Sunday, February 12, 2017

Taiwan: The Districts and Map of Taipei and Where to Stay

My trip to Taiwan was a rather short one. It was a 4-day/3-night jaunt before going back to the Netherlands. I have been to Taipei a long time ago but never really had the opportunity to see the city, which is the argument that egged me to add Taiwan to my Asian travel itinerary.

My supposedly last leg of my Asian holiday (China – Philippines – Vietnam) was Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where I have a holiday trip with my direct family. However, there are no direct flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Amsterdam. There is, however, a flight with KLM from Manila to Amsterdam with a quick layover in Taipei. I prefer to fly with KLM for the Flying Blue points so I was leaning towards taking this option. But then I thought – Why don’t I take the flight from Taipei instead? I can fly from Manila to Taipei, and discover and enjoy the city for a few days. The more I thought about the idea, the more my fingers were itching to add Taiwan to the itinerary and book the trip. And so I did!

CKS Hall

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and Park.


I saw a lot and did a lot in my few days stay in Taipei. I even managed to go to the north, to Shifen and Jiufen for a day. I can’t wait to write about my travel experiences and post all my pictures on here.

For starters, Taipei is where most visitors go to, especially for first timers and for city trip visitors. Since the metropolis is massive (12 districts!), it can be very overwhelming and be intimidating as well, to decipher it in detail, not to mention that each district has its own special sights and attraction to offer. More importantly, the nagging question a visitor is often saddled is – Where to stay in Taipei? Where to set base that is easy and convenient to go around?

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the Read more link below]

Don’t fret. Taipei is quite similar to Hong Kong and Tokyo, there is really no main central point in the city. It does not really matter which district you will be staying in as long as you are walking distance to a metro station. The city is fantastically metro wired; one is able to get to the next district and area in just a matter of minutes. But for efficiency, I suggest choosing a centrally located district for easy travelling and sightseeing. As for me, I booked my hotel in Wanhua district at Tango Inn.

Transportation Tip: Avoid the single-journey tickets and buy the MRT Pass (24-hour, 48-hour, 72-hour) for unlimited rides. They run until midnight and signs in the MRT have English translation. Compared to the Netherlands, the taxi here is quite affordable and good for travelling with a group.

Alternatively, if you are the active type, getting around with the bike is also recommended, There are bike rentals all over the city called the YouBike. One-time users can pay with the credit card that has a security chip on it, but for longer days and multiple use rental, it is recommended to pay using the EasyCard and a local mobile phone for verification.

Taipei

Taipei City from the observatory of Taipei 101 building.

Here is a map of the districts of the city of Taipei (picture from Wikitravel):

Taipei Map

Obviously, the central districts are Datong, Zhongshan, Songshan, Wanhua, Zhongzheng, Daan and Xinyi. These are the best places to stay in Taipei as a tourist and do make sure to book a hotel that is just a few minutes away from a metro station.

Here is the name of the 12 districts in Chinese Mandarin (listed randomly) with a brief description of its main sights.

1. Shilin 士林區

Sitting at the foot of the Yangmingshan National Park, this particular suburb of Taipei is expat land, home to many western and Japanese expatriates. The famous Shilin Night Market is located here which I was not able to visit because I was so tired, and well, I got lazy too. Too bad.

2. Beitou 北投區

This district is very famous for its hot springs. Great for day trippers or a weekend getaway for some spa relaxation, if you have enough time in your trip.

3. Xinyi 信義區

Is the district that glitters and home to Taiwan’s pride, the Taipei 101 building. Xinyi is the financial hub of the country so there are many stunning tall modern buildings here, plus the posh shopping, entertainment and lifestyle malls (Neo19, Taipei 101, ATT4FUN, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi) should not be missed of course. There are many chic modern bars and restaurants here. If you’ve got money to burn, this is the place.

Xinyi Night

Xinyi at night.

4. Neihu 內湖區

There is Dahu park; this place is ideally good for hiking and visiting orchard and fruit farms, well I heard. I did not go here.

5. Wenshan 文山區

The place to go for tea and gorgeous views of Taipei City in Maokong – you will have to take the gondola from Xindian. There is a zoo here, lots of hiking trails, tea houses with panoramic views to Taipei and tea plantations which I wanted to visit, but helps, I didn’t have much time. Highly recommended, though!

6. Nangang 南港區

This is a research, exhibition centre and software park area. Nothing for the tourist here unless you are visiting for business or a conference event.

Taiwan Dollar

The Taiwan Dollar.

7. Zhongshan 中山區

This is the administrative district of Taipei and is located very central in the city. There are many historical buildings and recreational parks here and is home to the underground Zhongshan Metro Mall.

8. Da'an 大安區

There’s lots of stuff going on in this district, a great combination of culture, commercial and residential. Yongkang Street is a good place to look for food. Night markets are Tonghua and Shida. The famous Din Tai Fung restaurant is also located here which has a long queue of eager customers.

9. Songshan 松山區

The Ciyou Temple and the famous Raohe Night Market is here.

Raohe

One of the busiest night markets, with a focus on food.

10. Wanhua 萬華區

The oldest district of Taipei and home to many iconic and historic buildings such as the Longshan Temple, Red House Theater and more. Ximending Pedestrian Zone (Harajuku of Taipei) is located here as well and is a must to visit, especially in the evening. I have based my stay here in Wanhua because I saw a nice and modern boutique hotel for a good price right in the smack of Ximen area. You can also find here the Snake Alley; well I didn’t visit if you ask me for obvious reasons, haha. There are many night markets in Wanhua namely: Huaxi, Xichang, Guangzhou, Wuzhou and Nanjichang. As you can tell, this is a very lively district surely not to be missed.


Ximending pedestrian street zone, the Harajuku of Taipei. It is non-stop shopping and street food galore here, and very popular with the young people.

11. Datong 大同區

Dihua street and Dadaocheng wharf are the main places to go to see architecture and history during the Japanese occupation, the tea trading years and the Qing dynasty opium war and trade with Europe. Like Wanhua, this district is also old. This district has 3-night markets: Ningxia, Yansan and Dalong.

12. Zhongzheng 中正區

The stately district showcasing most of the national government buildings and home to the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, 228 Memorial Park, National Museum of History, National Central Library, National Theater and Concert Hall and more. You can witness the changing of guards every day at 12 noon at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.

CKS Taipei

From the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall looking out to the gate and park.

Will be blogging more about Taiwan in the coming days, weeks and months, so do come back.

Travel Period: January 2017
Destination: Taipei, Taiwan

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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