When you’re traveling to Southeast Asia, you might have to change planes in Taipei (Taiwan). If your stopover is longer than 8 hours, you’ve got plenty of time to explore the city. In this article, I’ll tell you all about a stopover in Taipei.
From the airport to the city
In the airplane, you’ll receive a form, which you need to fill in before going to immigration. The lines at the immigration desks can be very long, so be patient (it took me an hour to reach the officer). A lot of travelers will get a free visa for 30 (Australia, Thailand) to 90 (most countries in Europ and the USA) days. Take a look at this website to check what kind of visa you’ll need to enter Taiwan.
When you passed immigration, go to one of the ATM’s to get cash, because you will need it. With 1000 to 1500 Taiwanese dollar you can easily spend an afternoon and a night in Taipei. In the airport, you will also find an information desk. This is the place to get a map and directions to the city.
Go downstairs to the platform of the MTR-train. This is the train you will need to take to the city. Close to the platform, you can buy single tickets for the train, but you can also buy an Easycard. You can use this card for all transportation around town, check this website for information about the Easycard. The MTR-train leaves every 10 to 15 minutes, and it will take about 35 minutes to reach the main station.
Check the floors when you’re waiting for the train (and metro), the yellow lines show the waiting area.
Do you like viewpoints? Then your first stop in Taipei should be Elephant Mountain. To get there, you can get in the metro to Xianshan (it’s the red line). From the metro station it’s a 10 minute walk, before you reach the trailhead to Elephant Hill. There are a couple of trails on the hill, and all of them have great viewpoints. From Elephant Hill you can easily spot Taipei 101, one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world. If the weather is good, Elephant Hill is a great place to walk around and take a seat for a picknick.
From Elephant Hill it’s only a short walk to Taipei 101. The area around the tower is one of the most touristic areas in Taipei, so you’ll spot al lot of people making selfies. Right beside the tower, there is a big shopping mall. So if you like to shop, now is your chance! When you don’t like to shop, I still recommend walking around the mall for a bit, it looks like nothing you’ve ever seen. Especially the floors with the restaurants are great for a visit. Great food and it’s like a museum of weird things.
Besides skyscrapers and shopping malls, you’ll also find some beautiful temples in Taipei. Check this article for the most beautiful temples in Taipei. During my stopover in Taipei, I spotted two temples: the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (close to Taipei 101) and the Tianhou temple (in Ximending).
Ximending Shopping District
When the sun sets, the best places to go, are the night markets. There are many to find in Taipei, so just look around and see which one is in the area you would like to explore. One of the busiest neighborhoods at night is Ximending. With all the lights and billboards, it looks like a small version of Times Square. If you haven’t had dinner yet, this is the place to get some great street food.
From Ximending it’s just a short ride to Taipei Main Station, where you can take the MTR-train back to the airport.
– Take your time! It can take up to an hour to leave the airport, and it will take about 1 to 1,5 hour to reach the city center (especially if you’re heading to Taipei 101).
– Get cash at the airport. You will need it.
– If you need to store some luggage, you can find lockers at the airport. The smallest one will cost you around €1,50 or $2 for every three hours.