By Jenna Jolie
See Chinese treasures
Chinese politician Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 under Mao’s Communist onslaught, bringing with them one of the greatest collections of Chinese art purloined from the Forbidden Palace in Beijing. These imperial treasures of calligraphy, bronzes, and jades are on display at the National Palace Museum.
Avoid crowded weekends to be able to absorb the harmonious pricelessness of objects like the 11th-century Mao Gong Ding cauldron inscribed with 500 Chinese characters. Entry £6.50.
Eat stinky tofu
Could you eat something reeking of unwashed feet? “Stinky tofu” is just one exotic aroma from night markets offering some of Asia’s best street food. Avoid the touristy Shilin night market for a far more authentic experience at a local favourite like Ningxia, and graze as you walk.
Cheap eats include squid soup, sticky rice in bamboo, and that stinky tofu – which tastes better than you could have imagined when it’s fried and served with a healthy dollop of chilli. With dishes from £1-£6, it’s easy to see why the Taiwanese dine out most evenings.
Sleep in a palace
Neo-Brutalist latitude gets an imperial palace makeover at the extraordinary Grand Hotel. Even if you don’t stay at this 14-floor colossus, pay it a visit to gawp at the lacquered pillars propping up a golden double-eave roof, as red-uniformed bellhops skate around polished marble floors. For an option closer to the shopping and nightlife of Xinyi district, Home Hotel is a more 21st-century offering hosting a grainy whisky and jazz bar.
Cook potsticker dumplings
Salivating over Taipei’s foodie onslaught may kindle a desire for a cooking class. Trade secrets, such as how to crisp up potsticker dumplings and how white pepper, not chilli, puts the bite into hot-and-sour soup, can be unlocked during a three-hour class with private chef, Wayne Lin. Book it through My Taiwan Tour - it costs from £75 per person, depending on group size.
Learn to brew oolong
Understand your oolongs and the art of brewing them at Ten Shang’s Tea Company near Xingtian Temple MRT. Amid fragrant sacks of tea leaves, Mr and Mrs Chang treat visitors to tastings from their own plantations and explain the variations of high mountain green oolongs and black lowland teas. For the connoisseur, a fine 150g packet of mountain Li Shan oolong costs £42.