I am including all of my must sees for a trip to Northern Taiwan, including Taipei and the surrounding cities! I lived in Northern Taiwan for a year so I know all of the hidden gems, and I am now passing them onto you!
Be on the lookout for my blog coming up about how to have a successful trip to Taiwan, including tips and insider knowledge to make your trip as smooth as possible!
1. Of course on the top of the list when thinking about Northern Taiwan has to be Taipei 101. I highly recommend choosing a clear day and going to the top of 101. For those who don't know, Taipei 101 used to be the world's tallest building from 2004-2010. It is now the 11th tallest in the world, but it's no less impressive now than it was as tallest. The view from the top is pretty spectacular (and the elevator to get to the top is the fastest in the world!)
2. Elephant Mountain: If you want a different view of Taipei 101, definitely head to Elephant Mountain. Just off of the Xiangshan Station on the Taipei MRT, this hike is perfect for late afternoon so you can catch the sunset from the top. The view is absolutely phenomenal and the hike is not all that challenging, but be wary of stairs!
3. Maokong Gondola: Because just one view of Taipei is not enough! The Maokong Gondola takes you from Taipei to Maokong, which is known for it's tea and scenic views. You can choose from two types of cabins: glass bottom or regular. I highly recommend the glass bottom (if youre not afraid of heights!) You will buy tickets/ride the gondola from the Taipei Zoo MRT Station. Once you get to the top you can drink local tea, eat green tea ice cream and enjoy stunning views of Taipei. It's a nice change of pace from the bustle of Taipei!
4. Sun Yat Sen Memorial: Besides being beautiful, the hall is dedicated to Sun's life and includes a lot of cool history inside. It's also surrounded by a large open park (Zhongshan Park) which is the perfect place to have a picnic in the city. If you are into flying kites, this is a popular place to do it! You can also see a Taiwanese version of changing of the guards inside the memorial hall.
5. Ice Monster: Ice Monster is my favorite place in Taipei to get the famous Taiwanese ice, known as Baobing. It's essentially just really decadent shaved ice but it is so delicious and totally worth a stop! (Also it's less than 15 minutes walking from Sun Yat Sen!)
Surrounding Cities: Luodong, Su-Ao, and Yilan
6. Su Ao Cold Springs: Taiwan is well known for it's hot springs but actually, there are only two naturally occurring cold springs in the world, and one of them is in Northern Taiwan (the other is located in Italy). Su-Ao is a small fishing village in Yilan County (about an hour south of Taipei and easily accessible by train!) This is the town I worked in when I lived in Taiwan, so it holds a special place in my heart! The cold springs are located in a small cold spring park about a 10 minute walk from the train station. It's perfect for those sticky hot Taiwanese summers! Su-Ao is also not much of a tourist destination which makes it a nice change of pace and a bit off the beaten path.
7. Class 302 Bubble Tea: While you are in Su-Ao, you have to check out the best bubble tea in all of Taiwan (in my humble opinion). Class 302 is a small bubble tea shop outside of the Su-Ao train station and it is far and away the best bubble tea I have ever tasted. I didnt even like bubble tea when I moved to Taiwan, but this place made me a believer. No trip to northern Taiwan is complete without Class 302!
8. Peanut Ice Cream Burrito: This is a dessert that is famous to Yilan County. Although you can find it in other places around Taiwan, according to my former colleague in Taiwan "it is an imposter". So make sure to get it in Yilan! You can find these in Su-Ao (right outside the cold spring), at the Luodong Night Market (which is also famous and totally worth a stop!), or in Yilan City. This dessert involves an egg roll wrapper, filled with ice cream, peanut brittle and cilantro. It sounds odd, I know...but it is SO GOOD.
9. National Center for Traditional Arts: Located in Yilan, this is a really cool cultural and learning experience. The whole area is in the style of the old streets in Taiwan and there are tons of shops filled with traditional arts and foods. Many of the shops have DIY, so you can learn how to make all the cool items you see! You can also do traditional tea tastings and there are lots of performances going on as you wander through the center, making for a really fun experience.
Stay tuned for more posts on different areas of Taiwan as well as tips and tricks for a fully successful visit!
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