Taipei is one of the most exciting cities in Asia. Located at the northern tip of Taiwan, it became one of the key players in overseas trade starting in the 19th century. Surrounded by Yangming and the Central Mountains, the Taipei valley was once home to the Qing dynasty governor. Nowadays, it can be said that the east and east of Taipei is divided culturally. The upscale malls and stylish European-like establishments found at the east while the west holds the old bastion of Taipei where narrow roads are littered with street vendors and old Chinese shops.
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is still called by its old name Chiang Kai Shek (CKS) by many Taiwanese. The airport is connected to the main city by the express way and a railway system. Tourists can opt to take the bus, train, a taxi or a pre-arranged car rental. Buses well-serve the whole city and one can choose the express bus or the cheaper non-express bus. Buses also operate at night time which is very convenient for tourists avoiding the pricey taxi fare. There is another airport in Taipei which is the Songshan Airport. The airport is accessible by The Metro Brown Line train system which can take 20 minutes from the city’s main railway station.
Trains are very convenient when getting around Taipei. The Mass Rapid Transit System is highly recommended when going around the city. The trains run through midnight and one can avail of a re-loadable EasyCard which offers a big discount on train fares. Next to the Main Station is the city’s Bus Terminal wherein tourists can take the government-operated line or the private one. Route numbers indicate the bus’ destinations. The EasyCard can also be used for the buses.
It is important to know that most taxi drivers can’t speak English. Always have a calling card of your hotel ready, or have your destination written down in Chinese. Taiwanese taxi drivers are honest and they don’t expect tips. Tourists can rent bicycles to get around the bustling city parks but there are certain streets where bikes are not permitted to enter. Hiking is a popular past time in Taipei. Tourists can join the locals in trekking the Elephant Mountain Hikign Trail. Among the landmarks that are flocked by tourists are the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, West Taipei’s Longshan Temple, the old shops in Dihua Street and the temple district of Dalongdong. Taipei is also known for their public baths so locals head to hot springs of Beithou, Wulai and Yangmingsan National Park for this traditional hygienic vice.
Photo Credit: Coolmitch