Traditionally a place to check out historic Chinese art and stuff ­oneself with baozi, the capital of Taiwan has a decidedly contemporary feel these days. Following a government push to repurpose abandoned industrial spaces, Songshan Cultural and ­Creative Park opened last fall on the grounds of a refurbished tobacco factory; it now houses galleries, a design museum, restaurants, and a park. A crop of new boutique hotels, including the Hotel Amba Taipei Ximending (from $89; amba-hotels.com), offer an alternative to staying at the pricey W hotel: Chinese comic books line a wooden bookshelf in the breakfast nook, and Amba’s current music program takes its inspiration from—where else?—a Brooklyn rooftop party.

Hot springs in Wulai. Photo: Neil Wade


Visitors to Taipei often make the pilgrimage to Beitou in search of the therapeutic hot springs. But the waters of Wulai—a 40-minute bus ride from the MRT’s Xindian Station—are far less packed. A quick walk from the town center are public hot springs on the ­Nanshih River. Admission is free, but you’ll have to contend with some umbrella-wielding aunties and kids. At the springs farther up the valley, which can be accessed from a number of hotels offering day packages (from $25), there’s little noise beyond the quiet chatter of guests (who are expected to bathe nude). Try the mountain-view Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort (from $462; springparkhotel.com.tw), which has indoor and outdoor mineral-water tubs (from $82 for 1.5 hours in a private bath).