March 31, 2011
Gongguan and Taida
Gongguan and Taida
Although you will most often have a specific destination in mind when venturing out, be it a museum or park, sometimes it's enjoyable to explore an area of a city with no particular destination in mind.
Taipei City really isn't that big in terms of area - at least it doesn't seem so to those living here - but some areas have more of interest to the visitor than others. Although I realize this is subjective, I'll post on some areas that I think are worthwhile visiting.
First up then, Gongguan and Taida. Situated in the south of Taipei, Gongguan is probably best known as being a shopping/eating area popular with students attending National Taiwan University, also called "Taida". I'll get to Taida in a bit, but what this means is that there are many places to eat at very reasonable prices, including food stalls at extremely reasonable prices. Things really kick off in the evening and it does get very busy, but that's part of the fun.
Gongguan is also a good place to buy any bits of clothing you forgot to bring, as the prices are a lot cheaper than in the big department stores. There are also plenty of sports good shops, so if you are in the market for some new footwear then I'd look here first. All of the major brands are well represented.
The main roads are TingZhou Road and Roosevelt Road (spelled LuoSiFu Road in the map linked above), but there are plenty of criss-crossing lanes and alleys in between.
If you want somewhere a bit quieter to eat, there is a Taiwanese beer house style restaurant at the entrance to the water park off TingZhou Road. It is mostly open air with only a limited amount of inside seating, so be prepared if it's hot. If it is hot however, the water park will be open which is good fun for the kids.
Walking northwards, you will quickly come across Taida on the right hand side, which as I mentioned is National Taiwan University, the top ranked university in Taiwan. The campus is fairly large and includes a small lake, and I recommend a wander.
After you have been through the campus, I recommend crossing XinSheng South Road and walking down one of the many lanes such as Lane 86 which runs along one of the highest modern churches I have seen. Around this area you'll find dozens of restaurants, coffee shops and tea shops, mostly on the ground floor of apartment buildings. This is one of the reasons why I like this area I think, as you are in a residential area which makes it feel earthier almost.
If you are interested in English language books on Taiwan, the most prolific publisher is in this area (SMC Publishing, 1F, No.14, Alley 14, Lane 283, Roosevelt Rd., Sec. 3).
The best way to get here is via the MRT to the Gongguan station. Exit 1 puts you right in the heart of things, and exit 3 is closest to Taida. As I said, it is subjective, but most visitors I have spoken to have enjoyed the area. Happy wandering and don't forget to let us know how you get on.
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