Taiwan: Things to do in Taipei

MY HUSBAND AND I ARE PLANNING A ONE-WEEK TRIP TO TAIWAN IN DECEMBER. WE HAVEN'T BOOKED ANYTHING YET APART FROM FLIGHTS, SHOULD WE BASE OURSELVES IN TAIPEI AND DO DAY TRIPS AND WHERE, OR TRAVEL AROUND?

K. SIMPKIN, LAKE GARDENS

You're in for a great time. Taiwan is hip right now, and even though it's mid winter you can expect mild temperatures. With just a week I'd be inclined to stay in Taipei and do day trips, it's an absolute cracker of a city. The attractions include temples – Hsing Tian Kong Temple is a standout – tea shops and night markets where you can sample some fantastic street food, try the Raohe Street Night Market in Shongshan District. The original Din Tai Fung, famous for its dumplings, is worth a pilgrimage, and Anthony Bourdain is a big fan of Yong Kang Beef Noodles in Da'an District.

The National Palace Museum has one of the finest collections of Chinese art of any city and make sure you take in one of the city's many karaoke parlours, it's a national pastime. The Taiwanese have a particular fondness for sad love songs, get ahead of the crooning game. In the evening head for Ximending Pedestrian Zone, a catwalk for the young and slightly outrageous, and don't miss the ink parlours in Tattoo Street.

Beitou's hot springs are a popular spot, just a 50-minute ride aboard Taipei's excellent MRT trains. The Broadway Hotel is the place for a more upmarket dip, and there are Japanese style onsen if you want to stay the night. The northern port city of Keelung's reputation rests on its night market and there's also Zhongzheng Park and Zhuputan Temple. For a taste of the great outdoors take a train from Taipei to Ruifang and board the Pingxi Rail Line for a short journey through time-warped villages. Get off at Shifen Station to admire the waterfall and take a walk through lovely countryside. You can make it there and back to Taipei easily in a day.

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