Follow me! Embark on 2-day trip around Taipei’s Eastern District

Model of one of liao’s characters (left), A shop on Tonghua Street known for bawan and vermicelli (middle), and The south-facing entrance of the memorial hall (Courtesy of Aaron Sheng)

There are many beautiful places you can tour in Taiwan, and the sheer options may quickly overwhelm you. Some districts are underrated, and you most probably visited them once in your life. If you have exhausted your bucket list destinations, worry not. There are many wondrous, underrated places in which you can explore and enjoy your trip.

Day 1 | Discovery Center (1 hr, 10:00-11:00) 

The Discovery Center in the Taipei City Hall is a great opening to your trip to Taiwan. This is where you will discover quite a few things about the city’s past. Inaugurated in 2002, the center records the constant development of Taipei.

If you are unfamiliar with Chinese, there are brochures on the first floor in several different languages that can help you identify certain displays.

The countless interactive models and the 360-degree revolving theatre with 15 minute short films will deliver more information to curious minds.

You can learn about topics such as the geography of Taiwan and the history of Qing Taipei as the Walled City. There are lots of displays and things people can interact with, making this place children friendly as well.

Some of these things include the shrine fortunes, the geographical displays, and the theater, so people traveling with their children will not have to worry.

If you hope to learn more about this small island, the Discovery Center in the City Hall is the perfect place to begin the journey.

Model of an aborigine in a canoe (left), 360-degree revolving theater 4F (right) (Courtesy of Aaron Sheng)
Day 1 | Eslite Bookstore (1 hr, 11:10-12:10)

The Xinyi branch of Eslite Bookstore now opens 24 hours a day. The bookstore, which boasts a café open until 1 a.m., is a great place to relax with a cup of coffee or tea and read a book.

Being extremely close to the City Hall, it is very easy to walk to.

Inside the bookstore is over 1 million books, containing a plethora of different genres and effectively grouped, so you will be sure to find the books you are interested in; the staff can also help you find certain books if the displays are too complicated to navigate.

Eslite café exterior; next to food;nutrition section of bookstore (right), Books on display in the bookstore (Courtesy of Aaron Sheng)

However, the bookstore is not the only thing in the building; there are also specialty shops that sell things such as perfume and soap, and shops such as toy stores that are more suited for kids.

This building is connected to the Uni-President Department Store, which is connected to the Taipei City Hall MRT station. It is very close to the Xinyi Shopping District, so getting to your next destination – Taipei 101 – won’t be a problem at all. 

Day 1 | Taipei 101 + Xinyi Shopping District (3 hrs, 12:20-15:20)

If you ever come to Taipei, visiting the renowned Taipei 101 is almost customary. Completed in 2004 and being 508 m tall, it is the tallest building in Taiwan, and it is known for its extremely cool observatory as well as its tuned mass damper.

Looking downwards from 89F indoor observatory (right), 91F outdoor observatory (left), 101 exteriors (MRT exit 3)(Courtesy of Aaron Sheng)

Before visiting the observatory, though, a visit to the food court is a must.

The area contains many of Taiwan’s local favorites, such as mango shaved ice, bubble tea, and xiaolongbao (soup dumplings), trying these foods if you haven’t already will be nearly life-changing.

Some of these local foods are available at Din Tai Fung, a must-try restaurant well-known for their xiaolongbao.

After your lunch, you can make your way to the 5th floor, where you can purchase tickets for the observatory, or check-in if you have purchased tickets beforehand.

Taipei 101 boasts one of the best elevators in the world, traveling from 84 floors in only 37 seconds and lessening ear pressure for passengers.

The indoor observatory on the 89th floor offers a panoramic view of the city; then you can see the sprawled out city without a tinted window in front of you on the 91st floor.

After that, you can observe the enormous damper that keeps the building standing even during the strongest typhoons and earthquakes from 89F or 88F.

There is also a souvenir shop in the observatory, so tourists can purchase memorabilia to remind them of this trip in the future.

Taipei 101 is also the heart of the Xinyi shopping district; after visiting the building itself, tourists can explore the surrounding area — filled with shopping malls including Shinkong Mitsukoshi and Breeze — connected to Taipei 101 via a single sky bridge.

Day 1 | Jimmy’s Moon Bus (⅙ hrs, 15:20-15:30)

Jimmy’s Moon Bus is a public work of art based on the works of Taiwanese illustrator “Jimmy” Liao. It is about a 1 to 2-minute walk away from MRT Taipei 101/World Trade Center Station.

His illustrations – from the book “When the Moon Forgot” — were used as inspiration to create the bus, which includes a boy sitting in the bus holding a moon, as well as a bear as the bus driver.

The colorful, Christmas light-like bulbs and the decorated handles on the ceiling of the bus turned this into more of an exhibition artwork than a painted bus.

At the back of the bus is a small octagonal space with mirrors on both the ceiling and the floor, providing for an “endless ceiling” feel; on the walls are some of his illustrations, and on the ceiling is a light with his illustrated moon’s face on it.

Bus exterior (right), model of one of liao’s characters and Interior aisle of the bus (left). (Courtesy of Aaron Sheng)

The bus gives off a unique vibe — like a cozy cabin in the winter snow — when you’re inside it, so you should definitely take some time out of your day to visit this public artwork during your visit to Taipei.

Day 1 | Xiangshan (2 hrs, 15:50-17:50)

Just as well known in the Xinyi District as Taipei 101 is Xiangshan, also known as “Elephant Mountain.” About a 5 to 10 minute walk away from Xiangshan MRT station, the mountain is a popular tourist attraction in the early morning or late afternoon for climbers to watch either the sunrise or sunset.

Many creatures lurk within the mountains; however, chances are that only mosquitoes will bother you, so just put on some bug spray beforehand.

With a couple of different paths to choose from, it is more than likely that you will be able to find a trail most suitable for yourself. The 2 main tourist attractions on the mountain are 六巨石 (6 Giant Rocks) and 一線天 (One Thread of Sky).

Once you reach the Six Giant Rocks, you will not only be rewarded with a wide and stunning view of the city but also a great spot for #Instaworthy photos, where unforgettable memories will be captured.

view of taipei 101 from path, upwards/ forwards view of parts of the trail/ stairs (left) and entrance to Xiangshan (right)

One Thread of Sky, as the name implies, is a narrow section of the trail where only a slimmer of the sky is visible, and climbers will have to form a single-file line in order to experience and see this.

Xiangshan takes around 2 hours to climb to the peak and descend; although it can be quite tiring, it is a worthwhile experience and does not take long, leaving plenty of time for other “must visit” tourist destinations in the surrounding area of the Xinyi District.

Day 1 | Tonghua Night Market (18:20-20:20)

After a long day of sightseeing and learning about the city, it only makes sense that you end the day with a Taiwanese classic — the night market.

Originally built in 1979, the Tonghua Night Market used to be a rice paddy until asphalt road was created here, and is now only a 5-minute walk from MRT Xinyi Anhe Station.

A stall in the market selling various brand clothing (left), Balloon dart game inside the night market (right) (Courtesy of Aaron Sheng)

There are 2 exits, one on each end of the night market.

Despite being smaller and less crowded than the world-famous Shilin Night Market, it also contains the many must-try, delectable delights of Taiwanese night markets, including pig intestine vermicelli, Ba-wan (Taiwanese meatball), and pan-fried buns.

In fact, this night market — filled with recipes passed down from many generations — is one of only three night markets in Taipei with four stalls/restaurants listed in the Michelin’s Bib Gourmand List, and this award is given to small restaurants which have good value for money.

A stall selling fried taro + sweet potato balls inside the market. A shop on Tonghua Street known for bawan and vermicelli (right) and Pan-fried bun stall located to left after going in from exit above (left) (Courtesy of Aaron Sheng)

However, food is not the only staple within the Tonghua Night Market; there are also other things such as carnival games, including claw machines and balloon darts, as well as a multitude of shops that line the market.

Although some of these stores sell brand merchandise and products, it is still interesting to see the designs that they offer. In summary, the Tonghua night market is a great place to experience traditional, local, and authentic Taiwanese street food, and one of Taipei’s best night markets despite its size. 


Info Box: 

  • Brief route
    • Discovery Center -> Eslite -> Taipei 101 (Lunch) + shopping district -> Jimmy’s Moon Bus -> Xiangshan -> Tonghua Night Market (Dinner)  
  • Highlights 
    • Discovery Center
    • Eslite Bookstore
    • Taipei 101
    • Jimmy’s Moon Bus
    • Xiangshan 
    • Tonghua Night Market 
  • Important Information 
    • Time needed: 
      • 8 to 11 hours
    • Included: 
      • Transportation to and from hotel (to first destination + from last destination) 
      • Insurance
    • Not included: 
      • Tickets to Taipei 101 Observatory 
      • Food 
      • Public transportation
      • Tips 
    • Target visitors: 
      • Family, Suitable for everyone
      • Food enthusiasts 
      • Curious tourists

 

Day 2 | Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall Station

Before the 2nd day of the tour starts, it is recommended that you try a traditional Taiwanese breakfast. Such food can be found next to your next destination (SYS Memorial Hall), at Jiang Yellow Beef Noodle Shop, open for almost 40 years.

Some local favorites to try are “fan tuan” (sticky rice burrito with meat floss and dried radish), “shao bing jia dan” (roasted flatbread with egg), “yo-tiao” (fried dough), and “dou jiang” (soy milk).

Although these choices can be a pretty traditional breakfast, it can be a late-night snack as well, since this shop is open for almost all 24 hours (05:30 – 03:00). 

The South facing entrance taken (left), and one section of the history exhibit inside the memorial hall 1F (right) (Courtesy of Aaron Sheng)

Day 2 | Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall (2 hrs, 09:00-11:00)

The Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, near the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall station, is another great place to learn more about Taipei’s history.

Built to commemorate Dr. Sun Yat-Sen and his contributions, the hall contains plenty of historical information about him, Taiwan, and its neighboring countries before and during Taiwan’s revolution for independence.

Entering the main hall, you will be greeted by the huge Lincoln-esque statue of Sun Yat-Sen, flanked by not only two flags of Taiwan, but also two motionless soldiers on podiums.

On the mark of every hour, starting from 10 a.m., there is a change-of-guard ceremony and the soldiers march off in sync as another pair replaces them in the same respectful manner.

The Memorial Hall includes a gallery of art, a history exhibition hall, as well as a library. Visitors can also take a stroll around the park surrounding the memorial hall, which has a lake as well as several statues and engravings.

The south-facing entrance of the memorial hall (right), and View of the pond + surrounding buildings (Courtesy of Aaron Sheng)
Day 2 | Songshan Cultural and Creative Park (1.5 hrs, 11:10-12:40)

This area, previously constructed in 1937 under the Japanese government to be a tobacco factory, was renamed the Songshan Tobacco Factory in 1945 when Japan ceded the Taiwan territory.

Due to a decrease in demand for tobacco, as well as concerns for urban planning and marketing regulations, the production of tobacco in the factory was stopped in 1998.

In 2001, the area was named the 99th historic site of Taipei and converted into a park, and a couple of the warehouses have been converted into a tea shop and a bookstore.

There is also a small shop called Songyan Gallery near the former warehouses that sells an interesting assortment of handmade goods. Also within this gallery is a coffee shop complete with a seating area perfect for temporarily escaping from the summer heat or winter cold.

When you visit this park you can easily immerse yourself into the authentic, natural environment.

Day 2 | SOGO Department Store (2.5 hrs, 12:55-15:20)
    • Time needed from the previous destination: around 15 min. (walk + MRT) 
    • Near (MRT): Zhongxiao Fuxing Station (brown + blue transfer)
    • Near (bus): Zhongxiao Fuxing Station

With 2 branches connected to the same MRT station, SOGO is a great place for shoppers. Not only do both departments contain a wide variety of consumer goods, but the food courts also have a massive selection, giving visitors different cuisines to select from.

There are also several pop-ups and stores in the buildings that sell foods that would make great gifts such as pineapple cakes or meat floss.

Moreover, a multitude of international fashion boutiques are spread across the 2 department stores, and on the top floors of the Fuxing Branch is an indoor Japanese rock garden.

There is a staff-serviced counter in the Fuxing Branch where they can keep your heavy luggage for you (if needed), so it is a very tourist-friendly place to shop.

Even though only the Fuxing Branch has this service, the two buildings are one street apart so it is fairly convenient. For international shoppers, SOGO can seem like the perfect place.

Claw machines inside the mall (left) , “Food Plaza” sign in the mall (right), The exterior of the building (from exit 2) (Courtesy of Aaron Sheng)
Day 3 | East Metro Mall + Zhongxiao East Road (2 hrs, 15:20-17:20)

The East Metro Mall is connected to two MRT stations: Zhongxiao Dunhua and Zhongxiao Fuxing.

Being 725 meters long, it contains 17 exits, and because the mall connects a big portion of the Eastern District underground, it is very convenient for travelers, sometimes helping tourists avoid the harsh weather in Taipei.

There are a variety of stores in the underground mall, so you can find almost anything when walking around, from phone accessories to toys.

However, you will quickly see that some spots seem to be closed all day; that is not due to the shop’s problem but rather no one has rented the space for their businesses yet.

Also in this mall are a few shops for claw machines; in these stores, the walls are lined with different claw machines with prizes of all sorts such as stuffed animals.

The mall is located directly below Section 4 Zhongxiao East Road, so tourists can easily alternate from shopping outdoors to indoors if desired, as the stores above and below ground are quite different.

Day 2 | Mingyao Department Store (1 hr, 17:20-18:20)

    • Time needed from the previous destination (exit 2 of East Metro Mall): about 2 to 5 min. walk 
    • Near (MRT): Zhongxiao Dunhua Station 
    • Near (bus): Zhongxiao Dunhua Station

The Mingyao Department Store was first completed in April of 1987, and later remodeled in 2011.

With 12 floors boasting shops, such as Uniqlo, GU, and DAISO, as well as an arcade and restaurants, this department store is suitable for visitors of all ages; additionally, tourists can admire the view along Section 4 Zhongxiao East Road when riding the elevator which has a glass wall.

It is fairly close to several exits of the underground mall, so it is fairly popular with people touring the eastern district as well as local shoppers.

Day 2 | Eastern Ice (1 hr, 18:30-19:30)

As the name suggests, it is an ice shop located in the eastern district of Taipei, and it allows customers to “make” their own unique bowl of ice containing up to 4 choices of local ingredients (tapioca balls, soy pudding, grass jelly, taro, mung beans, etc.) for only NT$60 (around US$2).

It has been open for more than 30 years, and plenty of people always line up to get a taste of this local favorite.

Eastern ices selection of toppings (right), People buying ice bowls on a hot day (left), A takeaway bowl from Eastern Ice (Courtesy of Aaron Sheng)

However, ice is not the only option that this store offers; it also has a hot menu with things such as red bean soup and hot grass jelly, also including the self-chosen toppings.

It is also located within Alley 216 of Section 4 Zhongxiao East Road, which is an alley known for the small stalls selling fruits and other food. No matter when you visit Taipei, definitely give this store a try. 

Day 2 | Dinner (1.5 hr, 20:00-21:30)
      • Time needed from the previous destination: 15 to 20 min. (walk + MRT) 
      • Near (MRT): Zhongxiao Fuxing Station, Nanjing Fuxing Station
      • Near (bus): Fuxing South Road, Zhonglun

It is only fair that the two-day tour ends with yet another Taiwanese comfort food – beef noodles. One restaurant that serves exceptionally good beef noodles is Lin Dong Fang Beef Noodles.

This restaurant was on the Bib Gourmand List in 2018 as well, making it a much more appealing restaurant in addition to the 3 generations of recipes being passed down.

It is also one of the best beef noodles restaurants in Taipei; in fact, it is one of the two best places in Taiwan, the other being Yong Kang Beef Noodles.

This restaurant is so popular that people line up before the shop even opens. (open from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.)


Info Box: 

  • Brief route
    • Breakfast -> Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall -> Songshan Cultural and Creative Park -> SOGO (Lunch) -> East Metro Mall + Section 4 Zhongxiao East Road -> Mingyao Department Store -> Alley 216 -> Dinner
  • Explanation 
  • Highlights
    • Taiwanese breakfast
    • Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
    • Songshan Cultural and Creative Park
    • SOGO
    • East Metro Mall 
    • Mingyao Department Store
    • Alley 216
    • Taiwanese beef noodles
  • Important Information