a beautiful formal gardens where many Taipei residents go pray and seek quite repose; and the Hsingtien (Soar to Heaven) Temple, the largest Taoist temple in Taipei.
Visitors can walk through downtown Taipei and view the gates of a wall that once encircled the city. Taipei 101, once the tallest building in the world, includes a big shopping mall and observatories on the 89th and 91st floors. The Grand Hotel, one of Taipei's largest hotels, is a favorite stop for tourists. The lobby of the 14-story hotel is the largest in the world and features a wide marble staircase, 42 red pillars, and huge gold-loom carpet. Also in downtown Taipei is the impressive National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (formerly the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall). Constructed in 1980, this building exhibits classical Chinese architecture. The hall is part of a large park and cultural complex that includes the National Concert Hall and National Theater.
The Presidential Office is a red-brick structure with tall spires. In the plaza in front of it, the Taiwanese flag is raised in the morning and lowered at nightfall during daily ceremonies. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall contains a fine art gallery of modern art, an auditorium, and a large library containing over 140,000 volumes. The Taipei Zoo is among the largest zoos in Asia. It has over 3,000 animals from 300 different species, and a butterfly aviary. On the outskirts of Taipei is the Yangmingshan National Park. Situated on Yangming Mountain, the park has beautiful azaleas and cherry trees that draw huge crowds when they are in bloom.
Be sure to pick up the free Taipei Tourist Map at the airport. Dihua Street has interesting buildings and markets; the streets around National Taiwan University have good shops and cafes. For cinema and night life, head to Ximending, especially Wuchang Street. For a taste of bohemian life, stroll Treasure Hill, a former military base turned squatter and artist community. I.T. Park has an important gallery of contemporary art. Make the time to check out the Spot-Taipei Film House Cool cinema-bookstore-café and the VT ArtSalon Art gallery and bar-lounge, on the same block as I.T. Park.
Xinyi District: Taipei’s Business and Fashion Center
The Xinyi District is a trend-setting commercial district in Taipei, embracing skyscrapers, dozens of fashionable malls, restaurants, and hotels on Sections 4 and 5 of Xinyi Road. Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store's New Life Square and A4 branches, Novel Hall for Performing Arts, VieShow Cinemas, Grand Hyatt Taipei Hotel, and Taipei 101. By day, the Xinyi District bustles with the fast-paced energy of business as Taipei's commercial and financial center. At night, the skyscrapers come alight with eye-catching displays of LED lights, setting the mood for evening fun. On weekends, the Xinyi District transforms again as outdoor stages and squares come alive with concerts, dance performances, record release events, and celebrity appearances, making this the place where you can experience the youthful energy of Taipei.
Xinyi has convenient transportation links to other parts of the city and region. The stores here sell the world's best brands. Xinyi is also home to Taiwan biggest bookstore chain, Eslite. Four Four South Village (a restored military dependents housing complex), Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, an internationally-renowned Michelin star restaurant, eye-catching buildings and installation art, and the annual Taipei New Year Eve Party all further add to the sparkle of Xinyi District.
From the 183-meter-high peak of Xiangshan one can enjoy an unobstructed view of nearby Xinyi District. The yesteryear Four Four South Village and modern Taipei Financial Center buildings present the architectural styles of Xinyi District past and present in striking contrast. The Xinyi Sky Bridge has a space-capsule-like roof and is bathed in light after dusk, making an elegant addition to the night view in Xinyi District. Xinyi is where hundreds of thousands of people come together for the countdown to the New Year during the energy-charged Taipei New Year's Eve Party. The New Year's Eve countdown climaxes with Taiwan's biggest fireworks show: an event that turns the international spotlight on Taiwan. Xinyi's high-end department stores offer the largest collection of top brand products. Their lit exteriors also add a colorful note to the night view in Xinyi District.
Getting There Getting There by Public Transport: 1.THSR: From Taipei Main Station, take the MRT Bannan Line to Taipei City Hall Station; 2. Taiwan Railway: From Taipei Main Station, take the MRT Bannan Line to Taipei City Hall Station.; 3. Bus: Take an intercity bus to Taipei City Hall Bus Station; 4. MRT: Take the MRT Bannan Line to Taipei City Hall Station.
Taipei 101 was declared the world’s tallest buildings in October 2003. Formally opened in January 2004, the 101-story building is 508 meters tall, exceeding the 452-meter-high Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the previous world’s tallest building at that time. Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building until 2010 when it was displaced by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which is almost one kilometer high (828 meters high, 2,717 feet high, 163 stories). As of 2019, Taipei 101 was the 11th tallest building in the world. There are now taller buildings in Mecca, Seoul, New York, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and two in Tianjin.
Taipei was designed by C.Y. Lee and Associates. Feng shui experts were consulted to make sure everything was in harmony and its yin and yang and qi were in order. In accordance with their advise the building faces south and a fountain was placed between it and road that ran at a bad angle in relationship to the building.
Built to resemble a giant bamboo shoot, a symbol of sturdiness and vigor in Chinese culture, Taipei 101 looks like an unfolded accordion, is and made of steel, glass and concrete and is comprised of eight sections (eight is a lucky number in Chinese numerology). Each section has ten stories, and they are set on a base with 20 stories. There is a 60-meter-high tower at the top. The building was built at a cost of $1.7 billion, two thirds of which came from loans from the government and banks that hoped the building would help help draw foreign inventors to Taiwan.
The main observation area of Taipei 101 is on the 89th floor. The skyscraper houses a four-level shopping mall, with Cartier, Prada and Louis Vuitton shops, offices for 12,000 people and the Taiwan Stock Exchange. The building is sheathed by tinted glass that reflects the sky and is ornamented with ruyi symbols, spoon-like figures that represent fulfillment and contentment. Near the top of the building is a huge ball that move around to counter strong winds from Taiwan’s numerous typhoons and seismic vibrations from it numerous earthquakes.
Taipei 101 dwarfs everything around it. There is no building near it that is even a quarter of its size. Taipei has less than 10 buildings over 100 meters tall. Many worry about the dangers of typhoons and earthquakes on the city’s tall building. To address these problems Taipei 101 has a strong 62-floor megaframe to provide support in case of heavy winds and lighter materials above that the megaframe that can sway and absorb the shock of powerful tremors. The building is also designed to stay erect if struck by a jet plane like the ones used in September 11th attack on the World Trade Center.
Taipei 101 boasts the world’s fastest elevators (a record it still holds): 34 double-decker, Toshiba-built lifts that can reach speed of 60.6 kph and zip passengers from the 5th floor to the 89th floor in 37 seconds. This means the elevators travel, 508 meters, or 1,676 feet above the ground level, at 1,014 meters a minute. On Christmas Day 2004, the famous French building climber Alain “Spiderman” Robert scaled Taipei 101 in 3½ hours. He did it without getting arrested under the authorization of local government officials to launch a week of events celebrating the building’s inauguration. In November 2005 Taipei 101 hosted a stair climbing event that attracted contestants from all over the world.
Visiting Taipei 101
Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times: “Immerse yourself in modern Taipei by going deep into the belly of the tallest building in the world, the 1,670-foot Taipei 101 The first five floors, with stores like Armani, Louis Vuitton and Sogo, should satisfy any shopping urge. Take a high-speed elevator to the indoor and outdoor observation decks, starting on the 89th floor, for unparalleled views of Taipei and its environs. In every direction lie city blocks and avenues winding among concrete-and-glass towers, with verdant hills rising in the distance. Wisps of cloud float past the windows. Beware of vertigo.
“Dinner is only a few floors away. Go down to the 85th floor of Taipei 101 to feast on traditional Taiwanese dishes at Shin Yeh (-(2)-8101-0185). Try the deep-fried oysters and rolls stuffed with taro and shrimp. Set dinners start at about 1,600 Taiwan dollars per person ($50.40 at 31.75 Taiwan dollars to the U.S. dollar). Be sure to make reservations well in advance, ideally several weeks before arriving.”
Getting There by Public Transport: THSR Taipei Station (or TRA Taipei Station) continue by MRT to Taipei City Hall Station. Website taipei-101.com . By Road: 1. Nat'l Hwy 1 Exit at the Tiding Interchange Maishuai 2nd Bridge Sec. 1, Keelung Rd. Shifu Rd. Songshou Rd. Songzhi Rd. Sec. 5, Xinyi Rd. 2. Nat'l Hwy 3 Exit at the Muzha Interchange Prov. Hwy 3A Exit at the Wangfang Interchange Xinyi Expressway Sec. 5, Xinyi Rd; Address: 89F, No. 7, Sec. 5, Xinyi Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Tel: -(2)-8101-8898.
Sights in the Downtown Area of Taipei
The downtown area and business district of Taipei is in the eastern part of the city in Zhongzheng, Daan and Xinyi districts. Chungshan North is Taipei's main thoroughfare. Lined with shops, hotels and office buildings, it was a two lane road in the 1950s, but now it is an eight lane boulevard. This is where you will find designer boutiques with famous name shoes, clothing and other items. There is also a Duty Free Shop were you can purchase tax-free perfumes, tobaccos and alcohol and pick them up at the airport.
Taipei World Trade Center is located in the heart of Taiwan's international business district. The huge business complex contains a 34-story international trade building, an exhibition hall, international convention center, office tower and the 900-room Grand Hyatt hotel.
Grand Hotel is perhaps Taipei's most enduring symbol. Located on a hill overlooking Taipei and the Keelung River, it is constructed to resemble a huge Chinese palace. Once considered one of the world's 10 best hotels, the 13-story building is decorated with modern and traditional Chinese furnishings and contains excellent restaurants and recreational facilities. The view from the hotel over Taipei is particularly stunning at night. It is where many affluent business travelers stay. The lobby — said to be the largest in the world — features a wide marble staircase, 42 red pillars, and huge gold-loom carpet.
Huaxi Night Market is the most famous tourist night market in Taiwan, famous for things like snake meat and snake wine, pot-edged pancake soup, salty rice pudding, dishes made with fresh water turtle and seafood. It used be called Snake Alley and was where tourists went to see monkeys decapitated, snakes skinned alive and turtles chopped into little pieces before crowds of tourists. Monkey brains from decapitated animals were eaten raw and the snakes and turtles are put into soups and tonics. "I watched hawkers snatch live cobras from their cages," wrote Arthur Zich in National Geographic, "slit them open, and mix the blood with herbs and wine into a Chinese potions believed to restore potency. Wizened old men guzzled it down on the spot." Between Xiyuan Rd. and Huanhe S. Rd. in Taipei City.
Spot-Taipei Film House is a cinema, bookstore and cafe in a white colonial mansion on busy Zhongshan North Road. The building was the United States government's consulate in Taipei until the Carter administration normalized relations with China and left Taiwan. The old house was empty for more than two decades, until the mid 2000s when Hou Hsiao-hsien, the respected Taiwanese filmmaker, led an effort to transform the place. The white villa houses the screening rooms, restaurant and bar. It is one of the most atmospheric buildings in Taipei, redolent of colonial life in the tropics, with lush grounds that shield the villa from the street. Address: 18 Zhongshan North Road, Section 2; Tel: -(2)-2511-7786. [Source: New York Times]
See Temples, Markets and Shopping
Old Taipei is located in Datong and Wanhua in West Taipei. Situated next to the Danshui River, this is one of the oldest inhabited areas in Taipei and previously was its commercial hub. While much of the original architecture has been lost, the area still maintains a traditional feel. In particular, places like Lungshan Temple hold a special place in the hearts of the Taiwanese, and many still visit the area to consult with fortune tellers about who they should marry or what to name their children.Ximending has been totally transformed, and is now a major youth hub for shopping and eating.
Dihua Street is an old-town market area with shops selling Chinese medicines and herbs, temple icons and incense, spices and dried food, colorful bolts of cloth and bamboo and wooden crafts. Taipei's most completely preserved and historically meaningful historical area, Dihua Street was traditionally an area of Taipei were goods such as tree fungus, dried fish and shredded squid were stored for long periods of time. Today the street contains shops associated with Chinese trades. There is a farm supply store, bamboo ware shops, rice mills, incense shops, paper lantern stores and places selling a wide variety of textiles and foods. Dihua Street has undergone massive renovation and now blends traditional architecture and shops selling Chinese medical herbs and dry goods with cool handicraft shops, modern cafes and distinctive tea houses
Bopiliao Old Street is located long Lane 173, Kangding Road south of Laosong Elementary School in Taipei's Wanhua District. The street extends north to the school and south to Guangzhou Street. Laosong Elementary School was built in 1896, earning the school's northern building a designation as a city historic site. The east and west buildings are also historically significant. The Heritage and Culture Education Center of Taipei is located next to the school.
At the Bopiliao Historic District, visitors can see well-preserved streets and traditional shop homes from the Qing period, as well as buildings from the Japanese occupation and early post-war periods. These buildings have witnessed the development of the Mengjia area (Wanhua District) over the years and form an important part of Taipei's historic urban landscape. Among the historic buildings here are the Taipei home of the eminent scholar Chang Tai-yan (at No. 123 Guangzhou Street), Yongxing Tingchuantou Store, Song Xie-Xing Rice Store, residence of Dr. Lu A-chang, Rixiang Travel Agency, Taiyo Bindery, Xiuying Teashop, Changshou Teashop, Weiling (Taoist) Shrine, and Public Bath. Longshan (lungshan) Temple and shops selling spirit money, Chinese medicine, herbs and Buddhist implements further add to the historical and cultural charms of this area.
Getting There by Public Transport: 1. Take the THSR to Taipei Station; continue by MRT to Longshan Temple Station; 2. Take the train to Wanhua Railway Station, By Road: 1. Nat'l Hwy 1 Exit at the Taipei Interchange Prov. Hwy 2B Minzu W. Rd. Expressway Guilin Rd. Sec. 1, Xiyuan Rd. Guangzhou St; 2. Nat'l Hwy 3 Exit at the Zhonghe Interchange County Hwy 106A Bei-91 Township Road County Hwy 114 Guangfu Bridge Sec. 2 to 1, Xiyuan Rd. GUangzhou St; Address: No. 101, Guangzhou St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Tel: -(2)-2336-1704.
See Temples, Markets and Shopping
Ximending is in the southern part of Old Taipei. The name of Ximending comes from the period of Japanese colonization. At that time a large portion of Taiwan's residents lived within Taipei City and Ximending was their center for recreation. The city's first theater "Tokyo Stand" was set up here in 1896, and the area was officially named Ximending in 1922.
In early years, the main business activity in Ximending was the cinema theater. At that time, most cinemas were on Emei Street, Chengdu Road and Xining S. Road. After the central government of the R.O.C. was relocated in Taiwan in 1949, large amounts of money poured into Ximending. In addition to cinema, there were department stores and other entertainment attractions. After the completion of the block-long Zhonghua Business Buildings along Zhonghua Road, Ximending became the largest business and entertainment center in the country.
In the 1990s, Taipei's business and entertainment activities gradually shifted to the East District, and later on the Zhonghua Business Buildings were torn down for road construction. Ximending became less popular for a while. Then the MRT Bannan Line was completed, and Zhonghua Road has once again prospered under the planning of the Taipei City Government. People gather here for art, culture events, sports, and music performances on weekends and holidays. Along with the crowds, business opportunities are returning to Ximending.
Ximending is not only a witness to the history of Taiwan, but also a leader of fashion for the new generation. Many middle aged people and senior citizens come here to reminisce about the old days, while young people come for the latest fashions. Two totally different lifestyles meet here, as Ximending fulfills the needs of different groups of people.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (in Zhongzheng district, east of Xinyi Distruct, the commercial center of Taipei) is a massive, windowless, white-marble building that looks like a white tunnel with a pagoda-style roof. Built with funds donated by Chiang Kai-shek-loving Chinese from all over the world, the building is modeled after an Egyptian pyramid and the roof is supposed to resemble the Altar of Heaven in Beijing. Inside a Ming-style hall is a huge bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek. Constructed in 1980, this building exhibits classical Chinese architecture. The hall is part of a large park and cultural complex that includes the National Concert Hall and National Theater.
National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall People (formerly the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall) is at the center 60 acres of landscaped gardens, pavilions and ponds. In the morning people gather around the memorial to exercise and do tai chi. A ground-level library displays photos and mementos from the late president's life. The National Theater, Concert Hall and the memorial hall flank a large plaza that has been described as a miniature Tiananmen Square. Both of those building are constructed in traditional Chinese palace style. There is a changing of the guard ceremony every hour.
National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall area covers is 250,000 square meters. Outside the gate are poles carrying the sign of true rightness. The four sides of the hall are similar to those of the pyramids in Egypt. The material is white marble. The roofs are decorated with deep-blue glass to harmonize with the reflection of blue sky and bright sun. The garden is planted with red flowers. The colors of blue, white and red are meant to express the National Flag and the spirit of freedom, equality and brotherhood.
The garden at the hall features beautiful flowers, miniature hills and plants, ponds, ornamental bridge and waterfalls as well as green grass. The walls surrounding the area are built in an old Chinese style. Among the activities that have taken place in the square are a concert of by the Three Tenors, school band performances, cheerleader performances and fairs.
Douglas McGray wrote in the New York Times magazine: “Chiang Kai-shek's memorial... sits in the middle of a sprawling walled garden, towering over a severe plaza that spans several city blocks...Here at Chiang's memorial, students from all over Taiwan gathered in 1990 to demand democratic reforms, including popular elections for the presidency. They called themselves the Wild Lily movement. Early last year, the central government took Chiang Kai-shek's name off his memorial. Now it's the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall. The new sign, marked with a lily, went up just before I got to Taipei. Politicians were still bickering about it. The memorial's collection is a cult-of-personality shrine, assembled in the days when Chiang's party, the Kuomintang, ran the government. It has displays like the Late President Chiang's Everlasting Contributions to the Entire World. Cases full of medals. Chiang's black, rapper-fabulous Cadillacs. And his favorite slippers. (''He loved to wear these shoes when he was pacing during the war against Japan.'')” [Source: Douglas McGray, New York Times magazine, March 23, 2008]
Getting There by Public Transport: Take THSR or train to Taipei Station. transfer Taipei MRT to CKS Memorial Hall Station. Address: No.21, Zhongshan S. Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Tel: -(2)-2343-1100~3; By Road: Nat'l Hwy 1 Taipei Interchange Sec.3 to 1, Chongqing N. Rd. Sec. 1, Zhongxiao W. Rd. Zhongshan S. Rd. Sec. 1, Xinyi Rd. National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (formerly the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall);
Presidential Office Building
Presidential Office Building (about one kilometer northwest of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall) faces the massive East gate, one of the five gates in which people entered Taipei's old city walls. Built by the Japanese in 1919, the five-story Renaissance-style building has a 60-meter-high tower that is illuminated at night and hung with banners during important events. The huge plaza in front of the building is where parades are held on Taiwan's National Day (October 10th). In the plaza in front of the building, the Taiwanese flag is raised in the morning and lowered at nightfall during daily ceremonies.
Presidential Office Building was the governor's mansion during the Japanese colonization period. Towards the end of World War II, the building was seriously damaged by bombing. After the war, the building was re-constructed in 1946 and re-named as "Jieshou Building" in celebration of the 60th birthday of former president Mr. Chiang Kai-shek. The building was used as the presidential mansion after the central government of R.O.C. was re-instated in Taiwan.
The Presidential Office is a red-brick structure with tall spires. The main body of the Presidential Office Building is a five-floor structure and the central tower is eleven-floor high. The floor area is 6,930 square meters. The outer portion is covered with steel and concrete. Gravel is used as a horizontal decoration. The red-white composition is meant to create a sense of grandeur and vigorousness. The Presidential Building was designated a "national historical site" in 1998 and has been open for public tours since then.
Location: The Presidential Office Building is located on Chongqing S. Road and facing Ketagalan Boulevard. On the back it is Bo'ai Road, on the left it is Baoqing Road, and on the right it is Guiyang Street. The Presidential Building is close to Taipei Main Station and Ximending. Getting There by Public Transport: THSR: Take the THSR to Taipei Station, transfer to the MRT or bus. Taiwan High Speed Rail By MRT: Take MRT to NTU Hospital Station or Ximen Station, then walk 15 mins to Presidential Office Building. By Road: 1. Nat'l Hwy 1 Taipei Interchange Sec. 3 to 1, Chongqing N. Rd Sec. 1, Chongqing S. Rd; 2. Nat'l Hwy 3 Zhonghe Interchange County Hwy 106A Jing'an Rd. Zhonghe Rd.- Sec. 1 to 2, Yonghe Rd. Zhongzheng Bridge Sec. 3 to 1, Chongqing S. Rd; Address: No.122, Sec. 1, Chongqing S. Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Tel: -(2)-2311-3731.
PARKS, AMUSEMENT AREAS AND GARDENS IN TAIPEI
228 Peace Memorial Park (near the Presidential Office Building) contains memorials to victims of the February 28 Incident of 1947, including the Taipei 228 Memorial that stands at the center of the park and the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum, housed at the site of a former radio station that operated under Japanese and Kuomintang rule. The National Taiwan Museum stands at the park's north entrance. The park also has a bandshell and exercise areas. is a historic site and municipal park, It is located at 3 Ketagalan Boulevard, Zhongzheng District, Taipei, Taiwan. The park
228 Peace Memorial Taipei Park covers 18 acres and has antique canons, old locomotives, stone tablets and memorial arches that predate the Japanese period. The Taiwan National Museum within the park was built on top of the site of the Matsu Temple, a center or worship during the late Qing dynasty.
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Zhongshan Park (Xinyi District in downtown Taipei) is a popular gathering place with a large garden park, fountain, pond and pagoda. The golden-roofed memorial contains a 25-foot-high bronze statue of a seated Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the father of the Republic of China. There is also a small exhibit with photos, displays of periods of his life, and a half-hour multimedia show about his achievements. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall contains a fine art gallery of modern art, an auditorium, and a large library containing over 140,000 volumes. Beijing opera performances are held in the auditorium and kite-flying is done in the spacious gardens. Getting There: Take the Blue Line 5 to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Station, sometimes labeled as "S.Y.S. Memorial Hall".
Da'an Forest Park (southern Taipei) is occupied by grass lawns, trees, flowers and plants. There is a Buddha Statue and a bamboo forest in the south, an open-air theatre for art performances in the center, and numerous recreational areas. It attracts many visitors and is known as the "lungs of Taipei City". Besides shaded trails for pedestrians and joggers, the park is equipped with a wide range of recreational facilities, including a public square, public bicycles, open-air music stage, children playground, kiosks etc, providing Taipei's citizens with a valuable green space and the best venue for exercise and recreations.
Daan Park is the largest public park in the city. Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times: “It cannot compare to New York's Central Park in size — the width and length each stretch only a few city blocks — but the smattering of tropical foliage, along with paths meandering across a level green field, endow the park with a serene air. You can watch Taipei's dedicated tai chi practitioners going through their moves or perhaps an elderly woman doing a sword dance.” [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, December 9, 2008]
Officially opened in 1994, the park is bordered Jianguo South Road to the east, Xinsheng South Road to the west, Heping East Road to the south, and Xinyi Road to the north. In addition to providing various recreational functions to the public, the park is a place where priceless water resources are nourished. Therefore, the Water Resources Agency, Ministry of Economic Affairs, hopes to educate citizens, by means of formative influences, to cherish the limited water resources; the means include water saving apparatus installed inside the park, the public toilet demo system, and the water purification plant experiment; and to make the park the best showcase of water preservation.
Getting There by Public Transport: THSR Taipei Station (or TRA Taipei Station) Taipei MRT Da'an Station or Technology Building Station. By Road: 1. Nat'l Hwy 1 Exit at the Yuan Mountain (Yuanshan) Interchange Jianguo elevated Rd. Exit at the Xinyi Rd. Interchange Sec. 1 to Sec. 2, Jianguo S. Rd. Sec. 2, Heping E. Rd. Sec. 2, Xinsheng S. Rd; 2. Nat'l Hwy 3 Muzha Interchange Nat'l Hwy 3A Exit at the Taipei Interchange Sec. 3, Xinhai Rd. Sec. 2, Fuxing S. Rd. Sec. 2, Heping E. Rd. Sec. 2, Xinsheng S. Rd. Address: No.1, Sec. 2, Xinsheng S. Rd, Da'an District, Taipei City, Tel: -(2)-2700-3830.
National Taiwan University Area
National Taiwan University (NTU, near Da'an Forest Park, southern Taipei) is the most prestigious university in Taiwan and one of the top ranked universities in the world. It consists of 11 colleges, 56 departments, 112 graduate institutes, four research centers and a school of professional education and continuing studies and has a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry. There are other universities and colleges in the area, including Shih Hsin University
The area around National Taiwan University includes Gongguan Night Market, Jingua Park, the Drinking Water Museum, trendy streets and fashionable neighborhoods. Douglas McGray wrote in the New York Times magazine: The “leafy southern quarter near National Taiwan University: contains “a cluster of old Japanese-era houses...I caught a subway and walked toward a maze of streets behind the university. I stopped to get my bearings in front of a tall apartment building, its window boxes and wrought-iron balconies bursting with flowers. The whole street smelled of flowers. It occurred to me: If the land these houses sit on is unchanged since the Japanese era, then the trees ought to lead me to them. [Source: Douglas McGray, New York Times magazine, March 23, 2008]
“I wandered down Taishun Street. Classes were out for the day. College kids filled the block, the boys in American-style jeans, loose T-shirts and polos, the girls in short skirts. Taishun Street is lined with cheap restaurants and snack counters and drink vendors selling about a million varieties of tea: candy sweet, herbal, bitter, hot, cold, black, white, green. The side streets are crooked and lovely and lined with bookstores, cafes with tiny round tables and names like L'Apres-Midi and Caf?astille, and boutiques selling Japanese street fashion. I walked into a record shop built in the gap between two buildings, so narrow that my shoulders almost brushed the walls. There are no sidewalks, and you have to dodge the occasional buzzing scooter, but it was peaceful, and for a while, I forgot my mission.”
Miramar Entertainment Park Ferris Wheel
The Miramar Entertainment Park is a shopping and entertainment complex intended to offer enough shopping, dining and and entertainment experiences to keep visitors going all day and night. The highlight of this park, which opened at the end of 2004, is a 95-meter-high, 70-meter-in-diameter Ferris wheel that lights up at night.
Miramar Entertainment Park is also home to one of the largest cinema screens. The shopping mall occupies six floors with a number of mid-range and top-end stores like Roberta di Camerino, Chanel and Montblanc. Fashion is not the only thing highlighted in this mall. There’s also sports supplies, toys, accessories and cosmetics, not to mention a good good food court.
Getting There by Public Transport: Take the THSR or train to Taipei Station, continue by MRT to Jiannan Road Station; By Road: 1. Nat'l Hwy 1 Exit at the Yuan Mountain (Yanshan) Interchange Dazhi Bridge Mingshui Rd. Lequn 1st Rd. Jingye 3rd Rd; 2. Nat'l Hwy 3 Xizhi System Interchange Nat'l Hwy 1 Exit at the Tingding Interchange Sec. 2, Jiuzong Rd. Sec. 1 to 2, Tingding Blvd. Lequn 2nd Rd. Jingye 3rd Rd; Address: No.20, Jingye 3rd Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Tel: -(2)-2175-3456.
Maokong Gondola Ride
Maokong (southern tip of Taipei City) is a favorite tourist destination for locals and visitors, who go there to visit its tea plantations and tea houses. The construction of the Maokong Gondola began in 2005, and the system began operation in 2007. It is Taipei City's first high-altitude gondola. This French POMA-made system makes a circuit of four stations: Taipei Zoo Station, Taipei Zoo South Station, Zhinan Temple Station, and Maokong Station. There are also two angle stations where the gondola changes direction.
The total length of the Maokong Gondola is 4.3 kilometers. One-way travel time is about 20 to 30 minutes. The four stops are: Taipei Zoo Station, Taipei Zoo South Station, Zhinan Temple Station, and the Maokong Station. The three most beautiful times to take the gondola are in the midst after rain, when the sun is setting, and when the lights of the city are shining at night. When you reach the second stop, the gondola takes a big turn, and you will get a panoramic view of the landscape. At The final stop of Maokong, there are numerous tea plantations and tea shops.
Getting There by Public Transport: Taipei Zoo Station, Maokong Gondola THSR Taipei Station (or TRA Taipei Station) MRT Taipei Zoo Station By Road: Nat'l Hwy 3 Exit at the Muzha Interchange Sec. 3 to Sec. 2, Xinguang Rd. Nat'l Hwy 3 Exit at the Muzha Interchange Sec. 3 to Sec. 2, Xinguang Rd. Wanfu Bridge Sec. 5 to Sec. 4, Muzha Rd. Sec. 1, Muxin Rd. Daonan Bridge Sec. 2 to Sec. 3, Zhinan Rd. Lane 38, Sec. 3, Zhinan Rd; THSR Taipei Station (or TRA Taipei Station) MRT Wangfang Community Station Taipei City Bus (No. Small 10) Maokong Gondola Station; Address: Sec. 2, Xinguang Rd, Wenshan District, Taipei City, Tel: -(2)-218-12345.
Taipei Botanical Garden
Botanical Gardens (next to the National Historical Museum) features a Grecian-style building with a green copper dome and roof built by the Japanese and houses a collection of artifacts and relics. It is surrounded by a charming botanical garden and park with palm trees, shrubbery, pagoda-like pavilions and small ponds,
Established in 1921, the Botanical Garden has been a fixture of Taipei for a long time. Many people come here to appreciate the lotus in summer and falling leaves in winter. In 1930, there were 1129 species in the garden, planted for academic research and natural science. However, the garden was deserted during World War II. After the war, the garden was rearranged and new plants were introduced. Currently, the garden is well maintained and has over 100 species of plants.
There are 17 districts in the garden, exhibiting various plants. The nine ponds are designed to grow different plants. As a green space in an urban landscape where green space is at a minimum, the garden is a popular place for Taipei citizens to relax and escape the busy city.. The garden is next to National History Museum, Science Museum and Art Museum.
Getting There by Public Transport: Take the THSR or train to Taipei Station, transfer Taipei MRT to National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (formerly the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall) Station; By Road: Nat'l Hwy 1 Taipei Interchange Sec. 3 to 1, Chongqing N. Rd. Sec. 1 to 2, Chongqing S. Rd. Nanhai Rd; Address: No.53, Nanhai Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Tel: -(2)-2303-9978.
Taipei Zoo (in the rolling hills of the suburb of Mucha) is one of the largest zoos in Asia. It houses animals from all over the world in humane "natural" habitats with low walls or ditches. Cages are used only for animals that are likely to escape or attack somebody. There is a butterfly house and a garden show with native species.
The Taipei Zoo has over 3,000 animals from 300 different species. Pandas given to Taiwan by mainland China as a goodwill gesture are housed in the zoo. On weekdays, visitors may visit the Xinguang Special Exhibit House (Giant Panda House) without panda-visiting tickets but on weekends and holidays, visitors need a panda-visiting ticket, which can be obtained at the Taipei Zoo entrance.
Upon entering the grounds, the extremely popular panda facility on your left. If you can't find the cute pandas, don't worry; they're probably sunning themselves! Next, take the visitors' tram. Listen to the recorded guide as he takes you along to the bird sanctuary, the Amphibians and Reptile House, the Penguin House and other areas such as the Tropical, African, Australian, Desert Animal Areas. In the Insect House, it is possible to come in contact with insects up close. On holidays, explanations are given at each site. Free-guided tours are also available upon advanced reservation. And if you love animals, you can consider adopting an animal and becoming its babysitter!
Getting There by Public Transport: Take the THSR or train to Taipei Station, continue by MRT to Taipei Zoo Station; By Road: 1. Nat'l Hwy 1? Exit at the Yuanshan Interchange Jianguo Hwy Bridge Exit at the Xinhai Rd. Sec. 2 to 3, Xinhai Rd. Nat'l Hwy 3A Exit at the Wangfang Interchange Sec. 5, Muzha Rd. Wangfu Bridge Sec. 2, Xinguang Rd; 2. Nat'l Hwy 3 Muzha Interchange Sec. 3 to 2, Xinguang Rd; Address: No.30, Sec. 2, Xinguang Rd, Wunshan District, Taipei City, Tel: -(2)-2938-2300.
Guandu Nature Park
Guandu Nature Park (southwest of the Guandu Plain in Taipei Basin) is a low-lying land area located where the Keelung River joins the Tamsui River. The main environments of the park are freshwater ponds, brackish ponds, swamps, rice paddies and mounds. Because of the diverse ecological environment, the area is home to numerous varieties of animals and plants.
The Guandu Park was established to help preserve the precious natural resources of this land. The area of the park is about 57 hectares, including the main facility area, core reserved area, and the outdoor observation area. With the aid of wooden trails, bird-watching cabins and tour guides, Guandu Nature Park will open the gateway to nature and allow you to experience the natural world close up. Over 200 species of wild birds can be found in Taipei area alone, and the park is one of the best place in Taiwan for bird watching
After years of effort spent, finally in December 2001, the Wild Bird Society of Taipei was entrusted by the Taipei City Government with the authority to manage the park; becoming the first nonprofit organization to do so. This is an excellent example of a governmental organization and a civic organization working together to achieve environmental preservation as well as public education. The park provides printed information in Chinese, English and Japanese, and reservations can be made in advance for an English-speaking guide.
The nature center serves as the information center, exhibition center, research center, and the service center of the park. On the first floor are the biological display, auditorium, and presentation room and gift shop. On the second floor are the observatory bird watching area, special exhibition area, classroom, and the refreshments area. The major function of the center is to promote education about wetland ecological systems. Activities such as guided tours, multi-media shows, special exhibitions, lectures, tutoring, and consultations are arranged on a regular basis.
The various aquatic plants and water-tolerant plants along the shallow Quitzekeng River form the typical riverside landscape of a wetland. Influenced by the ebb and flow of the tides, fishes and animals that have adapted to seawater are dominant in this area. Birds also feed and rest along the riverside.
Getting There by Public Transport: Take THSR or train to Taipei Station, transfer Taipei MRT to Guandu Station, transfer Taipei City Bus (No. Red 35, Small 23) to Guandu Nature Park Stop. By Road: Nat'l Hwy 1 Taipei Interchange Prov. Hwy 2B Guandu Rd; Address: No.55, Guandu Rd, Beitou District, Taipei City, Tel: -(2)-2858-7417.
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: Taiwan (Republic of China) tourism and government websites, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Updated in August 2020