A rich cultural past, which comes alive in an eclectic cityscape - part Japanese, part European and part its own - has made Taipei an evergreen vacation prospect for long now. Add to that the recent developments that have made it a cosmopolitan hub, and you have yourself a winner! As it stands today, the city boasts of a sprawling skyline, giant modern entertainment venues and a vibrant gastronomy to go along with all the historic temples and monastery complexes as well as the serene countryside.
The arrival of the Taipei Metro made commuting hassle free, only widening the scope of travellers. No part of the city is off bounds; and that brings us to the main question of choosing the right place to base yourself at. And to answer that, we have come up with a comprehensive guide. Here, we have listed some of the best neighbourhoods of Taipei and what they might have in store for you traveller!
The best neighbourhood for first time travellers and people looking for a long day of sightseeing is the central Zhongzheng. Home to most major landmarks, this is the one part of Taipei where you're unlikely to run out of things to do. The majestic Presidential Hall on Bo'ai Road is a great place to start your city tour from; you can then find your way around to other such must-visit spots as the North Gate, Liberty Square Arch and National Chiang Kai-Shek Hall among others.
Taipei's major cultural institutions including the expansive National History Museum and the National Concert Hall are also located in the vicinity. Both complexes are set up in serene locales, with the former showcasing art and textile exhibits from the region and the latter hosting major cultural events. The Zhongzheng Riverside Park also offers a quick change of scenery and sweeping views of the skyline over meandering river - something which is also up for grabs at the busy Gongguan Waterfront Plaza nearby.
As the administrative centre of the city, Zhongzheng is one of Taipei's prime locations. Access is easy as all public transport systems including easy to hail cabs; hotel options are also in plenty and among some of the finest that the Taiwanese capital has to offer!
Just west of Zhongzheng is the peninsular neighborhood of Wanhua. Surrounded by the Tamsui River and it's breakouts on three sides, this is the part of the that has unfettered access to Taipei's extensive waterfront. The likes of Shuangyuan and Huazhong parks have multiple sports fields including the ones for soccer and baseball, a few well maintained tennis courts as well as plenty of lush gardens perfect for afternoon strolls and sunset viewings.
And even so, there are bigger draws here! The historic Lungshan temple, which carries centuries of Buddhist and Taoists cultural capital is an absolute sight to behold - especially under the warm festive lightings. Several smaller, but equally exquisite shrines and temple complexes for the nearby streets that definitely warrant a walking tour or two. You can also experience the city's famed gastronomy at the local street markets, with vendors specialising in local cuisine.
The neighborhood is fairly close to the central Zhongzheng, making access fairly straightforward. Wanhua is also connected to outer suburbs through a series of pedestrian and motorable bridges. Hotels should be easy to find and among the more reasonably priced; you should have no trouble finding a great stay without having to spend a lot in that department!
And for all the talk about Taipei's cultural and historic capital, the city is after all a cosmopolitan centre. And no neighborhood encapsulates that side of the city as well as the compact and mordane neighborhood of Xinyi. The area, which could well be classified as the commercial centre or 'downtown' part of the city, is where you find some of the island's big shopping venues, some top-notch European and global eateries and lively nightlife options.
Xinyi is also the venue of the Taipei 101, the 89-floor observation deck that has become nearly synonymous with the neighborhood. A ride to the top, preferably during the twilight hour should definitely be on the top of to-do lists. You can also always visit the National Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, a mixed use space hosting cultural events in an electrically built hall representing a mix of Chinese and modernist architecture symbolic of the neighborhood's own uniquely multicultural appeal.
The neighborhood has one of the highest concentrations of hotels in all of Taipei simply by the virtue of being the city's commercial centre. Some of the biggest names in the world of hospitality have also set up shop in Xinyi, which could sometimes reflect in them being on the pricier side of things. As an aside, you might also want to check out the walking and hiking trails around the pristine Xiangshan Mountain!
Another neighborhood that manages to capture Taipei's global appeal well is Zhongshan, the western district that could easily resemble the business centres of any western counterparts. A more laid back cityscape, characterised by luxury hotel and business complexes including the iconic Grand Hotel, perched in the middle of a green patch. And before we delve any further, a special shout-out to the series of walking trails and small theme gardens around the Grand Hotel - as this is one area that would want to spend a lot of your free time in.
Onto the more obvious entertainment options then: the neighborhood's several big box stores and supermarkets sell local produce and delicacies, while Japanese-style eateries including izakaya pubs and sushi restaurants dot all major thoroughfares. Zhongshan also has a couple of major landmarks that you should not miss out on by any means; be it the quarters of the mesmerising Hsing Tian Kong temple or the Lin An Tai House, or the vivid indoors of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and Tudor House, you are bound to come across one captivating experience after the other.
As mentioned before, the neighborhood has plenty of great accommodation options. Some of the best luxury hotels can be found in the vicinity, but unlike its predecessor, Zhongshan also has a range of more affordable options as well. The neighborhood's eponymous metro station serves as a junction for the Red and Green lines, whilst easily connecting it to most other parts of the city.
The last inner circle neighborhood on the list, Datong is the go-to place for travellers looking for a quieter stay without having to travel too far out of city bounds. A stone's throw from most major attractions that have come up so far, Datong offers a unique opportunity of maximising your Taipei holiday. Whether you want to spend time at one of the major shopping avenues, or a lazy day in the countryside, or delve into the local culture, you will have the freedom to make that choice every time you step out of your hotel room.
And that's not to say that the neighborhood has no attractions of its own to show for. Datong, much like it's more talked about neighbors, houses major cultural attractions. The austere Confucius temple, which draws in visitors to its minimalist design stands in stark contrast with the orange facades of Bao'an temple; either way, both destinations are definitely worth your time, as are the Ningxia Night Market - known for its flair for the local cuisine!
The neighborhood's unique location - slightly west of downtown and just north of Wanhua - makes it a great place for travellers looking to stay in the mix of things. Hotels in Datong are some of the most reasonably priced, another positive to look forward to, especially for backpackers!
The small neighborhood of Da'an is where you'll find a vast majority of Taipei's Gen Z population. And that's owing to the presence of a few university campuses and bustling good streets. But before we talk about that, a little mention of the walking trails in the Da'an Forest Park feels like a necessity. The big green space also has a big central pavilion, and is laden with brooks and small ponds, which make for perfect picnic spots or the same for get-togethers.
Talking about the neighborhood's famed gastronomy then! The neighborhood has some of the best restaurants that Taipei has to offer; those include local favourites Vegan Taiwanese and Din Tai Fung as well as such global eateries as the Diner, Little World and Moksha 67 among others.
But as is most often the case in Taipei, it is local sushi shops, street vendors and night markets that will keep you coming back for more. And Da'an has plenty of those, so make sure you visit the Linjiang market, Yongkang Street and as many others as you can. The trendy bars, small bistros and coffee shops, vendors selling shaved ice at the latter draw especially passionate crowds comprising the young college going population.
And for the last neighborhood on the list, we bring to you the quaint and mountainous neighborhood of Beitou - known for its bountiful reserves of natural vegetation and hot spring venues. These all-out resort complexes offer open-air baths as well as accompanying facilities such as spa and wellness retreats, and pretty much anything that you need for a relaxing getaway vacation. The Beitou Hotspring Museum, which once served as a bathhouse has everything you need to know about the region's natural geysers!
To add to the already enticing prospect of enjoying a lazy weekend in the hot spring retreats, you also have the vast outdoors of Beitou. The neighborhood's eponymous park sits atop a serene setting, doubles as a wetland and national park, besides being home to the museum complex and a tribal cultural centre. There's the nearby Phoenix mountain, popular with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. And to top it all off, there are observation towers at just about every corner, offering 360 views of the stunning mountain setting!
Beitou is the northernmost of all 12 Taipei city districts, so it might come across as a little farther out than the other mentions on the list. But given the unique location and plenty of hot spring resorts to choose from, you might want to make that extra drive after all. The neighborhood is serviceable through the Red Line of the Taipei Metro at the eponymous Beitou station among others.
And that's our complete list from Taipei. Take a look and have a great time planning your next vacation; the Taiwanese capital awaits!