If Hong Kong is Asia’s New York City, Taipei is the smaller, more laid-back Philadelphia. The capital of Taiwan, the sprawling, budget-friendly, warm-climate metropolis is surrounded bymountains, and eating is always on the agenda. Though Taipei is smaller than many of its East Asian counterparts, it still maintains the same mix of multistory buildings, parks, and temples — all within its city limits. If you’re a night owl looking for a shared foodie experience, Taipei’s got a whole host of fun and delicious options through the early hours.
It’s dinnertime, and you’ve got plenty of options. First, you can slurp up crave-worthy soup dumplings (potstickers filled with meaty broth) at the original Din Tai Fung. It’s now an international chain of dim-sum factories, but this is the original hot spot. You can also cook yourself a spicy dinner of rice and fish cakes in boiling water at famous hot-pot places like Tripod King or Little Mongolian.
Want something more intimate? Head to James Kitchen on Yong Kang Street, a relatively new restaurant with traditional Japanese-looking decor. It serves Taiwanese home cooking, like bean curd rolls, on small plates.
It’s karaoke time! Even if Taipei residents have their own karaoke systems at home, going out for more singing time is arguably a national pastime. People even karaoke in the morning. It’s called “KTV,” and you can book a private room for yourself or make a reservation for a large group through chains such as Party World. Rates depend on the time of day and size of your party; they range from about $10 per hour for a solo session to about $100 per hour for a big room. And you can order all sorts of cocktails to your disco-lit, leather-couch-laden room. Props to those who pretend to be onAmerican Idol and belt out Chinese pop or American classic titles.
Now that your ballad time is behind you, walk or take a bus or a taxi to one of Taipei’s many night markets for soy drinks and stinky tofu. Here, you can also do your late-night shopping at Tonghua, known for its fuzzy sweaters and character-ridden apparel. Another option? Head to Shihlin, one of the larger markets renowned for its meaty selection of sausages and rice, chicken cutlets, and ribs cooked with Chinese herbal medicine. If you’re looking for dessert, head to Yonghe, and make your way to the Wei Hart stand for bubble tea, a flavored drink with tapioca balls in it.
Taiwan is a city that doesn’t sleep — its nightlife continues into the early-morning hours. If you still have energy, head to the Eslite bookstore, which is open 24/7. You can plop yourself on the floor or grab a coffee and a snack at the café.
If you’re more of a high-energy type, head back to Taipei 101. There’s no cover on Thursday nights at Spark lounge, a sleek, neon-lit club in Taipei 101, full of trendsetting raver-dancers. Alternatively, music lovers can rock out at a live concert atLegacy. Note that you can buy tickets in advance, and you’ll be in standing room only.
If you’re still up — no pressure! — it’s time for breakfast. Try World Soy Milk King in Yonghe City and munch on savory Taiwanese scallion and egg pancakes to go. Or make the morning sweeter with fried Chinese doughnuts at Fu Hang Dou Jiang at the HuaShan market. By the way, your weekend has already started!
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