For Filipinos, Taiwan isn’t something we typically think of as a ‘tourist destination’. When it comes to traveling abroad, we dream of going to Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore or Thailand–we often forget about visiting Taipei, Taiwan, which is only 1,000 km from the Philippines.
This is why Taipei is so beautiful in its own way–an underrated and unassuming city that has a lot to offer. Cebu Pacific now offers direct flights from Manila and Cebu to Taipei thrice a week, which will get you to the capital of Taiwan in two hours.
Before booking that ticket, read my post on what to expect in Taipei, Taiwan.
Here’s what you can do in Taiwan for a short 4-day stay.
Day 1: Chiang Kai Shek, Taipei 101, Presidential Building, National Palace Museum
Cram all the usual touristy stuff on day 1. Most of them are within easy access via transportation (train, bus, walk). Taipei transportation is very easy, reliable and accessible so you can visit all the main sites within the day.
The Presidential Building is one of the most remarkable buildings in Taipei, houses the most important man in the country, of course: the president of the Republic of China.
The Chiang Kai Shek Memorial is a national monument built in honor of the former president of Taipei. The square is wide, beautiful and historical–plenty of panoramic photography-worthy shots.
Taipei 101 is a magnificent architectural wonder magnificently located in Taipei’s skyline. Taipei 101 used to be the world’s tallest building until the title was usurped by Dubai’s Burj Khalifa in 2010.
Finally, the National Palace Museum is a magnificent museum that houses 700,000 ancient Chinese art and artifacts dating back 8,000 years ago from the neolotihic stone age. The art pieces were transported from the Forbidden City to Taiwan under the leadership of Chiang Kai Shek in 1945.
Day 2: Go on a food trip!
Foodies will love Taiwan; because they have a great love affair with their food. You can’t talk about Taiwanese culture without mentioning their street food cuisine. Food should be the main highlight of your trip so go all out and don’t think about dieting! Some of the famous Taiwanese food include: pearl milk tea, stinky tofu, oyster omelette, steamed dumplings, crispy chicken cutlets… everything. Most times, I don’t really know what type of animal or animal part I ordered–they surely don’t waste any animal part, and I’m too chicken to ask. #ignoranceisbliss
Michelin-star restaurant Din Tai Fung originated here, so make sure to try their world-famous xiao long bao while in Taiwan. You can go themed cafe or restaurant hopping. They have restaurants dedicated to Hello Kitty, the toilet, hospital, and more.
Day 3: Jiufen and Shifen
If you are looking for a more cultural and historical experience that Taiwan can offer, there are two beautiful towns near Taipei that you can visit. Located at Pingxi District, you can easily access these picturesque towns via train.
Jiufen is best known as the inspiration of Hayao Miyazaki’s famous hyperrealist animated film Spirited Away. Shifen is most known for their sky lantern festival. You can write down your own hopes and wishes in a sky lantern and watch it fly and reach to the heavens (but not really–apparently the village people hire a dedicated workforce to retrieve the fallen lanterns in the next mountain).
If you want to know more about Jiufen and Shifen, read about it in a separate dedicated blog post here.
Day 4: Exciting Taipei Nightlife: Night markets and nightclubs
Saving the best for last: Taipei nightlife. Of course, if you have energy for day and night you are welcome to savor the nightlife every night! There’s tons of things to do at night: karaoke, night markets, clubbing… the city’s nightlife is exciting and vibrant after dark. Like most Asian major cities, this city runs 24 hours, so there’s always something to do in the wee hours of the morning.
Taiwan is most famous for their night markets–there are more than 50 of them across the country. In these markets they have all sorts of food and merchandise.
Karaoke (KTV) is also a big hit in the city. KTVs have private rooms where you can order food and drinks and sing to your heart’s content.
If you’re into clubbing, you’re in for a treat: the Taiwanese party hard. Like insane. I can recount a few times where I had to hold hair of poor female strangers in the toilet because they had too much alcohol.
The most famous and biggest nightclub in the city is LUXY, bringing in renowned and billboard-topping DJs from around the world. 1001 Nights is an eclectic mix of latin, hiphop, reggaeton and international music (and I love getting shisha here). Chess is great for hip-hop lovers, Room18 for a fancy lounge scene and LAVA for a more casual night. For salsa lovers, I love the friendly vibe of Salud! Salsa Party.
Finally for some post-party replenishment needs, there is always a 7-11 a block or two away to cater to your hunger and hydration.2 4-hour convenience stores are an indispensable way of life in Taiwan. In fact, the country has the highest mini mart density in the world. They sure love their convenience, and you will too. If you’re hungry post-party, you’re sure to get your fill, there’s bound to be a restaurant or shop open for you.