It’s raining in Taipei. Again. In a city that averages 180 days of rain per year, the gloomy weather may make you want to stay in bed, but this often damp city provides plenty of things to do out of the rain. Here is a list of things you can do in and around the Taipei area when the sun just doesn’t seem to want to come out.
1) Hot springs: Getting wet on a rainy day may seem like that last thing you want to do, but if you’re going to get wet, why not enjoy it? Taiwan has a history of hot spring bathing and provides everything from cheap public pools to high-end private baths in resorts. If you don’t have private transport, you can take the Taipei Metro (MRT) to Xin Beitou station and walk to a number of springs from there. If you have a car or scooter, you can try the springs in Yangmingshan for some fresh mountain air.
2) KTV: KTV, or Karaoke TV, is huge in Asia, and Taiwan is known for having some of the best. What sets KTV apart from regular karaoke is that rather than singing in front of a bunch of strangers, you book a private room. These rooms are usually equipped with a couches, a flat-screen TV, multiple microphones, and thousands of songs to choose from. Many KTVs also offer a buffet or room service menu, and drinking is often to be expected. The downside is that if you don’t sing in Chinese, your selection may be limited to English songs that are several decades old, and a few sporadic selections from contemporary artists that happen to be big in Taiwan at the moment.
3) Shop… underground: Taiwan is famous for its night markets, but they’re definitely an outdoor activity. For the same overwhelming hodge-podge of cheap, brightly colored clothes and plastic toys and stationery, try one of Taipei’s underground malls, situated between certain MRT stations. The largest one is at Taipei Main Station. There’s an entire network of connected shopping areas down there, and all without the stench of stinky tofu.
4) Have afternoon tea: Afternoon tea is big right now. Usually this means towers of waffles with ice cream and fancy cakes, but there are many places that offer activities as well. Taipei has a number of cafes that provide boardgames, jigsaw puzzles, and even Legos that you can borrow at a flat rate or for the price of the drink, and there’s no limit on how long you can stay (provided that it’s within their business hours, of course).
5) Go shrimping: Ok, so I’m not entirely sure “shrimping” is a word, but what else would you call fishing for shrimp? At some point, someone in Taiwan realized that city folk would be willing to pay money to sit around a concrete pool filled with murky water and shrimp, and an entire industry was born. The pool is regularly replenished with live shrimp for you to fish out, and you cook and eat what you catch (note to the squeamish: you skewer and grill the shrimp live). Newbies don’t usually catch more than a handful the first time, but not to worry, as the shrimping venue will sell you plates of cooked shrimp so you don’t starve.
When all else fails, get out of the city. Often, taking a train just 1 hour out of the Taipei area can get you some much-needed sun. Let’s face it, even with all these fun indoor options, sometimes you just want some fresh air.