There are no shortage of things to do in Taipei; this is a city that never sleeps. There’s always something going on, new restaurants opening up and beautiful expo events to attend. While many travelers are generally focused on seeking out the city’s main attractions to cross off their travel itineraries, here are a few unique travel adventures in Taipei that always go over well.
The nature lover: Beitou Hot Spring Valley
There aren’t many cities in the world that have an active volcano in their backyard. Taipei’s Yang Ming Mountain offers plenty of outdoor recreational activities to visitors, but if you have to choose just one, I’d recommend a natural hot spring bath in Beitou Hot Spring Valley. Frugal travelers can enjoy cheap outdoor bathing ($1.25) at the Public Hot Springs, located within walking distance of Xinbeitou MRT station. If you’re looking for an option that’s a bit more private and upscale, there’s no shortage of resorts and inns to choose from. Spring City Resort offers private hot spring suites for $20USD per person by the hour.
Spring City Resort: No.18, You Ya Road, Hsin Peitou, Taipei. TEL: (02) 2897-2345
Restaurants are in abundance in Taipei; there’s something for every palate. Some restaurants are the talk of the town, while others become a well-known secret. You’d never know about Shi-Yang Culture Restaurant, for example, unless someone mentioned it to you. This Zen restaurant is tucked away at the top of a mountain in XiZhi, New Taipei City. Visitors to Shi-Yang Culture Restaurant are usually looking to side-step the sleek, modern amenities of Taipei in favor of immersing in the quiet, rhythmic simplicity of a Zen lifestyle. The Japanese style restaurant boasts bright, airy rooms with large sliding glass doors and low-slung tables. Featuring a unique blend of Japanese and Taiwanese cuisine, each dish is as beautiful to the eyes as it is to the taste buds.
The restaurant also offers a special tea ceremony, which can be arranged in advance at one of its lovely teahouses. Most of the staff at the restaurant are Zen Buddhists who consider the tea ceremony to be an extension of harmony and nature. Great care will be taken in preparing your cup of tea, which is steeped from the finest Taiwanese tealeaves grown in the heart of Yangming Mountain.
Once you’ve finished eating and drinking to your heart’s content, take a stroll through Shi-Yang’s walking trails, which span ten acres of trees, bamboo groves and flowers.
Reservations are required in advance. The pre-set menu is $1,000NT per person. No 7, Lane 350, Section 3, Xi Wan Road, Xizhi, Taipei, Taiwan
The oddball experience: Butcher Knife Massage
Combine cheap shopping with an unusual activity that’s bound to be a great travel story at Taipei City’s Underground Y Mall near Taipei Main Station. When you’re tired of shopping, try an invigorating Chinese butcher knife massage to boost your energy flow. Tiger balm or lotion is rubbed into the neck and shoulders for relaxation. Next, the masseuse takes two heavy, stainless steel butcher knives and gently pounds the back and shoulders. The masseuse taps the edges of the knives along the body’s meridian points to promote a better flow of qi, which helps to relieve pain and promote blood flow. A 10-minute chair massage will set you back around $3USD.
The pop culture enthusiast: Ximending
Head to Ximending for a glimpse at Taipei’s youth culture center Ximen MRT Station. The area used to be Taipei’s old theater district, and while it’s still a great place to catch a movie, it’s also crammed full of other delights. In Ximending, you’ll find outdoor tattoo parlors, pedestrian shopping lanes, theme restaurants, walls of graffiti, chic cafes, temples and outdoor performers. The best time to go is at night, when the area lights up with large screen televisions and neon lights. There are plenty of things to snack on in Ximending, but I recommend slurping up a hot bowl of vermicelli oyster noodles at Ay-Chung Noodle Shop. A large bowl of noodles costs around $1.50USD. Look for the long line-ups and a crowd of people standing or squatting with their bowls of hot noodles in hand. This is a great place to eat at if you want to dine and shop on the run. There are also several toy stores in this area. If you’re a vinyl toy enthusiast, there are plenty of designer toy shops nearby. Looking for the latest Be@rbrick collection or CI Boy? They can all be found here.