Worried about trip to Taipei

Our family of 4 has a 46 hour stop in taipei. We’re excited about exploring a new city & really scared about being in a culture where we don’t know the language. At this point we don’t even have accomodations booked. Please can u help with suggestions on what/where we should try to stay. Would like something close to the airport but the CKS hotel is closed when we are there. What recommendations do you have.
Thank you for your helpful ideas.

Don’t worry, in Taipei English is mostly sufficient to get around. There is a bus from CKS into town that stops at most of the major hotels, else just take a taxi (leave some luggage at the airport if possible, else it might not fit into the car).

What’s your budget for accomodation? Hotels are a kind of expensive here …

you definitely don’t want to stay at the airport hotel anyway. there’s nothing there… at all!!
take a bus and stay in the city. that way you can hit the major tourist destinations (CKS & SYS memorials, Nat’l Palace and Nat’l History museums, etc) easily.
have a nice visit

For two days, may I suggest some combination of the following:

(1) Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, 228 memorial, Presidential Palace (walk by only–can’t go inside). Be sure to see the soldiers do their hourly performance at CKS memorial.

(2) “Snake Alley” and Lung-Shan Temple. (These could be seen in the evening or at night.) Snake Alley, as you may have heard, involves snakes being sliced open before your very eyes. Lots of places to eat, not limited to snake!

(3) Danshui, where you can see the old Dutch fort and walk along the waterfront (lots of tourist trap type stuff here).

(4) If it rains, or you’re very interested in Chinese art, then add a half-day at the National Palace Museum.

(5) If the weather is good, and you want some outdoor exercise amidst nature, one possibility is to walk to Zhinan Temple, which is on a hill above Mucha. You have to walk up a flight of 1400 steps to get there, and there are lots of jungle plants around.

Or if you want to walk on level ground, the Guandu bird sanctuary has good views of Yangmingshan and the Danshui river, and there’s an old interesting temple there too.

Other possibilities (involving walking up and down hills) include Yangmingshan itself (being an extinct volcano, it has hot springs / pits of boiling sulfer) or the hills across the river on Guanyin Mountain (where there are several temples–you have to take a ferry from Danshui).

(6) Depending on when you go, it might be possible to catch a performance of Chinese opera or puppet theater.

Closed till next July

Keep in mind that CKS Airport isn’t in Taipei. It’s out in Taoyuan County (I think), about 45 minutes to an hour away if traffic is good.

Snake Alley is easy to get to by MRT (subway). Take the blue line to the Longshan Temple stop and it’s about a five-minute walk from there.

If you can’t find a better route to get to the National Palace Museum, you can always go to DingXi MRT station (red/yellow line), go out exit 1, and take the 304 bus from there (don’t cross the street or you’ll take the bus in the wrong direction). This is sort of like going to Seattle to get to Boston from Atlanta, though. Be sure to pick the right direction for the bus, as otherwise you’ll end up in the middle of nowhere.

The National Palast museum is easily reached from Shilin MRT - when you come out head for the bus stop in front of the station, Red 30 takes you there directly (last stop). On the way back take the same line but note it stops closer to Jiantan MRT. From there you may also choose to stroll the Shilin night market, supposingly the biggest in town.

All of these suggestions are good ones, but a family of 4 with little time… it might be a little stressful cramming these things in in such a short time.

An option would be (and yes it is not something I would do) to stay at a reasonably decent hotel and do an organised tour? My parents loved it when they visited as they got to see a fair chunk of Taipei without having to worry about timing issues. Sure you dont get to see and discover hidden gems but 46 hours isnt long.

What is your budget RE hotels?

Check out the Red House Theatre in Ximending (which has shows for children on weekends) or taipei eye which runs revues of traditional performing arts (opera, puppetry, acrobatics, etc) on weekends. This is the best venue for people who want to sample a bit of traditional culture.


This time of year a hot spring would be great in Beitou or Yangmingshan.

By the way, the new Lonely Planet is out now (or almost out) and has up-to-date listings.

And don’t be scared. Taipei is very very manageable without a word of Chinese. My parents have been here many times and have always had a blast. Just look lost and some kind English speaking Taiwanese or foreigner will help you out.

Fortunately, the visit Taiwan 2004 campaign is still on, so when you get to the airport, you will be handed a ‘Tourist Pass,’ which is full of coupons and information about tours in Taipei and other parts of Taiwan.

I would recommend taking a taxi or hotel shuttle bus from the airport to whichever (4 star, preferably) hotel you choose in Taipei. A taxi will cost about $40-45 USD. But if you have 4 people, this would be crowded, since a taxi trunk only holds one suitcase. A hotel shuttle would probably cost more, but it’s the easiest option.

A local bus from the airport to downtown Taipei is another option, but it’s only advantage is cost. You’ll have to flag a taxi in Taipei (which is easy) to get to your hotel. If you have several suitcases, you and your husband will have to take separate taxis with one child each.

If you choose the latter option, make sure to get someone at the airport to write down the hotel’s name in Chinese for you on a card. Or, print out the hotel’s webpage and show it to the taxi driver.

As for things to see, the number one choice bar none must be the National Palace Museum. It is well known as one of the world’s greatest museums of Chinese art and is one of the world’s most famous museums. Don’t deny yourself or your children the chance to see it. The surrounding area is one of Taipei’s most beautiful.

As to other attractions, well, that’s hard to recommend without knowing you. The food will be quite a treat - far better than the lousy Chinese food served at restaurants in the West.

Also, you might enjoy one of the many health/spa activities here, including body and/or feet massage, saunas, and hot springs. I would strongly recommend the latter, since they’re reasonable (a family can have a private room for 2 hours for $40 or less) and very relaxing.

My #1 recommendation would be to stay at a decent hotel where the English speaking staff can answer your questions and make recommendations. 4 star hotels here can be found for around $100-$125 a night, which is not outrageous by international standards. As a matter of fact, the coupon book you get at the airport will include a lot of coupons for 4 and 5 star hotels in Taipei. You can find something cheaper, sure, but without the level of service (and peace of mind) which you’re after.

Have a great trip. :slight_smile:

As to which hotel to stay at, why not the Grand Hotel. It’s a rather opulent looking place but is reasonably priced (around $100 per night, I believe), and in fact it just recently started a shuttle bus service to the airport for only about $4 per person! Quite amazing. So even if you spend a lot on a taxi from the airport to the hotel, your trip back will cost very little. In fact, you might be able to get one of these shuttles from the airport to the hotel, which would be great (check out their website to see if there’s info). This would also solve any concerns about carrying several suitcases.

There are other more familiar options such as the Holiday Inn, as well as local brands such as the Grand Formosa.

But I say go for the Grand Hotel. You can’t get any more ‘Chinese’ in terms of design, and the vast lobby will make you feel like royalty! :sunglasses:

Thank you all for the great answers.
To keep this going, our kids are teenagers so I think they will like snake alley. We also wanted to do the zoo as we were told it was one of the best in the world.
For accomodations we would love to stay in the type of facilities that locals would stay in & I guess that is where the language concerns come in. I would love to keep rates at $100/night (prefer that in Cdn dollars not USD) I suspect I am asking for too much.

Thank you all for the great answers I’ve already gotten
To keep this going, our kids are teenagers so I think they will like snake alley. We also wanted to do the zoo as we were told it was one of the best in the world. 2 days to see it all are going to have us very tired. Can we also get out to a hot spring area? And are there good inexpensive massages in this country?
For accomodations we would love to stay in the type of facilities that locals would stay in & I guess that is where the language concerns come in. I would love to keep rates at $100/night/room (prefer that in Cdn dollars not USD) I suspect I am asking for too much. (that Grand Hotel looks very nice!
Thanks again

You were seriously misinformed. I live out by the zoo and, while it is decent, and has a few excellent exhibits, it is hardly a must see.

Your teenagers might like the Ximending area. This is where youth fashion is at its most extreme and you can pick up all kinds of crazy stuff. If they have any interest at all in Japanese fashion they will love it.

Well, locals stay in all range of accommodations, from 0 to 5 stars.

$100 Canadian will most likely land you a 3 star type place, and the staff won’t necessarily speak English (or at least not very much).

The Ximending area would really be fun, for sure.

Trust me, you don’t want to stay at such a place - unless you like small, dirty, uncomfortable and cockroaches.
I am not saying the locals like those places but that’s where my company for example puts up our local employees when they have to travel.

Proper hotels start at USD100 / night for a room, the international chains are usually more expensive (~USD150).
Maybe someone else knows a nice place for less … ?

The zoo is great btw, just make sure you go early because they close at 5:00pm, got chased out by the police when I went. It’s big, too, so it might get tiring for the kids (how old are they actually?). The zoo can be easily reached by the Brown Line MRT (last stop).

Charming City, near the intersection of Songjiang and Nanjing E., was about $60-$70 per night (USD) and was pretty decent. Came with breakfast. Only downsides are that their maids want to throw out everything in sight, and that the place had quite a few mosquitos inside due to the indoor waterfall.

It’s not instantly convenient to the MRT, but there are buses running by that will take you there in a few minutes.

There are a couple near the north end of the brown line (Fullerton Hotel, I think) which are supposed to be decent and which are right next to the Zhongshan Middle School MRT stop. They’re slightly higher, but still well under US$100 per room per night.

I suspect Lois wants to keep the prices down because they’ll need at least two rooms, one for the parents and one for the kids.