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The modern cosmopolitan city

One of the main hubs of the Chinese-speaking world

The city of Taipei (台北市 Táiběi Shi, literally “Northern Taiwan City”) is the island capital of Taiwan. Taipei is the political, economic, educational and cultural centre of Taiwan and one of the main hubs of the Chinese-speaking world. Taipei is a modern cosmopolitan city with large high-tech industrial areas. The well-developed infrastructure with subways, railways, high-speed trains, spacious freeways, airports and bus routes connect Taipei perfectly with all parts of the island.

Residents & city life
An estimated 2,700,000 people live in the heart of the city. The metropolitan region of Taipei-Keelung, with the newly incorporated region of “New Taipei”, even has 8.5 million inhabitants. This makes it one of the most populated urban areas in the world. About one-third of Taiwanese residents live in the metropolitan area of Taipei. The name “Taipei” can refer to either the entire metropolitan region or the city centre itself. Despite the very urbanized area and the very high population density, the metropolis has clean air and environmental problems are solved very progressively in the city.

Parks & Museums
The Maokong Recreational Area (猫 空 Māokōng, literally: “Cat’s Sky”) is located in the Wenshan District of Taipei. The area was once the largest tea growing area of northern Taiwan. There are many intertwined trails that were once used to transport the tea – today, they are expanded for hiking. Even today, it is still a popular place to discover and enjoy the ancient tea culture. In addition, the view of the city centre is breath-taking. In Maokong, they still produce tea today, especially the esteemed Tieguanyin tea (铁 观音 tiěguānyīn). Many restaurants here offer good teas as well as excellent food. A combination of traditional tea culture, food and landscape are the main reasons why the area has become a popular tourist destination.

The Maokong cable car was put into operation on July 4, 2007, and offers a sweat-free and nice way to get up the Maokong Mountain. The cable car is located next to Zoo of Taipei (動物園 立 動物園 Táiběishìlìdòngwùyuán), which is also worth a visit. The zoo sometimes referred to as the “Muzha Zoo”, is Taiwan’s most famous zoological garden and a prime example of animal conservation and zoological research and education. With a total area of 165 hectares, it is one of the largest zoos in Asia.

Food and drinks
Taiwan’s cuisine was influenced mainly by its geographical location and proximity to the sea. Therefore, the Taiwanese cuisine (臺灣 菜 Táiwāncài) is very diverse and has many influences from the central and southern provinces of China, especially from the province of Fujian, which is closest to the island. Moreover, the Japanese influences can also be found in the kitchen. Pork, seafood, chicken, rice, and soy are very common ingredients. Since their own agriculture cannot feed all the inhabitants, seafood played a crucial role in the diet very early. Beef is far less common and some Taiwanese (especially the older generations) still refuse beef. This is in part due to Buddhist teachings, which require a traditional reluctance to slaughter precious cattle and an emotional bond to thank the animals for their work in the fields. However, due to large flows of immigrants in the 20th century, the bid to abandon beef has been increasingly watered down and the Taiwanese version of a beef noodle soup is now even one of the most popular dishes in Taiwan.

Tips
Across the entire city, there are the so-called “night markets”. Here you can immerse yourself in the culture of the island, buy souvenirs and taste the excellent Taiwanese cuisine.

The Shilin Night Market (夜市 Shìlínyèshì) is probably the largest and the most popular night market in Taiwan. It illustrates a typical image of a night market. Treats lure everywhere, but even one or the other souvenir can be found here. Easily accessible from the MRT Jiantan subway station of the “Red Line: R”. The food in the market area tends to be a bit more expensive. Therefore, it is advisable to look in the smaller streets next to the market hall, because tasty food for a good price can be found there. When first visiting a night market in Taiwan, the Shilin night market is the best place to start. The market gives you an idea about the look of many typical Taiwanese night markets.

The Raohe Night Market (饒河 夜市 Ráohéyèshì) is another famous night market in the city. The market is very busy on weekends or holidays. If you can, then you should schedule a visit during the week. The easiest way to reach this place is via the TRA Songshan Station of the “Green Line: G”. The food is tasty and even tastes better due to the prevailing hustle and bustle on the market. Don’t be afraid of even the most exotic dishes, because the Taiwanese are known for their good taste.