I go to Taipei to immerse myself in Chinese culture. The Mormons used to send their missionary interns to Taiwan for 2 years learning mandarin. Famous interns include Jon Huntsman, former US Ambassador to China/ Singapore American Presidential candidate. 15 yes ago I would gladly go to Shanghai but now I find the pace too fast and busy for me. The remote part of Lijiang , en route to Shangrila would be the closest alternative. But Taipei presents the best combination of modern and culture.
My favourite things to do
2. Eslite store – to browse at Chinese books and lifestyle items. I go to the Hsinyi branch and the Songshan 文创. But the Tsunghsiao branch is 24hr. (Taiwanese streets are named after past leaders or Chinese values eg. Trust, loyalty or Sun Yatsen).
3. Taipei small eats 小吃. Akin to HK dimsum not necessarily night market snacks. Most originate from Tainan in the south and sold in tiny shops where the owner takes pride in cooking with quality local ingredients. Such as bean curd, rougher than the Singapore version, filled with treasures such as red beans and sweet potato balls.
4. Taiwanese restaurants like Beiping roast duck, Ding Tai Feng.
5. Day trips to Yingge for pottery, Beitou for hotspring, Jiufen to admire scenery and drink tea. Tamsui.
6. National Palace Museum
There’s no subway station at the National Palace Museum. Look out for the Jade shaped like Pork and White Cabbage. The Museum is now abuzz with PRC tourists and you’ve to queue up to catch a glimpse of the most famous artefacts. Plus they don’t allow you to take photographs anymore. You’ve to buy the books which Himself gladly did, US $100 lighter.
7. Bread –
En route to National Palace Museum in Shilin, stop by Nogomi Bakery 野上麵包店1台北, one stop after Shilin at Zhisan station (芷山). Wu Paotsun’s award winning lichee and longan bread at the Eslite Taipei Wenchuang. Although they can be purchased very conveniently at Hogan Bakery outlets around the city and at Taoyuan International airport.
8. Pot gardening plants and paraphernalia at the weekend Jianguo Flower market under the Jianguo bridge or weekday in Neihu (beside Costco).
9. Award winning Kavalan single malt whiskey from the airport.
10. 天厨北平考鸭. Roast