Sounds like Spring has arrived back in the mitten…That’s awesome! However, I am a little jealous of my fellow motorcyclers getting their bikes out of winter storage. Hope you are all enjoying the warmer weather and getting outside!
Nothing too huge going on over here for us. We’re just enjoying Spring time as well. Can’t beat long walks and sitting outside enjoying the beautiful weather.
As I don’t have much to write about this time, I thought I’d outline some of our favorite spots in Taipei. So far I’ve only written about our life and what we do with our weeks…I think it’ll be fun to give you a deeper look at some of our favorite places in Taipei.
1) 士林夜市 Shilin Night Market
Shilin night market is about a 40-50 minute MRT ride from our apartment, but is one of our favorite night markets in Taipei. Not only is it one of our favorites but it is the largest and most popular night market in Taipei. We’ve been there on week nights and weekends and it’s amazing how different the experience can be. On week nights, the streets tend to be mellow and you are able to stroll the countless lanes browsing the knick-knacks without much problem. Now, take Saturday night. The second you alight the MRT, you’re hit in the face with just an insane amount of people. Rather than walking the lanes looking at the latest Korean sweaters, you are now shuffling your feet trying to stay upright. Ever been in a mosh pit at a heavy metal concert? Yup, that’s what it’s like.
Sarah and I like crowds. We love the energy on a Saturday night at Shilin. Once you make your way through the main road, it does open up for some breathing room. Once it does, you can truly enjoy the night market and it’s various fashion and souvenir shops to the stinky tofu and almond juice stands. It’s a shopping haven if you’re into the latest and greatest Asian styles. It’s also a snackie and food lovers paradise. You name it, you can probably find it at Shilin night market.
2) 美麗華百樂園 Miramar
This may sound lame and I know I’ll get some crap from Nate Adema, but Sarah and I like to go to the mall. I actually like going to malls wherever we travel because they’re great places to people watch. For some reason I enjoy walking through the food courts and browsing the books at ESLITE bookstore. What do everyday people eat? What are they reading? It’s interesting.
Miramar is an entertainment park and mall three stops via the MRT from our place. Other than UNIQLO, the only department store I can find clothing that fits me, we don’t really shop. We go to Miramar to see a movie, or go to Carrefour (similar to Sam’s Club), or for our weekly sushi fix. There’s really nothing terribly special about Miramar, it’s just a really nice place to chill and get a bite to eat. Oh, there’s also a giant Ferris wheel to ride, too!
3) 碧湖公園 Bihu Lake
Ahhh good ol’ Bihu Lake. Sarah’s all-time favorite place in Taipei. Without Bihu Lake, I don’t think Sarah would’ve survived. This lake is only a 5 minute walk from our place and it’s a place of tranquility and peace. Sarah runs or walks around this lake at least 6 days a week and I usually join her before school during the week for a couple laps. I think you can call it her ‘happy place.’ It’s not a large lake as it’s only about one mile around, but it’s always full of Mom’s pushing their babies or the elderly getting their exercise in. We’ve sat on the shores of this lake many nights just soaking in the peacefulness and enjoying the stars that are so easily missed in Taipei. Bihu lake is probably not in any tour books, let alone a hot spot for a vacation to Taipei, but it’s definitely been a highlight for us. We will miss this place.
4) 七三七夜市 737 Night Market
Another local favorite of ours and a place I’ve mentioned numerous time in previous posts. We like to call this ‘our night market.’ It’s about a 15 minute walk from our apartment and very near to Bihu Lake. Unlike Shilin with it’s numerous lanes and stalls, 737 night market is roughly one street with mostly food stalls lining the street. We tend to eat here 2 or 3 times a week. If you have read some of our previous posts, we have come to know and love a few of the cooks and regulars at this night market. Terry, our all-time favorite cook and his wife, Lily, along with their family have taken us in like their own. We love going to 737 and playing with their children and grabbing a bubble milk tea from our buddy, Eddy. Whether you want to sample the pepper fried ‘snackers,’ or fried pigs blood on a stick, or the less adventurous fried rice, it’s a great place to get to know the Taiwanese people and their endless hospitality. Side note on the hospitality…be prepared to eat some very interesting dishes! You never know what will be brought over next. Guess that’s the fun of it 🙂
5) 貓空 Maokong
Maokong is located at the very end of the brown line on the MRT. This mountain/area used to be the biggest tea growing area in Taipei. Now Maokong is a popular place to soak in the tea drinking culture and get great views while you’re at it. There are many footpaths and trails in and around Maokong, but we love to take the gondola. For $1.50 one way, you are given a fantastic 20-30 minute ride up the mountain. You cannot beat the views of Taipei from the Gondola. If you’re lucky and have time to wait in line, you can even ride the glass bottom gondola to the top.
At the top, you can mosey along the road trails and taste Taiwanese sausage and sit down overlooking a panorama of Taipei sipping a hot or cold glass of some of the best tea you will taste in your life. If you’re into a relaxing, cultural experience Maokong is an excellent place.
6) 信義區 Xinyi District
As much as I enjoy the outdoors and hiking the various trails around Taipei, I’m just captivated by foreign cities. Yes, you can experience the wildlife and the beautiful natural landscapes in foreign places, but the cities are just full of life. If I could pick one place to spend my time, it would be downtown Xinyi. I love it down there. It’s home to my other love, the Taipei 101 (more on the Taipei 101 later), and so many other awesome things. Xinyi is the trend-setting, modern and most cosmopolitan area in Taipei. I love this area at night as the lights charge the city into a vibrant place. Opposite of the night markets where you’re never quite sure what you’re going to eat, Xinyi is home to world famous restaurants and eateries. Although we can hardly afford some of these places, there are a few restaurants that make perfect date nights. We love walking the brightly lit pedestrian areas catching a chinese yo-yo show, watching the different street performers, or listening to soon-to-be pop stars of Taiwan. It’s a hopping place always full of activity.
I hope you’ve enjoyed Part I of our favorite places in Taipei. These are definitely going to be a few spot we’re going to miss when we go home. Taipei is an amazing city with so much to offer for every kind of taste. We’re having such a great time immersing ourselves into Taipei.
Kyle and Sarah