Taipei, Taiwan

Back in January, I was fortunate enough to take part in a trip to Taiwan, as part of a team presenting projects at an event at the Taiwan National Science Education Center. Most of the activities that we joined during the week were organized for us, although we had a lot of free time in the evening to visit on our own. We also had 3 extra days that we used to visit additional spots, including a one day excursion that I organized as I really wanted to get some hiking in.

We arrived very early in Taipei, which meant we couldn’t check-in in our hotel right away. We had an entire day open and I’d figure the best way to get to know our way around town was to eat in a local breakfast restaurant and walk around. The food in Taipei, if you eat local in small restaurants, is really cheap. You can really find for many budgets, but you might have to be a bit adventurous if you want to save money. We chose the places where there was basically no English anywhere, and just pointed at the items we felt looked good, hoping our eyes would not be deceiving!

Next, we joined a free walking tour with Like it Formosa, which was about 3h30 long. We visited the Longshan Temple with the group and then walked to the Memorial Hall where we finished the tour.

We spent most of our week at the Science Center, in Shilin, which allowed us to visit the Astronomy Center as well as the Taipei Children Amusement Park right next door. Our entrance was free for these 2 attractions, but I don’t think I would recommend these otherwise (unless you are travelling with younger kids).

On one of our tour day, I had the chance to tour the National Taiwan Museum as well as the Dadoacheng district. I have never been a huge fan of museums, but our guides were very knowledgeable and I enjoyed learning more about the history of the country and how Taiwan came to be what it is today. The Dadoacheng district was really nice and I wish we had more time to explore – you can rent a bike and ride along the waterfront, and there are tons of local day markets that are worth just walking through if you are short on time. The locals were using it to prepare for Chinese New Year, and it was overwhelming and amazing at the same time.

When in Taipei, you can’t avoid spending a few evenings at the night market. There are a few of them, and we spent most of our time in the Shilin Night Market, which is one of the big ones in town. Here again, adventure is your friend when choosing something to eat. The memorable meal for me was this massive piece of boneless fried chicken that was really cheap (although we had to wait in a very long line), and some fried cheese sweet balls that I forgot the name of! The prices once again are very reasonable if you are travelling on a budget, compared to what you would pay in a restaurant for a sit-down meal.

The next day, we took a day trip to Yi-Lan. It was meant for us to discover Taiwanese culture and to share our own culture with the other teams. We started by driving about 1h30 to Yi-Lan, on the coast of the island, to visit the National Taiwan Traditional Art Museum. We were able to buy some hand-made souvenirs and to visit the grounds of the museum. There was also a short parade for the Chinese New Year happening while we were there.

Most shops also have a do-it-yourself workshop section for those who would like to try and learn the local arts. After spending the morning relaxing, shopping and discovering the museum, we headed to a local traditional restaurant. Their speciality is steamed chicken, but we were able to try many other plates and the amount of food was impressive. One of our ambassadors had the honours of preparing the chicken for our table, and we were a bit unsure what to think about having the chicken head and feet in our plates!

After lunch, we made our way next door to the Ilan Cookie Museum. They make a lot of goodies in Taiwan and we had a chance to sample many of their sweets and treats, as well as to make our own in a DIY bakery workshop. The company makes the thinnest cookies (0.1cm, actually quite impressive!) and we could bring our own cookies back home afterwards.

3 Comments on “Taipei, Taiwan

  1. dear Anne, you post so many interesting photos and your impressions that it made me return to one of my favorite cities in the world 🙂 I was lucky enough to spend a few months in Taipei two years ago while I volunteer in a local hostel 🙂 have fun! cheers from Lisbon, PedroL

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