Saturday, March 8, 2014

5 Places to Visit in Taipei

Here are additional 5 places to visit around the city of Taipei which you can travel in 1 day. These places are good to visit since it entails minimal cost and it provides a glimpse of Taiwan's culture and history.

1. National Concert Hall and Theater - Taiwan's National Concert Hall and Theater are two of the first major modern performing arts facilities established in Asia. It is one of the symbolic landmarks in Liberty square together with the gate of integrity and the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. The infrastructure is very grand and modern and it is a fusion of the old and the new. It's nice to stroll around the hall and then go directly to Chiang Kai Shek across it. 
2. Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial - The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall was built during the 80s for Taiwan's former president, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek who is the longest-serving statesman in the world having been served as president for 47 years. The white marble with blue glass roof titles are really enormous. There is a large public square at the middle of the area that leads up to the memorial building which has 89 steps. People happily stroll around the area while taking pictures and admiring the grand view of Chiang Kai-Shek Hall. There are beautiful red flowers scattered in the garden which symbolizes Taiwan's national flag along with the blue roof and white structure of the hall. In addition, every hour, visitors can witness the changing of the guards which is a 15 minute ceremony just like the ceremony in our very own Jose Rizal in Luneta Park, Manila. 
How to get there?

Getting to the National Concert Hall and Theater and to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is very easy, just go to the nearest MRT and hop off at Chiang Kai-Shek station Exit 5. 

Address: The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, No. 11 Zhong Shan South Rd., Taipei, Taiwan
Operating hours: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Fee: FREE!!!
It's a struggle to take photos when you're just two! That's why we bought a GoPro camera and we can't wait to test it in our next adventure! Will blog about GoPro soon :)
3. National Museum - Taipei's National Palace Museum houses the largest collection of Chinese artifacts and artwork in the world such as ancient bronze, calligraphy, scroll paintings, books, furniture, porcelain, and precious stones from different dynasties and imperial families. There are two exhibition area and the first one (main museum) has 4 floors! 

Tip No. 1: Go to this place very early because there are a lot of tourists visiting this buses! so expect long lines and noisy crowd. 

Tip No. 2: You can buy small trinkets or a Jadeite Cabbage in the gift shop area. A lot of tourists buy this particular stone/souvenir because it looks elegant and great for pasalubong. I actually bought a Jade cellphone keychain for my Mommy.
How to get there?

Disembark at Shilin Station Exit 1 and switch to bus no. 255, 304, 815, Red 30, or minibus 18 or 19 (Red 30 arrives outside the Museum). DO NOT ATTEMPT TO WALK FROM Shilin Exit 1 to National Museum! This is the biggest mistake we made because we wanted to save some money haha. We thought that the distance will be walkable based on our research and some directions posted near the MRT. We walked for almost 45 minutes feeling that we're lost. We rode a taxi instead and paid 200 NT for two-way. It was the best decision we made that day because National Museum was indeed very very far. 

Another Tip! Most people there cannot understand English. Make sure you have a chinese version of the name and address of the place you want to visit. In our case, our driver couldn't understand that we were heading to National Museum. We needed to stop by a bus stop and look for the chinese character translation somewhere. 

Address: No. 221, Sec. 2, Zhishan Road, Taipei, Taiwan
Telephone No.: 02-6610-3600
Operating Hours: 8:30 am to 6:30 pm 
Fee: 160 NT General Admission, 80 NT for International Students with ID, 120 NT for group of 10 or more and Children under 6 years old are FREE!
When you're done with looking around the museum, you can eat at 7-11 right across the entrance because the food inside the museum is very expensive. 

Look! sharing with you their version of the 7-11 Hot Pot :) In the Philippines, this concept is relatively new but I just want to show how generous and "authentic" their hot pot is compared to the Philippine version haha. Ours is very plain and bland but just look at their broth and bola-bola! Yummy!! It's just about 30 NT I think and minimum of 3 pieces. Soup is unlimited too and as always, we put a lot of it "pang laman tiyan din yun hahaha sorry so Pinoy" :)
4. Chinatown - Chinatown is Chintown! It looks the same every the time whether you're in the Philippines (Ongpin), Singapore, or in Taiwan. Is it worth visiting? Well....for me yes if you want to buy very cheap and authentic precious stones such as jade, crystals, and other amulets. I bought a clear quartz for only 400NT and a Rose Quatz (inside the temple) for only 180 NT. Plus, you can have your amulets blessed and cleansed inside the Chinese temple :)

Street food in this area is very good too! Chinatown could be your 2nd stop for Food Trip but Shilin Market is still the best food destination!
Prayers and offerings for the Gods.
At the time we visited the temple, there was some sort of celebration but we couldn't figure out what it was. There were dragon dancers, fireworks all over, some pole dancers on top of a truck with boom box ---wuuut??! :O and this yellow inflatable duck! :)
5. Miramar Entertainment Park- Is the famous mall with a ferris wheel on top of it! This is similar to the Philippine's Mall Of Asia because Miramar Mall is really big and full of surprises. They have a 70 meter ferris wheel on top of the building--the second largest ferris wheel in Taiwan and 18th largest in the world. The IMAX theater's screen is also the biggest screen in Asia (28x21 meter). There are a lot of stores inside the department store but in general, items being sold are expensive. For me, it's okay to visit Miramar to unwind, watch a movie, or treat your children for a ride or for a unique dinner date, you can try the famous Five Dime Restaurant for something quirky and for a unique dining experience. 
How to get there?
Ride the MRT and alight at Jiannan Station. Miramar is literally across the MRT exit. 

Address: No. 20, Jingye 3rd Rd., Taipei City 
Operating Hours: 11:00 am to 10:00 pm from Monday to Sunday
Fee for the Ferris Wheel: About 150 NT 

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