A Foodie weekend in Taipei

Taipei was never really on my radar. But when I lived in Japan, it seemed like a wasted opportunity not to visit. Flights were affordable and the journey was 3hrs 45mins. As soon as I arrived at Taoyuan airport, I knew I made the right decision.

As I only had 4 days in the city, I knew I had to maximize my stay. Here’s what I got up to:

Day 1: Chill Out Taipei & Mango Shaved Ice

I joined a 2.5 hour walking tour of downtown Taipei with Tour Me Away. The tour covered the famous Flower Market, Daan Park, Qingtian Neighborhood, Yong Kan Street and ended with a changing of the Guards ceremony at Chiang Kal-Shek Memorial Hall. As with most walking tours, there was a short break. So my fellow tourists & I went to the famous Ice Monster shop to try their famed mango shaved ice. The portions were really generous and it took 4 of us to finish one serving!

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Mango Shaved Ice

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Changing of the Guards, CKS Memorial Hall

Day 2: Railways & Lanterns, Pork Buns & Temples

I decided to go to Pingxi with a fellow tourist I met on Day 1. Pingxi is famous for its Chinese Lantern Festival. We bought a Chinese lantern from a local shop and wrote on messages. The shop keeper helped us release the lantern into the sky {the engineer in me wonders what happens to the lanterns after they are released – sure, the paper burns off, but what about the wire?.. but, I digress}.

We headed back to Taipei and had lunch at Tim Ho Wan. Luckily, there was no queue (Taipei is notorious for its restaurant queues) and I was able to try their famed Pork Buns. In my opinion, this is the only thing on the menu worth having. My new friend & I parted company and I ended the evening with a tour of Longham Temple, Red Light district and Hwahsi Night Market, courtesy of Tour Me Away.

Pingxi Chinese Lanterns

Chinese Lanterns on a Railway, Pingxi

Pork Buns

TIm Ho Wan Pork Buns

Day 3: Mountains & Hot Springs, TaipeiEYE

I started the day with a trek up Elephant mountain, one of the best vantage points in the city. The great news, was the ‘mountain’ had stairs. The bad news, was that there was a gazillion of them. It took me 30mins to get to the top, but the view was well worth it.

My next stop was Beitou, an area famed for its hot springs. I visited the Hot Spring museum, Beitou Thermal Valley and Public Hot Spring. Having lived in Japan and been to several Japanese Onsens, I could only bare the Public Hot Spring for about 5mins before caving and heading to a private (slightly more expensive) Hot Spring at a nearby hotel.

I stopped by Taipei for lunch and a little shopping before joining another walking tour by Tour Me Away  – these guys are great. This time, we explored Old Town Taipei including the 228 Peace Memorial Park and President’s House. I ended the night with dinner and an amazing acrobatic show at the TaipeiEYE – a must see if you are in Taipei!

elephant mountain

Xiangshan Hiking Trial (‘Elephant Mountain’)

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TaipeiEye Cast Member

Day 4: Gardens & Museum

Taipei Botanical Gardens

Taipei Botanical Garden

On my fourth and final day, I went to The National Museum of History and the Taipei Botanical Garden. And then it was back to the airport and onwards to Tokyo. Noticeably, the National Palace Museum and Jiufen were missing from my itinerary. I knew I couldn’t see / do everything in one weekend, but I saw enough of Taipei to know that I would love to visit again.

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Ike Sikuade

A former city banker, Ike now makes a living as a business designer. She is the founder of Showerella, an early stage startup that uses parties and celebration for social good. She has a background in consumer products, science, engineering, and business. Ike writes about business + design + entrepreneurship and has been featured in The Guardian and Real Business Magazine.

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