THSR
Photo Credit: Chun-Chih FAN

To a foreigner, travelling in Taiwan is always about Taipei. If you are one of those who believe that a trip to Taipei can conclude Taiwan, I have to say you are missing out a lot.

Completed in 2007, Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) was put into service in the same year, connecting the North and the South of Taiwan like never before. Thanks to the THSR, people can now easily navigate among major cities across the island within an hour or two.

While the capital in the North shows you the youthfulness and vibrancy of the country, the South of Taiwan, on the other hand, surprises you with its rich cultural resurgence and stunning scenery. A rail trip around Taiwan tells a full story of the country’s lure.

Go hop on a THSR train and travel like a local around Taiwan!

 

THSR Taipei Station

Taipei Station Photo Credit: Lawrence Yee

Taipei station is the busiest THSR stop of all. Located in Zhongzheng district, Taipei Station is at the very center of the capital with many of the city’s best tourist spots around.

Taipei shows you both the dynamic and romantic sides of the city. One can experience the prosperity of a big city in the urban center, and also the unique Taiwanese romance in the beautiful suburbs. Within Taipei City, you can get to almost everywhere by Taipei metro (MRT).

-Ximending-

Ximending Photo Credit: kendocalrissian

Ximending is in every sense one of the most popular spots for both local and international visitors. Resembling Shibuya in Japan, Ximending features a massive variety of fashion and entertainment activities.

A day in Ximending doesn’t simply end with crazy shopping. Check out the Walking Street at night. You will be amazed by the awesome food stalls selling the most local Taiwanese food along the street. If you are energetic enough, spend the remaining night in a bar or club or even a karaoke room! Ximending never fails to awaken one’s memories in youth.

How to go: Take MRT Blue Line 5 or Green Line 3 to Ximen (西門)

What To Do in Ximending:

1. Red House Theater

西門紅樓

The Red House is one of the landmarks in Taipei city. Built in 1908 during the Japanese colonization era, this Western-style building is now preserved as a heritage site. Today, the complex serves as an arts space which often hosts concerts and cultural events.

One thing you should know: The square behind the Red House building is home to Taipei’s largest LGBT district. The area features a wide range of awesome bars welcoming all visitors. Go sip a drink and enjoy the open atmosphere in one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in Asia.

-Red House Theater-
Address: No.10 Chengdu Rd., Wanhua Dist., Taipei,Taiwan
Opening hours: Sun – Thu 11am – 9:30pm (Close on Mondays)
Fri – Sat  11am – 10pm

 

2. Ximending Pedestrian Zone

Ximending Pesdetrain Zone
Photo Credit: Chen.Chien.Hung

The Walking Street is always crowded with visitors and Taipei youth during weekends. Fashions shops and restaurants are everywhere and there are often street performances and exhibitions.One thing you should know: Food stalls usually open at nights. Do take a walk and grab a Taiwanese pancake. Buying street food as late-night snacks is what a Taiwanese local would do.

-Ximending Pedestrian Zone-
Address: Exit 6 of Ximending MRT station

What To Eat in Ximending:

1. Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodles

Ay Chung Rice Flour Noodles
Photo credit: yl.ng

Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle is busy at all times, but it could also be a sign of good taste. The store is basically self-service-based and there are neither tables nor seats. If you have never tried rice flour noodles, Ay-Chung would surprise your imagination of Asian noodles. Take a slurp and feel how the soft rice noodles slip in your mouth with the thick gravy. The bowl also comes with a handful of chewy intestines.

-Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodles-
Address: No. 8-1, Emei St., Wanhua District, Taipei 108, Taiwan
Opening hours: Mon – Thu 10am – 10pm
Fri – Sun  10am – 11pm

2. Sunny Café

Sunny Cafe
Photo Credit: Sunny Cafe

Taipei is famous for its café culture. Sunny café is one of those stylish and cozy ones that offer you a cup of nice coffee with some Western delights. The classy interior design with a large glass wall makes the café a comfy and spacious environment for visitors to chill out after a day of walking. Definitely a lovely place to stay in when you want some air-conditioning and a bit of sunshine at the same time.

-Sunny Cafe-
Address: No 23, Sec 1 Chunghua Road, Taipei, Taiwan
Opening hours: 8:30am – 10pm
Tel: +886 2 2314 5333

-Xinyi District-

Xinyi District
Photo Credit: brian720623

Xinyi district is a newly developed district which is home to a few most famous shopping malls in Taipei, such asTaipei 101, the flagship Eslite Bookstore, ATT4fun and so forth. You can easily access these gigantic shopping centers via the bridges linking them with one another. Taipei 101, the most prominent landmark of Taipei is the reason why you cannot miss Xinyi district.

How to go: Take MRT Blue Line 5 to Taipei City Hall Station (市政府). The station is located beneath HanKyu Department Store. Walk south to enter the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi complex towards 101. Alternatively, take the Red Line 2 to Taipei 101 and walk northeast towards the complex.

What To Do in Xinyi District:

1. Taipei 101

Taipei 101 Observatory

Being the second tallest building in Asia,  Taipei 101 speaks for the sophistication of Taiwan’s architecture. Built in 2004, Taipei 101 was  the tallest skyscraper in the world from 2004 to 2010. In 2011, it was officially recognized as the tallest and largest green building in the world with the LEED platinum certification.

The architecture showcases various Chinese and Asian elements in a postmodern style and is designed to withstand typhoons and earthquake which Taiwan is particularly prone to.  At the very top of the tower are a museum and an observation deck where you can learn more about this architectural wonder and enjoy the view of the city from 101 stories above the ground.

-Taipei 101-
Address: No.7, Sec. 5, Xinyi Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City , Taiwan
Opening hour: Sun – Thu 11am – 9:30pm
Fri – Sat, days prior to national holidays 11am – 10pm

2. Elephant Mountain/ Xiangshan Trail

Elephant Mountain Photo credit: binjieyang

Located 15-minute -walk away from Taipei 101, Elephant Mountain offers you the best spot to have an amazing bird’s eye view of the metropolitan Taipei city. Late afternoon will be the perfect timing for the short hike because you will be able to see the daytime view, sunset view, as well as the night view of the city.

One thing you should know: The hike takes approximately 1 hour 40 mins. Be prepared for a lot of stairs. The trail usually gets really crowded during weekends.

-Elephant Mountain Hiking Trail-
Address:Lane 150, Songren Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei,Taiwan

3. Eslite Flagship Store

Eslite Taiwan Flagship Xinyi Store Photo Credit: Holden Wang

Eslite Bookstore is a must-go department store for sure. Eslite houses an overwhelming collection of books and stationery. From academic books to the latest popular novels, Eslite offers you books of every genre.

The store also features an impressive variety of lifestyle products, such as home accessories, leather goods, designer products, watches and many more. If you are looking for a place to spend a laid-back afternoon, Eslite is where you should go.

One thing you should know: Eslite also runs an online store. Check it out here.

-Eslite Flagship Store-
Address: No.11 Songgao Road, Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan
Opening hours: Sun – Thu 11am – 10pm
Fri – Sat 11am – 11pm

What To Eat in Xinyi District:

1. Kanpai Xinyi ATT Store

Kaipai Xinyi ATT Store Photo Credit: Li Yi Hu

Kanpai offers a satisfying menu of Japanese barbecue of great quality at a reasonable price. But what makes it stands out from other barbecue restaurants is their 8 pm kanpai session.

At 8pm every night, the crew gives each customer one more of the drink at the table (alcohol included!). Also, couples who kiss for 10 seconds could get a plate of pork belly meat for free. Kanbai is in every sense a perfect place for dinner of great fun.

Overseas tourists can reserve a table online in advance here.

-Kanpai Xinyi ATT Store-
Address: 3F, No. 12, Songshou Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Opening hours:  Lunch: 11am – 5pm (weekdays only)
Dinner: 5pm – 12am
Phone: 02-8786-0808

2. N.Y. Bagel

N.Y. Bagel Photo Credit: N.Y. Bagel

Craving for a fulfilling brunch at all times? N.Y. Bagel Xinyi store serves a splendid  brunch menu from which you can choose from 10 different types of bread and 5 different flavored cream cheese.

It also offers salad, burgers, egg benedicts, pasta, sandwiches and a lot more Western dishes. N.Y. Bagel Xinyi Store opens around the clock on Saturdays. Why not have a bagel in the middle of the night?

-N.Y. Bagel Xinyi Store-
Address: No. 122, Section 5, Xinyi Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Opening hours: Sun – Fri  9am – 11:30pm
Sat  24 hours
Tel: +886 2 2723 7977

 

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>>> Part II (New Taipei City)

>>> Part III (Taichung City)