I have mentioned before how noisy a city Taipei can be, and as much as I enjoy alone time, I don’t always want to spend it in my home. Luckily, there are still spaces within the city that have managed to create relaxed but open spaces for leisurely down time. Whether you are traveling and need a cultural space of quietness or are attempting to navigate the loud city lifestyle, here are my top five places to read a book or score some silent recovery time in Taipei.
Fujin Tree 353 Café by Simple Kaffa (Songshan Airport)
This café speaks to my love of green and beautiful things. The front of house is a flower shop and displays arrangements made from their florist courses. Sadly these courses are only offered in Chinese, however, the décor adds to a calm Sunday morning vibe. If the front of house doesn’t instantly draw you in, consider the free Wi-Fi and the gorgeous breakfast plate, complete with honey and yogurt, ham salad, jams and toast, and an Americano for NT $250. In some ways, I was back in Texas soaking in the floral smell of a grandparent’s giant rose-covered sofa. A few good breathing exercises in this cute café will break any rainy day mood, books and desserts are bonuses.
To get to Fujin Tree 353, use the address listed on their Facebook page to Google the directions. The café’s neighborhood can be a bit tricky to find. Although once there, there are lots of small cafés and restaurants to explore.
Taipei Botanical Gardens & National Museum of History (Ximending)
If you follow Backpacks & Blackboards on Instagram, you know that I can hardly stay away from the Taipei Botanical Gardens. The lack of people and the thoughtful layout of the park are both fantastic features. Not to mention that MRT Xiaonanmen Station, Exit 3 is half a block from the entrance. Every time I visit, the park seems to have transformed with new flowers or plants beginning to display their best features. Ideally, I would love to read in the park, but most of the year it would simply be too hot to do so. Instead, the National Museum of History works just as well and it’s air-conditioned! Those living in Taipei probably just cheered a little inside reading that.
Over by the Lotus Pond of the Taipei Botanical Gardens is the backside of the National Museum of History. Looking up, visitors will see a long window running against the back of the building. This is actually an indoor seating area to the museum and the windows overlook the park. While there might be some noise with mothers resting with children or groups discussing some of the museum’s exhibits, this area stays fairly quiet. Air conditioning, views, and silence make this an excellent choice for catching up on some chapters. Do note though that while the Taipei Botanical Gardens is free to access, the National Museum of History costs around NT $30 (USD $1).
To access the museum, you can follow transportation guides from the museum’s website. For a more scenic route, you can take Exit 3 of MRT Xiaonanmen, cut through the Taipei Botanical Garden to the Lotus Pond, and take the small personal alleyway around the National Museum of History building to get to the front entrance way. The alley looks like a one-person personnel path, but it pops out to the front of the museum.
Pillow Café (Da-An Park)
This little café doesn’t have a large social media presence and may be a bit harder to find. Yet, it’s one of my favorite places to not only read, but get work done. Chairs are comfy and come with pillows. It is always quiet, probably the quietest on this list, even when every seat is taken. All of the drinks here are good and there are even several sandwich or dessert options. Now let’s take a moment to be honest here: all of the above are great reasons to pick this as your reading destination, BUT in being transparent, I pick this place for its cute little corgi! Who doesn’t want a gorgeous fur baby lying at your feet while you sip a raspberry chocolate smoothie and drink in a few good lines of literature?
To find this café, search for The Diner (location by Da-An Park). Coming from Heping E. Rd, pass The Diner and you will see Pillow Café on your right a few steps later. Wi-Fi and plugs are also available.
Café In (Tienmu)
A small café in Tienmu, Café In is my go-to stop between tutoring cases and classes. With only about six tables inside and four outside, Café In mostly caters to an older crowd. Most are reading newspapers or browsing through reads on their tablets. One thing I love about Café In is its assortment of various coffee beans. This is where I go to get my Colombian fix! For those who love to collect coffee beans for at-home fixes, Café In also sells its imported options. Most of the guests know each other from their afternoon coffee hours and the staff is very friendly. I love the small town feel that I get from this café and enjoy the variety of imported coffees that I have for options!
To get here, you will need to bus or MRT from MRT Shipai. Unless you know how to get around Tienmu, Google map the directions to this one. Here is the Foursquare website to access the Chinese address and the map.
Wisteria Tea House (Da-An Park)
Wisteria Tea House is probably one of my top places to visit for anyone in Taipei. It’s actually quite incredible that I never see it mentioned in tourist or local publications. Located inside of a Japanese-style wooden house, Wisteria Tea House has been the center of many historically significant moments in Taipei’s development. From being the residency to Governor-General of Taiwan under the Japanese occupation to the meeting place for Taipei’s social developers, Wisteria Tea House embodies the collection of cultural elements that make Taipei its own cultural landmark. The tea house can get quite busy, so my favorite time to go is around 10 AM. The natural lighting and the stillness of the tea house create a safe intimacy between house and guest. The list of tea choices for your tea ceremony is long and one can get lost reading the rich descriptions of all the teas. Once settled, you can melt into your own world while finding inner peace at the bottom of a tiny tea cup. Some of the best things really are that simple.
Wisteria Tea House is located on Xinsheng South Road. Literally follow Xinsheng Road (long street on the side of Da-An park) past Heping E. Road intersection. You will see Wisteria Tea House inside a small gated courtyard, complete with wooden tables, small pond, and plants draped everywhere.