Taipei is a modern metropolis offering sightseeing and shopping for days, but its secret weapon is that it’s surrounded on all sides by natural beauty and getting out of Taipei is as simple as catching a bus or train heading in just about any direction. Go explore! Here’s more need-to-know info before you go.
Australian passport holders are usually allowed to enter Taiwan without a visa for up to 30 days (no extensions permitted) as long as you have a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of entry into Taiwan and a confirmed return or onward air ticket. Please be aware this information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute information, contact the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the ACT.
The New Taiwan Dollar is the currency of Taiwan. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the New Taiwan Dollar changes constantly, so keep an eye on the exchange rate and purchase your cash when the rate is at its best. For safe spending while overseas, consider taking a credit or debit card with you.
Taipei may be home to many different religions, but everyone agrees that they worship beef noodle soup. This dish is pretty much the city’s official food religion and you know a food is an obsession when it gets its own festival. The culinary philosophy in Taipei is eat often and eat well with around 20 streets dedicated to the art of snacking. Let’s not forget the bubble tea drink made from tea, milk and tapioca pearl that has now swept the Western world. Bubble or boba tea was conceived in Taiwan when Liu Han-Chieh threw some sweetened tapioca pudding into her iced Assam tea one fateful day in 1986, and hence the great Taiwanese beverage was born. Variations include taro-flavoured tea, jasmine tea and coffee, served cold or hot. Another local speciality is oyster omelette, which really showcases the beauty of Taipei – something from the sea and something from the soil. Gua bao is Taipei’s version of a hamburger – a steamed bun with a hearty filling of braised pork belly, pickled Chinese cabbage and topped with powdered peanuts, or try the pan-fried pork bun. You can get your feed at the many night markets dotted around the city or duck into a local restaurant. Head to James Kitchen in the Da’an District for popular homestyle meals. For dessert, you can‘t go past the iconic Taiwanese pastry of pineapple cake - a mini pie filled with candied pineapple.
After beef noodle soup, people in Taipei take one other thing very seriously: karaoke – it’s practically a 24/7 sport here. Cashbox Party is a 12-floor palace devoted to the performance. Not much of a singer? Maybe ‘shrimping’ is more your game. Also open round the clock, shrimping is basically fishing for shrimp in an Olympic-size swimming pool over beers and then well, cooking and eating your catch. Simple pleasures. There aren’t many pubs or dive bars in Taipei – it’s all about dining, cocktails and clubbing. As one of the top 10 Asian cities to pop a bottle and party hard, the multitude of upscale lounges in the vibrant Xinyi district comes as no surprise. For an extravagant night, Myst is Xinyi District’s swanky new dance club – expect talented dancers, top DJs and an indoor waterfall (!). Book a private booth on the open-air patio and take in the view of the Taipei 101 building, which is literally across the road. Also nearby is InHouse – an atmospheric club playing quality house and techno music. If you like jazz, head to Brown Sugar for its smooth live performances with a New Orleans twist. Taipei is also the Chinese pop/indie music capital – on any given night you can catch C-Pop stars drumming out metal, hip-hop, pop or folk tunes. If you’re lucky, you might even stumble across a famous international act in a hole-in-the-wall type venue.