Say hello to one of the newest destinations in Asia to make its mark on international travelers. A wonderful mix of Old World elements, modern day wizardry and natural scenic beauty, the city of Taipei packs an unexpected amount of diversity into a surprisingly small space. Being nestled in a mountain-rimmed river basin split by two rivers (the Tamsui and the Keelung) means visitors can just as easily go on a shopping spree as they can on a hike through majestic mountains. And when night falls, you'll be spoilt for choice at the sheer number of premier night clubs in the city, each with their fair share of head-turners (in every sense of the word).
All this and more for less than what you'd spend in some of Taipei's neighboring megacities. Which makes everyone in the Scoot family, and hopefully yours, happy. Here are some of our thoughts on the things you could do in this awesome city that'll stretch more than just your budget.
1. VVG Bistro is set up in a delightfully laid-back spot that is so well hidden that even many locals don’t know about it. Perfect for Sunday brunch - the kumquat and pomelo papaya salad comes highly recommended.
2. Voted among the world’s top ten restaurants, Din Tai Fung serves exquisite xiao long bao (steamed buns). Arrive early and be prepared to queue, as foreigners and locals alike flock here.
1. Bucking the one-size-fits-all globalised retail trend are the dozens of one-off designer stores near Zhongshan MRT station. Lovely Taiwan, for example, purveys modern takes on traditional handicrafts, as well as clothes, accessories and items for daily use.
2. Centred on Yangming Theater and Cicheng Temple, Shilin Night Market is a must-see. Enjoy the tastiest egg rolls in Taiwan or a delicious bubble tea, and shop ’til you drop at the best night market in Taipei.
1. MoCA is Taiwan’s first museum devoted to modern art, with exhibitions including diverse forms of contemporary media, such as photography, video installation, architecture and graphic design. Foreign and Taiwanese art mingle on the walls of this Japanese-era colonial building.
2. Elephant Mountain provides a city escape, yet is only a 20-minute walk from the Taipei 101 building. Offering magnificent views of the city, the hike is not difficult and makes a great half-day getaway.
3. The Taipei government has built hundreds of kilometres of tranquil riverside bike paths throughout the city. Follow Taiwan in Cycles, a blog by a long-time expat and avid biker, for everything you need to know to plan a ride.
4. Hotel Quote is the epitome of cool, with a DJ spinning at the bar on weekends. Individually decorated spacious rooms, with neat touches like Bose iPod docks and espresso machines, make Quote a perfect home away from home. An even homier option can be found through Ann’s House, a series of apartments scattered throughout the city and converted for B&B use. Guests have access to kitchen, laundry and internet facilities, as well as accommodation in Laura Ashleystyle rooms, all at affordable prices.
1. Since opening in December 2010, Revolver has quickly become one of the hottest draws for locals and expats alike. With a pub, nightclub, pool hall and live-music venue, it has something for everyone. A more upscale option can be found at Yen, the lounge located in the super-cool W Hotel. Elegantly mixing Asian and Western, the drinks menu is unique, featuring the Oolong Fizz and Taipei Sour.