If you only have a weekend in Taipei…

The towering Taipei 101, the city’s iconic landmark. Pic: Wikimedia Commons

SO you pile out of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, get to your hotel and dump your bags. What next?

Taipei is a massive city and with only 48 hours standing between the weekend warrior and the drudgery of Monday, so time is precious. This guide will ensure you see the very best of Taipei on a tight schedule.

Taipei by day

Pic: Wikimedia Commons

Liberty Square, one of Taipei’s landmarks. Pic: Wikimedia Commons

Lording over the entire city from 509 meters up is the Taipei 101; the world’s second tallest building and probably the best place to start. Peering out from the god-like height of the 91st floor, the grandeur of Taipei lays before all like a city in miniature.

Open-mouthed gawping and weak knees are the order of the day. With the building dominating the skyline, reaching it couldn’t be easier: Take exit 2 from Taipei City Hall metro station and look up.

Some of the city’s most formidable landmarks hold sway over by Liberty Square. Vast and incredibly photogenic, the enormous plaza is flanked by the National Theatre and National Concert Hall. Visitors can gaze at troupes of youthful dancers and, if you’re early enough, martial artists practicing complicated routines here.

The Tien-Ho Temple is a vision of suspended lanterns. Pic: Jorge Gonzalez/flickr

The Tien-Ho Temple is a vision of suspended lanterns. Pic: Jorge Gonzalez/flickr

At the other end of the square is the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. The remarkable edifice is dedicated to the memory of Taiwan’s former president. The memorial is very easy to find as it has its own metro station.

The shopping heart of the city, Ximending, is well worth checking out for a taste of all that is young, hip and bizarre in Taipei. Shop, eat and drink to your hearts content in the many backstreets.

When you’ve had your fill, track down the compact Tien-Ho Temple, hidden among the lively streetsRebuilt after the Japanese occupation, the temple is filled with statues of Chinese deities and ancient heroic generals. Take exit 6 from Ximending metro station and get involved.

Not to be missed is The National Palace Museum and its haul of historical Chinese treasures, including most of the furnishings of the Forbidden Palace. Jump on a bus outside Shilin metro station to reach here.

Taipei by night

The colorful Shilin Night Market. Pic: Alexander Synaptic/flickr

The colorful Shilin Night Market. Pic: Alexander Synaptic/flickr

Taipei is renowned for its bustling night markets. Shilin Night Market is perhaps the most popular. Tourists and locals alike cram down the narrow, neon-lit streets looking for cheap clothes, electrical goods and, of course, food.

Flaunt your chopstick skills around deep-fried delicacies, dumplings, noodles, seafood and herbal teas, all which are sold at a bargain. Come out of Jiantan Metro Station and follow the crowds.

So you’ve explored the city and now it’s time to revel in Taipei’s nightlife. Clustered around Taipei 101 is a range of trendy bars – be sure to check entrance fees before heading out.

Myst is a high-end . Pic: Irresponsible Life

Myst is a high-end club and one of the city’s hottest spots. Pic: Irresponsible Life

The superclub Mystlocated on the top floor of the ATT4Fun building, is one of the city’s hottest spots. OMNI is the new reincarnation of the much beloved, but now defunct club Luxy, breathing new life into the nightclub scene.

Roxy Rocker, about 15 minutes from Guting Metro Station, is a popular haunt for rockers and expats alike. The Taiwanese Beer 346, located near ZhongXiao Xinsheng station, is both a brewery and flaunted as cheapest place in town.