Taiwan had never really been on my radar. I didn’t know much about it and it’s not really on the typical Asia travelers route. Timothy, a friend of mine, moved there and began posting tons of incredible foodie pics so I became interested. Then I found out there was a budget airline with direct flights from Chiang Mai (where I was living at the time) and I became very interested. Another friend had some vacation time from work and was able to join us so a plan was formed.
What to See:
In typical fashion I didn’t really do much research. Thankfully, Timothy stepped in and arranged things for us to see & do everyday.
The only thing I knew for sure I wanted to see was the Taipei 101 Tower. The building is either the third or fifth largest in the world, depending on whom you ask. It was well worth the cost of 500 NT/$15 USD to take in the view from the observation deck on the 91st floor. The building also has the fastest elevator in the world. It takes just 38 seconds to reach the 89th floor from the ground level. The elevator even has atmospheric pressure regulation systems installed to keep your ears from popping during the ride.
Also, the bar at the top of the W Hotel has pretty nice views of the 101 Tower:
Hiking Elephant Trail:
Because he obviously hates me and wanted to see me suffer my friend took us on a hike of Elephant Trail. There are two trails on the hike- one that is easier and one that is more difficult. Naturally, we ended up doing both of them before the day was out. The hike wasn’t actually all that bad but the views were totally worth it.
Shilin Night Market:
This is the largest and most famous night market in Taipei. The market is extremely busy and crowded, even when we visited on a weeknight. I can’t imagine it on a weekend.
There were tons of stores, stalls and carts selling everything imaginable. But we weren’t there for the shopping– we had come to eat.
I knew I couldn’t leave Taiwan without trying the famous stinky tofu. If you’ve never heard of it it’s fermented tofu. And it stinks. A lot. You can smell it at least a half block before you see the stall. Locals believe the more it stinks the better it tastes. I tried one bite just to say I did. It tastes just like it smells and I don’t mean that in a good way. Cross that one off the list, I don’t need to try it again.
Fortunately the market had lots of other things to try:
Where to Stay:
We stayed at the Amba Ximending Hotel and I cannot recommend it enough. The hotel is perfectly situated within walking distance of so many things to see and do. There are tons of restaurants and shopping nearby. The staff made sure when they found out about my blog to make me a list of their favorite places that I had to try. The rooms are large, clean, and comfortable and the staff was all wonderful. There is also an included breakfast that has both local and international selections. When I return to Taipei I will definitely be staying at the Amba Ximending again.
The hotel is also situated just minutes from Theater Row. This was really helpful since my friend and I are both nerds and had to see the new Avengers movie on opening night. #teamblackpanther
What to eat:
Everything, all of it. This was my food strategy for my visit. Before I came when Timothy asked what I wanted to do when I was in town I said, “eat”. He obviously heard me. Every meal was a production. We had everything from street food stalls to Michelin star meals. Some of my favorites include our Peking Duck and hot pot dinners. Both were amazing. But my new favorite food has to be soup dumplings. Soup. Filled. Dumplings. I could eat these every day. I pretty much did while I was there.
Looking for what do do in between meals? Click here to check out this guide to the best fun things to do in Taipei!
One Night in Hualien:
When I was making my booking at the Amba Xiamending I found out they had a sister property in nearby Hualien. Since we had a spare day or two we decided to hop on the train and check out one of Taipei’s beach towns. I wish we had more time as I heard there’s an amazing national park nearby but it gives us a reason to return.
The staff at the Andante Hualien went out of their way to make our short time there memorable. When the property manager Pennie found out I had a food/travel blog she even arranged a walking food tour for us.
If you have the time I really recommend paying a visit to Hualien. The town was small and charming but had interesting history, a gorgeous beach and some of the best food we had on the trip.
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The ride from the airport to Ximending was 1100 NTD/$33 USD. This one one of the rare times it was cheaper to take a taxi than it was to use Uber.
Reservations for both the Amba Ximending and the Andante Hualien can be made by following this link.