Shilin Night Market, Taipei
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Shilin Night Market, Taipei

© Creative Commons / @runtaipei

Taipei travel guide

Taipei Local time

A web of different influences makes Taipei a city rammed with life; an international metropolis that manages to be both unrushed and turbo-charged.

Drawing on doyen from the Chinese mainland, the West, Japan and Taiwan’s own indigenous heritage, it’s a heaving but welcoming city where swarming scooters and steamed-up dumpling restaurants are as much a part of the cityscape as serene temples and soaring towers.

Taiwan itself was formerly called the Island of Formosa (Portuguese for ‘beautiful’), and while it’s always going to be relatively small, its capital city gives it the weight of other, far larger, Asian destinations.

This is thanks to world-class attractions such as the National Palace Museum, which showcases many of the imperial treasures brought over from China by Mao’s great foe, Chiang Kai Shek. Indeed, Taiwan’s fractious relationship with the People’s Republic remains an absorbing backdrop to any trip to the city.

Taipei has a long established reputation for its food, with cuisine from every region of China. Tellingly, it’s also home to various new boutique hotels and trendy bars, although its most famous building by far remains Taipei 101, the world’s tallest tower when it was unveiled in 2004.

On a clear day, the views from the skyscrapers’ summit are wonderful. Back down at ground level, meanwhile, there are pleasures of a different kind at the Shilin Night Market (one of many in the city) where you’ll find a jabbering melee of food stalls, swirling smells and massing locals.

As Taipei continues to grow, its cultural scene has blossomed, producing local art and architecture that often has a distinctly local edge. Taiwan itself has some spectacular selling points, from its folk traditions and sweeping natural scenery to its undimmed sense of ambition, and a trip to Taipei offers more than a glimpse of this remarkable destination.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.