A Day in Taipei, Taiwan


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Longshan Temple
Taipei’s Longshan Temple. Photograph by Matt Gibson

I lived in Taiwan for six years and, although I traveled around the country a lot, I never spent much time exploring Taipei. So, when I went back for a visit last year I was excited to book a flight ticket and see all the attractions that I’d heard about.

I only had one day, so I tried to pack in all of the best activities. I didn’t visit Taipei 101, because I’d seen been there before. Instead, this is what I did.


Breakfast: Dan Bing

Dan bing is a common Taiwanese breakfast that can be found at most breakfast shops. It’s basically  a breakfast burrito, except the egg is fried to the Chinese spring-onion flavoured wrap giving it a pleasant, slightly rubbery texture.

You can usually add bacon and cheese (both are recommended), and it’s served with a sweet sauce. It’ll run you about $1 USD.


Morning: The Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

MOCA Taipei
An interactive video installation in MOCA. Photograph by Matt Gibson

Asian art is exceptionally weird, but in a really good way. The Museum of Contemporary Art usually houses some wonderfully bizarre avant-garde video, befuddling installations, interactive exhibits, sculptures, and paintings.

During my visit I saw a mummy sitting a desk, a video of a girl standing in a tunnel, and an installation that looked like a giant rats nest of scaffolding had smashed through a wall. it was everything I’d hoped it would be.

Adult entry costs about $1.50 USD


Lunch: Sausage in a Sausage

This popular and common Taiwanese snack is found at food stalls throughout the city. It consists of a sweet pork sausage that’s placed inside of a sliced-open larger sticky rice sausage. It’s often topped with garlic and a sweet or spicy sauce. It will cost you about $1.50 USD.


Afternoon: The National Palace Museum

Taipei's National Palace Museum
Taipei’s National Palace Museum. Photograph by Matt Gibson

I hate saying that things are a ‘must-see’, but that’s exactly what the National Palace Museum is. When the Koumintang fled China to Taiwan the brought an enormous portion of the country’s most valuable national treasures with them, and they’re now housed in the National Palace Museum.

Many consider it to be the finest collection of Chinese art in the world. The museum’s collection is so large that only 1% of it can be on display at any given time, so exhibits are constantly changing.

The prize of the collection — which our guide referred to as “the Mona Lisa of Chinese art” — is a jade sculpture of a cricket on a head of cabbage, which reinforced the fact that I’ll never totally understand Chinese culture.

Entrance to the National Palace Museum costs around $5 USD


Dusk: Longshan Temple

Taipei Longshan Temple
Incense urn at Taipei’s Longshan Temple. Photograph by Matt Gibson

The Longshan Temple is a beautiful and popular temple in the Longshan District of Taiepi. At sunset the temple, with slanting sunlight highlighting incense smoke throughout, the temple is a mystical place and is usually packed with people stopping to pray on their ways home from work and school.

It’s a serene and spiritual setting where you can see the entire cross-section of Taiwanese society in one place. And, even better, it’s free.


Dinner: Din Tai Fung

Dian Tai Fong is most famous in Taiwan and abroad for it’s xiaolongbao, but all of the dumplings here are delicious.

Although slightly expensive by Taiwanese standards, prices are very reasonable by western standards. We ordered plates of dumplings and large bottles of Taiwan Beer until we couldn’t eat or drink any more. For this feast my companion and I paid about $15 USD each


Evening: Huaxi Night Market

Taipei Huaxi Night Market Snake Alley
Taipei’s Huaxi Night Market, also known as Snake Alley. Photograph by kaythaney

If you’re only going to visit one night market in Taiwan, this should be it. The Huaxi Night Market, also known as Snake Alley, is located in what was formerly Taipei’s red-light district and is best known for the numerous rare delicacies that can be found there, such as deer penis wine, turtle meat, and shots of snake blood.

Taipei is a world-class metropolis with a rich history. There are more worthwhile activities there than one can possibly fit into a single day.

When I had only a single day to see the city, however, this itinerary left me feeling like I’d hit the most important highlights.

This post is part of the initiative  “100 cities to home swap before you die” from Knok.com.

About the Author: Matt Gibson

Matt Gibson is the Let's Roll blog manager. He also writes for the Huffington Post, About.com, and his own adventure travel blog.

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