Taiwan 2014. Contributed by Ben Harris.
Check in @ the Okura Prestige, the luxury hotel opened in 2012.
Located in the Zhongshan district in central Taipei, Taiwan. It gave us a great, luxury welcome.
Take a look at the lobby.
Nice rooms, spacious no one lees than 43qm.
The hotel is the perfect spot to enjoy the city. The Okura has 25 stories, seven underground and 18 above ground and takes advantage of the natural beauty of Taipei. It’s location offers views of the city as well as the mountains. It is also located steps from high-end shopping, restaurants and museums. A five-minute walk to the metro, providing easy access to explore the rest of the city.
The new Okura Prestige Taipei has 208 luxury-appointed guestrooms with oriental and occidental décor. Features of the hotel include rooftop heated swimming pool, sauna, fitness center and massage room. Additionally, the Okura has three restaurants including the brand’s signature Japanese restaurant “Yamazoto” and a Cantonese restaurant “Toh-Ka-Lin.”
Furthermore Taipei had quite a lot to offer. Its sights are not as immediately apparent as they are in a city like Bangkok, but if you know where to go and what to do, Taipei turns into an exciting destination. You must go to the night markets, here you will find fantastic food – it is a mixture of influences from southern Mainland China, Japan, Beijing, Sichuan, Hunan and Shanghai and Guangdong and there’s no better place to try it out than at a night market. Some night markets sell clothes and souvenirs, but there are food-dedicated ones, like Shilin, that offer all of Taiwan’s culinary influences in bite-sized morsels. Wander through the narrow stall-lined lanes of a night market, eating bits and pieces as you go fresh seafood, spring onion pancakes, mango ices, fried chicken, and thai crab curry, to name but a few.
Wash them all down with a cup of bubble tea – one my favourite Taiwanese drink – milky, sweet tea with floating sago ‘bubbles’.
Taipei has long enjoyed a reputation as having the finest food in northeast Asia, most say more delicious and varied than its mainland counterpart Beijing. The diversity of xiao chi or “small eats” follows the philosophy of “eat often and eat good”–from spicy-sweet grilled sausage and lurou (braised pork over rice), to scallion pancakes, oyster omelets and the must-try “Taiwanese hamburger”–a steamed white bun filled with tender pork, shaved peanut, and pickled cabbage.
The capital city’s other major draw is the recently renovated National Palace Museum, which rivals any of the newest museums in the West and proudly deserves its moniker “the Louvre of Asia.” Mainland Chinese tourists come in droves to view the treasures they contend were wrongly taken from Beijing’s Forbidden City during the time of Chiang Kai-Shek.
Taipei has long enjoyed a reputation as having the finest food in northeast Asia, most say more delicious and varied than its mainland counterpart Beijing. The diversity of the “small eats” follows the philosophy of “eat often and eat good”–from spicy-sweet grilled sausage and lurou (braised pork over rice), to scallion pancakes, oyster omelets and the must-try “Taiwanese hamburger”–a steamed white bun filled with tender pork, shaved peanut, and pickled cabbage. Yummy.
Later on we enjoyed Karaoke, which is one of Taiwan’s biggest hobbies. Unlike in the West, lots of Taiwanese people enjoy doing karaoke stone-cold sober. Can you believe it! To be honest, I only ever did karaoke after I had consumed a fair amount of Taiwan Beer and horrible rice wine, mostly because I felt that my Chinese pronunciation improved with alcohol. We went for a karaoke evening, but there are more sanitary places for you to belt out your favourite 80s tunes, such as Party World in Shi-Lin, which is a skyscraper building filled from bottom storey to top with karaoke rooms. You can rent a room, buy drinks and get food – and then have some karaoke fun without randoms laughing at your singing abilities.
Taipei 101 – Once the tallest building in the world, the Taipei 101 offers some pretty vertigo-inducing views from its top floor. Go up on a day when the city is not that smoggy (it’s always going to be smoggy, this is Asia, after all) so you can see further. The indoor observatory is on the 89th floor, and the outdoor one is on the 91st. Apart from the insane views, the ride up in the lift is also a highlight of a visit to the building. All other lifts in the world pale in inferiority to this super-fast space age one.
By the way, there’s a great food court at the bottom of the building, where you’ll find Jason’s, an upmarket grocery store that sells, among other exotic products, rooibos tea.
Taipei has a couple of natural hot springs where all segments of Taiwanese society seem to hang out on the weekends. There are public hot springs with changing rooms and various pools. There’s a method to doing the hot springs – you move from pool to pool of increasing heat until you get into the hottest one, which feels as hot as a pot of just-brewed tea. I actually felt a bit ill when I got into the really hot pools, and a helpful Taiwanese woman explained to me that you can feel nauseous on your first time, so I advise taking the progression to the tea-hot pool slowly. It is a pretty relaxing experience, and Taiwanese people believe that wallowing in the hot springs has a lot of health benefits. You can’t travel to Taipei without engaging with its history, so I’ve chosen my last two spots because they give you an inisight into the country’s past.
Dr Sun Yat-sen was the father of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and the hall dedicated to his memory is a popular tourist attraction. Check out the changing of the guards, history and art exhibitions, the massive library and the hall’s surrounding park.
We enjoyed it very much