The Liu Ju Shi ( 六巨石 , Six Boulders) viewing platform, located at the peak of Xiangshan, is a popular check
Words by: Adam Hopkins
Photos by: Pitua Sutanto, Gao Zanxian, Taiwan Scene, Supasit Chantranon, Suriya Desatit, GoranQ, Department of Information and Tourism,Taipei City Government
Taipei is an incredibly popular tourist destination with, 2020 aside, millions of tourists visiting the Taiwanese capital each year. While this sounds like a positive for the economy and many local businesses, all this human traffic could be detrimental in the long run.
This is why tourism needs to be sustainable, meaning that it should be maintained long-term while not causing too much harm to the natural and cultural environment. For sustainable travel to be successful, it needs to take into account three important elements: caring for local industries and the economy, recognizing its impact on the ecosystem and natural environment, and it must be able to be carried out in an eco-friendly and responsible manner.
HOW TO PRACTICE SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL IN TAIPEI AND BEYOND EAT LOCAL
Bypass the big restaurant chains and eat locally. Taipei is full of small, family-run restaurants that have been around for generations. By eating there, not only are you supporting a local business, you’re more than likely going to get a good meal made from quality local ingredients.
At night markets in particular, many stalls have been specializing in one specific dish for years, and you better believe they’ve perfected it. Also, to take things to the next level of sustainability, consider bringing your own reusable chopsticks and straws. A lot of places in Taipei have forgone using plastic straws and single use cutlery, so you might as well do the same.
Support local businesses that sell locally-made products. Sure, when you’re shopping in Ximending (西門町), it’s tempting to fill shopping bag after shopping bag at international retail stores like H&M and adidas, but why not check out a small specialist clothing store instead? You’ll probably be able to find a whole host of one-of-a-kind bargains. Also, do consider using a local travel agent when booking tours or tickets. After all, they definitely know Taipei best.
When deciding where to stay, consider choosing one of the “green” hotels recognized by the Taipei City Government. They offer special deals for customers who opt to stay without the hotel having to provide any amenities such as toothbrushes and razors, as well as being OK with sheets and towels not being changed throughout their stay.
USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Not only is public transportation convenient, it is good for the environment. Taipei has an expansive metro (MRT) system, as well as a huge fleet of taxis that will take you anywhere in the city. The city is also pedestrian-friendly and pretty flat in the center, so walking is also a good option, while there are also plenty of cycling routes to be enjoyed with the public bicycle rental system YouBike, which is cheap, convenient and user-friendly.
THREE DAY TRIPS FOR SUSTAINABLE TRAVELERS IN TAIPEI
01 TACKLE THE FOUR BEASTS MOUNTAINS
Take a day to explore nature in Taipei in the best way possible by going on a hike. The Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山) is a group of four small mountains that can be climbed one after the other: Hushan (虎山, Tiger Mountain), Baoshan (豹山, Leopard Mountain), Shishan (獅山, Lion Mountain), and Xiangshan (象山, Elephant Mountain).
The route starts at the trail entrance of Hushan, a 15-minute walk from MRT Houshanpi Station (捷運後 山埤站) near Songshan Cihui Temple (松山慈惠堂) and ends at Xinyi District’s famous Xiangshan. The whole hike, if undertaken at a regular pace, will take between four and five hours. Easily accessible from downtown Taipei, a trip up the Four Beasts will also provide you with a great view of Taipei’s cityscape from above.
Gym Breakfast 浩克健身早餐
Gym Breakfast specializes in sandwiches with tons of vegetables and protein to power your hike. Be sure to bring lots of water too, as hydration is important while hiking.
- 153-3, Yanji St., Daan Dist.
If you require hiking gear, check out the eco-friendly and reusable equipment on sale at outdoor equipment store GO MT.
- 5F, 11, Songshou Rd., Xinyi Dist.
Green hotels like City Suites Taipei Nandong ( 城市商旅南東館 ) are delightful options for guests who can do without single-use amenities or are willing to forgo changing the bed sheets during their stay.
- City Suites Taipei Nandong 411, Sec. 5, Nanjing E. Rd., Songshan Dist.
02 EXPLORE LOCAL CULTURE IN TAIPEI BY BIKES
Getting to know local culture and respecting its unique customs are both a part of being a responsible traveler. And there is no better way than to get to know the city than by bike, as Taipei is full of excellent cycle paths and bike routes. Starting at MRT Gongguan Station (捷運公館站), hire a YouBike and head towards Treasure Hill (寶藏巖), a repurposed military dependents’ village that now houses many art spaces and exhibitions. Home to works and artists from all over the world, the advent of the artists’ village saved the area from destruction and has stood in its present form since the 1970s.
From there, continue along the riverside to Longshan Riverside Park (龍山河濱公園) before continuing over to Ximending, Taipei’s hotspot for both hipster and LGBTQ culture. Continuing on your biking trip, follow the cycle path in Yanping Riverside Park (延平河濱公 園) and enjoy the riverside views that lead you to the cultural hub of Dadaocheng (大稻埕), one of the city’s most historic sites.
Xiao Xiao Place 小小蔬房
During your ride, stop at vegan restaurant Xiao Xiao Place, where the ingredients are all purchased from local farms.
- 125, Sec. 2, Hankou St., Wanhua Dist.
You can’t miss out on a spot of shopping at Dadaocheng’s Artyard197, a select shop featuring native cultural and local branded products.
- 195, Sec. 1, Dihua St., Datong Dist.
There are great “green” hotel options in the Wanhua and Dadaocheng area. Beimen WOW Poshtel ( 北門窩泊旅 ) near Dadaocheng will give guests a souvenir if they forgo single-use amenities. Caesar Metro Taipei ( 凱達大飯店 ) in Wanhua provides a special offer for those who choose not to change the bed sheets during their stay.
- Caesar Metro Taipei 167, Bangka Blvd., Wanhua Dist.
03 REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT AT THREE FAMOUS TAIPEI LOCATIONS
Offset your carbon footprint by visiting three of Taipei’s most environmentally-friendly tourist attractions. Start your day at Longshan Temple (艋舺 龍山寺), one of Taipei’s “big three” temples. Housing fine examples of traditional folk art and altars dedicated to ten different deities, the temple no longer burns incense in an effort to reduce air pollution.
Next stop is Taipei 101, the world’s tallest green building. At 508 meters high, the Xinyi District landmark is the world’s tallest energy efficient skyscraper, saving 995 metric tons of reduced CO2 emissions each year.
Your final stop will be Thermal Valley (地熱谷) in Beitou District, Taipei’s natural hot spring area at the foot of Yangmingshan (陽明山, Mt. Yangming).
Thermal Valley, sometimes known as Hell Valley, is a direct source of the area’s sulfuric hot spring water. Don’t expect to go for a swim, as the water bubbles away at close to 100 degrees Celsius.
You can travel around the city on Taipei’s MRT system, with all these locations easily accessible from nearby stations. MRT Longshan Temple Station (捷運龍山寺 站) is on the blue line. To reach Taipei 101, transfer once at MRT Taipei Main Station (捷運台北車站) to the red line. Finally, hop on the red line again to head to Thermal Valley at MRT Xinbeitou Station (捷運新北投 站), where you need transfer once at MRT Beitou Station (捷運北投站).
DELI DAY 橄欖油健康餐盒
Eat healthy at DELI DAY for salads, soups, stews and more tasty, nutritious options. It’s takeaway only, so we recommend taking your food to nearby Xiangshan Park ( 象山公園 ), where you can admire the Taipei 101 skyscraper while you eat.
- 2, Aly. 1, Ln. 253, Songping Rd., Xinyi Dist.
San Shi Living Lab 三時生活實驗室
If you’re in the mood for some sustainable shopping, have a browse around San Shi Living Lab, where you’ll have to bring your own bag or container if you want to buy items ranging from fair trade coffee beans and natural handmade soaps to locally grown tea.
- 106, Jinzhou St., Zhongshan Dist.
For your hotel in Beitou, try “green” option On My Way Hostel ( 途中.台北國際 青年旅舍 ). Or if you’re there for a private hot spring bath, check out Hotel Double One ( 北投俩人旅店 ).
- On My Way Hostel 82, Guangming Rd., Beitou Dist.