Just a stone’s throw from Hong Kong, Taipei makes for one of the easiest weekend getaways. Local expert Jessica Yang puts together a schedule for those who love eating and spending time outdoors. Jessica loves great food and believes in having a great time — she is always discovering new restaurants, cafes, and things to do in her hometown Taipei, where she has lived for 28 years.
Get Acclimated: A mere one-hour flight from Hong Kong, Taipei is not only a frequent destination for many Hongkongers, it’s also become a city where young Hongkongers move to for a more flexible lifestyle and freedom to go after their artistic aspirations. Best loved for its leisurely pace of life, charming neighborhoods and its humanisitc spirit, Taipei is an exciting city with a lot to offer, from its diverse food scene, local markets and green parks to its numerous handicraft shops and outdoor activities.
Don’t arrive without… Mosquito repellent, especially if you’re visiting during summer. There are lots of mosquitoes in parks and outdoor spaces. Dengue fever is a real issue!
One of Taiwan’s most iconic breakfast items is the egg roll, which is essentially a piece of rolled-up pancake with egg and other ingredients of your liking. Chen Gen Zhao Cha prioritizes quality ingredients and superb coffee, and is often named one of the best breakfast joints in town.
Taiwan prides itself on its homegrown products very much — including its flowers and plants. Take a stroll inside the well organized Taipei Flower Market and take in all those pretty colors and affordable petals.
Shing Peng Lai is one of the best Taiwanese restaurants — even former president Lee Teng-hui, the “father of Taiwanese democracy”, was a frequent customer. Must-orders include fried pork chop, stir-fry pig intestine and plain steamed chicken.
One of Taiwan’s nine national parks, Yangmingshan is only about a 15-minute taxi ride from Shipai Station, with plenty to see and do once you’re up at the mountain range. Either walk along the many hiking trails, or take a relaxing warm bath at one of the hot spring hotels.
Sit down and enjoy Taipei’s best bagels at Good Cho’s, a cafe that bakes its own bagels in tons of different flavors. Go to their Tianmu branch to avoid the lines.
5-7pm: Market Madness
Browse through the stalls of local craftsmen and vintage sellers at the Tianmu Marketplace, open every Friday to Sunday, or the Simple Market situated at a revitalized military dependents’ village. There’s also a brilliant weekend farmer’s market at the Taipei Expo if you’re into fresh produce.
7-9pm: Hot Pot Stop
It’s possibly criminal to visit Taipei without trying some spicy hot pot. Old Sichuan is one of the most popular spicy hot pot hangouts among locals, known for its complex but relatively mild spicy broth. Make your booking at least several weeks ahead.
Taipei has a pretty awesome craft beer scene. Leble Dor is one of the earliest settlers and serves a completely addictive honey beer. Make an online reservation about two weeks ahead to stand a chance of snagging a seat here.
Don’t leave without… Pineapple cakes, an oldie but a goodie. There are literally hundreds of pineapple cake makers in Taiwan offering different textures and varieties. I recommend ChiaTe — their pineapple cakes are not as sweet, and hit all the right spots. Order online to avoid the lines!