Accommodations are available to meet all budgets. Taipei is a major business center; therefore, many of the top hotels, such as the Ritz, (011) 886-2 2597-1234, and Rebar Crowne Plaza, (011) 886-2 2763-5656, are designed with the business traveler in mind.
Room rates at the Ritz range from $230 to $1,110 per night, and at the Rebar Crowne Plaza, from $220 to $560 per night.
For a different experience, a stay at the amazing Grand Hotel, 12 floors built in the style of a temple, is worth the expense. Busloads of tourists come just to be photographed in front of the city landmark.
Rates at the Grand Hotel range from $150 to $600 per night. Call (011) 886-2 2596-5565.
Other hotels popular with U.S. travelers, according to the Taipei tourist office, are the Grand Hyatt Taipei, the Eastern Plaza, the Howard Plaza, the Grand Formosa Regent Taipei and the Westin Taipei.
TAIPEI, Taiwan --
It takes nearly half an hour to change the guard at the National
Revolutionary Mar-tyrs Shrine in Taipei, the capital of the
Republic of China, or Taiwan, as it is more commonly known.
The two young
soldiers, unblinking in the face of a barrage of clicking cameras,
go through an elaborate routine of marching and gun-twirling before
their replacements take the stand at the entrance to the
Even then, they
are not left in peace, as groups of giggling girls pose with them
and an attendant comes out to make sure their feet are correctly
aligned and their uniforms perfectly draped.
takes place every hour during the day.
Across the city,
a similar guard-changing routine is played out at the Chiang
Kai-shek Memorial Hall that towers over the landscaped gardens and
ornamental ponds of the surrounding park.
A bronze statue
of the late president dominates the inside of the monolithic
Memorial Hall that includes displays and mementos of his life,
including two shiny, black limousines.
Revolutionary Martyrs Shrine, a complex built to resemble a Ming
Dynasty palace, is dedicated to the fallen heroes of Chinas
Kai-shek Memorial Hall is dedicated to one man, the statesman and
military leader who was a pivotal figure in the history of modern
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall are two striking buildings of
classical Chinese architecture: the National Theater Hall, which
presents Chinese and Western operas, dramas and ballet, and the
National Concert hall.
The roofs of the
three buildings form a triangular design, with Memorial Hall as the
Only 30 years
ago, Taipei was a small city surrounded by rice paddies. Now it is
a bustling metropolis, with high-rise buildings and busy streets
lined with shops.
throughout the sprawling downtown area are numerous temples,
ranging from the famous and extremely decorative Lungshan (Dragon
Mountain) Temple to tiny, very personal places of worship. At many
of the temples, Taoists and Buddhists worship side by
stores rub shoulders with myriad small businesses, including an
incredible lineup of food outlets that are busy throughout the day
The moped is the
main form of transport for locals, and the fairly new and extremely
efficient underground makes movement around the city simple and
quick (the underground is well-signed in English), contributing, no
doubt, to the notable lack of pedestrian traffic on the
A highlight of a
visit to Taipei is the National Palace Museum, which is celebrating
its 70th anniversary in October.
The museum opened
in 1925 in the Forbidden City in Beijing during the fledgling years
of the Republic of China, making the treasures of the Chinese
imperial collection accessible to the common person for the first
much of the collection of 620,000 art objects from the Chinese
imperial collection had been brought to Taiwan after being stored
and moved around mainland China for years during the Japanese
occupation. The collection is so large that only the most popular
pieces are on permanent display, with other items exhibited in a
series of rotating specials.
of porcelain, calligraphy and paintings as well as jade and bronzes
are especially impressive, with fabulous designs and
Of the special
exhibitions, the intricacy, workmanship and detail of boxes
designed to hold curios (some had secret compartments) was
tours of the museum are held daily at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Close to the
National Palace Museum is Chiang Kai-sheks residence, not open to
the public but set in extensive parklands and gardens that are a
popular place for couples and families to stroll and as a backdrop
for wedding photos.
Taipei has many
other museums and galleries, including the National Museum of
History near the Botanical Gardens, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and
the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines.
attraction is the Lin Family Garden, an oasis amid the bustle of
Taipei, re-creating classical Chinese-style landscaping reminiscent
of a serene village from a bygone era.
Those who want to
see how Chinese opera is produced can visit the Fu Shing Dramatic
Arts Academy in the Neihu area of Taipei, where students learn the
skills of costume, make-up, song and dance. Visitors can watch some
of the training and enjoy a short performance.
stock of the markets
The markets on
the side streets do a brisk trade in fresh fruits and vegetables;
fish and meat; and shoes and clothing.
The night markets
also are popular, and at some of them, sideshow, alley-type games
cater to children, making these markets popular with families.
Unlike in many
Asian cities, the markets are relatively quiet, perhaps reflecting
the general reserve of the Taiwanese people.
medicine clinics do a busy trade, and peering through the window
one can see patients with acupuncture needles stuck into their
bodies or feet soaking in buckets of water. Also popular are foot
massage clinics where health care for soles is reputed to lead to
physical and mental rejuvenation.
high-ranking Chinese officials and leaders escaped to Taiwan in
1949, they brought with them their chefs, and the legacy of this is
that Taiwan is now regarded as one of the best places in Asia to
experience the best of many styles of cooking. Hunan, Szechuan,
Peking and Mongolian food are wonderfully prepared and available
even at roadside stalls.
There are a
number of food courts where you can make a selection of dishes to
sample the different styles. Taiwan beer is the perfect
Pastry shops and
sweets stalls do a roaring trade. Coffee is popular, with chains
such as IS Coffee and Starbucks well represented.
the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].