Where better to begin but in the middle of it all? Zhong Zheng district is central in a city that is largely decentralized in many ways. For one, it contains the “central” train station, Taipei Main Station. Geographically, it’s pretty central as well: the Main Station makes it easy to travel in every direction.
It’s also the political center of Taiwan, home to the executive, legislative and judicial offices, as well as all the ministries, the National Bank, National Post, and other government buildings. Culturally, it is home to important historical sites such as CKS Memorial Hall, the National Taiwan Museum, and 228 Peace Memorial Park.
Zhong Zheng is one of the most established neighborhoods in Taipei. Most of the people who live in the district have been around for a while. Housing prices have skyrocketed over the last few decades, so younger people can’t really afford to move in. There are a lot of older people and families. It wakes up early and is pretty quiet at night. It’s very residential, but the boulevards are very commercial.
This district is the place to find an excellent traditional breakfast or hole-in-wall noodle shop. It’s a great place to catch up at a cute coffee shop, or go on a walk in the park. It’s a neighborhood that isn’t immune to change, but a lot of the buildings and businesses have been around for generations. New complexes are built alongside old houses in the alleys. International chain stores are situated between family owned hole-in-walls.
In the streets and alleys near CKS Memorial Hall, you immediately get a sense of who is home and who is visiting. On the other hand, by the bustling Taipei Main Station, it seems like everyone is merely passing by. Though, on second thought, it is pretty obvious who is and isn’t a local just by watching how they navigate the underground labyrinth of the station.
This is a district that you should definitely walk to appreciate. Depending on which direction you head, you could walk to Ximen, or Yong Kang Street or Zhongshan. Walking around is never boring either. There’s always more to discover if you deviate from the boulevards and explore the alleys.
No matter how long your visit is, you’ll probably venture to Zhong Zheng to take a photo of the iconic CKS Memorial Hall. Plus, you haven’t really been to Taipei until you’ve gotten lost in Taipei Main Station. But stay and wander a little longer and you’ll gain a soft spot for this part of town in all its subtleties. That familiarity never fades away.