Quick Trip to Taipei



Free Half-Day Tour for Transit Passengers

Text: Owain Mckimm
Photos:Maggie Song, Twelli

In the last issue, Travel in Taiwan tagged along on the Taiwan Tourism Bureau's free morning tour to the small artisanal towns of Sanxia and Yingge, where we visited a temple, drank tea, and saw some impressive pottery. The Bureau's free tours, provided for transit passengers with layovers of between 7 and 24 hours, are operated daily from Taiwan Taoyuan Int’l Airport. This time around, we joined the afternoon tour to the heart of Taipei City, to see two of Taipei's grand landmarks – Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the towering Taipei 101.

The drive from the airport into the city takes about 45 minutes, and on the way our tour guide, Edward, fills us in on the island's history. Our first stop is to be Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, and because Chiang was one of Taiwan's most significant figures, Taiwan's political history is the primary focus of the introduction.
It's fascinating stuff – Japanese colonial rule, retrocession to China, Nationalists fleeing to the island as Communists take the mainland, decades of martial law, and eventually, the establishment of a vibrant democracy. According to our guide, Taiwan's political history is a mystery to most casual visitors, who have never given much thought to the differences between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China, or indeed noticed that there is any difference between them in the first place. We arrive at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, therefore, a little more informed and with our interest suitably piqued.
The complex is breathtaking, bordered with lush landscaped gardens and ponds as well as two, quite literally, palaces to the arts – the National Theater and the National Concert Hall. The memorial hall at the rear of the complex – a white cuboid with a blue octagonal Chinese roof – is fronted by a large plaza, which visitors enter through a multi-arched, Ming Dynasty-style gate. Climb the 89 stairs (Chiang's age at his death) to the hall's entrance and you're confronted with a 6.3-meter-tall bronze statue of the former leader, with the Chinese characters for Ethics, Democracy, and Science – which Chiang considered to be the essence of the Three Principles of the People – carved into the wall behind him.

We’re just in time to catch the hourly changing of the guard in front of the statue, and are afterwards whisked away to Taiwan's tallest building – Taipei 101. From 2004 to 2010 the skyscraper, standing at a whopping 508 meters, was the world’s tallest building (it is now the sixth-tallest). Jade-green in color and stretching toward the heavens like a giant bamboo stalk, the tower is nothing if not eye-catching. According to our guide most people find themselves in awe of the building's height, but don't let its great stature blind you to its less obvious charms. In fact, the structure and façade of Taipei 101 are steeped with symbolism – making it much more than just a particularly tall skyscraper, and adding much to the visual enjoyment for those in the know.
The main tower is made up of eight trapezoids – each containing eight floors – stacked on a truncated square pyramid. In Chinese numerology, the number 8 is considered lucky, symbolizing prosperity and good fortune. In addition, each of the eight trapezoids resembles an ancient Chinese gold ingot, while the circular protrusions at the top of the base resemble ancient Chinese coins. And finally, the building's total of 101 floors represents going one better than the best. The beauty is in the details.

To register for one of the two free transit-passenger tours, reserve in advance or sign up at the Tourist Service Center in the Arrival Lobby at Terminal 1 or 2 of Taiwan Taoyuan Int’l Airport. The tours are operated on a first-come, first-served basis. There are 18 places available per tour. The Taipei City tour starts at 1:30pm, and returns to the airport by 6:30pm. To pass through immigration you'll need a valid R.O.C. visa or be from a country eligible for visa-exempt entry. For more information, visiteng.taiwan.net.tw/tour/index.htm.



 

English and Chinese

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall中正紀念堂
National Concert Hall國家音樂廳
National Theater國家戲劇院
Sanxia三峽
Taipei 101台北101
Yingge鶯歌

 

Lovely Lotus Flower Fields

Little Streets and Small Alleys

Noodles, Buns, and Dumplings

Shin Kong Chao Feng Resort Ranch

Hao Bu Hao Chi?

Taitung by the sea

Sleep, Eat, and Buy Options in Alishan’s North Sector

Mt. Guanyin

A Night at the Market

Alishan North

Green and Sleepy

Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail

Taiwan and Hotpot

Jinyue Indigenous Village

Seven Stars Mountain

DaMorLee Leisure Farm

Quick Trip to Taipei

Up into the High Mountains

Romantic Evenings in Kaohsiung

Railways to Bikeways

Xiang Luo Lei Restaurant

Land Ho! Penghu – Beckoning You

The Guanshan Town Circle Bicycle Path

The Heart of Hualien

Dageeli Tribe Restaurant

Coastal Hualien

Ximending (West Gate District)

Bunun Hunters Restaurant

Hello Hualien!

The Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area

Tianwei Highway Garden

Prowlin’ in Maolin

Strawberry Town

The Maolin National Scenic Area

Stairways to the Sky

Pedaling Along

Daluan Restaurant

Around the Northern Tip

Hats and Mats

Orange Country

Travel Taiwan, Film Taiwan!

A Place to Relax

Through the Grapevine

The Tatami of Dongshi

Lacquerware

Lion’s Head Mountain and Beipu

Exploring the Valley of the Glowing Sky

Fruit of the Angels

Its Cake Culture

The Amazing Bamboo

Yilan’s Kumquats

Lovely Nanzhuang

The Sea of Flowers in Xinshe Festival

Healthful Eating and Delicious Flavors

The Black King Kong of Yuanchang

From Art Brush to Beauty Brush

A Strange Fruit

The Sound of Drums

Zuoying Wannian Folklore Festival

The Hot Springs of Beitou

Simakusi (Smangus)

Meinong

Water Frolics

Overnighting on the Northeast Coast

Giant Buddha, Old Temples, and Glass Art

Mt. Beidawu

The Most Joyous Thing in the World is Music

Taiwan Fun on the Tropic of Cancer

FUN WITH CHINESE - Men in the Fields during Rain

NK 101 Tea @ Style

Taitung Backpack Bus Trip

The Life of Pi

Taipei’s East District Where the Art of Shopping Is Serious Business

Spring Onion Country Yilan's Sanxing Township Offers Ideal Conditions for Cultivating Scallions

Sandy Beaches, Rocky Coastline, Quiet Country A Whirlwind Tour Round Hengchun Peninsula

What Happened at Wushe

Confucius Day

Keeping It in the Family: I Wan Jan Puppet Theater

Taiwan Has a Unique Culture

Welcoming the Year of the Rabbit and the ROC's 100 Years

All the Flowers You Can Dream Of

Music from the Marshland

Pristine Scenes

Fierce Faces

Following the Tide

A Wonderful World Out There

Off to the Beach and the Rocks

Taiwan’s Easy Rider Goes Into the Wild

HAKKA TUNG BLOSSOM FESTIVAL

Taipei Int'l Flora Expo

HIDDEN HOT SPRINGS & LANDFORMS

JOURNEY into the PAST

YOUNG, GIFTED, AND DEAF

Taiwan's Ultra Man Going Beyond Extreme

Rice by Any Other Name

Taiwan is Beautiful!

TAIPEI EYE

Slate Houses and Mud Rivers

From Fir Formosa

Touring Kaohsiung by KMART

TOURING TAIWAN

Taoyuan HSR Station

Taking Taiwan's Slow Train

Bus Trip to Central Taiwan

Establishing a Beautiful Taiwan

High Mountain Ecology

Exploring High Mountain HighsTaiwan at Her Peaks

Cultural Tourism in Taiwan:What's in It for You?

Getting to Know Taiwan's Indigenous Cultures

Leaving Stress Behind

Taiwan! "Feel Good" Country

Exploring Taiwan's Rural Side

Aboriginal Tribes & Festivals

The Famous Lantern Festival in Taiwan

Night Markets in Taiwan

Great Arts, Culinary Exhibitions and Events in Taiwan's National Palace Museum and Other Places

Mountains in Taiwan

Water Fun in Taiwan

Taiwanese Arts, Arts Festivals and Interesting Artifacts

"Taiwan's Ghost Festival and Other Religious Events"

Dragon Boat Festival

City: The Tallest Building Taipei 101 & Kaohsiung's Love River

National Scenic Area (IV)-Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, Penghu National Scenic Area, Matsu National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (III)-East Rift Valley National Scenic Area, East Coast National Scenic Area, Maolin National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (II)-Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area, Alishan National Scenic Area, Southwest Coast National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (I)-North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area, Northeast Coast National Scenic Area, Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area

Offshore Islands- Penghu、Kinmen National Park、Matzu、Green Island(Lyudao)、Orchid Island(Lanyu)

Eastern Taiwan- Taroko National Park、East Rift Valley、Rueisuei & Hongye、Jhihben

Southern Taiwan- Alishan、Tainan、Kaohsiung、Dapeng Bay & Little Liouciou、Kenting National Park

Central Taiwan- Miaoli、Taichung、Changhua、Nantou、Yushan National Park

Northern Taiwan -Taipei City、Yangmingshan & Beitou、Danshuei、Wulai、Jioufen & Jinguashih、Yilan、Taoyuan & Hsinchu