Shilin (士林區) is a northern district of Taipei. The district is home to many museums, including the world famous National Palace Museum. In addition, one of Taipei's largest night markets is located in Shilin, as well as the ex-pat enclave of Tianmu.
MRT: Shilin Station and Jiantan Station on the Danshui - Shindian, Beitou - Nanshijiao lines.
The Grand Hotel (圓山大飯店) . This majestic hotel has graced the photograph albums of numerous generations of Taipei tourists. And, although the increase in other attractions may have led to it losing its status as the must-see-destination, this imposing structure, built in the style of a Beijing palace, still manages to attract bus loads of tourists wishing to have their photograph taken outside the main building and in the foyer. The tea rooms on the first floor are a good place to relax and absorb the grandeur of dynastic China. The hills behind the hotel are crisscrossed by a vast network of trails, footpaths, pavilions, and an abandoned military anti-aircraft base and are a popular exercise spot for locals and urban explorers. Getting there: MRT to Yuanshan station, then hop on the free shuttle bus.
The Martyr's Shrine (忠烈祠), 139 Beian Road (北安路139號). A temple memorializing those who gave their lives for the R.O.C. during its tenure on mainland China and it's later existence on Taiwan. A changing of the guard ceremony is performed at the top of the hour where a military honor guard performs an impressive series of gun twirling and tossing in front of astounded tourists. To get to the shrine take the MRT to the Jiantan Station, then take the Red 3 bus from the same side of the street the rest of the way, get off at the third stop. Open 9AM-5PM Sun-Fri.
Museums and galleries
National Palace Museum
National Palace Museum (國立故宮博物院 - Short name is 故宮), 221 Zhishan Road Sec. 2. Tel:+886 2 2881-2021 . Probably Taiwan's top sight. Due to the Sino-Japanese War the Nationalist Government took artifacts from Beijing so they wouldn't be harmed. After the war ended, the Chinese civil war continued and thus the Kuomintang shipped them to Taiwan. Needless to say, the Communists weren't very happy about this, but this way the treasures were probably saved from destruction in the Cultural Revolution — and the museum today has what is quite possibly the best collection of Chinese art in the world. Famous pieces from its collections include the jade cabbage, pork belly jade, and passenger boat carved from an olive pit. Tickets are NT$160 for adults, NT$80 for students with ID, and NT$80 per person for groups of 20 or more. The nearest MRT station is Shilin. From the main road (Zhongzheng Road) in front of exit 1, it is a short hop by taxi or city bus. Bus number 304 terminates at the museum, while bus numbers 255 and 小18 both make stops at the museum. Open daily 8:30AM - 6:30PM, with extended hours on Fri and Sat to 8:30 PM. Free for local residents after 6:30 pm on Saturday. Admission NT$160 (concessions NT$80). For student concession price, you need a ISIC card or Youth Travel card. A foreign university ID card is not sufficient. It gives combined admission tickets (Adults NT$ 250) with the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines, which is opposite to the National Palace Museum, just 200 m further (opposite direction than to MRT Shilin).
Taipei Astronomical Museum (天文館), 363 Jihe Road (a ten minute walk from either Shilin or Jiantan MRT stations) Tel:+886 2 2831-4551.  This modern museum offers a hands-on introduction to our universe. In addition to the permanent exhibits, there is also a Imax dome theater, an observatory and a 3D movie theater. Entrance to the observatory is free, while NT$100 (adult) NT$50 (child) is charged for a show at each of the two theaters. Open: Tu-Sun 8:50AM-5PM.
Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines (順益台灣原住民博物館), 282 Zhishan Road, Sec. 2. , opposite to the National Palace Museum, just 200 m further (opposite direction than to MRT Shilin). This museum houses exhibitions of Aboriginal culture, beliefs, ritual and lifestyle. Around 100 films about the traditional aborigional culture and custom can be viewed and visitors can enjoy Austronesian music and of other ethnics in music appreation section. English written explanation and an English audio guide is available. Admission tickets Adults NT$150, Students, people over 65 NT$100, additionally joint admission tickets with the National Palace Museum, Adults NT$250, Students NT$130. Opens Tuesday-Sunday, 9am-5pm. From MRT Shilin station by buss 213, 255, s18, s19 to Wesley Girl´s School stop, or bus 304 and R30 to National Palace Museum stop.
Shilin Residence (士林官邸) is located at the triangle of Fulin Road and Zhongshan North Road Sec. 5. It was one of Chiang Kai-shek's abodes during his Taipei years, and the sprawling grounds were opened as a park in 1996. This residence is famous for the European style of its architecture and gardens. Open daily 8:30AM - 5PM.
Zhishanyan Cultural and Ecological Garden (芝山岩文化綠園), , a small hill is located in the south of Tianmu's Yangming Hospital, and north of the Shuangxi river. The Zhishan Hill (Zhishanyan 芝山岩), one of the oldest archaeological excavation sites in Taiwan. Along the trail, you can see many historic heritages in this hill, the Huiji Temple (惠濟宮), Fortified Gate, small temple and an old camphor tree over 300 years old. Getting there: MRT Zhishan Station (Danshui Line) and walk for about 15 minutes.
Aborigine Culture Park (原住民文化主題公園) is situated beside the National Palace Museum, opposited the Sung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines. The theme of the park is the aboriginal culture. There are thirteen stone-slab sculptures stand in the entrance of the park, depicting the people of Taiwan's nine tribes in their traditional costumes.
Ferris Wheel, Miramar (美麗華), 22 Jinye 3rd Road (敬業三路22號). Tel:+886 2 2175-3456. . This up-scale shopping mall in the suburb of Dazhi operates a large ferris wheel that offers great views over the city. It is especially spectacular at night, when not only the city is lit up, but the ferris wheel itself is illuminated. It is open from 11AM to 12 midnight, and the fifteen minute ride costs NT$150 on weekdays and NT$200 on weekends. The same complex also houses a 3D Imax movie theater and a multi-screen Warner Village cinema. Free shuttle buses run to the mall from Jiantan MRT Station on the half hour during week days and more frequently at the weekend and on national holidays.
Tianmu Miramar Cinema (天母美麗華影城), 4F, 202 Zhongcheng Road, sec 2, Tianmu. (忠誠路二段202號4樓). A very modern facility with eight screens.
Shilin Food Center during the evening rush hour
Stinky tofu at Shilin Market
Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) around Wenlin Road (文林路) and Dadong Road (大東路). To really taste the flavor of Taiwanese life a trip to a night market is a must, and Shilin is one of the largest. The market began in the 19th century as a collection of vendors trading their goods near a small harbor along the Keelung River. Today the harbor is long gone but the night market has become what is quite possibly the largest collection of vendors and eateries in Taiwan. The night market sprawls across several city blocks, and is considered to be one of the "must-see" attractions in Taipei. Have dinner in one of the eateries in the new food court, then wander north to bargain hunt in a labyrinth of streets and alleys filled with shops and people. Businesses in the night market typically open around 4PM and stay open well past midnight. To get there, take the MRT Dansuei (Red) Line to Jiantan Station. The food court is located directly across the street from the station with the rest of the night market spreading out to the north. If in doubt, follow the crowds. Quick warning to shopping addicts: the last MRT train leaves Jiantan station around midnight, though the crowds last well past then. Plan ahead. Specialty foods and drinks include: fried buns (生煎包), lemon aiyu jelly (檸檬愛玉), peanut candy (花生糖), bubble tea (珍珠奶茶), snow flakes crushed ice (雪花冰), Taiwanese sausages (香腸), braised stinky tofu (紅燒臭豆腐) and oyster omelet (蚵仔煎). Don't forget the fried chicken.
Eslite Tianmu (誠品天母), 188 Zhongcheng Road, sec 2, Tianmu (忠誠路二段188號). An upscale mall with restaurants in the basement and bookstore on the top floor - a very pleasant atmosphere.
Dayeh Takashimaya (大葉高島屋百貨), 55 Zhongcheng Road, sec 2, Tianmu (忠誠路二段55號). Tel:+886 2 2831-2345. A 12 story department store with food court in the basement and bookstore on the 4th floor. A free shuttle connects the store to Shilin and Shipai MRT Stations.
Caves Books (敦煌書局), 5, Lane 38, Tianyu Street (the road running behind the Wellcome Supermarket on Tianmu West Road), Tianmu. Tel:+886 2 2874-2199. One of the original book stores specializing in English titles, especially strong on novels and English language text books.
Cafe Onion Restaurant (洋蔥餐廳), 1, Lane 9, Tianmu North Road, Tianmu . Tel:+886 2 2873-9992. Cafe Onion is a friendly restaurant in Tianmu since 1992, located in a small alley, just north of the main road - Tianmu West Road. Cafe Onion serves pastas and steaks. Tea or coffee are also available. Cafe Onion's Germany pork knuckles is the best, and it's worth queuing for. Open: 11:30AM-10:10PM; doors close at 11:30PM
San-hsi-t'ang (三希堂), National Palace Museum, 4th floor. 9 AM-5 PM. Well-hidden slick teahouse/restaurant atop the Palace Museum, which looks more expensive than it is. Most people stop by for a pot of oolong and tiny pastries, but the menu (available in English) also covers dim sum and enough savouries to make a meal.$200.
Fangs Restaurant, TianMu East Road (near Hello Kitty Store and Dunkin' Donuts). Popular amongst both Taiwanese and Expats, this 2-story restaurants offers excellent quality local dishes. There is an open kitchen where people can watch dumplings being made.
Grand Hotel. Taking high tea at the majestic Grand (see 'Landmarks' listing) is quite an institution among tourists.
Orange Cafe, 302 Wenlin Road (near exit 2, Shilin MRT Station). Tel:+886 2 2888-1220 . Pining for a cafe with a backstreet atmosphere and pumping out Indian, Middle Eastern, folk or Floyd type music? Check out Orange Cafe. In addition to coffee/tea etc, they also offer a simple menu that includes vegetarian dishes, and from 10:30PM on Friday evening the place comes to life with a fire dance performance on the roof.
Vagabond Cafe, 13 Fushou Street. Tel:+886 2 2838-2619. . A spacious art-style cafe with large windows overlooking green space - documentary movies screened on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 7:30PM - excellent coffee and home-made (including vegetarian) dishes. From Shilin MRT Station exit 1, walk to the main road (Zhongzhen Road). Cross the road and follow the overhead MRT track. The cafe is a few meters down this street on the right.
Chiantan Overseas Youth Activity Center (劍潭海外青年活動中心), 16 Zhongshan North Road, Sec.4 (nearest MRT 'Jiantan' on red line, take Exit 2 and walk south for 500m), ☎ +886 (02) 2885-2151~7, . A pleasant HI-accredited hostel with gardens and the best view of the Grand Hotel in town, also convenient for Shilin Night Market and the Fine Arts Museum (both within walking distance) and the National Palace Museum (a 15 minute journey by taxi/bus). Coin laundry, Internet access, convenience store on site. The facility is primarily a youth activity center catering to groups, so it is often full during school vacations and at weekends — book ahead.NT$1,880 (twin room), NT$3,600 (six single beds).
The Grand Hotel (圓山大飯店), 1 Zhongshan North Road, sec. 4, ☎ +886 (02) 2886-8888, . see 'Landmarks' sectionUS$100 up.
Grand Victoria Hotel (維多利亞酒店), 168 Jingye 4th Rd. Tel:+886 (02) 8502-0000. The newest hotel in Taipei. Near the Miramar Entertainment Park.
CTOYAC (see Sleep) has public Internet terminals ($10 for 10 minutes).
Yangmingshan National Park adds the backdrop for the district. Bus 260 passes along Zhongshan North Road (stopping across from Jiantan MRT Station) and turns right at Zhongzhen Road. It takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the terminal station in the mountains.
Downtown. Bus 285 runs the full length of Mingshen East Road and Dunhua North and South Roads, making stops at the major shopping junctions of Dunhua-Nanjing, Dunhua-Zhongxiao and Dunhua-Renai. This bus also stops near the (Domestic) Songshan Airport (on the corner on Minsheng East and Dunhua North Road). Bus 285 can be picked up anywhere on Tianmu West and East Roads and Zhongshan North Road sec 5. A major stop is outside Jiantan MRT Station.
Shida and Taida Universities. Bus 606 stops near Shida and outside Taida in Gongguan. Bus 606 follows the same route as bus 285 as far as the Grand Hotel.
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