Living in a place called the “Taiwan Miracle” is something special. Taipei, the country’s capital, boasts a fast-growing economy, a booming high-tech industry, and impressive manufacturing might. Residents enjoy all the benefits that come from this – like numerous world-class shopping destinations…hundreds of celebrated restaurants…a cutting-edge technological infrastructure. They also have a hunger for luxury products. All this makes Taipei an ideal place to get a gemological education.
Places to Eat (6)
Silks Palace is a dining experience not to be forgotten. Next to the National Palace and backed by a majestic mountain range, the restaurant sits in a dramatic setting. Equally inspiring is its contemporary architecture. But don’t forget the food: gourmet dishes that are truly works of art. Indulge yourself by ordering the historic Qianlong Emperor’s Imperial Banquet.
Beef broth is a favorite meal in Taipei, and the best bowl in town might be at Shi Ji. Owner Shi Dazheng, a former television photojournalist, brought the same investigative skills to discovering an irresistible recipe for cooking up the best beef broth. One secret: it simmers for 36 hours. This critic’s review should make you hungry: “The dish has a full, rich fragrance, yet is light on the palate.”
Addiction Aquatic Development
You might scratch your head when you enter Addiction Aquatic Development and wonder if you’ve stepped into an aquarium, fish hatchery, or restaurant. It’s really a combination of all of them – a busy restaurant that serves up fish fresh from the tanks that dominate the décor. You may be elbowed and jostled as you wait, but if you love fresh fish, you’ve found your catch.
The story of Shin Yeh is a classic one: It started out some 30 years ago as a small shop in a back alley. Founder Lee Xiu Ying had a passion for creating exquisite Taiwanese cuisine, and word of her creations spread. Fast-forward to the present, and Shin Yeh is widely considered one of the finest Taiwanese restaurants in Taipei. Despite its success, expect to be treated like family as soon as you walk in. The food receives the same loving care.
Taiwan Beer 346 Warehouse Restaurant
You won’t find a better place to have an inexpensive meal and hear great music than Taiwan Beer 346 Warehouse Restaurant. Since it’s a repurposed warehouse, it’s the perfect setting for some serious fun – the perfect place to kick back, relax, and have a good time. Live bands take the stage at 8:00 p.m. Be sure to treat yourself to the famous homebrew.
Karaoke is practically a national pastime in Taiwan, and Party World is one of the largest karaoke chains in Taipei. The singing and partying goes 24/7, so you can croon until your heart’s content. Party World also lays out an impressive all-you-can eat buffet and private rooms are available. Bring your GIA ID and you'll get a student discount.
Eslite Bookstore is a booklover’s paradise. The legendary store on DunHau South Road is open 24 hours a day, and is famous for having an unmatched selection. So it’s no surprise that the bookstore has won many accolades. It’s also a great place to find books in English. Smaller stores can be found throughout the city.
Shilin Night Market
Get ready for an evening banquet of stupendous proportions. More than 500 food stalls with tempting delicacies await you at Shilin Night Market. Fodor’s brags that it has some of the best Chinese food in all of Taipei. The prices are very affordable, so you’re likely to leave with a full stomach – and with a full wallet.
Songshan Cultural Park
Since its opening in 2011, Songshan Cultural Park has become the destination for artists and art lovers. This gallery/co-op/school always has something going on that inspires exhibitions, fashion shows, film premieres, and more. All the attractions make Songshan a place where thrilling surprises are waiting.
Yangmingshan National Park
Just ten miles from downtown Taipei you’ll find Yangmingshan National Park – a 45-mile square nature preserve that sprawls over Seven Star Mountain. As you stroll (or bike) the dozens of trails, Yangmingshan is sure to delight the nature lover in you. You’ll enjoy mountain vistas, still lakes, and clusters of tropical flowers.
Things to See (6)
If you’re searching for the latest fashions, head for Ximending – Taipei’s hip fashion district. There you’ll find the hottest in Taiwanese and Japanese styles. It’s also a popular destination for those in search of fun. When you’ve finished shopping, enjoy the many restaurants and bars in the area. You can even take in a show at one of the many theaters.
National Palace Museum
Taiwan has a rich cultural history, and you’ll find some of its greatest treasures at the National Palace Museum. Serene landscape paintings. A recreation of a Tongan ship. Works by Renoir and other European masters. Come for a visit and leave with a new perspective of Taiwan’s contribution to the world.
Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building from 2004 to 2010. Just because it’s been surpassed doesn’t mean you should pass it by. The towering colossus has been compared to a giant pagoda or a stack of boxes – and you’re likely to have your own opinions of the architectural marvel. You’ll find all sorts of upscale shopping boutiques on the first five levels, and on the 89th floor, a commanding view of all of Taipei.
Imagine looking down at Taipei from a glass-floored aerial gondola. This ride of a lifetime is waiting for you at Maokong Gondola – a 2.7 mile “flight” over the outskirts of the city. It ends at a station on top of Maokong mountain, where you’ll see more spectacular vistas. Be sure to drink a cup of tea while you’re taking in the sights. The adventure is a favorite of locals and their families, so you’re sure to enjoy it.
Longshan Temple is widely regarded as a masterpiece of traditional Chinese architecture. It’s also a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists and Taoists. So expect to see stirring statues of Avalokitesvara, Kuan-In and other Buddhist and Taoist deities. If the stunning temple isn’t enough for you, the markets of nearby Hua Xi Street will complete the outing.