Don’t worry, Taipei is easy peasy!
Traveling to Taipei is an exciting adventure but which neighborhoods should you really explore? Here’s a quick breakdown for travelers who need to know just enough.
Reputation: The Times Square of Taipei.
411: Besides being the home of Taiwan’s symbolic tower: Taipei 101, Xinyi district is THE place to be in Taipei. Full of world-renowned restaurants and fantastic shopping hotspots, this high-end area is expensive and modern. If you’re staying at a luxury hotel, you’re probably in Xinyi. Sip on beers, chill at an outdoor patio, hitting up the city’s hottest clubs late into the night are just a few things you can do in the heart of the city.
Reputation: Home of expats.
The 411: Although residential, Da’an district has plenty of charming and smaller boutiques for those who want to avoid the crowds. Before the rise of Xinyi District, Da’an was a major hub for expats and global travelers. Don’t be surprised to find beer halls and cool hidden bars here. If you love a good place to shop for souvenirs, the Jade and Flower Markets are also located underneath an expressway in this district.
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Reputation: Student-life means colorful local favorites.
The 411: Shida and Gongguan districts house two famous universities: Shida (National Taiwan Normal University) and the prestigious National Taiwan University. You know if there’s an area popular among students, local life is evermore vibrant. In these areas, you’ll find many fun and funky shops to buy quirky knick-knacks and fashion pieces. Don’t miss the nationally famous Shida night market.
Reputation: Shop ’til you drop for the chic and the sophisticated.
The 411: Since the industrialization of Taipei, the East District (or as the locals call it: dongchu) has always been streamlined with the city’s most stylish shops and restaurants. Situated next to Xinyi, where the heart of Taipei has shifted to in recent years, Eastern District remains as a wonderful shopping destination. On the main street of Zhongxiao East Road 忠孝東路, you’ll find global brands including: Mango, Zara, Cartier, Chanel…etc. But wander through smaller alleys behind Sogo Department store, and you’ll be spending the rest of the day visiting cool boutiques displaying products imported from Japan and Korea.
Flickr/Blowing Puffer Fish
Reputation: Taipei’s Silicon Valley.
The 411: The quick rise of Taipei as an international metropolis has much to do with the city’s technology boom. Neihu and Dazhi are filled with international company headquarters making technology and accessories that the world uses daily. As these areas welcome business travelers and globetrotting entrepreneurs, both Neihu and Dazhi are developed with riverside parks, high-quality restaurants and luxury apartments for long-term travelers.
Flickr/chia ying Yang
Reputation: Taipei’s pop culture explosion.
The 411: The famous Ximending has always attracted tourists from all over the world. In the past, Ximending has always been known for cinema theaters, the hub of pop culture and seemingly limitless shops that sell anything from stationaries to the latest fashion for those on budget. Ximending is also known for its Red Theaters 紅包場 that showcase cheeky live performances, tickets are inexpensive. Think: cabaret and karaoke. Back in 1960s, the performances were catered to those serving in the military. Backpackers typically make a stop at Ximending to check out the latest local scene often described as: crowded, loud and absolutely lively.
Reputation: Taipei’s fisherman’s wharf.
The 411: Danshui is a must-go for every traveler in Taiwan. The boardwalk edges Danshui River which has been called Eastern Venice in the past. Spending a full day at Danshui revolves strolling along the boardwalk, tasting local treats at delicious food vendors, and browsing through local markets. Danshui is also close to several beaches, perfect for those who are up for surfing and boating.
Reputation: Step back in time, in Taiwan’s history.
The 411: You’ll definitely step foot in Zhongzheng district for a popular Instagram-worthy landmark: Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall 中正紀念堂. Next to the beautiful memorial hall is National Concert Hall 國家戲劇院 where you’ll be mesmerized by cultural and art performances from the internationally renowned to locally celebrated artists. Zhongzheng district is also famous for Xiaonanmen 小南門 which are four gate houses from Taipei’s early history.
Reputation: Indulge in hot springs and Taipei’s greenery.
The 411: Located in northern part of Taipei, Beitou welcomes tourists all year round with its abundance of hot springs. Just a short MRT (Taipei metro) ride away from Taipei Main Station, you won’t feel like you’re in the city any longer. Beitou’s hot springs are particularly popular during winter time. Don’t miss Yangmingshan National Park which is perfect for hikes, admiring cherry blossoms and gazing at panoramic views of the city.
Reputation: Night market at its best.
The 411: Travelers mostly come to Shilin for two very important attractions: Shilin Night Market (and yes, it’s the best one in the city,) as well as the National Palace Museum which has the world’s most complete collections of Chinese artifacts.
Flickr/Sharon Hahn Darlin
Reputation: Financial district hailed as Taipei’s Wall Street.
The 411: The reasons that bring travelers to Songshan district include: seeing a concert at Taipei Arena 台北小巨蛋, hitting up the night market at Raohe Street 饒河街, shopping on the cheap at Wufenpu 五分譜 or catching a flight at Songshan Airport 松山機場. Most importantly, Songshan district is lined with the city’s financial headquarters which you can see on Nanjing East Road 南京東路 and Dunhua North Road 敦化北路.