Introduction to Taipei
Taipei is the largest city in Taiwan and it’s also the birthplace of the bubble tea phenomenon – what more do you need to know? You’ll find Taipei (officially Taipei City) situated at the northernmost tip of Taiwan and it’s been the capital of Taiwan (a.k.a. the Republic of China, not to be confused with the People’s Republic of China) since 1949.
Home to 2.6 million inhabitants, Taipei is one of the most densely populated urban areas in the world, and also Asia's second richest city per capita. The Taiwanese capital has worked hard to break free of the shackles of its congested and polluted past. While the charms of the old Taipei are still prevalent, in the past three decades city planners have helped shape the modern metropolis. There’s now a light rail network and more environmental awareness so you can you breathe a little easier in Taipei. Changing from the ugly duckling of Asia into one of its most progressive and liveable cities, Taipei is also a tonne of fun, creating the perfect balance between commerce and charm, and disorder and deftness.
Many tourists don’t leave Taipei without a souvenir made of jade stone. Considered a special keepsake of Taipei, you’ll find hundreds of stores dealing in jade as well as the enormous weekend Jade Market. If you’re after culture, nightlife, eating and shopping in Taiwan, you’ve come to the right city. Taipei recognises many different faiths and you’ll find Buddhist, Taoist, and Chinese folk temples – head to Xinsheng South Road where there is a high concentration of temples, shrines, churches, and mosques.
Maybe the defining feature of Taipei, however, is its friendly people – a melting pot of Japanese, Chinese and even Portuguese and Dutch cultural backgrounds lend locals (called Northsiders – those living in Tainan and below are known as Southsiders) to being a very open-minded and gregarious people who are proud of their cosmopolitan city.