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Recommended Tours in Taiwan

Starting Point

On the weekends and holidays, a good place to start the morning is with some bargaining at the Jian Guo Jade Market and Flower Market held under the overpass at corner of Ren Ai and Jian Guo Roads. The MRT (Ta An station) will put you nearby, one block west is Jian Guo Road. Although the quality of many items may not be the best, the quantity is impressive. Begin your walk at the Jade Market on Ren Ai Road and continue through the Flower Market to Hsin Yi Road.

From Hsin Yi Road, catch a bus going west to the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall to visit the magnificent grounds of the memorial or National Concert Hall or the National Theater. This is one of the favourite gathering areas of Taipei. As you stroll past people flying kites and roller blading, try to make your way by the pond stocked with Japanese koi and up the stairs of the blue-topped memorial building. If you are there on the hour, you can observe the ornate Changing of the Guard.

If you walk about one block north of the National University Hospital on Zhong Shan South Road, the Handicraft Market is on the next corner. While this shop has a nondescript exterior, inside there are four floors full of every kind of handicraft imaginable. This is a terrific place to purchase small gifts to take home.

Breath-taking View

Starting in Datong, head to the Di Hua Traditional Market. Items found here include all sorts of bulk dried fruits, candies, and beautifully carved moon cake moulds. Making your way back south by taxi to the train station will put you next to the Shin Kang Mitsukoshi building the top floor of which is the Shin Kong Observatory. After an elevator ride to the 46th floor, a spectacular view of Taipei awaits you; great for sunset. An unusual assortment can be found on a walk through the twists and turns of Snake Alley, a mix of snake blood vendors and tourist kitsch. The popular Long Shan Temple is also in the vicinity.

The Northern Trek

A relaxing way to start out the morning is to walk the park grounds adjacent to the Palace Museum. The grounds have numerous sculptures, open-air pavilions, and ponds with koi. If you still want more gardens to wander, you can make your way back to Shi Lin district's Zhong Shan North Road to visit the grounds of the former estate of Chiang Kai Shek. From Shi Lin, it is only a 20-minute MRT ride to the Danshui station, from which the Spanish San Domingo Fort is about a mile north. After visiting the fort and touring the consul's residence, wander through the streets of this small fishing/college town down to the waterfront and the Dan Shui Deck. The nearby Sheh Family Peacock Clam Restaurant is a great place to stop off for a meal and a rest before heading back into the city.

Shi Lin and Tian Mu

Bus #19 will place you directly in the expatriate Tian Mu shopping haven. Prices range from cheap to affordable, and the selection is comparable to the Women's Market in Hong Kong. Start off at one of the most photographed parts of Taipei, San Xia Street, which is a preserve street of traditional shophouses and temples.

Tian Mu dining offers French, Thai, Italian, Zhejiang and Japanese cuisine and more. If you can wait a bit longer, however, a five-minute ride on the MRT to the Shilin station will place you at the beginning of the Shi Lin Night Market. From eight or nine in the evening on, this market (one of the largest and oldest markets in Taipei) becomes a bustling hubbub of activity. Traditional Taiwanese foods, clothing items, mahjong sets and bamboo souvenirs are among the items found here.

For a dose of relaxation, take the MRT to the Hsin Bei Tou station followed by a short taxi ride and that will take you to one of many hot springs or to the grounds of the beautiful Bei Tou Hot Springs Museum.

Head South

Start by taking the MRT to Mu Zha where you can get off at the Taipei Zoo Station and visit the Taipei City Zoo. After the zoo, continue on to the Mu Zha MRT station. From there, a quick taxi ride or bus ride will take you to Wen Shan and the Mu Zha Tea Plantation. This area makes for a nice stroll, but even better are the tea-houses where you can spend some time sipping locally grown Chinese tea. While in the area, if feeling adventurous, the Zhinan Temple that can be seen off in the distance is one of the largest in the area, but is also quite a hike to reach.

On your way back into Taipei by MRT, stop at the Kung Kuan station to visit National Taiwan University. The grounds of the university are beautiful with its tall palms, wide roads, flowering bushes and Japanese architecture. On the other side is Gong Guan and a plethora of shopping and eating options catering to the university crowd.




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