Taipei is a city of opposites. There are ancient temples and neon-laden clubs. The world's tallest building and tiniest markets. The bustle of millions of people and the peace of botanical gardens. And if you are a gourmet, Taipei offers the greatest variety of Chinese food in the world. This capital of the Republic of China and Taiwan's largest city is one destination that will leave you feeling a more fulfilled person.
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Taipei 101 is currently the tallest building in the world with 101 storeys above ground. (But make sure you say 'I saw it when', as it will only carry this distinction until the completion of the Burj Dubai in 2008.) It was built to withstand earthquakes over seven on the Richter scale and is considered by many to be the world's most technologically advanced skyscraper. Make sure you visit the world's highest outdoor observatory, which you can access by taking one of two lifts that will get you from the main floor to the 89th floor in under 39 seconds.
Where better to experience Chinese food than in the capital of the Republic of China? Since Taiwan is surrounded by the ocean, seafood is central to the Taiwanese diet. Oyster, smoked squid and stir-fried crabs abound. Fruits are prominent in Taiwanese desserts, such as the famous mango shaved ice. The Chinese tea houses on the surrounding mountains offer a nice change of pace, offering a wide range of locally grown teas and breathtaking views of Taipei below.
The cash-only night markets offer clothing, gifts, souvenirs and a wide selection of handicrafts at great prices. But if you're looking for electronic gadgets, computers and software, the place to visit is the Kuanghua Market.
Taiwan's unit of currency is the New Taiwan dollar (TWD), which has five denominations in paper money (TWD 2000, TWD 1000, TWD 500, TWD 200 and TWD 100) and five denominations in coins (TWD 50, TWD 20, TWD 10, TWD 5 and TWD 1). The official English word for the currency is dollar; in Mandarin it's known as yuan. Subdivisions of a yuan are rarely used, since almost all products on the consumer market are sold at whole units of yuan.
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Learn more about this port city with these tourist information guides.