The Island of Taiwan was a real discovery, if within your travel route you are in Hong Kong, try to jump to the island (it is a maximum hour by plane) for 4 – 5 days, it will give you time to get to know the capital and visit part of the east coast of the island.
Taipei is in the north of the island and has almost 3 million inhabitants, it is a fairly well-connected city with a fairly good subway network. As in other cities, in the subway ( MRT indications ) you can buy a rechargeable card for a period of days (if when you leave you have not consumed it, they will refund you).
One of the most interesting parts of the city is where the temples are concentrated ( Zhongshan Area ), it is highly recommended to come at night which is when there are hardly any tourists and there is no time for prayer, so the temples are practically empty, many of they close at 10:00 pm. Some of the most interesting: Confucius Temple, Bao-an Temple, Hsiahai City God Temple, or the Xingtian Temple.
In the Old Town, Da’an and Shida are where you will be able to visit the 2-28 Memorial Museum (free admission, it is an area where there are usually concerts and plays. If you come in summer, you will almost certainly come across a festival) and the Peace Park, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, the Martyrs’ Shrine (you can see the changing of the guard), the Botanical Garden, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (admission is free ) and the Presidential Building (Japanese aesthetic building). It is the most monumental area of the city and almost all the monuments are free to enter, they are usually open until 5:00 p.m.
In Da’an is Tower 101, getting here is of no greater interest than taking a photo of the tower, if you arrive at lunchtime, inside it has a pretty good food court, and you can take advantage of it to go up to floors 89-91 from where you can see the city.
Shopping around the City Island of Taiwan
Unlike Seoul, Tokyo, or Hong Kong itself, the aesthetics of the fashion stores in Taipei are very unattractive, in fact, most of the stores with a certain taste import South Korean clothes. What can be more interesting to buy are their food products (mainly dried fruits, they have whatever you want, their teas and in some cases, their rice pasta).
The night markets are a perfect option, the best without hesitation is the one in Shilin in the Zhongshan area (MRT Jiantan and MRT Zhongshan), here you will find everything (street food stalls, restaurants, clothing stores, sports, appliances, etc.). Make a stop at the stationery stores; it has anything you can imagine made with paper at excellent prices. The atmosphere of the main street is impressive, you can come here after having passed through the temples in the area.
If you like shopping centers more, in Core Pacific City to the east of the city (CPC, Bade Rd, sec 4) you will find one of the largest malls in Asia (or so they like to say), you have stores for boring, brands you want (many are Asian), restaurants, relaxation areas and karaoke (if you come in summer, you’re going to cry out for a place like this, at least to be able to rest from the heat).
If you make an excursion to Dansui (it has a subway stop here, it is approximately 40 minutes from Taipei) you will be able to find the most authentic products of Taiwan, both food, clothing, accessories, and household items. They have very good prices, despite being a fairly touristy city. The main streets are Gongming St, Zhongzheng Rd, and the seafront. Try not to go on the weekend, because the shopping streets get intractable 😉 (most of them are called “ pedestrian-friendly ” although cars keep passing by).
Ideally, you should hire an excursion for a couple of days or rent a car to go down the west coast of the island of Taiwan, which goes from Hualien City to Taitung City (between both cities there are approximately 160 kilometers), this route is considered as the national scenic route (N-11). You have several stops that if you go in your own car you will enjoy a lot.
To visit the Taroko Gorge National Park on the Island of Taiwan you will almost certainly have to spend the night in Hualien City (returning to Taipei on the same day would be a pain), this city does not have a great attraction, although it has a good commercial area where “ kill time ”and some food markets that are worth a visit.
Entrance to the park is done by car, and a good part of the tour of the park is done by vehicle. The most attractive parts are Yanzikou and Cimuqiao, where you can see vertical cliffs, valleys, and tunnels (to go through some of them you will have to be organized and wear the corresponding helmet for safety), the narrowest sections of the park are in Yanzikou and Jiuqudong, they coincide with the stops for tourists, which is why they are quite collapsed. Recommendation, if you see a group of tourists, let them take a photo and wait for them to leave, it is well worth spending some time enjoying the landscape.