Best things to do in Taipei in 24 hours
Taipei offers great food, coffee, art, design, history and adventure.
- June 2018
In Taipei’s artsy Da’an neighborhood (check out the stylish, wallet-friendly Folio Da’an Hotel), head to Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang for a cuppa of soy milk – lightly sweetened, hot or cold – with your tiao, savory deep-fried dough sticks. Do as the locals do and dip your bread in your milk. For a heartier meal add xiao long bao (pork-filled soup dumplings).
Taiwanese have been serious caffeine lovers since the early 1900s, when coffee-loving Japan occupied the island. Fong Da Cafe, one of Taipei’s oldest coffee shops, roasts its own beans and serves espresso drinks, cold-drip and siphon brews.
Location: 42 Chengdu Road, Wanhua District
In Datong district, a bustling centre of trade for rice unloaded from Chinese ships at nearby Dadaocheng Wharf in the early 20th century, seek out shops selling Taiwan-ground high-mountain oolong tealeaves.
Take the MRT to Taipei main station, then walk for 15 minutes along Chongqing Road to Lane 46 (on your right), an alley heaving with street food purveyors. You’ve come to sample Taiwan’s famous dish, niu rou mian (beef noodles) at decades-old Lao Pai Niurou La Mian Da Wang. Thick and chewy hand-pulled noodles, rafts of tender beef and superior tableside condiments – preserved mustard leaves, chunky chilli oil and black vinegar – place this shop’s version well above others.
Location: 7, Lane 46, Chongqing South Road Section 1
Back on the MRT, exit at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park station, and cross Zhongxiao Road to Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. Taipei joined the likes of Helsinki and Seoul as a World Design Capital in 2016. The old factory and workers’ dormitories now house exhibit spaces such as the Red Dot Design Museum, galleries, cafés and bookshops.
Given Taipei’s urban sprawl, the city offers surprisingly easy access to the great outdoors. A quick trip on the MRT’s red line terminates at Xiangshan station. Walk to the well-marked Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain) trailhead, from which a mildly vigorous 20-minute climb rewards with a sunset city view. Good lighting along the trail makes descent after dusk a breeze.
Taiwan’s homegrown bounty features at a new generation of restaurants. At MUME in Da’an District, a trio of chefs (Canadian, US and Australian) with Michelin-star experience serve contemporary Taiwanese dishes such as a stunning 30-ingredient salad dressed with salted black beans and olive oil, and blush prawns bathed in coral sauce, dusted with ricotta ‘snow’. Individual hot pots with broths made from seasonal fermented vegetables (garlic, cabbage, tomato) feature at Mr. Meat Hot Pot and Butchery, whose owner works with artisan producers across the island.
Finish with a nightcap (reservations recommended, especially on weekends) at Placebo, an intimate cocktail bar in the Xinyi District District, which neighbours Da’an District to the east, serving classic cocktails and house creations such as a seaweed martini, made with Taiwanese seagrass-infused vodka.