I am not usually a spontaneous person when it comes to travel. I happen to be a highly organized planner with every single trip I take (personal or work), but when the opportunity arose for me to escape to Taipei for 24 hours, I couldn’t exactly say no. As the capital city of a beautiful, mountainous isle surrounded by the deep blue Pacific, Taipei is full of so much culture. Getting a quick glimpse of Taiwanese life made me realize that Taiwan is such a beautiful gem of a destination in Asia. Pioneers of democracy, gender equality, and even animal rights, it’s no wonder why Taiwan is full of energy and life.
A few days after arriving in Hong Kong, I flew on Cathay Pacific for the one hour flight to Taipei. This was my second flight ever with Cathay Pacific and the trip felt seamless flying with them, from check-in to landing. Flying to Taipei is incredibly easy from Hong Kong, so if you’re unable to fly directly into Taipei, I’d suggest connecting in Hong Kong. This was my first time flying out of Hong Kong International Airport, and being on the left side of the plane provided me with a picture perfect view of Hong Kong below. Heads up: double check to see if your country requires you to travel to Taiwan with a visa. For US travelers, no visa is required if staying under 90 days.
When To Go
I visited Taipei in September, which proved to be hot and at times unbearably humid. Of course that did not stop me from enjoying my 24 hours in the city, but it’s something to consider. I’d recommend visiting in October or November, where the temperatures are not too hot and the rainy season has passed. November gets quite cool in temperature, so I’d make sure to pack a jacket or two.
I had an early morning flight from Hong Kong, so I arrived in Taipei around lunchtime. Driving into the center of Taipei was exciting as I saw the buildings of the city’s center get closer and closer. You can’t miss the iconic Taipei 101 tower as you approach the city. After arriving at the opulent W Taipei hotel in the heart of the city in the Xinyi district, I sat down for a delicious lunch and wine at WOOBAR. I had only been in Asia for a few days, but sitting down and enjoying some Western dishes such as burgers and cheese boards with a glass of pinot noir as I watched the city around me was oddly comforting. I didn’t bring my swimsuit, but if I had, I would have certainly been enjoying the water on this hot and humid day. Plus the rooftop pool looked like such a beautiful escape from the thriving, invigorating district below.
I wasted no time in getting to explore some of Taipei’s iconic cultural sites. My first stop was the National Palace Museum, about a 10-15 minute taxi ride from the center of the city. After stepping out of the taxi at the entrance gates, I knew I had found a peaceful escape within the city. Once I got further away from the main road and up the steps to the main gates, it felt as if the entire city was hushed and I had been transported somewhere majestic. In the distance just beyond the tree lined path, the museum towers above and awaits you. For a split second it almost felt as if this historic site was off limits. The building that dominates the horizon was completed in 1965, and it currently houses 8,000 years of Chinese art history in 700,000 pieces and artifacts. Even if you don’t have enough time to explore the entirety of the interior of the museum, you certainly cannot miss exploring the exterior as well as the Zhishan Garden.
Finally, I ended the day at sunset with a stop at the mesmerizingly beautiful National Theater and Concert Hall, twin performing art venues in the Zhongzheng district. Believe it or not, they’re considered two of the first modern performing art centers in Asia having opened in 1987. While I didn’t get a chance to see a ballet, opera, or orchestra performance during my visit, I needed to come and see these impressive buildings in Liberty Square with my own two eyes. The gorgeous bold colors took my breath away from the moment I first laid eyes on them, especially with a magical sunset taking place just behind the square. It almost didn’t seem real. A breeze began to set in, which only added to the beauty of the moment.
I’ll be honest, I feel disappointed in myself for not getting to explore more of Taipei’s culinary hot spots. Taiwan is renowned for its diverse food, with famous national dishes such as beef noodle soup, pork pepper buns (hu jiao bing), and oyster pancakes. Unfortunately, this trip happened on my fifth day of being in Asia for the first time, and my body clock was still completely thrown off from jet lag. I fell asleep in the taxi back to the hotel at 8 pm and was carried back to the hotel room. I woke up at 8 am the next day, completely missing my dinner reservation. However, I am hoping to return to Taipei soon and the restaurants on my wish list include Din Tai Fung for dumplings and MUME which combines Taiwanese and Nordic cuisines. RAW is the most popular restaurant in Taipei, with it being super hard to score a table, but apparently it’s worth the hype.
My 24 hours in Taipei was too short but yet I still feel like I was able to get such a beautiful inside look into Taiwan. Have you been to Taipei? What are some of your favorite spots in the city?