Taipei Travel Guide

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Taipei's subway

Taipei's subway

Albert Chen

The area in which Taipei is now located was once a lake in an area that was full of swamps and grassy lowlands, but a lot has changed now. Originally only aboriginal tribes lived there. The Chinese eventually came to fish and to do business. Chen Lai-chang established a farm in central Taipei. The numbers of immigrants to Taipei began to increase. The most concentrated area of settlement was at the rivers. Taipei is a city that developed around a river culture. Taipei was essentially divided among immigrants from different areas of China. This resulted in many conflicts. Taipei was first built like a rectangle shape with four main walls on the east and west. The city faces from north to south, and its main axis points towards the North Star. Financial agencies were kept in between the walls. The Japanese colonized Taiwan in 1895, and they continued to develop the city. It eventually became the administrative, economic, and cultural center of Taiwan.

The city of Taipei is located in the Taipei Basin in northern Taiwan. It is bordered by the Xindian River in the south and the Danshui River in the west. The northern districts of Taipei extend north of the Keelung River and border Taipei ’s famous Yangmingshan National Park. The city is surrounded by mountains.


The climate of Taipei is subtropical. It is affected by monsoons from April to September. Winters are short, but temperatures can drop down to around ten degrees celsius. Summers are hot and humid with temperatures in the thirties. The weather is often rainy.

Taipei is the center of government and culture in Taiwan. The major industries in Taipei are electrical and electronic equipment, textiles, metals, shipbuilding, and motorcycles. The current government of Taipei is the Kuomintang (KMT) government. The current mayor of Taipei City is Hau Long-bing.

The traffic in Taipei is often chaotic and pollution levels are sometimes high. The city is in the process of advancing its transportation by building a mass transit system. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is a railway system that includes both a subway and elevated rail lines. The network already reaches many parts of the city and more lines are currently under construction. Buses run regularly on all major roads and some roads have special bus lanes. Meter taxis are also readily available.

Living in Taipei is like living in a major city. There is pollution, traffic and it is very noisy. It is expensive to live there, although not as expensive as Japan. Water shortages have been a problem in recent years. Taipei is however cleaner, safer, convenient, and better run than most cities in Taiwan. The positives for living in Taipei are that you can buy almost anything you want there and have a large selection of different kinds of food. If you want to cook for yourself there are supermarkets and markets there. It is very convenient to buy clothing in Taipei. There are department stores, clothes stores and street shops that you can buy clothing from. It is easy to find a job here because it is a big city. The nightlife amazing, it is more culturally orientated, and has more schools and universities.

Taipei is a wonderful city to visit. The people here are very hospitable especially to foreigners. There are many opportunities to experience Chinese culture. Taipei is a city with a great blend of the traditional and modern. You can experience the culture how it was back then now with the latest in technology. Taipei is a shopper’s paradise whether you have a lot to spend or not. Taiwan is home to the tallest completed building in the world, Taipei 101. The lower floors of Taipei 101 have a huge shopping mall. If you love shopping then you would love Taipei 101, because it gets its name because it has 101 different stores. There is also another shopping mall in Taipei called "Sogo". Both "Sogo" and Taipei 101 are expensive places to shop. If you are not a big spender it's okay as soon as the sun goes down the night markets pop up. The most famous of these markets is called the Shilin night market. It is the largest and oldest night market. These night markets are a great place to get anything cheap. Night markets are usually crowded with people that it is hard to move around. When walking down the street you can smell the delicious aroma of the authentic Chinese food. You can enjoy some of Taiwan’s favorite dishes such as fried chicken steak, small bun wrapped in large bun, fried buns, oyster omelet, pearl tea, aiyu jelly and stinky tofu. Shilin night market is a great place to eat and shop at the same time.

In Taipei, there are also a lot of museums. There is the National Place Museum, Taipei gallery, National Museum of History, and Miniatures Museum of Taiwan. The most famous is the National Palace Museum. Some say it is the best Chinese museum because it has over 700,000 exhibits display paintings, historical relics, calligraphy, jades, woodcarvings, bronzes, books and documents that give you so much information about the past. It was brought over by Chiang Kai-shek's government when they fled form China. You can spend many hours there learning about the past. If you are more of a person who likes the nature than there is the Yangmingshan National Park is the smallest on Taiwan because it is located between Taipei city and county. The Butterfly Corridor has about 151 species of butterflies in Yangmingshan National Park. Butterfly Corridor is about two miles long and takes about two hours to walk. Bird Watching Trail starts in the Erhtsuping area. This forest attracts many species of birds. There are an average of twenty different species of birds that can be seen. Taiwan blue magpie and Muller's barbet are perhaps the most famous and numerous in Taiwan. Muller's barbet is a small emerald-green barbet with blue, red, and orange head. Hot springs can be found in Yangmingshan National Park. Volcanic hollows are where steam and acidic gases are to make hallows. The plant life at Yangmingshan National Park is beautiful. Cherry blossoms also contribute to the flower season. Mt. Chihsing is the tallest mountain in the parks. It is about 1,120 meters tall. There is also Tatun Natural Park in Yangmingshan National Park. The area is surrounded on four sides by mountains. Which gives you a warm sheltered feeling when toy are there. This park is used for schools and a place for leisure.

In Taipei, there are two major memorials dedicated to two great men in Taiwan’s history who are Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek. Sun Yat-sen was a famous Chinese revolutionary leader that over threw the Qing Dynasty. He was the founder of the Kuomintang. He developed the three principles of the people, which are used in Chinese government today. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall is a memorial located in Taipei. The museum the exterior of the memorial has gardens, and historical walls. The interior has a statue of him on the left. There are many historical artifacts in here. Every one loves to come to watch the entertaining changing of the guards here. The other memorial is for President Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader that assumed the power of Kuomintang when Sun Yat-sen passed away. He was the commander of the North Expedition to unify China. He was the leader of the Republic of China. He led China into many wars such as the second Sino-Japanese War (WWII) and the Chinese Civil War. He lost to the Chinese Communist in the Chinese civil war and this forced his government to retreat to Taiwan. National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall has a concert hall and a national theater. The memorial is in a park in the Zhongzheng District that covers 24 hectares of land. During festivities, concert hall and the national theater are used as backdrops to the stages. There are usually schools or the military practicing outside of the Hall. There are more than 800 performances. The theater is designed to minimize the sound outside and maximize the sound inside. There are many ponds and parks throughout the memorial. The ponds are filled with the colorful goldfish.            

If you are a devoted Buddhist, Taoist, or Matsu then you should check out the Longshan temple. You can worship Guanshiyin Buddha and other spirits here. The Longshan temple was build by Han settlers from China in 1738. It served as a place of worship and a gathering place for the Chinese settlers. Longshan Temple is facing towards the South. It is build like a square and has a three-section design. There are a dragon that protects the left side of the middle hall and a dragon that protects the right side of the middle hall. There are six dragon poles total in the Longshan Temple on top of the two dragons in the front. That is a lot of dragons. They are delicate, exquisite, wood sculptures. The Buddha setting in the main hall is the main sculpture. He is the one that everyone bows down and worships. The temple has many Chinese poems, verses and lyrics everywhere. There are also a lot of streets and shops. The shops are usually Buddhists and Chinese medicine based. The Longshan temple has gone through many natural disasters, but is still standing. Every first through the fifteenth day of each month of the lunar year people come to worship at the temple. The temple attracts many people. At normal times, there are domestic and foreign tourists visiting the temple. It is now one of the most important historical sites of Taiwan.        

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February 16, 2008 change by t.r cheng

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