Taipei, Taiwan

Last modified by Beka Rice on August 17th, 2018 at 03:13 pm.
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This looks pretty old, ask if it’s still current!

Overview

WIP, feel free to add stuff!
 
Price guide:
  • $ = under $10 per person
  • $$ = about $10-25 per person
  • $$$ = about $25-40 per person
  • $$$$ = over $40 per person

Arriving / Getting Around

You’ll likely arrive at Taoyuan airport. There’s a convenient rail to Taipei Main Station (get the express train and not the commuter which does every single stop and will take at least 30′ more).
 
Before you do so, after passing immigration and customs, you can go to the Taiwan Mobile kiosk which is on the way to the train to town. There, you could buy a SIM card with unlimited mobile data valid up to several weeks (depending on the length of intended stay). At the airport they usually have better offers so you should grab one of those.
 
Once arrived at Taipei Main Station, you will probably want to get to your final destination, hotel etc. If you have luggage, you might want to consider a taxi (very close to the train exit after you came out of the train gates). Otherwise you can look for the MRT (subway) line. At the central station you can find connections for the red, blue and green line (the latter at walking distance).
 
Uber is banned in Taiwan, although they have rebranded as a transportation company so they run their own “cabs”. Cabs are not expensive in Taipei, and are widely available and reliable at all times. There is an app called Find Taxi which you can use to hail cabs, it has an English interface too. Most of the time you won’t need it, although you can specify filters such as “English speaking”.
 
Once you are settled at your hotel, you can use the MRT to move around town. It’s cheap and has an excellent coverage. You can buy a smart cart called “Easy Card” that can be loaded with cash and use it to pass the subway gates, but also use it for small payments at the convenience stores disseminated everywhere. You can even rent “Ubike” bicycles with it (prior registration, which can be done online or at certain kiosks). Although close to mountains, Taipei is both flat (good for easy cycling) and pedestrian friendly and very walkable, so you can definitely explore around.
 

Where to stay

 
AirBnb is technically not legal in Taiwan. AirBnbs quality and reliability is inconsistent across Asia anyway. It is preferable to stay at hotels or apartments listed on Agoda, which have a better vetting and offer better customer support. Hotels are generally cheaper than US or European counterparts and offer a good quality/price ratio.
 
Nice areas to stay could be City Hall, Daan or Xinyi, nearby the 101. Avoid Taipei Main Station, while Zhongshan is ok with plenty of Japanese food nearby. Try to stay across the red or the blue line, or green line as third choice. Perhaps try to stay nearby a park like Daan Park or Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (more quiet) or well connected neighbourhoods with plenty of restaurants, bars, etc. if you want more action (Zhongxiao East Road, between Sogo and Sun Yat Sen Memorial, Zhongshan station, etc.).
 

Restaurants

 
Taipei is a foodie heaven and you can find a large variety of Western, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese and other Asian food cuisines. It would be impractical to list all the possibilities and the best choices. On the other hand, everything is easy to reach once you are in town, you’ll likely get many more recommendations from Google, TripAdvisor and your fellow digital nomads and remote workers once you approach town 🙂
 
It is very common for Taiwanese and digital nomads alike to study or work from cafes so some of the locations listed for breakfast/lunch may be suitable for remote work. Check out this custom Google Map for more cafe locations too.
 
Breakfast
  • Breakfast stalls and food carts ($): Taiwanese breakfast is on the savory side and usually consists of a mixture of Chinese and Western elements, with items like noodles, rice, turnip cake, scallion pancake, eggs. If you see small restaurants or carts open mostly in the morning, it’s likely they serve breakfast. They usually have no English menu but you can try approaching them in English or pointing at the foods you’d like to try.
  • Neighbourhood Cafes ($-$$$): Some cafes that open early (generally not many, the majority opens from 11am onwards) may serve breakfast too, usually more on the Western / Fusion side.
  • Boom Coffee Roasters ($$): great cafe in South Daan, great sandwiches and pastries, awesome coffee and very good to work remotely from.
 
Lunch
  • Street Food ($): if you find yourself in areas like Ximending, Datong, Tamsui… you easily have access to a lot of street food. Make sure you don’t miss the pepper pork bun (胡椒餅), available also in some night markets.
  • Wooloomoolloo ($$): excellent fusion food in Xinyi and Songshan districts, good also for breakfast or all day breakfast. Tables downstairs are not as good for working there, if you plan to.
  • This Cafe (這間咖啡) ($$): one of the coziest place in town (East of Daan park), with a limited but excellent menu, great coffee and superb mint lemonade. Good if you plan to work remotely (opens at lunch time, closes late evening).
  • Perch Cafe (窩著咖啡) ($$): very close to This Cafe, not the same atmosphere but a good 2nd choice, also for remote working.
  • Costumice ($$$): nice cafe in Zhongxiao Dunhua with good atmosphere with few but very good menu items. Excellent coffee. Nice to work from, but may open a bit late in the morning.
  • Mucho Mucho ($$-$$$): nice cafe preferred by digital nomads to work from Dunhua, opens at lunch time.
  • Homey ($$): literally, feels like going to someone’s home. Very good food. Unreliable internet connection, otherwise very cozy. Situated in Dunhua area.
  • Addiction ($$$): one of the best sushi / fish markets in town. You can buy fish but also eat it there on the spot. Inside the structure there are many small restaurants, some are standing ones, but the quality is excellent, for very reasonable prices.
  • Astoria Cafe ($$$): historical Russian cafe in downtown, opened up by Russian exiles during cold war.
  • Good Cho ($$$) at Four Four South Village Simple Market: interesting fusion food situated inside an historical structure which also contains an handicraft market.
Dinner
  • Night Markets ($): Taipei is world-famous for its night markets. A lot of snacks and finger food is served there. The only problem is that the most famous ones (Xilin, Rahoe…) can be very, very crowded.
  • Din Tai Fung ($$$): home of the world famous xiaolongbao, among excellent dim sum and other Chinese / Taiwanese dishes. There are several branches in town, including the very first restaurant before becoming a chain (don’t go there though: the food is the same, but the queue is longer compared to other branches).
  • Munchies Gastropub ($$$$): a single chef will cook in front of you, for you and few more patrons specialty meals (menu varies every day, mostly is fusion food). Requires reservation.
  • Mitsui Cuisine ($$$$): Japanese restaurant, they have a few branches in town.
  • Japanese Restaurants in Zhongshan ($$$-$$$$): the old Japanese quarter is right behind Zhongshan MRT station, you’ll find many izakayas and Japanese restaurants catering Japanese, locals and tourists alike. The majority is family-run businesses, but you can also find famous names like Hakata Ippudo (a famous ramen restaurant chain).
  • Yamatoya ($$): excellent ramen (Japanese chef).
Bars
  • Bar Otani ($$$): a 100 sq feet bar run by a single Japanese bartender, Mr Kazuo Otani, will serve you the best classic cocktails in town.
  • Wa-Shu ($$$): interesting innovative cocktails (no classic) and atmosphere if you are up for something different.
  • East End Bar ($$$): classic cocktails, whiskey, nice atmosphere.
  • Bar Mood ($$$): classic cocktails, whiskey, nice classy atmosphere.
  • Motown ($$-$$$): neighbourhood bar, can be noisy and crowded though.

Stuff to do

Taipei is great if you are a digital nomad or remote worker. It’s also a good place to make friends and try cool gadgets and new tech (VR is getting big here). The atmosphere can get mellow and rainy at times, but it’s great to get stuff done. It does have some Blade Runner tones, but in a much more livable (and friendlier!) setting. If it’s sunny, it’s great to explore on a bicycle.
 
Taiwan is one of the safest places on Earth so you should not worry too much, you can walk at night in dark alleys very casually. Just be careful when you cross the street as sometimes drivers can be a bit reckless or distracted.
 
On the other hand Taipei does not offer a significant amount of historical buildings compared, for example, to neighbour Japan (some of its architectural heritage is, in fact, of Japanese colonial origin). To compensate, the city has a number of museums, parks and landmarks (not just the iconic 101 Tower) that are worth visiting. There are also many cultural events and performances all times in town so you could check those too. Go to Huashan 1914 Creative Park for these. Nearby you can look for geek stuff and electronics in Syntrend / Guanghua.
 
If you are into hiking, Taipei is a good base to head over nearby mountain trails. During summer, you might consider going to some minor islands in the South-East as well. The east coast is famous among surfers. If you are into cycling, some people circle the island on two wheels (there’s a very robust train infrastructure too). It’s very close to Japan and Hong Kong, among other countries, so it could easily fit into your East Asian tour!
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