Taipei (台北) is among one of the most enjoyable capitals in Asia. It is a super modern city, but also has many historical attractions. In addition, you will find many art projects and at the night markets you can taste the most amazing delicacies you can think of. And from Taipei you can make nice day trips into the region, including the small town of Tam Sui. In short: this city with 2.5 million inhabitants is a fantastic destination in Taiwan to spend a few days. In this travel guide you will learn more about the history, the best sights, where to stay and how to get there. Let’s go to Taipei…
What would you like to know about Taipei, Taiwan?
- A brief history of Taipei
- Sightseeing – What to do in Taipei?
- Accommodation – Where to stay?
- Transport – How to get there?
A brief history of Taipei
Taipei is a city of about 2.5 million people, but if you include the adjacent towns of New Taipei and Keelung then you are easily at 8 million inhabitants. Taiwan used to be inhabited by a people called the Ketagalan. They are officially considered the original inhabitants of the island. But not much is known about their history.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Formosa, as Taiwan was then called, was dominated by the Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch. During Dutch rule, more and more Han Chinese, mainland residents from China, came to Taiwan. They settled on the island around 1700.
The city grew considerably around 1875. A number of buildings you can visit in Taipei date from this time, including a number of city gates and the Taipei Confucius Temple. Also, the first railroad line on the island was built between Taipei and Keelung. When the Japanese conquered Taiwan in 1895, they named the city Taihoku. The Japanese left the island in 1945, at the end of World War II.
When the Communists led by Mao Zedong defeated the nationalists of Chiang Kai Shek in mainland China, the nationalists fled to Taiwan. The Kuomintang, Chiang Kai Shek’s party ruled from the city of Taipei. Thus, you can visit his memorial here. In the next chapter you will learn more about the best sights in Taipei.
Sightseeing – What to do in Taipei?
A Taiwan tour starts in Taipei and ends in this fascinating city. If you have the time, try to spend at least 3 full days here. Below, you can find a list with the most important sights of Taipei.
Taipei 101: From 2004 to 2007, this was the highest building in the world. With a height of 508 metres, this skyscraper rises above the city and from the top floor you have an amazing view of the city. And from Elephant Hill, you have a magnificent view of the Taipei 101.
Chang Kai-Shek Memorial: Chang Kai-Shek was the leader of Taiwan for decades until his death in 1975. His memorial is a tribute to the leader who fled from Mao Zedong’s communists in 1948 and founded the Republic of China on this island. The changing of the guard that takes place every hour is particularly impressive to see.
National Palace Museum: When Chang Kai-Shek fled to Taiwan, he and his followers took a number of valuable treasures with them. These can be seen in this impressive museum. Here you get a good explanation of the history of the Republic of China, but also of the People’s Republic on the mainland. The Nationalists, of whom Chang Kai-Shek was the leader, saw themselves as the real and modern China.
Of course, Taipei has many more great attractions that you should definitely visit. Here is a list of the 10 best historical sights of the capital of Taiwan.
Accommodation – Where to stay in Taipei?
In Taipei, I stayed in two hostels. On arrival, I stayed in C U Hotel. This hotel is located about one kilometre north of Taipei Station and nearby you will find the Nin-Xia night market where you can get delicious food. The hotel also has dormitories for up to 4 people. If you’re going for peace and quiet, then this is a must, as the beds are fine. If you want more sociability, I do not recommend this hotel. There is no common area where you can meet people. For the latter, the next hostel is a great option.
On the way back, I stayed in hostel TaipeiTaipei. It is located south of the main train station and has, apart from good rooms and beds, a cosy bar where you can meet people and have a beer. There are more hostels in this area, so there is plenty of choice. This hostel is also close to the Chang Kai-Shek Memorial and the 28-2 park.
Food & Drink: Anyone visiting Taipei should not miss the night markets. Throughout the city you can find them and taste the most delicious dishes, including Stinky Smelly Tofu. Some of the best known night markets are Raohe and Shilin.
Transport – How to get there?
The main airport of Taipei and Taiwan is Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. Located 40 kilometres west of the city, KLM and China Airlines, the country’s airline, fly direct to this airport. From Taoyuan Airport, you can take a train to the city centre. And from Taipei Station, the modern metro is a great way to explore the city. Taipei Station is also the place to take the bus or train to continue your journey through Taiwan.
Next destination in Taiwan?
Have you seen the main attractions of the city? Then, continue your journey clockwise or anti-clockwise to the south. Personally, I continued my trip to Taichung and not to Hualien, because before this last destination you will visit the beautiful Taroko National Park. Then you have something to look forward to for the whole trip.
Do you have any fun ideas or comments about Taiwan? Then feel free to leave a message below.