Are you interested in seeing how different Asian cultures blend together with a hint of the West? Would you like to explore different traditional architectures, beliefs and artefacts all in one place? If so, then Taipei might be the right place for you. Despite being a fairly new, barely 300-year-old city, it blends together Chinese and Japanese culture through many different means.
Taipei is still original in many ways despite the interesting combination of many different cultures. If you are interested in experiencing these cultures but are looking for a little bit of a different vibe than visiting the usual top sites in a place, then Taipei in Taiwan should be on your bucket list.
They say that the best way to meet the Taiwanese and feel like one of them is by eating their food. Eating out is very common in Taipei, fairly cheap and extremely delicious. But eating out in Taiwan does not necessarily mean sitting in restaurants and stuffing yourself to the brim. It often means snacking on various interesting products and sipping tea or beer while being surrounded by Japanese-influenced architecture. As such, this day will allow you to explore the many different areas of Taipei, starting with the temples through to historic districts and night markets, which are full of amazing food.
Before you begin a day of food sampling, street markets and tea tasting, make sure you pay a visit to Longshan - a Chinese folk Temple that has been beautifying Taipei since the 18th century. It contains altars that have been dedicated to Chinese Gods and is influenced by the Buddhist religion in its temple decorations. Despite the temple often being destroyed by earthquakes, Taipei’s residents are very stubborn and continue to renovate the impressive building.
Bopiliao Historical Block is a great place to explore the various types of architecture found in Taipei, such as the Chinese Qing Dynasty, Japanese and Western. Once there, look out for the characteristic red brick arches and balconies. This area is also great for experiencing local art as many of local buildings have little art galleries inside them.
Snake Alley market, officially known as Huaxi Street Night Market, is one of Taipei’s most famous Night Markets. Most of the stalls start to open in between 4-5 pm. The market is made of two blocks and serves great examples of Taiwanese Cuisine. The Snake Alley is not just a random name as it is the only market in Taipei where you can find and try snake blood and meat, as well as turtle blood and meat.
From Snake Alley, you can follow a beautiful green path along the Tamsui River to burn some off some of your newly acquired calories in preparation for the next lively market full of more delicious and traditional snacks to try. Despite being a smaller night market, it gives great insight into Taiwanese culture and local cuisine. Some of the must-tries are deep-fried taro balls, mochi balls and many more.
Taipei is creative, interesting and unique. All the creativity and diversity can be seen in the many museums scattered around the city, which often feature displays you’d never dream of. It would be a big stretch to try and visit all of them in one trip, but you can try to get a glimpse of at least the finest ones.
Interested in modern art? Taipei’s Museum of Contemporary Art is all about modernity, creativity and artistic experiments. The museum opened in 2001 and was the first in Taiwan to feature only contemporary art. It contains mostly Taiwanese artists, but recently became recognized internationally for including more international projects.
This art and cultural centre is probably the most retro-style venue you’ll find in all of Taipei. Located in a remodelled wine factory, the centre features local designer shops, plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes, and often hosts music performances. And if that is not enough, in the back you’ll find an independent cinema. The centre is a popular spot for all residents, as well as visitors, artistic souls, families, groups of friends and more.
The museum is exactly what it sounds like- a paper museum. The four-story building features not only the industry of papermaking from all around the world but also hosts many temporary exhibits, which display amazing paper art. In the museum, you can admire an actual working traditional paper mill and even join workshops where you can learn to create your own little paper art.
There are people out there who love seeing miniatures of the things that surround us. If you’re one of those people, or if you simply enjoy seeing very detailed and creative art, then the Miniatures Museum might be an enjoyable experience for you. The museum displays replicas of houses, castles, palaces and villages mostly from the West. It also features stories from many famous fairytales, like Alice in Wonderland. The museum is not only about the replicas, however, as each building has life and action in every one of its little rooms - so make sure to look closely to not miss any secrets!
Taipei is a city of many different cultures, traditions and influences. I have already explained the different types of food and architecture you can find around the city, but cultural influences can also be seen in the religious buildings, shrines and museums all across the city. On the last day, you can stroll through some of Taipei’s streets to visit some of the last must-see sites.
This temple is an amazing example of Southern Taiwanese architecture as it has many interesting ceramic panels and pieces of art. When exploring the temple, you’ll find several information boards that will bring you closer to a history of the temple as well as Confucius himself. The temple also displays 4D Confucius- themed shows.
This temple might be one of the oldest buildings you’ll see in Taipei. It was a Taiwanese folk temple that was built in 1760 by immigrants and is one of the greatest monuments in Taipei. The building is especially stunning because of the many detailed and well-restored pieces of decorative arts it contains. If you’re visiting Taipei between March and June, you should definitely visit the temple to experience a real-life folk arts festival, which includes parades, lion dances and many other interesting performances.
This very impressive and colourful building is much more than just a shrine. It was built to honour those who died during the war of the Republic of China. The architecture will bring to mind Chinese influences, and the building is set overlooking the Keelung River. The change of the honour guard may be an interesting ritual to watch when visiting the site.
The National Palace Museum is a place to go to learn about the roots and history of China, which starts as early as the Neolithic times. The museum permanently displays about 700,000 pieces of ancient artefacts, including calligraphy texts, religious objects and many more. This also makes it the largest nest of Chinese art, which means it features nearly 8 millennia of Chinese history. All the valuables ended up in the Taipei’s museum due to the evacuation of the goods during the Chinese Civil War.
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