Like the weather in other parts of the world, Taiwan’s weather isn’t entirely predictable, and even if you’ve planned your trip with careful reference to climate data there’s a risk rain might be falling on the day you hope to venture into the mountains or out to the coast.
This is more likely to happen in north Taiwan, where the dry season is never particularly arid, than in the south. Luckily, northerners are used to heavy showers and have designed their cities with an expectation that it may rain anytime. As in other parts of Asia, Taipei’s older neighbourhoods – Dihua Street being the best known – are full of photogenic merchant shop/house combinations that protect the pavement from both sunshine and the rain.
If pluvial conditions mean there’s no point in taking the elevator up to the Observatory on the 91st floor of Taipei 101 or heading into Yangmingshan National Park, spend some time in Wanhua. One of Taipei’s oldest districts, Wanhua has so many temples and historic sites like Bopiliao that you won’t be overexposed to the elements.
Taipei is fortunate in having a number of hot springs within its boundaries. Some of those in Beitou were developed during the colonial period and retain a distinct Japanese character. Others, by contrast, are thoroughly modern. Whether you like to soak outdoors, or in the privacy of your own room, you’re sure to find an establishment to your liking.
Like many capital cities, Taipei has more than its fair share of museums. The incomparable National Palace Museum (NPM) is probably already on your itinerary. If your plans to explore the indigenous enclave of Wulai have been dashed, consider instead visiting Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines. Taiwan’s foremost collection of indigenous artefacts is less than 200m from the NPM and it’s possible to save a little money by buying a joint ticket that covers admission to both institutions. The museum holds around 2,000 ethnological items, among them canoes from Orchid Island, fine garments, fearsome daggers, and delicately carved wooden twin-cups used by tribal folks to toast deals or seal alliances.
If it’s really tipping down, take the Taipei Metro to Taipei Main Railway Station and explore the underground mall that stretches out in three directions. There’s always a lot more here than shops and restaurants. Buskers play classical Chinese instruments like the erhu. Teenage hip-hop dance troupes practice here when they’re rained out of parks. On Sundays, Filipinos working in the capital gather to chat, picnic, and pray with their compatriots. Taipei is neither as huge nor as maddeningly busy as Hong Kong or Tokyo, but the city’s bustle and verve is definitely a form of entertainment in its own right.
Life of Taiwan, of course, has no control over the weather. But we are very willing to apply our knowledge and enthusiasm to create a fabulous Taiwan travel experience for you and your companions.
(Hot springs photo courtesy of Nick Kembel)