Only have a weekend in Taipei, Taiwan? Then get ready to climb into the clouds, unwind with a knife massage, haunt the night markets, and get wild in hip Ximending; here’s your guide to getting the most out of the city in only 72 hours.
Your 72 hours in Taipei begin when you check into your hotel, so you’ll want something that puts you in the heart of the action. The European-influenced Palais de Chine is part plush hotel and part museum – the ideal spot for a weekend of pampering.
Once you’ve checked in, head out for dinner at the Addiction Aquatic Development, a sprawling dining complex where you can chow down on sushi and raw oysters, kick back with a hearty hot pot, or raise a toast with a glass of the finest bubbly.
After dinner, dive headfirst into the city’s nightlife with a bar-hopping trip around the Da’an district, a buzzy neighborhood where you can take in some live jazz at the Blue Note, get down on the dance floor at Box Nightclub or Omni, and check out the ales and ciders at On Tap, a British-style pub.
Saturday morning means it’s time to super-charge your weekend. Bubble tea is the country’s unofficial drink, but if you’re looking for something with a little more oomph, then head to Simple Kaffa in the basement of Hotel V. It’s a modest-looking café, but the coffee – prepared by a World Barista Champion – is some of the best in the city.
After a caffeine boost, head to the observation deck of Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest buildings. Pick up an audio tour to get the low-down on Taipei, snap some photos of the stunning 360-degree views, and peruse the art displays and exhibitions. Then take a journey back in time with a walk along Bopiliao Old Street, a preserved avenue with buildings dating from the Qing Dynasty, before a visit to the 300-year-old Longshan Temple.
Grab lunch at one of the street vendors, where you’ll find everything from medicinal soups and oyster vermicelli, to shaved ice with peanut brittle, cilantro, and taro.
Saturday night offers a chance to see the city at its perkiest, and there’s no livelier place than Ximending, a trendy neighborhood (think Williamsburg or Shinjuku) that’s so hip it has its own tattoo district. Head to Light Project Ximending for a traditional Chinese knife massage, check out the vibrant street art on Graffiti Lane, and stop by Snow King to sample some wasabi ice cream.
When it’s time for dinner, grab some Japanese food at Mei Guan Yuan, a casual restaurant that’s been serving oyokodon and prawn chawanmushi since 1946. Then get the night cracking by cranking out a tune at one of the popular karaoke parlors – Party World is the biggest – but brush up on your Chinese, as you won’t find many English language songs. After belting out “Purple Rain” in Mandarin, step off the stage and into the theatre for a nightcap at Hanko 60, a glam speakeasy hidden behind the façade of a movie palace.
Sunday morning means you only have 24 hours in Taipei left, so shake off the Sunday morning blues with tea and scones at Melange Café, and then get ready to tackle the day. Hop on a train or a shuttle bus to Jiufen, a former gold-mining mountain town packed with lantern-lit alleys, quaint teahouses, and traditional food vendors.
Take a walk to the Shengping Theatre, built during the Japanese occupation, and do some souvenir hunting on Jiufen Old Street, a mountainside street lined with old-world cafes and shops. Don’t miss the A Mei Tea House, purportedly the inspiration for the teahouse in Hayao Miyazaki’s 2001 film, Spirited Away, where you can relax with an Oolong tea and take in the stunning ocean views.
For lunch, peruse Jiufen’s street food stalls. Sample some traditional fish balls or squid sausages, and top it off with a sweet potato puff for dessert.
Start your Sunday night in Taipei with a visit to the National Palace Museum (open until 6:30), which showcases Chinese art from the Neolithic period to the modern age. Exhibitions are always rotating, so check to see what’s being displayed at the moment, but the museum’s collection of Ru ware from the Song dynasty is the best in the world. Don’t leave without stopping by the Zhishan Garden and the Chang Dai-chien residence.
After taking in some art, say goodbye to Taipei by hopping on a train from Taipei Main Station to Shifen Old Street. Pop into one of the souvenir shops to pick out a sky lantern – take your time in choosing the right colors, as each represents a different wish – and then adorn it with a blessing, release it, and watch your luck-laden lantern rise high into the Taipei night.
Wrap up your weekend in Taipei with dinner at Raw, an acclaimed restaurant serving a terrific tasting menu.
From ultra-hip Ximending to tranquil Jiufen, Taipei offers a bold blend of extraordinary experiences. Book your weekend in Taipei today!