The General Manager at Mandarin Oriental, Taipei shares his favourite haunts in the Taiwan capital, from night markets to museums and street food to shops

Michael Ziemer, General Manager at Mandarin Oriental, Taipei

Michael Ziemer, General Manager at Mandarin Oriental, Taipei

What museum would you recommend to a first-time visitor?
The National Palace Museum, which has a permanent collection of around 700,000 ancient Chinese imperial artefacts and artworks; between them, they trace thousands of years of Chinese history. I always advise guests to be there for 8.30am, when the doors open, and head straight to the third floor, where some of the most prized pieces are on display.

And other great places to visit?
Longshan Temple is the oldest and most important temple and, perhaps, the loveliest. Try to visit when there is a ceremony happening, as the singing adds so much to the significance of this place of worship.

Taipei's National Palace Museum

Taipei's National Palace Museum

Then there's Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which is surrounded by a huge garden, with the National Theater and Concert Hall at either end. It's a very dramatic space and the buildings are in a colourful, grand Taiwanese style.

For culture, Huashan 1914 Creative Park, built on the site of an old winery, has many exhibition and performance spaces, and theatres showing independent films. It's hugely atmospheric.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

It's also worth wandering around the alleys of Yongkang Street, which are full of Japanese colonial buildings, and Dihua Street for handmade goods and pretty coffee shops.

What is your favourite view?
The best view of the city is undoubtedly from the top of Elephant Mountain (also known as Xiangshan). You can see the skyscraper Taipei 101 (once the tallest building in the world and Taipei's most recognisable landmark) and the eastern part of the city.

Do you have a city escape?
The town of Tamsui, just along the north coast in New Taipei, which is well known for its street food, from noodles to fish balls and iron eggs (considered a delicacy, the eggs are usually stewed in a mix of spices and are air-dried so they have a chewy texture). There are many small shops, such as Yuan, for handmade soaps and beautifully packaged tea.

King crab at Addiction Aquatic Development

King crab at Addiction Aquatic Development

What are Taipei's best markets?
The Addiction Aquatic Development (Taipei Fish Market) is a great place for fresh seafood. Choose the live shellfish, including king crab and scallops, in the mega-tanks (if you go for crab, get the claws cut so it's easy to eat with chopsticks). There's also Shilin Night Market, which is renowned for its Taiwanese snacks, and Ningxia Night Market, nicknamed 'Taipei's Stomach'. Around 20 stalls sell traditional dishes, from oyster omelette and minced pork rice to taro cake and tofu pudding.

Buy soap and tea at Yuan

Buy soap and tea at Yuan

Is there a go-to shop for fashion?
Shiatzy Chen in the Zhongshan District belongs to Taiwanese fashion designer Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia. She founded her fashion house nearly 30 years ago and has boutiques across the globe. Her style of 'neo-Chinese chic' is remarkable for its craftsmanship.

Mandarin Oriental, Taipei

Mandarin Oriental, Taipei

What is the upcoming neighbourhood?
The Songshan District, where Mandarin Oriental, Taipei is located. With its designer studios, hip cafés and interiors boutiques, it's reminiscent of New York's SoHo. Head for tree-lined Fujin Street to try beef noodle soup and Taiwanese pancakes.

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