NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM
This is quite simply one of the greatest museums in the world, a staggering repository of ancient Chinese history, much of which might have been lost to world had it remained in mainland China. With over 700,000 paintings, books, manuscripts, sculptures and calligraphy, as well as artifacts of jade, bronze, pottery, porcelain and lacquerware, it would take years to view the entire collection. Around 15,000 pieces are on display at any given time, and usually are displayed for only three months.
CHIANG KAI-SHEK MEMORIALHALL
A monument to Taiwan’s founding father and military hero, this imposing landmark sits as the centerpiece of a large public square and is flanked by the National Concert Hall and National Theater. On sunny days there is a festive atmosphere and the square fills with locals flying kites, performing tai chior dancing to hip hop tunes.
LONGSHAN (LUNGSHAN) TEMPLE
Generations of Taipei citizens have come to pray and seek guidance at times of trouble eat this sacred spot. The temple is dedicated to Guanyin (the Goddess of Mercy) and is officially defined as Buddhist, but there is a great deal of folk religion and ancestor worship mixed into the fabric of beliefs.
The tallest building in the world until quite recently, 101 hosts a mall, designer stores, an amazing food court and world-class restaurants. Take what may be the world’s fastest elevator to the observatory to see amazing views of the city and beyond—the 89th floor is reached in just 30 seconds. Be sure to check out the giant “mass damper,” a huge steel ball suspended on wires and designed to counterbalance the building’s sway during earthquakes and high winds. The vertigo-inclined will want to avoid the 91st floor with its outdoor observation deck.
Inspired by the original Confucius Temple in Qufu, China, this temple celebrates the teachings of China’s greatest philosopher and social architect. Look for the plaque inscribed by Chiang Kai-shek, which reads “Educate without Discrimination.”
SHILIN NIGHT MARKET
Home to Taipei’s oldest and largest night market, Shilin is a great place to stroll. Whether you are in the market for a Hello Kitty watch or a slice of stinky tofu (the local speciality), you can lose yourself in the labyrinth, a delight for the senses.
Spectacular views and a geographic overview of the area await, as does a summit restaurant.
North of Taipei is a cape that juts into the sea, where wave erosion, weathering, and the action of the earth’s crust have combined to create hoodoos, sea-eroded trenches and other fantastic rock formations. Among the most spectacular are Queen’s Head Rock, Fairy Shoe and Candlestick Rock. It’s possible to hike to the lighthouse at the top for wonderful views.