Taiwan's Triple Crown
Business Traveler|May 2017

This trio of urban destinations reveals this island nation’s diverse and distinctive qualities

Clement Huang and Valerie Ho

Once called Ilha Formosa (Beautiful Island) by the Portuguese explorers, Taiwan is much sought after among travelers for its colorful culture and diverse scenery. If you are more into exploring urban life in a foreign land, the island’s cities offer distinct experiences, each enjoyable in its own way.

A Capital Idea

Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, is located on the north end of the island, and the place to get the most iconic view of the city is Taipei 101. It was officially the tallest skyscraper in the world until the opening of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010. Its height, one better than 100, is symbolic of the city’s ambition of being “one above perfection.”

For a 360-degree panoramic view of the city, visit Taipei 101 Observatory. Entry is NT$500 ($17) per person and you can make use of the audio guide to direct your own tour. The telescopes around the perimeter allow you to view the city from on high, as well as admire the exquisite view of Yangmingshan, a mountain which has been designated a national park.

Find a taste of the local cuisine at Dian Shui Lou restaurant (dianshuilou.com.tw) for a DIY workshop on the making of xiao long bao (Chinese soup dumplings). This traditional food can be made with three different fillings – meat, seafood and vegetable – and the sophisticated 19-fold technique highlights the care that goes into its making.

In the class I signed up for at the Huaining Street branch, I observed the chef demonstrate the time-honored art of dumpling folding. The dough, made from flour and water, was rolled and stretched into long ropes, which were then cut by hand into smaller pieces resembling gnocchi. Each was then rolled into a circular, thin wrap, stuffed with pork filling, and folded 19 times.

While the chef was able to make perfectly-shaped dumplings in a few effortless seconds, when it came to our turn, we found it much trickier. Still, it was a great opportunity to laugh and bond with new friends.

There are two classes at 10:30 AM and 4:30 PM per day on Huaining (NT$715/ $23.50) and one at 2:30 PM at the Taoyuan branch (NT$275/$9).

Old Face, New Face

Walking through the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park (songshanculturalpark.org), in the Xinyi District of the city, is like taking a step back in time. Initially constructed in 1937 as a tobacco plant, it survived Japanese occupation and was converted into a public park in 2001 before being redeveloped in 2011 as a platform to encourage creativity and culture.

Old tobacco warehouses are now used to stage conferences, performances and other events. Historic buildings surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens and an eco-pond with marine life offer guests a tranquil and welcoming change from the hustle and bustle of Taipei.

Indoor areas are open daily from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, while outdoor areas are open till 10:00 PM. There is no entry fee to the park, but you do need to pay to get into the Taiwan Design Museum. The NT$120 ($4) ticket allows you to look at exhibits featuring the island’s creative industries and achievements in innovation.

Going South

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