Travel Taiwan | Sip, Savour and Sightsee
Intro | Exploring Taiwan – Culinary Delights, Scenic Wonders and a Warm Welcome
Welcome to the enchanting island of Taiwan, a hidden gem in East Asia. Taiwan is a land of captivating contrasts, where ancient traditions coexist with modern innovation. With its stunning natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and mouthwatering cuisine, Taiwan offers a truly unforgettable experience. Join me as I delve into the facts and wonders of a country I fell in love with at first sight. Taiwan is known for many things, here are my three top reasons that enticed me to make this trip.
First my main focus: culinary treasures & pleasure. The street food of Taiwan is renowned worldwide and Michelin starred, with dishes like beef noodle soup; oyster omelettes; gua bao – steamed buns filled with braised pork belly, peanuts, and pickled vegetables; wheel cakes – small, round pastries filled with various sweet or savoury fillings; and soup dumplings or xiao long bao in Chinese – a type of dumpling originally from the Jiangnan region of China, these dumplings are known for their delicate, thin skin and a flavourful, hot broth inside, often made with pork or other ingredients, just to name a few. I definitely did not come for stinky tofu! Night markets offer a variety of tasty street food and are a mind blowing food experience. Beside the famous bubble tea that was born in the ’80s, Taiwan has more liquid surprises. The thriving bar scene has gained international recognition in recent years, with several bars receiving nominations and rankings in the World’s 50 Best Bars list. Taiwan also has a growing specialty coffee scene. It has become a coffee Mecca in Asia due to good soil, a climate and altitudes conducive to Arabica trees flourishing.
Second, the scenic landscapes and the cultural heritage. Taiwan boasts breathtaking natural beauty, from lush mountains and dense forests to stunning coastal areas. Taroko Gorge, Sun Moon Lake, and Kenting National Park are just a few examples of its picturesque landscapes. Taiwan preserves rich cultural traditions, including its indigenous cultures, temples, and festivals.
Lastly, it is about people and support. Taiwanese people are known for their warmth and hospitality, making you feel welcome and comfortable. They always ask if they can help – even with limited English. Furthermore, Taiwan has its own government and identity, a unique political situation that is a topic of international interest and debate. Taiwan and China have different political systems and levels of openness. Taiwan operates as a separate democratic entity with a high degree of political freedom and openness. For example diversity and LGBTQ+ rights have become important topics in Taiwan in recent years. In 2019, Taiwan made history by becoming the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. Taiwan is a fascinating and diverse destination.
About my personal diary
Welcome to my personal diary, where I intricately record my life’s adventures. To enhance readability, I’ve thoughtfully included a table of contents upfront, allowing you to swiftly navigate to the moments that pique your curiosity. Dear reader, you already know about my passion for crafted cocktails, but beyond that, I am a self-confessed solo traveler who loves indulging in delicious cuisine, capturing moments through photography, and digitising my experiences by penning them down. The origin of barstalker.de evolved from my travel diary – early on, I chronicled my journeys through Southeast Asia, India, and Europe. Over time, the travel content has gradually made way for bar-related experiences. But be warned, there’s also some high-proof content here.
Note: Taiwan is one of the best countries for solo female travellers in Asia. With a low crime rate and the friendliest welcoming people.
My most important features
When I landed at Taipei airport, I first got myself a SIM card with unlimited data for 30 days (29 Euros), Google Maps is vital for me, my orientation is zero. Taiwan does generally have access to a wide range of Western apps and services, similar to many other democratic and open societies. It’s not subject to the same restrictions on internet access and content that are imposed in mainland China, where the “Great Firewall” blocks many Western websites and platforms. Taiwan’s open and democratic political system allows its citizens to access a diverse array of online services and content, including those from the West. However, access to specific apps and services can still be subject to regional availability and individual choices.
Remember the good old days when you wrestled with physical maps and had to engage in the ancient ritual of changing money at local booths? I do! Nowadays, everything’s so streamlined, and I must admit, it’s convenient. But let’s not forget, a touch of adventure, those impromptu conversations, and the art of charades have taken a back seat. Communication has gone high-tech – I talk into a mobile device and let a machine voice do the translating.
I also withdrew cash, which worked great, and then I bought an Easycard (3 Euros for the card Itself). The EasyCard is a contactless smart card used for various public transportation and retail purposes in Taiwan. The card can be used on buses, the Taipei Metro (MRT), Taiwan Railways (TRA), renting citybike and even pay in some taxis. It simplifies the process of paying for transportation, as you can swipe or tap the card when entering and exiting various modes of public transit, and the fare is automatically deducted. I like it. It’s a convenient and cost-effective way to navigate the city and make purchases during your stay.
Typhoon Koinu gave me a stormy start
It all began at the end of September with a brief stopover in Shanghai. If you’re on a transfer flight, you don’t need to apply for a full visa for China, but the immigration process can be time-consuming. In my case, it took three hours. The flight to Taipei was short, and upon arrival, I was welcomed by rain and news of Typhoon Koinu, which had formed in the Pacific Northwest with an initial wind speed of 46 km/h. By October 5, 2023 it had reached its highest wind speed to date, hitting 220 km/h, making it a Category 4 typhoon. At 8:00 a.m. on the same day, Koinu made landfall near the city of Hengchun in the south of Taiwan. Fortunately, since the impact was mainly on the east and south coasts, and I was on the west side at the time, I felt reasonably safe. It was raining continuously, and a strong wind was blowing, making it necessary to be cautious about falling branches. My motto was simple: do what the locals do. Drink tea, coffee and relax.
The first two days were for exploring Taipei and acclimatising before embarking on the journey around the island. Taiwan, stretching 394 kilometres in length and 144 kilometres at its widest point, boasts an excellent train system. The precise itinerary for my destinations would be contingent on the weather and my mood throughout the trip. Holiday mode on!
I’ve been exploring the east coast of Taipei for two weeks, and now I’ve made my way to Kenting. Currently, I’m sitting on the beach, reflecting on all the incredible experiences I’ve had and resting my liver. Taiwan is not only incredibly accessible for travellers but also ranks among the top five safest countries to visit. I’m drawn to the perfect blend of exoticism, comfort, cleanliness, and an overall sense of safety that this beautiful country offers. Taiwan can be likened to a circle, with its cities hugging the coastline and the majestic mountains at its core. Travelling around Taiwan is easy and comfy thanks to the efficient train system that circumnavigates the island in a mere 24 hours. These trains are a marvel of modernity, offering legroom and an overall experience that’s far cooler than the trains in Germany. Meaning trains are my preferred way of getting around.
Taichung – Coffee & Cocktails
Taichung, often referred to as the “Heart of Taiwan,” is a vibrant and bustling city located in the central part of the island. It’s the third-largest city in Taiwan. My highlights: Coffee Stopover and Vender Bar.
Taiwan has truly become the coffee Mecca of Asia, a hidden treasure for coffee enthusiasts. The country’s ideal soil, climate, and altitudes create the perfect environment for flourishing Arabica trees. This has fostered a thriving specialty coffee scene, gaining well-deserved recognition worldwide. Taiwan’s coffee roasters and cafes are committed to sourcing the finest coffee beans from across the globe. The dedication of Taiwanese baristas to their craft is exceptional, with many undergoing rigorous training and participating in national and international coffee competitions. In the cities, you’re spoilt for choice with numerous specialty coffee shops, each offering a unique experience. Even in rural areas frequented by tourists, remote cafes serve outstanding pour-over or syphon coffee as a standard practice. To top it all off, even the ubiquitous 24-hour convenience store chains like 7-Eleven and Family Mart have embraced the trend, now offering made-to-order single-origin coffees at most of their locations. Taiwan’s coffee culture is a true delight for all coffee lovers like me.
Coffee Stopover – A Coffee Journey with a Bartender’s Flair
Upon entering the space, I was immediately drawn to the bar setup, and the Hoshizaki ice machines and shakers caught my eye. In the heart of the ground floor, there’s a substantial wooden table where the baristas works their magic on one side, and up to six guests can comfortably enjoy their drinks on the other. The walls are adorned with shelves filled with an array of filters and coffee-making equipment. Since they roast their own coffee, you can savour their unique house blends with intriguing names like Dancer, Painter, and Backpacker, and you can purchase beans sourced from around the world. Additional seating is available upstairs and just in front of the entrance. They also have a second location nearby. During my second visit, I learned that this place is the brainchild of a former bartender, confirming my initial impression. Their coffee is exceptional, the flatwhite is top-notch, and the menu showcases creativity, even featuring coffee cocktails. It’s a must-visit spot for any coffee enthusiast. Using non-milk products is also a thing in the big cities.
Relaxing at the Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake, the largest inland water body in Taiwan, is a well-known honeymoon destination, and its name is derived from its distinctive shape. One side resembles the sun, while the other resembles a crescent moon. Located in the central part of the island, it’s also the largest freshwater lake in Taiwan. Sun Moon Lake is celebrated for its breathtaking natural beauty, enveloped by verdant mountains and adorned with temples and picturesque walking paths. Visitors have the opportunity to savor boat rides on the lake, pay a visit to the Wenwu Temple, and immerse themselves in the local indigenous culture.
This marked my inaugural bus journey into the heart of the country, departing from Taichung. Despite the persistent rain, I lucked out in discovering a charming hostel nestled within a bustling food market of the lakeside village Ita Thao. Providing a glimpse into the rich indigenous culture of the Thao tribe, who have inhabited the area for centuries.
Between rain showers, I ventured out to admire the stunning temples and hopped on a cable car to savour a panoramic view of the lake. Most of my time, however, was devoted to a cosy corner in a quaint coffee shop, indulging in exquisite coffee crafted from locally roasted beans. You will find the Owl Workshop coffee shop in the Ita Thao shopping district opposite a 7/11 market.
Tainan – Tempting Temples & Tasty Tidbits
Tainan, the island’s oldest city and former capital, is known for its rich cultural heritage, ancient temples, and traditional cuisine.
It boasts a vibrant street food scene where you can savour local specialties like oyster omelettes and milkfish soup. Tainan’s well-preserved historical sites, such as Chihkan Tower and Anping Old Fort, make it a popular destination for those interested in Taiwan’s colonial history. As you wander its streets, you’ll encounter a mesmerising fusion of beautifully preserved historic buildings and vibrant, contemporary street art. But that’s just the beginning. Tainan’s culinary scene is a revelation. Find the finest Taiwanese street food, explore charming side streets adorned with lanterns, and lose yourself in the enchanting ambiance of old tea shops. From bustling night markets to vintage movie theatres and the intriguingly beef stew. Tainan offers a gastronomic adventure. Wander through the labyrinth of streets and immerse yourself in the jungle of delectable street food. Your hunger will vanish, and the promise of your next culinary delight lies just around the corner. What particularly captivated me was the city’s timeless charm and its wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. One of my favourite spots on this trip.
Now let’s have an eye on the local bar scene. The friendly bartender at Vender recommended a couple of places to me. Keep in mind that the cocktail scene in Tainan is ever-evolving, so it’s a good idea to stay updated by checking for the latest recommendations and reviews for the most current options. Then, explore the plethora of bars. I had quite a few on my list, including Bar T.C.R.C, Bar Lonely, Swallow, and Bar Alter, and I managed to visit three that left me very happy indeed.
To explore Tainan‘s Drinking Temples follow the links below:
When it comes to coffee spots, simply keep your eyes peeled, and you’ll soon notice the equipment and bean selection. A great cup of coffee is just around the corner, waiting to be discovered.
Kaohsiung – A Tale of Modernity, Art and Hidden Treasures
Kaohsiung, a vibrant port city nestled in the south of Taiwan, is a true gem known for its breathtaking harbour and rich maritime heritage. As Taiwan’s third-largest city, it gracefully harmonises modern and traditional elements, creating a captivating skyline with towering skyscrapers and a bustling street food scene.
But it’s not just the modernity that defines Kaohsiung; the city’s artistic heartbeat is a testament to creativity and cultural richness. As you explore this coastal haven, you’ll stumble upon converted warehouses transformed into art sanctuaries and breathtaking glass masterpieces tucked away in subway stations. The Kaohsiung art scene promises a visual journey waiting to be uncovered. During my time here, I found solace in strolling through the enchanting Pier-2 Art Center, where creativity knows no bounds. The city’s streets themselves hide hidden treasures in the form of captivating street art, waiting for eager eyes to discover.
Kaohsiung, in many ways, brought back memories of Hamburg, yet with the added charm of sunnier skies. After Tainan this was my second favourite spot. In this adventure, I’ll take you on a journey through my favourite bars, sharing the city’s vibrant nightlife, and reveal a hidden gem of a cosy coffee haven you won’t want to miss. So, let’s embark on this adventure!
<Kaohsiung‘s drinking adventure is in the making and will be updated soon.>
Hidden Gem for Coffee Lovers
Ease 12:58 is charming shoebox–sized coffee spot is a hidden gem tucked away on a quaint side street. It’s an absolute must-visit!
Beach-time at Kenting National Park
Kenting National Park is a picturesque area located at the southern tip of Taiwan. It boasts a diverse landscape featuring lush forests, dramatic cliffs, and pristine beaches. The park is renowned for its vibrant marine life, making it a popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. The climate is more subtropical.
It’s warm year-round here, especially dry from November to April. I thought it was the perfect time for leisurely beach strolls and started my search for a cozy hotel close to the beach, conveniently located on the same street as the lively evening night market. The hotels in general are very tidy and I had a nice room with a mountain view from my generous bathroom with a cosy bathtub. The signs of the recent typhoon were all too visible – fallen trees, tilted power boxes, and air conditioning units hanging precariously above the streets. Mother Nature’s strength was evident, and the cleanup efforts were still in progress, as the typhoon hit land just 10 km away. The area primarily drew local tourists, but I had the pleasure of meeting a few fellow travelers with whom I exchanged travel impressions.
As I reached the midpoint of my holiday, I found myself at the southern tip, eagerly embarking on the exploration of the eastern part of this region. The days, with the soothing sound of the sea as a backdrop, were incredibly rejuvenating. However, I must admit that I’m not exactly a beach enthusiast, and I’m looking forward to my next urban adventure.
The western and eastern coasts of Taiwan are distinct in several ways. The west coast is characterised by flat plains, cities, and industrial areas, making it more densely populated. In contrast, the east coast is known for its rugged and mountainous terrain, with stunning cliffs and fewer urban developments. The culture is different, too. The west coast is more influenced by Chinese culture and has a higher population density. The east coast has a larger indigenous population, which contributes to its distinct cultural traditions and way of life. Furthermore, the west coast is home to major cities like Taipei and Taichung whilst the east coast is known for its natural beauty. So my next stop will be exploring scenic landscapes.
Taitung – Heading to the eastern coast of Taiwan
Taitung, often referred to as the capital of Taiwan’s Taitung County, is a place where the air is fresh, and the landscapes are nothing short of spectacular. This enchanting destination consistently draws in hordes of tourists. A journey to Taitung feels like a return to nature, where you can savour the fragrant scents of rice fields and the invigorating saltiness of the sea breeze.
Taitung itself is a delightful city nestled in the southeastern corner of Taiwan, and it retains its cozy, small-town charm, a refreshing departure from the hustle and bustle of larger urban areas. What made my Taitung experience even more relaxing was the wonderful accommodation, delightful breakfast spots, and cosy coffee houses. Tiin Tinn Inn delights its guests with a refreshing facial mask, fresh goat milk in the morning hanging on your door, and charming details in the room. Part of the family’s business is the Au Cafe down the street where you can get great coffee and bites to eat. Wandering the streets, inhaling the crisp, clean air, I couldn’t help but let go of the world’s worries. It was almost like a form of meditation, a break from the endless stream of thoughts. Taitung had a way of helping me escape from the burdens of yesterday and tomorrow, inviting me to embrace the present moment. And also Taitung offers nice coffee spots.
At the start of my holiday, I had envisioned crafting my travel diary concurrently with my adventures. But as time swiftly passed, I found myself on the move from dawn till dusk, leaving me utterly drained. Now, I’m back in Taipei, fully engrossed in sip, savour and sightsee.
Hualien as gateway to the beautiful Taroko Gorge
The first thing I noticed about Hualien were the lower buildings compared to the cities I have visited before. Hualien is located near the boundary where the Philippine Sea Plate is subducting beneath the Eurasian Plate. This subduction creates immense pressure and stress in the Earth’s crust, which is released through seismic activity.
While Hualien does experience its share of earthquakes, it’s important to note that Taiwan has implemented strict building codes and safety measures to mitigate the impact of seismic events. These measures help protect the population and infrastructure from the potential dangers associated with earthquakes. Hualien is home to a diverse population, including indigenous communities. You can explore indigenous cultures and traditions at places like the Taroko Aboriginal Village and the Beibin Park Indigenous Village.
The city itself didn’t quite capture my interest also my accommodation was a bit soulless. It does have a massive and entertaining Night Market, and there are more tourists around. But Hualien’s combination of natural wonders, cultural diversity, and outdoor activities makes the region a must-visit destination for travelers looking to connect with nature and immerse themselves in the beauty of Taiwan’s eastern coast. However, without the high concentration of specialty coffee places and convenient access to Taroko, I might have considered skipping the city centre. The disappointment was not great, as a few travelers gave me a heads up/ had already pre-warned me.
Let’s have a look at Taroko Gorge, located in Taiwan’s Taroko National Park, which is a breathtaking natural wonder known for its towering marble cliffs, lush vegetation, and crystal-clear blue waters. The gorge was carved by the Liwu River over millions of years, creating a dramatic landscape of narrow canyons and striking rock formations. I explored its numerous hiking trails that were not closed due to maintenance, suspension bridges, and temples while marveling at the sheer beauty of this geological masterpiece. It is a must even if it is touristy. But who would want to be alone in such a huge natural gorge? There is fresh air, cold water and a magical spirit.
Hualien the city of thousand coffee places
I’m not entirely sure why there are so many specialty coffee spots in Hualien, but one thing’s for certain – you’ll find one that perfectly suits your preference. Whether you prefer a clean industrial style or a kitschy, lovingly cluttered atmosphere, you’ll discover your ideal coffee haven. What’s more, most of these places roast their beans in-house, leading to an immense variety of flavors. Try to pay a visit at Kohi, Caffe Fiore, The Rising Coffee Roaster, Giocare and A-More Coffee. Every coffee spot not only serves their coffee in lovingly designed pottery but also offers a perfect blend of music and delightful cakes. The lemon tart at Caffe Fiore was an absolute treat, and the cheesecake at Kohi was exceptional. What’s remarkable is that most of these places roast their own coffee beans. During my visit to Kohi, the owner was in the process of freshly roasting some beans, and the aroma was simply irresistible (a package already found its way into my bags), creating a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere. Adding to the charm, many of these cafes have resident cats. The beauty of coffee, unlike cocktails, is that you can savour a few more cups before feeling its effects. And with recent news claiming coffee as an anti-aging elixir, I’m taking this as a good excuse to indulge.
To Travel is a Gift
After my visit to Hualien, my journey led me to Yilan, a charming city with around 100,000 inhabitants. What makes Yilan truly endearing is the abundance of delightful comic figures scattered throughout the city.
I chose to explore this city mainly because the Kavalan distillery is just a short 30-minute bus ride away. To secure an English tour, it’s essential to request an appointment at least a week in advance, a detail I fortunately stumbled upon on their website, allowing me to schedule my tour for October 23rd.
What took me by surprise in Yilan was its playful and artistic vibe, embodied by the whimsical comic characters gracing the area around the train station. Yilan boasts a strong bond with comic and cartoon culture, thanks in part to Jimmy Liao, a celebrated Taiwanese illustrator and author who calls Yilan home. His enchanting and imaginative illustrations have gained international acclaim and provided inspiration to countless other artists, contributing to Yilan’s reputation as a hub for creativity and artistic expression. This environment has fostered a thriving artistic community that includes talented illustrators, comic book artists, and animators. One highlight of Yilan was its night market, which felt the most authentic to me. When navigating the night market scene, remember rule number one: head to the stands with the longest queues; you won’t be disappointed. And, of course, let your nose guide you to delectable discoveries.
During my exploration, I stumbled upon a coffee spot where I enjoyed engaging conversations with the ladies behind the counter. What struck me was that every woman I met on my journey exuded strength and independence. Women in Taiwan have undoubtedly made significant progress toward achieving independence and strength. They occupy diverse roles in society, spanning careers, education, and politics. Gender equality laws an
d policies have played a pivotal role in empowering women. However, there are still hurdles to overcome, including wage disparities and the need for greater representation in leadership positions. This pursuit of gender equality and empowerment felt reminiscent of the efforts back home in Germany.
And, of course, I couldn’t leave Yilan without savoring a delectable dessert at Kakigori, a treat so exquisite that I found myself returning. The balance of flavours and textures was perfect, not overly sweet but just right.
Unlocking the Kavalan Distillery – Local Water and Leadership Prowess
The Kavalan Distillery, nestled in Yilan County, Taiwan, is a name synonymous with exceptional single malt whiskies. Since its inception in 2005, this distillery has earned global acclaim for its commitment to quality. Situated in the idyllic landscapes of Yilan County, this location is nothing short of perfect for whisky production, thanks to its access to pristine water sources and a climate tailor-made for this craft. Yilan’s subtropical climate, characterized by warmth and humidity, is a key player in the whisky maturation game. The temperature swings in this region work their magic, speeding up the aging process and infusing Kavalan whiskies with distinctive flavors. Awards and accolades shower Kavalan whiskies on the international stage, known for their complexity and hints of tropical fruits – a delightful testament to the local climate’s influence.
Now, let’s step inside and have a taste on-site. The Kavalan Distillery opens its doors to visitors, offering an intimate look into the whisky-making process. It’s a haven for whisky aficionados and travelers eager to embrace Taiwanese whisky culture. Kavalan is renowned for its innovative spirit, often experimenting with various cask finishes and aging techniques to craft unique flavor profiles.
Speaking of uniqueness, the “STR” treatment deserves a mention. It’s a process where casks go through Shaving, Toasting, and Re-Charred stages, introducing a new layer of flavor. Oh, and their cask recharging station is massive!
- Shaved: The inside of the oak cask is shaved to expose fresh wood. This helps to release new flavors and compounds from the wood, which can influence the whisky’s taste.
- Toasted:The shaved cask is then toasted, which means it’s heated over an open flame. Toasting caramelizes the wood sugars and imparts specific flavor characteristics to the cask.
- Re-Charred:Finally, the cask is re-charred. This process involves setting the inside of the cask on fire again briefly. Re-charring can deepen the flavors and reintroduce some charred notes into the whisky.
Wondering about the ingredients, I have noticed no grain on my journey so far instead beautiful rice fields? Malted barley, also peaked on, yeast, and pot stills hail from Scotland, while column stills for the recently started gin production come from Germany. The water, however, is local, sourced from a substantial drinking water production plant. The complex itself is enormous, sprawling across 47 acres (about 19 hectares), facilitating substantial whisky production and aging in a variety of casks. Ownership is in the capable hands of the King Car Group, a Taiwanese conglomerate deeply embedded in the food and beverage industry.
Inside the warehouse, a peculiar sight caught my eye – casks standing upright and tethered together. This storage method is a safety measure, especially crucial in regions prone to earthquakes like Taiwan. It drastically reduces the risk of casks tumbling, breaking, or leaking during seismic events. To cap off my Kavalan journey, I had a flight of their single cask selection. A fitting conclusion to the whisky journey. Check out the pictures for more details.
Enchanted Taipei – A Tale of Tradition, Modernity, and Culinary Delights
Taipei is a captivating city, a true mosaic of history, a vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and an epicurean haven offering delectable food, coffee, and cocktails. Each day in this bustling metropolis unfolds new discoveries. To be perfectly honest, my time in Taipei was a delightful cycle of indulging in exquisite eats, followed by brisk walks and bike rides to balance the calorie ledger.
In the heart of Taiwan, Taipei is a city that enchants with its blend of tradition and modernity. As the sun sets, the city’s iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper illuminates the night, its dazzling lights a symbol of eternal love. Strolling through the charming streets of old Taipei, you’ll discover hidden tea houses where time seems to stand still. Romantic whispers echo in the lush embrace of Elephant Mountain, offering panoramic views of a city that never sleeps, yet somehow remains serene. The embrace continues in the vibrant Shilin Night Market, where the aroma of street food fills the air, and your senses are intoxicated by the sights and sounds.Taipei nestles in a basin, encircled by majestic mountains. What’s remarkable is that you needn’t venture beyond the city’s official boundaries to embrace nature’s embrace. It’s this extraordinary blend of urban and natural that truly enchants me about Taipei. Even in the midst of the city’s hustle and bustle, there are abundant chances to steal moments of tranquility and serenity in the immediate vicinity.
Taipei’s Diverse Bar Scene – Three Unique Concepts, Three Memorable Experiences
In my final days in Taipei, I set out to explore bars with unique concepts. In general it is important to verify their opening hours and whether reservations are necessary. I encountered a few bars that were completely booked, so it’s wise to plan ahead if there are places you’re particularly eager to visit.
To make the most of my budget for food and drinks, I opted for a budget-friendly hostel offering a female dorm room just a few steps away from Taipei Main Station. It turned out to be the ideal home base for exploring the city. What’s more, it was situated in a different district of Taipei, a change from where I began my journey. Each district has its own unique charm and attractions and offers a diverse range of experiences, from cultural exploration to culinary adventures.
I found myself in the Zhongzheng District, often considered the heart and soul of the city and the ultimate destination for anyone keen on exploring the capital, especially if you have a penchant for culture and history. This district boasts a rich tapestry of historical and cultural landmarks, including the iconic Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the National Theater, and the National Concert Hall. It’s the perfect place to delve into Taiwan’s political and cultural history. When I started my journey it began in the Songshan District, which is home to the vibrant Raohe Night Market and the innovative Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. This district beautifully weaves together tradition and modernity, making it an ideal locale for immersing yourself in the local art and culture scene.
Bar Otani – No menu, very classic, just like that!
Draft Land – Cocktails on Tap
What thrilled me at Draft Land were the high-quality and perfectly balanced drinks served straight from the tap. And the best part? If you happen to miss the delightful clatter of shakers and ice cubes, you can find it upstairs. My visit to Draft Land was an unforgettable adventure, all thanks to the fantastic bar team. So, won’t you join me for a sip?
<Currently in the making>
Upstairs in the Testing Room
<PS Sake Bar – in the making>
Outro | In Taiwan, I’ve discovered a treasure trove of experiences,
and what I particularly appreciate comes here in no particular order:
- First, the simplicity of grabbing Tea Eggs from a local supermarket as a quick snack. They’re delightful and are essentially hard-boiled eggs that are steeped in a flavorful and aromatic mixture, often containing tea leaves, soy sauce, various spices, and sometimes even herbs. The result is a marbled pattern on the eggshell and a uniquely infused flavour.
- Then, there’s the comfort and security of travelling safely as a woman in this welcoming country. What truly stands out, though, is the warmth and friendliness of the people. The locals are exceptionally nice and welcoming, making Taiwan an even more enchanting place to explore. The people here are kind and helpful, quietly going about their business without being intrusive but always ready to assist.
- Let’s not forget the little everyday luxuries, like the warmth of toilet seats, making even the restroom experience a pleasant one.
- Efficient and orderly boarding and alighting from public transport is a small detail that makes communication smoother and life more enjoyable.
- Indulging in a hot spring bath to soothe tired sightseeing muscles and rejuvenate the skin.
- Indulging in the local street food, specialty coffee, and cocktails has been an absolute delight. The culinary scene in Taiwan is a real treat. And for all the coffee enthusiasts, you’ll find that coffee equipment is everywhere, showcasing the country’s love for a good cup. The flat whites here are exceptional. Taiwan is already on the map as a coffee destination.
- While Taipei boasts a vibrant bar scene, bars outside the capital left me stirred, not shaken, with their fantastic offerings.
- And perhaps one of the most striking aspects of Taiwan is its general serenity. It’s a quiet place; even on trains, you’re expected to maintain a hushed tone. Children rarely raise their voices, creating a peaceful atmosphere that’s music to the ears, especially if you’re not a fan of noise.
Dear reader, if you’ve journeyed with me through my experiences, it’s evident that I’ve truly fallen in love with Taiwan, and I wholeheartedly recommend spending some time in this wonderful country. Until next time, remember to stay curious and be kind.