Taipei is an awesome city to visit! Located in the north of Taiwan, the capital city is in close proximity to the beach, as well as mountainous regions, and is well connected to the rest of the country. This makes both day trips and longer tours not only possible, but also easy for visitors to undertake. Taipei also offers many conveniences that directly affect travelers, such as free (and clean) public restrooms and free filtered water dispensers across the city. Here is my list of the reasons why I fell in love with Taipei:
Metro Rapid Transit (MRT)
Taipei’s public transportation system, in my opinion, ranks among the best in the world, including Berlin and Tokyo. With fill-as-you-go cards, travelers and commuters alike can use it as much or as little as desired, and any remaining balance can be cashed back out. With several lines, every corner of the city is accessible, and MRT passes can even be used for bicycle rentals and the gondola ride up to Maokong Mountain. All the signs and announcements on the trains are in clear English, making transferring or exiting very straight forward. In addition, the vast majority of people seem to follow the rules, standing to the right on escalators and lining up in the designated areas to board each train – so efficient!
Numerous Free Activities
There are so many things to do in Taipei that are completely free. From museums, like the Kategalan Museum and the Hot Springs Museum, to the geothermal pools in Beitou and endless hiking opportunities, Taipei has something for everyone at the price that fits everyone’s budget.
Proximity to Nature
One of my favorite aspects of Taipei is how easy it is to enjoy nature, whether it be having a picnic in one of the numerous parks, climbing up Elephant Mountain to get a better view of the World Trade Center or hiking in Yangmingshan National Park. Wherever you find yourself in the city, a patch of green is never far away.
Kindness of Strangers
The kindness I experienced in Taipei went well beyond the smiles I received from fellow pedestrians; everywhere I went in the city, people offered to help me find my way, often going out of theirs to do so. One time, a Taiwanese woman came over to me in the bus station for the sole purpose of welcoming me to Taiwan. On another occasion, at the Ruifang train station, an untranslated announcement came over the speaker that there was a track change and, seeing that I was confused, a young couple took it upon themselves to come over and explain the change. Then there was a woman, who pulled her car over to ask if I needed assistance with directions, when she saw me standing on a street car looking at a map.
Abundance of Vegan Restaurants
I was ecstatic to find so many vegan options in Taipei. I was able to eat dinner at a different vegan restaurant each night of my vacation, enjoying traditional Taiwanese food, familiar Western dishes, as well as other Asian cuisines. Veganism seemed to be understood by many, and even respected by some, especially the many Buddhist monks and nuns. Having so many vegan choices made me look forward to dinner every evening in Taipei and I am already excited to return!
The Running Man Signal When Crossing Streets
There really isn’t too much to say here, but the animated character that shows you how much time you have left to cross intersections in Taipei made me smile and fall in love with the city that little bit extra. His pace quickened gradually from a leisurely walk to a full-out sprint, when the light was about to change.