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A mix of Chinese, Japanese and Western influences make Taipei a cultural melting pot. Wooden Japanese buildings rub shoulders with both Taoist temples and glittering modern skyscrapers. But it's the local cuisine that gives travellers the real taste of Taipei, which is known as a foodie's paradise. Wander the streets to take in the bustling night markets that serve up a range of delicious Asian dishes.
Taipei hostels are normally simple yet colourful, and are almost all kitted out with air con and free Wi-Fi. Some feature extra luxuries, such as personal TVs at the end of each bed – relaxed entertainment for the night before an early flight. Try a Taipei hostel in a 70-year-old Japanese colonial building, where a few rooms have balconies that look out over the city. Some hostels in Taipei stand next to quiet parks and have views of the Yangming Mountains – the perfect backdrop to your free breakfast.
There are 12 neighbourhoods in Taipei to explore, and each has a unique character. Datong and Zhongzheng are in the city centre, where you'll find the impressive Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and three popular night markets: Yansan, Dalong and Ningxia. The oldest area of Taipei is Wanhua: go there to visit the 18th-century Longshan Temple. To take in the great outdoors you can head to Beitou's soothing hot springs, or hike the terraced tea fields in Wenshan for spectacular views.
There's plenty to see in Taipei by day. The Ciyou Temple in the Songshan district has six floors of tiered roofs decorated with blue and gold dragons. Soak up panoramic sights after climbing Taipei 101: a 508-metre skyscraper that was once the world's tallest building. By night, Taipei is all about the food. From Shilin Night Market to the vendor-lined streets in Wanhua, Taipei's walkways fill up with visitors and locals, all wanting a hot plate of dan bing (an egg crepe) or the infamous 'stinky tofu'.
From Taoyuan Airport, Taipei city centre is a 45-minute ride away on the high-speed train, or there's a bus that only takes 10 minutes longer. The city's also linked up with a grid-like metro system called the Mass Rapid Transit. It's an easy – and cheap – way of travelling around Taipei. It also overlaps with Taiwan's high-speed and standard rail services that take you to the rest of the island.