When I attended a conference in Taipei recently, I made it a point to have an extra 2 days to roam around the city after the event, as I know Taipei is one of the favorite cities of travelers in Asia. I was lucky to have about 1 and ½ free days after the end of the conference before I board my return flight. So, what do you do if you have 36 hours in Taipei? What are the best attractions you have to visit?
It is to be kept in mind that 36 hours in Taipei is definitely not enough to explore this vibrant city. There’s just too many must-see places and a lot of things to do and experience, that you should plan on staying for a few days at least if you really want to have an eventful and enjoyable stay in this city and in Taiwan in general.
However, if you’re like me with just 36 hours to spare, here’s what you can do:
After taking your breakfast and a little rest, you can start your exploration of this wonderful city by taking a visit to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and its grounds. This is a three-in-one treat as you also get to see the National Concert Hall and the National Theatre. The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is a must-see as it is built in memory of Taiwan’s former president and generalissimo, Chiang Kai-shek.
While at it, you can also watch the changing of the guards. The changing of the guards is a must-see for visitors in Taipei, as it is quite different from those that you see in Europe: guards walk in somewhat slow motion fashion.
After resting for a while and taking your lunch, you are now ready to proceed to the National Revolutionary Martyr’s Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to the war dead of Taiwan, and is built on the Chingsan Mountain. It is an important place to visit in Taipei, not only because of the 390,000 spirit tablets that the shrine houses, but also for its architecture, which was patterned from the Hall of Supreme Harmony in Beijing’s Forbidden City. You can also watch the changing of the guards here.
In the evening, you can visit the Longshan Temple. This temple was built in 1738, and believed to be the oldest temple in Taiwan. It is seen as an emblematic example of Taiwanese classical architecture, with southern Chinese influences. Longshan Temple worships a mixture of Buddhist, Taoist, and folk deities.
After your stint in the Longshan Temple, try walking a little and you’ll reach the “Snake Alley”. This place is formally known as the Huaxi Street Night Market, or the Huaxi Street Tourist Night Market, and is the oldest tourist destination in Taiwan. One distinct feature that differentiates “Snake Alley” from the other night markets in Taiwan is that at the entrance of the market is a beautiful Chinese traditional structural gate. The “Snake Alley” is called such because snake meat is served in many different ways: soup, medicine, wine, and in traditional dishes. (Our guide intimated though that nowadays, this is not very widely done anymore as there are now laws in place prohibiting this.) The Huaxi Night Market is also famous for its seafood. Of course, you will also find other merchandise and services common to night markets, such as massage parlors, jewelry and craft stores, clothing and others.
After eating dinner in one of the numerous buffet restaurants in the city, it is now time for you to visit Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world until 2010, when Dubai’s Burj Khalifa opened. Taipei 101 is designed to have repeated segments, which in Chinese culture represents the rhythm of an Asian pagoda, a stalk of a bamboo, or a stack of ancient Chinese money boxes. Views from the observatory at night time are magnificent, and don’t come down without first seeing the largest tuned mass damper that stabilizes the structure during strong winds. This mass damper is suspended from 92nd to 87th floor.
Once you have finished looking at the magnificent views from Taipei 101’s observatory and examining the displays at the adjacent small museum there, you can linger for a while downstairs and do some shopping before returning to the hotel.
This time, you have to prepare to spend half a day gawking at the treasures and excellent crafts displayed at the National Palace Museum. It is an antique museum and has a permanent collection of more than 696,000 pieces of ancient Chinese artifacts and artworks, which is one of the largest in the world. The collection of the National Palace Museum encompasses over 8,000 years of Chinese history from the Neolithic Age to the late Qing Dynasty (Wikipedia).
Aside from the very small handcrafted jade and ivory pieces, what I liked best in the museum are the Jadeite Cabbage and the Meat-shaped Stone.
After spending a few hours at the museum, you can visit one of the smaller temples, take your lunch, do a little more shopping, and you’re ready to be on your way to the airport for your return trip.
**Photos of Jadeite Cabbage, Meat-shaped Stone and National Palace Museum taken from Wikipedia
teachers for most of the last 15 years... into educational technology, e-learning and quality assurance. builds scale models of cars and robots, and experiments in photography in spare time. loves to travel and explore new places with family.
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