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4 Hours in Taipei

1 Huashan 1914 Creative Park

Huashan 1914 Creative Park has never seen better days. The century-old wine and moth orchid factory was abandoned to nature and became a symbol of industrial decline. Today it is a green space in the center of the city, with its renovated Japanese-style buildings creating a cultural hub, full of green tea smoothies, homemade cakes and avant-garde energy. As the name implies, the venue is a hub for the city’s nascent and slightly quirky design industry, so take a stroll along covered walkways where there are a variety of shops stocking stylish products from local designers. The new Red Brick Area has a bookshop cum curio store and chandeliered restaurant that is popular with artists. Open daily from 9:30 AM-9:00 PM; 1 Bade Rd, Section 1, Zhongsheng district;

2 44 South Village

Hit the main road and walk a couple of blocks to Zhongxiao-Xinsheng MRT stop, transfer to the Red Line and you will be whisked to the throbbing modern section of the city, where Taipei 101 and its swanky mall hold sway. In the long shadow of 101 is 44 South Village, the first settlement of Kuomintang (KMT) soldiers who fled China after losing the civil war to communism in 1949. There are still some old timers in the renovated village, but most have made way for hipsters and the Farmer’s Market on Sunday, selling organic produce and craft items. There’s a small museum, plus great bagels and homemade ice cream at Good Cho’s café. Open Tue-Fri 10:00 AM – 9:30 PM, 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM Sat & Sun; 54 Songqin St, Xinyi district; +886 2758 2609.

3 Taipei Expo Park

A four-minute walk up Zhuangjing Road and you are back at the Taipei 101 MRT stop, so now take an uninterrupted ride across town to Yuanshan MRT. As a sub-tropical climate Taipei blooms most of the year, so the Flora Expo 2010 site is a pleasant site to walk around for an hour or two. Highlights are the Rinzai Zen Temple, a stone age excavation site and Maji Maji Square, where restaurants, small shops and vendor stalls await. Rent one of the ubiquitous yellow YouBikes and tour music pavilions, the sky farm and new EcoArk. Crafted from recycled PET bottles, it’s said to be the first building made entirely from trash. Open Tue-Thu & Sun, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Fri-Sat 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM; 1 Yumen St, Zhongshan district;

4 Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Cross Zhongshan North Road and you arrive in Zhongshan Meishu Park, which in turn leads to Keelung River and Xinsheng Park. Here you can find botanical and rose gardens, solar bridges, and aboriginal art installations. Take a look at Taipei Story House, which offers a slice of England with its 1913 Tudor-style building that houses a café and mini-museum dedicated to the cultural life of historic Taiwan. TFAM was built in the Metabolist style, which blends post-modernist and organic growth concepts. There are always strong local and international collections to view and the museum has a reputation for adventurous curating. Open Tue-Sun, 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM, Sat 9:30 AM – 8:30 PM; 181 Zhongshan North Rd, Section 3, Zhongshan district;

5 Fish Market

Take a TWD70 ($2) 10-minute cab ride to the final destination, a foodie haven known locally as Addiction Aquatic Development. Located in an unprepossessing area opposite Binjiang fruit and vegetable market, it’s an impressive emporium dedicated to seafood, gastronomy and fine wine. There are huge tanks full of fish and crustaceans sold by the kilogram for those keen to cook at home. Visitors have their choice of a wide variety of restaurants, and there’s a buzz about the place all day long, starting in the early morning but inevitably coming to a crescendo at lunch and dinner. Open daily 6:00 AM – midnight; 18 Minzu East Rd, lane 410, alley 2, Zhongshan district;