Wistaria Tea House is located in the Da’an district of Taipei and is well-known as the setting for a portion of the Oscar-winning director, Ang Lee’s feature “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman”. The cottage was originally built in the 1920’s, housed the Governor-General during Japanese rule until 1945, and was home to the notable economist Professor Chou Te-wei (周德偉) and his son the pro-democracy intellectual and political dissident Chou Yu (周渝) until the late 1970’s. In 1981 the home was converted into the Wistaria Tea House and became a popular meeting place for dissidents opposing the Chinese Nationalist Party’s long standing rule over Taiwan (a 38-year period known as the White Terror). The teahouse was declared a historic monument in 1997 and underwent renovations in 2008 to produce what you see today.
Wistaria Tea House stocks a wide range of teas both in variety and price. You may choose to order a single cup or a set (below). Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with the proper tea ceremony, the patient and knowledgable staff will walk you through it from beginning to end.
Christmas land in New Taipei City is one of the most festive and popular sites during the holiday season with concerts, food vendors, rides and (of course) lots and lots of lights. On weekends, you’ll find crowds that rival the Shibuya crossing in Tokyo.
If you’re a fan of Anthony Bourdain’s “The Layover”, this picture may remind you of his Taipei episode. Urban shrimp fishing (or shrimping) is a well known past time here in Taiwan. For a small hourly fee (roughly $10 USD) you are given a fishing pole, a tray and unlimited bait. Once your time is up, you can take your catch over to the on-site ovens to clean, skewer, and cook. Then relax with a Taiwan beer and enjoy your hard earned dinner.
The experience of sitting indoors around a murky pool trying to catch your dinner can seem a bit odd (especially if you have zero fishing experience like me) but if you’re looking for an activity that’s uniquely Taiwanese, this is it.
Elephant Mountain (Xiangshan Trail or Nangang District Hiking Trail ) stands at 183m and is located in the Xinyi District of Taipei. It’s known as one of the best places to view the entire Taipei Basin and Taipei 101.
Photographers flock to get unique shots of the iconic building during the golden hours and throughout the day. The trail is especially busy during the weekends and you may have to wait to set up your tripod and shoot from the more popular viewpoints.
If you’re not interested in taking pictures, Elephant Mountain is also a great spot to people watch. You will find a lot of activity at the top of this mountain. It’s a favored place for socializing, picnics and workouts.
The National Palace Museum is found in the Shilin district of Taipei and houses one of the largest collections of ancient Chinese art in the world (over 600,000 pieces). The collection spans nearly 10,000 years from early Neolithic history to the end of the Manchu Dynasty in 1912. In 2013, the museum was ranked 7th on the list of most visited art museums in the world.
The Zhishan Garden is found within the National Palace Museum compound and contains Chinese style ponds, statues and wooden pavilions.
There are no photographs allowed inside the museum and you’ll likely be asked to check over-sized bags at the service counter. It’s still worth bringing along your camera to get some shots of Zhishan Garden and the exterior of the museum.
Longshan Temple is located in the Wanhua District of Taipei and dates back to 1738 when Fujian settlers built it as a place of worship and congregation. Over the years, it has been damaged due to earthquakes, fires, and allied bombing during WWII. Today, it encompasses both Buddhists and Taoist deities with a statue of Kuan-in (the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy) in the main hall. The statue was famously spared when the allied aircrafts bombed the temple in 1945 (Japanese were suspected of hiding arms inside). Once the air raid was over, they found the main hall and part of the nearby annex were destroyed but the statue remained intact.
Entrance is free and donations are accepted. The money goes toward temple maintenance and improvements.
If you’re feeling adventurous, Huaxi Night Market is next to Longshan Temple and sells snake blood and snake soup. You can also find traditional and antique shops, fortune tellers and Chinese medicine shops nearby.
Taipei 101 is an iconic structure in the heart of the Xinyi District in Taipei. It was constructed in 2004 and still boasts the fastest elevator in the world (according to Guinness World Records). In 2004, the structure was named the tallest building in the world. It held that title until dethroned by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai six years later. Today, it’s a must see tourist attraction and the epicenter for New Years Eve celebrations in Taiwan.