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Taipei (台北 or 臺北; Táiběi) [1] is the national capital of the Republic of China, otherwise known as Taiwan. It is in the northern part of the island in a basin between the Yangming Mountains and the Central Mountains. The largest city of Taiwan, it serves as its financial and governmental center.

Districts

Taipei City administers twelve districts (區). This article covers the downtown districts only. For other areas please see their specific articles:

Downtown districts

Suburban districts - North

Suburban districts - South

Surrounding cities

Understand

In 1884, the Qing dynasty governor of Taiwan, Liu Mingchuan, decided to move the prefecture capital to Taipei, and with the construction of government offices and the influx of civil servants, Taipei's days as a sleepy market town were over. Taipei remained the provincial capital when Taiwan was granted provincial status in 1885. As Taipei is in the north of Taiwan (the closest area to Japan), the city continued to thrive when Taiwan was ceded to Japan in 1895. However, as Japan was in the throes of a 'modernize-come-what-may' period, little regard was paid to Taipei's traditional Chinese-style architecture and many of the old buildings, including the city walls, were demolished. During the Japanese period of colonial rule, several prominent buildings were however constructed, the Presidential Palace and National Taiwan University being among the most famous, but the city's architecture again suffered a major onslaught when the KMT government arrived from mainland China in 1945.

In order to cope with the influx of millions of mainland refugees, temporary housing estates sprang up all around the city. Later, these were replaced by Soviet-era style (or 'no-style') concrete apartment buildings. These buildings characterized Taipei's landscape until very recently.

In the 1980s, Taiwan's economy began to take off. Wages increased and in order to satisfy a wealthy and sophisticated market, Taipei began to change. Wide, tree lined boulevards were laid, high quality apartment blocks constructed and stylish restaurants and cafes established. The city was booming and has never looked back since.

The Taipei of today is a confident city of about 2.5 million inhabitants (about seven million including suburbs), and is characterized by its friendly people and safe streets. While it is not usually high on the list of tourist destinations, it is a fascinating place to visit and live. Furthermore, despite its size, Taipei does not have any rough areas that are considered unsafe, even at night - which in itself is attractive.

The downtown area is culturally divided into East and West. The West side, with its narrow streets and road side vendors, is considered the bastion of old Taipei life, whereas East Taipei, with its classy malls, chic boutiques, and stylish restaurants and cafes, reminiscent of those found in Hong Kong, Paris or New York represents the city's metamorphosis into a modern and international city.

Climate

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) 19 19 22 26 29 32 35 34 31 28 24 21
Nightly lows (°C) 13 14 15 19 22 24 26 26 24 22 19 15
Precipitation (cm) 9 17 18 18 26 32 25 31 28 14 9 8

Central Weather Bureau seven day forecast for Taipei: [2]

Taipei has a semi-tropical climate characterized by hot and humid weather. The most comfortable season to visit is the Fall, when the rainfall is at its lowest and the temperatures average a pleasant mid 20°C. February to April are particularly damp with little sunlight, while the summers can be very hot, but often punctuated by heavy thunder showers. Taipei is prone to typhoons from May to October, though the highest concentrations are in August and September. Winters can be quite chilly, with temperatures occasionally falling below 10°C at night, though snowfall has never been known to occur.

Tourism

Get in

By plane

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport

Taipei's international airport is officially called Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport [5] (台灣桃園國際機場) (IATA: TPE). However, the name was changed only in September 2006 and the old name, Chiang Kai Shek International Airport (often abbreviated as CKS), is still commonly used. Many airlines fly to the Taoyuan International Airport, among them is the low-cost carrier, AirAsia. [6]The airport is located about 30 km from the city and freeway buses ply the route, picking up and dropping off passengers at most of the five star hotels. It also stops at the Taipei Main Station and the domestic airport (Songshan Airport), which is in downtown Taipei. There are also bus services connecting the airport to nearby cities and Taichung in central Taiwan. Travelers to other destinations need to change transportation in Taipei.

There are four transportation options at the airport: bus, high speed rail, taxi, and pre-arranged sedan. An MRT line is under construction, but it will not be completed until February, 2011. Here are the options from cheapest to most expensive forms of transportation:

Express airport buses cost between NT$120 and NT$150 depending on the bus company, and there are stops at both terminals. Most Taipei routes are divided into West and East, with each company operating a service every ten to fifteen minutes on each route. The western line bus terminates at Taipei Main Railway Station and also makes a stop at Yuanshan MRT Station on the Xindian line (NB: The Airbus company buses on the western line meander through local towns before joining the freeway and therefore take much longer than the blue and white Guoguang buses which enter the freeway directly). Buses plying the eastern route terminate at the Taipei Grand Hyatt Hotel and make a stop at Zhongxiao-Fuxing MRT Station on the Nangang and Muzha lines. There is also a bus connecting to the domestic Songshan Airport. Ticket counters display route maps showing all stops.

In addition, there are some non-express buses which are slightly cheaper, but pass through towns such as Taoyuan (桃園), Nankan (南崁) or Kueishan (龜山) before arriving in Taipei.

When returning to the airport, express buses can be caught at various stops throughout the city. One major one leaves every 15-20 minutes from Taipei West Bus Station adjacent to Taipei Main Railway Station (near MRT exit M5 and underground mall exits K12 and Z3). Another is at the terminal at the Songshan Domestic Airport (松山機場). Other stops are outside major hotels and also in front of Minsheng MRT Station. For people taking early morning flights, the earliest available buses to the airport leave at around 4AM from the Far Eastern Plaza Hotel (台北遠東國際大飯店) (201 Dunhua South Rd Section 2).

It is also easy to get to the High Speed Rail station from the airport. There is a bus that runs approximately every 15 minutes from the airport to the Taoyuan High Speed Rail station. From there, you can catch one of the HSR trains to Taipei Main Station (where it is easy to take a taxi or MRT to your final destination). The bus is NT$30 and the train is NT$160. On the way back, there are check-in counters at the station for China Airlines, EVA and UNI flights.

A one-way taxi fare between the airport and Taipei will cost at the minimum NT$900 (generally NT$1000-$1200 from the airport). In Taipei, don't make the mistake of asking a taxi driver to take you to the Taipei airport (Songshan) if you actually mean Taiwan Taoyuan Airport. The international airport is actually about an hour's drive from Taipei, while Songshan is in downtown Taipei.

A one-way pre-arranged sedan fare between the airport and Taipei will cost at the minimum NT$1300-$1500. Generally these sedans are pre-arranged through your hotel and the sedan company or driver will meet you as soon as you exit baggage claim. Since the price is not much more than taking a taxi, it is usually recommended that you ask your hotel if they offer this service. This is a more comfortable half-hour ride to the hotel.

Direct bus connections between the airport and other cities in Taiwan are also available. U-bus also runs shuttle buses every 15 min from both terminals to THSR Taoyuan station (15 min away), from where you can continue your journey by high-speed train.


The closest hotel to the airport is the CitySuites Gateway Hotel, 10 min to Cing-pu High-speed Rail Station and three min to Taoyuan International Airport. [7]

Songshan Airport

Songshan Airport (松山機場) at the top end of Dunhua North Rd is the city's domestic airport, and there are flights arriving and departing for all major cities on the island and the outlying islands every minute. It also serves flights to mainland China. The airport is served by the Metro Brown Line and can be reached in about 20 minutes from the main railway station.

By train

All inter-city trains [8], including those operated by the Taiwan High Speed Rail (台灣高鐵) [9], arrive at and depart from Taipei Railway Station (台北車站) [10] on Zhongxiao West Road, Sec 1 - opposite the 53 story Shinkong Mitsukoshi Building (新光三越). [11] Taipei Main Station is a huge facility. Ticket counters are on the first floor and platforms in B1. There is also a food court on the second floor, several underground shopping malls, an auditorium on the 5th floor, and MRT stations serving three lines. In addition to ticket counters, the first floor also has a tourist office, small supermarkets, a post office, stores selling aboriginal handicrafts and several booths offering head and neck and full body massage (NT$100 for every ten minutes).

By bus

Intercity buses arrive and depart from the Taipei Bus Terminal, which is located on Chengde Road, behind Taipei Main Station. Generally speaking, the buses operated by private companies are more comfortable and sport such amenities as wide reclining seats and individual game and video monitors. The government run buses are blue and white and are called guoguang hao (國光號). All intercity buses are known as keyun (客運) and can be distinguished from the local city buses called gongche (公車) by the fact that they do not have a route number, but only the name of the destination.

Get around

By metro

Taipei City has a very clean, efficient and safe Mass Rapid Transit system [12] known most commonly as the MRT, but also called Metro Taipei (台北捷運). Muzha line, which connects to Taipei Zoo, is a driverless elevated system. The last trains depart at midnight. Fares are between NT$20 and NT$65 for one-way trips around town. Stations and trains are clearly identified in English, so even for those who cannot read Chinese, the MRT system is very accessible. All stops are announced in four languages: Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka and English. Most stations have information booth/ticket offices close to the ticket vending machines. There is no eating or drinking while in the stations or on the trains. Trains generally run from 6AM to midnight, with convenient bus connections outside the stations.

Women and/or children traveling at night can benefit from the Safe Zones - sections of platforms that are under heavy surveillance - located in some of the subway lines.

In addition to single journey tickets, the Taipei MRT also sells value-added cards/smartcards called EasyCard (悠遊卡). These cards hold amounts up to NT$5,000, and one only needs to "touch" (sensor) them past the barrier monitor to gain entry and exit. Value added cards can be purchased at station ticket offices or at vending machines. One great advantage of using the EasyCard is that there is a 20% discount on all MRT rides, and if you transfer from the MRT to an ordinary city bus, or vice versa, within an hour, the bus ride is only NT$7. The discount is automatically calculated when you leave the MRT station. Student cards with even deeper discounts are also available for purchase, but only upon request at a desk and a student ID. The EasyCard can be recharged at convenience stores and subway stations. In addition to the subway and buses, some parking lots also offer an option to pay with the EasyCard. To purchase a new EasyCard you will need to pay NT$500 (including a deposit of NT$100 and NT$400 usable credit). For more information, see their website [13]. Starting recently, 7-11 and various other retail outlets have begun to accept the card as payment.

Often times limited-edition cards are issued by the transit authority depicting artworks, famous characters, landscapes, etc. These are quite collectible and are perfect souvenirs for your trip. Remember single-journey tokens are recycled when you exit the stations, so if you want to keep a particular one you should purchase an extra.

By bus

Taipei City has a very efficient bus service [14], and because all buses display information (destination and the names of stops) in English, the system is very accessible to non-Chinese speaking visitors. Payment can be made by cash (NT$15) or EasyCard (see "metro" listing) for each section that the bus passes through. For local buses (all local buses have a number, but long distance buses do not) the maximum will be two sections with a total cost of NT$30. The confusion, however, arises by not knowing where the section boundaries are located. If you begin your journey at the first stop, you may travel for a long distance for only NT$15. However, if you get on just before a section boundary, you will have to pay for two sections, even if you have traveled only a few stops.

When to pay Above the driver, there is an electronic red sign. If the Chinese character for "up" (上) is lit, then you pay when you get on. If the same sign is lit when you get off, you do not need to pay again. However, if the sign is displaying the Chinese character for "down" (下) when you are getting off, then you will need to pay a second time. Finally, if the character for "down" is lit up when you get on, then you need to pay only when you get off. Until you get the hang of the system, just let the locals go first and follow their action. It's really not as complicated as it sounds!

Besides, if you are transferring from the transit system to a bus within one hour, there is a discounted bus fare.

By taxi

Taxis are the most flexible way to get around, and are extremely numerous. They are expensive in comparison to mass transit, but are cheap when compared to taxis in the rest of the world. Most taxi drivers speak very limited English, and it will be necessary for non-Chinese speakers to have their destination written down in Chinese. Taxis are metered, with higher rates for night (an additional NT$20 over the meter). Tipping is neither necessary nor expected.

Passengers who sit in the front seat of the taxi are required to buckle their seatbelt. Women and/or children traveling at night are advised to use one of the reputable taxi companies. The toll free taxi hotline is 0800-055850 (maintained by Department of Transportation).

Taiwanese taxi drivers are notorious for their strong opinions on politics as they spend all day listening to talk radio, although they will probably be unable to share any of this with you if you do not speak Chinese.

By bicycle

Even though motorized traffic is very heavy in Taipei, bicycles are still legitimate vehicles to get around. For less dangerous riding, a Taipei City Cycling Map [15] shows well designated bike routes. There are long cycle paths beside most rivers in the city. Bicycles can also be carried on the Taipei metro but only at certain times and via certain stations.

By car

Renting a car is not only unnecessary, but not recommended in Taipei unless you are planning to head out of the city. Traffic tends to be frantic, and parking spaces are difficult to find. Most of the main tourist destinations are reachable by public transport, and you should use that as your main mode of travel.

Address system

The Taipei address system is very logical and user-friendly. The hub of the city is the corner of the east-west running Zhongxiao (忠孝) and north-south running Zhongshan (中山) Rds, however while the north/south divide is made at Zhongxiao here, further east it is made instead at Bade (八德) Rd, something which confuses even people who have lived in Taipei for years. All major roads are identified by their direction in relation to these roads. For example, all sections of the north-south running Fuxing (復興) Rd north of Bade are called Fuxing North Rd (復興北路). Likewise, those sections to the south are called Fuxing South Rd (復興南路). Those that cross Zhongshan road are similarly identified as either east or west. Section (段; duàn) numbers begin at 'one' near the two defining roads and increase at intersections of major highways. For example, Ren'ai (仁愛) Rd (which has only an east location and therefore does not have a direction suffix), Section 1 will be close to Zhongshan South Rd. The section number will increase as one moves further away from Zhongshan Rd. So, for example, when Ren'ai Rd reaches Dunhua South Rd (敦化南路) far in the east of the city, a typical address could be: 7F, 166 Ren'ai Rd, Section 4. The house and lane numbers begin at zero every section. Lanes (巷; xiàng) lead off roads (路; lù) and streets (街; jiē), while alleys (弄; nòng) branch off lanes.

Map

See

For areas outside of Downtown, see articles on other Districts of Taipei.

Landmarks




Museums/Galleries



Parks

Temples/Heritages

West Taipei


In the South of Datong District, Dadaocheng (大稻埕) is a historic heart of Taipei. Dadaocheng, it can be literally translated as large open space for drying rice in the sun. There is one of the oldest communities in Taipei. Getting this old area, you can take the Danshui Line (Red Line) MRT to Shuanglian Station. From Exit 2, walk west down Minsheng West Road (about 15 minutes).


Dalongdong (大龍峒) is at the Datong District's north end, north of Dadaocheng and is one of the oldest communities in Taipei. Baoan Temple and Confucius Temple are both famous historical sites located in this area.


City Gates

Even though very little ancient architecture remains in Taipei, four of Taipei's five original city gates still stand. The city walls which surrounded the old city and the West Gate were demolished by the Japanese to make way for roads and railway lines. Of the four gates still standing, the Kuomintang renovated three of them in its effort to "sinicize" Taipei and converted them from the original southern Chinese architecture to northern Chinese palace style architecture, leaving only the North Gate (beimen 北門 or more formally Cheng'en men 承恩門) in its original Qing Dynasty splendour today. This gate sits forlornly in the traffic circle where the Zhonghua, Yanping and Boai roads meet.

Do

Hot Springs (溫泉)

Hot springs come in various brands in Taipei, ranging from basic, to plush spas at five star hotels. The basic free 'rub and scrub' type public baths are run by the city. Most hotels offer the option of a large sex-segregated bathing area that generally consists of several large baths of various temperatures, jacuzzi, sauna and steam bath and also private and family rooms (NB: the law in Taiwan states that for safety reasons, individuals are not allowed to bathe in the private rooms, and there must be at least two people). Some hotels also have outdoor baths (露天溫泉), which offer restful views over the surrounding country-side. Prices range from around NT$300 to NT$800. Public hot spring etiquette requires that bathers thoroughly wash and rinse off their bodies before entering the bath, do not wear clothing, including swim wear (though this is not the case for mixed-sex public areas) in the bath and tie up their hair so that it does not touch the water. Finally, people with high blood pressure, heart disease or open wounds should not enter the baths.

There are three main places to have a soak in the Taipei area:

Hiking

Hiking is a popular exercise in Taipei. The main hiking spot in Taipei is Yangmingshan National Park (陽明山國家公園). There are dozens of hiking trails in the park.


Festivals & events

Taipei hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, but as many follow the lunar calendar the dates according to the Gregorian calendar are inconsistent. Unless you possess a lunar calendar, it is recommended you check the Taiwan Tourist Bureau's events section before planning to attend an event.

Theme Parks

Learn

Buddhism

Universities

Public Universities

Private Universities

Language

Taichi

Chinese Cooking

Work

Teaching English (or to a lesser extent, other foreign languages) is perhaps the easiest way to work in Taiwan. Work permits will be hard to come by and will take time. Consult your local Taiwan consulate/embassy/representative as far in advance as possible.

It should be noted that anyone staying in Taiwan for an extended period of time can FIND English teaching work, albeit technically illegally. If you are staying as a student or for some other long term purpose, it should be noted that many people are teaching English (or some other language) for pay without a permit in Taipei and elsewhere in Taiwan.

Shopping

It is often said that L.A. has no center. In contrast, one could say that Taipei is all center, and as such it has been given the epithet - "the emporium without end." Basically, however, the main shopping area can be divided into two districts: East and West. West Taipei is the old city and is characterized by narrow streets packed with small shops. The Western district is also home to most government buildings and the Taipei Main Station. East Taipei boasts wide tree lined boulevards and the four main shopping malls are located in this area. Popular shopping destinations in East Taipei consist of the area around the ZhongXiao-DunHua intersection and Taipei 101.

Shopping malls/areas




Handicrafts

Trekking/backpacking gear

Books

NB: In order to protect the environment, a government policy rules that plastic bags cannot be given freely at stores in Taiwan, but have to be bought (NT$1) - bakeries being an exception as the items need to be hygienically wrapped. Re-usable canvas and nylon bags are sold at most supermarkets.

Eat


Taipei probably has one of the highest densities of restaurants in the world. Almost every street and alley offers some kind of eatery. Of course, Chinese food (from all provinces) is well represented. In addition, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean and Italian cuisines are also popular. Basically, East Taipei, especially around Dunhua and Anhe Roads, and also the expat enclave of Tianmu are where to clash chopsticks with the rich and famous, whereas West Taipei offers more smaller, homey restaurants.

Due to the sheer number of restaurants, it is almost impossible to compile a thorough list, but below are a few recommended restaurants catering to specialist tastes.

Night markets (夜市)

The most famous one in Taipei is the Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) – Vendor food is nearly always safe to eat and offers a cheap way to sample delicious Chinese 'home cooking'. Use common sense though if you have a sensitive stomach!

Some of the best known night market snacks are:

Chinese cuisine

Taiwanese cuisine

Thai cuisine


Japanese cuisine

Korean

Vietnamese

Indian

Middle Eastern

International

Pizza

Pizza is easy to find in Taiwan with major chains such as Pizza Hut and Domino's. Besides the usual variety, Taiwan also has its localized variants e.g. seafood supreme, pepper steak, corn, peas etc.

Steak

Vegetarian

Vegetarian food (素食) is also common fare, with the city boasting more than two hundred vegetarian restaurants and vendor stands. Another Taipei specialty is vegetarian buffets. They are common in every neighborhood, and unlike the 'all-you-can-eat' buffets listed below (which charge a set price, usually ranging from NT$250 - NT$350 including dessert and coffee/tea), the cost is estimated by the weight of the food on your plate. Rice (there is usually a choice of brown or white) is charged separately, but soup is free and you can refill as many times as you like. NT$75-120 will buy you a good sized, nutritious meal. Note that many of these veggie restaurants are Buddhist in nature and so meals do not contain garlic or onion (which traditionalists claim inflames passion).

Drink

Bars/clubs

Tea houses

Taiwan's speciality tea is High Mountain Oolong (高山烏龍, a fragrant, light tea) and Tieguanyin (鐵觀音, a dark, rich brew).

The mountainous Maokong area of Muzha in the Wenshan district of the city has dozens upon dozens of teahouses, many of which also offer panoramic views of the city. Its especially spectacular on a clear evening. A Maokong Gondola (cable car) system [92] services the Taipei Zoo MRT station to Maokong. The S10 bus comes up from the Wanfang Community MRT station.

Juice Bar

Nothing is better on a hot and humid Taipei day than a refreshing glass of juice made from a huge assortment of fresh fruit!

[93]

Cafes

While traditionally a nation of tea drinkers, in recent years the Taiwanese have really embraced the cafe culture, and all the usual chains can be found here in abundance. For cafes with more character, roam the back streets near National Taiwan University between Xinsheng South Road and Roosevelt Road. More cafes are located in the area around Renai Road, Section 4 and Dunhua South Road. There are also some interesting and characterful places between Yongkang Park and Chaozhou Street, and in the alleys around Shida Road. However, for a particularly impressive range of styles, visit Bitan in Xindian, where all the cafes offer restful views over the river and mountains beyond (though can be noisy at weekend).

Sleep

Budget

East Taipei

West Taipei

Hostels

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget below NT$2,500
Mid-range NT$2,500-5,000
Splurge NT$5,000+

Mid Range

East Taipei

West Taipei

Splurge

East Taipei


West Taipei

Contact

Dialing code

Tourist and emergency numbers

Telephone

Mobile phone coverage is relatively good in Taipei. Among the major providers are Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信), Taiwan Mobile (台灣大哥大), Vibo (威寶電訊) and Far EasTone (遠傳電訊). Taipei has both GSM 900/1800 and 3G networks and roaming might be possible for users of such mobile phones, subject to agreements between operators. Most payphones work with telephone cards (電話卡) which are available at all convenience stores.

Hospitals

Major airlines

For up-to-date information on cheap flights, check the advertisement pages of one of the three local daily English newspapers (see 'Media'section below).

Media

Taiwan has a very free and liberal press. There are three daily local newspapers available in English, the China Post [113], the Taipei Times [114], and the Taiwan News [115].

Free magazines and information are available from the following:

Internet cafes

Internet cafes are plentiful, especially in the maze of alleys between Taipei Main Station and Peace Park. However, you may have to wander around (and look up and down as many are on higher floors or in the basement) before finding one. Some computers are coin operated. Internet cafes are known as wang-ka in Chinese (a combination of wang, the Chinese word for 'net', and ka an abbreviation of 'cafe'.)

Below is a list of a few recommended internet cafes:

Taipei also has a city-wide wi fi service called Wifly [119]. For a small fee, you can buy a card that gives you unlimited internet access nearly anywhere in the city for a day or a month. The card costs NT$100 for 1 day of unlimited access and NT$500 for 31 days of unlimited access and can be purchased in Starbucks Coffee Shops, 7 eleven stores or online ( connect via wifi to wifly network for details).

Stay safe

Taipei is one of the safest cities you will ever visit, and violent crime is extremely rare. However, as in many large cities, pickpockets operate in crowded areas, and so you should be vigilant in night markets.

Local police are a resource you can turn for help, and many officers speak at least basic English.

Outskirts

WikiPedia:Taipei

Related Information





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A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [122].

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.

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