Every one, in one small way or another, is a little romantic. Whether you are the type to wear matching outfits with your beloved, or just like spending quiet time with that significant other, it sure feels nice to get romantic once in awhile. For me, it’s about appreciating beauty and sharing a common interest with that special someone. So in the spirit of Double Seven Day (seventh day of the seventh lunar month also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day), here are my seven less-known (and low-cost!) places in Taipei for romance.
1. Jian Nan Shan, Neihu Lookout (內湖劍南山夜景）
Of course lookouts are top of the list, and this one though popular, is much less so than Elephant Mountain’s lookout of 101. In fact every time I’ve visited, I did not see tourists at all! A short scooter ride up through slightly windy and rocky hills and you’ll be amongst sparse bushes, on a slight decline gazing down at Dazhi district (大直) and Miramar’s giant ferris wheel (美麗華摩天輪). The bright lights seem surprisingly close from here, and without the crowds.
Romance Tip: You should only ride a scooter (or hike) because the road gets pretty narrow. Bring a mat, get in before sundown and have a picnic.
2. Sunsets at Danshui (淡水日落)
Yes it’s a typical spot, but remember this blog is all about doing things differently. If you’re in the mood for something a little mischievous, forget the lines around Lover’s Bridge (淡水情人橋) and head to the average-looking pier. Once there, gaze around for abandoned fishing boats. There are quite a few, and hopefully one right next to the steps leading off the platform. You’ll have your own love boat and a wide view of the sunset, completely unperturbed.
Romance Tip: Make sure the boat remains afloat under your weight… yes some boats are really that rickety and come pre-flooded, so test it well before you both settle in for that end-of-day glow. Besides the possibility of sinkage, you can get some unique photos like we did 😉
3. Gazing at Planes at Songshan Airport (松山機場）
If you’re an aerospace fan, like loud noises, or just want to give your camera’s shutter speed a good run, then head to this little road that borders head on to Songshan Airport’s runway (臺北松山機場跑道). It can be a real task trying to capture the planes approaching overhead, and the noise is truly deafening, but it could get rather exhilarating! Airline knowledge and photography skills will be boosted in no time.
Romance Tip: Check the airport schedules ahead of the date, so that you don’t wait too long for the planes to fly in and out. Otherwise, bring little chairs and some fine snacks. And ear plugs.
4. Night at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (台北市立美術館)
While everyone is spending their Saturday nights in a fancy bar or restaurant, take your date on a nightime meandering of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. There’s always great exhibitions on, and it is a smart way to spend time gazing at beauty when the weather outside is less admirable. Best of all it’s free after 5.00pm and the restaurant is also open until closing time for a respite after all the art-viewing.
Romance Tip: Visit a little later than 7.00pm for a quieter, more intimate ambiance.
5. Scenic Bike Rides
Nothing beats a little work out and then getting to relax with beautiful scenery with your best friend! Riding together whilst admiring Taipei’s scenery is healthy for the heart and the mind and there are so many spots to stop to admire the view. A couple of my favourites are all along Taipei’s riverside including Crescent Bridge in Xinzhuang District (新月橋，新莊), Sunshine Bridge in Xindian (陽光橋，新店), Bitan Suspension Bridge (碧潭吊橋), and Guandu Bridge (關渡橋), which are especially beautiful at night. Hakka Cultural Park (台北市客家文化主題公園) is also wonderful for quiet moments with a vantage point.
Romance Tip: Allow yourselves alot of time to relax after your bike ride. And with that, I know I would appreciate it if my date comes prepared with a drink for me too.
6. Night Hikes and Tea Tasting in Maokong
Yao Yue Tea House (邀月茶樓) may be quite popular spot on weekends, but I doubt there are many couples who find the time to come here on a week night or in the wee hours of the morning. The tea house is open 24 hours a day which means you need your own transport, but it would be well worth it because you would have practically the whole tea garden to yourself. You could bring your own tea and pay a small water fee, or order whatever’s on the menu. What you don’t finish, you get to bring home to make a nice memento of your date!
Romance Tip: Ask to sit in the tea pavilions further down the hill. It’s much more secluded.
If you’re feeling active, there is a small trail leading off the gardens of Yao Yue. Continue down the hill along the stone steps past the open-air tables and pavilions, and you’ll come across a tiny dirt path by a small stream of run-off water. The path will open up to a wider stretch which will eventually lead you to paths for the Pothole Trail (猫空壺穴步道), Earth God Temple or the Changhong Rainbow Bridge. Alternatively you can start hiking from these places and follow the Pothole Trail to get to Yao Yue to finish your day with some tea.
7. Get Your Hands Dirty Together
One thing bound to bring people together is creating something from scratch side by side. There’s something quite childlike and inspiring when learning a new task, and who better to share your feelings of wonderment (or clumsiness) than your favourite someone? Cooking classes, making pottery or woodworking, whatever it is that tickles your fancy, grab your partner and be classmates! Here are a couple of places to satiate your curiosity and handsiness together.
Set in an eclectic home in Beitou, you’ll learn Traditional Taiwanese cooking such as braised beef noodles, gua bao and dumplings. Hoja Kitchen also holds cake-making and Taiwanese dessert classes as well as local walks in Beitou.
Suho Memorial Paper Museum
One of my favourite museums, Suho Memorial Paper Museum (樹火紀念紙博物館) offers paper-making classes consisting of paper fans, seasonal paper (paper with plant imprints – very cool!), handmade notebooks, in addition to painting and printing on traditional paper.
A light-filled, gorgeously-decorated workshop studio in Zhongshan, pretty much around the corner from Suho Paper Museum for all your needs in metal and glass work, as well as jewellery-making with sterling silver and clay.
Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store
For those who enjoy an array of activities, head over the Eslite Songyan store (誠品生活松菸店) in Songshan Cultural Creative Park (松山文創園區) for not only galleries, exhibitions and art house movies, but to also try your hand at some amazing workshops on Level 2 such as developing black and white film in a darkroom, woodworking, painting, and making your own leather goods.
Of course it’s wonderful to be romantic in your own unique way, but hopefully this post has inspired you to do things a little differently too! All the places listed could be found on the following map. Have a memorable date!