HIKING Don your hiking boots for some beautiful walks that are reassuringly close to the city
Those who want to begin a hike close to the city should try the Xiangshan trial, a short hike (around 20 minutes) that involves tackling some steep steps up to Elephant Mountain. Start your journey in the late afternoon from the MRT Xiangshan Station when it’s cooler, and you can catch the sunset.
It may be one of the city’s most popular hikes, but Wu Liao Jian is not for the faint-hearted, as you’ll need to use the fixed ropes to navigate your path over the Phoenix Plume and climb down a long, steep rockface.
Starting at the Jinguashi Gold Ecological Museum in Jinguashi town, the Teapot Mountain hike takes in steep staircases, with a pavilion at the top of the final climb taking in stunning views of the coastline. You can use the fixed ropes to scramble through a well-maintained path that takes in different viewpoints.
Starting at Xihu station, the Jinmianshan trial is a steep hike with rocks and boulders at the top where you can pause and take in the views over the city. There are different routes up and down to the summit.
If you’re up for a day trip out of the city, then consider visiting Sun Moon Lake in Central Taiwan, which is reachable by HSR train in around 50-60 minutes. Rambles include the Mount Maolan Trail, an easy 3km hike that winds through vast tea plantations. More ambitious is Mount Shuishe, a steep trail with great views over the lake at 2,059m. HIGH TEA Have a light breakfast so you
can savour some of Taipei’s finest afternoon tea experiences One of the hippest addresses in town W Taipei’s (marriot.com) afternoon teas are a glamorous, stylish affair as the hotel plays up to its design credentials with beautiful tiers of sweet and savouries served at Yen Bar on the 31st floor, which offers knock-out views out to Taipei 101.
Afternoon tea at The Mandarin Oriental Taipei (mandarinoriental.com) is offered at Café un Deux Trois, a distinctly retro offering that allows diners to choose three items from the chocolate trolley. If you’re short on time, pick up a sugary treat at the Mandarin Oriental Cake Shop.
A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, art lovers will adore San Want Residences (swresidences), as it features original artwork throughout, many being contemporary Taiwanese artists. Afternoon tea is served in the Resident’s Lounge, a traditional affair of finger sandwiches, scones and locallysourced tea.
A similarly artistic theme pervades at Hotel Eclat Taipei (eclathotels.com) which houses works by Salvador Dali alongside contemporary Chinese pieces. The afternoon tea offerings buck convention, with Mexican burrito with crab sauce and burger steak with quail egg among the savouries, although it does have British raisin scones and macarons on the sweet menu.
Built in 1952, the Grand Hotel Taipei (grandhotel.org) is an iconic palace-like building with red columns and gilded tiles. Head to the Garden Café and be wowed by the beautiful flower
arrangements as you nibble on dainty sandwiches, macarons and tropical fruit. HOT SPRINGS Soothe and soak your muscles at the public hot springs and hotels in the chilled-out Beitou district
During the occupation, the Japanese opened several hot springs in Taiwan in the district of Beitou, a 30-minute ride from the city on the MRT. Located within Beitou park, the Beitou Outdoor Public Hot Springs houses three hot pools and two cold pools and each session lasts two hours. They operate on a schedule of two-hour segments. To find out more about this ancient practice, you can head to the nearby Beitou Hot Spring Museum, which houses the original bathing pools.
Beitou is also home to many hot spring hotels. Taiwan’s only Relais Chateaux Hotel, Villa 32 Beitou (villa32.com) has its own public hot spring area (single entry usage for up to four hours), five private hot spring rooms and two Japanese-style rooms equipped with outdoor spring tubs.
The Grand View Resort Beitou (gvrb.com.tw) has an outdoor hot spring encircled by pine trees with wooden floors, an open air spring with hot and cold pools, ice pool and a steam room, and a private hot spring room for a quiet soak.
Situated on the top floor, the MU Springs at Hotel Royal Beitou (hotelroyal.com.tw) has a sauna, steam room and hydrotherapy exercise pool in addition to hot springs.
Japanese hotel The Radium Kagaya (kagaya. com.tw) has an indoor public hot spring and 17 private hot spring rooms; one-day packages are available for those not staying at the hotel.