Looking back through our travel pictures in the hopes of sharing with you our tips for Taipei; it's amazing to think that it's been two years since we enjoyed the fantastic food and incredible hospitality of Taiwan, the Republic of China.
We loved our month spent exploring the island and the experiences we had in interesting cities like Hualien (where we met with 20 Years Hence for the first time and explored the canyons of Taroko Gorge National Park) as well as our short time in Tainan, but the best spent time was our two visits to the capital of Taipei.
Though many visitors will mark tourist attractions such as the towering Taipei 101 near the top of their to-do list for the Taiwanese capital, for the most part our best experiences and finds were well away from what was one the tallest building in the world.
Of all the fun we had walking through the multiple night markets, shopping streets, and temples; the memories that stick out the most are those of delicious street food and the creative scene that continues to expand on a wave of hipster trends and growing international love for Taipei.
Below are just a few of the attractions we enjoyed most from Taipei, but remember it's just a glimpse of the incredible possibilities open to you.
Tip #1 – MoCA Taipei
Art appreciation across Asia has grown significantly over the past decade and continues to grow as goliath economies like the one in China search for luxuries on which to spend their newly earned fortunes. We're both incredibly glad to see it.* More people supporting the arts and artists encourages artists to try new things which in turn inspires the next generation of modern artists.
One showcase of the great art coming out of Asia and Taiwan specifically is the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei.
Located inside a beautiful former elementary school built in the 1920's during the fifty year occupancy by the former Empire of Japan, MoCA Taipei is a wonderful two storey art gallery showcase to some of Taiwan's best up-and-coming artists.
It's hard to compare it with our visit to the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and the unusual – yet highly enjoyable – concrete setting in which it showcases it's mixed international and Taiwanese art; but if we were pushed we'd have to say that the setting alone lifts MoCA Taipei onto a higher level, and that's why we highly recommend it.
Tip #2 – Huashan 1914 Creative Park
This incredible space is used by dozens of soon-to-be married couples for their photo shoots and for very good reason.
We stumbled upon this wonderful creative space entirely by accident. We were walking through Taipei without much of a direction, simply wandering for the sake of it, hoping to discover secret spaces along the way – and this time we really did.
Another building built and used by the former occupational Japanese government; what was once a factory and warehouse for wine production in the region, but after many decades of misuse and years of being bordered up against trespassers, a collection of cultural-minded activists decided to campaign to put the building to better use.
Much like the Matadero project in Madrid, Huashan 1914 Creative Park has shaken off its former clothes and found a new life as a multi-use creative space where artists, film makers, designers, and even wedding photography crews come to conspire to create an interesting space for anyone to visit who wishes to enjoy the surroundings.
Inside of Huashan 1914 are a number of design studios in which many new projects are born by small design agencies and artists, but much of the now converted warehouses have been reborn as cafe's, a restaurant, bars, shops, and of course art galleries.
One of the most notable cafes on site is VVG Thinking. Designed by the fantastic team who put together the VVG shops and eateries across the city. Unfortunately it opened just after we left the country, but what we've read and seen has teased us to return.
If you're in Taipei you really must visit the park and wander around before grabbing a coffee at one of the bars or stopping for the night to watch a film at their own cinema.
Tip #3 – Find Eat Veggie & Vegan in Taipei
Between the stalls that line the streets during the late night markets we found so much food that was so unique and new to us, but at that time we were still meat eaters.
If we returned now we'd love to enjoy more of the fantastic vegetarian and vegan food we only had a small taste of during our stay, especially as it has become so easy to find in the country over the past half decade.
Taiwan now has some helpful food labels for veggies, but whilst amongst the many restaurants in Taipei your best indication on whether the food inside is vegetarian or not is to keep your eyes peeled for a sign with '素食' (vegetarian food).
During our stay we visited one amazing place with our Couchsurfing host that unfortunately is now closed, but she highly recommend Taipei's best branch of the Loving Hut international chain of vegan restaurants listed below – though for more choice be sure to check this short list of vegan-friendly restaurants by our friends at Bounding Over Our Steps.
Tip #4 – VVG Something
In amongst one of Taipei's biggest havens for hipsters and fashionistas, VVG Something in the Da'an district is a small, yet enjoyable store filled with a mixture of vintage purchasable goods and interesting art & design books.
Just across the street is another one of their growing list of bistros (that we've heard great things about), but flicking through the books alone was enjoyable enough for us between walking past so many curious boutique and vintage clothing shops in the area.
Tip #5 – The Wall
Trying to experience new music during our travels was one of the biggest aims for our travels, but it hasn't always worked out as we'd have hoped; but during our time in Taipei we really hit the jackpot.
The Wall is a basement venue in the southern Wenshan district of Taipei where many of the budget-friendly accommodation is for travellers, as well as being the location for the much-loved cute-sized Jingmei Night Market.
On our last night in Taipei we visited and watched a few local bands play their unique mix of psychedelic nu-wave rock music that appealed to both of our tastes, even if their particular sounds are not our usual go-to genre of music.
If you're a music lover and keen to enjoy the growing youth music scene in the city, The Wall is a budget-friendly place to be that is seeing an increase in shows from a mixture of local and international bands.
We’re Jealous Of Your Trip
We're so different to the travellers we were during those first few months of our full-time travels and we'd explore Taipei in a whole new way today than we did then, but we both think that these five tips for Taipei will be as just as useful for those lucky travellers amongst you who will be visiting this year. We're incredibly jealous.
Do you have a travel tip for Taipei?