Uncover Taipei’s local gems with friendly Visitor Stations and the ultimate Taipei Fun Pass
One of Asia’s top travel destinations, Taiwan is famous for its delicious bubble teas, mouth-watering street-eats, vibrant night markets, and friendly people. In December 2018, Taiwan registered a record high of 10 million visitors!
To welcome international tourists, the Taiwan Tourism Board has been stepping up in assisting travellers from abroad. After trying out their tourist initiatives and recommended attractions, we’ve rounded up those that we can personally vouch for:
Taipei Visitor Information Centers
The Visitor Information Centers, in particular, have been springing up rapidly alongside Taipei’s public transportation system. These centers are not only strategically located around the city, but also employ friendly, multilingual customer service assistants.
They provide access to both print and online tourism brochures on cultural activities, accommodations, scenic sites, dining, transportation, and more. The services at each center are tailored to the specific attractions in the vicinity.
Start your trip at the MRT A1 Taipei Main Station Visitor Information Center—it’s fairly large and easy to spot upon exiting from the Airport Express. This center offers free Wifi and a 24-hour hotline service for any local landline or mobile phone.
Additional services at centers vary according to the needs of each major area. These include rental for baby strollers, wheelchairs and umbrellas; service phones and mobile charging ports; even hyperopia reading glasses.
Taipei Fun Pass
Whether you’re looking to take blissful refuge from city life or just to get more bang for your buck, you should definitely get the Taipei Fun Pass. With just one card, you can enjoy the best spots in Taipei, all accessible with unlimited rides on Taipei’s MRT system, city buses, and five Taiwan Tourist Shuttle routes.
The pass also gets you free admission to 16 attractions, including the Taipei Observatory and the National Palace Museum, as well as discounts at hundreds of stores. To truly explore Taipei’s rich history, bustling city districts, and the diverse ecology of the countryside, the Taipei Fun Pass is undoubtedly the most cost-effective option.
Beitou Hot Spring
The Taipei Fun Pass can get you up north to Xinbeitou station, where you can enjoy an easy breezy spa experience at the Beitou Hot Spring. If you’re in luck, you might even ride up with Taipei’s cute mascot Bravo the Bear.
This area is blessed by century-old stone and turquoise thermal water. Nearby attractions include Xinbeitou Historic Station, Hot Springs Museum, Plum Garden, Beitou Library, and the foggy sulphur stream of Beitou Thermal Valley. The atmospheric sight of an enormous pool of sulphur steaming up from the valley creek is beautifully mesmerising and peacefully haunting.
Built in 2006, this stunning wooden structure in the middle of Beitou Park was the first library in Taiwan to achieve Green Building Certification. The library gets its energy from solar power and rainwater through the layer of soil on its roof. Get a good look at the library’s exterior from the Lotus Pond nearby.
Xinbeitou Historic Station
You can’t miss this Japanese-influenced historical wooden structure beside the MRT station. The original station was removed to make way for the MRT in 1988 and sold to the Taiwan Folk Village, which later closed down and was fully restored in 2017. It’s worth a quick look for an educational visit down memory lane and interesting souvenirs and crafts.
SweetMe Hotspring Resort
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There are 20+ hot spring hotels and bathhouses in the Xinbeitou region to choose from, but one premium option is the SweetMe Hotspring Resort — think elegance meets simplicity.
The rooms provide a private sanctuary of hot spring water flowing over limestone fixtures which overlook the leafy Beitou Park. Some rooms also feature a relaxing tatami lounging area with large windows to let in natural light.
After rejuvenating your body and spirit, be sure to head to their restaurant for a gastronomic feast. Don’t miss their two signature dishes, SweetMe Fried Spare Ribs and Beitou Taro Balls. Check out the official SweetMe website for details.
Local businesses double up as friendly Information Stations
The Taiwan Tourism Bureau has partnered up with a select network of local hotels, restaurants, and key tourist sites to offer friendly Information Stations! Get local tour info, maps, Wifi hotspots and other friendly services at these stations.
The 337 stations, spread across Taiwan, provide warm hospitality and local intel. Look out for the bright yellow “I” signs in underground MRT labyrinths, hotels, restaurants, and museums.
Cho Hotel, Ximending
Cho Hotel in Ximending is one of those places that speaks your language. This quirky boutique hotel offers a range of free treats from Taiwan’s popular instant noodles and snacks as well as stylish themed rooms with personalised welcome vintage packages. They also provide laundry services, souvenirs, amenities, and nostalgic entertainment.
There’s even a mailbox in the hotel lobby where you can make use of your complimentary welcome postcards! If you’re in the mood, you can scribble your Taipei memories onto the “puzzle card” to go on the lobby’s walls and lifts along with other travellers’ memories. Head to the hotel website for booking and more information.
American Street, Ximending
Be sure to pencil the Red House “Honglou” and Long Shan Temple into your itinerary when in Ximending! It’s also worth checking out the incredibly vibrant art scene. For instance, the trendy Wanhua district, Lane 96 Kunming Street, better known as “American Street”, hosts some of the country’s best street art, along with roll-down metal shopdoors and electric boxes.
Bopiliao Old Street
Following that, walk 5 miles south to the historic 18th century city block of Bopiliao Old Street. The city was once a prosperous trade centre during the Qing Dynasty, but has since been restored by the Taipei City Government as an educational creative village paying homage to contemporary artists and writers. You’re guaranteed to find artsy, Insta-worthy photo ops here!
This itinerary was designed and organised by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau to promote the network of tourism information stations throughout Taiwan.
– article contributed by Gladys Lim, edited by Ruth Y.