When we decided to head over to Taiwan to visit Taipei we had no idea what to expect. We didn’t know anyone who’d been there so we did what we always do, grabbed a Lonely Planet and jumped on a plane.
Turns out Taiwan has a diverse culture, from traditional and steeped in history to liberal and forward thinking this place has everything going for it. With strong Japanese and Chinese influences, food is king here and you’ll find literally any cuisine you fancy here. Amazing beaches, natural hot springs in abundance, hiking galore and over 15,000 temples to visit there’s heaps to see and do on this tiny island.
That said, we spent most of our time hanging out in the capital of Taipei and fell in love with this super cool city. So, here are 16 reasons to love Taipei! We think you’re going to love it!
Not strictly limited to Taipei, however one of the best things about travelling around Asia is the great street food! Street food is the best fast food around and if you’re like me and get ‘hangry’ (hungry + angry = need to eat food now!) it’s the perfect choice. Our favourite was the crispy fried chilli squid, not so healthy but super tasty!
Clean & Green
We booked our flights to Taipei only 3 days before we left Australia and having done zero research beforehand; we weren’t sure what we’d find. The expectation was that it would be another big, dirty, busy Asian city coated with thick polluted air, however we were pleasantly surprised. Taipei is leading the world in the sustainability arena and there are big chunks of green forest all over the place. The air is clean, you can see blue skies and the public transport is super environmentally friendly.
Easy to Navigate
I’ll admit our Taiwanese Mandarin is non-existent, so seeing all the signage in both Mandarin characters and the English alphabet was a relief. The bonus was these ‘pose’ instructions at the local train stations. So if you’re ever lost and not sure what pose to strike for your next tourist pic then track one of these bad boys down!
Cute Things Everywhere
It’s true. On every corner and in every shopping mall there are cute things everywhere. This really is the land of Hello Kitty!
Is it me, or has everyone thought at one stage or another… golly I wish I could eat my lunch out of a toilet bowl? If you’re keen to get strange and quirky, this place is for you. I just can’t wait to get back there and check out the Barbie restaurant. That’s right kids, there’s even a restaurant dedicated to everyone’s favourite blonde, fully decked out in pink complete with life size Barbie dolls.
I love checking out street art in every country that we visit, and Taiwan didn’t disappoint. There are plenty of walls all over the place decorated by local street artists.
This has to be one of the safest places I’ve been to. At any time of day or night, whether on a main street or in a little alley way we felt completely safe all the time. It’s a pretty nice feeling when we’re two chicks… if only it was like this around all over the world!
I don’t know if it’s something they put in the water, but everyone in Taipei was awesome. Want an example? We took a taxi ride and when we got to our destination we realised we had no cash (Oops!). Instead of the taxi driver freaking out, he was completely chilled and said ‘no worries here’s my taxi number leave the money at your hotel and I’ll come back later and pick it up.’ Wow… that just wouldn’t happen anywhere else.
Pampered Pets Rule
Dogs rule Taipei. You’ll see pampered pooches carried around the streets, up mountains in a back pack and paraded in their luxurious carts dressed in little cute doggie outfits. Have a dog and need an outfit? Don’t stress, head down to the local night markets and you’ll have a wide range to choose from for your four-footed friend.
Christmas Every Day of the Week
The little kid in me loves the fact that all the streets are always lit up with twinkly lights. Feels like it’s Christmas all the time!
Stroll, Walk… Now it’s time to Run
This has to be one of my fave things about cruising around the streets of Taipei. I know right, I’m easily pleased! But how can you not love the little street sign man that counts down how many seconds you have left to cross the road? I particular liked how he starts running when you’ve only got 10 seconds to go!
Chuck on your gym clothes and take a quick 15-minute walk from the city centre (Taipei 101) to the foot of Elephant Mountain ready for a hike. Note: there are a few steps… well, the equivalent to walking up the Eiffel Tower to be precise, however it’s well worth it. You’ll get a great view of Taipei city and it’s the perfect vantage point to take an epic photo of Taipei 101. We recommend heading up there for sunset where you can watch the city lights come on as the sun goes down, pretty cool.
Whatever you feel like eating, you’re going to be able to find it here. You’ll find the best Japanese outside of Toyko (yum!) and a huge variety of food from around the world. I’m salivating just thinking about it!
Coffee, Yes Please!
If you haven’t heard, Sydneysiders (people from Sydney, Australia) are complete coffee snobs. You’ll hear us rant and rave that we can’t get a good flat white, long black or cappuccino whenever we’re travelling. Usually I’ll jump over to herbal teas when we travel however, I was completely surprised with the quality of coffee in Taiwan. It’s up there with some of the best coffee we’ve had outside Australia.
Turns out I didn’t take a picture of a coffee, but here’s an awesome picture of a dog on a scooter!
The night markets have everything you can dream of! You can sample local delicacies like stinky tofu or pick some some amazing fresh fruit, buy some cheap clothes and gadgets, or simply just get a feel for the local culture and hang with the street vendors. We loved heading to the local night market to stretch our legs and grab a late night snack!
One step up from 3D movies, the 4D movie experience takes things to a whole new level. We went to check out The Kingsmen movie one night and it didn’t disappoint. Think air jets, water sprays, and leg and back ticklers, smoke, rain, lightning, air bubbles – crazy good fun! Makes going to a regular movie seem super boring in comparison!
Ha ha… it’s hard to take a picture inside the movies…. so here’s Victoria with one of the many ‘cute’ things that line the street. This little sheep was named ‘Daphne’!
So there you have it, 16 reasons to love this awesome city that is Taipei! We will be heading back to Taiwan to do more exploring so if you’ve been and have any recommendations drop a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.