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Taipei Walking Tours - A Guide To Taipei In 6 Days



Taiwan is one of the most underrated tourist destinations in Asia. With about 10.74 million tourists in 2017, it lags behind Asian neighbours like Thailand (35 million), Hong Kong (58 million), Japan (28.7 million), or Indonesia (14 million).

Nevertheless, Taiwan is a great place to visit due to its amazing food, fascinating history, traditional Chinese culture, friendly atmosphere, safety, and natural attractions. Moreover, Taiwan has a very convenient visa policy. Citizens of many countries, including the United States and most European Union members, can travel to Taiwan without a visa and stay there for up to 90 days. You can literally buy a plane ticket and go to Taiwan without doing any paperwork.    

If you travel to Taiwan, your first destination will probably be the capital and largest city: Taipei.




Taipei is the political and economic centre of the island, with lots of attractions ranging from modern skyscrapers and shopping centres to night markets, colonial Japanese architecture and Chinese-style buildings.

Most tourists will use the great MRT system to get to various tourist spots. This is a time-effective way to visit as many places as possible, but it often makes it difficult to really appreciate and get a sense of a city.

If you have time and are not afraid of getting tired, then the best thing you can do is to just walk around as much as you can.

In this post, I would like to suggest six walking tours that cover most of the main tourist attractions, plus an additional tour if you have spare time. You can use this guide as a blueprint that you can adapt to your own interests and priorities.

Remember that the weather in Taipei is really hot and humid in the summer, so if you are going to walk for a long time, make sure you drink enough and cover your head.

This post is a general outline of Taipei. To know more details about each sight, just click on the links I have provided, which will redirect you to my older posts as well as to articles on other websites.




1 - From Taipei Main Station To Ximending


The first walking tour will take you from Taipei Main Station to the shopping district of Ximending via Beimen and Zhongshan Hall.

Taipei Main Station (台北車站, pinyin: Táiběi chēzhàn) is the gateway to Taipei and the city's main transportation hub. Taipei Main Station is probably the first thing you will see in Taipei.

If you arrive at Taoyuan International Airport (as will likely be the case), you can take the new MRT (metro) line to Taipei Main Station. The airport express will take you to an underground section of Taipei Main Station. Get out at Exit A1 and then walk towards the station building.

Taipei Main Station

You can see from the map below that the airport express line, the blue MRT line and the red MRT line connect at Taipei Main Station.



Source: Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation 

Taipei Main Station is a good place to start to explore the city. There are plenty of restaurants and shops inside and around the station. My personal favourites are Minder Vegetarian, which serves Taiwanese vegetarian food, and the food court in the underground shopping mall called QSquare. The food court has an amazing variety of restaurants ranging from regional Chinese dishes, local Taiwanese specialties, Japanese and Korean food, as well as European-style food and snack shops.


An example of a set menu at a food court (Shinkong Mitsukoshi) 

Right across Taipei Main Station Exit South 3 you will see the Shinkong Mitsukoshi department store, the fourth highest skyscraper in Taiwan. Around this area there are many restaurants and electronics shops such as Nova.

From Taipei Main Station you can walk along Zhongxiao West Road towards Beimen (北門, pinyin: Běimén, North Gate). 

Beimen is one of the old five city gates of Taipei and the only one that has preserved its original appearance. When the Japanese conquered Taiwan in 1895, they entered Taipei through Beimen.



Beimen

Opposite to Beimen you will see the Japanese-era Taipei Post Office.

From Taipei Post Office, walk southwards to Zhongshan Hall, which was also built during the Japanese era. Zhongshan Hall was completed by the Japanese in 1936 on the site of the former Taiwan Provincial Administration Hall, a Chinese-style building that housed the provincial government of Taiwan during the Qing Dynasty.


The area between Beimen and Zhongshan Hall has a lot of restaurants and food stalls to discover, as well as many Japanese-style buildings such as Futai Street Mansion. Inside Zhongshan Hall you will find a really nice and quiet cafe serving Taiwanese beverages like milk tea.

From Zhongshan Hall you can walk to Ximen (西門; pinyin: Xīmén, also known as Ximending, which is the old Japanese name of the district). 

Ximen is one of Taipei's major shopping areas. Its great atmosphere comes from the fact that it mostly caters to young people. You will find lots of restaurants, shops and hotels here. One of the attractions of Ximen is the Red House Theatre, another Japanese-era building. There are various bars and cafes next to the Red House.

Ximending is a really cool place where to spend your evening trying Taiwanese food and drinks and walking around.

Ximen

The Red House (by lienyuan lee via Wikimedia Commons)




2 - From Longshan Temple to Shida Night Market


This walk will take you from the traditional Wanhua district to the night market of Shida via Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.


Longshan Temple is located in Wanhua district, which is one of the centres of traditional Chinese culture in Taipei. As I explained in a previous post, when the Japanese conquered Taipei, they tore down many Chinese-style buildings in the Taipei walled city (roughly pretent-day Zhongzheng district) and replaced them with Western-style representative buildings.

During the Qing Dynasty, Wanhua was originally a village outside of Taipei walled city. The Japanese demolished the walls separating Taipei and Wanhua, merging them and other villages into one city. Yet they did not destroy all of the Chinese-style buildings, as they had done inside Taipei walled city. As a result, Wanhua not only has preserved temples, but also an entire street from the Qing Dynasty (the only one remaining in Taipei).

To go to Longshan Temple you can take the blue line of the MRT (Bannan Line) and get off at Longshan Temple MRT Station.

Longshan Temple is one of the oldest and most important temples in Taiwan.

Immigrants from mainland China's Fujian Province built the temple in 1738 to house an image of the Buddhist deity Guanyin that they had brought from Anhai Township in Quanzhou.

The temple was run by immigrant communities from Quanzhou and was not only a place of worship, but also a meeting point for socializing.

During the Japanese colonial era, the governors-general attended religious ceremonies at Longshan Temple and performed rituals at the begining of their terms of office. 

In the period of Guomindang one-party rule, activists used the Temple as a meeting place to voice their opposition to the regime. In 1986, opposition groups staged a sit-in in the temple to demand the end of martial law. 

In 1989 activist Cheng Nan-jung burnt himself alive while the police was attempting to break into his office. His supporters set up an altar in his honour at Longshan Temple (Davison & Reed 1998, pp. 131-132).

Longshan Temple (by Bernard Gagnon - via Wikimedia Commons)

Near Longshan Temple you will find many traditional shops selling religious merchandise and vegetarian restaurants catering to Buddhists. 

One of the most interesting attractions of Wanhua is Bopiliao Street (剝皮寮), which is the last remaining example of an intact street from the Qing Dynasty.


Bopiliao Street

Traditional Chinese shops




Preserved buildings from the Japanese colonial era

From Wanhua you can walk along Aiguo West Road and cross from Wanhua into Zhongzheng District. You will see Xiaonanmen ('Little South Gate'), on the location of the old Taipei city wall separating Taipei walled city from Wanhua.

Keep walking eastwards and you will see the majestic neoclassical Chinese-style Liberty Square and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, one of Taipei's landmarks.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall




From Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall walk along Roosevelt Road until you get to Taipower Building MRT Station. There turn left and you will reach Shida Night Market, one of Taipei's most famous night markets, full of food stalls, restaurants, shops and cafes.





3 - From Taipei Main Station To Dongmen


During this walk you will be able to see the most important Japanese-era buildings situated in the government district. Many of these buildings are still in use today.

This route is a bit complicated, as you can see from the map below.




From Taipei Main Station walk along Gongyuan Road or Guanqian Road towards the 2/28 Peace Park and the National Taiwan Museum. Opposite the Museum you will see the Land Bank building. Both National Taiwan Museum and the Land Bank were built during the Japanese era and have a characteristic Western style (it sounds confusing, but you can read in my post about Japanese Taipei why it is like that).

Walk through the park in the direction of Chongqing Road. There you will see the magnificent Presidential Palace, built by the Japanese as the seat of the governor-general, and now used as the office of the President.

The Presidential Palace

A few metres after the Presidential Palace is the Judicial Yuan, i.e. Taiwan's supreme court.

From the Presidential Palace walk along Ketalagan Boulevard towards Dongmen (East Gate). On Ketalagan Boulevard you will see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Taipei Guest House.

When you arrive at Zhongshan South Road, turn left and walk northward. On Zhongshan South Road are located many government buildings such as the Legislative Yuan, the Control Yuan, and the Executive Yuan.

Walk back southward until you reach Xinyi Road, then walk along Xinyi Road until you get to Dongmen.

Dongmen is a really nice area with a lot of restaurants, food stalls and cafes. But, most importantly, it has a branch of the world-famous Din Tai Fung, a restaurant that specializes in dumplings. If you go to Taiwan, you should not miss it!

Din Tai Fung dumplings (xialongbao)




4 - From National Palace Museum to Shilin Night Market


If you like museums, art and history, visiting the National Palace Museum is a must. If you don't like any of the above, then you can just go and take a picture of the building. Either way, this is a place that every Taipei visitor should see.




The National Palace Museum (NPM) was built in 1965 in a classical Chinese palace style with the purpose of housing the vast collection of art and artifacts that the Guomindang had evacuated to Taiwan after losing the Civil War to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Originally, the main bulk of the NPM's collections was located inside the Forbidden City in Beijing.

National Palace Museum (by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas via Wikimedia Commons) 

To get to the Palace Museum you have various options: Bus R30 from Shilin MRT Station; Bus B13 from Dazhi MRT Station; Bus B20 from Jiannan Road MRT Station, among others.

From the National Palace Museum you can then walk to Shilin Night Market, which is one of the largest and most popular night markets in Taiwan. When I went there, I ate lots of xiaochi (snacks), such as dumplings, Taiwanese sausages, fried fish, etc. I also recommend the typical Taiwanese shaved ice with condensed milk and fruit toppings.




5 - From Shandao Temple To Taipei 101


Here we go to the modern centre and shopping district of Taipei. This route will take you to the futuristic side of the city.



Take the blue line of the MRT and get off at Shandao Temple. Take a quick look at Shandao Temple (which is not particularly interesting) and then walk along Zhongxiao East Road.

After about 10 minutes you will see on your left side a cluster of old buildings. That's Huashan Creative Park, a former wine factory turned into a centre for arts, exhibitions, bars and cafes. 

Keep walking until you reach the intersection between Zhongxiao East Road and Xinsheng South Road, turn left and you will arrive at Guanghua Digital Plaza, the largest electronics marketplace in Taiwan. 

About 300 metres further to the East you will see Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, dedicated to the revolutionary leader and founder of the Republic of China (ROC) Sun Yat-sen. Inside the building there is a statue of Sun Yat-sen as well as a small museum.

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. You can see Taipei 101 in the background.

After visiting Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, keep walking eastward and you will arrive in an area that Taiwanese call "Dongqu" (Eastern district), which includes Zhongxiao Xinsheng, Zhongxiao Dunhua and Zhongxiao Fuxing. This the most modern area in Taipei, and one of the best places to go shopping.

Taipei 101, one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world and one of the most famous symbols of Taiwan, is located here. Taipei 101 has lots of shops as well as restaurants and a food court.

Taipei 101

Other interesting places to visit here are Taipei City Hall, Att4Fun and Bellavista.

Taipei City Hall has not only shops and restaurants, but also a branch of the famous Eslite Bookstore, which is open 24/7 and has both Chinese and English books, as well as a cafe and a restaurant.

Att4Fun is an entertainment complex with shops, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs. I would recommend a restaurant called Eatogether (饗食天堂), which has an amazing variety of Chinese and Japanese-style food.

Bellavista is a shopping mall inside an Italian-style new building, and it has luxury stores and high-end restaurants.



6 - Walk Around Danshui


Danshui is a small seaside town located in New Taipei City. It is the last stop of the red MRT line.

To know more about Danshui, you can read my post.





7 - From Confucius Temple to Beimen


If you happen to have some extra time and you're interested in seeing some more Chinese and Japanese-style architecture, restaurants and cafes, I recommend a long walk from Confucius Temple to Beimen.

The Confucius Temple is located in Dadaocheng district. Before the Japanese conquered Taipei, Dadaocheng was, just like Wanhua, a small town close to Taipei walled city. To this day it has maintained a distinctive character, with numerous Chinese temples and Japanese-style buildings.



Go to Yuanshan MRT Station and from there walk to Confucius Temple, a large complex dedicated to the Chinese philosopher. Close to the Confucius Temple is Bao'an Temple, which was first built in 1742. Another interesting attraction in that area is the Chen Yueji residence, a traditional Chinese-style mansion with a courtyard that dates back to the early 19th century. 

Confucius Temple

Walking southward you will arrive at the intersection between Yanping North Road and Minsheng West Road. Turn right and then left, and you will get to Dihua Street, a traditional street full of shops and food stalls. This street is also famous for the Xiahai Chenghuang Temple, which is popular among young people because of the Chinese God of Love, Yuelao.  


Dihua Street

Keep walking southward and you will get to Beimen Station.

If you want to have a coffee or dinner in a place with a nice, traditional atmosphere, I would recommend you two places nearby: Island Cafe (二條通‧綠島小夜曲) and Monument Cafe (滿樂門咖啡). Both are on Zhongshan North Road, just a few minutes away from Beimen. 





Island Cafe
Monument Cafe (by lienyuan lee via Wikimedia Commons)

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