Taipei – The Laid Back Capital of Asia
Taipei, Capital of Taiwan (commonly referred to as Republic of China), this city is crowded with shopping streets, skyscrapers and night markets. It is the cultural, political and economic centre of the country with high tech transportation system and world famous landmarks.
10 Key Things about Taipei, Taiwan
1. History of Taipei
The region was first ‘discovered’ by the Han Chinese in the 18th Century. Subsequently Taipei emerged as a major port and trading town which raised its economic importance. China surrendered the territory to Japan after suffering a loss in the First Sino-Japanese War, thereafter, Taipei became the political capital of the Japanese regime. After defeat in the Pacific war in 1945, the region came under the leadership of the Chinese Nationalist Party. Over the last few decades, the region has been fraught with discord and there is a controversy about the political status of Taiwan, with China claiming sovereignty over Taiwan.
2. Night Life in Taipei
There’s more than night markets in this city to splurge on after sundown. Nightlife here is just as crazy and happening as in any other megacity, the only difference is that it’s relatively cheaper. Night markets are, of course, a highlight of the city, with plenty of bars, theme restaurants and clubs spread out throughout the city. Bars like ‘Saints and Sinners’ and ‘Barcode’ are a must try with clubs like Roxy99 are very popular with the young crowd. Sit back, relax, have a bottle of beer and enjoy some Indie rock at The Wall Live House or hop down to the Brown Sugar for some live Jazz.
3. Safety in Taipei
It is a safe city with friendly locals and low crime rate. Lookout for petty thieves, they are, unfortunately common here just like in other city of the world. Another note of caution would be the water in Taipei; carry your own bottled water with you at all times, avoid unnecessary risks. Take general precautions and you’re good to go.
4. Living Expenses in Taipei
It ranks as Asia’s 7th most expensive city to live in. Cost of renting a one bedroom apartment in an affluent locality will be around 16,300 NT$ (USD 490) and that of a three bedroom apartment approximately 40,000 NT$ (USD 1,200). To buy one square feet of land in a posh neighbourhood you’d have to pay 43,200 NT$ (USD 1,296).
Luxury hotels like Mandarin Oriental have hefty hotel tariffs of up to 13,590 NT$ (USD 407) whereas budget hotels cost a meagre 840 NT$ (USD 25).
5. Cuisines of Taipei
Taiwanese cuisine has had a heavy influence from mainland China with beef noodle soup something akin to a religion in Taipei. Traditional Chinese and Japanese food can be found here in addition to local dishes. Pork and seafood are dominant here with the option of tofu for vegans. Vegetarian restaurants are easy to find because of the Buddhist influence on the country. Night markets are Mecca for foodies with so much variety in street food, it’s mind boggling.
Pearl milk tea is native to Taiwan and has recently gained popularity worldwide. For the real deal, this is the place to be.
6. Statistics of Taipei
It has a population of 2,686,516 people, unevenly distributed over an area of 271.7 sq.km. The four major ethnic groups dominating this region are the Hoklos, Mainlanders, Hakkas, and Taiwanese aborigines. Taipei ranks as one of the global cities of the world with a major economy and dramatic growth rate. Standard Chinese is the official language of Taiwan.
7. Public Transport in Taipei
Taipei itself does not have an international airport, Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in the nearby Taoyuan city attends to that requirement. Taipei Station serves as a meeting point for all public transport, be it metro, train or bus. EasyCard is available to make use of all public transit. The city metro connects virtually the whole of Taipei, in addition a line is being laid down to connect the city to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. The city has a high speed railway system cutting travel time for the passengers travelling to-and-from Taipei. The buses connect the rest of the city which are not accessible by metro.
Pollution in Taipei: Motor vehicles are the main cause of pollution in the city, smog is common, but recently the government has been making efforts to improve the air quality. PM 2.5 levels are at a moderate level of 65 compared to Delhi’s average of 180.
8. Weather of Taipei
Taipei is pretty humid and has long hot summers together with sporadic rainstorms and typhoons. Winters do not last long and are warm with fog in attendance. The months between June and October experience typhoon season.
Summer: June till August. Average High 33°C; Average Low 25°C
Autumn: September till November. Average High 27°C; Average Low 22°C
Winter: December till February. Average High 19°C; Average Low 14°C
Spring: March till May. Average High 26°C; Average Low 18°C
Average rainfall in a year is about 2,405 mm.
9. Culture of Taipei
The Chinese and Japanese regimes have left their mark not just on the history of this city, but it’s culture as well. The conflict regarding Taipei’s political status has played a key role in the emergence of it’s multicultural attitude. Religion here is a jumble of Buddhism, Taoism, folk religion and Christianity.
Lantern Festivals and Firework Festivals are world famous celebrations throwing the whole city in a festive mood and are much anticipated. New Year’s Eve here is a happening time with concerts, parades and street shows.
The National Theatre and Concert Hall is host to domestic and international performers and museums in the city are a plenitude.
10. Places to Visit in Taipei
Things to do in Taipei: Hot Springs are a famous tourist attraction in Taipei; Maokong offers a scenic view at night and in the day of the tea valley and the hills, take a Gondola ride and enjoy the view; Hike to the top in Yangmingshan National Park and be one with nature. There are plenty shrines like Dalongdong Baoan Temple, Mengjia Longshan Temple and Hsing Tian Kong; the last one evidently filled with dragon sculptures. Ximending shopping district is a good place to spend your time and money, night markets offer variety in clothes, drinks and food. Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building until the construction of Burj Khalifa, and has a mall, club, conference center, restaurant and several observatories in it.
Things to do for Kids in Taipei: Take a dip in the Taipei Water Park, explore the Taipei Zoo, take a stroll in the Daan Forest Park, spend a few hours in the Taipei Children’s Recreation Center and end your day by ice skating. Your munchkins will have a fun filled day in the city.
Museum and Galleries: National Palace Museum, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Museum of Drinking Water, Museum of Anthropology, National Museum of History are some of the more popular museums in a very long list.
Places nearby: Jiufen is a quiet and wonderful getaway from the noise of the city. This little village in the mountains is a sight for sore eyes with a view of the ocean and calm surroundings.
Offbeat places: Yeliu Archaeological Park and Lin An Tai Ancestral House are less touristy but worth a look.
Author’s Conclusion: Taipei has all the positive aspects of a cosmopolitan city with almost none of it’s drawbacks. This city, nestled in nature with it’s spectacular view and friendly people leave you wishing for a chance to be back.
|Country||Taiwan (commonly referred to as Republic of China)|
|Area||271.7 sq. km|
|Languages||Taiwanese Hokkien, Hakka Chinese, Taiwanese Mandarin, Standard Chinese, Japanese|
|Currency||New Taiwan Dollar (1 USD = 32.95 NT$ as of 3rd March 2016)|
|Time Zone||National Standard Time (UTC+8)|
|Driving||Left Hand Drive, Right Hand Traffic|
|Helpline||Emergency – 112 ; Police – 110 ; Fire and Ambulance – 119|
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