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== Stay safe ==
 
== Stay safe ==
  
Taipei is probably one of the safest cities you will ever visit. Violent crime is rare - even late at night. The police are a resource you can turn to for help. Some police officers also speak basic English.
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Taipei is probably one of the safest cities you will ever visit. Violent crime is rare - even late at night. However, beware of pickpockets in crowded areas. The police are a resource you can turn to for help. Some police officers also speak basic English.
  
 
* [http://www.cwb.gov.tw/V5e/index.htm Central Weather Bureau] - in addition to giving seven day weather forecasts for Taipei, the website also has detailed maps showing the path of an approaching typhoon and up-to-the-minute information of earthquakes, giving their location and magnitude.
 
* [http://www.cwb.gov.tw/V5e/index.htm Central Weather Bureau] - in addition to giving seven day weather forecasts for Taipei, the website also has detailed maps showing the path of an approaching typhoon and up-to-the-minute information of earthquakes, giving their location and magnitude.

Revision as of 20:35, 17 February 2007

Taipei (台北 or 臺北; Táiběi) [1] is the provisional capital of the Republic of China, otherwise known as Taiwan. It is located in the northern part of the island in a basin between the Yangming Mountains and the Central Mountains. The largest city of Taiwan, it serves as its financial and governmental center.

The National Concert Hall
Taipei's east side viewed from the hills behind the Grand Hotel.

Contents

Districts

Taipei City administers twelve districts (區). This article covers the downtown districts only. For other areas please see their specific articles:

Downtown districts

  • Daan (大安區)
  • Datong (大同區)
  • Songshan (松山區)
  • Wanhua (萬華區)
  • Xinyi (信義區)
  • Zhongshan (中山區)
  • Zhongzheng (中正區)

Suburban districts - North

  • Beitou (北投區) - famous for hot springs and the Yangmingshan National Park.
  • Neihu (內湖區) - center of IT industry in Taipei, home to many large shopping centers, and a great place for hiking and templing.
  • Shilin (士林區) - several museums are located in Shilin, including the world famous National Palace Museum. Also, Shilin is home to one of Taipei's largest night markets and the expat enclave of Tianmu.

Suburban districts - South

  • Nangang (南港區) - many IT industrial complexes.
  • Wenshan (文山區) - home to the Taipei Zoo and many tea plantations in the hills surrounding the district.

Surrounding cities

  • Taipei City is surrounded by Taipei County (台北縣), which is an amalgamation of several cities and towns. The city and county (along with Keelung city) are basically one metropolitan area, but run by different government authorities. Individual cities are listed on the Taipei County page.

Understand

In 1884 the Qing dynasty governor of Taiwan decided to move the provincial capital to Taipei, and with the construction of government offices and the influx of civil servants, Taipei's days as a sleepy market town were over. As Taipei is located in the north of Taiwan (the closest area to Japan), the city continued to thrive when Taiwan was ceded to Japan in 1895. However, as Japan was in the throes of a 'modernize-come-what-may' period, little regard was paid to Taipei's traditional Chinese-style architecture and many of the old buildings, including the city walls, were demolished. During the Japanese period of colonial rule, several prominent buildings were however constructed, the Presidential Palace and National Taiwan University being among the most famous, but the city's architecture again suffered a major onslaught when the KMT government arrived from mainland China in 1945.

In order to cope with the influx of millions of mainland refugees, temporary housing estates sprang up all around the city. Later, these were replaced by soviet-era style (or 'no-style') concrete apartment buildings. These buildings characterized Taipei's landscape until very recently.

In the 1980s, Taiwan's economy began to take off. Wages rose and in order to satisfy a wealthy and sophisticated market, Taipei began to change. Wide, tree lined boulevards were laid, high quality apartment blocks constructed and stylish restaurants and cafes established. The city was booming and has never looked back since.

The Taipei of today is a confident city of about 2.5 million inhabitants (about 7 million including suburbs), and is characterized by its friendly people and safe streets. While it is not usually high on the list of tourist destinations, it is a fascinating place to visit and live. Furthermore, despite its size, Taipei does not have any rough areas that are considered unsafe, even at night - which in itself is attractive.

The downtown area is culturally divided into East and West. The West side, with its narrow streets and road side vendors, is considered the bastion of old Taipei life, whereas East Taipei, with its classy malls, chic boutiques, and stylish restaurants and cafes, reminiscent of those found in London, Paris or New York, represents the city's metamorphosis into a modern and international city.

Get in

By plane

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport

Taipei's international airport is officially called Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (IATA: TPE). However, be aware that as this name was only adopted in September 2006, the old name, Chiang Kai Shek International Airport (often abbreviated as CKS), is still commonly used. The airport is located about 30 km from the city, and freeway buses ply the route, picking up and dropping off passengers at most of the five star hotels as well as Taipei Main Station and the domestic airport (Songshan Airport), which is located in downtown Taipei. There are also bus services connecting the airport to nearby cities and Taichung in central Taiwan. Travelers to other destinations need to change transportation in Taipei.

There are three transportation options at the airport: bus, taxi, and pre-arranged sedan. An MRT line is planned, but it will be at least a decade before it opens. Here are the options from cheapest to most expensive:

  • An express airport bus costs between NT$120 and NT$150, depending on the bus company. The bus services are both abundant and comfortable. Each terminal at CKS has a bus-service room with several counters, from which you can select which bus company to take and where to go - all at a fraction of the cost of taking a taxi. In addition, there are some non-express buses available for less - these may take local routes through Taoyuan, Nankan or Kueishan before arriving in Taipei. In Taipei there are airport bus stops in various areas of the city. Two of the major ones are the Guoguang Bus Terminal directly to the west of the Taipei Main Railway Station (accessible via Exit 9 of the underground mall beneath Zhongxiao W. Road) and the terminal at the Songshan Domestic Airport. For people taking early morning flights, the earliest available buses to the airport leave around 4:00am outside the Far Eastern Plaza Hotel (201 Dunhua South Road Section 2). Otherwise, most buses start around 6:00am.
  • A one-way taxi fare between the airport and Taipei will cost at the minimum NT$900 (generally from the airport it is NT$1000). In Taipei, don't make the mistake of asking a taxi driver to take you to the Taipei airport (Songshan) if you actually mean CKS. The international airport is actually about an hour's drive from Taipei, while Songshan is located in downtown Taipei.
  • A one-way pre-arranged sedan fare between the airport and Taipei will cost at the minimum NT$3000. Generally these sedans are pre-arranged through your hotel and the sedan company or driver will meet you as soon as you exit baggage claim.

Bus connections between the airport and other cities in Taiwan are also available.

Songshan Airport

Songshan Airport at the top end of Dunhua North Road is the city's domestic airport, and there are flights arriving and departing for all major cities on the island and the outlying islands every minute.

By train

All inter-city trains, including those operated by the Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) [2], arrive and depart from Taipei Railway Station on Zhongxiao West Road, Sec 1 - opposite the 53 story Shinkong Mitsukoshi Building. Ticket counters are on the first floor and platforms in B1.

Note: Until February 2007, THSR trains will depart from Banqiao station, not the main Taipei terminus.

By Bus

Private and government intercity buses arrive and depart from the Taipei Bus Terminal (also called Taipei Intercity Bus Terminal). The terminal is a few minutes walk to the west of Taipei Railway Station (to the left and behind the station when facing the building from Zhongxiao West Road). A convenient way to reach the terminal is via the underground 'Taipei Shopping Mall' (located at the rear/north side of the station) - '4 South (南)' is the nearest exit to the terminal. NB: For refreshments or snacks, the terminal only has convenience stores; for fresh drinks, passengers will need to go to the underground 'Taipei Shopping Mall' where there is a juice bar near exit '4 North (北)' (directly across from the exit for the terminal) and a coffee shop near exit '10 North (北)'

Generally speaking, the buses operated by private companies are more comfortable and sport such amenities as wide reclining seats and individual game and video monitors. The government run buses are blue and white and are called guoguang hao. All intercity buses are known as keyun and can be distinguished from the local city buses (called gongche) by the fact that they do not have a route number, but only the name of the destination.

Get around

By metro

Taipei MRT
MRT Station in Taipei

Taipei City has a very clean, efficient and safe Mass Rapid Transit system known most commonly as the MRT, but also called Metro Taipei. Muzha line, which connects to Taipei Zoo, is a driverless elevated system. The last trains depart at midnight. Fares are between NT$20 and NT$40 for one-way trips around town. Stations and trains are clearly identified in English, so even for those who cannot read Chinese, the MRT system is very accessible. All stops are announced in four languages: Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka and English. Most stations have information booth/ticket offices close to the ticket vending machines. There is no eating or drinking while in the stations or on the trains. Trains generally run from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, with convenient bus connections outside the stations. See also WikiPedia:Taipei Rapid Transit System

Women and/or children travelling at night can benefit from the Safe Zones - sections of the terminal that are under heavy surveillance - located in some of the subway lines.

In addition to single journey tickets, the Taipei MRT also sells value-added cards called EasyCard. These cards hold amounts up to NT$5,000, and one only needs to swipe them past the barrier monitor to gain entry and exit. Value added cards can be purchased at station ticket offices or at vending machines. One great advantage of using the EasyCard is that there is a 20% discount on all MRT rides, and if you transfer from the MRT to an ordinary city bus, or vice versa, within an hour, the bus ride is only NT$7. The discount is automatically calculated when you leave the MRT station. The EasyCard can be recharged at convenience stores and subway stations. In addition to the subway and buses, some parking lots also offer an option to pay with the EasyCard. To purchase a new EasyCard you will need to pay a deposit of NT$200.

Often times limited-edition cards are issued by the transit authority depicting artworks, famous characters, landscapes, etc. These are quite collectible and are perfect souvenirs for your trip. Remember single-journey cards are recycled when you exit the stations, so if you want to keep a particular card you should purchase an extra.

By bus

Taipei City has a very efficient bus service, and because all buses display information (destination and the names of stops) in English, the system is very accessible to non-Chinese speaking visitors. Payment can be made by cash (NT$15) or EasyCard (see "Subway" listing) for each section that the bus passes through. For local buses (all local buses have a number, but long distance buses do not) the maximum will be two sections with a total cost of NT$30. The confusion, however, arises by not knowing where the section boundaries are located. If you begin your journey at the first stop, you may travel for a long distance for only NT$15. However, if you get on just before a section boundary, you will have to pay for two sections, even if you have only traveled a few stops.

When to pay: Above the driver, there is an electronic red sign. If the Chinese character for "up" (上) is lit, then you pay when you get on. If the same sign is lit when you get off, you do not need to pay again. However, if the sign is displaying the Chinese character for "down" (下) when you are getting off, then you will need to pay a second time. Finally, if the character for "down" is lit up when you get on, then you only need to pay when you get off. Until you get the hang of the system, just let the locals go first and follow their action. It's really not as complicated as it sounds!

And if you are transferring from the transit system to a bus within 1 hour, there is discounted bus fair.

By taxi

Taxis are the most flexible way to get around, and are extremely numerous. They are expensive in comparison to mass transit, but are cheap when compared to taxis in the rest of the world. Most taxi drivers speak very limited English, and it will be necessary for non-Chinese speakers to have their destination written down in Chinese. Taxis are metered, with higher rates for night and rush hour journeys. Tipping is neither necessary nor expected. The base fare is NT$70.

Passengers who sit in the front seat of the taxi are required to buckle their seat belt. Women and/or children traveling at night are advised to use one of the reputable taxi companies. Toll free taxi hotline: 0800-055850 (maintained by Department of Transportation).

Taiwanese taxi drivers are notorious for their strong opinions on politics as they spend all day listening to talk radio, although they will probably be unable to share any of this with you if you do not speak Chinese.

By bicycle

Even though motorized traffic is very heavy in Taipei, bicycles are still legitimate vehicles to get around. For less dangerous riding, a Taipei City Cycling Map shows well designated bike routes.

Address system

The Taipei address system is very logical and user-friendly. The hub of the city is the corner of the east-west running Zhongxiao and north-south running Zhongshan roads, however while the north/south divide is made at Zhongxiao here, further east it is made instead at Bade road, something which confuses even people who have lived in Taipei for years. All major roads are identified by their direction in relation to these roads. For example, all sections of the north-south running Fuxing Road north of Bade are called Fuxing North Road. Likewise, those sections to the south are called Fuxing South Road. Those that cross Zhongshan road are similarly identified as either east or west. Section (段; duàn) numbers begin at 'one' near the two defining roads and increase at intersections of major highways. For example, Ren'ai Road (which only has an east location, and therefore does not have a direction suffix), Section 1 will be close to Zhongshan South Road. The section number will increase as one moves further away from Zhongshan Road. So, for example, when Ren'ai Road reaches Dunhua South Road far in the east of the city, a typical address could be: 7F, 166 Ren'ai Road, Section 4. The house and lane numbers begin at zero every section. Lanes (巷; xiàng) lead off roads (路; lù) and streets (街; jiē), while alleys (弄; nòng) branch off lanes.

See

For areas outside of Downtown, see articles on other Districts of Taipei.

Landmarks

  • Taipei 101 (臺北 101), [3]. Officially known as the Taipei International Financial Center (臺北國際金融大樓), this 101-floor, 508-meter high skyscraper is located in the Xinyi District of Taipei. The tower is rich in symbolism: It was designed to resemble bamboo rising from the earth - a plant recognized in Asian cultures for its fast growth and flexibility, which are ideal characteristics for a financial building - and also divided into eight distinct sections, with eight being a number associated with prosperity in Chinese culture. The internal architecture of Taipei 101 is similarly awe-inspiring: pay attention to ornate details on the structural beams, columns, and everywhere else. However, Taipei 101 is perhaps most notable for its feats of engineering; since 2004 it is the world's tallest building, as determined by three of the four standards designated by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. It also boasts the world's fastest elevators, which will zip visitors up to the 89th-floor observation deck in a mere 37 seconds (cost varies depending on age: NT$350 for adults, NT$320 for kids under 12). It's worth it. The views are stunning; the best time to visit would be in the late afternoon so you can hang around for a couple of hours and see both day and night views of Taipei. For an additional NT$100, you can also go up to the outdoor observatory on the 91st floor. Don't forget to look toward the middle of the building, where you'll see one of the massive gold color dampers that keeps the building steady. Attached to the tower is a large, up-scale mall. While the stores themselves are unremarkable in that they offer the same brand-names as stores in other major cities around the world, the open and spacious design of the structure itself definitely makes it worth a visit. Located next to the cafes on the fourth floor is Page One Bookstore, which has one of the largest selections of English books in Taiwan. A supermarket specializing in imported food items is located in the basement. (See also the "Buy" section for more on the mall.) Taipei 101 is a 15 to 20-minute walk from the Taipei City Hall MRT station (Blue Line).
  • The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall [4] is constructed in the memory of Dr Sun Yat-sen who is the founding father of the Republic of China. The construction of the Memorial commenced in 1965 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of Sun Yat-sen's birth. It was then opened in May 16th 1972, with the majestic architecture and placid landscape covering an area of some 115,500 sq meters. The park named Zhongshan Park marks the front yard of the Hall. On the inside, there is a 19-foot bronze statue of Dr Sun Yat-sen, watched over the day by motionless military honor guards, along with a library of 400 seats storing over 1.4 millions books. The 100 meter long Zhongshan corridor links the main hall to the four large exhibition buildings where contemporary arts and historical articles are frequently on display. The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall has grown into much of a community center, and is much less touristy than the newer and larger Chiang Kai-shek Memorial. There is an auditorium which has weekly lectures and seminars on aspects of art and life. Also a popular site for public concerts.
  • The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall [5] is the symbol of both Taipei and the Republic of China. It is here that the nation's flag is raised every morning, and the huge court yard in front of the memorial serves as a place for both national celebrations as well as a platform to voice one's disapproval of the government. The memorial consists of a large bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek watched over by two motionless honor guards who are replaced every hour in a rifle twirling ceremony. Downstairs, there is a museum of Chiang's life, complete with his sedans and uniforms. Even if you are not into memorials, the gardens with their Chinese style ponds are definitely worth a visit. The memorial has its own MRT station on the Xindian line. The grounds of the memorial are also a favorite place for locals to gather to practice martial arts, though you'll have to be there early if you wish to see this. Most people begin their work-out at around sunrise, and will have left for the office before 8 a.m.
  • National Theater Hall and National Concert Hall - located in the grounds of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial -- are excellent places to see performances of a Taiwanese play or dance troupe, though they also host many international events. The building's neo-classic Chinese architecture is especially stunning when flood-lit at night.
  • National Taiwan University, [6]. Taiwan's preeminent institution of higher education is located on the south side of Taipei. The campus grounds are surrounded by several blocks of shops, bookstores, eateries, cafes and tea houses popular with students and scholars. This is one of the main transportation hubs, many buses stop here. While you wait for your bus or before you go underground to catch the subway, you can get a lot of the shopping done: clothing, accessories, books, trinkets...you name it. Browse through the stales and booths directly across the street from the main entrance of the university (don't forget there is a lot more just behind the main street), grab a bite or 2 of the popular snacks: fresh fruit, spice-cooked meats and soy goodies, sky high ice cream cones, sweets, shaved ice, tapioca teas, fresh bread, etc. You can also sample the yummy Taiwanese fried chicken chain: Ding Gua Gua. Try a "Gua Gua Bao," a flavorful sticky rice pouch, and if you like sweet potato, Ding Gua Gua's fries will make you want to come back for more! There are many American fast food restaurants across the street on the right of the University, right next to several wonderful book stores. Nearest MRT station: Gongguan (公館) on the Xindian (Green) Line.

Museums/Galleries

  • The National Palace Museum - the world's best collection of Chinese historical artifacts and antiquities. The museum is located in Shilin district. A must-see for first time visitors.
  • Hua Shan Cultural and Creative Industry Center, 1 Bade Road, Sec 1. This former brewery has been transformed into a creative space in a park. The exhibitions here are well presented and imaginative and the theater performances, while less formal than at those at the National Theater, are still none-the-less first rate. The center also has a great cafe with outdoor seating -- an excellent place to watch Taipei at work and play over a cappuccino.
  • Fine Arts Museum. 181 Zhongshan North Road, Sec. 3 (near the Yuanshan MRT Station on the Danshui line) [7]. Open Tuesday-Sunday 09:30 to 17:30. Adult admission: $30 NT. Concessions: $15 NT. The museum displays work of local and international artists.
  • Spot - Taipei Film House, Zhongshan North Road, Sec. 2 (nearest MRT Station: Zhungshan on the Danshui line) [8]. Open Tues-Sun, 11AM - 10PM. Admission is free. This former residence of the U.S. Ambassador has been transformed into an art center that focuses on independent films. In addition to screenings, the house also has great cafes and restaurants that spill out onto balconies and into the garden. The book store offers a good selection of hard-to-get art/independent film maker type movies on DVD, though for other movies, prices are lower at regular DVD rental stores.
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art, 39 Changan West Road, nearest MRT station - Zhongshan (on Danshui line) [9]. Open from Tues-Sun, 10AM - 6PM, Entry NT$50. Taiwan's first art space dedicated to contemporary work. The red brick, former Taipei City Hall is easy to locate on an otherwise unexceptional road.
  • Taipei Artist Village, near Shandao Temple Station, Exit No. 1, walk to Tian Jin St. and turn right to Beiping E. Road. [10] This scheme provides residency programs for Taiwanese artists and other from around the world. Their space provide gallery and studio space for artists. They also have a couple of cafes which are excellent for a mid-day break while exploring Taipei. The space is open during normal weekly business hours and is free to roam around.
  • Taipei Story House. The house is located in the same plot of land as the Fine Arts Museum (see above listing). Tel:+886 2 2596-1898. [11]. Open from 9AM to 6PM, and admission is NT$30 - a tea merchant's 19th century European style house has been converted into a space for telling the story of Taipei and tea. There are permanent exhibits on these subjects as well as visiting exhibitions and the occasional traditional music concert. The patio serves as a tea garden, which offers pleasant views over the Damshui River and beyond.
  • Taiwan National History Museum, 2 Xiangyang Road. Tel:+886 2 2382 2699 (Nearest MRT station 'National Taiwan University Hospital' on the Danshui line. Located in 'Peace Park' (near Taipei Main Station) in a splendid baroque and renaissance style building. Opened in 1899, it was Taiwan's first museum and focuses on anthropology and the fauna and flora of the island.
  • Miniatures Museum of Taiwan, B1, 96 Jian-gwo North Road, sec. 1. Tel:+886 2 2515 0583. [12] Open Tues-Sun 10AM-6PM (last admittance 5PM). Admission: adults - NT$180, concessions - NT$150, children - NT$100. A small private museum that is a monument to patience and a steady hand. The 40 bulb chandelier the size of grain of rice is one of the many impressive pieces on display. Address: Buses from Taipei Main Station: 307, 527 alight at Nanjing East Road and Jian-gwo North Road intersection. The museum is located in the same building as Thai Airways.
  • Museum of Tomorrow, 180 Civil Boulevard, sec 3. [13]. An artistic exhibition space cum store with lots of open space and selling such items as empty bottles labeled 'You Are Beautiful' and empty cans of 'Green Knowledge'. Exhibits change every few weeks. The museum also features an open-plan coffee shop. Open 24 hours. Entry free.

Temples

  • Longshan Temple (龍山寺) - This temple is where countless generations of Taipei citizens have come to pray and seek guidance at times of trouble. As the temple is dedicated to Guanyin (the Buddhist representation of compassion) it is officially defined as Buddhist, but there is a great amount of folk religion mixed into the fabric of the beliefs here. However, if you want to feel the real heartbeat of Taipei, one that is far removed from the skyscrapers and shopping malls of East Taipei, this is the place to come. It just oozes with character, though don't come expecting to find teachings on meditation. The area around Longshan Temple, Wanhua, is one of the original districts of Taipei. And, while much of the traditional architecture has been lost, the area still maintains a traditional feel. It is here that the blind masseurs congregate to offer their skill. Likewise, this is the area where the Taiwanese come to learn who they should marry or what to name their son or daughter by consulting one of the many fortune tellers that set up shop along the roads and alleys around the temple. The temple is located at 211 Guangzhou Road (near junction with Guilin Road) and is open daily from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. The nearest MRT station is 'Longshan Temple' on the Ban-Nan Line. Longshan Temple

Parks

  • Da-An Forest Park {大安森林公園) is the largest green space in the downtown area, and as the name implies, much of the area is covered with trees. In addition, there is a lake, gardens and an amphitheater, and tucked away on the northwest corner is a statue of Guanyin (aka Avalokitesvara), the Buddhist representation of compassion. The park is bordered by Xinsheng South Road, Xinyi Road, Jianguo South Road and Heping East Road. Buses: 15, 52, 235, 278, 284, 20, 22, Xinyi Main Line.
  • 228 Peace Park (formerly known as 'New Park') is one of Taipei's oldest parks, and houses the Natural History Museum and a memorial to the 228 incident, named in reference to the date (February 28) when a dispute between a female cigarette vendor and an anti-smuggling officer triggered civil disorder, and the uprising and crackdown that followed in 1947. The main entrance to the park is on Gongyuan Road, near Taipei Main Station. Nearest MRT Station: NTU Hospital.
  • The Botanical Gardens - these beautiful gardens have inspired the citizens of Taipei for over one hundred years. The lotus ponds are a hallmark of the park and are especially captivating when the these symbols of peace are in full bloom and swaying in the summer breeze. Address: 53 Nanhai Road, Nearest MRT Station: CKS Memorial. Buses: 1, 259, 204, 242.
  • The Zhongshan Fine Arts Park is a gentle green space interspersed with ancient trees, outdoor sculptures and art exhibits. It is located between the Fine Arts Museum and Yuanshan MRT Station.

Do

Hot Springs (温泉)

Hot springs come in various brands in Taipei, ranging from basic, free 'rub and scrub' type public baths run by the city to plush spas at five star hotels. Most hotels offer the option of a large sex-segregated bathing area that generally consists of several large baths of various temperatures, jacuzzi, sauna and steam bath and also private and family rooms (NB: the law in Taiwan states that for safety reasons, individuals are not allowed to bathe in the private rooms, and there must be at least two people). Some hotels also have outdoor baths (露天温泉), which offer restful views over the surrounding country-side. Prices range from around NT$300 to NT$800.

Public hot spring etiquette requires that bathers thoroughly wash and rinse off their bodies before entering the bath, do not wear clothing (including swim wear) in the bath and tie up their hair so that it does not touch the water. Finally, people with high blood pressure, heart disease or open wounds should not enter the baths.

There are three main places to have a soak in the Taipei area:

Festivals

Taipei hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, but as many follow the lunar calendar the dates according to the Gregorian calendar are inconsistent. Unless you possess a lunar calendar, it is therefore recommended to check the Taiwan Tourist Bureau's events section before planning to attend an event.

  • The prestigious Golden Horse Chinese Language Film festival [14] is held annually in November at various locations in Taipei. Although the main films are all in Chinese, there are subtitles and also there is a non-competition foreign language film section, so the festival and awards has a very international feel. 2006: 11 Nov-23 Nov,
  • The Lantern Festival is a dazzling display of lanterns and lasers which runs for several days around the fifteenth day of the lunar new year. While the main city event is held at the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall grounds (3-11 March 2007), Renai Road perhaps offers the most elegant display, with the whole tree-lined boulevard transformed into a delicate tunnel of lights (24 Feb-11 March 2007). Pingsi in Taipei County celebrates the festival with the release of huge lanterns that float serenely across the night sky, carrying with them the dedications and aspirations of those who release them.
  • Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the death of the Chinese patriotic poet Qu Yuan (born 340 BC), who drowned himself in a river out of despair that his beloved country, Chu, was being plundered by a neighboring country as a result of betrayal by his own people. The festival falls on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month (31 May 2006), and is marked by races of colorful dragon boats at various locations throughout the island. One of the best places to view a boat race in the Taipei area is at the Bitan River in Xindian. Special sticky rice balls called dzongdz are also eaten on this day.
  • Taipei International Travel Fair, Taipei World Trade Centre. 2006: 3 Nov-6 Nov

Learn

Buddhism

  • The internationally acclaimed Chan (Zen) Master Sheng-yen has a monastery in Beitou where there are regular mediation meetings with instruction given in English. See Beitou page for more information.
  • In recent years, Tibetan Buddhism has become very popular in Taiwan, and the Taipei area alone boasts more than fifty centers. So, on any given night there will be teachings and rituals being held in the city, and Taipei has become a regular port of call for many of the well known rinpoches. While most teachings are given in Tibetan with translation into Chinese, some are given in English. For information on teachings, check notice boards at vegetarian restaurants. (For purchase of Buddha statues and other Buddhist artifacts, see 'Potala' under listings for 'Buy')
  • The international Buddhist foundation The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation has its headquarters in Taipei. The foundation publishes books on Buddhism in various languages (including English) which it offers for free. For detailed information check the foundations web site: [15]

Language

  • Center for Chinese Language and Culture Studies, National Taiwan Normal University (Shi-da), 162 Heping East Road, sec. 1. Tel+886 2 2321-8457 & 2391-4248. Fax:886 2 2341-8431, e-mail: mtc@mtc.ntnu.edu.tw). This school, which is part of Shi-da University, has seen generations of students passing through its doors and it remains one of the most popular schools in Taiwan for serious students of Mandarin.
  • International Chinese Language Program, National Taiwan University (Taida). This program, which used to be called the IUP program, has a long history of Chinese language training, especially for advanced learners and primarily targeting graduate students, scholars and professionals studying China and Taiwan. It has very small classes, very high quality instructors and texts, but may be considerably more expensive than the alternatives. Only students who expect a very intensive experience, usually with a year or more of time to dedicate to study, should consider this program.
  • Mandarin Daily News Language Center, more commonly known locally as Guo-Yu-Ri-Bau, 2F. 2 Fu-zhou Street. Tel:886 2 2391-5134 & 2392-1133 ext. 1004. Fax:886 2 2391-2008. Along with the Center for Chinese Language and Culture Studies, this is one of the most popular schools in Taiwan for serious students of Mandarin.
  • Maryknoll Language Service Center Rm. 800, 8 Fl., Chung Ying Bldg.2 Zhongshan North Rd., Sec. 1. Tel:+886 2 2314-1833~5. Conveniently located near a Taipei Station MRT stop exit, the Maryknoll Language Service Center offers Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Hakka classes. This is *the* place to study Taiwanese. Mostly one-on-one tutorials although you may be able to arrange a group class.

Taichi

  • Unless you have a recommendation, the best way to find a good teacher is to visit a park at sunrise and check out the scene for yourself. If you spot a group that impresses you, approach one of the students and inquire about joining them. Most teachers will be happy to have a new student, though some old masters may 'play hard to get.' In the latter case, persistence is required. Most teachers will expect some sort of fee for their tuition. However, as it is considered impolite to directly ask the teacher this question, use a fellow student as mediator. Furthermore, when offering the money on the alloted day, place it in a red envelope (hongbao - available at all convenience and stationary stores) and slip it to the teacher subtly. Offering cash openly to a teacher of a traditional art or religion is considered undignified and demeaning. Most parks host tai'chi groups, but the most popular places are the grounds of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (nearest MRT station - CKS Memorial Hall) and Sun Yat-sen Memorial (nearest MRT station - SYS Memorial Hall) as well as Peace Park (formerly known as New Park - nearest MRT station - National Taiwan University Hospital).

Work

Teaching English (or to a lesser extent, other foreign languages) is perhaps the easiest way to work in Taiwan. Work permits can be hard to come by and will take time. Consult your local Taiwan consulate/embassy/representative as far in advance as possible.

Buy

It is often said that L.A. has no center. In contrast, one could say that Taipei is all center, and as such it has been given the epithet - "the emporium without end." Basically, however, the main shopping area can be divided into two districts: East and West. West Taipei is the old city and is characterized by narrow streets crammed packed with small shops. The Western district is also home to most government buildings and the Taipei Main Station. East Taipei boasts wide tree lined boulevards and the four main shopping malls are located in this area. Popular shopping destinations in East Taipei consist of the area around the ChongXiao-DunHua intersection and Taipei 101.

Shopping malls/areas

  • Taipei 101 Mall (see Landmarks section)
  • Eslite Mall (誠品 Chengpin) - an upscale market-style shopping center with 24 hour book shop (with good English selection) on the second floor and ethnic music store in basement. 245 Dunhua South Road - near intersection with Renai Road.
  • Breeze Center (微風廣場 Weifeng Guangchang), 39 Fuxing South Road, Sec. 1 (near the intersection with Civic Boulevard) Tel:+886 2 6600-8888. Open: 11AM-9:30PM Sun-Thur; 11AM-10PM Fri-Sat.
  • The Core Pacific Living Mall (京華城 Jinghua Cheng), reportedly Asia's largest shopping center under one roof, has many stores open 24 hours, plus a large food court, cinema complex, and the nightclub Plush, located on Bade Road, near intersection with Guangfu South Road.
  • A main shopping area is also located around the Sogo Department Store on Zhongxiao East Road, Sec. 4 (nearest MRT Station: Zhongxiao Fuxing), and the lanes and alleys around Da'an Road (behind Sogo) have an interesting array of small shops and boutiques. Buddha Statues, prayer flags and other artifacts associated with Tibetan Buddhism can be purchased at Potala, 2F, 2-4, Lane 51, Da'an Road. Tel:+886 2 2741-6906. The staff speak English and the prices are reasonable. Also, those interested in all things Nepalese should check out Jay Shiva Shamyoo Himalayan Handicrafts, located in the basement of 1 Lane 146, Zhongxiao East Road, sec. 4. Tel:+886 2 2740 2828.
  • Those interested in picking up cheap electronic goods and cameras should wander the lanes and alleys around Kaifeng Street and Zhonghua Road (near Taipei Main Station).
  • Computer buffs will enjoy a visit to Guanghua Market (Guanghua Shangchang). Specializing in computer and electronic goods, this market has the largest number of stalls selling hardware and software under one roof in Taiwan, and all at very competitive prices. While there, check out the enormous DVD & VCD selections (remember to check DVD region codes) and used book stores. The old location on Bade Rd. under the Xinsheng overpass was demolished in January 2006, and all the shops have moved to a new location at the southeast corner of Civic Blvd and Jinshan Road, a short walk from the old location.
  • The Station Front Area (站前), a section of Downtown just south of the Taipei Railway Station is a bustling area filled with shops and stores of all kinds, but is especially well known for it's high concentration of bookstores, and in recent years, stores specializing in electronics and computer hardware. Electronic and computer junkies take note, some smaller vendors will allow you to bargain down prices on large purchases (i.e. a custom built PC). Popular places in this area to shop for computer hardware and software include:
    • Nova, a four story collection of small computer and electronics vendors that can only be described as a high tech bazaar, located across the street from the railway station on the west side of the Shinkong Mitsukoshi department store.
    • KMall, located in the former Asiaworld department store on the east side of Shinkong Mitsukoshi, this trendy mall specializes in electronics of all kinds, and is a location for large companies such as Asus, Samsung, Benq, and Acer to showcase their newest products.
    • The Taipei Easy Mall is a long underground shopping area that houses several stores selling all manner of items, not necessarily limited to electronics. A few stores in the Easy Mall carry current and vintage video game hardware and software, and perform hardware modifications on consoles. The Easy Mall is accessible through the basement of Taipei Railway Station.
  • The Ximending (西門町) is the trendy shopping area just west of Downtown popular with students. If it's pink, plastic, and imported from Japan, you can probably find it on sale in a store here. To get to Ximending, take the MRT Blue (Bannan) Line and get off at Ximen Station.
  • Zhongshan North Road (中山北路) is a tree-lined boulevard featuring numerous international and local brands. Gucci and Louis Vuitton are among the brands who operate stores along this street. This road, particularly along the 2nd section, is also famous for its numerous wedding picture studios and gown boutiques. It is possible to find a great deal for wedding portraits here as competition is stiff. This road runs parallel to the MRT Red (Danshui/Beitou) line.

Handicrafts

  • Weekend Jade Market. Located under an elevated expressway, reaching from Renai Road & Jianguo South Road intersection down Jianguo Rd. till Xinyi Rd. In addition to jade, flowers and many other kinds of handcrafts and articles of jewelery can be bought. There are actually three different markets, the Weekend Jade Market, Weekend Flower Market and Weekend Handicrafts Market in this same location, and as the names suggest, they're only open on weekends, until 6:00pm.
  • For handicrafts, visit the Chinese Handicraft Mart, 1 Xuzhou Road (on corner of intersection with Zhongshan South Road).
  • Pottery enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to Yingge in Taipei County (Take train, and get off at Yingge Station). Old Street is a crescent of beautiful pottery shops interspersed with coffee shops and tea houses.

Trekking/backpacking gear

  • Mountain Hard Wear, 7 Lane 284, Roosevelt Road, sec. 3, Gongguan (nearest MRT - Gongguan) Tel:+886 2 2365-1501, plus a few stores (all within a few doors of each other) just north of the junction with Zhongxiao West Road on Zhongshan North Road, sec 1 (west side of the road) are professional trekking and backpacking stores offering a wide range of high quality equipment.

Books

  • Taipei has great book shops, and roads such are Chongqing South Road are packed with stores specializing in Chinese language books. The follow book stores all have good selections of English titles:
  • Eslite offer a good selection at most of their branches, though the 24 hour flagship store at 2F, 245 Dunhua South Road. Tel:+886 2 2775-5977 and the huge Eslite Book Store and shopping mall at 11 Songgau Road, which incidentally is the largest book store in Taiwan, have the greatest selection. The Songgau Road branch is located next to MRT Station 'Taipei City Hall'.
  • Page One on the fourth floor of the shopping mall at Taipei 101. Tel+886 2 8101-8282 - a very large and varied selection of English titles.
  • Caves, two branches - 103 Zhongshan North Road, Sec 2. Tel:+886 2 2537-1666, and 5, Lane 38, Tianyu Street, Tienmu. Tel:+2 886 2874-2199 - one of the original book stores in Taipei specializing in English titles, and although it has been surpassed by the newer arrivals, it is still a good place to pick up a popular novel and English language text books.
  • Lai Lai, 4F, 271 Roosevelt Road, Sec 3. Tel:+886 2 2363-4265 - a small but interesting selection of English material.
  • Crane Publishing Company, 6F, 109 Heping E Rd, Sec 1. Tel+886 2 2393-4497, 2394-1791 - specialists in English language text books and teaching material.
  • Bookman Books, Room 5, 2F, 88 Xinsheng South Road, Sec 3. Tel+886 2 2368-7226 - an excellent collection of English literature books, albeit a little expensive.
  • Mollie Used Books, 17, Alley 10, Lane 244, Roosevelt Road sec 3. Tel:886 2 2369-2780 - a reasonable selection of English titles.

NB: In order to protect the environment, a government policy rules that plastic bags cannot be given freely at stores in Taiwan, but have to be bought (NT$1) - bakeries being an exception as the items need to be hygienically wrapped. Re-usable canvas and nylon bags are sold at most supermarkets.

Eat

Taipei probably has one of the highest densities of restaurants in the world. Almost every street and alley offers some kind of eatery. Of course, Chinese food (from all provinces) is well represented, but in addition, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean and Italian cuisines are also popular. Basically, East Taipei, especially around Dunhua and Anhe Roads, and also the expat enclave of Tienmu are where to clash chopsticks with the rich and famous, whereas West Taipei offers more homey, small restaurants.

Due to the sheer number of restaurants, it is almost impossible to compile a thorough list, but below are a few recommended restaurants catering to specialist tastes.

Night markets

Vendor food is nearly always safe to eat and offers a cheap way to sample delicious Chinese 'home cooking.' Use common sense though if you have a sensitive stomach!

Some of the best known night market snacks are:

  • Oyster omelet (蚵仔煎; ô-á-chian)
  • Stinky tofu a.k.a. Chinese cheese (臭豆腐; chòudòufǔ)
  • Oyster vermicelli (蚵仔麵線; ô-á mī-sòaⁿ)
  • Fried chicken fillet (雞排; jīpái)
  • Pearl milk tea (珍珠奶茶; zhēnzhū nǎichá) - a classic drink invented by a tea vendor in Taichung.
  • Stir fried cuttlefish (生炒花枝; shēngchǎo huāzhī)
  • Spareribs with herbs (藥燉排骨; yàodùn páigǔ)
  • Mango ice (芒果冰; mángguǒbīng)
  • Pan fried pork buns (水煎包; shuǐjiānbāo)
  • Soy braised foods (滷味; lǔwèi)

Chinese cuisine

  • Tien Hsiang Lo (天香樓), B1, 41 Minquan East Road, Sec 2 (The Landis Taipei Hotel). Tel:+886 2 2597-1234, [16]. Authentic Hangzhou cuisine. Reservations are recommended.
  • Tainan Tan-tsu-mien Seafood Restaurant (台南擔仔麵), 31 Huaxi Street. Tel+886 2 2308-1123. [17]. Legendary in the Huaxi Street Tourist Night Market (Snake Alley).
  • Pearl Liang (漂亮中式海鮮餐廳), 2F, 2 Songshou Road (Grand Hyatt Taipei). Tel+886 2 2720-1200, [18]. Offers unique, fresh, live seafood and dim sum.
  • Shang Palace (香宮), 6F, 201 Dunhua South Road, Sec 2 (Far Eastern Plaza Hotel). Tel:+886 2 2378-8888, [19]. Specialize in Cantonese and regional Chinese cuisines. Note: Dim sum is available for lunch only.
  • Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐), 218 Zhongxiao East Road, Sec 4. Tel:+886 2 2721-7890, [20]. Famous for its steamed pork dumplings. Worth a detour. Several locations in Taipei and worldwide.

Indian cuisine

  • Tandoor Indian Restaurant (坦都印度餐廳), 10, Lane 73, Hejiang Street. Tel:+886 2 2509-9853. [21].
  • Himalaya Indian Restaurant (西馬拉雅印度餐廳), 20, Alley 6, Lane 170, Zhongxiao East Road, Sec 4 (near intersection with Dunhua South Road). Tel+886 2 2777-2292 and also 3, Lane 105, Shida Road. Tel:+44 2 2367-1313. Excellent value lunch time set (Thali). These restaurants are very popular, so it is good to make a reservation if you're coming as a group.
  • Out of India (印渡風情), 26, Lane 13, Pucheng Street (second lane on right off Shida Road when traveling from Heping East Road). Tel:+886 2 2363-3054 - food ok, but not great value.
  • Namaste Curry, 2F. 16, Lane 316, Roosevelt Road sec 3 (near Gungguan MRT Station). Tel:+886 2 2362-9538 - friendly and warm atmosphere - good reasonably priced food.

Middle Eastern

  • Sababa, 8, Alley 54, Lane 118, Heping East Road, sec. 2 (across from the Xinhai Road entrance to Taiwan National University). Tel:+886 2 2738-7769 [22] - a great little Middle Eastern style restaurant serving such delights as pita, falafel, humus, mint tea and Turkish-style coffee - very reasonable prices - cozy atmosphere.

Pizza

Pizza is easy to find in Taiwan with major chains such as Pizza Hut and Domino's. Besides the usual variety, Taiwan also has its localized variants e.g. seafood supreme, pepper steak, corn, peas etc.

  • Alleycat's Pizza, B1, 6-1 Lishui Street (near the intersection of Xinyi Road and Jinshan South Road). Tel:886 2 2321-8949. [23]. Generally considered by ex-pats to be the best traditional Italian pizza in Taipei.

Steak

  • Ruth's Chris Steak House (茹絲葵), 2F, 135 Minsheng East Road, Sec 3. Tel+886 2 2545-8888, [24]. Perhaps Taipei's best-known and best American steakhouse.
  • Wang Steak House (王品台塑牛排), 169 Nanjing East Road, Sec 4. Tel:886 2 8770-7989. [25]. An upscale chain steakhouse known for its signature "Wang steak".

Vegetarian

Vegetarian food (素食) is also common fare, with the city boasting more than two hundred such restaurants and vendor stands. Another Taipei specialty is vegetarian buffets. They are common in every neighborhood, and unlike the 'all-you-can-eat' buffets listed below (which charge a set price, usually ranging from NT$250 - NT$350 including dessert and coffee/tea), the cost is estimated by the weight of the food on your plate. Rice (there is usually a choice of brown or white) is charged separately, but soup is free and you can refill as many times as you like. NT$90 - NT$120 will buy you a good sized, nutritious meal.

  • Lotus Pavilion Restaurant, B1, 153-155 Xinyi Road, Sec. 4 (entrance in alley behind Changhwa Bank. Tel:+886 2 2703-5612) - up-scale all-you-can-eat buffet.
  • Heart of the Lotus Garden, 2F No. 108 Xinsheng North Road, Sec. 2 (near intersection with Jinzhou Street - Tel:+886 2 2560-1950) - up-scale all-you-can-eat buffet.
  • Om Ah Hum, No. 6, Alley 18, Lane 60, Taishun Street (off Shida Road - Tel:+886 2 2362-3919) - menu style - located in traditional wooden building.
  • For a special Taipei street experience, check out the veggie vendor outside No. 30, Lane 216, Zhongxiao East Road Sec. 4 (in the alleys behind the Dunhua South Road Eslite Mall and book store) - The rice noodles are especially delicious and cheap and a plate of their dougan (dried tofu) makes a great side dish.
  • Fei Chang Su, 19-3, Lane 107, Fuxing South Road, Sec.1 (alley behind Zhongxiao East Road Sogo - Tel:+886 2 2731-5089) - menu style - inexpensive and delicious Thai cuisine.
  • Shui-Ge, B1, 270 Zhongxiao East Road, Sec. 4 (Tel:886 2 2711-1871) - up-scale all-you-can-eat buffet.
  • Armillydo, 13, Lane 170, Xinsheng South Road, Sec. 1 (enter from Lane 243, Xinyi Road, sec 2 - Tel:+886 2 2358-2677) - an organic restaurant with Zen style decor.

Drink

Bars/clubs

  • Ministry of Sound, 310 Lequn 3rd Road. Tel:+886 2 8502-1111, [26]. MoS Taipei has 3 floors with the main floor being Hip-hop. On the second floor is the trance room and the third floor is the former VIP room which is now more of a lounge area than anything else. Drinks are reasonably priced with water/soft drink being NT$100 and a beer being NT$150.
  • Luxy, 5F, 201 Zhongxiao E. Road, Section 4, near the Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT station, [27]. One of the most well-known clubs in Taipei. Luxy has two levels: the lower level has a side room playing house/techno and a main room playing hip-hop; the upper level is a lounge with a small dance floor over-looking the main room. Cover charge goes up after 11 pm. Get there early to avoid a line.
  • Ziga Zaga, No.2, Sung Shou Road, Grand Hyatt Taipei - specializes in cocktails and Italian cuisine - both the service and food are excellent - popular with locals and expats - Ladies Night on Wednesdays.
  • The Wall Live House, B1, 200 Roosevelt Road, Sec 4, 2930-0162, [28]. Mostly Taiwanese bands playing everything from rock to reggae.
  • Champagne 3 Disco Lounge, B1, 171 Songde Road. Tel:+886 2 2728-5673, [29]. Two-level dance club & lounge with good D.J.'s.
  • Carnegies, 100 Anhe Road, Sec 2. Tel:+886 2 2325-4433, [30]. Popular with locals and expats. Ladies Nights on Wednesdays! The outdoor patio is perfect for those who prefer quieter and less smoky atmospheres.
  • Taiwan Beer Bar, 85 Bade Road, Sec. 2. A godsend for the thirsty budget traveler in a city of pricey bars, this is most certainly the cheapest bar in town. It's attached to the brewery where Taiwan Beer is made, close to the intersection of Bade and Jianguo Roads. What it lacks in ambiance it more than makes up for in price: NT$50 per mug of Taiwan Beer, NT$100 per liter. Interior and exterior seating are available.

Tea houses

Taiwan's speciality teas are High Mountain Oolong (高山烏龍, a fragrant, light tea) and Tieguanyin (鐵觀音, a dark, rich brew).

  • Wisteria House (紫藤廬), 16 Xinsheng South Road, Sec 3. Tel:+886 2 2363-7375, [31]. Wisteria is set in a traditional house, complete with tatami mats, and is a great place to spend an afternoon relaxing with friends and soaking up the atmosphere of Taiwan.
  • Hui Liu (回留), No 9, Lane 31, Yongkang Street. Tel:+886 2 2392-6707. Located next to the small and verdant Yongkang Park, Hui Liu is a modern style tea house. In addition to serving Chinese tea, Hui Liu is also famous for its organic vegetarian meals and hand made pottery.

The mountainous Maokong area of Muzha in the Wenshan district of the city has dozens upon dozens of teahouses, many of which also offer panoramic views of the city - especially spectacular on a clear evening. A cable car system bringing people to the area from the Taipei Zoo MRT station is scheduled to open Feb. 16, 2007. The S15 bus goes up there from the Wanfang Community MRT station.

Cafes

While traditionally a nation of tea drinkers, in recent years the Taiwanese have really embraced the cafe culture, and all the usual chains can be found here in abundance. For cafes with more character, however, roam the back streets near National Taiwan University (between Xinsheng South Road and Roosevelt Road), and also in the Ren'ai Road, Section 4 - Dunhua South Road area. Also, Bitan River in Xindian has a wide range of cafes, all with restful views over the river and mountains beyond.

Sleep

Hostels

  • Amigo Hostel, No. 14, Lane 157, Yonghe Rd. Sec. 2, Yonghe, [32]. An old favorite, though it is no longer in its old location. Closest MRT: Dingxi. US$7/night.
  • Taipei Hostel, 6F, No. 11, Lane 5, Linsen N. Rd., [33]. Dorm: NT$300 (NT$1500/week). Single bed room: NT$500 (NT$2500/week).
  • Happy Family Hostel 1 & 2 are old favorites in the city and are managed by the very friendly and helpful John Lee. A shared room goes for NT$300 per night, while rates for a single run from NT$400 - NT$700. Cheaper rates are available for long term stays. Address: No. 2, Lane 56, Zhongshan North Road Sec. 1 (Tel:+886 2 2581-0176; Mobile: 0937-195-075). For directions, Google for "Happy Family Hostel, Taipei".
  • World Scholar House[34] is a clean and new addition to the Taipei hostel scene. Dorm and private rooms available, with the rates running from NT$350 to NT$500. Address: 8F, No. 38, Lane 2, Songjiang Road. Tel:+886 2 2541-8113.
  • Mandarin Hostel[35] is a hostel that caters specifically to the needs of people coming to Taipei to look for jobs teaching English or to study Chinese. It is very comfortable. NT$3000/week for a single room (with double bed). Ensuites are also available.
  • Taipei Key Mall Traveler Hostel is opposite Taipei Main Station on the 15th floor of the building where the K-Mall is located, next to the tall Mitsukoshi building. NT$490 per night per person + breakfast; NT$250 for children under 12. Address: 15F-2, No. 50, Zhongxiao W. Rd. Sec. 1. Tel:+886 2 2331-7272, 2381-2550

Budget

Taipei's budget hotels run at a rate of about NT$1,000 - NT$2,500 per night (discounts can generally be negotiated for stays of over a week). Hotels within this price range are too many to list. Here is a random assortment:

East Taipei

  • Royal Best Hotel, 385 Xinyi Road, sec. 4. Tel:+886 2 2729- 5533. E-mail: royalbes@ms.hinet.net
  • Ever Green Hotel, 73 Xinyi Road, sec. 2. Tel:+886 2 2394-4796.
  • Charming City Hotel, 295 Xinyi Road, sec. 4. Tel:+886 2 2704-9746.
  • Fu Hau Hotel, 9 Fuxing South Road, sec 2. Tel:+886 2 2325-0722.
  • Donghwa Hotel, 156 Nanjing East Road, sec 4. Tel:+886 2 2579-6162. E-mail: donghwahotel@hotmail,com

West Taipei

  • One Star, (萬事達旅店) 18 Chongqing South Road, sec 1. Tel:+886 2 2388-7269. Fax:+886 2 2388-2983 - located across from Taipei Main Station - rooms from NT$1,740
  • New Mayflower Hotel, Chongqing South Road, sec. 1. Tel:+886 2 2311-0212.

Mid Range

East Taipei

  • Baguio Hotel, 367 Bade Road, sec. 2. Tel:+886 2 2771-8996.
  • Taipei Fullerton 41, 41 Fuxing South Road, sec. 2. Tel:+886 2 2708-3000.
  • First Hotel, 63 Nanjing East Road, sec. 2. Tel:+886 2 2541-8234.

West Taipei

  • Cosmos Hotel, 43 Zhongxiao West Road, sec. 1. Tel:+886 2 2361-7856 - in front of Taipei Main Station.
  • Fortuna Hotel, 122 Zhongshan North Road, sec. 2. Tel:+886 2 2563-1111.
  • Hotel Flowers, 19 Hankou Street. Tel:+886 2 2312-3811.
  • YMCA, 19 Xuchang Street. Tel:+886 2 2311-3201.


Splurge

East Taipei

  • Grand Hyatt Taipei, 2 Songshou Road. Tel:+886 2 2720-1234 - next to Taipei 101 and Taipei World Trade Center, at the very heart of the New Taipei, a burgeoning business, shopping and entertainment district.
  • Howard Plaza Hotel, 160 Ren'ai Road, sec. 3. Tel:+886 2 2700-2323.
  • Rebar Crowne Plaza, 32 Nanjing East Road, sec. 5. Tel:+886 2 2763-5656 - an older hotel, but with very good quality service.
  • Sherwood Hotel, 111 Minsheng East Road, sec. 3. Tel:+886 2 2718-1188.
  • Shangri-La Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, 201 Dunhua South Road, sec. 2. Tel:+886 2 2378-8888 - Asian inspired interior design.

West Taipei

  • Ambassador Hotel Taipei, 63 Zhongshan North Road, sec. 2. Tel:+886 2 2551-1111.
  • Caesar Park Taipei, 38 Zhongxiao West Road, sec. 1. Tel:+886 2 2311-5151.
  • Grand Formosa Regent, 3 Lane 39, Zhongshan North Road, sec. 2. Tel:+886 2 2523-8000.
  • Hotel Royal Taipei, member of the Nikko Hotels International group, 37-1, Zhongshan North Road, sec. 2. Tel:+886 2 2542-3266.
  • Ritz Landis Hotel, 41 Minquan East Road, sec. 2. Tel:+886 2 2597-1234.
  • Sheraton Hotel Taipei, 12 Zhongxiao East Road, sec. 1. Tel:+886 2 2394-4240.
  • Westin Hotel Taipei, 133 Nanjing East Road, sec. 3. Tel:+886 2 8770-6565.
  • Evergreen Laurel Hotel Taipei, 63 Sung Chiang Road. Tel: +886 2 2501-9988

Contact

Dialing code

  • The area dialing code for Taipei is 02. From overseas, dial +886 2 XXXX XXXX

Tourist and emergency numbers

  • Tourist Information Office: 9F, 290 Zhongxiao East Road., Sec. 4. TEL:2349-1500. There is also a branch tourist office next to the ticket purchasing counters at Taipei Main Station, and near exit 16 in the Metro Mall underground shopping plaza that runs between MRT stations Zhongxiao-Fushing and Zhongxiao-Dunhwa.
  • Tourist Information (emergency number) - Tel:+886 2 2717-3737

Hospitals

  • Chung-shan Hospital - a small hospital popular with ex-pats. 11, Lane 112, Renai Road, Section 4, Taipei. Tel:+886 2 2708-1166. Nearest MRT: 'Zhongxiao-Dunhua' (a fifteen minute walk)
  • Buddhist Tzu-chi Hospital - a very friendly and efficient hospital with an especially caring environment. Jianguo Road, Xindian City. Tel:+886 2 6628-6336, 6628-9800. Nearest MRT 'Dapinglin' (Xindian Line) a ten minute walk from exit 1.
  • Yang-ming Hospital - popular with the Tienmu ex-pat community. 105 Yusheng Street, Shilin.
  • National Taiwan University Hospital - one of Taiwan's largest and most famous hospitals. 1 Changde Street. Tel:+886 2 2312 3456. Nearest MRT 'NTU Hospital' (Danshui Line)

Major airlines

  • Cathay Pacific - +886 2 2715 2333
  • China Airlines - +886 2 2715 1212
  • Eva Airways - +886 2 2501 1999
  • KLM Asia - +886 2 2711 4055
  • North West - +886 2 2772 2188
  • Singapore Airlines - +886 2 2551 6655
  • Thai Airways - +886 2 2509 6800

For up-to-date information on cheap flights, check the advertisement pages of one of the three local daily English newspapers (see media below)

Media

Taiwan has a very free and liberal press. There are three daily local newspapers available in English:

Free magazines/info:

  • This Month in Taiwan is a free magazine that lists events and has an exhaustive directory of useful numbers in Taiwan. It can be found at tourist offices and major hotels.
  • POTS is a free weekly where you can find out what is going on in the Taipei art, club, and bar scenes. There is a eight page English supplement every week with extensive listings. Pick it up at bars like Bobwundaye, The Living Room, or Odeon 2.
  • Forumosa is Taiwan's largest expatriate-oriented discussion board. Here's where you can learn about mysteries like how to get a work permit or meet people at the site's real world happy hours.
  • FTV English Edition - hour of English news shown on Channel 53 (2005) on local TV station Formosa TV (FTV) at 11:00pm every night. The program features 30 minutes of local news as well as cultural events' features. The show is archived online.
  • Lifestyle - info on Taiwan (mostly Taipei) relating to what's on and current trends - bilingual.
  • Taiphoon - Taipei based magazine dedicated to promoting peace and environmental awareness in Taiwan - bilingual.

Internet cafes

Internet cafes are plentiful, especially in the maze of alleys between Taipei Main Station and Peace Park, although you may have to wander around (and look up and down as many are on higher floors or in the basement) before finding one. Some computers are coin operated. Internet Cafes are known as wang-ka in Chinese (a combination of wang, the Chinese word for 'net', and ka an abbreviation of the English word 'cafe'.)

Below is a list of a few especially recommended internet cafes:

  • B1 in building on corner of Shida Road and (Shida Road) lane 117 - a two minute walk from MRT station Taipower Building, exit 3
  • Aztec, 2F. 235 Zhongxiau East Road, sec 4.
  • LHH Cyber Cafe, 28 Guangfu South Road.
  • Skywalker Multimedia Entertainment Center, B1, 119 Minsheng East Road, sec 2.

Stay safe

Taipei is probably one of the safest cities you will ever visit. Violent crime is rare - even late at night. However, beware of pickpockets in crowded areas. The police are a resource you can turn to for help. Some police officers also speak basic English.

  • Central Weather Bureau - in addition to giving seven day weather forecasts for Taipei, the website also has detailed maps showing the path of an approaching typhoon and up-to-the-minute information of earthquakes, giving their location and magnitude.
  • English-Speaking Police:+886 2 2555 4257 / 2556 6007
  • Emergency numbers:
    • Police: 110
    • Ambulance, Fire brigade: 119

Get out

  • Jiufen - this former gold mining town located on the northeast coast is now a popular tourist destination.
  • Yingge - famous for its high concentration of potters and ceramic makers.
  • Taroko Gorge - where the Liwu River cuts through 3,000-foot marble cliffs. The area of the gorge is also identified as Taroko Gorge National Park.
  • Sun Moon Lake [36] in Nantou County - a crystal clear lake imbedded into lush mountains.
  • Shei-pa National Park - a park spanning mountains and rivers located in Hsinchu County - great hiking trails.



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