Shanghai is no doubt a foodie's paradise--world-class restaurants, comforting soups and dumplings, and now even Michelin-starred establishments. But what it's really missing is a thumping street food scene, as the outdoor markets and vendors are quickly disappearing from the cityscape. The solution? A quick 1.5-hour flight to Taipei--a city renowned for its markets, and one that will satisfy even the hungriest traveler.
There are two airports serving Taipei: Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA) and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE). The trip from Shanghai is about 1.5 hours to either, though TSA has a closer bus trip into the city to find your accommodation. Round-trip flights currently average around ¥2,500 on Ctrip. Hotels range in quality and price, but these days Airbnb is the way to go. If you want to be in the center of the city and the action, check out the Xinyi district. The Da’an district (pictured above) is also a nice option. It’s a bit more residential, but there is no shortage of entertainment. An apartment in Da’an, near the subway, will cost around ¥415/night.
The best way to experience Taiwan’s culture is through its food – and luckily for us, Taipei is one food-obsessed city. A bustling maze of food stalls and night markets lined with purveyors of everything from dumplings to the unidentifiable, there is something for everyone to try and discover. Must-haves include Tandoori pork buns at RaoHe night market (look for the long line near the entrance), Taiwanese burgers from Lan Jia Gua Bao, soup dumplings and spicy pork wontons from the original Din Tai Fung and the mango shaved ice from world famous Ice Monster. There’s also a variety of hot pot restaurants to try as well as fruit parlors – with Jason’s Fruit being particularly good. For a proper food tour, check out Taipei Eats.
If eating is Taipei’s biggest attraction, then shopping takes a close second. Large-scale malls are prevalent, especially in the Da’an and Xinyi districts, as are specialty markets like the Jade Market (at the south end of Zhongxiao Dong Lu). For souvenirs, head to the Shilin Night Market, or pick up some pineapple cakes from Chia Te Bakery on Nanjing Dong Lu.
To burn off some calories from all the food you’ll be eating (or to make room for more), head to Elephant Mountain, or the Nangang District Hiking Trail. Arguably the best view of the city, get there in the afternoon, just before sunset. It takes about 20 minutes to hike up the stairs, so take a bottle of water and fight the crowds in order to secure a prime lookout spot.