Taipei is the capital city of Taiwan and is one of two entry points for travelers visiting Taiwan. While the country offers incredible sightseeing, be sure not to skip Taipei itself during your travels. Here are five popular sights to not miss on your visit to Taipei.
1. National Palace Museum
Although the layout of this museum can be frustrating as it seems to make no logical sense, it is still worth a visit. The National Palace Museum in Taipei is actually home to the largest permanent collection of Chinese antiquities in the world. There are over 675,000 artifacts and artworks on display that encompass over 8,000 years of Chinese history.
Now that Taiwan is loosening restrictions and mainland Chinese are visiting Taiwan in organized tour groups, one of the most important stops on their itineraries is the National Palace Museum. Just a note, the National Palace Museum is not located near a MRT and the only way to visit is to take the bus or a taxi cab. You are not allowed to even bring a camera inside so be ready to check it or leave it back in your hotel.
On certain days, the museum offers extended hours and free admission after a certain time.
National Palace Museum
No. 221, Sec.2, Jhihshan Road
Taipei City, Taiwan
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Tickets: TWD 160
2. Taipei 101
Until the completion of Burj Khalifa earlier this year, Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world. While it is nice to see the building from the outside, the trip up to the observation decks is worth it as it gives you one of the best views of Taipei. The observation decks are located on the 89th through 91st floors and on a clear day, you will be treated to unsurpassed views that extend from the western coast of Taiwan to the mountains that separate Taipei from the eastern coast.
Once you are upstairs, there are several interesting exhibits and the chance to get up close and personal with the tuned-mass damper that keeps Taipei 101 stable during earthquakes and typhoon winds. Be sure to enjoy the amazing coral and other artifacts on display on the 88th floor as well.
For a real treat, considering making reservations at one of the restaurants located on the 85th floor to enjoy high end cuisine coupled with the incredible views of Taipei.
89F, No 7 Hsin Yi (also spelled Xin Yi) Road, Sec 5, Taipei 110
9am – 10pm, last entry at 9:15pm
Tickets: $400 NT
Ticketing is on 5th floor of the Taipei 101 Shopping Mall
3. Longshan Temple
Longhsan Temple is one of the oldest and more interesting Buddhist temples in Taiwan. It is quite scenic inside with a waterfall inside the courtyard and the neighboring pond. The temple is always very busy so try to respect those who are there for religious observation. To see the temple at the height of religious worshippers, try for 6am, 8am, and 5pm.
During Chinese holidays, the temple features parades and other ceremonies based on the specific holiday. Longshan Temple is easily reached by MRT (there is a Longshan Temple stop on the blue line) and it is located near the popular Snake Alley Night Market area that still brings curious tourists in to see the giant snakes on display.
211 Gunagzhou Street
Hours: 6am – 10:20pm
4. Shilin Night Market
Although there are less crowded night markets, be sure to stop by the Shilin Night Market to experience the crazed frenzy of the Taipei Night Market scene. On weekends, you may find yourself elbow to elbow with the locals and other tourists as you try to navigate the tiny alleys and streets. There is a bustling food hall where you can try many of the Taiwanese food specialties, including oyster omelets, stinky tofu, and bubble tea. Then go wander around to scope out the best bargains and interesting shops that call the Shilin area home.
To visit the Shilin Night Market area, take the red line on the MRT and exit at Jiantan Station. Follow the smells and the crowds across the street and there you are. To learn more about other Taipei night markets, please see the article, 5 Taipei Night Markets to Visit.
5. Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall
Some people will say to skip this one as it is overrated, but the beauty of the gardens and surrounding area are worth a visit alone. The blue and white memorial stands as a monument to Chiang Kai-Shek, who fled mainland China with the Nationalist party after unsuccessful attempts to eradicate communism in China. He was the President of Taiwan (Republic of China) until his death in 1975.
There is a larger than life statue erected in his honor and there are daily changing of the guard ceremonies that are worth watching if you have time. Check for the daily schedule but it is usually done hourly. When visiting the memorial complex, be sure to visit the National Theater and Concert Hall that are excellent examples of traditional Chinese architecture and very popular entertainment venues in Taiwan.
Chiang-Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
21 Zhongshan S Road, Taipei
MRT stop: Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall
Hours: 9am – 5pm