Beating Jet Lag in Taipei
Arriving in the morning
Upon arriving at a destination after a long international flight, there is nothing more enticing than to have a long shower and a big breakfast. When arriving in the morning, most often hotels are not ready for check in. But you can store your luggage at the hotel and head out to one of the hot springs around Taipei to get that much needed shower and pampering. There are plenty of conveniently located hot spring resorts around Taipei where you can get a private room for a couple of hours at a very reasonable price. If you're not shy about mingling with locals and tourists in the nude, there are also public hot spring pools for as little as 200-500NT and you can stay as long as you like. You can soak away all the fatigue and stiffness from a long flight, and if budget allows, foot or body massages is available in many hot spring resorts. After a much needed shower and relaxation, delicious meals can be had within the resorts. And if you're on a tight budget, there are always snacks and meals to be bought in local convenience stores surrounding the hot springs.
If navigating through Taipei's transportation system is too aggressive for you on your first day, you can still walk to a near by salon and get a very through hair wash. There are plenty of salon chains (website in Chinese only) to be found in any district you stay in. A hair wash will range from USD5-10 depending on location. It includes a shoulder and head massage, wash, and blow dry. It's a good way to wash away the grit and build up accumulated from your travels. This is a service catering to men and women. So don't be shy boys. It is completely normal for a man to walk into a salon for a hair wash in Taipei. This budget friendly luxury is a must for me after coming home from a long trip.
A filling breakfast can be had for cheap from stalls and carts lined up along Taipei's streets and alleys in the morning. Choices range from turnip cakes to breakfast sandwiches and burgers. Even hot, steaming dumplings are sold on trucks or carts along the streets. Soy milk and milk tea is immensely popular breakfast drinks that completes the experience.
Arriving at night
Unlike many cities around the world, it is perfectly safe to go out in Taipei at night. Taipei's vibrant night life is a great introduction to the city's culture and people. It has so much more to offer than just bars and clubs. However, I do have to mention one bar I particularly like; where it provides a fun filled atmosphere for mingling with locals and foreigners. A darts bar! You don't have to be a pro to step foot into this bar. Everyone is there to have fun and not to snicker at beginners.
If you're one of those people who absolutely detests airplane food and find yourself famished upon arriving in the city, then you should definitely hit the night markets after dropping off your luggage at the hotel. The sounds, smells and crowds in the night markets will ignite your senses after many mundane hours spent on the plane. And if the crowds and exotic street food isn't your thing after stepping off the plane, head to the tea street in the east district of Taipei (Metro Zhongxiao Dunhua) for a cup of bubble milk tea and a light meal in one of the many bistros and cafes. There is a diverse selection of eateries in this neighborhood to satisfy any palate. A secondary option for a late night meal; why not get some Dim Sum. Both Citystar and Hung Kan dim sum restaurant is centrally located on Taipei's Zhongxiao East Road and is open 24 hours.
If at 3AM, you still find yourself wide awake with no desire to hit the sack anytime soon, a great way to spend that time would be in a book store and read up on Taiwan travel. Eslite book store in Xinyi district offers a good selection of English books and is open 24 hours. If some music and a night cap is more your thing on sleepless nights, a stop in one of Taipei's many lounge bars is an excellent choice. There are plenty to choose from around Xinyi and Daan district. Unlike most bars and clubs in the States, most lounge bars in Taipei stay open until 5AM.
After mentioning some of the amenities in Taipei above, it may not come as a surprise to also share that there are a numerous 24h massage parlors situated in the city center. A popular one among Taipei's nocturnal crowd is Dong Jing Dou Hui Massage located in Taipei's Tong Hua night market. Foot and full body massages are available around the clock. A 40 minute foot and shoulder massage will set you back around 400-500NT. Definitely not a bad way to spend a sleepless night.
No matter when you arrive in Taipei, you will never find yourself bored and trapped in a hotel room channel surfing for Hollywood movies or desperate housewives reruns. Taipei's low violence and crime rate makes going out at any time of the day a facile pleasure. In an urban area where there is something going on at any given time of the day, sleeping almost seems like a waste of time anyway. If you ever experience a major bout of jet lag while in Taipei, you should definitely take it as nature's way of allowing you extra time and energy to experience all Taipei has to offer.