A big city can be seen as a collection of neighborhoods, each with its distinctive character. This is no different in Taipei, a modern beautiful city where I stayed for a long weekend. Explore this city with me through my pick of neighborhoods or districts in this travel guide and photo diary.
Ximending // If fashion is at the top of your mind, head out to this hip area in the Wanhua district. It is often referred to as the Taiwan’s answer to “Harajuku” (the trend-setting shopping area in Tokyo). Busy and hectic with tourists and the local youth, Ximending also hosts street performances and exhibitions. The Amba Taipei Ximending team’s warm welcome to this cool location made for an even more memorable experience.
Must-see: The Red House, an iconic building which hosts local and Asian designer market.
Itinerary of the “Big 3” temples in Wanhua // For a bit of culture and history, take a walk that links the temples of Mengjia Lungshan, Tianhou, and Bangka Qingshui. Mengjia Lungshan is in fact the most famous temple in Taiwan and also is the most impressive of the three. It is not just a tourist site as you will see worshippers gathering to pray and chant. Along the walk, you also get to discover the charming old town of Taipei.
Da’an District // Da’an (“great peace”) is paradoxically named as this is a bustling commercial and residential area that will keep any traveler busy. The district is popular for its several night markets, but what I enjoyed most are the restaurants serving all variety of food.
Yong Kang Street in Da’an district // This is the kitchen of Taipei where everyone seems to come to eat. It is best known as home to the original (and world-renowned) Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) restaurant. Besides restaurants, the street is populated with hipster coffee joints and boutiques.
Must-do: Eat at Din Tai Fung, take the onion pancake from the street market as supper or snack, try the famous Mango shaved ice dessert.
Xinyi District // This is another popular shopping district with as its focal point, the Taipei 101 (6th tallest skyscraper in the world). At level 35, you can enjoy a latte at the highest Starbucks outlet (and probably the only one that requires you to reserve a table), or you can head up to the top 89th floor for a splendid view of the city.
Must visit: Taipei 101.
Fujin Street // This is a hip up-and-coming street boasting an eclectic mix of local and Asian fashion designer boutiques, hipster cafes and furniture stores. Have a tea break at Sunny Hills to enjoy their pineapple tart.
Boutique to shop at: Freitag, Beams, Fujin Tree 355, Beauty & Youth, or Gather Crafts
Zhongxiao East Road // Come here for your shopping fix. You will find large shopping malls and department stores stretching all along this arterial boulevard that connects Zhongzheng to Daan Songshan or Xinyi.
Songshan District // This is a less touristic part of town where I stayed. I enjoy the calm of this neightborhood where you can also be active. For example, rent a bike and cycle along the Keelung River (just a few minutes away). I recommend doing this at sunset. Take in the sights of the rainbow bridges, stroll through the wholesale market of Wufenpu for budget fashion, and sample street food of the Raohe Night Market.
Where to stay: amba Hotel Songshan – request a room with a view of Taipei 101.