For when there's no time to waste

Taiwan’s capital city is filled with endless places to explore, but what if you only had limited time to take in the sights and sounds? Fret not, here’s a roundup of five must-see spots to make sure your Taipei trip is a fulfilling one.

1. Ximending

It’s easy to see why many tourists liken Ximending to Japan’s Shibuya shopping district upon visiting Taipei. Both places are kaleidoscopes of colour, bustling with life and containing a vibrant energy which beckons you to explore more. All your favourite fashion labels are likely to have a presence here, so be sure to put aside the hours if you intend to go on a shopping spree.

2. Danshui

Located near the north of Taipei, Danshui is a cosy seaside town that’s teeming with street food kiosks, carnival game stalls and souvenir shops. The coastal walk is long but totally worth it, as you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of open skies and the sun setting along the opposite island.

But that’s not all. A number of hipster cafes and barbershops have also set up shop at Danshui, adding a neat touch of modernism for those of us accustomed to urban living.

3. Xiangshan aka Elephant Mountain

Hiking trails are aplenty in Taipei, but only Elephant Mountain offers a stunning view of Taipei 101, the tallest building in Taiwan. Leave your worries and climbing equipment behind; this trail consists of hundreds of steps so you won’t have to pack anything except a bottle of water and a towel. You won’t need an athlete’s stamina either, thanks to the numerous rest points where you can catch your breath.

Look out for the designated outdoor decks overlooking the city beneath, and be sure to take all the Instagram-worthy photos you can. You’ve earned it.

4. Jiufen and Shifen

Admittedly, Jiufen and Shifen aren’t the most accessible spots in Taipei. But with private tour buses plying the routes every day, you shouldn’t run into problems making your way there.

Jiufen looks every bit like it came out of a movie, which is probably why it served as the inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away animated film. The former gold-mining town has a spectacular view of the sea and a maze of narrow streets filled with teahouses and other dining options. A host of hotels and guesthouses line the undulating alleys, clearly a sign that this town is worthy sticking around for a day or two. Like all other tourist hotspots, book early to avoid disappointment.

As for Shifen, the village-railway station is best known for its sky lanterns — decorative pieces which are adorned with written well-wishes. Tourists can purchase a lantern, scribble a message and watch as the lanterns are lit up and released into the sky. Gimmicky? Possibly. But definitely something worth experiencing. Shifen also has a neat waterfall close by, but unless you have a car or rented motorbike, it’s best to allocate at least 30 minutes of walking time to the spot.

5. Shilin or Raohe Night Markets

Pressed for time or not, no trip to Taipei is complete without exploring its night markets. Whether it’s Shilin, Raohe or others scattered around Taipei, you are assured authentic Taiwanese street food fix at decent prices. Portions for most snacks, save the XXL fried chicken cutlet, aren’t particularly big either, so sampling a variety of flavours isn’t a tall order. Definitely worth revisiting too, if you can’t get enough of damn good street food.

This article first appeared on THREAD, Zalora's fashion, beauty, and lifestyle content portal.