Where to stay
- amba Taipei Ximending; No. 77, Section 2, Wuchang St, Wanhua District; +886 2 2375 5111; www.amba-hotels.com/en/ximending. This resort is incredibly eco-friendly. For starters, the 8m-long reception desk is made from 2012 plastic bottles that glow at night, and an entire wall in its Tingba music lounge is covered with 300 pairs of recycled jeans.
- amba Taipei Zhongshan, No. 57-1, Section 2, Zhongshan North Rd, Zhongshan District; +886 2 2565 2828; www.amba-hotels.com/en/zhongshan. All 90 rooms here boast clean lines, comfy beds and delightful details like free amba flip-flops, fun mugs for sipping Taiwanese tea and coffee, and all-natural bath amenities by socially responsible Taiwanese brand Two Acres.
- CityInn Hotel Plus Ximending, No.63, Baoqing Rd, Zhongzheng District; +886 2 7725 2288; www.cityinn.com.tw. Novelty, comfort, and accessibility are what make CityInn Hotel stand out from other budget hotels. Its elaborately designed walls were drawn on and painted by local artists. Depending on peak season surcharges, you can stay in a chic Standard Room for just TW$2,900 a night.
- Howard Plaza Hotel, No. 160, Section 3, Ren’ai Rd; +886 2 2700 2323, www.howard-hotels.com. A five-star hotel located in the heart of the city’s financial and business district.
- Hotel Papa Whale; This hipster’s dream of a four-star hotel, with its industrial chic aesthetic, is right in the tourist hotspot of Ximending.
- Hotel Proverbs; This intimate boutique hotel sitting on a prime section of fashionable Da’an Road features rich woods, dim lighting from ornate chandeliers and sumptuous room details — like claw-footed tubs, marble bathrooms and vintage beds. Its bar, East End, serves up delicious craft cocktails and is a popular watering hole for trendy locals.
- Play Design Hotel; Truly a design hotel in every sense of the word, Play is a pint-sized property with just five rooms — each furnished with the work of local designers and bearing a touch of whimsy. Case in point: the “Guest Selections” room allows guests to pick the furniture and décor they wish to be surrounded by during their stay.
- Roaders Hotel; Also in the same buzzy neighborhood as Hotel Papa Whale, the 68-room Roaders Hotel keeps a minimalist, polished-concrete-and-wood theme across its rooms, but goes all-out romantic — vintage leather couches, oak-barrel table tops — in its common areas.
- Space Inn, B1F, No.51, Hengyang Rd; +886 988 058 905; spaceinn.com.tw. This dorm-type property features spaceship-like furnishings and comfy bunk beds that have their own power supply, reading light and USB port.
- W Taipei, 10 Zhongxiao East Rd, Section 5, Xinyi District; +886 2 7703 8888; www.wtaipei.com. A chic, stylish option in the heart of the cosmopolitan Xinyi District, which is home to some of the city’s best nightlife and entertainment spots.
- Westgate Hotel, No. 150, Section 1, Zhonghua Rd, Wanhua District; +886 2 2331 3161; www.westgatehotel.com.tw. A sleek, modern hotel just steps away from the MRT station and Ximending Night Market.
Where to eat
- Addiction Aquatic Development, No. 18, Alley 2, Lane 410, Minzu East Rd, Zhongshan District; +886 2 2508 1268, www.addiction.com.tw. This seafood warehouse complex houses a stand-up sushi bar, an outdoor grill restaurant and more. If you can’t get a seat at any of the eateries, you can head to the wholesale area for fresh takeaway sushi.
- Dadaocheng, Datong District. Architecture aficionados should head to this district on the west side of the city to marvel at renovated century-old buildings.
- Dian Shui Lou, various locations, dianshuilou.com.tw. This chain restaurant does a killer xiao long bao, along with other delicious signature dishes like braised eels and meatballs.
- Din Tai Fung, Taipei 101 Mall, B1, No. 45 Shifu Rd; +886 2 8101 7799; www.dintaifung.com.tw. A chain restaurant that’s famous for its xiao long bao (steamed pork soup dumplings).
- Dragon Inn Dumpling House; If it’s a question of atmosphere, none come close to the authenticity of Dragon Inn, where its ramshackle interior could double as a setting for a Chinese kung fu flick. The Shandong-style restaurant is beloved by both locals and numerous political heavyweights. While Dragon Inn is famous for their generously stuffed dumplings, don’t miss the Instagram-worthy braised platter: a sumptuous spread of soy-braised seaweed, tofu and various meats.
- Fuhang Doujiang, Zhongzheng District; +886 2 2392 2175. Head here for a hearty and satisfying breakfast of dou jiang you tiao (hot soy milk with a long donut).
- Gang Shan Mutton Hot Pot, No. 2, Ln 201, Liaoning St, Zhongshan District; +886 2 2713 8943. This lamb hot pot is a favorite among locals. You can get a large pot filled with meat and veggies for around $25.
- Gu Zao Cao, 140 Shenkeng Tofu St, Shenkeng Township. A stinky tofu specialist. Be sure to order the restaurant’s signature dish of stewed stinky tofu with spicy duck’s blood.
- Minsheng Fried Rice Restaurant, Ln 27, Section 5, Minsheng East Rd; +886 2 2763 5576. Tuck into a plate of what is often said to be the best fried rice in Taipei.
- Modern Toilet Restaurant, 2/F, No.50-7 Xining South Rd; +886 2 2311 8822; www.moderntoilet.com.tw. Head here if you relish the novelty of eating pork curry from a dish shaped like a toilet bowl, and slurping poop-shaped chocolate ice cream.
- Mr. Meat; Mr. Meat’s name is self-explanatory — and gives a clear insight into the owners’ obsession. This chic restaurant serves up individual hotpots featuring a wide variety of meat from across the globe, from New Zealand-sourced venison to Ibérico pork from Spain. They’re famous for their sour cabbage hot broth base — the acidity helps in cutting through the fat.
- Shilin Night Market, Shilin District. Sample mouthwatering street fare such as stinky tofu, grilled sausages, oyster omelet, extra large chicken chops and fried squid, just to name a few.
- Slack Season Noodles; Many Taiwanese consider danzai noodles (springy noodles topped with soy-braised minced pork and prawns) to be their de facto comfort food. Originating in Tainan as a humble street stall over a century ago, Slack Season, or Tu Hsiao Yueh, has now expanded to multiple locations around the capital.
- Tian Wai Tian Hot Pot, 2/F 76 Kunming St, Wanhua District; tianwaitian.com.tw. Enjoy a quintessential, tongue-numbing mala hotpot, before soothing your tastebuds with free-flow Haagen-Dazs ice cream.
- Ximending Night Market, Wanhua District. Go food tripping at this bustling market, where you’ll find shops and street vendors offering treats like grilled sausages, noodles, milk tea and more.
- Wawa Wow (Doll Forest Café), Emei St, Wanhua District. A stuffed toy haven where you can purchase plushies big and small, while sipping on a cup of milk tea.
- Yannick Sweet Village, No. 481, Lane 4, Changchun St, Shilin District. Formerly the barracks for American soldiers in the city, Yannick Sweet Village is now home to puffs and pastries that are always worth indulging in. Also get your forks ready for the delectable cake varieties, especially the blueberry cake.
What to do
- Alishan National Scenic Area, Alishan Township, Chiayi County; www.ali-nsa.net. Head to this mountain resort and national preserve during spring, where you can admire cherry blossoms in full bloom.
- Beitou. Take a 30-minute train ride from Taipei Main Station to Beitou, the northernmost district of Taipei. It’s renowned for its hot springs, serene green environment and cultural sites.
- Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, No. 21, Zhongshan South Rd, Zhongzheng District; +886 2 2343 1100; www.cksmh.gov.tw/eng. This monument celebrates the life and achievements of Chiang Kai Shek, the man who built Taiwan.
- Eslite Bookstore, various locations; www.eslite.com. Browse and buy a wide array of titles at Taipei’s most popular bookstore. The five-storey flagship store at Dunhua South Road is open 24 hours a day.
- Huashan 1914 Creative Park, No. 1, Section 1, Bade Rd, Zhongzheng District; +886 2 2358 1914; huashan1914.com/en. Restored from a 20th-century wine factory, this chic multi-purpose venue caters to the hip crowd, with several restaurants, cafés, a cinema and a live music club.
- Jiufen, Ruifang District. Nestled at the top of a mountain, Jiufen was once a gold mining town that fell into decline when operations were discontinued. Today, however, it’s a popular tourist destination dotted with quaint cafés and souvenir shops.
- Taipei Water Park, No. 1 Siyuan Rd, Zhongzheng District; +886 2 8369 5104. A recreational water park that aims to teach the public about proper water usage and conservation. There are slides, swimming pools and water rides for kids and adults alike.
- Taipei Zoo, No. 30, Section 2, Xinguang Rd, Wenshan District; +886 2 2938 2300; english.zoo.gov.taipei. Spend an entire day ogling at bears, pandas, koalas and more at the largest zoo in Asia. Its aviary houses well over 12,000 birds.
- Taipei 101, Xinyi District; www.taipei-101.com.tw. This supertall skyscraper reigned as the world’s tallest building from 2004 and 2010. Head up to the indoor observation deck (88th and 89th floor) and the outdoor observation deck (91st floor) for 360-degree views of the city.
- Yehliu Geopark. Admire the stunning rock formations at this park, which is located on the northern coast of Taiwan – an hour and twenty minutes’ drive from Ximending.