On my three day whirlwind tour of Taiwan, I spent most of my time in Taipei exploring temples, markets, historic sights, and eating all the food. Taipei is a young and clean city with lots of fun and action. It was the perfect ending to my month long Asian adventure.
I took a free walking tour I found online. My friend Lauren turned me back onto free walking tours after we did one in Amsterdam a few months ago. Obviously you have to tip the guide but it ends up being a much cheaper way to get some good information on a small section of a city. And there is no pressure to stay if your guide is not great. Luckily, my guides have always been superb and in Taipei was no different.
The Tour Me Away Old Town Taipei tour took us to 228 Peace Park, the site memorializing the victims of the February 28 Incident. The radio station at the center of the massacre now houses the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum. The park itself holds memorials but also provides a beautiful outdoor space for the Taiwanese to hang out.
This rock sidewalk is to massage your feet. About half of our group took off their shoes and tried it. I got two steps before the pain was too much more me. This is only for the sturdy and thick soled.
The Presidential Office in Taipei is in the center of the Old City which had gates to let people and goods in and out. Most gates have been removed but a few are still in place, although not still in use.
This gate was taken out but this “gate” statue exists in its place.
And next to the gate is this giant building which is solely for karaoke singing. That made me laugh out loud. As the world’s worst singer, I will never be visiting the inside of this building.
My absolute favorite thing about Taipei is pretty random. People actually line up in an orderly fashion to get on the subway when it gets crowded (which happens a lot). I’ve never seen anything so civilized before- I loved it! New Yorkers and Baltimoreans would eat each other alive before they did anything like this!
The subway signs are in English as well and they whole system is very easy to navigate and quite inexpensive. I hopped around Taipei with ease after I purchased my subway card at the airport station.
Dalongdong Bao’an Temple: (no I’m not kidding with that name!)
There is quite a bit to see and Taipei is pretty spread out.
My second favorite thing about Taipei was the amazing food. I’ve read many travel blogs that tend to choose Taiwan as one of the best food destinations in Asia and I agree.
The best meal of my entire trip was a sushi place on a random back road on a Sunday afternoon. There was one chef who spoke English but the menu was easy enough to figure out. I went with the chef’s special- 10 pieces of sushi, 2 handrolls, miso soup (that was amazing and had chicken and seaweed in it), and some kind of roe salad. All that plus a beer and It was the most expensive meal of my whole trip at $30 but was the best sushi I’ve had outside of Japan.
The weirdest thing I ordered in Taiwan was the stinky tofu “fries” with cheese sauce and kimchee (as if stinky tofu wasn’t funky enough). At the night markets in Taipei stinky tofu is a staple and can be grilled, fried, on a stick, in fry form, with different sauces, or plain.
I read that the sauce can make the tofu more bearable so I ordered the cheese sauce at the recommendation of another travel blogger who lives in Taipei. I loved my stinky tofu fries from the Shilin Night Market!
Shilin is more touristy than the famed Ning Xia Market but it was easier to get food (almost impossible at Ning Xia it was so packed!) and there were more food and shopping options at Shilin too.
My cheapest meal was my grape beer and veggie steamed bun I got from a little storefront on the street near my AirBnB for about $2.
I had a fantastic time in Taipei and wish I could have stayed a few more days. If you ever get a change to visit Taipei, maybe on a layover to Asia with EVA Airlines?, make sure to get out and explore and eat!
Reader Question: Would you try stinky tofu fries or is that a hard pass for you?