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Taipei - The Central Metropolis of Taiwan

Being the second most densely populated country in the world with a population of over 23 million, Taiwan is opening up to the world and that is reflected in its capital city Taipei.

The city has an established reputation for gourmet food, bringing together cuisine from all over China "under one roof".

In the last decade, Taipei has seen a building explosion resulting in the the world's tallest building (until 2010), modern shopping malls and other 21st century infrastructure.

But Taipei pays homage to its cultural roots and mixed in with the modern is the ancient. None more so than at Liberty Square where you see traditionally designed buildings and walk around the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

Another prominent building you may want to visit is the Grand Hotel, the world's tallest Chinese classical building.

But if you're really looking for some Taiwanese culture, head off to the Shilin Market the largest and most famous night market in the city.

english.taipei.gov.tw/

Top 5 things to do in Taipei

National Palace Museum

The National Palace Museum has an art collection of over 650,000 pieces of ancient Chinese artifacts and is one of the largest art museums in the world.

The collections spans over 8,000 years of Chinese history from the Neolithic age to the late Qing Dynasty.

The original complete collection was housed in the Palace Museum within the Forbidden City, Beijing but part of the collection was moved to Taipei after the Chinese Civil War of 1927.

The displays are rotated once every three months, which means 60,000 pieces can be viewed in a year and it would take nearly 12 years to see them all. Details of the current exhibitions are on the museums website.

A couple of notable items in the collection include:

The "Jadeite Cabbage"
A piece of jadeite carved into the shape of a cabbage head, and with a large and small grasshopper camouflaged in the leaves.

The "Carved Olive-stone Boat"
A tiny boat carved from an olive stone complete with a covered deck and moveable windows.

www.npm.gov.tw/en/home.htm

Yangmingshan National Park

The park was originally named Caoshan which means "Grass Mountain" in Mandarin and refers to the tall silvergrass that covers the highest slopes.

The Yangmingshan National Park is famous for its cherry blossoms, hot springs, sulphur deposits and hiking trails. One of the trails leads up and over the extinct volcano Seven Star Mountain.

Bird watchers will enjoy this part with over 122 species of birds recorded in the region. The website details a specific bird watching self guided tour along with one through the butterfly corridor.

 

www.ymsnp.gov.tw/HTML/ENG/INDEX.ASP

Longshan Temple

The Mengjia Longshan Temple was built in 1738 by settlers from Fujian, China and is thought to be the oldest temple in Taipei.

It has been fully or partially destroyed many times throughout history and local residents have nevertheless consistently rebuilt and renovated it time and time again.

The temple is split into three main sections; the south-facing Front Hall, the Rear Hall and Middle Hall which is protected by ornate dragons that sit outside on the top left and right of the hall.

Overall the temple is beautifully decorated and one of the top visitor attractions in Taipei.

sinotour.com/tourguide/taipei/longshan-temple.html

Ximending

Ximending is the largest and most popular shopping district in Taipei.

Whatever time of the year you are visiting the area is always busy, filled with tourists and locals.

The area is fully pedestrianised making it a popular area for residents to meet up and hang out.

It's also a popular location for concerts and city events.

The many shops, bars and cafes here appeal to a multitude of styles and cuisines including Chinese and Western cultures.

As well as the big name shops and department stores, you'll also find a plentiful number of street vendors selling everything from trinkets to disputable designer goods.

sinotour.com/tourguide/taipei/ximending.html

Taipei 101 Tower

Formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Center, the Taipei 101 Tower was the world's largest building from 2004 until 2010 when Dubai's Burj Khalifa building took that particular crown.

The skyscraper features at the centre of the city's New Year fireworks display with rooftop and side launchers as well as the 101 floors of office lighting configured to display messages in time with the music.

There are two observatories in the building, both affording fantastic views of the city down below.

The first is an indoor platform located on the 89th floor and includes multilingual voice tours, information displays and exhibits.

For the more adventurous, the second observation area is located on the 91st floor and allows you to go out outside and walk around - weather permitting of course.

The observations decks are open from 10am until 10pm and tickets can be purchased from the 5th floor shopping mall or directly from the website.

www.taipei-101.com.tw/index_en.htm

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