Entering your late 20s can be a bit harrowing for some people, especially when you’re starting to feel that the youthfulness you once had is starting to fade away. But that wasn’t the case for me. I think this particular season of our lives as adults is very thrilling—and to celebrate that, I made a pact with myself earlier this year to spend my birthday in a different city every year, going forward.
As a traveler with a rigorous plant-based diet, choosing a city that has a lot of food options for myself is important—and Taipei was the perfect choice. We all know trying out local food in a foreign city is the best part of traveling; and given that majority of Taiwan’s population follow Buddhism and Taoism as their religion, I knew it was going to be easy for me to go around without having difficulties looking for vegetarian and vegan-friendly places. I had also been told prior to the trip that the Taiwanese are some of the nicest people on the planet—and this couldn’t have been more true as I got to experience it myself.
Homes in Taipei
The Howard Plaza Hotel
The Howard Plaza Hotel, located at 160, Sec. 3, Ren Ai Road, Taipei
The view from the Superior King room
Fortunately, I had done enough research and managed to connect with Taipei locals before the trip, and had learned that there were many plant-based restaurants and cafés in Da’an District, so I decided to stay in that area. And thanks to our friends at Agoda, I had the incredible opportunity to stay at two topnotch hotels in Da’an during my trip.
This magnificent view greets you when you enter the lobby of The Howard Plaza
I spent the first night at The Howard Plaza Hotel. As a solo traveler, my first impression of the place was that it caters more to families and big groups of travelers, but as I got to go around and have the full experience of this beautiful gem in Da’an—they’ve got a massive gym, a pool area, an executive lounge and shopping boutiques, among many others—it felt like the right place to have as my shelter for the first half of my trip. During that time, I couldn’t help but marvel at the grandness of this 5-star hotel; I mean, a piano in the middle of the swimming pool in the lobby? C’est très jolie.
Caveman tip: There are Citi Airbuses that bring guests to The Howard Plaza Hotel straight from the airport, for only NTD 145 (USD 4.7) and about an hour. More info here.
The Rosewood Suite
The Rosewood Executive Lounge
Outdoor swimming pool
Home Hotel Da-an
Home Hotel Da-an, located at No. 219-2號, Section 1, Fuxing South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
The following night of my stay in the city was spent at Home Hotel Da-an, a gorgeous boutique hotel that is just three minutes away and walking distance from The Howard. Launched in 2015, this 4-star hotel’s mission is to be the “home” of every visitor in Taiwan, with the aim to give you the full cultural experience via its locally-produced interiors, furniture, and even down to its eco-friendly bathroom products.
Gorgeous view of “stars” as you walk into the reception area
Every floor showcases a different description of “home”, designed by local Taiwanese artists
Home Hotel Da-an’s Deluxe Marvelous Bedroom
Inspired by Taiwan’s very own traditions, Home Hotel Da-an tapped a set of skillful Taiwanese designers and homegrown brands to curate the look of the property—from its caveman-like lobby interiors, to the galaxy-inspired elevator area at the reception, to its impeccable themed suites, there surely is no place like Home.
Breakfast buffet at Al Sorriso, Home Hotel Da-an’s restaurant (showing non-vegetarian and vegan options)
The view from the Deluxe Marvelous Bedroom
We’ve already established that I’m a vegan traveler, so I’m only covering plant-based spots for this particular story (sorry about that!). As mentioned, Taiwan is abundant with vegetarian and vegan-friendly places, so it was really convenient for me to get around without feeling so limited with my food options. Here are some of the plant-based restaurants and eateries that I got to check out:
Backstory: I had just finished my breakfast buffet at The Howard before my lunch with Kelly, one of the lovely locals I had the pleasure of meeting in Taipei, so I opted for a light meal at Plants, my first vegan restaurant experience in the city. They have a lot of amazing plant-based and raw food options including acai bowls, cakes, salads, simple main dishes, and even their own version of vegan bibimbap.
This is Kelly Hsieh, a designer, CrossFitter and travel guru based in Taiwan.
The Green Room
The Green Room is a vegan Thai-cuisine restaurant that serves exotic Thai dishes, most of them being very tasty and flavorful. I can recall having been so full that we had to take away some leftovers, even after eating so much food. I’m so glad I got to try out this place (thanks to my new Taiwanese friend, Ann Liao of TOTES & TEES!).
Of course being full from a meal doesn’t mean you can’t make room for dessert. This tiramisu cake was just excellent.
Had this lovely tomato pasta right after checking in—just what I needed before heading out again to explore the city.
Fun fact: The term al sorriso actually means ‘smile’ in Italian, and the restaurant’s chef, Marco Lottito, is certificated by Gambero Rosso, a renowned authority when it comes to classic Italian food guide.
After getting lost around the city and getting rained on during my afternoon stroll, I was pleased to have tried this vegan ratatouille and risotto. Very filling. It was very jam-packed when I had gotten to this cafe, but good thing the outside area was available.
Hoshina / 穗科手打烏龍麵
This Japanese curry noodles dish (plant-based) was a surprise for me. The curry was really good, combined with the thick noodles, salty tofu skin, spices and greens.
This one right here is the best matcha cake I’ve tried so far! So good.
Photo courtesy of @yingintudcha
Anyone who has googled “Taipei shopping” has probably come across Ximending. This is definitely the place to be for a whole day of shopping, especially for the young ones. Food, fashion and finds? Everything is here. Ximending is located in Taipei’s Wanhua District.
Shilin Night Market
Photo courtesy of @jill_jill_ng
Just like Ximending, Shilin Night Market is a must-see shopping destination in Taipei. Expect a lot of cheap stuff here—just make sure you know how to haggle. Located in Shilin District, just 70 metres from MRT Jiantan Station between Dadong Rd, Danan Rd, Wenlin Rd, and Jihe Rd.
Wufenpu Clothing Street (五分埔)
Photo courtesy of @ravin_wanderlust
Located in the Xinyi District of Taipei, this is another recommended place for shopping, especially if you’re looking to buying wholesale garments.
Making your way to this beautiful city soon? Share with us your Taipei itinerary in the comments below!