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Your Ultimate Guide to Taiwan: Taipei by Train

Ultimate Taiwan Guide: Taipei by Train

Take advantage of Taipei’s world-class train system on your next trip to Taiwan. For easy navigation, be sure to purchase an EasyCard: an reloadable train card which you can use all over the Taipei Metro Rail Transit. Here’s a quick guide to all the great tourist spots you can visit within minutes.

Chiang Kai Shek Station: Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and Plaza

Taipei Train Guide: Chiang Kai Shek Memorial at Chiang Kai Shek Station
Taipei Train Guide: Chiang Kai Shek Memorial at Chiang Kai Shek Station

To grasp former President Chiang Kai Shek’s impact on Taiwanese history, you only have to look at the sheer size of his memorial. With a grandiose bronze monument of Shek that takes 89 steps (representing his age when he died) to reach, it sits as one of the country’s most prominent landmarks. Spend an afternoon strolling the vast property, which also houses the National Concert Hall, the National Theater, and the plaza gardens.

 

Shilin Station: Shilin Night Market

Taipei Train Guide: Shilin Night Market at Shilin Station
Taipei Train Guide: Shilin Night Market at Shilin Station (Flickr/Brian Jeffrey Beggerly)

Taiwan’s night markets are a cultural experience of their own. Every major neighborhood has its contender, but the Shilin Night Market is the undisputed champion. There are stalls of clothes, toys, and merchandise, but it’s the food that draws the crowds. From the notorious stinky tofu to the famous bubble tea, Shilin is the best place to get your street food fix.

Shilin Station: National Palace Museum

Taiwan’s National Palace Museum houses thousands of pieces detailing 8,000 years of Chinese history, and a dramatic story of how they got there.

Taipei Train Guide: National Palace Museum at Shilin Station
Taipei Train Guide: National Palace Museum at Shilin Station

The plot begins back to Beijing of 1925, where the Imperial Family kept dynasties’ worth of treasures that date back to the Song dynasty. Between 1927 and 1949, authorities transported over 600,000 pieces around the country to protect them from the devastation of war—first the Japanese, and then the Chinese Civil War. Many historians claim not a single artifact was lost over the 20 year-journey.


Beitou Station: Beitou Hot Springs

Taipei Train Guide: Beitou Hot Springs at Beitou Station
Taipei Train Guide: Beitou Hot Springs at Beitou Station

Taiwan is literally bubbling with hot springs, but Beitou has lured locals and travelers alike as far back as the Japanese era. Visitors can choose from a range of bathing options among the many hot springs. The waters come from Thermal Valley—nicknamed ‘Hell Valley,’ a jade-colored hot spring where temperatures go up to 100 degrees celsius.

Taipei 101/World Trade Center Station: Taipei 101

Taipei Train Guide: Taipei 101 at World Trade Center Station
Taipei Train Guide: Taipei 101 at World Trade Center Station

At 101 floors, the skyscraper is both an architectural gem and engineering feat. The number eight—for good fortune and prosperity—is a recurring architectural theme. There’s no mistaking the unique silhouette it creates: Taipei 101 defines the Taiwan skyline as a bamboo, a symbol of growth. Climb to the very top in one of the world’s fastest elevators and linger for an afternoon; the shadow it casts creates a natural sundial over the park.

Ximen Station: Ximending Shopping District

Ximending Train Station: Ximending Night Market
Ximending Train Station: Ximending Night Market

Among all the night markets, Ximending nails the shopping part best. From major international brands in upscale stores to small thrift shops, this shopping center has it covered. This eight-way pedestrian intersection is the heart of Taiwan’s youth culture, with stores and fashions getting edgier as you shop along the smaller alleys. Haggle your way to the perfect outfit or souvenir for everyone back home.

Ximen Station: The Red House

Ximending Train Station: Ximending Night Market
Ximending Train Station: Ximending Night Market

The Red House Theatre has had a number of cultural transformations over the years. It’s donned the face of a marketplace, an opera house, a live performance, and a movie theatre. These days, it’s all these things at once: a multifunctional cultural centre that regularly hosts live performances and exhibitions. See the energy spill over to the entire district; every street hosts either a small concert, a live performance, or a stall of handmade jewellery.

Sun-Yat Sen Station: Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall 

Sun Yat-Sen Train Station: Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall
Sun Yat-Sen Train Station: Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

Another important Taiwanese figure is Dr. Sun Yat-sen, founding father of the Republic of China. The memorial hall, which was constructed under Chiang Kai-Shek, was originally intended to display of Sun’s life and accomplishments. Today, it’s become a lively cultural center and constantly hosts exhibits and performances.

Muzha Station: Muzha Tea Plantations

Muzha Train Station: Muzha Tea Plantation
Muzha Train Station: Muzha Tea Plantation

Few countries have a more discerning tea palette than the Taiwanese. The Muzha Tea Plantations are expansive and aromatic, with vibrant temples and teahouses that are best seen through a gondola lift. Visit Three Stone Teapot Museum to witness artisan teapot and tea making. Then, sample a variety of Tieguanyin (“iron goddess of mercy”), the local specialty.

Taipower Building Station: Yongkang Street

Taipei Train Guide: Yongkang Street by Taipower Building Train Station
Taipei Train Guide: Yongkang Street by Taipower Building Train Station (Flickr/David Baron)

Skip the long lines for xiao long bao and mango shaved ice and go for more exotic dishes. Yongkang Street is packed with everything from sophisticated restaurants serving classic and fusion Taiwanese dishes, to novelty cafes and food stalls that cater to the more experimental  palette.

Zongshan Station: Xingtian Temple

Taipei Train Guide: Xingtian Temple at Zongshan Temple
Taipei Train Guide: Xingtian Temple at Zongshan Temple

For wealth and prosperity: draw a bamboo fortune, toss wooden jiaobei blocks for your answers, present an offering of food, and pray. Visitors come to Xingtian Temple to seek divine guidance. You’ll leave the temple with the scent of incense lingering on your clothes; the scent is meant to drive away evil spirits. Keep some of this luck by purchasing a small, fragrant blessing bag from any of the fortune-telling street vendors.

Taipei Main Station

Taipei Train Guide: Taipei Main Station
Taipei Train Guide: Taipei Main Station (Flickr/Ethan Chan H C)

It may seem odd to think of a station as an attraction, but that’s just what Taipei Main Station is. It serves as the central station for all of Taiwan’s trains, and a major terminal for the local and long distance bus lines. Taipei Main Station is a massive complex of organized chaos, with a constant influx of travelers, students, and commuters. Because of this, there are a number of shopping centers, restaurants, and stores conveniently set up within it.

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