Taipei, the city that comes alive at night. It is famous for its night markets and delicious street food. The food was so good that I was eating nonstop from morning till night that I was suffering from indigestion.
The best time to travel to Taiwan will be in April – May and September – October. I visited Taiwan in December 2011 and it was their monsoon season – it just rained all day. This time, I went in late June 2015 and it was insanely hot and humid – 36 degrees, I felt that I was going to pass out in the heat. I wouldn’t recommend staying more than 3 days in Taipei because it does get boring after a while. If you are looking for accommodation, Xi Men Ding (西门町) and Taipei Main Station are convenient locations to stay at.
The main language spoken in Taiwan is Mandarin – if you don’t speak it, don’t worry, most of the people have a basic command of English. They also speak Hokkien which sounds so much better than the Hokkien we speak in Singapore (they don’t sound like they want to pick a fight with you). But generally it is very easy to get around Taipei and the public transport system is excellent!
In terms of food, there are endless number of good restaurants and food to try. So below is the list of food that my poor, over-stretched stomach managed to accommodate for the three days I was in Taipei.
柚子早餐屋 (You Zi Breakfast House)
This breakfast place is tucked away in the corner of Xi Men Ding (西门町) and I love the egg pancake with pork floss filling.
永和豆浆大王 (Yong He Soy Milk King)
This chain can be found almost anywhere in Taipei. The typical breakfast will be dough fritters with soy milk and pan fried buns.
鼎泰豐 (Ding Tai Fung)
台北市信義路2段194号 (Xinyi Store #194 sec 2)
This well known international restaurant chain originated from Taipei. They are famous for their steamed dumplings (xiao long bao) and the branch in Hong Kong was awarded one Michelin Star. The original store is at Xinyi road and it is insanely crowded. To avoid the crowd, try to reach the restaurant before 12pm.
金品茶楼 (King Ping Tea Restaurant)
I prefer the xiao long bao here to Ding Tai Fung – the filling tastes better.
金园排骨 (Kingwueng Pork)
This pork chop rice is a must try when in Taiwan. It’s fragrant and absolutely delicious!
Street food and night markets
西門町 (Xi Men Ding)
This shopping belt comes alive at night with food store vendors selling all sorts of different snacks to fuel your shopping spree. The must-try there is 阿宗面线 (Ah Zhong Mian Xian).
士林夜市 (Shilin Night Market)
This is the biggest night market in Taipei where you can pretty much find anything and everything. There are quite a number of popular food stores there – deep-fried chicken cutlet, baked potato etc. However, I didn’t really enjoy this night market that much; Shopping wise, it has a larger variety but food wise, Raohe night market offers more.
饒河夜市 (Raohe Night Market)
My favourite night market in Taipei. I love the food there. The first thing one must have is the pepper pork bun at the entrance of the night market. I also enjoyed the grilled mushrooms, garlic chicken and the beef cutlets. Best to go there on an empty stomach so that you can try out the different types of food there.
九份和十份 (Jiu Fen & Shi Fen)
If you are tired of Taipei city, consider taking a day trip out to Jiu Fen and Shi Fen. This is the place to make your wishes and release lanterns into the sky. To get there, take a train from Taipei Main Station to Rui Fang (takes about 45min). From Rui Fang train station, take a bus to Jiu Fen (10min bus ride). Jiu Fen is a quaint old street with lots of local street food and interesting souvenirs. For the lanterns, you have to take another train from Rui Fang to Shi Fen. It takes about 30min to get to Shi Fen and the trains can get quite crowded so board early.
淡水老街 (Dan Shui Old Street)
This pretty waterfront street is a popular place amongst tourists and locals. You will find lots of street stalls selling a sorts of food and souvenirs.
One can never return home without bringing back some delicious Taiwanese snacks. The popular taiwanese snacks are pineapple cakes, sun cakes and nougat. Here are my go-to places for these snacks.
佳德 (Chia Te)
105台北市南京東路5段88號 (No. 88, Section 5, Nanjing E Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105)
MRT station: 南京三民 (Nanjing Sanmin station, exit 2)
This pastry shop produces fresh pastries everyday for their customers. They are famous for their pineapple pastry. I also love their sun cake and and egg yolk pastries.
裕珍馨 (Yu Jan Shin)
Shilin Night Market (They have a few branches located in Taipei)
This shop is famous for their pineapple cakes. The good thing is that they provide free sampling so you can try the different flavours before deciding which to buy.
糖村 (Sugar and Spice)
台北市大同區承德路一段1號(京站時尚廣場 地下三樓) (Taipei main station B3 – They have a few other branches in Taipei)
I find the nougats here even nicer than the ones in Australia. I couldn’t stop popping them into my mouth! Absolutely delicious!