Taipei, officially known as Taipei City, is the capital of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Situated at the northern tip of Taiwan, Taipei is located on the Tamsui River; it is about 25 km (16 mi) southwest of Keelung, a port city on the Pacific Ocean. It lies in the Taipei Basin, an ancient lakebed bounded by the two relatively narrow valleys of the Keelung and Xindian rivers, which join to form the Tamsui River along the city's western border. Taipei, New Taipei, and Keelung together form the Taipei-Keelung metropolitan area with a population of 7,044,869. They are administered under three municipal governing bodies. "Taipei" sometimes refers to the whole metropolitan area, while "Taipei City" refers to the city proper. Taipei City proper is surrounded on all sides by New Taipei City.
Visitors should not be surprised to find the sidewalks crowded at 9-10 p.m. Many boutiques and bookstores are still open at that time; when they do close, the action shifts to night markets, eateries, and pubs. As far as many Taiwanese are concerned, nocturnal activity in Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung, the three biggest cities on the island, revolves around shopping, eating, drinking, dancing, and singing. Visitors do all of these, and also like to engage in a sixth pastime - sightseeing. Even if you can't dance, loathe singing, never drink alcohol, and are on a rigorous diet, you'll still find plenty to keep yourself entertained.
Back on street level again, it's time to mingle with the masses at a night market. Close to Taipei 101 is Raohe Street Night Market, where there are snacks a-plenty, inexpensive clothes, trinkets, and many other types of goods. However, the sprawling mini-city that is Shilin (Shihlin) Night Market attracts far more people, and having covered-over and air-conditioned sections it's an all-weather affair. To get there, take the MRT to Shilin District's Jiantan station.
Night markets typically run from dusk to about midnight. If jetlag - or sheer curiosity - is keeping you up later than that, there are still several cultural-exploration options, including some that do not revolve around alcohol.
Convenience stores are ubiquitous in Taiwan's cities; almost all stay open around the clock and provide local-style hot foods. In Taipei, a far more elegant option for combining printed-word browsing with food and liquid refreshments can be found on the corner of Dunhua South Road and Anhe Road, location of the former flagship 24-hour branch of Eslite Bookstores , the leading local chain.
A new and much larger flagship outlet officially opened in January this year on the East District's Songgao Rd., Comfortably appointed and boasting an impressively eclectic selection of books in Chinese and English, it's easy to linger here until dawn. There is a cafe on the premises.
English-speaking visitors to Taiwan are fortunate in that Western movies are almost always shown in their original language, with Chinese subtitles. Details on current showings, along with theater names and addresses in Chinese (useful when hailing a taxi), are posted in all three locally published English-language newspapers. If you can't find a copy of one of these newspapers - which are also good for restaurant reviews and live-music listings - at your hotel, you should be able to pick one up at a convenience store.
Taipei Transportation Overview
The MRT metro system is the easiest way to get around in Taipei. Clean and air-conditioned trains arrive every five minutes. To keep the transit system clean, smoking, eating and drinking is strictly prohibited. The well-maintained transit system is well-loved by office workers, students and tourists.
Buses in Taipei are numerous and bus routes are well-planned. Once you get a hang of it, buses are a great way to get around the city. Buses take EasyCard or cash. Prices are calculated by distance. Tickets come in three price levels: One-segment, Two-segment and Three segment.
Coin: One-segment ticket, regular NT$15; Two-segment ticket, regular NT$30; Three-segment, NT$45. Most passengers will only need a One-segment ticket. The bus driver will notify you if you need to pay more for a Two or Three-segment ticket. (Note: Be sure to have the exact ticket amount as buses will not give change.)
EasyCard: Gently sweep card over the sensor area marked by the EasyCard logo (or insert token into the slot) on the ticket reader. The beep you hear indicates that credit corresponding to the ticket amount has been deducted from your card.
Passengers can get on and off a bus from the front or back door. Please check to see if passengers must pay before or after the bus ride.
Constructed in the late 19th century, Taiwan's railway system has been developed so extensively over the years that many routes are in fact no longer used today. The railway system has long been connecting cities to the country side. The history behind the railway system brings a sense of romanticism to railway trains. While the traditional railway system does not travel as fast as the newly opened high speed rail system, traditional trains cost less than half the price of high speed trains, easily making them a favorite among backpackers and railway fans.
Current Exchange Rate US$1 is about NT$30
Taiwan High Speed Rail
The Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSPR) connects major cities in western Taiwan between Taipei and Kaohsiung. Opened on January 5, 2007, the 345 Km-long rail system has become an important part of Taiwan's transportation network.
Based on taxi operation statistics, Taipei City has the greatest number of taxis, 30,000. The number has dropped from around 39,000 taxis after the establishment of the taxi cooperative in 1996. According to the investigation of taxi operation in Taipei City in 2010, taxi drivers in Taipei City work a median 27-28 days per month; 10.49 hours per day; taxi in vacancy was around 6.63 hours; 15.81 rounds; 169 km; The pay is NT$2657 per day.
Taipei City Public Transportation Office planned to improve taxi service quality while slashing the time that the taxi is left vacant. In order to improve the taxi service quality, Taipei City Public Transportation Office has set up one hundred and seventy taxi stands until May 2012,including MRT stations, department stores and hospitals etc.
Taipei City YouBike
To build a sustainable, eco-friendly and healthy "green city" in 2009, Taipei City's Department of Transportation (DOT) introduced the bicycle rental program, YouBike, in 2009, as a public transport subsystem to meet the demand for the first- and last-mile connection to mass transit services.
Follow these four steps to rent a YouBike: register as a YouBike member → select a bicycle → ride → return the bicycle. To meet the varying needs of the public, YouBike offers single rental as well as membership services. You may rent a bike using an EasyCard, after completing the membership registration process at any rental station kiosk or on YouBike's website (www.youbike.com.tw). For one-time users, select "one-time rental" on the kiosk and follow the instructions to pay by your credit card, or by Chunghwa Telecom's "839 micro payment" program. After the computer system finishes ID authentication/authorization, select a YouBike from the kiosk, pick up your bicycle at the selected parking pole within 90 seconds, and enjoy cycling about the city! For members and one-time users alike, YouBike is reasonably priced at NT$ 10 per 30 minutes. YouBike members will however get the first 30 minutes of each trip $5 for a period of time to encourage wider use of energy-efficient, zero-carbon vehicles.
Current Exchange Rate US$1 is about NT$30
Places to Go
Xinbeitou Hot Springs
Hot springs in Xinbeitou with high temperature and many sources are caused by the terrestrial heat of Datun Mountains. Therma valley is one of the earliest hot spring sources found in Taiwan.
The green sulfur in Thermal valley is the acid spring. The consistency of hydrogen is 1.4, the temperature is 85℃, the color is translucent gray, and it has light radiation. The hot spring in Beitou Hot Spring Road is white sulfur. Its PH between 3-4, as vitriol salt spring, translucent white and yellow, 50℃ - 90℃, and light acidity.
Beitou hot spring has been famous since Japanese colonial times. The area is around with historic monuments and natural scenic spots. Beitou Museum, Yinsong Building, Xingnai Spring, Beitou Library, Beitou Hot Spring Park, and the Folk Museum connect into a hot spring route.
Taipei 101 Mall
Located within Taipei 101, the Taipei 101 Mall gathers the world top brands to create a high-end shopping experience. Level 4 of the mall features Singapore-based bookstore Page One and Taipei largest indoor cafe and restaurant area.
The Longshan Temple houses hundred of statues of Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian deities. The temple mixes traditional Chinese siheyuan ("four-building courtyard") with palace architecture in its design. The temple is divided into front hall, main hall, rear hall, right wing and left wing. Painting of vivid creatures grace the temple walls, and stone statues of mystical creatures guard the temple grounds. The joining of wall and roof did not use any nails or braces made of metal.
Covered by overtapping tiles, the temple roof is decorated with figures of dragon, phoenix and other auspicious creatures. The figures are decorated with porcelain, clay, and shards of colored glass. They represent the pinnacle of mosaic art in Taiwan. The temple has been declared a Secondary National Heritage Site.
National Palace Museum
The Taipei National Palace Museum is a world-class museum that hosts an eclectic collection of treasures kept by generations of Emperors ruling from the Forbidden City. In WWII, Nationalist troops seized the most important pieces in order to prevent invaders from ransacking China's national treasures. A twist of fate eventually brought these treasures to Taiwan.
The Taipei National Palace Museum is designed in the style of a Northern Chinese palace. The museum is home to hundreds of thousands of historical relics that make up the world's most comprehensive and precious collection of ancient Chinese artifacts. The entire collection covers 5,000 years of China's historical and artistic achievements.
The museum provides Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish and Korean language guides and museum-related literature. The museum is a must- see on any visitor's itinerary.
National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
This memorial hall was built in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, the first president of the Republic of China. Work on the hall began in 1976, a year after President Chiang passed away. Design by C.C. Yang, who was also the architect for The Grand Hotel, the memorial hall is white with a blue roof, representing the dominant colors in the ROC flag; while the emblem of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) adorns the vaulted ceiling. A bronze statue of Chiang looks west symbolically to the Presidential Office Building and mainland China. The front plaza of the hall is also a major venue for democratic assemblies.
National Martyrs' Shrine
Built on a green hillside in 1969, the impressive National Martyrs' Shrine was architecturally inspired by the Hall of Supreme Harmony in Beijing's Forbidden City. The shrine is dedicated to the 390,000 soldiers killed in the service of their country during the War of Resistance against Japan and the civil war between the Chinese Republican and communist forces. A major attraction at the shrine is the hourly ceremony for the changing of the honor guard in front of the main gate.
National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
Designed by local architect Wang Da-hung, this memorial hall was established in memory of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the father of the Republic of China. The hall also serves an educational and research role, hosting various cultural and art events throughout the year, including the Golden Horse Awards, Golden Bell Awards, and Culture Awards. The hall is surrounded by a large park, further making it a popular weekend escape for city residents.