Weekly Travel Q&A: Taipei with Time on Your Hands
I have a week-long conference to attend in Taipei next month. While the thought of being cooped up in an overly air-conditioned convention centre for hours on end doesn’t exactly thrill me to bits, I am eager to explore the city on my down time. Any suggestions? I love to walk and visit museums, cool hotels and great restaurants!
Chloe H., Canberra
Taipei skyline – Photo credit
Seven days in Taipei, conference or not, should give you plenty of time to get a real taste of the city. If you can tack on an extra weekend to stretch it out, bravo.
Hotels first. You may or may not have a conference package in place but just in case, do yourself a favour and check out the stellar Hotel Quote Taipei. Architect/designer Ray Chen, a native of Taiwan, won “Most Influential Designer in Asia” a few years back and the property is a flagship in his extensive cache, which also includes many notable avant-garde works for the Eslite retail chain. (Make a point to visit Xinyi District and his Eslite bookstore there.)
For a grand, contemporary statement, you can hardly do better than the Shangri-La Far Eastern Plaza Hotel Taipei, in Da’an District. East-West dÃ©cor, sumptuous suites, rooftop pool and spa – the whole nine.
Food-wise, how can you go wrong in Taipei? On a per capita basis, few places take meal-time more seriously. Meal-time, by the way, is just about all the time – from a 3 a.m. street vendor to a 3 p.m. tea ceremony.
L’idiot (Section 3, 156 Minsheng East Road, Songshan District) is a delight. The restaurant serves fresh, seasonal Mediterranean cuisine with obvious deft and skill. The room is exquisite.
San Hsi T’ang Restaurant (221 Zhishan Road, Shihlin District), another Ray Chen product, has a delectable menu of Chinese snacks and provides visitors with yet another reason to linger at the National Palace Museum.
Shin Yeh (No. 45 Shihfu Road, Sinyi District) is not quite at the top of Taipei 101 but 85 floors above the city is quite a vantage point. Best of all, the food is divine and the premium is well worth it.
Aoba (116 Anhe Road, Da’an District) hits the reset button on Taiwanese classics and serves them in a funky, sleek space to boot.
Museums to include on your city itinerary include the National Palace Museum, Taipei Fine Arts Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei. MoCa Taipei was a pioneer in East Asia, most notably as a repository for international art.
Taipei markets were made for pedestrian fun. If you like to walk, shop, people-watch and munch at the same time, drop in on Shilin Night Market. The landmark icon is the veritable pulse point of Taipei and a sensorial phantasmagoria. Almost every district has a night market too, so pencil in others like Raohe Street Night Market (Songshan), Tong Hua Street Night Market (Da’an), Shida Night Market (Da’an), Huaxi Street Night Market (Wanhua), Wanhua Night Market (Wanhua), Jingmei Night Market (Wenshan), Nanjichang Night Market (Zhongzheng), Ningxia Road Night Market (Datong), Gongguan Night Market (Zhongzheng) and Shuangcheng Street Night Market (Zhongshan).