Taiwan’s economic, political and cultural center, Taipei boasts vibrant neighborhoods and a friendly vibe, even for non-Chinese-speaking visitors. Whether you’re in the modern, sophisticated city for business or leisure, you’ll appreciate the efficient and inexpensive public transportation, great walking trails in the mountains surrounding the city, a plethora of art and history museums, a business-friendly environment and a wonderful culinary scene.
In Taipei, shopkeepers, restaurant and hotel workers, and public transportation officials all show respect to both residents and visitors. As an example, earlier this year Taipei Rapid Transportation Corp. apologized to a Taiwanese mother who complained Taipei Metro staff insisted on measuring her baby stroller, with her two twins inside, before allowing her to use the Metro rail system. According to regulations, baby strollers in use do not have to be measured, as is required of large pieces of luggage, before entering stations. Taipei Metro apologized to the mother twice over the phone before asking to meet with her to apologize again in person.
Such gestures prove common in Taipei, which currently welcomes visitors with free sightseeing bus tickets. Four-hour sightseeing bus tickets are available through June 30 (and possibly longer) to independent travelers who stay in Taipei for at least two nights. Visitors can request the tickets from their hotels or from Discovery Center of Taipei, located in Taipei City Hall.
If you’re staying in one of the 256 elegantly appointed rooms or suites at 5-star Mandarin Oriental, begin your day at the hotel’s fitness center, yoga studio or gym with its innovative Kinesis technology. Or take a dip in the 20-meter, temperature-controlled outdoor swimming pool. All these venues open at 7 a.m., for hotel guests only. Refuel with breakfast at the hotel’s Café Un Deux Trois; and if you need space for a small group client meeting, arrange a catered breakfast at one of the five comfortable Oriental Rooms, accommodating 10–100 persons.
When you have a free morning, visit National Palace Museum, housing the world’s largest collection of priceless Chinese art treasures and cultural relics. Most of the museum’s more than 600,000 art objects were part of the Chinese imperial collection, rooted more than 1,000 years ago in the early Song Dynasty. Take the Taipei Sightseeing Bus Blue Route to the National Palace Museum stop.
Taipei teems with temples, and most famous is Lungshan Temple, built in 1740 during the Qing Dynasty and restored several times. Its stunning design includes a pair of bronze dragon poles in the front hall and four pairs of dragon poles in the middle hall, as well as exquisite wood sculptures and the Buddha in the main hall. Shops selling traditional antiques, Buddhist articles and Chinese medicine surround the temple. Take the Taipei Sightseeing Bus Red Route to the MRT Lungshan Temple Station stop.
Taiwan is a foodie’s paradise, and Taipei brims with restaurants and side-street eateries. You and your clients can enjoy an informal but excellent Taiwanese lunch anywhere in the city, whether at a small street stall or a fine-dining restaurant. For a delicious bowl of noodles try Taiwan’s national dish, beef noodle soup, at Lin Dong Fang, a popular food stall on Bade Road in the Zhongshan District. Containing tender braised beef, bok choy, noodles and hot broth, this traditional Taiwanese soup makes a filling and tasty lunch. Arrive by 11:30 a.m. to beat the crowd.
For a midday fine-dining option, take your business associates to two-Michelin-starred RAW Taipei, one of the city’s hottest dining venues, located in Zhongshan District. Taiwanese-born chef André Chiang opened this French-influenced contemporary restaurant in 2014, offering a nine-course, fixed-price menu with bistro-style dishes at an affordable price in a relaxed setting. Chef Chiang and his chef de cuisine, Ben Wang, serve Taiwanese dishes made with ingredients carefully selected from Taiwan’s many micro-seasons, creating a new menu every three to four months. Open Wednesday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–9 p.m., the restaurant requires reservations, available to book on its website.
In the afternoon when meetings are over, unwind on Maokong Gondola, the first gondola system in Taipei. With a total length of 2.5 miles, the route offers fantastic aerial views of the city with four stops: Taipei Zoo Station, Taipei Zoo South Station, Zhinan Temple Station and Maokong Station. As the gondola passes over the undulating terrain, you can glimpse moving Metro trains and the park along Jingmei River. When you reach the second stop, the gondola takes a big turn, and riders get a panoramic view of the landscape, including vehicles moving along the freeway below. After passing Zhinan Temple Station, you will enter a steep, V-shaped gully … the climax of the gondola ride, and a wonderful, relaxing way to end a busy day in Taipei.
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