Shipping all of the arts and artifacts from the Forbidden City in Beijing to Taipei is probably one of the smartest decisions that Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Party ever made. Anthony Bourdain visited this museum and said he found the pork of his dreams — a meat-shaped stone that looks like a piece of marinated pork belly. The meat- shaped stone is as famous as the Jadeite Cabbage — a piece of jade carved into a cabbage with a camouflaged grasshopper on top.
Situated in northern Taipei, Beitou is famous for hot springs. Under Japanese rule, the Japanese built public bathhouses and fancy retreats for the emperor in this area. During the time when the U.S. military was stationed in Taiwan, this area turned into a red-light district.
[Updated in Feb 2018]
A stroll in Dalongdong makes a easy half-day trip in Taipei City. The Dalongdong Baoan Temple (大龍峒保安宮) is one of the three most historical and well preserved temples in Taipei, tied with Qingshui Temple and Lungshan Temple of Manka. The Taipei Confucius Temple sits right across the street from it. Getting thirsty? Stop by Black Tea House, famed for black tea flavored with sicklepod.
Persimmons and crabs are the two food items that come to mind when I think of fall. This attraction in Hsinchu is seasonal and may not show up in most of the Taiwan travel guide. But it is certainly worth visiting if you are planning a day trip in northern Taiwan or trying to come up with a stop along a big road trip.
Every year between February and May, Laomei (老梅) in Taiwan’s north coast attracts lots of cameras and tripods to capture this truly unique coastal feature.
For years, Taipei 101 was the tallest skyscrapers in the world. As an iconic landmark and one of the tallest buildings worldwide, the observation deck of Taipei 101 rightly becomes a must-visit. It is certainly worth seeing. To me, the most amazing part is the structure design and this 660-tonne tuned mass damper that helps the building withstand typhoons and earthquakes. Bear in mind that this 509 meter / 1669 feet building is situated on the circum-Pacific seismic belt.
However, if you want to see the view of the Taipei City with Taipei 101 in it, the Elephant Mountain Trail, or the Xiangshan Trail, is one of the best places to go. I highly recommend this mini hiking trip for those visiting Taipei 101 and the Xinyi District (信義區). Note that this is for people who do not mind lots of walking and stairs.
[Updated August 2018]
For the first time in six years, I went back home in Taipei for the Lunar New Year! Typically the northeast monsoon brings gloomy rainy days to the northern Taiwan in winter. The weather is usually bad during the Lunar New Year which falls in late January or February. Luckily it was mostly sunny and 80F/27C during the Lunar New Year vacation this time! Many people seized this opportunity to go out and see cherry blossoms.
It seems that starting late 2012 or early 2013, Jamaica does not recognize Taiwanese passports anymore. However, websites of their consulates in the U.S. were not clear about this new regulation.