Discover Taipei and Taiwan
This mesmerising city, the gateway to Taiwan, is a one-of-a-kind Asian experience that embraces fun, food, culture, history and nature.
Air New Zealand flies non-stop from Auckland to Taipei. Domestic connections are available from Air New Zealand serviced airports. On all flights to and from Taipei you have a choice of Economy, Economy Skycouch™, Premium Economy and Business Premier™. The flight time between Taipei and Auckland is around 11 hours.
The extraordinary history of Taiwan has made the city of Taipei a magnificent mix of Asian cultures, with a sprinkling of expat society as a finishing touch. Fill your days with exploring, fun and shopping, then feast on local street food delicacies at the night markets. Old and new, intriguing and wonderful, amusing and complicated - Taipei is totally captivating.
Taipei sightseeing tours
An easy way to get familiar with Taipei and its main attractions is with a hop-on hop-off bus tour. These distinctive red double-decker buses loop around the city, allowing you to easily explore all the main points of interest.
The public transport in Taipei is legendary - too good to ignore. Buy an Easy Card and you'll get discounted metro and bus rides, as well as free 30-minute rides on YouBike public bicycles. If you'd prefer transport with the personal touch, there's a huge range of guided tours in Taipei.
Best places to eat in Taipei
Eating out is so embedded into Taipei culture that some city apartments don't even have a kitchen. The casual restaurants and street food markets offer fantastic value for money - they're cheap, cheerful and the choice of dishes is vast. At the other end of the scale, there's a growing collection of Taipei Michelin star fine dining restaurants that serve up an exceptional Asian-fusion cuisine experience.
For a local's perspective of the cuisine scene, consider a Taipei Eats food tour. It's an off-the-beaten-path progressive dinner of night market street food, complete with a guide who speaks English. You'll discover the classic flavours of Taipei, such as stinky tofu and blood cake, as well as some you didn't know existed, like deep fried milk and da chang bao xiao chang (small sausage wrapped in a big sausage).
Coffee has been a part of Taipei culture since Fong Da coffee house opened in 1956. Fong Da is still going strong, using vintage equipment to create modern caffeine fixes - even cold-drip coffee.
Taipei's unforgettable nightlife
Like daytime Taipei, after dark Taipei is surprising, complex and diverse – but even more so. The city has a considerable population of expats who like to have a good time with cocktails, light shows and dancing – Carnegies and On Tap are two places that thrive on expat attention. There are also classic speakeasy-styled bars that take their mixology very seriously. For live music, EZ5 hosts some great local acts and the ticket price includes food and drinks.
When you want Taipei nightlife with a massive city view, there's a choice of rooftop bars. There's WET Bar on top of the luxurious W Hotel, Quube on the fifth floor of Le Meridien and FRANK rooftop bar in Xinyi. The biggest views of all can be found up the bamboo-inspired Taipei 101 skyscraper, a towering landmark with shops, eateries, bars and an observation deck.
Discovering Taiwan's culture and traditions
Taiwan's human history can be traced back to the prehistoric Stone Age, when Austronesian people lived on the island. Interestingly, there is proven lineage running from Taiwan's inhabitants of 5000 years ago to modern-day Polynesians, including Māori. Today around 2% of Taiwan's population are direct descendants of the original Taiwanese.
Most of the other inhabitants of Taiwan descend from the Han Chinese people who settled in the Taipei Basin in 1709. In the 300+ years since, Taipei has experienced a series of turbulent changes. All of this adds up to a collection of captivating stories that can be understood and appreciated at museums and memorials.
Throughout the city, magnificent historic buildings and landmarks are carefully maintained to ensure the past remains part of the present. You can visit temples, bridges, public parks, museums, memorials, forts and old hotels. If you take a tour, a local guide will retell the stories associated with every location.
Nature-based things to do in Taiwan
A big plus for a holiday in Taipei is the close proximity of wilderness and park areas. For a quick burst of nature, catch the Maokong gondola for a 30-minute ride up into the forested mountains to the south of Taipei. The views are spectacular and you can enjoy tea-flavoured ice cream at the top.
North of the city is the Yangmingshan National Park, which has cycling routes, hiking trails and a really impressive volcano - Qixing Mountain. The gold mining village of Jiufen in the Northeast Coast National Scenic Area is another significant Taiwan attraction. In particular, Jiufen Old Street is an amazing place for a glimpse of the past.
The train journey from Taipei to Taroko National Park is a fantastic way to see rural Taiwan, the coast and some extraordinary mountain scenery. The highlight of Taroko is the gorge - a whopping 19km canyon that's considered by many to be the most extraordinary landscape feature in Taiwan.
Sun Moon Lake is another stop to add to a multi-day excursion beyond Taipei. It's famous for the Wenwu Temple and the Sun Moon Lake Ropeway, a gondola ride that glides up to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village, a highly entertaining theme park in Yuchi.
Further south is Alishan National Forest Recreation Area, a mountainous park that's 2000 metres above sea level. Up here you can walk the trails, sip tea and appreciate an extraordinary sunrise by hiking the Zhushan Sunrise Trail before daybreak. The park has a sprinkling of hotels, restaurants, and cafes.
For a touch of the tropics in Taiwan, Kenting National Park at the southern end of the island has beautiful beaches, coral reef snorkelling and limestone caves.
Best time to go
Taipei is in a sub-tropical region, so temperatures are mostly comfortable. Many people choose to visit during the driest months - October, November, December and January. March to May is a great time to visit if you prefer moderate temperatures and don't mind some rainy days. Summer - June to August - is the official off-peak time, which means you'll be able to score some excellent accommodation deals.
How much will it cost?
While hotel room prices are similar to Tokyo and Hong Kong, it's generally cheaper to holiday in Taipei. Street food stalls and markets are the cheapest way to eat – a meal will cost around $5NZD. Basic local restaurants are cheap too – expect to pay around $10 per person. A multi-course meal in one of Taipei's best restaurants will be around $100 per person (without wine). A day pass for public transport is about $7.
Keep exploring Taipei
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