TAIPEI – Singaporeans have such a love affair with the irresistible street food of Taipei, our favourite food spots are already pinned on Google Maps long before we land in the city. Exiting Taoyuan Airport, we make a beeline for the famous beef soup noodles, bubble tea, and then the night markets. But what if we told you, it is also possible to satisfy your insatiable affection for its street food at “hipster” spaces in the city that provide a creative and visually-arresting backdrop for your Instagram stories?
Taipei is fast establishing itself as the cultural capital of Asia. Its development has been homegrown and organic, driven by young artists seeking an avenue to assert their Taiwanese identity. The result is a thriving art scene that is forward-thinking, while proudly retaining its cultural traditions.
We have drawn up a neat little list of museums, galleries and artsy districts for you to add to your next visit to Taipei, so couple it with your food pilgrimage and it might just surprise you.
1. Songshan Cultural and Creative Park
Image by m4michelle on Instagram.
Formerly a tobacco factory, this space reopened as a creative park in 2011, and now houses the Taiwan Design Museum, bookshops, boutique stores and workshops for artisan crafts.
The Japanese Early Modernism architectural style is distinct here – the emphasis on horizontal lines and symmetry is apparent as you wander through its history in the boiler room, nursery room and the tobacco factory. Exhibitions and shops are concentrated in the tobacco factory, with a Baroque Garden at the heart of it, allowing ample light to flow through its industrial grey facade.
After immersing yourself in the arts, enjoy lunch at the TMSK Xiao Shan Tang Restaurant, which is interestingly housed in the old repair plant.
No.133 Guangfu South Road, Taipei, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Daily from 9 AM to 6 PM
2. Huashan 1914 Creative Park
For those looking to escape the busy streets of Taipei, then Huashan 1914 Creative Park will reward visitors with its large space, which tastefully fuses industrial with organic style. Once the premises of a sake-producing wine factory, the space fell into disuse and was earmarked for demolition, before local artists fought for it to be repurposed as a creative centre.
The same energy that brought Huashan 1914 Creative Park to life is evident in the community of young aspiring Taiwanese artists who created the third wave coffee shops, bars, indie brands, specialty stores and art exhibits here today. Kids will especially enjoy the colourful upside-down house with all its quirks and will inspire some imaginative and fun shots for sure.
No. 1, Section 1, Bade Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Daily from 9:30 AM to 9 PM
Image by seeqrtravel on Instagram.
If there’s one neighbourhood to rival the hipster cred of Tiong Bahru in Singapore, it’s Dadaocheng. Highly recommended by our Taiwanese friends (some arguing it’s worth spending a full day here), Dadaocheng embodies the very essence of Taipei.
There is an intoxicating mix of traditional and modern— shops selling dried goods and traditional Chinese medicines are lined up against hipster east-meets-west cafes and art galleries, all equally important parts of Taiwan’s unique identity.
Centred on Dihua Street, the main artery of Dadaocheng boosts an impressive host of Baroque style buildings, Hokkien shophouses and redbrick Western bungalows. The best part of it? Dadaocheng packs everything into a compact area, making it a great destination for a day trip. The famous Ningxia Night Market is right next door— migrate over for a well-deserved treat once you’ve fed your camera with Instagram-worthy shots.
Datong District, Taipei 103, Taiwan
4. Four Four South Village
Image by ym.0227 on Instagram.
Shopping around Taipei 101? Why not step into the Four Four South Village, conveniently located right at the foot of the imposing Taipei 101? There is a real collision of new and old as you step into the village, built as the first military residence in Taipei.
A section of the village has been carefully restored while retaining its faded grey facades, with the main hall occasionally hosting photography exhibitions. If you’re looking to grab a quick bite and rest those tired feet, the art centre-café-lifestyle store Good Cho’s has the reputation of having Taipei’s best bagels. Come on the second and fourth Saturday of every month, where the village comes alive with the arrival of its flea market, packed with food stalls and local artisans selling DIY handicrafts.
No.54, Songqin St, Xinyi Dist, Taipei 110, Taiwan
Daily from 9 AM to 4 PM
5. Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA)
Image by meetingchan2018 on Instagram.
The Museum of Contemporary Art accords the curious tourist the opportunity to dive deeper into Taiwan’s vibrant art scene. Housed in a Japanese colonial-era redbrick building, the museum features exhibitions from international contemporary artists and emerging talents of Taiwan. This family-friendly museum offers daily guided tours, and regularly hosts workshops which allow children to express themselves artistically, wherever their imagination leads them.
With rotating exhibitions, it makes for repeat visits to appreciate why the museum is so influential in leading Taiwan and the rest of Asia in the discussion of more taboo topics in the region.
Packing your luggage already? It can be difficult finding new places to discover in a city so well-known and familiar to many— and first-timers can find themselves easily overwhelmed with food. We hope this list has motivated you to explore another side of Taipei and give you cultural side dish to balance your trip!
No. 39 Chang-an West Rd, Taipei 103, Taiwan
Tuesday to Sunday 10 AM to 6 PM (Closed on Monday)
Top image by happytummytravels via Instagram.