Taipei, Taiwan – Whenever I’m traveling to Asia, I make it a goal to visit at least two countries. This time I decided to fly down to Taiwan, a country that I’ve been meaning to visit for the longest time. I should’ve studied the language a bit before arriving but somehow I was able to get around just fine with only four phrases…
- Taiwan can get warm and cold in the same day so be sure to pack accordingly. A light jacket is recommended for travel.
- Coins! Like Japan, Taiwan also utilizes a lot of coins as a means of exchange so bring a coin pouch!
- Learn a few phrases since a lot of locals don’t speak English. I found myself miraculously being able to get around with just “My name is Anthony”, “How are you”, “Thank You”, and “I don’t understand/know”.
- The MRT train system is easy to use and has English so it’s easy to navigate. Make sure you get an MRT Card to reload as needed.
- If you’re carrying around your luggage, there are lockers you can pay for by the hour at the stations.
- When flying into Taipei, the main airport (TPE), is actually outside of the main city. The best way to get into town is by bus, located within TPE. To get to downtown it’ll take about 45mins.
- Write down the address of where you are staying in Chinese. If you find yourself taking a cab this may be useful.
- They have Uber! This changes the game. Simply put in where you want to go and your driver will show up. Much easier than using my very limited Chinese.
- Explore the smaller streets and neighborhoods. A lot of small mom and pop restaurants and shops are around and they serve some of the best foods for ridiculously low prices!
Places to Visit as a Tourist
Where should you go while you’re in Taipei?
- Night Markets – I recommend Raohe, which is close to downtown and also Shilin, which is further out but much bigger and more famous.
- Elephant Mountain – Hike up to get an amazing view of the city (day or night). Be prepared for hundreds of steps though and there are various ways to enter and exit the trail. There is a main entrance that Taxi’s typically drop you off at so when going there your cab driver should know.
- Taipei 101 – The famous building that stands in the middle of the city. Lots of shops and restaurants.
- Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall – Famous building now used for several events.
- Tamsui Old Street – Street with river views and lots of shops and restaurants.
- Taipei Zoo – Indoor and Outdoor Zoo.
- Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall – History Exhibits with large parks and gardens.
- Temples – There are various temples throughout the city that you can check out.
- Shifen Waterfall – Scenic Waterfall outside of Taipei.
- Yangmindshan – Large hiking area outside of Taipei that has hot springs and the famous dormant volcano.
- Tip for “Mat Surfing” is to always call or contact the school ahead of time to see if you are even allowed to take a drop-in class or come by for an open mat session.
For this trip, I stopped by Taiwan Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy (http://taiwanbjj.org/en/taipei/) for their open mat session.
When entering, be sure to take off your shoes before heading inside. As you enter you’ll see a front desk. The academy takes visitors all the time for a drop-in fee so just sign the waiver and pay the dues. After that is done, you’ll be given a key for a locker out in the hallway to store your belongings.
There are two changing/bathrooms in the facility; one for men and the other for women. You can also shower here but be sure to bring your own towel and toiletries. Shoes are stored in the cubby area outside of the office.
You’ll notice that there are two training areas in this academy. A smaller area most likely used for privates and the main area where everyone gathers to train. As this was open mat, there was no instructor present. Instead, you would just grab a partner and go.
As Taipei is a city filled with people with many ethnic backgrounds, a lot of the people here spoke English. I even met someone who moved here recently from California!
As I started warming myself up, I introduced myself to those who were next to me. Everyone here is really open and friendly. I was worried since I was a foreigner and didn’t speak the language at all. As everyone was sparring, Bob Marley and the Cops Theme song resonated from the speakers as the timer ran. Guess people here really love Reggae and 90s US TV Shows?
Overall it was a good session and I met lots of people. Really needed this workout before I ventured off onto the Night Markets to stuff myself with various treats…
Make sure you come to this country hungry because you’re going to wish you had 3 more stomachs! Everything here is delicious, cheap, and made to order! Healthy? Well I can’t say that it is but definitely good!
Things to try include —-
- Taiwanese Breakfast
- Baked Black Pepper Pork
- Giant Grilled Squid
- Stinky Tofu
- Taiwanese Sausage
- Oyster Pancake
- Scallion Pancake
- Congee (Rice Porridge)
- Fried Fish Cake
- Milk Tea
- Shaved Ice
- Fresh Juices
- Tanghulu (Sugar Coated Fruits)
- Gua Bao (Buns with Meat)
- Popcorn Chicken
- Beef Noodle Soup
- Beef Rolls
- BBQ Chicken, Pork, Duck, etc.
Din Tai Fung – I would also check out the famous Din Tai Fung at Taipei 101 as their menu is different from the ones found in the States. Be sure to get a number. I went during lunchtime and the wait was only 20mins. As this is a major tourist location, employees here speak multiple languages including English. If you’re traveling with luggage, they’ll also keep it behind the counter for you as you enjoy your meal.
Taiwan is a great place to explore and eat. Lots of nightlife and surprisingly not much to do in the day other than well eat and hike. Definitely a country worth visiting if you’ve never been before. I would say 4-5 full days would be enough to give you a good experience in Taipei. Wish I had more time to explore outside of Taipei but that just means I’ll have to be back in the future…
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