Taiwan has become a very popular tourist destination for Filipinos ever since visa restrictions were lifted. According to figures from the Taiwan tourism bureau, the number of visitors from the Philippines grew by a whopping 44% in 2018, the highest growth among Southeast Asian countries.
This is highly understandable since Taiwan is our friendly neighbor, being only two hours away by plane. But when you do manage to visit, it’s important to know that there’s more to the capital city of Taipei than eating Din Tai Fung dumplings, visiting the night markets, climbing the elevator up Taipei 101 and going to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.
In his new video titled ” I Showed My Parents Taipei,” Pinoy Youtuber Mikey Bustos points out the places and experiences that one could consider in the territory for an off-the-beaten-track trip of a lifetime.
Having explored Taiwan in the past and hoping to go back this year, all I can say is that Taiwan is one of those underrated beautiful places where there’s something new to discover each time. It’s an amazing mix of the old and modern, traditional and contemporary, city skyscrapers and charming country towns. I’ve drawn up my own list of must-visit places falling under the #UndiscoveredTaipei category and am sharing these here:
1. Michelin restaurants!
There are 24 establishments that have been awarded the much-coveted stars by the prestigious 2019 Michelin guide. This only cements Taipei’s reputation as a gourmet capital in Asia. Not everything on the list is expensive, there’s also remarkable street food so we must prepare our taste buds and tummy
2. Vintage neighborhood of Dadaocheng.
An area which first gained prominence in the 1880s shines up to now with its elegant street houses, century-old shops and traditional Chinese temples. Watch out for the traditional Hokkien bungalows existing side by side with red brick Western houses and lavish Baroque architecture. All are undoubtedly Instagram-worthy spots worth the pixels.
3. Taipei for kids
zoo, museums, science center and other attractions! The city might not have its own Disneyland but the kiddie spots are highly rated for the quality of their offerings. We are definitely checking out the Taipei Children’s Amusement Park which has a free playground and access to the rides won’t cost you above US$5.
There’s also the Astronomical Museum, Taipei Zoo, Taipei Water Park and the National Taiwan Science Education Center.
4. Yangmingshan National Park.
Did you know that it’s not only in Japan where you can view sakura blossoms? You can see and admire the flowers in this scenic park not far from Taipei city center during spring. Not only sakura abound here but also calla lilies, rhododendrons, cherry, peach, plum and pear trees, among others. Yangmingshan is also popular for its hiking trails and hot spring baths.
Another area north of Taipei which is famous for its hot springs. Some of the sights to see include museums, parks and temples. Check out the Geothermal Valley where the water is hot enough to boil eggs.One landmark is the Beitou Hot Spring Museum built in the style of Euro-Japanese architecture with 12 rooms. It houses one of the world’s rare stones, the Hokutolite which is a treasure mineral native to Taiwan. The Beitou Public Library is also a must-see for its “green” features and has been hailed one of “The 25 Most Beautiful Public Libraries in the World.”
6. Maokong Gondola
mind you, this gondola is not on water but is a cable car system that affords the best aerial views of Taipei. One can see from atop the Metro trains, cars moving along the freeway and the general landscape. The final stop ends in a breathtaking scenery of the Taipei basin where a number of tea plantations and tea shops are located.
7. Elephant Mountain
This spot is easily reached via the Taipei Metro Xiangshan Station. It has an elevation of 183 m and a hiker-friendly trail of 1.5 km. This is a good vantage point to marvel at the Taipei 101 building up ahead in the horizon.
8. Baishihu Suspension Bridge
Spanning 116 meters, this dragon-shaped bridge was designed to blend beautifully with its lush surroundings. A footpath leads to organic farms where one can pick fresh strawberries. There are also temple yards, Couples’ Tree and the Love Lake.
9. Den of Opera
For a dose of culture, Dadaocheng, also known as ‘Den of Opera’ is worth an immersion if only to catch a glimpse of traditional music and theater in Taiwan. The Dadaocheng Theatre is where one can watch Taiwanese opera, Peking Opera and Hakka Opera all at the same time through scheduled performances.
Other places to check out are Treasure Hill Village, Taipei Fine Arts Museum and National Theater & Concert Hall.
10. After all the time admiring the natural scenery, relaxing in the hot springs or getting the artsy fix, a day in Taipei calls for discovering more food, glorious milk tea shops and themed restaurants.
The city has interesting dog, cat and maid cafes. Look out for Zhenfang’s Taiwan-style omelette, hotpot chain Mantanghung’s Sichuan-style beef dried noodle, Jin Jin Dessert’s honey citron aiyu jelly, the signature pearl milk tea and honey green tea of Cha FOR TEA to go plus the must-buy souvenir BRAVO! BEAR mango shortcake by leading pastry maker Kuo Yuan Ye.
Before going to Taipei, check out the exclusive Taipei experience set of online travel provider KLOOK. For group travelers, EVA Air has linked up with some travel agencies to offer tour packages that starts at only US$127 per person.