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Taipei With Kids!

FullSizeRenderSitting on the northern part of Taiwan, is its capital Taipei.  This is a fun and vibrant city, perfect for a quick citybreak (although Taiwan has so much more to offer if you have time).  Having spent 3 years living in Tokyo, Taipei reminds me of a Japanese city (thanks to its Japanese colonial heritage) with its stroller friendly boulevards and colourful shops.  Taipei is also a foodie lover’s dream with its amazing night markets that offer up all manner of delectable goodies.

Where to stay

We treated ourselves to a spot of luxury at the fabulous Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei (stay tuned for a review).  You can’t beat the hotel’s rooftop pool, perfect for a spot of citybreak bribery with the kids!

What to do

  • Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is an impressive monument to the former President.  
    Chiang Kai ShekWalk through Liberty Square and up the 89 steps to the Memorial Hall in time for the changing of the guards. This happens hourly from 9 to 5pm and is fascinating!  Be sure to get near the front so the kids can sit down.
    Chiang Kai Shek Changing Of The Guards
  • Longshan Temple is a beautiful, colourful temple that has been rebuilt many times due to earthquakes, typhoons and bombing in WWII.  It is small meaning easily manageable to maneovure the kids through without them getting too bored.  
    Longshan Temple Interior
  • The National Dr Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall displays a big bronze statue of Taiwan’s famed Father of the ‘Republic of China’.  Similarly to the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall there’s a changing of the guard on the hour. It’s on a much smaller scale than the CKS Memorial Hall and the exhibitions were a bit boring for kids. There’s a nice little park surrounding it which give you great views out to Taipei 101.
    Taipei 101
  • From the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall it is a 10 minute walk to the SongShan Culture and Creative Park.  This is a former Japanese tobacco factory converted into a design expo park featuring local and international modern art, bookstore and cafes.  The area was nice for a stroll although I wouldn’t feature it at the top of your itinerary if you have young kids.
    Songshan flowers
  • The Taipei Fine Arts Museum is located in the Taipei Expo Park.  There is an admission fee to enter the main part of the museum BUT the galleries and the Children’s Art Education Center on the basement floor are free. My kids loved roaming around the children’s center, there are lots of hands on activities and easels set up so they can draw.  
    Inside Fine Arts MuseumOpposite the Fine Arts Museum is the charming yellow Taipei Story House but I had read reviews that it wasn’t that interesting so we admired from afar instead.
  • A short walking distance from Taipei Expo Park is the Taipei Children Amusement Park.  We didn’t have the chance to check it out as we only had limited time.
  • One of the biggest hits of the trip was the Miniatures Museum Of Taipei. Filled with intricate dollshouses and miniatures scenes, we were all captivated by this museum.
    Miniatures Museum Of Taipei
  • Flying high above Taipei Zoo is the amazing Maokong Gondola which leads you up to the beautiful Maokong tea hills.  We decided to skip the zoo as there was light rain but it would be a nice combination to do the Zoo then Gondola.  Unless you have $100 notes for the vending machine, buy tickets for the Gondola up at level 4. Avoid the queues buy heading up in late afternoon (although mid-week is usually ok).  You can pay extra for a glass bottomed carriage although the queue will be longer. 
    Maokong Tea HousesThe ride takes about 30 minutes to the Maokong Station.  Once at the top you can wander along one of the paths and find a teahouse to sample some of the famed local tea.  We walked up to the left and the road was lined with food vendors.  At the outdoor food market on the right hand side, the ‘Bomb Pancake’ is out of this world!  
    Maokong Bomb PancakeWe couldn’t face the queues for the gondola on the way down as it started to pour so hopped in a taxi down to the Taipei Zoo MRT. I was really pleased we did this as the taxi journey gave us an alternative view to the little villages in the region.
  • If we had more time and the weather had been better, I would have loved to hire bikes and cycle along the river trail which starts near the Taipei Zoo MRT.  This was a tip given to me by Jen who said you cross the street from the station and rent bikes.  You can ride the full river trail for 1-2 hours either with kids in a child seat or on their own bike.
  • If the kids are clamouring for a playground, take them to Daan Forest Park located in the centre of Taipei, it even has its own MRT station.
  • For fantastic views over the city, walk the Elephant Mountain hiking trail (about 20 minutes to the top with lots of stairs).  The best time to hike up is late afternoon so you can view the city for the sunset.
  • I also had a recommendation to visit Baby Boss City.  This is a place kids can dress up and experience different jobs. However, having recently visited the fantastic Kidzania in London, we gave this one a miss. 
  • Having been unimpressed by Taipei’s famous National Palace Museum on a previous visit, we decided not to inflict it on the kids. However, if you love Chinese artifacts then you should pay a visit, I do remember the jade cabbage being rather pretty.

Where to eat

Taipei is a foodie lovers dream!  It is only fair that I devote an entire blog post to all the amazing things we ate.  We had an amazing buffet breakfast at the Shangri-La’s Cafe at Far Eastern which pretty much set us up for the day. For lunch we would grab a light snack so that we could spend our evenings devouring everything and anything at the night market.

Raohe spring onion cake

We visited two nights markets on our trip, the Lingjian Street Night Market and the Raohe St Night Market.  The former was close to our hotel and is a mix of food and retail outlets.  It was great but Raohe really had the wow factor and filled to the brim with food stalls.  It can be overwhelming for kids and neither are particularly stroller friendly as they can get quite congested.  My kids loved sampling all the food although my 4 year old did start to get tired as there aren’t many places you can sit down.

If you’re a lover of a themed restaurant, you’ll be pleased to hear that Taipei has a Barbie, Hello Kitty and Lego themed cafe!  Taiwan is also home to DinTaiFung, a delicious spot for dumplings, although perhaps not so exciting for Hong Kongers who have one on their doorstep.

Raohe St Night Market

Jetlag & Mayhem’s Tips For Visiting Taipei

  • The best months to visit are April or November. Avoid the typhoon seasons of June to September.
  • Taipei is really easy to get around. The MRT is cheap, signed in English and easy to use.  Taxis are also relatively inexpensive.
  • It took us about 35 minutes to get from Taiwan International Airport to downtown.  We picked up a taxi at the airport rather than book the overpriced hotel car.
  • Don’t rely on being able to find an English speaker. Carry a phrase book or make sure your hotel writes down all your destinations in advance.
  • I downloaded the Taiwan city guide through Triposo (free) on my phone.  This was very useful as it meant I didn’t have to lug around my guidebook.
  • UK passport holders don’t need a visa for Taiwan although you do need to have at least 6 months’ remaining on your passport.
  • For more tips on how to manage a citybreak with kids, see my previous post
  • We were only in Taipei for three days but if we’d had longer, I would have loved to visit the hot springs and Taroko Gorge.  Franca has a brilliant review on her travel blog about her extended trip down to Hualien, Taroko Gorgeo and a day trip to the Yehliu Geopark.
  • Where’s Sharon has an in-depth guide to Taipei with kids and tips on visiting the city.

 

9 comments

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  1. Nell@PigeonPairandMe.com

    This looks like an incredible place to visit. I know my two kids would be blown away by Taipei.

  2. Keri from Baby Globetrotters

    Fab info thank you! We are tossing up between Taiwan & Philippines for next Easter so this is all really useful stuff, bookmarking for sure! #citytripping

  3. Wander Mum

    You have REALLY made me want to visit Taiwan now…we have been thinking about a trip there for a while. The foodie scene will definitely swing my husband. Great tips on visiting Taipei with children…will pin for when we go. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

  4. MummyTravels

    I know so little about Taiwan, and even less about what to do there with kids so this is fantastic – sounds a great place to visit if I’m in that part of the world, and lots to discover. The food alone tempts me! Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  5. Katharine

    Where did you take the photo with the Taipei sign? So cute!

  6. Elizabeth

    Fun! I used to live on mainland China but never made it over to Taiwan. I’d love to visit though and bring along my son. You’ve given some great tips!

  7. California Globetrotter

    Looks like a really interesting place to visit! #CityTripping

  8. WanderMum

    I still need to visit! Would love to one day. #citytripping

  9. MummyTravels

    Still really tempted to visit Taiwan – one day on my ever growing list for Asia

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