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Itinerary: 1 full day and 2 nights in Taipei

Itinerary: 1 full day and 2 nights in Taipei

Old Dec 15, 12, 6:58 pm
  #1  
KRS
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Itinerary: 1 full day and 2 nights in Taipei

Heading to Taipei with the SO next weekend, arriving Friday evening (19:10) and departing Sunday morning (07:50). Staying the first night at the Holiday Inn East, and the second at the Novotel by the Taoyuan airport (not ideal to switch hotels but price was the deciding factor...)

I have come up with the following list of attractions and things to do/see and would love some feedback on what to prioritize/skip, and also suggestions on how to sequence them best, and what time of day is best (if it matters).
  • National Palace Museum (English guided tours available?)
  • Longshan Temple
  • Shilin Night Market (considering this for the first night as we are arriving somewhat late, but it is inconvenient to go the hotel and then backtrack... can we go to the market with our hand luggage or is that not recommended?)
  • Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
  • Taipei 101 (considering hiking Elephant mountain instead of going up)
  • Baoan & Confucius Temples
  • Tea room/shop (interested in buying a small amount of Oolong to take home)
  • Eslite bookstore (need to stock up on books for the rest of the trip, but obviously not essential, although it apparently is worth a visit)

Sample eats/drinks:
Tianbula
Pearl milk tea
pinapple cake
three cup chicken
Kaoliang
Betel nuts (what does mildly intoxicating mean? - )
Din Tai Fung restaurant, yes or no?
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Old Dec 15, 12, 7:03 pm
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National Palace Museum: English tours daily at 10:00 and 15:00 it seems:
http://www.npm.gov.tw/en/faqs_02.htm?docno=28
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Old Dec 15, 12, 7:44 pm
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I thought the National Palace Museum was phenomenal. It's too bad there isn't more display space. It can get very crowded with all of the tour buses. I enjoyed it without an English tour. They also have those recorded tour things available as well.

I liked the Baoan and Confucius temples. Go in the evening when it is more atmospheric.

I find the whole betel nut thing disgusting.

Make sure you try the curry beef noodle soup.

You really haven't got much time there. There is a very nice museum called the National History Museum at the botanic gardens that has a great collection of stuff. Old Chinese artifacts as well as more contemporary art. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Museum_of_History

Last edited by glennaa11; Dec 15, 12 at 10:13 pm
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Old Dec 15, 12, 10:03 pm
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I think you are on the right track, but won't be able to do everything on your list in one day. It will be too late to do much when you arrive: but you can have a nice dinner in town *before* heading to the Holiday Inn. On Saturday, I would leave all luggage at the Holiday Inn.

--1st head to the NPM first thing--with travel, tour, and many exhibits, it's at least a half-day proposition. You might have lunch there (or head back to town, but museums make me hungry).

--Then CKS Memorial (and surrounding park). If you're feeling ambitious, you can then go to the Eslite bookstore in the Eastern District (not the original one)--which puts you by 101, if you still want to do 101.

--toward evening, Longshan Temple. That then puts you by a very nice night market for dinner/snacks, and you don't have to go out to Shilin. You could, after Longshan, head to the Yongkang Street area for dinner (now all accessible by subway). Then finally pick up your luggage and head to the airport hotel (not a bad idea for an early flight regardless of financial considerations.

Tea: many outlets everywhere, including if I remember rightly Tian Ren shops opposite the CKS memorial and also in 101. There's also the PageOne bookstore in 101. If you are into temples, Baoan and Confucius--and also Xingtiangong--are well worth visiting, but you don't have enough time unless you skip other things.

Din Tai Fung: I like it fine, but it's nothing that special. No need to make a point of it, especially if you have to queue up for it. Lot's of other & more interesting food options. Look around; as noted above, I would eat on Yongkang St. at least once--a possibility for lunch if you're done with the museum in time. Betel nuts: a very mild rush; bitter taste takes some getting used to; causes throat cancer.
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Old Dec 16, 12, 6:28 am
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Originally Posted by KRS View Post
Heading to Taipei with the SO next weekend, arriving Friday evening (19:10) and departing Sunday morning (07:50). Staying the first night at the Holiday Inn East, and the second at the Novotel by the Taoyuan airport (not ideal to switch hotels but price was the deciding factor...)

I have come up with the following list of attractions and things to do/see and would love some feedback on what to prioritize/skip, and also suggestions on how to sequence them best, and what time of day is best (if it matters).
  • National Palace Museum (English guided tours available?)
  • Longshan Temple
  • Shilin Night Market (considering this for the first night as we are arriving somewhat late, but it is inconvenient to go the hotel and then backtrack... can we go to the market with our hand luggage or is that not recommended?)
  • Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
  • Taipei 101 (considering hiking Elephant mountain instead of going up)
  • Baoan & Confucius Temples
  • Tea room/shop (interested in buying a small amount of Oolong to take home)
  • Eslite bookstore (need to stock up on books for the rest of the trip, but obviously not essential, although it apparently is worth a visit)

Sample eats/drinks:
Tianbula
Pearl milk tea
pinapple cake
three cup chicken
Kaoliang
Betel nuts (what does mildly intoxicating mean? - )
Din Tai Fung restaurant, yes or no?
I think Holiday Inn- East probally not a good choice for first night (or any night with your limited time), its bit out the way for what you want to see and no subway access (need use Taxi) and far from airport passing central Taipei, Choose maybe more near Taipei Station r central to where you want to go, such as Cosmos (NT$3,000), YMCA (NT$1,800), or various others in Taipei Station area, or a bit north, then your able to accress the night markets and LungShan Temple via subway. For Kaoliang, just go to 7-11, or family-mart (everywhere, 3000+ stores in TW)
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Old Dec 16, 12, 11:17 pm
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Thanks for the feedback guys!
No endorsements for betel nuts then!

The only reason for the Holiday Inn is the Pointbreaks deal, equivalent of USD30/night... (had booked the Éclat initially)

I have emailed a couple of car service companies asking about transportation from the airport and the possibility of stopping by the Longshan temple and surrounding night markets on the way to the hotel. Then we can do Yongkang Street the next day... I guess that should be doable? Also, I suppose as first time visitors it doesn't make a huge difference whether we substitute Shilin for those night markets?

Will do the NPM first thing in the morning on Saturday, aim to arrive in good time for the 10AM English guided tour. I assume a taxi would be the preferred option from the hotel? There is also a free shuttle to the Taipei 101 area, where we can catch the metro but that will probably be more hassle and take longer...
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Old Dec 17, 12, 1:52 am
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Definitely do Elephant Mountain instead of going up Taipei 101. The view is so much more beautiful WITH the 101.

Shilin vs. Yongkang: I'd say go with Shilin (but not if you have your luggage!). There are snack vendors and clothing stores and stalls and everything in between. Yongkang Street is just a neighborhood with mostly sit-down restaurants. It's a completely different feel.

Din Tai Feng - I'd say no. The food is nice to marvel at and to eat, but for the price and the experience, it's not really worth it. Try Shin Yeh or Yinye instead (:
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Old Dec 17, 12, 5:34 am
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One place I'd always recommend people to visit, even if it is just a quick one, is Ximending.
If you don't mind not going to a night market, I'd pick this over Shih Lin Night Market as Shin Lin seemed a little too touristy for my liking.
Ximending stores opens till pretty late as well, it was pretty crowded even at 10pm+

Ximending is like a place where there is a little bit of everything. You have sit-in like cafeteria/restaurants that service local delights like dumplings, egg-and-oyster omelette, rice vermicilli, shaved ice dessert (made from frozen milk actually, not water) and more!

Also, you have hawkers selling food off little push-carts! Hope that you do not have a weak stomach, as some of the most delicious food I've had in Taiwan came them these stalls! Once in a while, the police would chase them off and they would play a little hide-and-seek game, only to eventually return to the area

On some nights, you have artistes like this one (I just saw him a few days ago when I was there, you have to watch this video) who is simply amazing!

Of course, there are also stores selling all sorts of stuff like clothes, bags, shoes, accessories etc.

I love Taipei
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Old Dec 17, 12, 9:13 am
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Elephant Mountain is nice. But it's way more exertion than going up the elevator at 101. It also takes a bit of time to climb up and back down again. For people with such limited time it may not be advisable.
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Old Dec 17, 12, 11:59 pm
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Din Tai Fung can easily set you back 90 minutes just to wait for a table. I don't think it's essential and take-out doesn't taste as good (dumplings are awful once cold).

Elephant Mountain is a good 10-15 minute walk from 101 and then a 20 minute climb. With only have a day of sightseeing, I suggest you go up 101 instead.
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Old Dec 20, 12, 9:09 pm
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Originally Posted by KRS View Post
No endorsements for betel nuts then!
Yes, skip betel nuts, even this Taiwanese has never ever had betel nuts in her whole life. FWIW, betel nuts are common energizing "chewing gums" only among truckers and some labor-intensive workers.

Originally Posted by KRS View Post
I suppose as first time visitors it doesn't make a huge difference whether we substitute Shilin for those night markets?
Yes and no.

Shilin Night Market has been a poster child for Taiwanese night markets among international tourists. Folks would be very surprised if you ever visit Taipei without Shilin Night Market. If you can bear the "embarrassment", I say skip Shilin and enjoy other "less" famous ones.

Having said that, night market in itself is a Taiwan scenery. Every night market has its uniqueness and signature "small eats." There's no way to replace one night market over another. Is Shilin Night Market on the top of my list for 1st timers to Taipei night markets? No, I personally like Raohe Street Night Market, Ningxia Night Market and Tunghua Night Market (aka Linjiang Night Market) much better.

Originally Posted by KRS View Post
I have emailed a couple of car service companies asking about transportation from the airport and the possibility of stopping by the Longshan temple and surrounding night markets on the way to the hotel. Then we can do Yongkang Street the next day... I guess that should be doable?
Be warned, Longshan Temple may not look like what it should have been. Expect some culture shock. You'll see a loooooong line of stools circled outside the temple waiting to light up the blessing candles (點光明燈: Bright Fortune Light- see section 5). The first-come-first-serve ceremony won't start taking numbers until January 6th, 2013 but some religious (and/or crazy) people have formed the unofficial waiting line late November 2012. It's a public shame scene IMHO, especially when the temple admin had put up a sign "Not to Form Any Line Yet." The temple also called for police intervention since the stools are taking up public space. Sadly, nothing has been done.

FYI. To light up a blessing candle is a common practice in the beginning of a (lunar) new year for a full year of prosperity. There are different kind of candles you can ask the temple to light up for you. Longshan Temple is the most popular and crowded temple to light blessing candles in Taipei, probably Taiwan as well. The temple charges NT$600 per candle/person. Longshan Temple has space for 200K prosperity candles each year and only accepts 1000 requests per day till they run out of space. For those anxious and worrisome, they tend to start the waiting game very early, with the fear that they won't get in. It's time for the ticket scalpers to profit. The unofficial waiting numbers has grown up to 2000+ now and surprise, surprise, the number one ticket is in the hand of a ticket scalper. He is asking NT$25000 for his unofficial #1 spot!
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Old Dec 21, 12, 1:33 am
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My Bold Suggestions for Your Taipei Visit....

Originally Posted by KRS View Post
... about transportation from the airport and the possibility of stopping by the Longshan temple and surrounding night markets on the way to the hotel. Then we can do Yongkang Street the next day... I guess that should be doable?
Like others said, even with one full day and 2 nights, you don't have that much time to cover what you had planned for Taipei. However, I have some ideas to streamline your travel plan and cover as many sites as possible.

If you can take care of Longshan Temple and Snake Valley Friday evening before getting to Holiday Inn East, I will boldly suggest to spend your next day as followed:

Saturday Morning (9:00-10:30): Shenkeng Old Street
Does Shenkeng deserve a trip over from SVG to TPE? Definitely not. Since you are staying in Holiday Inn East and probably suffer a bit of sore legs from the night market and jetlag from the previous night, why not take it easy and enjoy the neighborhood scenery?

For old streets, I normally recommend Tamsui Old Street, but Shenkeng is closer to you. Shenkeng is famous for tofu and you get to enjoy a range of varieties, stinky or not, at Shenkeng Old Street. Shenkeng Old Street is a small alley that just recently came out from a 2+ years renovation this September. You can check out this English blog and get a taste of what it was like before renovation. This other blog gives you a good photo gallery of Shenkeng Old Street as of today (skip the text if Chinese is foreign to you ) .

I called up the District Office and was told the Old Street is about 2kms from Holiday Inn East. It's only a short drive by taxi but too far to walk. It's probably 4-5 bus stops from the hotel if you take Bus Route 660 & 666. I think the hotel frontdesk can help you with transportation. Most shops are not open until 10:00 but weekend hours may start a bit early. I believe a short walk of the old street and some vintage shops should give you a glimpse of old Taiwan. Psych youself up for some tofu adventure. The signature Senkeng stinky tofu is not the typical deep fried kind of stinky tofu. It's a bit of soupy. Since Shekeng is the so called "Capital of Tofu", you also get to sample all kind of tofu, grilled, steamed and fried. What about ice cream? They serve tofu ice cream at Shenkeng Old Street too!

It probably will be a good hour or two to tour Shenkeng Old Street then you can head back to the hotel to catch the hourly shuttle, possibly the 11:00 one, down to MRT-City Hall.

Around Noon to early Afternoon (11-ish to 2:00 pm): Eslite Bookstore, Xingyi District, Confucius and Baoan Temples

Depending on how your morning goes, you should be arriving City Hall no later than noon. Xinyi District has all the big department stores, movie theaters, and yes, Taipei 101. Eslite Bookstore is within walking distance so you may stop by their flagship store and stock up some books for your trip. Don't plan to get here too early since it's not open till 11:00 am. I shop at Eslite Bookstore all the time and personally prefer their original store in Dunhua S. RD., which is open 24/7. Eslite has become a culture icon of Taiwan so it's worth a visit. Giving your limited time at hand, other than Eslite, I wouldn't recommend too much time in Xinyi District.

After Eslite, you can hop on MRT heading toward Confucius and Baoan Temples, both close by each other. You take the Blue Line from City Hall then transfer to Red Line at Taipei Main Station. Look for the Red Line heading for Tamsui (or Xinbeitou) and get off at Yuanshan Station. The MRT ride is about 20-30 minutes. Confucius and Baoan Temples are about 10-minute walk from Yuanshan MRT Station.

Afternoon (2:30 and on): Palace Museum
Instead of getting back on MRT, I would suggest taking taxi after your temple visit to save you time on transportation. The museum English guided tour starts at 3:00 pm. Get here early enough to sign up for the 30-person group tour. If your schedule doesn't work out with the 3 pm tour, you can always lean back on to the self-guided audio tour. Stop by the museum shop to get some souvenir. I think you can get some tea here too.

Evening: More Food and Shopping
The good part of your day is pretty much gone by now. If you can't squeeze in Confucius and Baoan Temples earlier during the day, do it after the museum. If you are so far on schedule, you can wrap up your day by more delicious food and some shopping.

Two places you can go after the Palace Museum. One is Shilin Night Market, which is closest to the museum. Or you may opt for some viewing in East District, between MRT Zhongxiao/Fuxing and Zhongxia/Dunhua Stations. Focus on the 4th Section of Zhongxiao E. RD, and pay special attention to Lane 216, close to MRT Zhongxiao/Dunhua Station. You simply can't miss Lane 216 Zhongxiao E. RD, Sec. 4 for serious Taiwanese food: beef noodles, pearl milk tea, dumplings, tempura/Tianbula,...etc. You won't leave hungry after Lane 216! There's also a small night market closeby on Daan RD, a few blocks from Sogo Department Store. By the end of the evening, you shall return to your hotel with a full stomach and big smile on your face.

Obviously there are other splendid suggestions in threads for places to see in Taipei. You just can't have it all in one single day. Hopefully, the Taipei you see in your 1-day-2-night trip will bring you back to Taiwan and asking for more. Welcome and enjoy Taipei!

Last edited by lin821; Dec 24, 12 at 11:26 pm Reason: typo
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Old Dec 24, 12, 9:51 pm
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Thanks for all the help!

Had a nice visit to Taipei. As the weather forecast for Saturday was bad, we went straight to (and up) Taipei 101 on Friday evening, managed to get in right before they closed (bus to the Hyatt across the street was quick and convenient, and we could store our bags at the ticket desk).

Didn't get as early a start as I had hoped on Saturday but still managed to see quite a lot: Longshan temple, Chiang Kai-shek memorial hall, Confucius and Baoan Temples, National Palace museum, Shilin Night Market, then stopped by Eslite (Dunhua) and lane 216 to finish the evening.
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Old Feb 11, 13, 6:24 am
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Thanks a lot for the advice in this thread. Coming March I will be in Taipan, and like the TS I will also only spend 2 nights there. This thread comes in handy
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Old Feb 11, 13, 5:21 pm
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Anthony Bourdain did a Taipei "Layover"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhmGf55ELRQ

Might be useful to you
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