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One day in Taipei

Sightseeing guide for one day in Taipei

Here's my one day in Taipei guide for the busy business traveller. I know that for many, business travel sounds really glamorous. Like we sit at the front of the plane, drink cocktails while watching the sunset among the skyscrapers. Reality is slightly different. More about sleeping and eating at your economy seat - as the plane will arrive too late for anything else - long hours at the office - to get done all those ASAP mushrooming as soon as you arrive - and of course having zero time beyond that Bermuda Triangle of office-hotel-airport.

But if you ask me, I am thankful for travel as part of my job, mainly because I think it's well worth the effort. It provides an awesome opportunity for personal and professional growth. Meeting colleagues and customers overseas, understanding local market dynamics, is a straight source of outstanding knowledge. On one hand, to reconsider "stablished" ideas in your mind. On the other, to identify new strategies which can hopefully be replicated somewhere else with successful results. While those with artsy background often look East for exotic inspiration, we do exactly the same. Since my visit to India - already 4 years ago, it became clear that what works in Europe or US may not necessarily be applicable for Asia. However, something that turned profitable in a poor country, may result on increased margins back West.

Now. I'll stop reflecting about work to start telling you how to make the most of one day in Taipei - thanks to some local Taipei insight from my good old friend from Tokyo, now reallocated there and my new friend from Spain, staying there temporarily but being an expert after more than 6 months of research. Indeed, Taipei is the unknown pearl of Asia, feels like Tokyo blended with a pinch of Hong Kond craze: Clean, safe, new, organized but also equipped with heavy duty Night-markets, Taoist temples and special cuisine.

Taipei is only a short flight away from Asian Megacities: 3h from Bangkok or Tokyo, 2h from Manila, 1.5h from Hong Kong. So if you are based in the area, I'd suggest to spend a weekend exploring Taipei. It'll be a good introduction to Taiwan, the tropical island heavily influenced by Japan and China, crystallising the best of both worlds. Maybe good alternative to the beaten-track worth adding to your travel bucket list?

Anyway, here's my route for one day in Taipei:

1. Taipei Morning Walk : Bo-Pi-Lao Historical District「剝皮寮歷史街區」, Longshan Temple「龍山寺」,  Ximending「西門町」,  Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall「中正紀念堂」

Sightseeing guide for one day in Taipei : Morning Walk

Staying at the Executive Floor of Taipei Garden Hotel was a good way to start, you'll soon see why. Besides the facilities, the hotel is within walking distance from some of the top sights of Taipei, which makes it really easy to see a lot in a reduced time. The streets are well marked, so it's nearly impossible to get lost, here's my route :

- Exit the hotel and follow Guangzhou street, until you arrive to a sign marking the start of Bo Pi Liao historical district, our first stop.
- After exploring the Pre-Japanese Colonial Era, exit to the Kanding Rd side and go back to Guangzhou street, soon you are at Longshan Temple, our second stop.
- Once you smell like smoked salmon - Tao style, it's time to take Guangzhou street back to Taipei Garden Hotel. Once there, follow Zhounghun Rd to the North until arriving at Ximen MRT station「西門」.
- Find 6 in one of the huge numbers that mark the subway (MRT) exits, there is where Ximending starts.
- Ximending district is like the Harajuku of Taipei. Packed with teems & shops, it's perfect to shop till you drop - specially Korean cosmetics.
- When you run out of cash, catch a glimpse of the Red House and follow your steps backwards, until Aiguo Rd.
- Follow Aiguo Rd to the East, until the National Theater - one of the corners of the huge park where the Memorial Hall is located.

Longshan Temple, Bo-Pi-Lao Historical District, Ximending, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Google MAP here

2. Taipei Afternoon Walk : Elephant Mountain aka Xiangshan「象山」to Taipei 101 and late lunch

Sightseeing guide for one day in Taipei : Afternoon Walk

Taipei is widely known because of 101. Once the highest skyscraper in the World, it's now surrounded by cool stores, clubs and restaurants. But as my friend put it, why should you pay to visit the tower observatory, when you can catch great views of it for free? It just takes a short hike up Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain) and you're there. But we were at the Memorial Hall, right? Here's how to get here:
- Find MRT Chiang-Kai sheik station (exit 7 is real close to the big white gate) and get in the red line (direction to 101).
- Get off at the last station i.e. Xiangshan. Take exit 2 and walk south along Zhongkiang Park and soon you'll find the way to climb it (marked 象山登山步道).
- Once you're done with the hiking, walk back your steps and explore Xinyi Shopping district i.e. malls, clubs and restaurants around 101 - we had a great lunch at The Diner

Elephant mountain access map for Taipei 101 views free of charge
Google MAP here

3. Taipei Night Walk : Shilin Night Market「士林夜市」

Sightseeing guide for one day in Taipei : Exploring the Shilin Night Market 士林夜市

Night Markets are the soul of Taipei. Girls recommend them for shopping, guys claim to only come for the food. Either way, Night Markets are a MUST when in Taipei. There are many night markets in Taipei. The most famous are Shilin「士林夜市」, National Nomal University「師大夜市」Ningxia「寧夏夜市」, Tonghua「通化夜市」. But there are also many others, you can find any of them by putting 夜市 in the map. While my friend had recommended「师大夜市」 as it is very very big and great for fashion shopping, we picked Shilin because it was more convenient in terms of MRT transit. It was getting late and we had important meetings to face the day after. To access Shilin from 101 was easy:
- Get on MRT red line, at Taipei 101.
- Get off at Jiantan Station, pick EXIT 1 - follow the people and enjoy!

The market opens at 16:00 until late into the night - we left at 22 and it was buzzling with people...

Shilin Night Market access map
Google MAP here


Anonymous said...

Hola Claudia,

Soy una fan de tu blog. Ya echaba de menos que actualizaras :P

Me gustaría preguntarte sobre hoteles/hostales en Estocolmo. No sé si sabrías recomendarme alguno que esté bien pero que no sea muy caro... Estamos pensando en ir allí unos días pero todo lo que vemos es carísimo!

Gracias y enhorabuena por tu blog :)

Clau said...


Me alegro de que te guste el blog. Últimamente tengo problemas para actualizarlo, principalmente porque Enrique está trabajando en Estados Unidos y yo estoy viajando mucho también. Así que se me acumulan las cosas, dentro y fuera de la oficina. Llego y me vuelvo a marchar. Pero bueno, pronto parará que los viajes son muy caros :)

Respecto al alojamiento en Estocolmo, estás en lo cierto. Por Södermalm tienes el Red Boat que es bastante más económico que otros. Pero si la idea de estar en un barco no te seduce, prueba el siguiente...

También hay un hotel cerca de donde solía ir yo a rayos, que al menos desde fuera tenía muy buena pinta, el Best Western Plus Time . Está a un paso de Odenplan, vamos que te plantas en el centro o coges la linea verde en un momentico.
Parece muy nuevo y confortable.

Clau said...

El Confort Hotel este tambien parece guay, pero se ve algo más carillo (por eso de que esrá mas cerca de T-Centralen)

Creo que la mejor opción es el Best Time, que el barco es un poco extremo, creo yo.

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