The following quote from Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/14/travel/36-hours-in-taipei-taiwan.html?_r=0
36 Hours in Taipei, Taiwan
By YEOU-JEY HSU
Published: April 11, 2013
Nestled in a river valley and edged by low, tranquil mountains covered in tea shrubs, Taipei is home to 2.6 million people. The cultural and political center of Taiwan, it flaunts its modernity in high-tech company headquarters, an ultraefficient public transportation system and bustling retail centers. Yet it also encompasses teeming street markets, polytheistic temples, recreational green space and other vestiges of ancient traditions reflecting generations of cultural influx from nearby and far-off lands. A haven for insomniacs of all types, Taipei is truly a city that never sleeps, welcoming residents and visitors to brush up on their history, explore their spirituality and, most of all, satisfy their taste buds.
1. High Tea
Take a taxi, the city bus or gondola lift to the Muzha Tea Plantations, a mountainside tea-cultivating district just outside the city center that is dotted with vibrant temples and teahouses. Tea plants thrive in Taiwan’s climate and topography (地勢), and Taipei’s tea drinkers are discriminating connoisseurs (內行人). Be sure to sample varieties of Tieguanyin (“iron goddess of mercy”), a source of local pride. Produced in a delicate roasting process, it’s a robust, fragrant brew that is low in tannin (鞣酸)and easy on the palate. Depending on its quality, a 300-gram tin of tea leaves is 200 to 3,000 Taiwan dollars, or $7 to $105, at 28 Taiwan dollars to the U.S. dollar. Visit the Three Stone Teapot Museum (36 Zhinan Road, Section 3, Lane 34; 886-2-2938-3797) for demonstrations of artisan teapot and tea making, offered with free tastings. Admission, 50 dollars. Descend the mountains after sunset to catch a view of the Taipei skyline at twilight.
2. Feast From the East
For more than three decades, Newfulou (2 Jinshan South Road; 886-2-2351-9690) has dished up cuisine from Jiangsu (江蘇), an eastern Chinese province that borders Shanghai. One specialty is succulent(多汁) sautéed baby eel, finished at the table with shredded (切成碎片的) ginger and a dramatic drizzle of sizzling oil (300 dollars). Newfulou also prepares an award-winning fotiaoqiang (“Buddha jumps over the wall”), a mélange of meats, seafood and vegetables that takes a full day (or two) to braise (炖) (980 dollars). According to ancient folklore, even the most devout vegetarian will abandon his faith for a sampling of these delicacies.
3. Shop All Night
When night falls, vendors peddle snacks, massages, clothes, accessories and electronics in the city’s famed night markets. Shop and haggle the night away, snacking as you go on oyster omelets (30 dollars), salt-crusted kebabs (30 dollars), pressed-to-order sugarcane nectar (15 dollars), and the legendary stinky tofu (30 dollars), a fermented specialty that tastes much better than it smells. The night market at Huaxi Street is known for edible preparations from venomous snakes, rats and the like, believed by some to be rich in health benefits. The Shida District appeals to the young and chic, and the Shilin District market is impressive for its sheer size. For a change of scenery, visit the flagship Eslite Bookstore (245 Dunhua South Road, Section 1; eslite.com), a giant emporium (大型購物中心) of domestic and international books, periodicals, stationery, music, food and drinks (drinks, 100 to 200 dollars). Open 24/7, it is a popular rendezvous for locals as well as a prime spot for celebrity sightings. At dawn, follow the sound of roosters crowing to Dongmen Market (81 Xinyi Road, Section 2, Lane 79), where generations of day merchants have expertly butchered livestock, pickled vegetables, roasted meats, wrapped dumplings and sliced tree-ripened fruits (ready-to-eat meals, 50 to 100 dollars).
4. Above It All
Go early for your visit to Taipei 101 (7 Xinyi Road, Section 5; taipei-101.com.tw), the 1,670-foot skyscraper that reaches so far above the skyline that it looks as if it belongs in some other city (or on some other planet). Taiwan’s entry into the ongoing competition for the tallest building in the world, it held the title after its completion in 2004, only to be surpassed in 2008 by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The observation decks on the 89th and 91st floors afford sweeping views in every direction (admission, 450 dollars). While at the top, take a good look at the steel pendulum hanging in the center; the world’s largest and heaviest tuned mass damper, it stabilizes the tower against large lateral movements from tropical winds and earthquakes. Beginning at ground level, you can enjoy five floors of high-end shopping and dining.
5. Darkness Remembered
Take a stroll on the palm-lined west campus of the National Taiwan University Hospital at 1 Changde Street. Its oldest building, an imposing redbrick and stone-pillared structure built in 1912, is an architectural relic of Japanese sovereignty at the turn of the 20th century. The paternalistic side of the Japanese era brought advancements in agriculture, education and urban planning, but the price was political and cultural suppression. Around the corner, 228 Peace Memorial Park (3 Ketagalan Boulevard) commemorates victims of a heavy-handed government response to a 1947 protest under another set of rulers, Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist Party. In public parks like these, the elderly perform morning exercises, the secret to their vigor and youthful appearance.
Shop for cosmopolitan labels at the mega department store SOGO (45 Zhongxiao East Road, Section 4; sogo.com.tw), known for meticulous Japanese-style customer service: white-gloved elevator attendants, bowing greeters with precise diction, ever-helpful sales associates. Underground dining spots and rooftop restaurants flank endless floors of shopping. After an afternoon of credit-card swiping go next door to T.K.K. Fried Chicken (177 Zhongxiao Road, Section 4; tkkinc.com.tw). Even before the infiltration of Western fast-food chains, T.K.K. was serving its staple, fried chicken with yam wedges (105 to 125 dollars). Don’t miss the signature rice wrap: glutinous rice in poultry skin, deep-fried to crackling perfection (45 dollars).
7. National Treasure
If this is your first time in Taipei, you will want to visit the National Palace Museum (221 Zhishan Road; npm.gov.tw), one of the world’s premier museums of ancient art and cultural artifacts (admission, 160 dollars). Much of its collection of calligraphy, paintings, porcelain and antiquities was spirited out of the Forbidden City in Beijing by the Nationalists, who fled the mainland during the Communist takeover in 1948. For the more tactile visitor yearning for something more intimate, experience the history of papermaking at the Suho Memorial Paper Museum (68 Changan East Road, Section 2; suhopaper.org.tw), where you can pick your own raw materials and get your hands wet making paper (admission, 180 dollars).
8. Epicurean Row
Forage for dinner on Yongkang Street, but be warned that if you join the impossibly long lines for shaved ice, beef noodle soup and dumplings, you might miss the hidden gems: exotic cuisines, charming cafes and distinctive boutiques. Come hungry and start with classic pho in an ethereal clear broth at Thanh Ky (100 dollars; 6 Yongkang Street, Lane 6; 886-2-2322-2765 ). Next enjoy Genmaicha tea and generous portions of grilled rice cakes, with toppings like strawberry coulis and edamame purée (100 dollars), at the family-owned Mochi Mochi Ya (16 Yongkang, Lane 4; 886-2-2391-8633 ). Walk off carbs exploring the shops and then stroll over to relax in serene Daan Forest Park (1 Xinsheng South Road, Section 2). Taipei’s nod to Central Park, this oasis from city life is home to indigenous and guest species of flora and fauna.
9. Sleepless in Taipei
At Marquee (16-1 Xinyi Road, Section 5; marquee-taipei.com), expats and locals mingle under chandeliers and sip high-end drinks concocted by deft mixologists (250 dollars). Marquee also features a serious dinner-service menu in its faux-Victorian lounges. For techno and hip-hop, proceed to Luxy (197 Zhongxiao East Road, Section 4, 5F; luxy-taipei.com; cover, 700 dollars). One of Taipei’s largest nightclubs, this go-to spot becomes just as packed as the streets of Taipei. Wind down at Roxy 99 (218 Jinshan South Road, Section 2; roxy.com.tw), a hole-in-the-wall rock and alternative club where libations flow past sunrise (on Wednesdays before 9 p.m., two beers come free).
10. Got Soy Milk?
After catching a light snooze, start your morning with a Taiwanese-style breakfast at Fuhang Doujiang (108 Zhongxiao East Road, Section 1; 886-2-2392-2175 ). Order shaobing youtiao, a dry-roasted flatbread dotted with sesame and wrapped around a light cruller (50 dollars). Add an omelet for textural contrast. The drink of choice, soy milk, is made from scratch daily and served hot or cold, sweet or savory (20 to 30 dollars). Enjoy its nutty aroma and silken consistency as is, or use as a dip for the shaobing youtiao. For a more mom-and-pop shop aesthetic, visit Sihai Doujiang (232 Jinshan South, Section 2; 886-2-2395-8858 ) for another morning delight, doehua: velvety soy custard and soft peanuts glistening in a bowl of simple syrup (25 dollars).
11. Evil Spirits Begone
Weekly visits to Hsingtian Temple (109 Minquan East Road, Section 2), on Minquan East Road, are said to ensure career and personal success. Like most temples in Taiwan, it is dedicated to some amalgam of religious and folk deities. The visit begins with contributing to a plate of food offerings; take it as an opportunity to divest yourself of leftover snacks forbidden by airport security. At the end of long but fast-moving lines, incense-assisted temple functionaries chase away the evil spirits responsible for disturbances like fatigue, anorexia and tantrums. Make the rounds as the Taiwanese do: draw a bamboo fortune, toss wooden wedges for answers to burning “yes, no, maybe” questions, and pray to the gods for personal and national fiscal responsibility. Before leaving the temple, pick up a fragrant blessing bag to protect you on your travels.
Royal Inn Taipei (1 Nanjing West Road; www.royal-inn-taipei.com.tw) is an economical and comfortable option in the busy Zhongshan district. Doubles, 4,000 Taiwan dollars (about $140).
Just Sleep Ximen Ding (41 Zhong Hua Road, Section 1; www.justsleep.com.tw) is a slick yet moderately priced option in the old city center. Doubles, 3,900 dollars.
Ambience (64 Chang-an East Road, Section 1; ambiencehotel.com.tw) is a boutique hotel with Philippe Starck and Ferruccio Laviani furniture. Doubles, 4,600 dollars.