72 hours in Taipei
Your non-stop flight from Auckland is scheduled to arrive at Taoyun Airport in the late afternoon. You can catch the new high-speed train to Taiwan Main Station (35 minutes), then the MRT train or taxi from there to your accommodation.
We recommend you stay somewhere around Ximen Station, so that you'll have easy access to the vibrant street shopping, food and nightlife of Ximending; several popular Taipei attractions and the amazing MRT transport system.
Things to do when you first arrive:
- Freshen up and change into comfortable walking shoes, it's time to stretch your legs a little to help reset your body clock to local time.
- Ask your accommodation to recommend a street food stall or restaurant - they're everywhere. You could even keep it light and snack at several as you walk.
- Dip your toes into the Ximending night market streets to get a feel for the hip Taipei vibe and to get your bearings for a proper visit another night.
- Find a dessert food stall or celebrate your arrival with a night cap at one of Ximending's trendy
Most shops are open from 10am until midnight and night markets run from around 5pm until 1am, so mornings are perfect for exploring Taipei’s landmarks and fascinating attractions before hitting the shops and markets.
Things to see and do today:
- If you like to start the day with great coffee, head to Fong Da Coffee House. Operating since 1956, they offer a huge menu of espresso coffees and teas, as well as toasted sandwiches and all kinds of decadent cakes.
- Walk east on Chengdu Road and around the Jordan store to lane 10 for a photo outside the iconic Red House. Built in 1908, this was Taipei's first public market and is now a cultural centre with regular live performances and exhibitions. At night the square is home to more than 20 small bars and cafés.
- The National Museum of History next to Taipei Botanical Garden is renowned for Chinese art masterpieces that cover the dynasties.
- Head east for a cheap feed at Jin Fen Braised Pork Rice. They serve a highly-rated version of Taipei's popular Lu Rou Fan (minced pork on rice) and Kong Ba (melt-in-your-mouth fatty braised pork). There’s usually a queue, but it moves quickly. Finish off with a bubble tea from one of the nearby shops.
- Catch the metro back to Ximen Station and head to the shops, street stalls and night market atmosphere of Ximending shopping district. Often compared to Tokyo's Harajuku neighbourhood, this neighbourhood lights up with neon, food stalls, street performers and bars.
- For something completely fun and quirky, grab a bite at the Modern Toilet Restaurant - the name says it all.
Today has a history focus. You'll explore old Dadaocheng, then escape the city to see an amazing collection of artefacts at the National Palace Museum. The evening finds you back in the city at one of Taipei’s oldest and best night markets.
Things to see and do:
- Hit the streets for a traditional carb and egg-based Taiwanese breakfast, like soup dumplings, egg crepe or warm soy milk, which comes with light crunchy fried dough sticks. Super cheap and totally yum.
- From Beimen Station, walk north along Tacheng Street to historic Dihua Street in Dadaocheng. Take your time to enjoy the architecture, traditional shops, fabric market, temples, food outlets and Chinese herbalists. This is a real taste of old Taipei.
- Catch bus or metro services to the National Palace Museum. Allow several hours to explore this impressive edifice. It offers a vast collection of outstanding ancient Chinese art across four floors, including paintings, bronzes, jade, ceramics and more.
- For dinner and evening entertainment, discover the famous Shilin night market. This is the perfect opportunity to sample a variety of Taiwanese street food dishes. There are more than 500 outlets serving classics like Hot Star chicken, soft shell crab, dumplings, prawns, oyster omelettes, spicy pork sausages and the famous stinky tofu.
Dating back to the Qing Dynasty, Jiufen was a sleepy little village until gold was discovered in 1893. Then it became a gold rush town. Its position in the hills above the East China Sea is gloriously picturesque. There are various ways to get to Jiufen from Taipei – you can catch the Keelung Bus (route 1062), take the train to Rueifang Station and then catch a local bus, or you can use a shuttle service.
Things to see and do in Jiufen:
- Explore enchanting Jiufen Old Street, which is a collection of horizontal and vertical areas connected with steps. This street was the film set for Hayao Miyazaki's Academy Award winning movie 'Spirited Away'.
- Enjoy the town's retro Chinese and Japanese cafés, tea houses and souvenir shops. Try the local favourite dish - taro balls in a sweet red bean soup.
- Hike or bus up to Gold Ecological Park to see a slice of 1930s gold mining life. A highlight of this attraction is the Beishan Fifth Tunnel, where you can venture right into the mine. The museum at the park has what’s believed to be the largest gold bar in the world.
- Catch a cab and head to Houtong Cat Village, where literally of hundreds of cats have made the village a popular tourist spot. This town was originally a coal mining settlement, but today its riches are fur and purrs.
- Back in the city, celebrate your last night in Taipei at Linjiang Street night market. Smaller and quieter than Shilin night market, it has a very authentic feel.
Refreshed and renewed, you're ready to head home or continue your Taiwan holiday by picking up a car, jumping on a train or catching a domestic flight