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CityTips Guide to Taipei

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Economic and political development have driven Taipei's internationalization, increasing the bustle in this ultra-dense city. Although rice paddies have given way to skyscrapers, Taipei still retains the warm hospitality of the Taiwanese people.

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Local Overview

Taipei, the political and financial center of Taiwan, is the island's most populous city. Taipei originated as a small trading port over two hundred years ago before becoming the administrative capital under the Qing Dynasty. During the last few decades there has been tremendous growth in the city. Now a sprawling metropolis, Taipei is an ideal place to visit for those who love the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Bei Tou (Peitou) Located in the northwest, Bei Tou is famous for its sulfur springs, spas and hotels. One of the more popular sulfur pits is Hell Valley. Bei Tou is in the middle of a small mountain range connected to Wellington Heights and Yang Ming Shan by public transport. Yang Ming Shan National Park is a great place to go hiking.

Shi Lin (Shihlin) The Shi Lin district covers both banks of the Keelung River and spills into the surrounding mountains. Shi Lin is best known for Shihlin Night Market, Taipei's largest night market. North of the market is the peaceful Tian Mu area which features a large expatriate community and several of Taipei's international schools. The Chinese Culture and Movie Center and the world-renowned National Palace Museum are also located within this district.

Da Tong (Tatung) Da Tong District was once home to European merchants who settled to trade with the Taiwanese. Walk through its old lanes and you will find numerous tea companies, a few European-style buildings and several temples including the famous Confucius Temple and Bao An Temple. Perhaps the most popular attraction here is Di Hua Street, one of Taipei's main trading centers during the 1800s. Today, the street is still lined with traditional shops selling dried goods and herbal medicines.

Zhong Shan (Chungshan) Running through the center of the district is Zhong Shan North Road, which divides the city into east and west. Zhong Shan was once the commercial center for Taipei, but now it is better known for its shops and bars. The area also has the dubious honor of being one of the major red light districts. The area also has several cultural offerings including the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Lin An Tai House, the Grand Hotel, Xing Tian Temple and the Taipei Children's Recreation Center.

Song Shan (Sungshan) Home to Taipei's central business district and many company headquarters, this is one of the city's most international districts. Numerous foreign restaurants are on the streets and alleys off Dun Hua North Road and Min Sheng East Road. To the north, the Sungshan Domestic Airport provides a gateway to Taiwan's major cities and outlying islands. In addition, the Mandarina Crown Hotel, Hard Rock Cafe, the Taipei Municipal Stadium and the Asiaworld Shopping Center are also located on Dun Hua North Road.

Wan Hua The oldest district in Taipei, Wan Hua was once a thriving port. Located on the Dan Shui River, this area was built up by merchants from Mainland China. Religion played a major role in the lives of these Chinese settlers who constructed numerous temples in the area. Present day temples in the Wan Hua District include the Lungshan Temple (Taipei's oldest temple), Chingshui Zen Temple, and Ching Shan Temple. Other main attractions in this area are the popular Xi Men Ding shopping and movie district, Hua Xi Street (better known as Snake Alley), and Taipei's Youth Park.

Zhong Zheng (Chungcheng) The political center of Taipei City, the Zhong Zheng District is home to numerous government offices, parks and museums. The 2-28 Memorial Peace Park, Taiwan Provincial Museum, Botanical Garden, and the Presidential Palace are all located in Zhong Zheng. Perhaps best known is the massive Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall which also houses the National Theater and National Concert Hall.

Da An (Ta An) Da An District, located in downtown Taipei, is a mix of residential and commercial buildings. Zhong Xiao East Road, Section 4 is the most popular shopping strip in Da An, with numerous boutiques and coffee shops as well as Sogo Department Store. The Da An District also has a thriving nightlife with many restaurants, bars and clubs.

Xin Yi (Hsinyi) Mainly a residential and commercial district, Xin Yi is home to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Taipei World Trade Center, Mitsukoshi and New York, New York department stores, and the new Warner Village movie complex. Over the last 100 years, Taipei City has been expanding eastwards towards the mountains and the Xin Yi District marks a new era of the city's development.

Nei Hu, Wen Shan, Nan Gang

These three districts are less populated than the city center and are great places to get away from the city. Nei Hou is popular with hikers and nature lovers. It is also possible to see some traditional culture by hiking up to Pi Shan Temple. Wen Shan is best known for the numerous tea houses dotting the hills in the Mu Cha area. However, the district also houses the Taipei City Zoo and the Chang Shan Temple. Primarily an industrial area, Nan Gang is home to Academia Sinica, the leading academic research institute in Taiwan.

Surrounding areas- Dan Shui, Keelung, Wu Lai North of Taipei is the old fishing village of Dan Shui. Once a main port, Dan Shui is where the Spanish landed when they arrived in Taiwan. Fort San Domingo is one of the few remaining relics from this period of Taiwanese history. Traveling east along the coastal highway will lead you to the seaport of Keelung. Well known for its food and numerous temples, many Taipei residents head to Keelung on the weekends for a change of scenery and a meal at its famous night market. Just south of Taipei is the mountain village of Wu Lai, home to a large indigenous population of Ataya.

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