Southeast Asia is an increasingly popular place for honeymooners, with destinations like Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia calling to those looking for beautiful white sand beaches, tropical temperatures, and unique culture and history to explore. But the journey there is a long one, with relatively few direct routes.
Rather than spend your layover in the airport, book a longer layover en route and you can explore another destination for a day or just a few hours. While there are a few major hubs to choose from (including Singapore and Hong Kong), here are 7 reasons to plan a long layover in Taipei.
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Mengjia Longshan Temple
The Mengjia Longshan temple dates back to 1738, and though it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, it remains one of the most important, and beautiful, temples in Taipei. For visitors, it's an eye-opening introduction to Taiwan, and one could easily spend hours marveling at the intricate artwork throughout the temple, or watching as the faithful pray and make offerings.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial
The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is dedicated to its namesake, Chiang KaiXshek, the former President of the Republic of China. The larger-than-life monument is surrounded by an even larger park which also contains the ornate National Theater and National Concert Hall. The Memorial Hall is an architectural marvel and it's full of symbolism; the octagonal roof relates to the number eight, typically associated with good fortune, and the 89 steps to the main hall represent Chiang's age at the time of his death. There's a museum that gives visitors more information on the life and legacy of the former leader, and a frequent changing of the guard ceremony is an elaborately choreographed ritual that shouldn't be missed.
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Home to the world's fastest elevator (which travels at more than 50 feet per second), Taipei 101 is the tallest building in Taipei, and from the 91st floor observatory, you can see the entire city sprawling out before you. Engineering buffs will love seeing the wind damper, a contraption that helps reduce the building's sway in heavy winds; it's the world's largest and heaviest damper, and the only operational damper exposed for viewing. Still, nothing beats the view of the city, which seems to stretch in every direction, climbing up the green hills that surround Taipei.
Din Tai Fung
While you can eat at a Din Tai Fung outpost elsewhere in Asia, there's something special about eating these tasty xiao long bao (soup dumplings) in Taipei. The original Din Tai Fung that's been there since 1958 is located on Xinyi Road, but there are other locations, including a bustling outpost in Taipei 101. Order a dozen (or more — they are addictive!) and be sure to observe the protocol for consuming these steaming buns; first dip the bun into a mix of soy sauce and vinegar, then place it on a spoon and poke the bun to create a hole and let some of the steam escape. Finally add some ginger to your spoon and carefully enjoy the famous — and famously hot — buns.
Photo: Courtesy of W Taipei
Located in the Xinyi district, in the shadow of the Taipei 101 tower, the W Taipei makes a bold statement, with high ceilings, a sexy lobby bar, and the signature swank style of W hotels around the world. The hotel's 405 rooms all come with a fabulously soft bed, a fully-stocked mini bar, and floor-to-ceiling windows (many with views of the Taipei 101 tower). There's a luxurious pool with a view, a gym and spa, and two restaurants. For fine dining with a view, make a reservation at YEN Chinese, which serves upscale Chinese dishes like mushroom and black truffle dumplings, hot and sour seafood soup, and crispy Peking duck in a elegant setting overlooking the city.
If you can hold out until the sun sets, be sure to stop by a Taipei night market. Night markets are a quintessential part of life in Taipei, and there are more than 100 markets scattered around the city. Many are open nightly and offer a mix of Taiwanese snacks and street food, handcrafts, clothing, and more. There's often music playing and a festive atmosphere pervades. If jet lag is starting to kick in, nothing will stave it off like the frenetic energy of a night market.