About Erin D
Lives in San Pedro, Belize
Since Sep. 2008
35-49 year old female
Full time traveler and digital nomad - visited over 60 countries on 5 continents to date. Three-time expat -- Taiwan, Netherlands, and Belize. I'm a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and I'm an annual passholder to all Disney Parks worldwide, visiting each of the international resorts 2-3 times per year. I work as a travel and food writer and blogger. I write for publications like Viator and Roam Right Travel Insurance. I am AFAR Magazine's Belize expert and authored the Official AFAR Guide to Belize. In 2013, I authored the majority of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize, and had the honor to work as the English language editor for a renowned international chef's second published cookbook.
Historic Walking Areas, Hot Springs & Geysers, Mountains, National Parks, Parks
Hot Springs & Geysers
Flea & Street Markets
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Sacred & Religious Sites
Gift & Speciality Shops
Gift & Speciality Shops
Architectural Buildings, Shopping Malls
Flea & Street Markets
Taipei's National Palace Museum houses nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese artifacts and artwork. The Museum has one of the largest collections in the world, covering some of the most important years in Chinese history. During the Chinese Civil War, Chiang Kai-Shek fled to Taiwan along with priceless artifacts in an effort to preserve them. Some of the most famous pieces include the Jadeite Cabbage, the Meat Shaped Stone, and a remake of the 12th century 'Along the River During the Qingming Festival' painting.
The National Palace Museum lies at the base of Yangmingshan National Park. There are abundant hiking trails here, some of which can be completed within a few hours. The trails are nicely maintained and provide visitors with a look at the impressive landscape formed by volcanic action in the Datun Mountains.
Beitou is an area renowned for its hot springs. You'll know when you arrive by the unmistakable odor of sulfur! What was once one of Taiwan's biggest red light districts, is now a world class hot springs area with luxury resorts and spas. The museum in the area is also worth checking out if you've time after spending a few hours relaxing.
Undoubtedly the most well-known night market in Taipei, Shilin is massive in both its size and in its crowds. Although it's chaotic some days of the week, Shilin should be experienced at least once. And, since it's relatively close to Beitou and Yangmingshan, it is a good contrast to a relaxing day in nature. Be sure to hit the Shilin Food Building and sample any number of traditional night market eats. Pretty much any type of meat, and organ, can be found on a stick here. Try Taiwanese sausages with their slightly sweet flavor and perfectly cooked exterior. Don't skip the stinky tofu, which would be hard to miss given its unmistakable odor that hits you two rows away. Oyster omelets, coffin bread, aiyu jelly, and candied fruit are some other interesting finds, all worth sampling. After you depart the food building, wander the streets and alleyways to discover more culinary gems, loads of stores and even arcade-style games.
The National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine, which overlooks the Keelung River from Chingshan Mountain, is dedicated to those who died during various wars. The shrine was built in 1969 and the architecture is similar to that of the Hall of Supreme Harmony in Beijing's Forbidden City. There are nearly 400,000 spirit tables honoring people killed during various conflicts like the Xinhai Revolution, Northern Expedition, Second Sino-Japanese War, Chinese Civil War, and First and Second Taiwan Strait Crises.
Close to the National Martyrs' Shrine is one of the most iconic landmarks in Taipei — the Grand Hotel. The hotel was established in 1952, with the main building not completed until 1973. It's one of the world's tallest Chinese classical building and, at 14 stories, was the tallest building in Taiwan from 1973 to 1981. Many notable people have stayed at the Grand Hotel, including Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, and King Hussein of Jordan.
The Confucius Temple is one of the more interesting temples in Taipei. It's modeled after the original one in Qufu, China and is the only Confucius Temple in Taiwan with south Fujian-style adornments. There is a black plaque at the main hall that reads 'Educate without Discrimination,' which was inscribed by Chiang Kai-Shek.
If you're interested in learning more about Taiwan's history, the National Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (CKS Hall) is the ideal next stop. The national monument and landmark was erected in memory of Chiang Kai-Shek, former President of the ROC. It's flanked by the National Theater and National Concert Hall, both architecturally interesting buildings. The symbolism at the CKS Hall is important: the roof is octagonal, paying homage to the importance of the number eight in Chinese culture. There are also 89 steps, representing Chiang Kai-Shek's age at the time of his death; look out for the large statue of him in the main hall.
2-28 Peace Park pays homage to the political victims of the 2-28 incident in 1947. A group of protesters were angry over the brutal police action against Taiwanese citizens and took over the radio station here, which was run by the Kuomintang Party. The tragic chain of events that followed are referred to as the '2-28 incident.' As well as a 2-28 Memorial, the Taipei 2-28 Memorial Museum is located here.
After walking through 228 Peace Park, you'll come across the Presidential Office Building. The facade alone is worth checking out — it occupies the entire city block between Chongqing South Road and Bo'ai Road. It was built during the Japanese colonization period and served as the governor's mansion. Sadly, the building was subsequently damaged at the end of WWII after a bomb struck the area. It was reconstructed in 1946 and served as the presidential mansion after the government of the ROC was reinstated.
Located very near to the Presidential Office Building is Taoyuan Street. Here you'll find a number of shops selling one of Taiwan's most treasured dishes — beef noodle soup. Most agree that the no-named shop, commonly referred to as the beef noodle street shop, is the best. Most taxi drivers know it or you can track it down based on photos. It looks a bit seedy, but don't be fooled, they have some of the best beef noodles in town. You'll find two styles — braised with a reddish broth and clear with a plain broth. You can't go wrong with either!
Taipei's Longshan Temple (also called Lungshan) is one of the most famous in town. It was originally built during the Qing Dynasty, but due to both natural and man-made disasters, the temple has needed restoring several times. It's still architecturally stunning however with its intricate wood sculptures and ornate temple beam decorations. The area around Longshan Temple is also important and historical, providing insight into the older part of Taipei with lots of folk art and antique shops interspersed with Chinese medicine shops.
Around the corner from Longshan Temple is one of Taipei's more interesting night markets. Known as Snake Alley, the Huahsi or Huaxi Night Market is worth a stroll, even if you don't come across anything 'worth' buying. You'll find the typical array of night market eats, plus a long covered shopping area that will have you stepping into Taipei's past. As its name suggests, Snake Alley was once home to a number of restaurants and shops that sold items made with snake, and you'll still find a few shops selling Chinese herbal cuisine that utilizes snake.
The iconic Ximen building, or Red House Theater, is the gateway to one of Taipei's most hip nightlife areas — Ximending. (The historic theater also goes by the name Red Chamber Theater, Red Theater, or Red Play House.) It was built in 1908 and once served as Taiwan's first public market. Lots of interesting events are held here and it's worth checking out if you are still standing. Ximending is one of my favorite areas for people watching and trendy and quirky shops: You'll find everything from Disney collectibles to an entire store devoted to adult gifts here. Some people compare it to Tokyo's Harajuku District and I can definitely see a few similarities. Look for cosplay groups on some weekends and be sure to check out the whole street of movie theaters!
Also called the Muzha Zoo, the Taipei Zoo was founded in 1914 while Taiwan was still under Japanese rule. It was originally set up as a private zoological garden, but the government of Taiwan purchased it and subsequently opened it as a public zoo and park. It underwent an expansion and relocation to its current location in 1986. Exhibits include a global representation of animals, but probably the most popular is the Giant Panda House. The two giant pandas were a gift to Taiwan and they recently gave birth to their first baby, which made its public debut in December 2014. Be sure to check out the Formosa exhibit to learn more about wildlife found in Taiwan and other popular exhibits like the koalas, penguins, and African animals.
Right next to the Taipei Zoo is the Maokong Gondola. After you finish with the zoo, hop on the gondola to head to the top of Maokong Mountain, where you'll find lots of tea plantations, shops, restaurants, and even a tea museum. If the weather is good, you can get awesome views back into Taipei as you ascend the mountain. While Maokong has some hiking trails as well, most people just come to enjoy the scenery and learn about traditional tea ceremonies and culture in Taiwan.
The original Din Tai Fung location is an iconic tourist attraction in Taipei, but you can get the same quality dumplings here at Taipei 101 for typically a shorter wait. The signature menu item is the xiaolongbao, typically referred to as a soup dumpling. The inside is filled with pork (or other fillings) and hot soup broth. When you take a bite, the skin bursts, allowing you to slurp the broth with your spoon. Other menu items to try include spicy wontons, spicy noodles, spicy cucumbers, bamboo shoots (when in season), shumai, and red bean dumplings for dessert.
Taipei 101 is the best spot to knock off a few of the popular pastimes in Taipei. The bottom floors of Taipei 101 house lots of shops, including many upscale and luxury brands. Head to the 5th floor and purchase tickets for the observatory to visit the top of what was once the tallest building in the world. Ride a high-speed elevator to the 89th floor to wander the indoor observatory deck. When the weather is good, ascend a couple more floors and visit the outdoor decks on the 91st floor. Once you're done come back and watch the short film about Taipei 101's construction and its most important structural element — the tuned mass damper. This is what keeps Taipei 101 from being destroyed during typhoons and earthquakes, a reality of life in Taiwan. On your way out, pass through the jade museum and shop where you can purchase jade souvenirs or just marvel at some of the gigantic sculptures carved out of Taiwan jade.
Raohe Street Night Market is one of the oldest and most traditional night markets in Taipei. The Market has a number of unique dishes that make this night market a must-visit. Some of the best food items include black pepper pork buns, herbal pork rib soup, fresh oysters on the half shell, and more. The black pepper pork bun stall is one you'll always see a line at. It's located at one end of the night market street and you'll see the line long before you see the big oven they are cooking in. Be sure to check out all the shops and stop for traditional Taiwanese shaved ice on the way out.