Taiwan has a rich history and heritage from which you can trace aboriginal culture, ancient Chinese and Japanese-influences. Taiwan is also known for their lush green parks, hot springs, night markets and unique architecture. You can find all these in their capital city, Taipei.
Walking around the Taipei City is not just a walk in the park. Although most of the landmarks are within walking distances, a day tour around Taipei City requires an extensive research and time.
You need to check the schedule of the museums and see how much is their entrance fee if there are any. You also need to consider your transport service. With My Taiwan Tour, we were able to shortcut all of those worries. You may see their product through this link.
The Ultimate Taipei day tour is not our first tour with My Taiwan Tour. Our first tour with them is around the Northeast of Taiwan, more particularly in Jinguashi, Jiufen, and Pingxi.
We enjoyed our first tour with them. We saw what we need to see outside Taipei. We learned about the mining industry in the northeast Taiwan. We got to see an incredibly beautiful northeast coast of Taiwan in Jinguashi and Jiufen. And, we made a wish by lighting a sky lantern in Pingxi. Read also my article about Jiufen and Pingxi Tour with My Taiwan Tour.
In this article, we’d like to share our day tour experience with My Taiwan Tour. The tour requires a minimum of four up to fourteen people. Since my friend and I are only two, My Taiwan Tour set us up to join another smaller group. So, my friend and I got to meet another Filipinos and a foreigner.
The day tour includes an 8-hour tour around Taipei City with private charter service and tour guide. Our itinerary includes important landmarks, museums, and other sights to see in Taipei Taiwan.
What to see in Taipei
Taiwan is said to have temples in almost every corner. In Jiufen, we were able to visit the Fushan Chinese Temple with very detailed dragons on its orange tiled roof. Read also What to do in Jiufen.
Our first stop for our ultimate Taipei day tour with My Taiwan Tour is in one ofthe busiest temples in Taipei, more particularly in Guangzhou Street, Wanhua District. Getting inside the Temple is overwhelming because of the crowd and of the religious activities. If it wasn’t for the tour guide, we would have just taken a picture and gone out. Or, worst, got lost inside the Temple. Through our tour guide, we were enlightened and were able to see beyond the delicate designs and the lighting of incense sticks.
So, the Longshan Temple was first built in 1738 as a place of worship and, at the same time, a temporary home of Chinese immigrant coming from Southeast China, Fujian Province. It has been struck by earthquake, fire, and bombing but these unfortunate events barely left a mark on the temple.
Rather, the Longshan Temple seems to hold a celebration every day. The temple houses altars for deities in both Buddhism and Taoism, two of the main religions in the country.
Many people send their prayers to their deities through silently or loudly chanting, lighting Joss sticks and burning religious money on brass urns. On a long wooden table, they place their offerings such as fruits, and cakes.
An area is dedicated to their divination blocks. These are two half-moon shaped blocks which they call bwa bwei. They are thrown on the floor and read what sides come up.
The designs of the Longshan Temple coming from the roof running down to the columns and the altars are very stunning. The designs are very intricate and amazing. When you come to think of it, its architects and builders may not even have high-technology like the ones we have.
What makes the architectural design of the Longshan Temple stand out among other Temple are its two bronze pillars with detailed dragons that appear like crawling around the pillars.
Presidential Office Building
Just a few minutes away from the Longshan Temple is the Presidential Office Building. This is the official office of the President of the Republic of China or Taiwan. The building was first built as a center of government of Taiwan led by their Governor-General under the Japanese rule.
Upon the retrocession of Taiwan led by Kuomintang leaders, this building was also used as their central government office and office of Military Administrators. It was named Chieh Shou Hall. In 2006, it was renamed the Presidential Office Building.
The Presidential Office Building has tight security which is only as expected for an important government office such as this. Only a few rooms on the first floor are accessible for a quick tour. Taking of photos inside is not allowed. We were only allowed to take photos of the Baroque architectural design of the office building from a distance.
Across the Presidential Office Building is the Jieshou Park. There you can find a statue for their former President and a scenic view of red pagoda right by the pond.
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
We came in in the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, sometimes called the Liberty Square, just at the right timing that the guards were about to do their routine changing of posts. Although the remains of Chiang Kai Shek is buried at the Cihu Mausoleum, Daxi Township, Taoyuan District, West of Taiwan, a memorial hall was built to commemorate his life and legacy.
The bronze statue of the former President of the Republic of China is sitting in an octagon-shaped chamber which is 89-steps high above the ground. The 89 steps represent the age that Chiang Kai-Shek died while the octagon shape of the chamber represents abundance and fortune. The chamber has also blue tiles and red crown on its roof that represents the flag of Taiwan. In its high interior ceiling design, the flag of Kuomintang political party in integrated.
Right below the main chamber are library and museum that speak of the life and legacy of Chiang Kai-Shek as well as the history and milestones of the Republic of China. Also within the Liberty Square are their National Concert Hall and National Theater.
Lunch at Taipei 101
The ultimate Taipei day tour will not be complete without a visit to Taipei 101. Although it has been overthrown by the Burj Khalifa of Saudi Arabia for being the tallest building in the world, Taipei 101 is still the tallest environment-friendly building in the world.
Our tour guide Cola asked us ahead of time whether we want to have lunch at Din Tai Fun Restaurant inside Taipei 101 mall, in which he has a fast pass, or at the Starbucks on its 35th floor which needed a one-day advance reservation via phone call. Both Din Tai Fun Restaurant and Starbucks have branches in the Philippines. But, knowing that the Starbucks has an overlooking view of the Taipei City, we decided to let the fast pass to Din Tai Fun Restaurant slip.
One day before our actual visit, we were able to make a reservation to the 35F Starbucks in Taipei 101 through the help of a staff in Meander hostel. Read the whole story and what else to expect in Starbucks in Taipei 101.
To cut the story short, it is a typical Starbucks branch but with a well-worth and breathtaking view of Taipei City. It’s a great alternative to the observatory decks on the upper level of Taipei 101.
Lin An Tai Historical House
We then head to a Chinese ancestral home, one of my favorite itinerary of the Taipei day tour. Aside from having few visitors, this house museum exudes a homey vibe. Its structure, landscape, and waterscape beautifully speak in poetry.
Lin An Tai Historical House is formerly a home of a Chinese immigrant family from Anxi County, Fujian Province, China. The head of the family is Lin Chin-Ming. As their family business grew in Taiwan, they little by little invested in building their dream home.
Lin An Tai Historical House was not listed as a historical site despite being one of the oldest residential homes in Taiwan. Instead, it was supposed to be demolished for road expansion within its vicinity, or specifically Dunhua South Road, Taipei. Good thing that experts and concerned scholars recommended for its relocation in order to preserve the ancestral house.
Today, Lin An Tai Historical House is now located at Binjiang Park, near the Taipei Songshan Airport. There, you can be greeted by the half-circle shaped pond which they used for drinking water and for fire safety and rock pavements which are made of rocks used to help balance the old ships. The two-story house is furnished with antiques and has a main hall dedicated as an altar. On the east of the main house is their courtyard. It has a bigger pond surrounded by stone landscapes, artificial hills, and different pavilions.
Pass by Grand Hotel
Before we headed to our next stop, we passed by the Grand Hotel, one of the landmarks of Taipei. Grand Hotel is designed with classic Chinese architecture. It was built in order to serve as a temporary lodging for foreign high ranking officials since five-star hotels were still rare in Taiwan during the time of Chiang Kai-shek.
Yangmingshan National Park
Outside the bustling city, we stopped by Yangmingshan National Park. This is like the summer capital of Taiwan due to its good weather and easy hiking trails with stunning scenery of mountains.
In its west entrance, a flower clock greets the visitors. The park even brightens up as seasonal flowers, like azalea, and cherry blossoms, sprawl in the fields.
Beitou Hot Spring
Taiwan is also known for several hot springs of different types like a seabed hot springs in its east coast and mud hot spring in its central area. One of the most accessible hot springs within Taipei is Wulai District. We experienced relaxing hot spring bath with the fresh water of the Wulai District through Volando Urai Spring Spa and Resort. Read also Volando Urai Spring Spa and Resort.
With My Taiwan Tour, we got to visit another hot spring district within Taipei. The Beitou District is a bit urbanized. There are numerous public and private hot springs within the center of Beitou. The water in the hot spring is really hot that anyone can already cook an egg in it. This reminds me of Yellowstone National Park, careful not to fall in.
The water of the public and private hot spring actually comes from the water of the Geothermal Valley. The geothermal valley is visually pleasing because of its steaming jaded water surrounded by rare boulders of rocks and green environment. But, fences were made around it in order to avoid accidents since the water in the Geothermal Valley can really reach 80 to 100 degree Celsius.
Before fences were placed, people used to boil eggs in the Geothermal Valley. Today, hard-boiled eggs are sold around the area. I guess it was just a good way to end a hot spring bath.
National Palace Museum
Located on the east of Taipei, we headed to the National Palace Museum. Tour around the Museum can take two hours or more. But, our group was not too inclined to stay long. So, our tour guide gave us some of the highlights inside the museum.
The National Palace Museum is a home to thousands of Chinese ancient artifacts and artworks. All of these used to be found behind the walls of the Forbidden City, Beijing. It was relocated for its preservation at the time of the Chinese civil war.
The National Palace Museum is a four-story establishment with two main exhibition halls. The collection includes paintings, calligraphy, and ceramics that all date back to different dynasty.
Shi-lin Night Market
Our ultimate Taipei Tour with My Taiwan Tour ended with the Shilin Night Market. The Shi Lin Night Market is one of the largest night markets in Taiwan. It is a good place for shopping and for a street food tour.
The Shilin Night Market has an open-air complex with a basement food court. Outside the complex are more food stalls and merchandise stores which people love for having a variety of goods. Read also Best Night Markets in Taiwan.
The Shilin Night Market is the perfect way to end our tour. We were really starving. The Shi Lin Night Market offers many Taiwanese staple food like oyster omelette, stinky tofu, and milk tea.
Overall, the ultimate Taipei day tour with My Taiwan Tour was great. The itinerary was well thought off and went smoothly. It was also nice to go around Taipei with a tour guide especially in the Longshan Temple. He taught us what was happening inside the Temple and what we can do. Our tour guide gladly narrated as well the history and overview of the other itineraries.
We’re happy of not having to think about our transport service. Our private charter took us to the nearest and most convenient entrance of the landmarks.
Our final drop off was only at Shilin Night Market. The charter no longer waited for us. But, at least, we did not rush our tour around Shilin Night Market. From there, we were able to get back easily to our hotel. Shilin Night Market is only twenty minutes away from our hostel, Meander Hostel. Read also Meander Hostel Review.