The bustling streets of Taipei are alive well before dawn with everyone and anyone breaking their fast on their way to school or work. Find a breakfast store (they’re everywhere) and try the dan bing, a thin rolled up pancake with anything you like as a filling, but egg and bacon are often the preferred choice. To say it’s the breakfast of the Gods simply doesn’t do it justice.
Time to head for C.K.S Memorial Hall where the changing of the guard is a spectacle not to be missed. It happens every hour from 9am and usually lasts about 15 minutes but the 9am slot is the perfect time as the day isn’t too hot yet and the mid-morning tourist crowds are still eating their breakfast in their hotels.
Take a walk from C.K.S Memorial Hall down Zhongshan North Road to the Taiwan Handicraft Promotion Center where you can pick up souvenirs to suit any budget. There are several floors of locally made gift items to take a look at so you can easily spend a few hours in here if you’re not too careful.
Jump on the MRT at the nearby NTU Hospital Station and head for Yongkang Street. This street is something of a food lover’s heaven with restaurants and cafés throughout the neighborhood serving up both local and international cuisine. Make sure you save room for dessert as there are a few ice cream and shaved ice stores that are too good to miss.
After all that food you’re going to need either a walk or a sit down, and you can do both in Daan Forest Park which is just a two-minute walk from Yongkang Street. Many consider it the best of Taipei’s green spaces, and with endless pathways for strolls and trees to block out the traffic noise, it’s the perfect location for a spot of post-lunch relaxation.
Now that you’re rested it’s time to head for Taipei 101 so jump back on the MRT, and it will bring you right the fifth tallest building in the world. Generally speaking, 101 is always busy but the afternoons aren’t too bad, and you should be up to the top and enjoying the view in no time at all. And while you’re there, grab a coffee and a snack in the highest Starbucks in the world.
The sun goes down quite early in Taiwan, and with some coffee and a snack in hand, you should head for Taipei City’s Elephant Mountain. This small mountain is just behind 101, and if you can make the short trek up the well-paved walkway, then you’ll get a wonderful night view of the city.
If hiking up a small mountain isn’t quite your thing, then take a walk through the many department stores in Xinyi or enjoy a drink in the small outdoor bars in the Vieshow Square area.
If the hike or the walks through the shops have helped you work up an appetite, then it’s time to hit the night market. Taipei is full of incredible night markets serving up the very best street foods so you can take your pick of any. Most people head for Shilin on the MRT, but there’s also Tonghua Night Market just a short walk from 101. You can easily spend half the night here enjoying food on a stick while you wander from stall to stall.
Head back towards Vieshow Square, and you’ll find there are quite a few clubs and bars open all night, and while it might seem a bit late, the best clubs only start filling up around midnight.
If you’d prefer a more relaxed and chilled out option, then try the Dunhua branch of Eslite. It’s a 24hr bookstore that is pretty big and has plenty of comfy spots to sit down and read a book.
The small hours
Karaoke is something of a national pastime here in Taiwan, and many of the local KTV clubs such as Partyworld are pretty high-end. Rent yourself a private room and sing the rest of the night away and if you get hungry, just pick up the phone and order whatever you want, but at this stage, you can probably head out and pick up some dan bing from the local breakfast store.